Spreading the Word
One Lorain Blog is Inspiring Action
That was the headline on a fine piece in the current issue of West Shore magazine (part of the Great Lakes Publishing empire, which is also responsible for producing Cleveland and Inside Business magazines) about a multiple-author blog called Word of Mouth. Because it's not online, and because we thought the piece was so interesting, we run it verbatim below, with apologies to West Shore.
In an age where blogs are as well read as national newspapers, nearly a dozen local bloggers are using the popularity of the open forum to spark 'Lorainites' into action--albeit triggering a bit of controversy along the way.
When 246 teachers from Lorain City Schools were laid off this past summer, The Word of Mouth blog inspired hundreds to attend a rally organized by bloggers and readers in August and to appear before the Lorain Board of Education to show their suoppoort for the teachers. Since the rally, readership at http://www.thewomblog.com/ has exploded.
Shocked by the turnout, creator and longtime Lorain resident Scott Bakalar, 46, says encouraging this type of action is exactly why the blog was crated in September 2005. Well, that and his frustration after his E. 21st St. basement flooded for the third time in 13 months.
"We want to get somebody who's never been to a city council meeting to a city council meeting," he says. "We want to get somebody who's never been to a board of education meeting to a board of education meeting; to volunteer in their community. If the Word of Mouth blog can do that, we'll accomplish more than I ever dreamed possible."
The blog has been a hotbed of discussion about the layoffs and other Lorain-centered topics. Its 11 regular contributors and guest contributors--including public officials--have tackled issues and generated their own ideas for moving Lorain in different directions.
The fact that the blog has become controversial was not expected. It focuses on four main pillars Bakalar says are key to improving life in the city: infrastructure, safety, housing and education. "I tough love Lorain and that is what the blog is--some tough love for the city that we love."