Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Westborough Patch

This afternoon I was on twitter (yes I know I have been very sporadic in my tweets) but I was on twitter and noticed one of the suggestions for me to follow was Westborough Patch.  Since I am always looking for local updates and information sources I figured I would check it out.  I had not heard of "Patch" before.


Ok so maybe I missed a memo that Westborough Patch was launching, but I am busy sometimes... I have to say, I am very impressed at this new online news site.  Seems to have regular updates, Westborough news and events, and from what I have read lots of great information.  There is also a Northborough Patch as well.

The sites are simple and easy to navigate.  There are also matching Facebook pages and twitter accounts for each site.  Their coverage of the Polar Plunge was solid and overall the only thing I would say is not appealing to me is that Patch as a company is owned by AOL.  Sure I use AIM like so many others, but the last time I thought of AOL I was using one of their cds as a drink coaster.

I hope AOL has learned from some of their past endeavors and keeps Patch fresh and not overly bogged down with ads and bots.  I think there is a lot of potential for a strong corporate funded journalistic team that focused on digital media.  Something with funding that can allow local journalists to be proud and promote the local community.

To speculate for a minute, I think there is a lot of opportunity for really interesting social media interconnections blending online and real world experiences and interactions.  It is the next logical step in the digital media space.  It is possible that a site like patch operating nationally (and even globally) but focused locally can be a way to organize and encourage these connections.  We'll see...I actually teach a graduate course  on new media technologies and how to integrate them.  At least I need to add Patch to some of my lectures and we can see how it plays out.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Refreshing Plunge

My wife definitely understands me... she called on Friday during my commute to see if I had noticed the DPW sign in the traffic circle promoting the Polar Plunge.  :-)

I had not seen the sign yet, but I was aware of the Polar Plunge and to no ones surprise I was hoping to participate in the event.  As soon as I arrived home I sent a mail over to the organizers of the event that I was also interested in acting ridiculous and running into Lake Chauncy after it was already frozen.

On Saturday afternoon, armed with my camera, I went over to Lake Chauncy to meet some of the other plungers and cool off in the lake.  The event included a bonfire, snacks, and performances from local a capella talent.  Then of course there were the plungers.  Along with bathing suit plungers there was an assortment of costumes at the event; T-shirts promoting local businesses, grass skirts, homemade gladiator hats, life-jackets with shoes attached, and even a master's degree cap and gown took turns running into cold water.  There wasn't a lot of swimming as organizers of the plunge only removed the 4 inch think ice from a small section of the lake but everyone plunged for a good cause.

The event is small, only a couple dozen or so plungers, but there are a bunch of spectators and the atmosphere was great.  Local people supporting a local cause.  The sound system was not super conducive for the singers, but for a capella groups each person needs to have a mic or it is hard to hear how great the voices sound.  Here are some of the photos I got at the event.

This event is only in it's second year, I am sure it will become bigger and bigger as it continues.  The Polar Plunge raises money for "In Your Shoes Westborough".  From their literature:

In Your Shoes Mission & Goals
The mission of In Your Shoes is to make a difference in our community by contributing time, talents and monetary resources to provide assistance and financial support to local people in need. In essence, we represent an investment in our Westborough community, as we foster and advocate volunteerism to contribute to the health and well being of Westborough residents. 

In Your Shoes goals:
  • Encourage community among ourselves and the people we serve. 
  • Reach out to our community to educate and increase awareness about local needs. 
  • Promote volunteerism and effective philanthropy.
  • Build a network of people and businesses that is a catalyst of positive change. 
  • Direct charitable donations toward the most worthy local causes, also donating funds to other non-profit organizations that benefit Westborough residents.
As expected I love volunteering and participating in community.  Especially the Boroughs communities.  I look forward to another plunge next year.