Thanks to the Greenbelt News Review for printing the article below about Greenbelt Online in their June 17 issue. It’s titled: ”Introducing GreenbeltOnline.org.” (The other title I suggested was “Greenbelt Online is Ready your Eyeballs.”) Readers already familiar with Greenbelt Online may still learn something about Greenbelt’s history of community websites, and the growth of this one.
Have you explored Greenbelt’s nonprofit community website yet? Here’s what 4,500 monthly visitors are finding at GreenbeltOnline.org:
- Events – what’s happening in or near Greenbelt, updated weekly.
- Up-to-date, well-researched resources like where Greenbelters go hiking, how they get around without a car, and which painters they recommend.
- Hundreds of blog articles about Greenbelt and Greenbelters, and a special series debunking claims about the Maglev train.
- Select videos from Greenbelt-based YouTube channels.
Greenbelt’s History of Community Websites
In 2016, Greenbelt Maker Space’s George Boyce called a meeting about the need to update Greenbelt.com, the community website established in 1992. The result was a new site – Greenbelt Online.org, with Tanya Amaya as the designer/developer and me as editor. Tanya moved the blog about Greenbelt that I’d started soon after moving here in 2012 to the new site, and more useful content was added – directories for Greenbelt “creatives,” businesses, and organizations, and a whole library of resource pages.
(The valuable Greenbelt.com domain was donated to the city and traffic to it is now forwarded to the city government’s website.)
Greenbelt Online was approved by the University of Maryland as a site for its English and journalism interns, and we’ve worked with two terrific ones so far. Even more significant was receiving 501c3 nonprofit status from the IRS. That meant we could apply for grants and we were thrilled to receive one from Maryland Milestones, which distributes state funds that promote this part of Maryland. The grant was matched by donations from dozens of businesses and individuals in Greenbelt, especially our major sponsors – McCarl’s Dental Group, Realtor Kim Kash, and Beltway Plaza.
The grant enabled us to hire a graphic designer to create a unique logo, which you see here. The new logo puts Greenbelt’s official symbol – a tree – inside a computer monitor (online!), an idea that originated with retired graphic artist and Greenbelt resident Ken Shields. We also hired a web designer to improve the look and functionality of the site, and the remainder of the grant is being used to buy ads promoting the site in the News Review and online.
Currently the editorial board and officers of Greenbelt Online includes Shaymar Higgs, Owen Kelley, Julie Winters, Jeff Lemieux and Barbara Glick, in addition to myself.
During the Pandemic
Over the last 15 months our blog, with no events to cover, has been focused on two new features. One is recording how Greenbelters and local businesses have responded to the pandemic. Those pandemic stories will ultimately be archived by the Greenbelt Museum as part of a national effort among museums and libraries to chronicle this unique period of history. The other focus has been exploring and debunking claims about the proposed maglev train, with original research by Owen Kelley.
Other resources recently added to the site have been Jamie Jorgensen’s Guide to Birds in Greenbelt and the Guide to Composting in Greenbelt by Beth LeaMond and Hally Ahearn. We welcome guest authors on almost any topic related somehow to Greenbelt – just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous to the pandemic, Greenbelt Online published a round-up every Friday of events happening in and near Greenbelt, and those round-ups have been on hiatus…until now! So look for “June 2021 Events” at the top of the home page, and you’ll soon see the event round-ups become weekly again as live music and indoor movies and theater come back to town.
How to Follow Greenbelt Online
At GreenbeltOnline.org you can subscribe in the top right to receive new blog articles about life in Greenbelt, 1-2 each week. Other ways to be notified of new articles are by following GreenbeltOnline on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Susan Harris is editor of GreenbeltOnline. Previously she co-founded the team blog GardenRant.com, now celebrating its 15th year.