Computers, Internet and the Overbrook eTimes

Click here to see the new Overbrook eTimes Website!

Computers and Internet Technology have now made it possible for almost any individual or organization who has the will to find the way to create a internet-based "community newspaper.
" Good Shepherd, which boasts a peer-to-peer Ethernet network that can support close to a hundred computers, (but presently about half that number almost equally divided between Apple Macintosh and "IBM" -- actually Dell -- Wintel computers) possesses a high speed DSL Internet network that it shares within an Overbrook community of computer beginners and through self-appointed computer gurus, between the ages of 5 and 75.

Once upon a time, on and off for over 50 years, a weekly community newspaper uniquely served as the prime hallmark for the whole Overbrook Community, the last of which ceased publication a number of years ago, was called the Overbrook Times, provided personalized community information about Overbrook residents and local organizations, perhaps reached and was read by perhaps, if lucky, 60% or 70% or the Overbrook -- pre-computer -- adult residents.  It was perhaps the one and only tie that all Overbrook residents shared, holding it together as a community.

The Overbrook Times, like almost all such independent weekly pre-Internet newspapers, was a labor of love of just a very few individuals whole were eventually overwhelmed by its laboriousness, fatigue and eventually costs, (just as the 160 employees of the Seattle, WA, Post-Intelligencier, whose internet readership eventually greatly surpassed its legacy paper readership.  When the Post-Intelligencier recreated itself as only an internet publications it insists it ePublish with only about 20 employees, using ONLY Internet technology.  That is where Good Shepherd will begin also, essentially converting its one-person, two-issue internal membership legacy paper Shepherd's Gate 8-half-page newsletter into a cooperative community eMail-based "four-color" Internet cooperative publication to which all internet-connected residents of Overbrook -- as well as other non-residents -- can can contribute to, even editing simultaneously editing even the same page!, see http://docs.google.com/

This same technology, and our growing Internet capabilities, also now make it possible for Good Shepherd terribly laborious, Overbrook eTimes -- but in a new Internet Digital format!

The Overbrook eTimes, like many similar publications that come and go as communities wax and wane, publshed local news of little interest ourtside of a limited community but was deeply personal to some, perhaps few, within. Overbrook Times contributed significantly to a sense of community.  It demise was a loss to and already ominous rising rates of anonymous and crime and declining community sense of awareness. 

But recent major advancements in Internet Technology, like the dozens of free Google Apps, and the incredible growth in the numbers of computers in Overbrook homes -- indeed the rise of two-computer families like two-car families -- has given rise to the fact that there are now perhaps 2 or 3 times as many Overbrook families that can now receive an electronic digital copy of an Overbrook eTimes, as email or read on line, that regularly or even intermittently skimmed or read the 8 or 12 page new print paper edition of the Overbrook Times.

Indeed more importantly, these Overbrook famiies with computer can now almost effortlessly, email articles for inclusion in and Internet Overbrook eTimes, they not only eliminating almost 100% of of the distribution problems of a community publications, as well as almost 100% of the printing and publications costs, but also most, if not all, of the hastle of effectively acquiring the the text for printing and publication, if not editing. About all that is left to creating any community publication is a reason to publish and a will to do so!

So why would we, at Good Shepherd, want to create a community publication and muster the will to do so? 

We have always wanted to resurect our own briefly publilshed -- just 4 issues -- Shepherd's Gate, but share to with the whole community.  That alone was not enough reason.  But as our general service to the community expanded, our awareness of our actual lack of community expanded, as our awareness to the need for community also increased.

Under the pastorship of Rev. Adams, who also has a Master's Degree from Penn in City Planning, Good Shepherd finally has recognized that its continuations, indeed its very survival -- like the survival of many also declining almost vacant intercity neighborhood (mainline denomination) churches in mixed and changed to populations of color, -- depends on its ability to reestablish community.  Why not, then, create or recreate a model community newspaper using internet technology?

Hence, the rebirth of Shepherd's Gate as Overbrook eTimes, (perhaps as a CommunityBlog).  But perhaps with a special slant on its mission:
  • To address -- help seek to remove, perhaps one by one --  some of the conditions that give rise to anonymity
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  • Provide, one by one, specific services and circumstanses that contribute to knowledge of nieghbors and a sense of community
    • A place where all members of the Overbrook Community can email announcements about family activities.
    • A place where Cassidy Elementery School can make announcement to the parents of its children.
    • A place where [] middle school and [] High School can also make announcements.
    • A place where all Overbrook organizations, including other churches, can make announcements.
    • A place where all Overbrook businesses can advertise their goods and services.
    • A place where the City Government of Philadelphia can reach Overbrook residents, -- and others as well with email messages
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  • Provide a number of ways to use Internet Technology to address one of the most serious problems facing almost every community: crime
    • Adult repeat offenders -- especially those who have not provided restitution to their victims, know and unknown -- are among the major contributors of crime, whether they are or are not under the supervision of probation and parole.  Their
      • pictures
      • residences
      • modes operendi
      • but also their restitution to former victims
      • as well as other relevant infformations like
        • crimes charged
        • crimes for which convicted
        • rehibilitation attempted, if any
        • parole reports
        • parole decisions
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    • Juvenile repeat offenders -- but only those not successfully making restitution to victims -- have NOT been served by anonymity.  They are to future adult more serious offenders.  Juvenile Offenders are too important a non-renewal human resource to be left to the monopoly of a failed probation/parole system to "manage." 
      • If we were to calculate in every city the cost and effort to recycle and reclaim city refuse for the city dump, would it be more or less that what we spend on reclaiming our youth from lives of crime and social disruption?
      • Yes, the theory of giving them a fresh start at, say 18, is a noble hope for rehabilitation, but what variations in rates of success and failure have we experieced; but has not the "Law of Untended Consequences" of that anonymity created consequences, perhaps in direct proportion to the restitution that have, or have not, provided to their victims?
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