I hoped for a Christmas miracle, a new year’s resolution, a resurrection, but I guess it’s not happening–Rockville Central has truly closed its door for good. Started in June 2007, it was an ongoing grand experiment in creating an online community that developed a strong local following and attracted national attention. Yup, 2007–ancient history on the internet (recall that Flickr launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and the iPhone, Droid, and Kindle all came out in 2007). Brad Rourke and Cindy Cotte Griffiths independently thought of using social media to create a virtual community and then came together to produce and manage Rockville Central. It started with a Picture of the Day (one of Brad’s signature elements) and that first month included stories about:
- Rudy Guliani making a stop in Rockville during his presidential campaign
- Two new planners appointed to the Montgomery County Planning Board
- A new CEO for Goodwill Industries International, based in Rockville
- Free Wi-Fi in Town Center
- Upcoming Events for the Week
- Sidewalk improvements on Beall Avenue
- Sightings of black bears
- The launch of the iPhone
- A woman killed by a MARC train
Over the following years, it had grown, matured, and morphed by producing an internet radio show and YouTube videos, plotting police reports and real estate listings on maps, collaborating with other online communities (such as Lunching in the DMV and Rockville Living), reporting on City Council and other community meetings, creating editorial cartoons (one of Cindy’s signature elements), welcoming guest opinions and contributor reviews, hosting Rockville Roundtables and a City Council debate (one of the best), and moving to Facebook.
It’s amazing what they accomplished in four years but for two volunteers, it was difficult to maintain the pace and they just became too tired to continue. I know the feeling, which is why I post at a much lower pace. As they said in their last post of October 14, 2011 at 3:43 am (am!?):
It takes a great deal of energy and time to support the online community in the way we feel it deserves. We do not make money off of Rockville Central, and never intended to. It is a labor of love and devotion to Our Fair City. We don’t feel we can devote the kind of energy it deserves and so, rather than let it whither, we decided to make a clean end.
Rockville Central helped identify the important news in the community, facilitated discussions in a civil and respectful manner, made us see our town in new and interesting ways, and introduced us to the many thoughtful and socially-active people who live in Rockville. I’ll miss Rockville Central this year, but thankfully, Rockville still has Brad and Cindy.