Residents of Marquette Road have had their quiet street turned upside down since the FBI raided the home of Richard and Cynthia Murphy, alleged Russian spies. While the adults on Marquette Road were outside talking about Cynthia Murphy gardening and always smiling, the kids took their discussion where kids talk these days. They went on Facebook.
The social media network has been a place for Blake Lapin, 14, and Joelle Capone, 12, to report what it was like seeing the FBI, then camera crews and reporters, take over their block.
“My friends want to know what’s going on so we’ve been posting status updates,” Capone says. “People have been writing to tell me they saw me on the news.”
Starting tomorrow, July 1, the place we all call Baristaville gets bigger.
We will begin covering Maplewood, Millburn and South Orange with sites for each town as The New York Times today ends publication of The Local in New Jersey and directs its readers in those three towns to Baristanet.
“Hyperlocal journalism is constantly evolving, and as The Times continues to investigate this arena, we’ll watch with great interest how our friends at Baristanet advance the cause in Maplewood, South Orange and Millburn,” said Jim Schachter, associate managing editor.
We’re thrilled that the Times has passed their hyperlocal baton to us and we will run with it. First and foremost, we are your local homegrown online community. And to that end, we are bringing these new towns into an expanded “Baristaville” by staying local. Journalist and Maplewood resident Jolie Solomon joins the Baristanet team along with community contributors from Maplewood, South Orange and Millburn.
Skatepark in Montclair, NJ! is a group working hard to finally bring a skatepark to Montclair. They currently have 390 members on their Facebook group page, have been collecting signatures in a petition and have drafted a proposal to present to the Town Council on July 6.
Angel Kenney, the group’s organizer, doesn’t have children who skateboard, but she explained, “I am very interested in finding ways for young people to have empowering experiences, opportunities to fight for things they care deeply about and to gain skills in community organizing and working through a democratic process.”
She, along with others, got the ball rolling and started organizing the effort by holding various meetings, talking to kids who skate, meeting with members of the town council who explained the process to them. They even met with people who were involved in the Bloomfield Skatepark, which some would say has failed, to learn how NOT to do it.
The New York Daily News has a story of a family who were friends with Montclair’s alleged Russian spies after meeting them in 2003 when the Murphys lived in Hoboken. The couple, who say they felt betrayed after learning of their friends’ alleged spy activities, spoke on condition of anonymity. They also shared an album of photos of the Murphy family.
“I look back at it now and think, ‘We let them watch our kids!’ Russian spies watching our kids,” the husband said.
The Hoboken friends got close enough to the Murphys to have dinners together (Cynthia was lauded as a great cook and even baked cookies shaped like the Statue of Liberty), barbecues and attend a birthday party for one of the Murphy daughters. The last contact from the Murphys came with a photo Christmas card in December 2009, taken in front of their home on Marquette Road.
In an effort to get New Jersey out of debt, Gov. Christie has proposed a constitutional amendment that would cap the local increase in property taxes at 2.5 percent per year. Cory Booker is a supporter. Critics bring up California’s famous Proposition 13, which capped property taxes in the state, but led to a drastic drop in the quality of its public schools. What do you think?
It’s that time of year again or maybe it was that time of year as soon as the thermometer hit 60. Either way, jungle gym companies are glad to see the return of warm weather and the parents it ushers into its stores and onto its websites.I successfully refused to succumb to this requirement of suburban family life for more than eight years. And, then, last year I cracked.
My kids didn’t badger me or complain. I’m not even sure they wanted one. I wanted one. Whenever we were outside in the backyard my kids wandered around aimlessly, invariably returning inside to the couch. I wanted to shoo them back outside and tell them to go play. But with what? We didn’t have a pool or swings or even a paved driveway to draw on. I decided for my sanity and their survival we needed a playset.
I actually had visions of summer days whiled away on the swingset or in the attached fort, children’s laughter floating by on a balmy breeze, as I worked uninterrupted nearby.
But I wanted one thing to be perfectly clear. If I was going to take out a second mortgage to finance a playset for my kids, they would have to live on it. I’m not being funny, and this isn’t hyperbole. I mean literally.
The playset we eyed up had a house-like enclosure and a picnic table and was practically as big as my house. It was certainly a suitable dwelling for two smallish people. They could come in for the winter but not until then. And if we ran some electric wire and plumbing to the fort, I might not ever have to see them again.
But as with all fantasies, once realized, the facts on the ground don’t quite match the vision. And so it was with my dream playset.