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In response to a request from the current RappNet Administrator about its origins. I was new to the county at the time, and living up in Jenkins Hollow, bordering SNP (the home of my heart). I couldn't have started it without Mimi Cantwell, who knew how to use the primitive technology (1998! I think) to create the social medium.

I started it as a ListServ, sending group emails to local people (addresses collected from

various people like Hunt Harris and, I'm sure, RLEP members) I identified as having

an interest in enviro and land use issues, a professional focus of mine.

I saw it as an opportunity to link up with like-minded people; I also thought it was a great way

to build a citizen network thruout our sparse population, to coordinate information/action on county issues.

(E.g. I used it extensively when I designed and initiated the process that established RCCA (1999?), and selectively in writing the Sperryville Main Street grant project, which I originally envisioned as a "Gateway Project" to help the west end, out 211 to Thornton Gap.)

Managing the loquacious ideologues and setting a norm of civility were early challenges..

and perhaps still are, since at least three of your most active and pugnacious posters have

been at it almost since the beginning. After some controversy, we shifted to an opt-in system.

There were never any topical limits on RappNet, and no censoring filter. It quickly grew beyond

the enviros and became more like a community bulletin board-- which I thought was great.

I don't remember how many members we had when I turned RappNet over to Eric Kvarnes-- maybe 100-- but I told him at the time that he'd likely be a victim of his own success-- and indeed mushrooming growth, and controversy, apparently led to the separate "channels".

Eric was the ideal person to take it over, and I didn't really consider anyone else. He had the technical skills to be the Administrator, and just the right "voice" to humor the dissidents and soothe tempers when necessary. His posts were unfailingly friendly and polite, a model of civil discourse. Others were involved from time to time-- Tobey, Chris Salmon-- but I lost touch with the network when Alexis and I moved to California in 2004.

It's good to know that RappNet continues to flourish. And it is wonderful to be back in the Blue Ridge. We love Charlottesville-- it has everything we need-- and we do get up to RappCo on occasion, for example for the annual Art Tour.

Cheers to All,

BL Catron

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