TP Listserv connects communities
By Sean Gossard
From lost dogs and advice on handymen to tips on composting and local political debate, the Between the Creeks Listserv has been trying to connect communities’ in Takoma Park.
The Listserv — an electronic mailing system in which subscribers can post topics of their choosing and spark discussions with other members — mostly serves members of Ward 5 between Takoma Park and Silver Spring (between Sligo and Long Branch creeks) and is looking to bolster its numbers to fuel further discussion and a sense of community.
Keith Berner, who works in tech support and strategy, moderates the Between the Creeks Listserv, which began as an active neighborhood association.
“At the time [in the early 2000s] we held one meeting and a bunch of us showed up and really nothing else happened except I took over the Listserv,” Berner said.
After a few years, the Listserv began to shrink until only a few users in Silver Spring were active on it. “Over a period of time, I felt we needed greater geographic area and diversity,” Berner said.
So Berner merged another existing Listserv with Between the Creeks to create a larger online community in the area. The Listserv now has around 75 active members, making several posts a week. That’s far fewer than the Takoma Listserv, which has nearly 3,000 users but focuses on a much larger portion of the region.
“What I simply would like to do is get more people to join, so there can be a variety of conversations,” Berner said. There are around 1,000 people in the Between the Creeks area, so Berner says there is plenty of room to grow.
Berner also likes to keep discussions open to a variety of topics, not just the hyper-local ones other Listservs may have. “I found most Listervs to be too limiting,” Berner said.
“Most were trying to find a handyman or borrow sugar, but I wanted one to be able to talk about the issues of the day.” Berner said Between the Creeks is a safe and open space for larger national conversations, as long as there are no ad hominem or other personal attacks on users.
Still, topics tend to trend light, with the most active user — a Silver Spring resident — posting most frequently about bluegrass and other concerts.
Berner now hopes to grow the Listserv to get more people in undeserved communities involved. “I’ve seen that poorer communities are less likely to engage than more affluent white members,” Berner said. “And renters are also less likely to participate than those that own homes.”
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the Between the Creeks Listserv, send an email with your name and address to TKPK@KBerner.us. You can join even without living in the designated area that it serves.
This article appeared in the March 2019 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.