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Morning Notes

Flag mural on Virginia Square VFW post (photo courtesy @jbester)

Middle School to Hold ‘Road Show’ — Thomas Jefferson Middle School Principal Keisha Boggan and administrators will be holding a neighborhood meet and greet this coming Tuesday. The “TJMS Road Show” will feature “hot dogs, drinks, music, and good conversation,” with four stops in the Barcroft, Westmont Gardens, Fillmore Gardens, and Oakland Park/Lyon Park areas. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8. [Arlington Public Schools]

Homeland Security Renews Ballston Lease — In a bit of good news for commercial real estate in Arlington, the Dept. of Homeland Security has renewed a 120,435 square foot lease on its office at Two Ballston Plaza (1110 N. Glebe Road). [CityBizList]

MONA Sponsors Backpacks — The group Mothers of North Arlington has sponsored 18 backpacks for children at the local shelter Doorways for Women and Families. “Many of MONA’s 2800 members donated items for 18 backpacks for children from age 1 to 18,” the group said in a press release. “The backpacks included all the usual school necessities (paper, pencils, glue, crayons, binders, lunch box, etc.); some also had scientific calculators, umbrellas, digital watches, and diapers for the youngest recipients. Each backpack was stocked with $75-100 in gift cards to Target for school clothes (nearly $1,600 in total).”

Arlington Man Killed in Fairfax County Crash — A 51-year-old Arlington man died yesterday afternoon in a crash in Fairfax County. Virginia State Police say Jerry Knight was riding a moped on an I-66 exit ramp when he was struck by a vehicle and killed. Police are seeking information on the striking vehicle and its driver. [Patch]

Photo courtesy @jbester

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MONA Reverses Course After More Member Complaints

MoNA logo(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) The Mothers of North Arlington group is reverting to Yahoo! after a maligned platform shift last year, but the splinter group formed in the wake of the original change isn’t going anywhere.

Yesterday, MONA Co-Presidents Morgan Chinoy and M.K. Yeargin sent an email to their membership group announcing that the group would resume using two Yahoo! Groups for communication after switching to a system called MemberFuse last October. The co-presidents said that, in a poll of 900 of the group’s roughly 2,000 members, a majority voted to go back to Yahoo!.

“In light of the challenges over the past year, we look forward to a revitalized member community on the Yahoo groups,” the co-presidents said in an email to members, which ARLnow.com was forwarded. “Over 900 people voted in the poll, and the sheer number of responses, regardless of preference, is a testament to how important the message boards are to the MONA community.”

In response to last fall’s platform change, a separate Yahoo! Group formed: North Arlington Parents, or NAPping. MONA members disheartened by what they felt was a lack of consideration for the membership’s wishes splintered off, forming a free group — MONA costs $40 a year — with fewer restrictions.

NAPping isn’t going anywhere, its leaders told the group’s 766 members yesterday.

“The MONA board has repeatedly shown indifference to its members’ opinions,” NAPping moderators said in an email. “Therefore, we don’t see any reason to abandon NAP in favor of something that could once again be taken away without regard to the members’ objections.”

On March 5, MONA leaders sent out the poll to its membership, saying “notification outages” had led many of its members to “feel disconnected from MONA as a result.” An anonymous tipster told ARLnow.com that the outages were just one source of frustration — the new platform “was very difficult to read and scroll through, you had to click on each message if you wanted to read it, taking a lot of time.”

The NAPping group said it pledged to “continue to be free” and “will continue to use Yahoo Groups for discussions as long as that service continues to be available.” The splinter group doesn’t organize playgroups, host speakers or socials like dues-based MONA does.

Chinoy and Yeargin have not responded to requests for comment. After the jump, you can read the emails MONA and NAPping sent to their memberships yesterday.

Here’s the email from MONA:

Hi everyone,

Thank you for participating in the recent MONA message board poll. Over 900 people voted in the poll, and the sheer number of responses, regardless of preference, is a testament to how important the message boards are to the MONA community. An engaged membership helps MONA continue to be an valuable community parenting resource. We are grateful to your participation.

The MONA membership has voted to return to the Yahoo groups, and we are now preparing for that transition. In light of the challenges over the past year, we look forward to a revitalized member community on the Yahoo groups.

We expect both MONA Yahoo Groups — Narlingtonmoms and MONAMarketplace — will resume operation this coming Saturday, March 28th. Here is what you can expect as we complete this transition:

  1. Existing members of the Yahoo groups: as long as we can verify the email address in the Yahoo database against the MONA membership database, you won’t have to do anything to gain access.
  2. Members who joined MONA after the transition to Memberfuse: You will receive invitations to both of the MONA Yahoo groups once the groups have been re-opened.
  3. Unverified e-mail addresses in Yahoo Groups: Any e-mail addresses in Yahoo Groups that are not in the MONA membership database will be deleted. Once the groups have been re-opened, we will send all members links requesting membership in both groups again.

In the meantime, the Memberfuse forums will remain open until everyone has had an opportunity to move over to the Yahoo groups.

Thank you in advance for your patience as we move through this transition. Please remember your MONA volunteers will be working hard to manage this transition. We promise we will respond to everyone’s requests for assistance as quickly as possible. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected]

Best,

Morgan Chinoy & MK Yeargin
Co-Presidents, Mothers of North Arlington

And here is the message from NAPping:

Dear NAPpers,

As you might have noticed, MONA has recently put out a survey to ask members whether they’d like to stay with the Memberfuse discussion board platform or move back to Yahoo Groups.

It’s certainly great to see that the dissatisfaction with the new MONA platform might finally lead to a change. But it took nearly a year to get to that concession in spite of countless members speaking out against leaving Yahoo Groups. Therefore even if MONA does return to Yahoo Groups, the NAP discussion board will remain and we hope you will too.

While MONA has strengths that NAP certainly cannot and will not replicate (playgroups, outings, speakers, community service events, etc.), we believe that NAP has it’s own strengths:

  1. NAP and MarketNAP are free services.
  2. NAP is not constrained by tax laws in discussing local political issues like schools.
  3. NAP and MarketNAP use a tried and true Yahoo Groups platform for our discussions.

Furthermore, the MONA board has repeatedly shown indifference to its members’ opinions. Therefore, we don’t see any reason to abandon NAP in favor of something that could once again be taken away without regard to the members’ objections.

In hopes that those who’ve made this community so successful will also choose to stick around, we’re making the following pledges to the NAP community:

  1. NAP will continue to be free.
  2. NAP will continue to use Yahoo Groups for discussions as long as that service continues to be available.

Changes to either of the above would only come about through the overwhelming majority preference of the members of the NAP discussion board as expressed in an open and transparent vote.

Thank you for making NAP a great community. We hope you’ll stick around and continue to help it grow no matter what the MONA board decides.

Best wishes,
The NAP Moderator Team

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MONA Dissenters Split Off into Free Online Group

MoNA logo(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) The Mothers of North Arlington — a support and social group for mothers in six Arlington ZIP codes with more than 2,000 members — is now facing competition from a group of former members.

MONA’s members have congregated since 2009 on a Yahoo! Group that today has 2,353 members. According to a tipster, MONA is switching over to a new web platform tomorrow, and the switch has already prompted enough opposition that the former MONA president resigned in May, claiming some members were using “hate speech” and “cyber-bullying” over the impending change.

Yesterday, some of MONA’s members decided that, instead of asking MONA to keep its Yahoo! Group alive, they would start their own. NAPping — short for North Arlington Parents — launched on Monday as a free group for North Arlington parents. So far, Yahoo! reports it has just shy of 150 members. In May, MONA had 2,615 members.

While MONA charges $40 in annual membership dues and restricts membership to residents of the 22201, 22203, 22205, 22207, 22209 and 22213 ZIP codes, NAPping is a free group. It was started after parents who didn’t want MONA to shift away from the Yahoo! Group all put their names into a Google Doc to split off.

Asked about NAP’s formation, MONA leaders took the high road, saying they welcomed the competing group.

“One thing this transition has shown us is the wide variety of needs, interests and priorities in the community as people seek parenting support,” MONA co-presidents Morgan Chinoy and M.K. Yeargin said in a statement to ARLnow.com. “We think it is a positive thing for the North Arlington community to have more than one parenting support organization to allow people to find what best suits their needs, whether it’s some, all or none of them. We look forward to a positive relationship with North Arlington Parents as we all work toward our common goal of supporting parents in our community.”

Photo via MONA

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MONA President Resigns Over ‘Cyber-Bullying’

MoNA logoThe president of Mothers of North Arlington resigned this weekend over members of the popular email listserv engaging in what she called “inappropriate and hateful speech.”

Tammy Burke Stember sent out an email to the MONA Yahoo! Group on Sunday afternoon declaring that she was resigning as president, effective immediately, after five years at the helm.

MONA’s Yahoo! Group has 2,615 members, and is open only to residents of the zips codes 22201, 22203, 22205, 22207,  22209 and 22213 for $40 in annual dues. The group — designed to serve mothers with member-to-member advice and information on things like playgroups and kid-friendly events — is apparently switching web platforms, which has caused some dissension in its ranks.

“This new system will serve us well for many years to come,” Stember wrote in her email, which was obtained by ARLnow.com. “Change is always difficult and we know that some will not agree with the changes.”

But, Stember went on to say, disagreements over the functionality of the new system escalated well past the point of polite discourse.

“Despite the disagreements, I have always thought that MONA is a great organization that is made up of mothers who care about each other and the community,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the last few months have shown that is not true anymore. In all of my years serving in MONA, I have never seen so many members use inappropriate and hateful speech. Many of the MONA board members have been called names, and have been the victim of cyber-bullying. We teach our children to hopefully be productive, respectful members of society, but yet we as mothers do not do the same.”

A separate forum post asks MONA members to put their emails into a Google Doc in preparation for the MONA list-serve on Yahoo! being taken down.

“I sincerely hope that MONA will decide to keep the Yahoo Group alive,” the poster writes. “Nevertheless several of us have been discussing the situation offline and we’re concerned that in just a few days, for the first time in over 10 years, MONA members will no longer have the ability to communicate directly with the rest of the membership.”

“MONA is imploding,” suggested an anonymous tipster, in an email to ARLnow.com. “They botched [the] platform changeover.”

MONA’s co-president, Morgan Chinoy, declined to comment. The full text of Stember’s email, after the jump.

Dear MONA Members:

For five years I have had the privilege of serving in the MONA organization and building friendships that will last a lifetime. Over the last year, MONA has been building a new electronic system that will propel our organization into the future, by allowing us to communicate more effectively and allowing our many events to be scheduled timely. This new system will serve us well for many years to come.

Change is always difficult and we know that some will not agree with the changes. The board has asked for patience is allowing us to review all the concerns from members, none has been given. Despite the disagreements, I have always thought that MONA is a great organization that is made up of mothers who care about each other and the community. However, unfortunately, the last few months have shown that is not true anymore.

In all of my years serving in MONA, I have never seen so many members use inappropriate and hateful speech. Many of the MONA board members have been called names, and have been the victim of cyber-bullying. We teach our children to hopefully be productive, respectful members of society, but yet we as mothers do not do the same. Most members of MONA are wonderful women who I would be proud to call my friends and share a drink with. However, the events over this past week that have played out on Yahoo groups, have shown that the things we have worked so hard to teach our children, still reside among us.

What is the most frustrating thing about these events is that many of the members, who are complaining and calling for new groups to be formed, have never participated for one second in the organization. They have never bothered to read the many helpful emails MONA has sent out showing that the new system is better and easy to use. They have also never bothered to come to any meetings, but would rather conduct campaigns of disrespect and bullying from their arm chairs. They have also never seen the countless hours that we have put into the new system to make it better for all.

For these reasons, I am hereby resigning as President of MONA effective immediately. Our current Board has wonderful, caring members who actually want MONA to succeed and thrive, and I wish the best to them, as my friends, as they navigate the uncertain waters ahead. I urge all of our members to give them the support and the respect that they have earned.

Respectfully,
Tammy Stember

Photo via MONA

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