Want to discuss Bridgewater events and politics? Ask a question about a new business? Find out what fellow residents think about an important subject like town council’s decision to raise taxes? Or even parse the national news?
Since 1999, there’s been an online forum for such discussions called “Bridgewater Buzz.”
You can get there by using the address www.bridgewaterva.com or www.bridgewaterbuzz.com.
The site has about six regular users and 20 who check in less frequently. They’re a polite bunch. Founder and moderator William C. Wood says he hasn’t had to remove a nasty post in the last five years.
The website, which averages about 200 hits a month, provides a glimpse of Bridgewater’s charm: there’s information about the lawn party, Bridgewater Little League, Bridgewater College, local churches and civic organizations. If you have a few minutes, you can even take meandering video tours of not-very-expansive Wildwood Park and Edgebriar Park.
There’s also a update from the weather station at John Wayland Elementary School; a ticker that tells where to find the cheapest gas; and a link to check flights coming into Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.
Polite, charming, welcoming, neat as a pin—the site is kind of like Bridgewater itself, Wood says—humbly, of course.
“I think a site like this should be a reflection of the community,” he said. “A site called Bridgewater V-A should remind people of Bridgewater. It should have a hyper-local feel.”
Wood, a economics professor at James Madison University, makes just enough money to pay for the $100 annual hosting fee. He uses the Bridgewaterva.com website as a kind of online lab to experiment with web hosting and social media. What he learns, he takes back to his classroom.
Some of that tinkering recently led Wood to move the online discussion forum to the homepage, where it’s easily accessible.
“I always wanted it to be dignified, and the Buzz was the freewheeling part,” he said. “People really like that forum.”
What Regular Buzzers Say About the Site
"i value the ability to find out and share about highly local stuff that is too trivial or uncertain for the media to
cover. but important to people in bridgewater." —MOUSIE
"I enjoy the political discussions the most; however, at times, the local activities are interesting (the discussion of the silly
street modifications to Dinkel Ave. comes to mind). To my knowledge, there has never been a personal attack while disagreeing...Wish more people would join in." —MCGILL
I welcome any opportunity to warn my fellow citizens of the dangers of creeping statism, even when it is something as seemingly innocuous as a Labor Day party funded by taxation (and that backed up by force of arms). I also, however, like the fact that those who disagree with my views are always civil and courteous on the Buzz. I always try to return the favor. We disagree on Bridgewater Buzz without being disagreeable.—LIBERTARIAN
I love to hear about local successes, especially involving youth or the arts, so when someone posts a musical review or a high-five for a fund-raiser, I think it’s great. —TRAVELER
I enjoy getting updated on the small trivial details of what’s going on in Bridgewater — new businesses, businesses leaving or changing, etc. I have also enjoyed a forum that does not involve personal attacks or rudeness. Everyone is polite and courteous to others even when disagreeing. —TINK