There is a fair amount of talk these days about how blogs are becoming a key component in forming online communities. But dont go singing those praises to Mike Rehfus, founder of the Hamtramck Confidential blog. Rehfus knows what real community is all about, and sees the virtual form falling far short by comparison.
For three years Rehfus, 35, owned the Urban Break Coffee House, which he sought to make a community gathering spot. It was a place that had a world map posted on the wall, and patrons in this incredibly diverse community were encouraged to place pins in their place of origin. Eventually, he says, there were thousands of pins on that map.
I wanted to create a truly open space, he says. A place not dominated by any one social or ethnic group. Along with java and food, the cafe provided a forum for poetry and live music. And though he succeeded in creating a space where the towns various cultures could mix and mingle, the business ultimately didnt make it. After the place closed, Rehfus, looking for a way to stay engaged in the city hes called home for 10 years, began blogging at the start of this year.
Currently working in advertising, he brought a range of experience to the endeavor. Hed worked previously as the design editor at the towns paper, The Hamtramck Citizen. Hed also done stints on the citys Downtown Development Authority and the Zoning Board of Appeals, so he had an insiders view of Hamtramcks often bizarre political workings, especially after helping out on a few political campaigns.
The blogging started once he found out how easy it was to create a site using the free services provided by outfits like blogspot.com, which make it simple for almost anyone to grab a space in the blogosphere.
Sometimes going with tips supplied by City Hall connections, at others commenting on the work of his fellow Hamtramck bloggers or talking about preserving the cultural and social aspects that make his town so interesting, Rehfus allows that his blog is a way to stay engaged in his community, and to share his ideas about it, using what insight I have to express a point of view.
Its apparent he likes stirring things up. His most recent item relates the story of a Hamtramck man who claims he was harassed by a cop who refused to provide his name. Who is Badge 37? asks Rehfus.
Still, posting online comes up short compared to the sort of face-to-face exchanges that occurred daily when he ran the café.
Its a far, far cry from the Urban Break, Rehfus says. Blogs dont connect people physically, so there is an antisocial component to them.
So, what purpose do they serve?
Blogs are still largely organic, he says, creating an opportunity for the unfettered exchange of ideas. You have an incredible volume of ideas and information being exchanged at incredible rates.Send comments to [email protected]
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.