Wednesday February 18, 2004

My Two Cents

Do you have opinions on today's issues? Do you write Letters to the Editor? Do you wish there were easier ways of making your voice heard? Do you wish someone would ask for your thoughts and comments on local or political issues?

Spouse and self may soon have a chance to do just that, through a program at the San Francisco Chronicle called "Two Cents".

We got involved this way...

The San Francisco Chronicle has a regular feature called ChronicleWatch.

Is something broken in your neighborhood? We want tips from communities in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.
It's a wonderful idea, methinks. Every day, the paper prints an update (something that has been fixed or is still not working) or a new report. They also print the name, email address, and telephone number of the responsible party, and they don't mess around. For example, today's update begins:
Visitors to Agua Vista Park in San Francisco now have a place to sit, eat and take in a view of the bay, and soon they'll be able to enjoy other improvements as well...
The "responsible party" is Douglas Wong, Port of San Francisco executive director. No flunky he!

Recently, Spouse and self sent a note to ChronicleWatch to point out a problem near our home in San Bruno:

Several years ago, San Mateo County approved extending the northern end of the San Andreas Trail to San Bruno Avenue. The trail work was completed well over a year ago. The trail is paved, the fence is up, there are even redwood signboards in position to hold flyers and cautionary notices. The appropriate San Mateo County web page even lists the extension.

The gate, however, has remained locked for at least a year with no indication that it will be opened at any time soon. We can only guess the reason; we presume it has something to do with crosswalks and parking. There is a parking area planned for the vacant lot at the northeast corner of the Skyline (Hwy 35) and San Bruno Ave intersection. No work has been started on that parking lot.

Meanwhile, a section of the trail lies fallow, visible but unusable. We would like to see work completed on the parking area and the trail extension opened. Soon.

We received a thank you note in response, along with an invitation to join a new Chronicle program:

P.S. Would you like a chance to get your stories and opinions into print? Consider joining the Chronicle's Two Cents Project, a program designed to get more of our readers' ideas, experiences and viewpoints into the paper. For details, email us ...

We replied with our interest and asked for details.

The project is open to all Bay Area residents (Chronicle employees excepted).

If you decide to participate, we will e-mail you:

1) When a reporter needs to get in touch with people who have had a particular experience. Some examples of this: Health reporter Ulysses Torassa may want to get in touch with people who have no health insurance, or business writer David Lazarus may want to hear from victims of identity theft. A news reporter may want to talk to readers about proposed new taxes or their views on political issues. Comments you e-mail or give to reporters over the phone may be quoted in their articles.

2) When we need commentary or reactions to news events. We frequently publish, in column format, photos of Two Cents correspondents and their comments on the issues of the day. These columns run regularly in our Sunday Insight and Friday sections, and in other sections of the paper when space permits. We may also seek your recommendations on favorite Bay Area places and activities, or ask you to share personal anecdotes with our readers.

You don't need to respond to all of our e-mails -- only those you feel qualified or moved to answer.

If you decide to participate, you will be asked to come to The Chronicle to be photographed or sent instructions on how to mail your photo to us. We will then keep your picture on file so we can run it when one of your answers is published.

Your name, hometown and possibly your occupation will also run when your answers are selected for publication.

The turnaround time may be tight. We may send out questions in the early afternoon, for instance, and ask to have your responses by the evening; at other times you'll have a few days to formulate a response.

It sounded like fun, so we signed up. Last night, we drove into the City to have our pictures taken by a Chronicle photographer. The Chronicle even paid for our parking in the garage across the street. Now we get to look forward to having the Chronicle ask for our opinion on something.

My Two Cents ( in category Trivial Pursuits ) - posted at Wed, 18 Feb, 14:03 Pacific | «e»