Empowering citizens with knowledge, tools and strategy is one of my favorite things.  Wikipedia, a “free-access, free content Internet encyclopedia,” where “anyone who can access the site can edit almost any of its articles” seems like something that should be right up my alley. But, from afar, I have been skeptical of the fundamental internet crowd-sourcing concept of Linus’s Law that, “Many eyes make all bugs shallow.”  To test the objectivity of Wikipedia and the ability of many eyes to bring forth the most salient aspects of an entry, I propose to create a new page on the “Sooty Six” power plant cleanup campaign in Connecticut.  We know from Professor Mele that a Wikipedia article must be notable, verifiable and neutral, and I believe I can create an entry that meets these criteria.

Notable and Verifiable: The “Sooty Six” power plant cleanup campaign was a 5-year campaign (1997-2002) supported by a diverse coalition whose membership represented 1/6 of the state’s population, was widely covered by Connecticut’s media outlets for multiple years, and has had lasting statewide and national implications.  It is a topic that is referenced in three existing Wikipedia articles: 1) Montville CT, 2) Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, and 3) Donald E. Williams, Jr.  The issue seems significant since two of the top-ranking politicians in the state list their involvement with cleaning up the Sooty Six in their short Wikipedia pages, although they had decades of political accomplishments to choose from.  Jepsen’s page says, “”Sooty Six” was one of Connecticut’s largest environmental debates.”

Another important aspect, neutrality, will be achieved by paralleling the tone, vernacular and content headings of existing Wikipedia entries that report on campaigns, such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68) and the Pacific Gas and Electric litigation discussed in the Erin Brockovich entry.

The contents of the “Sooty Six” entry may include:

  • Background
  • Nomenclature (Filthy Five to Sooty Six)
  • Community organizing (Clean Air Committees in 6 power plant towns + canvassing across the state, Coalition support and stakeholders)
  • Legislative process and citizen education (How to kill a bill, ISO and WeLie, black hat versus white hat, Making democracy work by changing the face of public hearings (sleeping in the car)
  • Key events
    • Chicken Little and the power report
    • Governor’s veto and the sooty socks
    • Radio advertising wars between Coalition and Dept. of Environmental Protection
  • Media Coverage
  • Statewide ramifications (Environmental concerns taken seriously: Nationally precedent-setting legislation: Sooty Six law + Hg products law + Hg power plant law + Climate Change law)
  • National ramifications: 1) Federal mercury regulations, and 2) Senate climate legislation
  • 10-year report
  • External links
  • Images

Wikipedia Approval: I have begun to seek acceptance from Wikipedia. On Nov 2, I posted a question to the talk sections of each of the three pages that referenced the Sooty Six to see if there was any objection to starting a new “Sooty Six” page, but I have not gotten any response.  I was notified that an administrator, DragonflySixtyseven, had patrolled my talk page, so I will engage him/her directly to seek support and advice. I met with a Wikipedia editor and he suggested that I should not use my real name as my username, so I will register a more anonymous username, and then continue my outreach.

The Wikipedia editor also told me that Wikipedia had changed the way new pages are approved, and it is now a more stringent and time-consuming process. Once in the queue it might take about six weeks for approval. During our November 3 meeting, Nicco said as long as I could show that I had engaged the community and could send a copy of the submission that was in the queue, it would be OK if the entry was not officially approved by the Dec 17 final project deadline. If that continues to be the case, then I will move forward with establishing a “Sooty Six” Wikipedia page!

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