Ben Knappmiller Resigns from JP Neighborhood Council

The one-term member has a new job that will take him to New York. Also, Council Member Dave Demerjian says he will not seek a second term.

Ben Knappmiller, a one-term member of the , is stepping down to take a job in New York.

"My wife and I are very sad to leave Jamaica Plain," Knappmiller said in an email to Patch. "It has been such a wonderful place to live and we leave with very fond memories of the incredibly friendly and caring people we've met here."

While on the Neighborhood Council, Knappmiller was especially active in revamping the council's public communications, including improving the board's website.

"He's done an incredible amount of work," said Andrew Howley, chairperson of the elected, volunteer advisory board. "He will be missed."

Knappmiller announced his resignation at Tuesday's .

He is not the only board member who won't be standing for re-election come Sept. 24. Council Member Dave Demerjian also told Patch he will not seek a second term.

The Neighborhood Council advises city boards on a wide variety of issues like restaurant permits, zoning and how to improve city services. Recently, the board has garnered attention for its handling of Whole Foods' decision to come to Jamaica Plain. In a , Knappmiller and Demerjian were on opposite sides. The council narrowly voted to approve a statement that Whole Foods is "not a good fit" for Hyde Square. Knappmiller supported the statement and Demerjian voted against it.

Interested in running for a seat on the Neighborhood Council? Here is a packet of information you'll need to get started.

Deselby July 19, 2011 at 06:02 PM
I basically said, don't let the door hit you on the way out. Like a lot of things, it really wasn't that sharp, it was the reaction from someone framing it as "insulting" that started this. What bothers me more is that a comment I left saying that acerbic comments and anonymity were better than "volunteering" to obstruct 100 jobs and keep a business site blighted was also deleted. I guess the editors are working to the day when we all "speak with one voice."
Andrea Cherez July 19, 2011 at 06:07 PM
If someone needs the cloak of anonymity to be able to express themselves, I guess it isn't up to us to judge. But you can't realistically point our political climate as a motivator; we don't live in China - any day of the week, you can open a newspaper or turn on the tv and get all kinds of opinions, unpopular or not, from folks who are glad to take credit. Personally, I'm looking forward to the arrival of Whole Foods. Whether this will be a good or bad thing for the community obviously depends on one's perspective and we certainly love our diverse pov's in JP! So we'll see. Intentions and effort aren't the only things that deserve to earn respect for a group's work, but I feel that the JPNC has achieved a reasoned position out of the chaos of community feelings about a grocery store. And is getting a community benefits package from a huge corporation a good or bad thing? We'll see. In the meantime, please keep in mind "Words that are true and kind can change our world." - Buddha (if my refrigerator magnet is accurate). Slings just keep us squabbling. Deselby, I haven't read "We" but from what I remember, "Brave New World" isn't about universal enlightenment, but universal mind control.
Bill July 19, 2011 at 06:48 PM
The Patch Identity Question, it truly may be best to leave well enough alone. Bruce claims that there's so much negativity being posted because of anonymous screen names, which may have merit, but forcing others to disclose personal identities smacks of dictatorship. "You will disclose your full identity, comrade, or there will be serious repercussions. We will squash all forms of personal expression until you comply!" Right up there with "When we want your opinion, we'll tell you what it is." and "The beatings will continue until the morale improves!" Anonymity allows people to speak without fear of being shunned or ostracized by neighbors and co-workers. No, we're not likely to be dragged off to Siberia, but it's sometimes difficult to express the truth with all the PC requirements added in. This idea of whipping out the personal name and address while saying nothing offensive or argumentative may seem semi-heroic, but appears to be a shallow gesture. I let alone 'paradigm shift' in a prior a post, but honestly can't get behind all this 'we,' 'you,' 'our' and 'us' being battered around. Who is this "WE" you seem so fond of speaking for, Lone Ranger? Lets not ignore the savage amusement factor, folks. It's basic, primitive fun to bash up others online -- particularly those who fouled up -- admit it! If some among us have achieved an emotional Nirvana and find fault with no one and nothing, far out, but until then it's okay to behave as human beings.
Bruce Ehrlich July 19, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I originally posed the question of identity to Chris and the Patch. It is really up to them whether they want their site to be dominated by the anonymous and paranoid and those who relish the savage amusement of primitively bashing up others online. That just seems contrary to their stated desire to run sites that "will strengthen communities and improve the lives of their residents."
ctp July 19, 2011 at 08:47 PM
In your list of excoriations, you forgot "puppy-kickers" and "takers of pudding from small children." Seriously, folks. Just like people say "well, at least it's not China!" when people want to take their safety and privacy into account, as if it's an either/or proposition, we can also say "well, the comments here aren't exactly Youtube or Yahoo," either. A little bit (and it is a _little_ bit) of uncivility is worth the ability to post one's thoughts without having to worry about anarchists and vandals deciding the next logical step is to harass private citizens they disagree with. To those who say "oh, don't worry, it's JP, we're all roses and sunshine and sparkleponies," I say get real. It was only a few years ago that someone firebombed El Oriental, for crying out loud.
Bruce Ehrlich July 19, 2011 at 10:06 PM
Now I get it: A little bit of uncivility is worth it if it protects people from being harrassed. I wonder if a little bit of harrassment would also be worth it if it protected people from uncivility. Do we have any better options?
Bill July 19, 2011 at 10:22 PM
Bruce, if you honestly have to do so many mental gymnastics over the issue, you really don't get it and probably never will. I suspect, however, you're playing devils advocate and idly amusing yourself at the expense of others. And in what way is that different than harassing people, hmm?
Em July 20, 2011 at 04:40 AM
I don't support that. People are more willing to comment and speak freely if they can keep their identity anonymous. Isn't this how forums/blogs have always worked? It doesn't matter who I am, my points are still valid whether you know me or not. What part of free speech includes making one a target?
Em July 20, 2011 at 04:46 AM
You must be new to the Internet.
Pat Roberts July 20, 2011 at 04:13 PM
Andrea, if you had attended the community meetings about the Whole Foods arrival, you might understand the concern about anonymity. At those meetings (and all others that the Neighborhood Council sponsors), those whose opinion differs from the particular politically correct line are jeered and booed; wild applause follows each politically correct utterance, etc. A few people who spoke at the Whole Foods meetings said that they were speaking (in favor of WF) even though it was a very intimidating atmosphere, and many other WF supporters didn't speak at all. This is not a benign or neutral environment where every person's ideas are considered and responded to respectfully. You ask whether getting a community benefits package from a huge corporation is a good or a bad thing: well, it's extortion. Is extortion a good or a bad thing? And "the community" that will benefit from that extortion, if WF pays it, will be the very same affordable housing people and their allies that have been pressuring WF for the money, not "the community", which usually means ordinary people, not professional organizers.
Deselby July 20, 2011 at 05:35 PM
"Anonymous and paranoid?" "relish the savage amusement of primitively bashing up others?' Wow, that's more "savage" than anything I've ever said.
Deselby July 20, 2011 at 05:38 PM
The point is that people will never speak with "one voice" without "universal mind control." "We" is a better and scarier book than "Brave New World," so I recommend it. But if you're coming at this from a Buddhist rather than a Communist perspective, then you're OK.
Matt July 21, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Having had WhoseFood members post my address, my employer, my partner's name once they knew my actual name, I can speak to a need to have the option of remaining anonymous. You'll certainly see less animated discussion in these threads. Maybe that's the goal. Perhaps it will be more pristine, but it most certainly will less honest.
Pat Roberts July 21, 2011 at 05:42 PM
A few years ago, the affordable housing people and their friends (Hyde Square Task Force, City Life, the Neighborhood Council) were very angry that 11 Wyman Street, a former schoolhouse, was going to be developed as market-rate housing. They published in the JP Gazette the name, address and telephone number of the developer, and suggested that those who didn't want him to proceed should visit him and try to persuade him to stop. If they think their cause is just, they don't have any scruples about what they do, or to whom.
Michael Halle July 22, 2011 at 02:40 PM
Pat, wouldn't the developers' contact information be a matter of public record, and thus easily obtainable from a variety of other sources? If say, on the other hand, the developers had been interested in building 100% affordable housing, would you have wanted them to be able to operate in a way that you didn't know who they were or how to contact them? Since you've been involved in and outspoken about neighborhood issues for a while now, and you've circulated your email address to people on crime watch lists, and you have used your real name here on Patch, I'm interested what impact a lack of anonymity has had on you over the years.
Maura July 22, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Michael, regardless of Pat's experiences with her own name being public, it's still something I'd like to see as a personal decision. I have felt uncomfortable leaving my name here but have wanted to participate in the discussions.
Matt July 22, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Agreed, I can't see why there some calamitous crisis needs to occur as evidence that the possibility exists for that policy to be capitalized on should someone write anything controversial using their real name. That said, Patch is a private organization and can adopt whatever polices they see fit. If the goal is assert order and civility on the comment sections, than this will do just that. The debate of the positives and negatives of that is a wholly different topic.
Bruce Ehrlich July 22, 2011 at 03:41 PM
The problem is not anonymity, per se. It is the relatively uncivil postings of many anonymous poster (compared to people who use their full names). Why does this matter? Because many people are reluctant to participate in this online community forum if they are likely to be insulted or maligned by anonymous posters. Thus, what we have is a situation where there is more participation by uncivil anonymous posters (which doesn't mean that all anonymous posters are uncivil) and less participation by real JP community residents who like to use their real names because they consider themselves a part of this community. Since there are many other portions of the internet available for uncivil discussion (and I have no complaints about that), but only the JP Patch is currently available as a real community-based discussion form, I simply propose that we try to keep this site available for free, open, and civil communications -- something that serves as an extension of the physical community we live in, not merely as some random internet discussion group where there are no boundaries. Folks who may be legitimately concerned about being harassed will probably find that within a civil community harassment is much less likely to occur than in one where so many people are wearing masks.
Raphael July 22, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Maybe ditching anonymity would help civilize the level of discourse on Patch, maybe not. When people got face to face recently for the bit Whole Foods community meeting, there was plenty of raucous, uncivil behavior complete with shouting matches, police action, etc. For all we know, things could get even uglier if everyone were required to use real names. I should note that the Wall St Journal requires commenters to use real names, and that paper's comment section can be as rough and tumble as any on the internet.
AV July 22, 2011 at 04:13 PM
In other news, this should provide a fresh lease of life to those Whose-Foods "activists" looking for their next "cause": http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2011/07/22/wal_mart_to_debut_market_grocery_store_in_massachusetts/
ctp July 22, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Again with the "real JP community residents" thing. How will you know people are "real" if they give names? What's to stop people from signing up with fake names and continuing to trouble the good folk who are currently hiding from the vicious Kubrickian gangs that run amok here? Will we have to give addresses too? Submit a utility bill to the Patch for proof of residency? Will people who live in Roxbury be allowed to continue to comment? Do you have any response to Wocket, who has experienced real-life harassment from the Whosers? Will the Whosers double-pinky-swear not to ever do it again ever, cross their hearts?
Pat Roberts July 22, 2011 at 04:47 PM
They'll be supporting WalMart, right? Because it probably won't encourage gentrification, or displace poor people, or sell the wrong kind of food?
kelli July 22, 2011 at 05:24 PM
I agree with the idea of setting things up so people use their real names. I'd be more inclined to visit Patch more frequently if this is the case. Kelli Cooper Burr St.
Michael Halle July 22, 2011 at 06:29 PM
ctp, A "real names" policy doesn't require any proof. If the JP Patch terms of service states that commenters must use their real names, then failure to do so (however it was discovered) could result in action by the Patch editors. It's not by any means a perfect mechanism for encouraging civility, but it's less subjective than an "act civilly" terms of service clause, and it is less labor intensive than comment moderation. I like the fact that I often get local news faster on Patch than through any other source, and I don't want to see their news-gathering resources diverted towards baby-sitting comments through formal or informal moderation. Comments on news articles are a poor substitute for discussion forums anyway. I'd be happy to see comments treated more as "letters to the editor," which are seldom published anonymously. You said, "Do you have any response to Wocket, who has experienced real-life harassment from the Whosers?" Wocket said that "my address, my employer, my partner's name" were posted. Is that the harassment, or was there more? Several comment threads on Patch have involved trying to deduce the identities and backgrounds of anonymous posters, including those of several anti-Whole Foods people. It seems mostly like unnecessary intrigue: mildly amusing but minimally nutritious. Real names would cut most of that out.
Bill July 22, 2011 at 08:02 PM
CTP sez: "...the vicious Kubrickian gangs that run amok here?" By Godfrey, that's the most colorful phrase I've heard lately! The terms 'Orwellian' and 'Shakespearian' had occurred, but all this doesn't seem to have that level of intrigue. Bruce, the subject IS anonymity, PER SE or not, literally. Despite the excessive and tedious over-rationalization, this is a debate about whether people should be compelled to use their given, legal names to post here. Anonymity is the option not to do so. As for the topic at hand, lets keep it simple, shall we? While all websites require one to register with a valid email address, scant few demand that people actually use their given names to post. In fact, many folks LIKE screen names -- HARR3.0 sounds a bit more zesty than Harry S. Smith after all, as does JPBET1 as opposed to Beatrice Jones. It appears to me -- look out, guys, it's HIM again! -- those who are shouting the loudest for name disclosure are the more PC of the crowd. "Everybody must be polite and civil and pleasant, and la-la-la-" Sorry, guys, that's not how the real world operates. Might as well install a banner that reads "Hypocrisy Spoken Here!" The email address over every mothers son and daughter posting here is on record, and there are a set of rules in place. No doubt there have been some horrid attacks by anonymous posters, but it's far from the norm.
Bill July 22, 2011 at 08:07 PM
BTW, all this has nothing to do with Knapenhiemer or whatever his tedious name may be -- yes, I'm being sarcastic, again. Nyah, nyah, nyah! It'd be worthwhile to give some of these tangents separate space rather than scroll through a dozen or more posts to reach the new topic it's become. Old Knappy got lost about fifteen posts ago...
Pat Roberts July 22, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Michael, if Wocket is gay, then to publish his or her address, partner's name and employer's name is a very serious and negative thing. Some people who are gay have not shared that information with their employer, with their family, or with their landlord. I'm guessing if Wocket is very concerned about that information being posted on the internet, it's because it's a serious breach of his or her privacy, and one that could have very negative consequences for his or her employment, or living situation, or family relationships. It may not seem like much to you, but it could be a very big problem for Wocket.
Em July 23, 2011 at 04:26 AM
I don't see how being gay is relevant. Straight people also like their privacy. This entire conversation has gotten silly. Leave us French fries, movies characters named Bill, and pretty unicorns alone... We can post as whoever we want anonymously.
Bill July 23, 2011 at 02:19 PM
From Knaphuaser to anonymous posting to Gay all in one convoluted trail of thoughts. Whew. Sorry, sorry, this has become too silly indeed. Let's move along, folks! Far, far too silly! (Monty Python)
Chris Helms (Editor) July 23, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Hi all, Deselby's original post was automatically deleted. We have a mechanism that when a post is "flagged" three or more times the system automatically takes it down. I've restored it. And thanks, everyone, for the good discussion about commenting.


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