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OrangePolitics blog celebrates 9th birthday

On Thursday night, some of Orange County’s most known political figures and activists gathered for a special meeting.

It wasn’t a council meeting or an advisory board session — it was the ninth birthday of the OrangePolitics blog.

Ruby Sinreich is the founder of OrangePolitics, an interactive blog that allows local residents to discuss political and social issues in the county.

Sinreich said her desire to get people more involved in county politics led her to start the blog nine years ago.

“There are a lot of great folks in Chapel Hill who are interested in local issues,” she said.

The site was successfully launched in September 2003, and Sinreich said she was shocked by just how well it did.

“I didn’t expect it to be as influential as it is,” she said.

Initially, Sinreich was the sole blogger for OrangePolitics. But eventually, she changed the software to make it easier for readers to contribute.

“I’ve always been impressed with how many people read and pay attention to it,” she said.

Today, a group of editors maintains the site.

Damon Seils started as a blogger for OrangePolitics and is now part of a larger editorial group.

“OP is the only online community for progressives in Orange County to get together and talk about issues that matter,” Seils said.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said he regularly writes for the blog and posts comments.

Chilton and Sinreich have been friends since they were undergraduates together at UNC, when Sinreich first became involved with local government.

She said this type of personal involvement doesn’t happen often at other levels of government.

“Most people don’t think about local government,” Sinreich said. “A group of people can come down to Town Hall together and change a policy.”

She said all the issues covered by the blog are of equal importance.

“If we don’t have access to the processes of our government, then it’s difficult to advocate for whatever issue is most important,” she said.

But Sinreich said she would love for more students to engage in the discussions on the site.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said he appreciates how the blog gives residents access to information on local politics.

“If we are willing to search out and hear different voices, we’ll learn more about the world,” he said.

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And Sinreich said she thinks her blog is more than just a traditional news source.

“It’s really a place where people can find the background of an issue,” she said. “It has a lot of different values.”

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