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March 11, 2009

NovaSite! Archive

NovaSite! Recognition Plaque Randal's Sanctuary

Ole Sam and Spook have always known that among those in the award program population are poets and musicians. The next time you visit someone on line read not just what is written or spoken, rather what you feel in your heart. Perhaps they will awaken not only your dreams and aspirations, but the little girl or boy again.

Dear readers you will find below Randal Burd, up close and personal, which we are certain will endear him not only as an on line acquaintance, but as a friend too.

"The beginning of my web presence is pretty clear. My first semester of college introduced me to a whole new world, including labs full of computers hooked up to the World Wide Web. My participation started with a person website in the fall of 1997: an address in a community called GeoCities, a solid black background, an e-mail address, and a dancing baby graphic. In January of 1998, I moved my site to its current location and named it Randal's Sanctuary.

For some strange reason, the anonymity of an

 

Randal's Sanctuary

Internet presence made me feel safe and in control of shaping my own identity while, ironically, it seemed I couldn't wait to share my personal information with anyone who would listen, oblivious to the dangers of doing so. To be fair, I wasn't totally naive; there were no bank account numbers or ATM pins, no social security numbers, etc. There were chat rooms though, back when they were innocent (at least I thought they were), where I could share with total strangers my late teenage angst as I started college, sought companionship, tried to find my place in the present and predict my success in the future.
Then there was the awkward transition of finding my place in the faith community, separating the beliefs of my parents from those of my own, trying to figure out exactly where I stood in the world and with God. This spiritual journey lead to my editorship of an on line Christian newsletter, and some passionate articles I wrote on Christianity as I tried to forge a path through my own uncertainty; it was the spiritual equivalent of someone taking the training wheels off of your bicycle, leaving you to ride or fall on your own merit.

Randal's Sanctuary has also provided me with a outlet for my poetry. Again, I seem to have gained some satisfaction in seeking the approval from total strangers of my writing as well as my opinions. The Internet also helped me immensely in dealing with grief after the loss of my grandfather in September of 2001. Being able to make a memorial to him on the Internet and keep his memory alive has been extremely beneficial to me. I also am a volunteer photographer for Find A Grave . Com, so I can assist others in dealing with their grief by creating on line memorials for their loved ones, or just enable them to see the final resting places of loved ones they might not be able to physically visit.

After a few years of daily involvement in the Internet community, the day to day hustle of life led to more and more infrequent use of my site until August of 2008. I updated a couple times of year in the time between 2001 and 2008, but the newness of the Internet seemed to wear off for everyone, not just for myself, and the web became more commercialized and sterile, instead of this avant-garde medium of expression for ideas that momentarily preoccupied my intellectual curiosity.

I was a college student then and I am a high school teacher now, although I will always be a learner. Approaching my 30th birthday, it is now my responsibility to teach at-risk youth about English Literature and Writing while at the same time helping them develop character and skills which will help them to be successful in the real world. I think everyone who has been a part of the on line community for any length of time has found that the Internet is a powerful tool, but one that must be used responsibly. I am no longer especially keen on doling out personal information to perfect strangers who might put it to ill use.. I do however, still see the Internet as a powerful tool to promote my poetry, explain my world view, research my book, and help students everywhere improve their writing skills (and maybe develop some character along the way). Through posting articles, research, poetry, and the use of an award program, I can share ideas on my website and hopefully make the Internet and those who use it better off because of my contribution."
The Brothers Grinn
(Denny Lancaster and Bernie Howe)
 

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