My friend Abdul Hakim-Shabazz did an interview with a representative of an organization of Grow Mass Ave over at his Indy Politics site. Full disclosure: I am an occasional contributor to Indy Politics.
Despite the name of the group, don't be fooled into thinking it is some sort of neighborhood advocacy group with strong ties to the community. Grow Mass Ave is something that started to advocate for the downtown TIF district to be expanded to include the Massachusetts Avenue district. And as someone who has often followed issues of local interest, it is pretty rare for online advocacy to be done, let alone be done professionally.
"But Matt, how do you know that this organization started recently?"
Call it a hunch.
First up is that I've never heard of Grow Mass Ave.
Their domain, Growmassave.com, was registered earlier this month by Jennifer Wagner. Wagner is a longtime Democratic activist and her husband is rumored to benefit from the proposed Mass Ave development. The address and phone number that show up on the WHOIS search of the GrowMassAve.com domain name appear to be associated with Darvel Communications, a firm formerly run by Wagner which seems to have transitioned over to Mass Ave PR.
Typically, when advocates want to make their issue known, they have little choice but try to do earned media. They don't have the resources to hire someone to quickly build a website, set up social media, and competently communicate the message. They might have time to slap together a Facebook page or a bare bones website or blog, but that's about it. In rare cases, a large organization that already has an established presence and competent media and IT people at their disposal can quickly establish an online and media presence, but that's about it.
I don't say this as any slight against Wagner. She's a well connected person who has a wealth of experience. But my guess is, her services do not come cheap. So the question is, who is paying her for this cause and why? If she is successful in helping pass the downtown TIF district expansion, what does her client stand to benefit from it?
UPDATE: In a series of tweets, Wagner says she is doing the work for free. She also says that the neighborhood has supported this redevelopment for over a year. While this might answer her role in Grow Mass Ave, Grow Mass Ave itself still has plenty of questions to answer for of their own.