Archive for September, 2011

Public Art Brings History to Life

Friday, September 30th, 2011

If you’re new to the area you may not know that the Veirs Mill area was part of an extensive mill industry that thrived in 19th century Montgomery County.  Now, public art has brought that history to life again in the Rock Creek Trail Pedestrian Bridge.

The 605-foot-long Bridge which spans Veirs Mill Road at Aspen Hill Road is an excellent example of how public art creates lively community spaces. In this day of multilane highways and strip malls, the history and soul of a place is often lost under a barrage of chain stores and restaurants.  But for walkers, bicyclists and motorists near at the Rock Creek Pedestrian Bridge, over one hundred years of local history can be found and enjoyed in this beautiful bridge and the surrounding grounds. The Bridge was dedicated on July 23, 2011 with much fun and hoopla.

Pictured from left to right: B.C. Mehta, Lead Bridge Engineer, URS Corporation; Shellie Williams, Arts & Humanities Council; Vicki Scuri, Artist; Doug Simmons, Deputy Administrator, State Highway Administration; Casey Anderson, Montgomery County Planning Board member; Senator Roger Manno; Mary R. Bradford, Director of Parks, M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks; Francoise Carrier, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board; Councilmember Phil Andrews; Sara Rosen, on behalf of Congressman Chris Van Hollen; Dilip Pandya, retired Project Manager, M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks; and Kris Krishnamurthy, Construction Manager, M-NCPPC Montgomery Parks (Photo Credit: Francine Bethea)

With support from the Montgomery County Arts & Humanities Council/Public Arts Trust, the Department of Parks commissioned artist Vicki Scuri as part of the planning, design and construction team to improve the overall appearance of the bridge.   Scuri, a Washington- State-based artist, is known nationally for her community-based infrastructure design and the emphasis she places on community identity through awareness of place, history and culture.

I asked Vicki to share how she chose the historical references seen in the Bridge. Here are her responses:

Scuri: In the early 1800s, there were numerous mills in Montgomery County with a heavy concentration in what is now the Veirs Mill area. Because of this distinctive history, I chose water and the waterwheel as a primary motif for the bridge. You can see the influence of water in the curving fencing of the pedestrian bridge. The waterwheel theme is repeated in the concrete pillars that support the bridge and again in the planter design on the south side of the bridge.

Another source of inspiration came from the Cabin John area where Victorian Washingtonians came to relax, play and enjoy the beautiful grounds around the Cabin John Hotel. The grounds included an ornate iron footbridge that epitomized Victorian Romanticism. The fencing of the Rock Creek Bridge replicates the crisscross pattern found on the Cabin John footbridge and in general harks back to that playful and romantic time in the late 19th century.

If you’d like to learn more about public art in Montgomery County then click here to see our short and snappy multimedia overview!

Patch Up Your Network: A Summary of Patch + Cultural Community Mixer

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

On Monday, September 19, 2011, we hosted the Patch + Cultural Community Mixer at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. It was a diverse crowd of people, with representatives from many local organizations in attendance along with Patch editors from local sites in Montgomery County.

What exactly is Patch? Before I go any further, I will take a second to fill you in. And who can say it better than Patch themselves?

“Simply put, Patch is a new way to find out about, and participate in, what’s going on near you. We’re a community – specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities.” Each county has multiple Patch Editors dedicated to different areas. Each editor values feedback from organizations and individuals to help Patch grow and help give back to their surrounding communities. To learn more, visit

At our event on Monday, we had Patch Editors from Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Colesville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, North Potomac-Darnestown, Potomac, Silver Spring, and Takoma Park. After registering and mingling, our guests had an opportunity to take part in a speed networking activity led by our CEO, Suzan. It was interesting, with some very thought provoking questions like, “If you could do one thing at your current position and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would it be?”

Following speed networking were Meet the Editor Appointments, a chance for attendees to get to know the Patch Editors of the regions of the most interest to them.

With guests and editors staying through (and some after) clean-up, I’d say that the mixer was a success! Thanks again to Patch for sponsoring the event and to The Writer’s Center for hosting!

Google Analytics Webinar Wrap-Up

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Yesterday, we held a Google Analytics webinar presented by Analytics expert Tobin Lehman. The webinar was designed for organizations with Google Analytics already set up on their website. We learned a lot, and we hope those that attended the session did as well!

Here are some highlights from the session:

  • Google Analytics tells you what has happened to your site; it’s not a crystal ball to say what may happen in the future.
  • A bounce is when a visitor’s entrance page is the same as their exit page. They could have spent 30 seconds or 20 minutes on the page, but if they only visited that page on your website then left from it, they “bounced.”
  • An exit is when a visitor leaves your website in general. Maybe they clicked a link, or closed their browser — the bottom line is, they left your site on this particular page. (Exit rates DO include bounces; bounces are just a special kind of exit.)
  • 7 common metrics you may want to pay attention to: browsers/devices, traffic sources, referrers, keywords, top content, exit/bounce rates, goals/events.
  • One size doesn’t fit all. The most important metrics depend on your goals for your website. Do you want people to register for your events to buy tickets? Do you want people to play your online game, or view pictures?
  • High bounce & exit rates get a bad rap, but you might want high rates if you want your visitors to click links and leave your site (like we want for our calendar).
  • Setting up goals and custom reports is like riding a bike: you have to learn how to do it, but once you do, set it and forget it! (Okay, maybe that’s not the best analogy, but it works…right?) Setting them up is also a time-saver: you can spent hours browsing through Analytics, but setting up reports that tell you what you need to know is best.
  • Tag your URLs with Google URL Builder. It’s worth it, we promise. All you have to do is generate tagged URLs and use them — the data generated will automatically show up in your Google Analytics, no set-up required.

Tips & Tricks

  • Tagged URLs have to be provided to your ad vendor in order to track them. It is extra work, but it’s worth it: you get an wealth of information back. For example, you can discern that the 125 visitors who clicked your web ad on viewed an average of 4.45 pages and spent an average of 6 minutes on your site, and that 85% of them bought tickets and loaded the “thank you for purchasing tickets” page. Chances are, you’ll want to buy ads there again.
  • If you have your custom reports emailed to you, have them sent as a PDF — your reports will look just like the Analytics website.
  • Viewing Top Content by Title might be the way to go if the titles of your pages are more descriptive and easier to decipher than your URLs (for example, a webpage titled Programs & Services vs.
  • You might not care what operating systems your visitors have, but you might care if they’re accessing it on their mobile devices (iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.). You can see this information in Visitors>Browsers>Operating Systems.

If you missed it, view the slides below or contact Tobin Lehman to see what he can do for you.