There's a good chance that Alexis Zeiglar will hate this article. "The media in this town sucks," he says. "It really is just about as random as it could be."
The social activist fancies himself, among other things, a bit of a media revolutionary whose pet project, cvilleindymedia.org, is a cog in a global network of information underdogs.
"You don't have to ask anyone's permission to post," he says. "If it's well written and about local events, there's a good chance we'll probably feature it."
That's in deliberate contrast to traditional formats where, for example, self-important reporters might be able to control who gets... well, Facetime.
"You can call the media liberal, biased, or conservative, but either way there are huge filters in place there," he says.
But removing those filters by encouraging grassroots communication is only one of Zeiglar's causes. He's also an unabashed, greener-than-thou eco-enthusiast. Consider his house.
"I think it probably has the lowest per capita life cycle energy use of any 'green' house I know of," he says proudly of his low-budget, earth-friendly construction.
Or consider his wheels. Zeiglar is one of the area's most outspoken bicycle advocates, and his participation in the Charlottesville Area Bicycling Alliance helped win approval of bike lanes throughout much of the city during the mid-1990s.
"Up until that point, there basically were no bike lanes in town," he says. "Now it's far more likely to be incorporated simply as a design feature. We kind of shifted the political climate to where it was more acceptable."
Biking is one of Zeiglar's most pressing interests. "It just seems like it solves a whole lot of problems at once," he says.
For the past two years, he has also served as Director of the Community Bikes program, which has traded in its theft-plagued "yellow bike" borrowing program for a weekend repair shop where kids work with mentor-mechanics in exchange for a free set of wheels.
Eschewing the traditional streamers and baseball cards, Zeiglar has instead pimped his own ride with additions such as bike trailers, which at one point allowed him to work at construction projects all over town without spewing hydrocarbons as he pedaled his tools from site to site.
"It totally reorients your life," he says. At 38, he still does not own a car.
And so, painfully aware of the apparent randomness inherent in our coverage of Zeiglar's assorted endeavors, The Hook attempts to redeem itself by ending with a moral from Charlottesville's resident Lorax. Surveying local building projects, Zeiglar warns about the future of the area in the face of relentless development.
"It's an abomination," he says, "but the problem at this point is the disconnect between the pretty words of the planners and what's really going on. They're going to 29N the whole damn area."
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO