This is Weelunk.
It looks like a website, but it’s more than that. It represents an attitude, a desire for a new Wheeling, one that trades shrinking and decay for optimism and enthusiasm. It shrugs off boredom for activity, discovery, and perhaps above all, fun. We didn’t create the attitude, but more like were swept into action by it. It has a life of its own, the scope of which we never even imagined before we waded into the realm of web entrepreneurship and met some amazing people who, it turns out, are just as ready as we are to make this city awesome.
The seed for Weelunk was probably planted several years ago when a dear friend would host meetings at his office on the third Friday of every month to allow people to do some networking, and to discuss things like how to get Wheeling to appear on the various lists of Best Places to Live and such. My associate and I, whose identities I’ll address shortly, were inspired to contribute but our aggregate skill set highlights include driving fast in reverse and falling from great heights without injury. So we were pretty much confined to either crime, or the Internet. But why would people come to our site?
Several years went by while we pondered the question, and then we met Steve Novotney. A talented and prolific writer, Steve was interested in an outlet for his stories that could reach beyond the success of his radio show. It was just what a good website needs – a daily influx of new material to keep readers coming back. We quickly agreed that our mission would be to show people all of the positive things that are happening in and around Wheeling, and show them how they can participate themselves.
We needed a name, though.
Of course, the name had to reflect the local nature of our mission. After dozens of failed, but sometimes humorous, suggestions were batted around, one among us spoke the word, “Weelunk.” It’s in the Mansion Museum in Oglebay, and the plaque says it’s the word from which that “Wheeling” evolved. And so it is confirmed by the excellent Delf Norona book on the subject. In the days when English was barely a written language on the frontier and native Delaware was not, there were several variations of the spelling, but the meaning is clear: The Place of the Head.
Sometime before 1750 there was an ugly incident that apparently resulted in a European settler’s severed head being displayed on a pole near the mouth of what we now call Wheeling Creek, as a warning to those who would follow. The warning went unheeded in the next 25 years, and by 1776 the Virginia Assembly officially recognized “Wheeling” as a significant settlement in the West. Despite this legislative action, Weelunk is probably the most faithful representation of the original native word. It’s not a pretty name, and it takes some getting used to, but it’s ours and an internet search will demonstrate that it belongs to no other town but this one.
We don’t claim to know where all of this will lead. We’ve developed some principles that will hopefully keep us going in the right direction, though. Of these, positivity deserves top billing. We think it’s a great way to promote harmony and make everyone feel welcome, key pillars of a happy, healthy city. You won’t see attacks on people or institutions in our articles, and we ask our readers to keep such things out of the comments, as well. Our next principle is balance. We’ll strive to provide fair and honest assessments of the issues at hand. That’s not to say that some of our content won’t rub some people the wrong way. But our implementation of balance demands that opposing viewpoints be given the opportunity to respond – either in Comments, as long as they obey our Commenting Policy; or in a stand-alone piece that meets our journalistic standards.
Our third principle is probably best communicated by our tagline, Do Something. In this, we are encouraging our readers to engage, to make a difference. If we’re going to take this place to the next level, it’s going to take a lot of work. Go volunteer your time, try a new restaurant, take a long walk, or even run for office. Wheeling is a small enough city that a single person can make an outsized impact. Not sure where to start? We’ll get you started with our comprehensive Calendar, and our People section will highlight those who have already embraced the Do Something ethic.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention fun among our principles. This is a great time to be alive, and a great place to do it. Smile. Relax. In life in general, but especially at weelunk.com. If you laugh at least once when you come here, we’ll know we’re on the right track.
While you’re here, you may notice that some members of the Weelunk team use pseudonyms even though everyone in Wheeling probably knows who they are already. The short answer is that we like to err on the side of caution. The Internet is a big scary place, and once information gets out there, there’s no getting it back. So we’ll make a (probably futile) attempt to isolate our words from our true identities. If any of you choose to do the same, we encourage you to mind the “Display name publicly as” field in your account settings.
We believe that an enjoyable website experience precludes the direct extraction of money from our users, so we have of course designed the site to be free to use. To defray our costs, we have enlisted the support of a select few local businesses and other entities in the form of advertising. We ask that you consider patronizing these partners whenever possible, and let them know that you saw their ad on Weelunk.
Now go back to the real Weelunk stories, learn something new, leave some comments, let’s see where this thing takes us. And please, if you want to speak privately, stop us at Kroger or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carl Adams and Rochambeau