One response to “OurCommonPlace/Nextdoor using technology to connect neighbors

  1. Glad to see your attention to neighbor to neighbor connecting online.

    There is a rich history of neighbor connecting and community engagement that goes back almost two decades online. Many of the leaders hangout in this online community of practice: http://e-democracy.org/locals

    And there are dozens of projects in this space:
    http://pages.e-democracy.org/Social_media_in_local_public_life

    In terms of research the PewInternet.org study is key:
    http://blog.e-democracy.org/posts/858

    Huge take away – wealthy homeowners in community with existing high social capital really like these. Or put another way, there is a huge inclusion gap in this really awesome opportunity to connect communities.

    It is important to point out that their are different approaches. The new .coms seeking at some point to extract revenue from these communities remotely (this should be a wake-up call to neighborhood newspapers) are taking a private virtual gated community approach. This is what I would do at the few blocks level too, but there are other far more open and democratic models that seek to generate new social capital and promote more powerful and public community engagement.

    Our 17 year old non-profit started with the public city-wide online townhall and started work at the neighborhood level first in the UK and then back in our home base in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    In this example community serving an area of 10,000 residents, we have almost 900 members or 20% of households: http://e-democracy.org/se It is a crazy time because we just had a murder two doors down from my house. Key thing with public – elected officials and government officials participate – based on the agenda-setting power of openness. People can also find the group through online search and do not need to join to gain value from the group.

    We have over 30 “Neighbors Forums” across Minneapolis and St. Paul at various points in the launch process: http://tcneighbors.org – Unlike closed sites you can actually see for yourself where we are strong and where we are weak. We also actively share our detailed lessons from the benefit of all: http://blog.e-democracy.org (there will be no be .com or ,.org big winner in the field .. because YahooGroups and now Facebook Groups started spontaneously by a block leaders is where most of action is at.)

    Our main funded work has been showing that you can launch neighborhood forums _with_ lower income, highly diverse, high immigrant neighborhoods. We use our precious resources also in the field with in-person outreach. That is key for inclusion. Details: http://e-democracy.org/inclusion and http://blog.e-democracy.org/posts/1260

    Finally, for our slide deck as well as a link to an extended webinar see:
    http://blog.e-democracy.org/posts/1215

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