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Starting a neighbors forum

From E-Democracy.org

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Here is a simple guide to successfully launching an online community forum.

Background

  1. A "neighbors" forum is the most local version of our Issues Forum model. It combines inclusive "community life" exchange with civic engagement on very local public issues.
  2. Forums do not launch themselves. "Build it they will come" simply doesn't work. We've found it takes 100 members to successfully launch an active forum.
  3. Our shared technology platform is the easy part. We set it up for you once you've recruited 25 supporters to help you recruit. This is a pilot space that officially "opens" when you've reached 100 members.
  4. If you volunteer to lead a forum, it is free to host a forum with us and gain access to our useful peer-to-peer support network. We do hope your participants will donate and we are experimenting with forum sponsorship.
  5. We do accept funding to help a community get going. A community foundation or major donor is welcome to step in to speed up outreach.

How To

1. Email contact@e-democracy.org to tell us you are interested in starting a forum, providing:

  • Your contact information,
  • The name of your city and neighborhood, with information on the estimated population of the geographical area you seek to cover, and
  • Your plan to recruit your first 25 members/supporters with a sense of your time line.

2. Once you have submitted a simple spreadsheet (Google Doc sample) with the names and email addresses of your first 25 members, we will technically set up your forum and provide you access.

3. Recruit 100 initial members - This is where you should focus your attention:

  • In-person outreach works best. Adapt our paper sign-up sheets and email invites to your community and use them to door knock in your neighborhood or clipboard or table at local community events, farmers market, etc. THIS WORKS.
  • Adapt our other print materials including the promotional poster and hang them where you can. Feel free to make your own flyers.
  • Circulate your invitations via email, Facebook, etc. inviting others to join. This works better as you open and demonstrate critical mass.

If you haven't yet technically set up your forum, you're ready to go!

 

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