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Revision as of 08:36, 26 February 2011 by (Talk) (How it might work)

Welcome to the BeNeighbors.org development wiki. Originally code-named "Neighborly," this is a proposed social enterprise and open source coding project.


The working domain name for this project is BeNeighbors.org (BeNeighbours.org). We also own Neighbor.be and NeighborCircle.com.

E-Democracy.org has almost two decades of experience with local online participation via our public Issues Forum model. This includes our very popular Neighbors Forums which cover areas with 5,000 to 20,000 residents reaching over 15% of households in some areas.

BeNeighbors.org will be the dynamic block-level private online group exchange among nearest neighbors that complements and by design helps support, potentially help fund traditional public online engagement hosted by us, our friends across the Locals Online field, and community, civic, and media organizations based on their results as outreach partners.

Be Neighbors - Do you want to ...

Would you like to build connections with your neighbors?

  • to make your block safer and prevent crime
  • to "break the ice" and meet your neighbors
  • to communicate easily as a group with the neighbors you know
  • to share experiences and tips answering "who can recommend a good plumber"
  • to connect with other parents nearby organize fun activities for your kids
  • to organize a spontaneous neighborhood block party on an especially nice spring day
  • to prepare your block for emergencies and disasters
  • to do any of the scores of block activities we've identified
  • and find connections to community solutions and online groups in your broader area

BeNeighbors.org is a simple idea - use online tools to connect people to their nearest neighbors. (While protecting their privacy and helping the community.)

How it might work

This experience is simple:

1. Sign-up - Including your full street address.

2. Get Listed - You are listed in your personalized directory of nearest neighbors (site participants) around you covering 25 to 100 people. You are in the physical center of your directory. Target members: "neighborly" people open to private small group connections using real names for real trust

3. Connect - Use your neighbor directory to connect with others (login required, reciprocity ensured). Determine how you want to connect one to one whether by telephone, e-mail or a web form, encouraging neighbors to friend you on Facebook or follow on Twitter, or none of the above.

4. Exchange - Easily share information (about a break-in on your block), ask questions (who can recommend a good plumber), etc. in private group setting with those in your neighbor directory. Post via e-mail or web. Read via e-mail or web. Topics you start are restricted to just those in your circle. You own the topic and may delete it or comments at anytime. You may only comment on topics started by people in your directory as well.

5. Explore Locally - Based on your location, find other opportunities for broader public engagement from wider community e-mail lists and neighborhood blogs to aggregated place-based government and community information and links connecting you to civic life. BeNeighbors.org seeks to introduce you to broader public life with you at the center.

We are seeking a mix of volunteer engagement and funding to first develop a proto-type and beta effort in pilot communities.

Benefits - Public and Community Service Examples

While BeNeighbors must provide real value to everyday people to attract use, we've been gathering contacts across government and non-profit public service providers (let's call them potential "Solution Partners"). These "silos" of community service could strategically benefit from this horizontally designed service and are likely not in a position to build critical mass participation in isolation.

  • Crime Prevention
    • Neighborhood watch, block club formation and communication
  • Disaster Preparedness and Community Recovery
    • Neighbor contact directories, communication
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response
    • Rapid communication, particularly with text/SMS alert options
  • Health Care and Long-term Care
    • Neighbor support for healthier "aging in place"
  • Energy Efficiency
    • Exchange on successful energy use reductions among those with often similar homes
  • Environmental Sustainability
    • Shared use of tools, reuse of household items - down the block rather than across town
  • Senior Care
    • Reducing isolation of seniors in their homes and healthier
  • Small Business Promotion
    • Recommendations exchanged on very local, often independent service providers
  • Transportation
    • Opportunities for carpooling, car sharing emerge
  • Local Food
    • Opportunities for garden sharing, splitting Community Supported Agriculture shares and other bulk food sharing emerge
  • Diverse Community Cohesion
    • Online exchange provide "ice breaker" to increase familiarity and
  • Neighborly mutual benefit and support
  • Building local social capital and community engagement

Get Involved

This effort is an experimental part of E-Democracy.org's Participation 3.0 Inclusive Social Media initiative. It was launched at the Minnesota Civic Hackathon on Dec. 12, 2009. Many code-a-thons later the effort continues.

A bit of fun ...

Data Sources

Depending upon how the system in designed, we may or may not need detailed address data (parcels, addresses points, government jurisdiction, etc.).

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