UPDATE - Use of the "BeNeighbors.org" domain is now being leveraged as part of E-Democracy.org's Inclusive Community Engagement Online initiative. The domain will be used to promote all sorts of neighbor to neighbor connecting services starting with those in St. Paul and Minneapolis before extending elsewhere. The domain may also be used for electronic block club experiments. Ideas from the original Neighborly/BeNeighbors idea are being integrated into our existing neighborhood-level Issues Forum work and future experiments.
Instead of launching something new with private neighbor networking at the center for dozens of people (something about a dozen new .coms jumped into since we shared our non-profit idea) we are furthering our existing very "public" neighborhood/community-wide network serving areas of 10,000 or so reaching 20% of households in some places.
BeNeighbors.org will connect nearest neighbors online everywhere in powerful, yet practical ways. Whether it builds community, fights crime, or unleashes the latent capacity of neighbors to help neighbors, BeNeighbors.org is an innovative new approach to connecting local people everywhere in community life.
Based on where you live, imagine yourself in the center of a friendly and welcoming online circle of interested and engaged neighbors. Unlike past efforts, our model generates leadership rather than requiring it up front.
By building trusted neighborly connections and communication, both online and in-person, BeNeighbors.org (originally called Neighborly) is the missing link to attract a critical mass of active participants block by block to community solutions through real and practical engagement.
Welcome to the BeNeighbors.org development wiki. This is a proposed social enterprise and open source coding project.
- Read on below and be sure to join our online working group.
- One page overview (PDF). - Updated June 2011
- Contact Steven Clift to request more information or to volunteer.
The working domain name for this project is BeNeighbors.org (BeNeighbours.org as well).
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 17% of households in some areas.
BeNeighbors.org proposes dynamic block-level private online group exchange among nearest neighbors. It seeks to complement and support (potentially fund) traditional "public" online engagement hosted across the Locals Online field as well as community, civic, and media organizations based on their outreach results as 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.
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.
- Neighborly Online Group - Join the two-way exchange among developers.
- Register to watch our input webinar on-demand.
- Neighbor.be specification - Drafting
- Neighborly on GitHub - where the technical development is happening
- Block activities - things people have done somewhere with their neighbors
- Neighborly Input Survey/Beta Tester Sign-up
- Knight News Challenge Neighborly Submission - Imagining our volunteer driven idea as a funded initiative
A bit of fun ...
Depending upon how the system in designed, we may or may not need detailed address data (parcels, addresses points, government jurisdiction, etc.).
- Google Maps API - Converting addresses to estimated longitude and latitude via their GeoCoder
- YahooMaps GeoCoder API
- Reserve GeoCoder
- Minnesota Voter Registration and Polling Place Finder Data - A way to extrapolate addresses generically and potentially to make registration easier for those who are registered to vote. As a political engagement project, we qualify under state law to use this data.
- MetoGis GeoCoder
- Minnesota GIS DataFinder - Data from the Twin Cities Metro area including various services.
- UK GeoCoder? - In case we want to experiment in our UK Issues Forum communities.
- geocoder.us A geocoder service that is free for noncommercial use.