The primary goal of the future BeNeighbors.org directory website (mid/late 2012) is:
- Help people find neighborhood/community online groups near them
An estimated 20 million adult American Internet users have joined a neighborhood e-mail list or forum and/or a social network site group connected to community issues (10.5% of adult Internet users total). The long-term goal of this site is to double the number of American "joiners" to 40 million.
The secondary goal is to:
- Promote the dramatic spread of neighbor to neighbor networking online by connecting emergent community leaders to the advice and tools required to successfully host online neighborhood exchange and engagement online
BeNeighbors will make it easy to discover and join such local online groups online NOT just via the typical (yet powerful) word of mouth route.
The concept will be piloted in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of the Knight Foundation funded Inclusive Community Engagement Online initiative. E-Democracy will take links from this start-up directory of expressly two-way local spaces online and make it available on a comprehensive map/search/geographic listing.
It will include both neighborhood-wide e-mail lists and E-Democracy's Neighbors Forums and often invite-only block-level online groups on Facebook, YahooGroups, etc. service.
- Person visits http://beneighbors.org - attracted by many means of outreach
- Geo-location guesstimator will provide local map view of the the local online groups in your area with icon centered on the area covered AND the option to search by postal code (perhaps street address)
- Clicking on the icon will unveil (when submitted) the area covered by the local online group and other information
- Icons will be coded by a mix of simple colors for type (public, private, etc.) and technology web host (e.g. Facebook Groups, YahooGroups, etc.)
- A general text search of the directory as well as hunt by geographic place name will be made available
- Person visiting http://beneighbors.org doesn't find a local online group for their area (or local enough for their taste) and wants more information on how to start one
- We provide information and online training on how to start one - EFFECTIVELY
- We provide balanced information on the many tools and sites one can choose from to host local online groups
- We connect people doing this work for peer to peer help via the Locals Online community of practice
- We provide tools for hosts (existing and new) to promote their local online groups to their neighbors/community no matter what platform they are hosted on
By piloting in the Twin Cities, we are leveraging E-Democracy's 30+ Neighbors Forums and their knowledge of many other neighborhood-wide and often 1 to 3 block specific online "block clubs."
The number one challenge