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Knight News Challenge Neighborly Submission -

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Knight News Challenge Neighborly Submission


Revision as of 21:33, 29 December 2009 by Admin (Talk | contribs)

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This is the drafting zone for our invited Round Two submission.

Project Title: Neighborly Social Media - The Block Captain as Editor Sharing Local News and Civic Information

Requested amount from Knight News Challenge: 375,000

Expected amount of time to complete project: 2

Total cost of project including all sources of funding: 450,000

Describe your project:

The classic "block captain" or leader is the ultimate hyper-local disseminator of local news and civic information. "Neighborly" is a proposed project to equip these natural human editors with the tools they need to both communicate to their neighbors and monitor information sources tailored to their needs. Whether it is gaining convenient digital access to block level crime information in near real-time or filtering updates from their elected officials and local agencies about proposals of likely direct interest to neighbors on their street or monitoring community news sources for look interest stories, a digital dashboard of sorts will save the time required to scan information for further dissemination. The open source cornerstone of Neighborly will be a tool that allows the residents of Minneapolis (and potentially St. Paul and other communities based on the public address data made available in partnership from area local governments) to connect in a trusted way with their nearest neighbors online through social media. Where no block captain exists (official or unofficial), recruited participants will essentially automatically "friend" the 100 nearest addresses/households for group communication. As "editors" or block leaders emerge, they will have a special toolkit for recruitment (print walking lists, calling lists, the ability to generate customized flyers, postcards and more) and have the ability to define their actual coverage area. Based on past interviews with block leaders, they cite communication as the biggest barrier. The rare online block has a bcc: e-mail list from addresses gathered in person. Neighborly take this in the social networking world including an online space for peer to peer support.

How will your project improve the way news and information are delivered to geographic communities?

We can reach 20% of households in Minneapolis and St. Paul within a year with the right community partnerships. The "electronic block clubs" in Neighborly will be private resident-only spaces that complement our newer public Neighborhood-wide Issues Forums which now reach over 10% of households in our most popular areas. The more local we go, the more relevant the content, the more "neighborly" the exchange of information and discussions. Right now the police, city council members, government offices, local neighborhood newspapers have a mish mash of online news and alert services. Our block leaders will serve as natural filters passing along the most relevant information. Members will also be able to share and generate new information.

How is your idea innovative? (new or different from what already exists)

The key innovation will be our "local everywhere" technology that will allow us to enable bottom-up formation of news and information sharing groups of neighbors anywhere we can gain access to address data. This will be far more organic and self-help than current models. Instead of National Night Out, we will build Neighbors Everyday. We envision a Facebook, Android (open source mobile), iPhone, and other "Apps" (like text to voicemail) that would allow use of the platform across multiple interfaces. As a non-profit, we see the opportunity to collaborate with local community policing efforts to become the trusted tool promoted to block leaders that also allows shared publishing and communication that helps hold local government accountable.

What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop this project?

On Dec. 12 as part of the Great American Civic Hackathon a large group of volunteer open source programmers gathered in Minneapolis: The project they chose to work on was how to build a geo-based electronic block club generator or the Neighborly platform as it is now known. has the ability to connect and inspire a new generation of programmers with our 15+ years experience with the use of technology to provide democratic information and civic engagement. Key to our likely success will be our ability to leverage thousands of current participants in our public city-wide forums and new neighborhood-wide Issues Forums in low income, high immigrant areas. With the right household data we could also pilot a rural e-townships effort connecting 100 nearest farmers/residents on the same platform. We recently attracted modest Ford Foundation funding to start an initiative called Participation 3.0 - - in 2010. Included in this project is an exploration into ideas related to local government transparency and accountability through online information dissemination and public engagement. Neighborly is a candidate to be one of the ten "next generation" ideas we will be generating and building through our open specification process. is led by Steven Clift - - who has extensive experience bridging between the civic engagement and media world as well as his role as the founder and coordinator of the State of Minnesota's first government portal.

What unmet need does your proposal answer?

(750 characters remaining)

What tasks/benchmarks need to be accomplished to develop your project and by when will you complete them?

(2000 characters remaining)

What will you have changed by the end of your project?

(1800 characters remaining)

How will you measure progress and ultimately success?

(1600 characters remaining)

Do you see any risk in the development of your project?

(1800 characters remaining)

What is your marketing plan? How will people learn about what you are doing?

(1800 characters remaining)

You may attach optional supporting material. The first file you upload will be your cover, so if you are uploading an image upload it as the first file.


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