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Neighborhood Blog

Now that I'm a homeowner, I'm very interested in getting to know my neighbors. One of the ways in which I thought to do this was by setting up a "neighborhood blog." The area in which we live is actually quite big, and there aren't any clear delineations, so I thought perhaps the street name would serve as a good "location-specific" delineator. Of course, we'd not exclude people who lived on connecting streets…

Anyway, such a "neighborhood blog" could serve as a generic "postboard" - people could apologize for traffic in advance (a graduation party, for example), post "I'm available to babysit" type messages, and, in general, communicate with more than the two or three people who share a property line with them but still live quite close. Neighbors could organize calls about potholes or talk about which cell phone companies offer good reception - whatever.

The "neighborhood blog" could probably pay for itself if a local pizza shop or something agreed to pay for the hosting in exchange for a little advertising (Carey's idea).

Has anyone done - or seen - such a thing done before?

I see a few major hurdles:

  1. The constant "I forgot my password."
  2. Announcing the site to everyone and spreading the word.
  3. Monitoring posts, comments, etc.
  4. Teaching people how to post.
  5. etc.

I think it could be great, and I'm keen to pursue the issue, but I'm not sure it's worth it. I suppose I could start the site, tell a few people, and see how things go. I could post some FAQs somewhere for people to minimize the whole "I forgot my password/I don't know how to post" types of questions.

What do you think? And again: have you ever seen or done such a thing?

13 Responses to "Neighborhood Blog"

  1. our condo association was pursuing something similar, but due to the beurocracy inherently involved in condo associations, scrapped the idea in favor of mailing out pieces of paper which we can more easily lose and ignore.

    Of course, in an actual neighborhood, where it would act as more of a social project, it would probably work far better. Of course, maybe we could attempt a social blog for the condo in an unofficial capacity that would help people communicate and not invite the wrath of the condo board.

    Good idea tho -- maybe the cool owners in our association can do the blog thing whilst everyone else carries on in blissful ignorance πŸ™‚

  2. I used to do childcare for a cohousing community. Its planned from the ground up, so they've had a bit easier time doing what you're trying to do. All members have @gocoho.org email addresses, and there are several mailing lists (administrative, various commitees, discussion, etc). Recently, I watched one of the members teach all the others how to use a wiki of some sort. They seemed to get it, and it was made pretty easy (perhaps by default, I dunno how easy wikis are really).

    As I see it, a blog style approach may not be the correct one. I think a community mailing list might be the best place to start: everyone already knows how to use email. From there, perhaps you can locate other members of the community who might be interested in taking it a step further (blog, wiki, whatever).

  3. have you seen backfence.com

  4. In theory it is a good idea, maybe even a great idea, but I do not think the world is ready for something like this yet. Most of your neighbors probably struggle with email or maybe do not even have it. Getting them to post blog entries is not very realistic.

    It is sort of a chicken and egg problem. You want to do this to get to know your neighbors and build a community, but for this to ever work you would need to already know them (quite well) both to spread the word and also to deal with all of the training and hand holding it would require.

    Where is Carey's blog?

  5. Where is Carey's blog?

    She and I have one. And it's protected with a password. πŸ™‚

  6. I created a site for my condo, but people rarely use it. Since my DreamHost account (which I use to host MacMegasite, WorldBeatPlanet, and other sites) allows me to host additional domains, hosting it didn't cost me anything.

    I used Drupal with a pretty minimal configuration. I've enabled the feature to allow users to have their own blogs, forums, and the event module. The major use of the site is posting meeting announcements. I'd like to see people make use of it more, especially the forums.

    We still have a 1-page paper newsletter which we deliver to everyone's door every month or so.

  7. Erik,

    Is it still a blog if only Carey and you can see it? Well, perhaps the in-laws see it as well, but if they don't, wouldn't notes on the refrigerator serve the same purpose?

    I guess it is a bit like having your email coresspondence edited into a call and response format as you go along-- maybe not a bad idea after all.

    But still, too difficult for the average bear. Even if blogging software was as easy to use as email or a text processor, there is still the problem of hosting it that most people do not want to bother with. It isn't just the matter of using Moveable Type, or something more refined if it exists, it is the matter of having an account, some provider SERVING it.

  8. Bud, yes, it's still a blog if only she and I - and some relatives - can see it. Refrigerator notes wouldn't work very well when we had different refrigerators in different states.

    Blogging software is - and can be - as easy to use as email or a text processor. People of average intelligence figure out how to use a forum every day, right? And as I've said, I'd host it. It's hardly any trouble at all. These are not the reasons not to do it.

  9. Maybe a neighborhood message board would be better? I'm not sure exactly where the distinction is, but somehow "message board" sounds more useful for a community.

  10. I put together a 'community site' for the local Curling Club (http://detroitcurlingclub.com) which meets a lot of the same criteria/problems you mentioned for a community site. It's dealing with the 'lost password' syndrome as well as people who have a widely varying (though generally low) understanding of the web and computer technology.

    The solution, to date, is a mixture dynamic website/blog/forum, etc. It has a news frontpage that certain admins can post to and approve member submitted articles. Any member can write a news article, add a calendar item, etc. but only a couple of admins can then 'approve' these for them to actually go up on the website.

    There is also a forum where members are free to post to and listen/contact one another, etc.

    As for the 'lost password', if they forget their password, do the standard (click here if you've forgotten your password and a new one will be mailed to you).

    Also, some people are squemish about having their addresses/phone numbers online, so I allow them to choose if this info is viewable/available to other members (but never the public) or only to 'admins'.

    It's worked great so far, and a lot of people that are not greatly computer literate still check it for news, contact info, calendar though they may never post to it personally.

  11. I remembered a slashdot article a while ago about a neighborhood service and I found it i-neighbors.org (http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/02/2127206&tid=215&tid=95&tid=1). I don't think that it's what you are looking for, but you might want to check it out before you host your own blog for your neighborhood.

  12. I've set up a neighborhood blog for Potrero Hill, San Francisco

    http://www.potrerohillsf.com

    I've marketed it the old fashioned way:

    - posted flyers around the neighborhood

    - placed an ad in the local paper

    - mentioned it to the Y! Group for the local parent's group

    As far as passwords, for the message board, guest can post. I've had to do a little bit of moderation.

    Another site to look at is:

    http://www.dailyheights.com

  13. I've actually set up a neighborhood blog over the past two weeks. I'm a realtor with ReMax so I decided to get to know my neighbors and position myself as the neighborhood real estate expert. My blog is a little different from other Realtor blogs I've seen. Instead of covering a larger area, my goal was to create the blog for resident's of my subdivision only, which consists of roughly 1000 homes and an annual turnover rate of 7%. In addition to pounding the pavement and meeting neighbors face to face, I've sent out post cards announcing the new website/blog and had small yardsigns made by Sign-0-Rama at $10 each. I placed the yardsigns on each entry/exit point (corner) of the neighborhood. Basically, I have initiated a "drip" marketing campaign. Since I own a corner house in the neighborhood, my next step is to purchase a 2ft x 8ft banner which matches the yardsigns that read "Community News & Info" HollawayEstates.com. I have 5 RSS feeds coming into the blog that relate to news, homeownership, decorating ideas, weather etc.

    So far I have had minimal participation from neighbors, but I'm expecting a lot more in the months to come. Of course with me being a Realtor, I get to claim all these expenses on my taxes. I'm not sure how that would work for you. Check out what I have accomplished so far at http://hollawayestates.com.


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