Introducing ThePublicProfessor.com

in Resident Associations

Friends,

NeighborsForNeighbors.org, the 501c3 I run that operates neighborhood social networks that connect neighbor who live work and serve in a neighborhood so they do thing with and for each in person was just featured on a new site called ThePublicProfessor.com.

The Public Professor is lead by Akim D. Reinhardt. Professor Reinhardt, an  associate professor of history at Towson University in Baltimore, is a leading expert on Native American culture.  In his book Disintegration he has turned his attention to the state of communities in America – how we have gone from a country that had been dominated by small, rural communities at its founding, to a modern nation of enormous cities, sprawling suburbs, and fractured rural areas.  How do you define community?  Do you live in one?  Can you have a community online? These are the kinds of questions Reinhardt poses in his blog, inviting readers to take an active part in the discussion. http://www.thepublicprofessor.com/

Check it out.

Block Head Joseph!

Wrap-up: Coverage of Pew Research Center’s “Neighbors Online”

in Resident Associations

Pew’s Neighbors Online report, published Wednesday, provides baseline data on neighborhood communications. Join the Q&A with author Aaron Smith, over at e-democracy.org’s Locals Online. Several media outlets reported on the report, and here are a few that did more than reprint the overview:

  • Chicago Sun-Times: Folks use digital tools to take role in community – “Leonard’s experience mirrors the findings of a study released Wednesday. Contrary to assumptions that people who go online hole up in their basements, the study showed the opposite: Internet users are more likely than non-users to talk face to face with their neighbors about local and community issues.”
  • CivSource: More going online to go local – “Steven Clift, director of E-Democracy.org – a nonprofit organization that works to develop civic engagement and online community building strategies – called the report an “excellent start,” in an interview yesterday. The report puts numbers to what we’ve instinctively thought about neighborhood activity online and I think it will certainly move the field of discussion along.”
  • Christian Science Monitor: The Internet probably won’t turn you into a hermit, study finds – “Far from being more reclusive, Internet users are more likely to meet their neighbors face-to-face and engage in community issues, a new study reveals. The findings suggests that talking in person or over the telephone remain the top two ways that people living close to one another keep up on community developments, even in an increasingly digital world.”
  • e-democracy: Neighbors Online – What have 27% of Internet Users Discovered? Women Lead the Way. Need More Inclusion – “So now we have numbers on the digital participation divide we must close: Only 2% of those with household incomes under $30,000 are on a neighborhood e-mail list; only 3% of Hispanics; only 2% of rural residents.”
  • New York Times: Friends, Neighbors and Facebook – “There’s no need to pine for a return to the pre-Facebook, cardigan-swaddled idealism of Mister Rogers and his charming “neighbors” and “friends,” but it is important for us to remember that tangible, meaningful engagement with those around us builds better selves and stronger communities.”
  • ReadWriteWeb: Neighbors Rely On Word of Mouth, But Online Gains – “The biggest effect that online tools have had on neighborhood interactions is in providing an avenue for learning about and interacting on local issues to individuals who might not engage in these issues through more traditional means.”

Although all of Pew’s survey respondents are from the United States, the report has global implications. See this analysis by UK-based Kevin Harris, author of the Neighbourhoods blog, reprinted here in its entirety with Kevin’s permission (thanks Kevin):

Online communication in neighbourhoods: not just people we know

The latest Pew Internet Project report has just been published, on the topic of ‘neighbors online’.

It’s based on telephone interviews with 2,258 Americans, and while I didn’t read anything that hit the wow-box it certainly helps us think about communication at neighbourhood level. The questions asked about face-to-face interaction with neighbours, telephone contact, and a range of local online resources.

Unsurprisingly (and as last year’s Pew Internet study demonstrated) internet users are just as likely as non-users to discuss local issues face-to-face. People in higher income households and with higher educational attainment are more likely to talk face-to-face with neighbours about local issues.

Between 4% and 11% of all those surveyed exchange email with their neighbours about local issues, read a blog dealing with local issues, or are signed up to a locally-focussed online forum or social network. This is baseline data, hopefully Pew will repeat the questions every now and then.

For me the most interesting finding was this: (more…)

Online interactions have positive effects for real-life communities

in Resident Associations

Caroline Haythornthwaite

According to Caroline Haythornthwaite and Lori Kendall, professors in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois, online interactions not only have positive outcomes for real-life, place-based communities, but the intersection between online communication and the offline world also forms two halves of a support mechanism for communities.

As information and communication technologies have become increasingly intertwined with everyday life, the Internet and social media have combined to create a vibrant and indispensable communication and information platform and infrastructure for today’s world.

From social networking, to civic participation, to community support during emergencies, to providing on-the-ground information in disaster areas, the professors say that the rapid development and widespread use of online technologies – for communicating and networking, for contributing and distributing content, and for storing, sharing and retrieving files – are creating ties that bind for offline communities.

“Research on who people communicate with online shows a lot of local activity,” Haythornthwaite said. “So online communication always reinforces local relationships and local identities that build networks of interacting individuals who are mutually aware of each other. Together, this demonstrates a continuous change in how we maintain local community, while also emphasizing the importance and significance of our attachments to local places and spaces.”

Lori Kendall

“While people can go to a site for information and personal support, they have also formed some long-term relationships with others they’ve met there and communicated with,” Kendall said. “So both things are happening, but I would say there’s probably more contact online with locals, and more searches for local information.”

“What has been growing over the years is a stronger, Internet-enabled connection to the geographically-based community,” Haythornthwaite said. “We’ve evolved from one-to-one or small group communication to whole ‘community’ communication.”

“It’s very possible for people to ignore opinions they don’t like and talk only to people they agree with online,” Kendall said. “Offline is often messier. To the extent that you’re going to get involved with your local community and your neighbors, you’re going to have to hash out disagreements and deal with a wide range of identities, experiences, and opinions.

Emerging and evolving uses of information and communication technologies only serve to reinforce and regenerate geographically-based community identities, the professors say. With the ubiquity of Internet-enabled cell phones with cameras, the mobile Internet provides a low effort, just-in-time, virtual printing press, making anyone a writer, editor and publisher of hyperlocal news.

“I think the use of cell phones to access the Web is a bigger factor in connecting the Internet to a local geographical community than the World Wide Web has been,” Kendall said.

Haythornthwaite and Kendall’s article, “Internet and Community,” is published in the April 2010 issue of American Behavioral Scientist.

Excerpted from Online interactions have positive effects for real-life communities, by Phil Ciciora, News Editor, University of Illinois News Bureau

Found via @idealist

The Art of Community

in Resident Associations

Excerpts from Chapter 1 of The Art of Community, by Jono Bacon. Note from the author: When I started work on The Art of Community I was really keen that it should be a body of work that all communities have access to. My passion behind the book was to provide a solid guide to building, energizing and enabling pro-active, productive and enjoyable communities. I wanted to write a book that covered the major areas of community leadership, distilling a set of best practices and experiences, and illustrated by countless stories, anecdotes and tales.

But to give this book real value, I was keen to ensure the book could be freely accessed and shared. I wanted to not only break down the financial barrier to the information, but also enable communities to share it to have the content be as useful as possible in the scenarios, opportunities and problems that face them. To make this happen O’Reilly needed to be on board to allow the book to be freely copied and shared, in an era in which these very freedoms threaten the publishing world.

But they came through. Thanks to the incredible support of Andy Oram, my founding editor for the book, O’Reilly were hugely supportive of the project and our desire to break down these barriers.

Today I am pleased to announce the general availability of The Art Of Community under a Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license.

Main points

A sense of belonging is what keeps people in communities. This belonging is the goal of community building. The hallmark of a strong community is when its members feel that they belong.

Belonging is our goal. It is that nine-letter word that you should write out in large letters and stick on your office wall. It is that word that should be at the forefront of your inspiration behind building strong community. If there is no belonging, there is no community.

Belonging is the measure of a strong social economy. This economy’s currency is not the money that you find in your wallet or down the back of your couch, but is social capital.

The first known use of the term “social capital” (referred to in Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community [Simon & Schuster]) was by L. J. Hanifan, a school supervisor in rural Virginia. Hanifan described social capital as “those tangible substances [that] count for most in the daily lives of people: namely goodwill, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit….”

For an economy and community to be successful, the participants need to believe in it. If no one believes in the community that brings them together, it fails.

For an economy to work, every participant needs to believe in the economy. Belief is a critical component in how any group of people or animals functions. This can be belief in God, belief in values, or belief in a new future. Whatever the core belief is, the economy and the community can be successful only if everyone has faith in it.

Like any other economy, a social economy is a collection of processes that describe how something works and is shared between those who participate.

An economy is a set of shared concepts and processes that grow and change in an effort to generate a form of capital. In a financial economy, participants put goods and services on the market to generate financial capital. The processes and techniques they use include measuring sales, strategic marketing, enabling ease of access, and so forth. A social economy is the same thing—but we are the product, and the capital is respect and trust. The processes and techniques here are different—open communications mediums, easy access to tools, etc.—but the basic principles are the same.

These processes, and the generation of social capital, which in turn generates belonging, needs to be effectively communicated.

An economy is like a flowing river: it never stops, and the flow is critical to its success. Economies never stand still. Every day they change, adjusting to stimuli in the world that affects them. At the heart of how this movement works is communication.

The Basis of Communication

Peter Block, a consultant on learning, makes an important foundational observation about communication in a social economy: “community is fundamentally an interdependent human system given form by the conversation it holds with itself.” When I first heard that quote, I realized that the mechanism behind communication in a community is stories.

Stories are a medium in which we keep the river flowing. They are the vessels in which we not only express ideas (“I was taking the subway to work one day, and I saw this lady on there reading the paper, and it made me think xyz”), but also how we learn from past experiences (“There was one time when I saw David do xyz and I knew I had to adjust how I myself handle those situations in the future”). Furthermore, when the characters in the stories are people in a community, the stories are self-referencing and give the community a sense of reporting. Communities really feel like communities when there is a news wire, be it formalized or through the grapevine.

Not all stories are cut from the same cloth, though. Communities tend to exchange two very different kinds of story: tales and fables.

Tales are told for entertainment value and to share experiences. They are individual units of experience that are shared between people, and their primary value is in communicating a given person’s experience and adding to the listener’s repertoire of stories and experiences.

Fables are different. Fables are stories designed to illustrate an underlying message. The vast majority of us are exposed to fables as children, and these stories are passed down from generation to generation, each one extolling a moral message to the youth of the day.

To be continued.

Join the Art of Community Comedy Photo Competiton

Join the Art of Community Comedy Photo Competiton

This book is free, but you should buy it if you could. From the author: While the book is ready to download right now, the book is available to buy in print, on Kindle, and other electronic book formats and I would like to encourage you to buy a printed copy of the book for a few reasons: Firstly, buying a copy sends a tremendous message to O’Reilly that they should continue to publish books (a) about community and (b) under a Creative Commons license. Secondly, it will encourage O’Reilly to invest in a second edition of the book down the line, which will in turn mean that communities around the world will have a refreshed and updated edition that is available to them. Thirdly, aside from the voting-with-your-feet side of things, it is just a really nice book to own in print. It is really well made, looks stunning and feels great to curl up with in a coffee shop or on the couch.

More from The Art of Community

Web site aims to unite Mo’ili’ili

in Resident Associations

moiliili matters

Area resident Derek Kauanoe launched moiliilimatters.com at the end of May as a way to connect neighbors and create dialogue about issues in the community.

The site offers many of the same functions as Facebook or MySpace — personal profiles, photo and video galleries, live chats, discussion boards, groups and blogs — along with a community calendar and directory of local businesses and organizations.

“There are not a whole lot of formal opportunities for neighbors here to get to know each other, so I thought a social network might help us get a better idea of who our neighbors are,” said Kauanoe, a 2008 University of Hawai’i Richardson School of Law graduate. “Just from creating the site, I’ve met people I probably wouldn’t have met (without it).”

Kauanoe hopes the Web site will become a place for residents to dialogue and organize to address issues of illegal dumping, homelessness, graffiti and infrastructure.

Kauanoe has also set up a Twitter feed used to post community alerts, events and site updates.

This month, Mo’ili’ili Matters teamed up with Kamehameha Schools to help tackle the neighborhood’s illegal dumping problem, sending out 15,000 postcards educating residents about proper disposal of bulky waste.

Mo’ili’ili Neighborhood Board member Greg Cuadra is an active member of the Mo’ili’ili Matters Web site, posting photos of illegal dump sites and participating in discussion forums and small groups that have formed to work on community issues.

“It’s helped me make more contacts not only for illegal dumping but for other issues that the neighborhood has,” he said. “It’s a good resource.”

Read the full story: Web site aims to unite Mo’ili’ili | HonoluluAdvertiser.com | The Honolulu Advertiser. By Caryn Kunz, Advertiser Staff Writer