Isn’t it strange, how the internet changes our offline life? I’ve moved into my neighborhood (Capitol Hill in Washington DC – also called “parentville”, because the baby-less are a small minority) a year and a half ago. And while I enjoyed the fact that people great you on the street right away, I didn’t feel like I was part of a neighborhood, I just lived in a house that was located in this area of town.

Now since I joined the majority (read: since I had my baby), I have also joined an online parenting group for this neighborhood, MOTH (Moms on the Hill) and that made all the difference. Through the listserve I learn about lost teddy bears and dogs, free baby stuff on the porch, about burglaries and yard sales in my neighborhood and all of a sudden have 3000 mommy and daddy “friends” that I can ask for advice when my baby doesn’t sleep through the night and that I can invite for “home office blues lunch” if I’m missing the company of office mates. And since I am on this list, I do feel like I am at home in this neighborhood and I meet people I know (from the list) when baby and I go for walks.

I find it fascinating, how on the internet geographical origin explicitly does not matter but still it can help to develop something so extremely location specific as a neighborhood. Do you have similar experiences, where online and offline enrich each other?

2 Responses

  1. Dear Eva,

    We’re using email and some social networking (Twitter, Flickr) to help build community on our block of about 1000 residents in the Hell’s Kitchen area of NYC. A combination of flyers on the block, an email list and various social get-togethers from Happy Hours to Block Association meetings help keep us connected. We’re all volunteers so we have to keep it as direct and simple as possible.

    Interestingly, a number of other blocks in our neighborhood have either started block associations or are rejuvenating older membership groups. It’s almost as if a torch is being passed.

    A few projects we’re considering: 1/ capture some of the oral history of our block before it disappears and 2/ get more registered voters (of whatever stripe) on our block to actually vote 3/reach out someway to the local public high school. In fact, we have lots of ideas. The hard part is having the time and actually implementing our ideas.

    Would social mapping help us in these endeavors? How time-consuming/how much buy in would we need? (Did I mention we are all volunteers with more than full-time jobs)


    • Hi Christine,
      That sounds like a great neighborhood to live in. I think it would be very interesting for you guys to just choose one of the projects you are considering, get together with a core group of people who are interested in at least putting a little bit of time in this and draw a map of “Who needs to be involved to make this happen and how?”. You could get to interesting results and concrete next steps in maybe a two hour session. If you are interested we can talk more about how to do this concretely.

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