Neighborhood Associations Put Technology to Good Use
This article about neighborhood associations reminded me of a post I wrote earlier in the year, in which I argued that tools like Facebook and Twitter could help local governments communicate with their constituents. The article describes how groups in the St. Louis area use networking sites — or even just email — to organize and share information:
Neighborhood associations used to be built around face-to-face contact — talks on porches, chats over fences, discussions in doorways. Local groups, though, insist that computers and social media haven’t killed the neighborhood association. Just the opposite, they say — it’s a way to stay even closer and to reach more of their neighbors.
Technology doesn’t sever neighborhood ties; it brings new people into the conversation.
Online networking helps neighborhood associations, and local governments could also use technology to increase community involvement. If you sit in on a few city council meetings, you see a lot of the same people every time. Some dedicated citizens don’t miss a meeting, and others attend whenever an issue that affects them comes up for debate. But there’s an entire group of people who are absent. Those are the people who might occasionally want to voice their opinion or learn about government proceedings, if they could stay involved without too much trouble. They don’t read through the newsletters, nor do they mark all the meetings on their calendars. They would benefit from local governments’ updates on networking sites — and local governments would benefit from their presence.