In Defense of Local Online Communities
I think everyone would agree that a local community is a good thing. Being part of a local community means helpful neighbors, farmers’ markets, events for the kids, and people that have your back when things are bad. Local communities are as old as history. Nowadays, though, local communities have a new opportunity–they can easily move onto the internet. But should they? Are there reasons to start (or join) an online local community?
What should you look for in joining a community or when starting one?
A local online community should be local. It should at least try to keep it’s members to local people and businesses. The point of this sort of community, unlike other online communities, is not to connect people all over the world but neighbors who live near each. This is a kind of community that builds on trust. People are more likely to trust their neighbors than some random stranger.
What can an online local community do for you?
I’ve sprinkled some actual examples of what my own local online community is doing for each other through this blog.
A good online local community will have representatives from local parks and other public services to make announcements. For instance, just today my nearby park announced they’d be having a river walk in a couple days. I’d have never known about it if I hadn’t been part of this community. If you’re starting a community like this, reach out to your local businesses and public services. They’ll probably be excited to have another means of outreach!
If you’re starting a community like this, reach out to your local businesses and public services. They’ll probably be excited to have another means of outreach!
Helping You Sell Stuff and Give Away Free Stuff
A local community site is a great place for people to advertise to sell or give away stuff locally. Craiglist is OK for selling things, but with a local community, your stuff won’t have to go as far. Someone might even be able to pick it up at the curb on their way home from work. Plus, you’ll know you’re helping your neighbors out.
Find Local Help
A community social media site lets neighbors help neighbors get things done. In my local community, people often ask for babysitters or dog walkers. These are the kind of services you want done by people who live nearby. Just recently a man posted in hopes of finding someone who could drive his son to a private school. His local community site will hopefully help him find a neighbor that also takes their child to the same school to car pool with.
Gather Local Opinions on Local Services
Ever wonder who the best plumber is in the area? Tired of a review sites full of reviews from who know who? A local online community can tell you who and what has worked best for them. Currently my neighborhood is discussing toilet installation and though some people have suggested plumbers and few people say that you can easily install a toilet yourself. A review site won’t ever tell you that.
Work Together to Fight Local Crime
An online community is the ultimate neighborhood watch. My community is always keeping their neighbors updated about local crime. Recently, we had a rash of car break-ins. The neighbors not only kept each other informed about each break-in but also reported when the crook was finally caught! Score one for community!
Discuss Community Issues
In an online community, neighbors can discuss their local issues without even having to lean over a fence. For instances, my local community discussed the lack of a deputy for our township, when someone mentioned they’d bring it up at the next township meeting.
Where can you find or start an online local community?
You have several choices. NextDoor, for instance, is a newer social media site specially designed for local communities. You could also start or find a local facebook page or group. Or you could start a listserv.
Are you part of an local community on the internet? Is it helpful? Tell us in the comments.