Online “communities of interest” have long afforded people the chance to poll their colleagues about an issue or idea. I’m guessing a good portion of this has been limited to professionals talking to their peers, and highly involved amateurs chatting amongst themselves in their circles.
So it’s interesting that this past week we’ve seen lots of John and Jane Q. Public posting notes in their neighborhood forums looking for feedback and/or action from their neighbors. Some samples from Front Porch Forum:
1. A physical therapist in the Prospect Parkway Neighborhood Forum asked her neighbors for feedback on their experiences with PT. She edits a state PT newsletter and hopes to use the input there.
2. A local bakery runs an annual fundraiser whereby customers vote for a single charity out of a dozen or so candidates. The winner gets to be “baker for the day” working in the shop and taking home the proceeds. Last year’s winner (King Street Youth Center, I think) earned $3,000 for its neighborhood programs. This week, people all over town are plugging their favorite nonprofit on their neighborhood forums and urging their neighbors to go vote.
3. A food critic for a local paper opened a channel to the 100 or so neighbors on her forum, asking for story leads. She’s not the first reporter to tune into her neighborhood forum for tips, although she may be the first one to formally ask.
4. Elisa Nelson worked with a city official to place a brief survey on several Burlington neighborhood forums, gauging people’s sense of allowable new-house size in established neighborhoods, leading into the city’s zoning re-write (i.e., should we allow someone to build a house that is 25% larger than its neighbors? 100% bigger?). More than 5% of people completed and returned the survey.
5. A South End parent created an online petition about changing the start time at Burlington High School by ten minutes to better mesh with the public transit schedule. She posted a note in her neighborhood forum a day or two ago, and now it’s been posted by other people across 5-10 forums in town, reaching thousands of people.