Free, new media have empowered neighborhood groups tremendously. A decade ago, anyone wanting to oppose a rezoning or a development had to go door to door or make scores of phone calls to get people to meetings. Time and distance greatly constrained what people could accomplish.
But now an increasing number of neighborhood groups are using tools like Yahoo or Google groups, which allow e-mail messages to go out instantly to group members — and only to group members — so quickly that neighborhoods are now as agile as their industry opponents. Neighborhoods are also using free blogs to give them a public face and to archive public documents.
I think this new “Army of Davids” power is very apparent in Greensboro, where developers have lost recent rezoning battles (or given up before they started) in response to neighborhood pressure. It looks like they’re going to lose a few more.”