Neighbourhub – the backstory

for_backstory_postEarly evening in mid-town Toronto, a meeting room filling with neighbours out for the Annual General Meeting of one of seven Ratepayer Associations touching on the crossroads of a major business area. The guest speaker is the newly recruited Chief City Planner and we’re on site to videotape her address for the Association’s website. The issue is condo development and once question period arrives it becomes clear that passions among the roughly 200 attendees run high on the subject.

We have spent the better part of a year previous to this evening learning and practicing the emerging business of social media marketing. Our understanding of how unstoppable is the force of community forming online, our expanding knowledge of tools and methods for supporting the objectives of online communities – these and other “parts” contribute to a dawning awareness after the edit and after a conversation over coffee with the video client. He has served as a volunteer Board Member for ten years on the neighbourhood association dedicated to preserving and enhancing quality of life in his community.for_backstory_post2 Our conversation makes it clear that he and his colleagues have a sense that they need more than a website maintained by a neighbour/volunteer. They sense that social media, Facebook in particular, could offer them a place to foster community in a way helpful to growing membership. They see that doing this successfully would build the treasury and increase the influence they could bring to their lobbying efforts. But who has the time and how much would it all cost?

I left that chat with some ideas. After a month of research I had better ideas.  Working with a colleague we developed a vision for growing neighbourhood groups by using the same tools that were/are seeding and nurturing communities of common interest on every subject in every corner of the world. This website is the tip of the iceberg. Together with the more than 500 RPAs in Ontario and countless more across Canada and North America we are going to change the way we live in neighbourhoods, and the way we connect with our neighbours.  Developers and politicians beware. Unless you’re working for us…

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