Monday, April 07, 2008

Blogs and citizen involvement

Blogs have opened a new channel for citizen communication, and St. Louis has a lively blogosphere devoted to urban issues. Nonetheless, most people don't read blogs, so information exchanged over the internet is missed on the majority of citizens.

While blogs are an excellent, free, and widely available option to distribute information, to fully engage the community, we need a diverse communications program that does the best job of reaching as many citizens as possible.

Neighborhood priorities are often set through citizen groups working together the old-fashioned way-in face to face meetings, usually held one evening a month. The internet is a fast paced way to distribute information, but it's doubtful that it will ever take the place of neighbors getting together in person to work on community goals.

10 comments:

Lolololori said...

The blogs/internet are only as powerful as the Real Life communities they create and empower. Are there any example of bloggers mobilizing In Real Life by neighborhood/ward?

stlmark said...

I've mentioned similar observations before in posts on my blog. We need a group of urban foot soldiers that can spread the word throughout the community and reach out in other ways. I completely agree with you.

Anonymous said...

^ Not a new idea.

In 1932, the Urban League of St. Louis began organizing block units -- civic groups of people living on both sides of a single block. They still exist.

Anonymous said...

The reality is that very few residents participate in neighborhood organizations in meaningful ways and most of the work of neighborhood organizations is done by a select group of neighborhood leaders. Additionally, it is extremely rare for any one neighborhood organization to serve the complete set of interests in any one neighborhood. This is not a criticism of neighborhood orgs, but a recognition of their limitations and that a neighborhood, to be diverse and successful, need to rely upon multiple methods and organizations for organizing and empowering residents.

Anonymous said...

^ Interesting observation.

What are some of the unmeaningful ways neighborhood residents participate in neighborhood organizations?

That seems like sort of a slam.

Rick Bonasch said...

Neighborhood groups vary greatly in their level of activity and the sorts of things they do.

Some have taken the lead in seeking National Register historic district status for their areas. Others have taken the lead serving as community development corporations, rehabbing and building new housing.

What they do is based on each group's unique set of priorities. In a neighborhood city, neighborhood organizations are key stakeholders.

Anonymous said...

Neighbors for Justice in cooperation with Sts Teresa and Bridget are working with neighborhoods in the 3rd,5th,and 19th wards regarding Paul Mckee and LRA owned property. Anyone interested in helping with foot soldier work is welcome. 371-1190 is the number to the church. Please leave contact information.

Sheila Rendon
Neighbors for Justice

Anonymous said...

And it is a good thing that neighborhood groups are not the only stakeholders. Church groups, ward organizations and even city-wide interest groups play a role in setting agendas. The agenda of my neighborhood has been enhanced because the power of the organized neighborhood group has been matched by the influence of other groups that have slightly different perspectives. Just like no one would pay attention to only local bloggers, neither should we expect that neighborhod groups are the only acceptable form of local activism.

Anonymous said...

^ Interesting observation. It makes you wonder just what the agenda is for a given neighborhood, and who knows it?

And more importantly, who's responsibility is it to make sure goals are accomplished?

Without a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, little goes according to plan.

john w. said...

I totally agree with this post, and would like to report that there is at least some action forming around the issue of the San Luis Apartment building in the CWE, and I believe this same group of blogging urbanists involved in this effort are ready to focus on the threatened areas of north city as well. The Blairmont situation is obviously well-covered in the urbanist blogs, and needless to say we'll need to begin putting action to our concerns.