Your Community Is Your Toolbox

Submitted by Mark Anderson on Tue, 06/08/2010 – 12:45pmin

Session Convenor: Mark Anderson

Session Reporter: Mark Anderson

Discussion Participants:

Brian Steffens, Geoff Samek, Andrea Silenzi, Kadidjri Lahab, Helen Fu, Lou Rutigliano, Matthew Renner, Bill Densmore, Beth Mastin

The Community Is Your Toolbox

The Idea: personally invite every single person in a community to join in a larger, ongoing conversation hosted by a newspaper or other media company. Let them tell you what platforms you should be using.

Go door-to-door if community is small enough, ask “Where do you get your local news?” “Where is a good place to start conversations?” (online, text, coffee shops, library…)

Conversations will be about community building, local politics, public spaces and events, caring, sports, commerce, education, health. Are you willing to join, and how can we get questions and updates to you?

Suggestions: Ask leading questions: “What would you be willing to do …”

Need a specific name for the forum, a specific start date, more specifics so people know what they are getting into.

Could be online and on a sheet of paper. Newspaper example: Wise County Messenger, weekly paper with daily one sheet story capsules distributed around the community.

Advantages: intentional topics rather than random.

Bridge communities with racial or power divides.

How to get it started: You need to use a media structure to leverage the community, rather than a single person. It helps if you have a name behind you. Talk to the power people, get them behind the project.

Practice non-traditional journalism: partnerships with radio, entertainment venues (appealing), listening posts, operating workshops or events, host parties, get to know your audience. Example: Sacramento Press workshops on how to mix journalism and technology. Ask “What do we have to offer back to our community other than media?

High-touch, directly involved in community. Being a part of community, building trust.

DO NOT MISS UNDERSERVED POPULATIONS. What is the point of view of minority populations? What is their economic value in the community? Other value? See Beth Mastin’s session for more on cultural bridging.

Everyone has a cell phone now, invite them to text in what they are thinking, collect to a web site. SMS is the key to connect the street with the internet. It doesn’t matter where the site is, it’s where the content is.

Online vs. paper media: change the focus to fit what the community wants. Example: a daily online with news, a weekly on paper with features.

Example: Example: Bakersfield Northwest Voice.

Advocate for principles – free speech, politically neutral issues.

Seed community conversations with topics from great thinkers. Examples:

• 20 Clues to Rural Community Survival –

• New Cities Institute: The 12 Principles of Community Building –

• Boomtown USA: Top Ten Trends in 2008 –

• Is Your City A Great City? – Project for Public Spaces –

• Harwood Institute – Top 10 Ways to “Live United” –

• 17 Rules for a Sustainable Community – By Wendell Berry –

Being in the media information business can be as profitable as being in the advertising business.

My community is everybody I see. Your community is a lot bigger than the people like you. Detroit: big media can’t get the real picture, smaller media are building a quilt.

Started with small communities, ended with Detroit. Just what I wanted.

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