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The Hyperlocal Power Gap

August 3, 2010

We’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last six months working in Fairstead, King’s Lynn as part of Local 2.0.  We set about working with the local neighbourhood management partnership, which includes local people, to develop a hyperlocal website to get local people talking. Modelled on the phenomenon that is Harringay Online, it’s now up and running.

http://www.fairstead.org has been developed using Ning. It’s been up for a couple of weeks now and we are in the process of properly marketing it to local residents. It’s really exciting and I think Fairstead has the characteristics of a place where a hyperlocal website should flourish: developed local networks, geographically distinct, strong sense of belonging, good community infrastructure and people who already online, using social media.

I am anticipating lots of challenges ahead, but I am optimistic that they will be overcome. On a broader point, I am also really eager to prove that organisations can stimulate the development of hyperlocal websites like Fairstead.org.

It will always be more desirable if residents develop hyperlocal websites on their own accord, but there will be lots of neighbourhoods where it doesn’t happen – either because the capabilities don’t exist or because people are not willing to do it on their own.

In these neighbourhoods local residents need to be supported and encouraged to use the tools that are available to them to develop a collective voice. If hyperlocal is left to purely organic means, empowered communities will become more empowered and better able to claim increasingly scarce resources.

Councils, housing associations and community organisation like  Development Trusts will all have some form of community development function already.  These workers – alongside the army of Big Society Community Organisers – will be essential to ensuring that hyperlocal enhances access to power at the local level.

We’ll be writing more about this in the coming months.

Manny.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2010 6:19 pm

    Will be tuning in for the next installment. Looking forward to that one.

  2. August 5, 2010 10:30 am

    Interesting Manny, (and thanks for the nod to our Harringay site.

    We’re setting up another site in north London, also modelled on Harringay Online, as part of a broader piece of work using a social media-based approach to helping older people age in place.

    Nearby we’re supporting another similar website. It’ll be interesting to compare notes as to how the site develop. Sadly, the time scales will be too long for our research on the impact of neighbourhood websites and the implications for local councils. But, we hope to pick this longer term view in another piece of work.

    • August 5, 2010 10:43 am

      Thanks Hugh- Harringay Online is providing lots of inspiration. Agreed – lets compare notes as we go along!

      • August 8, 2010 9:45 pm

        I am chair of the communications committee at FinFuture, a regeneration trust. Our “area of benefit” includes a small part of the territory for Harringay Online – some of the southern part of Harringay ward.
        We are interested to explore ways in which we could use hyperlocal istes – and we have called a meeting which Hugh Flouch has already says he hopes to attend. here is the notice of it:-

        Finsbury Park Online – a community “blog” for Finsbury Park?

        Do you want to know what is going on in the Finsbury Park area and have your say?

        Do you blog and live in the Finsbury Park area? Are you based in Finsbury Park with a website? Are you on Facebook ? Have you set up a community website or are you thinking about it? Are you a member of a community group, and want to find ways of telling people about it? Are you interested in “social media” or local news sites? Do you produce a parish magazine or community newsletter? Are you interested in being a “Citizen Journalist”?

        If you are interested in any of these things please join our discussion. We want to find out how we could go about “social networking” in the Finsbury Park area. We also want to establish what is there already to see how it could be developed. You can join us by coming to a meeting for interested people at FinSpace, 7 p.m. Tuesday 7 September 2010. Or you could comment on our project blog or post to our email discussion list. FinSpace is at 225 – 229 Seven Sisters Road, London, N4 2DA (if you are not from the area but have a similar project which you have developed or are developing you are most welcome to come along to share ideas)

        The FinSpace building is a Community Resource Centre managed by FinFuture. We are a local charity and we want to help people, organisations, and businesses in Finsbury Park share news and information.

        For more information go to our project blog:-

        http://fponline.posterous.com/

        and also join our emailing list by sending an email to:-

        FPOnline-subscribe@yahoogroups.co.uk

        (Finsbury Park Online is a project of the communications committee of FinFuture. The committee reports to the Board of FinFuture. For more information about FinFuture see: http://www.finfuture.co.uk/ )

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