When I started working at BigTent last summer, I immediately saw its value as a platform for parenting groups and PTAs. But soon another opportunity came into focus: Why not use BigTent as a way to bring neighborhoods together in a more organized way?
Some background: My ‘hood is urban and transitional. Neighbors fight traffic just to wave at each other across the street. Every few months, a few folks will energize and set up an event: a formal community meeting, a celebration at the local bakery. They’ll post flyers beforehand, and collect names and email addresses on a piece of paper at the event. In the best cases, these turn into brief email threads, full of excitement that’s soon lost in the daily bustle. From sporadic conversations, I knew many of us craved a better way to communicate and organize — a way to spark discussions on cleanup projects along the streets, play dates at the local park, and crime prevention at dusk.
We needed a virtual community on BigTent.
With the help and enthusiasm of some neighbors, I created our Neighborhood Association group on BigTent late last month.
A funny thing has happened since its launch. From their profile pictures online, I now recognize my neighbors from two blocks away. From our customized “children” category on the member list I know the family down the street has a son my daughter’s age. Our group calendar reminds folks of a monthly, family-friendly happy hour at the new local cafe, and a bi-monthly formal meeting at the community center. We can store meeting minutes in the “files” area and share photos from block parties. And although our street is busy and our lives hectic, we all say “Hi” to each other a little bit more.
We’ll still need to drop flyers door-to-door to make sure those without computer access have a chance to get involved. But our virtual BigTent community will only help spark interaction on our real streets.
–Lynn at BigTent