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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  February 2001, Week 4

COMMUNET February 2001, Week 4

Subject:

Re: Putting on my CommuNet shoes....

From:

Wally Bowen <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Community and Civic Network discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 22 Feb 2001 10:53:52 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (112 lines)

Mick -- We're leveraging the hunger for alternative local news and
information.  In fact,  we have begun routinely to break news stories
before the local Gannett newspaper covers the story, especially
environmental news stories.  We're finding that the environmental groups'
press releases are hitting the wire services, or being covered by major
North Carolina metro newspapers, before the local newspaper runs the
story.  We have a small group of volunteer "news gatherers" who feed us
URLs each day.

We also glean some interesting stuff from some of the smaller, rural
newspapers that are covering topics (such as air quality and the
proliferation of asphalt plants) that are relevant to our larger region.

We also pick up the occasional Washingtop Post story that has a local
angle.

Also, we have added a Forest Service webcam and daily ozone report to our
homepage that gives local citizens hourly updates on local/regional air
quality measurements.

Our homepage currently is drawing more than 100,000 unique visitors per
month.  With this audience, we are also able to spotlight local nonprofit
organizations that are trying to raise their visibility.  For example, a
few months ago we spotlighted the Cherokee Indian Museum.  Visits to their
website mushroomed!  We kept them in the spotlight for a couple of
days; needless to say, they were ecstatic to have that kind of exposure
for their new website.

Our core viewership derives from the 4,000 dial-up subscribers to our
community network, but there are many more folks who do not use our ISP
services who use our homepage for alternative local news and information.

This spring we will be applying for a low-power FM radio license.  We have
a group of vols with interest and expertise who are shepherding this
effort.  If we get the license and funding, the content for this broadcast
operation will be almost entirely volunteer-created.  Most importantly, we
will be able to webcast these voices of local citizens throughout the
region for folks who are out-of-range of the low-power broadcast signal.

I'm assuming you will be creating a 501(c)3 to enable your effort to
accept donations, receive grants, etc.  Having that tax-exempt status is,
IMHO, the "seed crystal" to set your efforts in motion and to attract the
time and energy of volunteers.  This is obviously something that the local
info/real estate/restaurant guides will not do.

I hope this helps.

Wally Bowen
Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN)
http://www.main.nc.us

On Thu, 22 Feb 2001, Mick Souder wrote:

> I spent the 1990's working on several community network projects in
> Minneapolis and St. Paul.  Especially working on stuff with folks who
> focused on CMC "interaction that matters" as e-democracy geek Steve
> Clift puts it.
>
> A year and a half ago, I moved to semi-rural Colorado and am trying
> to gear up an attempt at developing community/non-profit networking
> resources here in Durango.
>
> However, the environment is very different than it was 10 years ago.
> Now anyone who can get to a library (or in Durango's case, the public
> housing network center) can get basic interactive access.  So--the
> hook that got most people interested in this stuff is gone.
>
> However, the real value of community networking is sorely needed in
> this area where there are claims by at least different commercial web
> sites to being the organizers of local information.
>
> Unfortunately, these sites focus on stuff like real estate and faux
> Mexican restaurants.  There is a newspaper web forum.  But the
> participation is limited, and as far as interaction that matters
> goes, there ain't none.
>
> I need to work do through the process of finding and engaging people to:
>
> *       help local NGOs provide information of use to the coummunity.
> *       create political and social interaction spaces that have an
> effect on the actions of the government and society.
>
> *       provide the ability for citizens and officials to dialogue
> through CMC tools.
>
> I'm working through the stuff that other people and I did right (and
> wrong) in Minnesota to get this sort of meaningful community network
> (or virtual community network--I'm not proud.  I'll leverage whatever
> resources I can get my grubby hands on) up and running and
> sustainable.
>
> I'm a marketing guy, grant writer and CMC trainer so I'm pretty
> skilled at getting things organized for PR and computer interaction
> project building.  But I could also use any guides and references you
> might have for:
>
> *       recruiting for a computer network organizing committee in the
> post-dotcom-frenzy world.
>
> *       step-by-step guides for developing and sustaining the actual
> community network.
>
> *       preventing burnout of volunteers in a CN (especially before
> successful implementation).
>
> Thanks.
> --
> Mick Souder
> [log in to unmask]
> Durango, CO USA
>

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