April 10th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
As someone who decided to get his master’s degree in city and regional planning, this sort of social networking site for improving your neighborhood or city looks sweeter than sweet. It is actually a huge service to city planners, too, as it engages citizens in ways that many planners wish to do (and are often required to do), probably as well as or better than they could ever do on their own. But let’s get you some more info on what I’m talking about….
“On Neighborland you can share ideas and insights for your city, support your neighbors’ ideas, and connect with people who share your interests. Our community identifies achievable goals and we discuss how to accomplish them. Resources are identified, and we take action. We are currently live in New Orleans, testing in Houston and Boulder, and planning our national roll out.”
Here are some specific examples of what the site is capable of:
One of our members suggested the idea of a night market on a vacant stretch of St. Claude Avenue. He wanted to show local vendors the demand for services in the Bywater and Seventh Ward neighborhoods. Our community rallied around the idea and worked with St. Claude Main Streets to make it happen. Five hundred people showed up and had a great time supporting the local vendors. Now we’re are working on making it a monthly event.
Another popular idea on Neighborland is the desire for better public transit information. We partnered with a local transportation advocacy group, Transport for NOLA, to successfully petition the RTA to open up their data. Now, local software developers can build tools to make public transit better.
Claire Thompson of Grist has more on the history behind Neighborland:
That’s the idea behind Neighborland, a sort of collective online urban planning platform that grew from a project started by artist Candy Chang in 2010. Chang slapped nametag-style stickers reading “I WISH THIS WAS ___” on abandoned buildings around New Orleans. People answered by filling in the blanks with all sorts of things they’d like to see in their neighborhoods: a grocery store, a row of trees, a bakery — to which someone else responded, “If you can get the financing, I will do the baking!”
“People were trying to talk to each other,” says Alan Williams, Neighborland’s director of community, who met with me on a rainy day in New Orleans two weeks ago to show me some of the group’s work. “What if [the conversation] wasn’t lost to time? What if people could share knowledge and expertise?”
For more information, of course, take a look around Neighborland, perhaps starting with its “How does it work?” page.
Looks like an awesome community/tool/site. Wish I lived in a city where I could get more involved with it. Maybe I should get in touch with the folks at Neighborland and see if they want to try extending it to a Polish city! 😀
Images via Neighborland
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