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  • Create an online presence for your offline community

    Connecting with your neighbors face-to-face isn’t always possible, so some neighborhoods are creating ways to connect online, too. See how one community is bridging the face-time gap and providing alternate options for residents to work toward social good together.

    Setting: Neighborhoods

    Want to try this?

    There may be some people who want to join you.

    People involved

    Caryn Solly, resident of the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital apartment complex
    Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.

    What they did

    In 2009, Caryn Solly decided she wanted a better way to connect with her neighbors in the historic Brooklyn Jewish Hospital apartment complex in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Caryn has a background in online organizing, and was interested in finding ways to connect people’s online lives with their real life neighbors. “I knew that if a Facebook group for the complex existed, I would use it. So I decided I should just do it.”

    So Caryn started a group, and as it gained members, she saw an increase in “neighborliness” and met more people in her community. Members of the group used it to ask for help (borrowing a cup of sugar; watching a pet), share information about the neighborhood and management company (giving restaurant recommendations; discussing a heating issue in the building), and organize around local issues (building a community garden; addressing neighborhood gun violence.)

    How you can do it:

    Impact:

    Since the group launched in 2009, it’s grown to include almost 1,000 members. But beyond numbers, it provides a sense of place and community. Caryn says, “Knowing that there are people you can reach out to, even for small things, is really meaningful. It makes people feel connected and cared for. And when you feel less anonymous, you pay more attention to your community and it makes it harder to ignore something that’s going on in your neighborhood.”

    Big takeaways

    Your group will be a labor of love. It may take a lot of work to get it off the ground and keep it running smoothly. But by connecting both online and offline, you and your community can do great things together.

    Resources

    Photo credit: Caryn Solly

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