Baroness Newlove buries her key point in an otherwise interesting report.
“Think first about developing community spirit (not necessarily fighting crime)“
The problem in most local communities isn’t that they aren’t empowered, lack access to essential resources, or feel local government doesn’t meet their needs. The problem is they simply don’t know each other.
How well do you know your neighbours?
The challenge in almost every community project, online or offline, is to figure out how to get your intended audience to interact with each other. If you can work that out (and sustain it), you will build a community.
Online, the answer will usually be to reach people individually, identify their interests, start discussions about those interest and ask these people to participate.
Offline, the social context is far more important. People don’t come together just to talk, they come together for a specific social reason. Baroness Newlove recommends governments should consider hosting neighbourhood barbecues and fun social events for specific neighbourhoods. I agree.
If you run a group brought together by geography (e.g. Brooklyn’s Park Slope Parents), regular fun events are the key element of the community building process. It’s an excuse for people to come, interact with others, but – most importantly – people can bring their friends.
Figure out how to get your audience to interact and how to sustain those interactions.