Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.Org
Follow me - http://twitter.com/democracy
New Tel: +1.612.234.7072
From: Steven Clift <<email obscured>>
Date: Sun, Feb 27, 2011 at 1:52 PM
Subject: 4pm Monday Call, Possible online "Neighbours Forums" across
Christchurch to assist community recovery
To: Team <<email obscured>>
Cc: <email obscured>
To: Christchurch Councillors and Community Board Members
From: Steven Clift, E-Democracy.org
CC: Canterbury Issues Forum
During these most difficult times, our thoughts and prayers are with
you and your community.
With my interactions with local volunteers in your fair city and
visits years ago where I presented to your council as it developed its
online consultation strategies, I have a special place in my heart for
For those who have not heard of E-Democracy.org, we host "Issues
Forums" across 15 communities in three countries including the
Canterbury Issues Forum.
Over the last few years we have had amazing growth and participation
in _neighbourhood_ level online forums in the UK and Minnesota (where
I am based). Under normal circumstances we never open local forums
without a local volunteer forum manager and at least 100 initial
These are not normal circumstances.
Based on initial local interest on the existing regional forum, we are
exploring the rapid creation of 10 to 20 Neighbors Forums that would
cover your entire council. We would then be in a position to do
community-wide promotion and outreach. For perspective, own neighbours
forum - http://e-democracy.org/se - serves an area with 10,000
residents and over 15% of households are engaged daily.
In the next 48 hours we will evaluate whether this is viable and
whether there is sufficient volunteer interest (in this case, people
can help from far away like those raised in Christchurch now living
further a field) staring with a Skype call at 4 p.m. Monday your local
time. I am "netclift" on Skype and will call out to you on a regular
line if you e-mail me your number. (If we switch to a teleconferencing
service, for this or a future call, I will e-mail you.)
The key issue is just how to most effectively establish the rough
boundaries of each forum so they are small enough to function in a
neighborly and useful way. We find there is a sweet spot around areas
with 10,000 residents and/or very strong senses of local identity.
Here is the rough proposal:
http://e-democracy.org/chch (text below for convenience)
Here is where to join to get involved in discussions about the idea.
Also, the last thing we want to do is open a very local forum where
one already exists that works. (Note the while we do feed our forums
into Facebook and Twitter, these tools rarely work in isolation for
hyper-local community exchange.) So, within your community board area,
please let us know if there are existing two-way forums (or community
information websites who might want to get involved), by e-mailing us:
Please pass this along far and wide.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns please e-mail me or
post them to the Canterbury Issues Forum. This idea has to be viewed a
truly helpful and timely for us to pursue it.
Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
For those mobile e-mail reader among you, text from
This is a "real-time" working page to define the rapid creation of
neighbour online forums across Christchurch to promote post-earthquake
* Get Involved - Join the long-time Canterbury Issues Forum now
(also on Facebook and Twitter).
* Read the evolving proposals
* Global volunteers Skype group call Monday, Feb 28 4 p.m.
Christchurch time (convert) - Skype "netclift" to be added.
Today, Neighbours Forums mix e-mail, the web, Facebook, and Twitter to
reach a critical mass of local people. Multi-channel approaches are
required to prevent exclusion.
 Proposed Neighbours Forums
There appears to be an urgent need for neighbor to neighbor two-way
communication across Christchurch that complements the one-way
information alerts available.
By Tuesday, March 1 we will determine:
* 1. How many forums to open and their coverage areas.
* 2. Whether there is the volunteer capacity to make this work.
In addition to our five years experience with the Canterbury regional
forum, E-Democracy.org has extensive experience with public
neighbourhood level forums in the UK and Minnesota in the U.S.. Forums
at this hyper-local level are in the works for 3 areas in Auckland.
There is no one size fits all rule to neighbor forums, but in general
they work best when defined by a sense of community identity. They
enhance community engagement when they are tied to (or within)
community boards and elected councillor districts when possible.
Sometimes these political boundaries run in the opposite direction of
on the street senses of identity, school zones, and marketplace
patterns. Our neighbour forums tend to work best when they serve areas
with 5,000 to 20,000 in population. Some of our forums with roughly
5,000 households have attracted over 15% of households with engagement
Drafting Geographic Scope
This is our starting list - 8-16 based on the Christchurch community
boards with one or two forums per community board.
Each forum needs a simple name like "Papanui Neighbours Forum" and a
sentence that lists all the major places people need to know to figure
out is the forum coverage area is their best fit.
* Which potential forums should be merged?
* Which neighbourhoods not listed (like Avonhead, Saint Albans,
New Brighton, Sydenham, Linwood, Marshland etc. ... these are names on
Google Maps and the Christchurch.org.nz map that are not in the names
of community boards) with strong identities split by community board
boundaries really need their own forum?
* Which area do YOU want to make happen as the leader?
This is a "wiki" - just press edit to make changes.
* Akaroa - Add your name, e-mail here to volunteer as the forum
* Lyttelton-Mt Herbert - SAMPLE forum.
* Central Christchurch
Other maps and resources to help ID boundaries/centres of forums:
Christchurch real estate areas, Wikipedia on area geography,
Christchurch.org.nz map, placenames on bus map, placenames on Google
Maps, population density, library locations, add more here.
 Existing Neighbourhood Places Online
If you know of Facebook Pages, e-mail lists, social networks, place
blogs, etc. with critical mass participation covering small areas
within Christchurch, please list them here.
 Regional Quake Response Online Networking and Resources
There is no shortage of regional information resources and Facebook
Pages responding to the quake. We will use these networking to recruit
hyper-local participation by neighbourhood.