Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Report: Community Weaving a.m. presentation at City Hall

At Nevada City's City Hall yesterday morning, 25 people, mostly social services professionals, heard Community Weaver Cheryl Honey talk about & demo the Family Support Network / Good Neighbors website, whose purpose is to help people network to help each other. (There was also an evening presentation.)

She says there's a real need, to lighten the burdens of social service workers; with 16,000 families in Nevada County on public assistance, the 25-or-fewer case workers need all the offloading they can get. And it benefits the people in need, who have something to give & can support each other - as one woman said, it represents a return to relationships, not just the provision of goods and services.

Honey started the program in Seattle after, in need herself, she asked her caseworker "can you connect me to my neighbors" - and was told that for confidentiality and liability reasons the answer was no. So, in the spirit of Paul Graham's "build something that you yourself need", she started a family support network - and now a website, to let other communities do likewise, scalably.

There are 3 URLs - FamilyNetwork.org, GoodNeighbors.net, and CommunityWeaving.org - the first two go to the same site.

The Community Weaver - who undergoes a background check - is a facilitator, "weaving a safety net by connecting people together" - helping people to create the family support networks, and bringing in people who have skills or other resources to offer.

(She's looking for a Python programmer, BTW.
And if it turns out to be you, could you make the CommunityWeaving.org pages - e.g. "History" - so I can link to them?)

But you don't have to be a community weaver to use the site, you can just be a Good Neighbor - the website lets you sign up, enter information about what you need and what - and the limits to what - you have to offer, then find & connect with others with similar interests, or with complementary needs & skills/resources.

People without computers can use it too; a community weaver (or other user?) can serve as their user interface.
(I wasn't clear on exactly where the boundary line was, between site features available to anyone, and ones limited to CWs; just that there is one, e.g. reports can only be generated by CWs.)

People who just envision having a more interconnected community may want to try it out - the site is free to use. You can post & find recreational & educational activities, post & search for human resources... see Ways to Participate for more info.

If you sign up, our group name is cwnevco (lower case).

The site isn't all Web-2.0 bells-and-whistles; e.g. it doesn't have a discussion forum, and the attendant headaches thereof.

Registrants do commit to a "Civility Pledge", including pledging "In all of my daily interactions" to "do my best to view everyone in positive terms". (That's a tall order, Cheryl.)

Prospects? I'll be very interested to see how it goes. We are a small community & so we don't have the big-city advantage in attaining critical mass, so, as one person there said, it really needs a champion, if it's to succeed.
A community mom.

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