A new international association for community networking
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By roving reporter David Wilcox
A group of 20 community networking practitioners today spent six hours fleshing out ideas for a new organisation to promote and support the use of new media for community networking.
They had spent the past several months both online and offline discussing the possibility of a new association. Included in that process was a day long discussion at the Morino Institute at Reston, Virginia in late March.
Today the group split into teams to assess issues in three key areas and agree on first action points to put to the larger conference.
We agreed that:
- A community networking organisation will be created
- Any individual can be a member - initial membership fee $50
- The organisation should be international and diverse in its make up
- Ultimately a core staff of three to five would be employed to drive the work of a distributed organisation
- We would create an oversight board and actively promote member involvement
- The organisation should be funded by a mix of members' fees, grants and sales of services
- The organisation would be developed in phases
- The first phase will be to hire someone to create a business plan. The business plan would provide the organisational design, the more detailed products and services and basis for funding presentation
Potential products and services
Some basic premises were that it should have an international constituency; that it would support both start up and established community networking efforts; and it would offer both free and fee based products and services. For example:
- "How to" guidelines for community networking
- Talent inventory: speakers, consultants
- CD-ROMS: samplers of model community networks, useful shareware, and community invented applications.
- Annotated directory of community networking initiatives, indexed geographically and by application.
- International conference/regional workshops
- Presentation materials
- Customisable, interactive, international course on community networking with a mentoring component
- Point to best practice/life long learning example
- Cultural exchange/sister city programmes and "how to"
- "What's new" mechanism/newsletter, etc.
- Specialised/fee based products services: facilitating social processes online, special applications, video conferencing, legal services
Products and services for further discussion:
- Certification of community networks
- Group purchasing
- International telecommunications policy
The organisation might promote the products and services through a campaign with three elements:
- A clearinghouse on the Web, of:
- Articles, opinion pieces
- Case studies
- A statement of principles
- A matchmaking system
- Signposts to other resources
- Listings of community networking initiatives
- A community regeneration network
- Content about the policies and practices of community renewal and the development of sustainable communities
- Enabling practitioners and activists o share ideas and experience nationally and internationally
- A Community Networking start up kit
- The start up process - building partnerships
- Technical applications
- Courses on community networking
- Workshops and seminars
- Consulting support
These elements of the campaign would be targeted at audiences on different levels:
Some of the campaign elements would be passive -- presentation of material -- but the main thrust would be active promotion.
- Government and foundations
- Local organisations
The campaign might start simultaneously in several countries, and have a different emphasis in each to suit local circumstances.
Steve Snow, Charlotte's Web
firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Snow)
David Wilcox, Partnerships for Tomorrow
email@example.com (David Wilcox)