We are seeking 20 new CommonPlace towns and, for the effort, just launched a comprehensive explainer video of how CommonPlace works:
BostInno, a Boston innovation blog, just spotlighted CommonPlace:
Founded by former Harvard roommates Peter Davis and Max Novendstern, CommonPlace was inspired by Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone. In the book, Putnam highlights how disconnected we’ve become from our family, friends and neighbors, warning that our stock of social capital and community connections have drastically decreased.
At the end of the book, Putnam challenges young people to invent new ways to get involved in their community. And that call to action was just what Davis and Novendstern needed to build the foundation of CommonPlace.
“We were sitting on that challenge,” Davis says. “The Boston startup scene was taking off, the iPad came out, The Social Network was being filmed.” The timing couldn’t have been better, as more people began thinking of college students as those who had the power to create these various networks and platforms. “We were thinking community needs to be revitalized,” Davis admits, and they wanted to use “the tools of the Internet” to do just that.
They launched the first CommonPlace in Davis’s hometown of Falls Church, Virginia. Through the platform, community members can create a profile and post conversation starters, requests and events, propose a meet-up or publicize a service or organization. Other members in the community can then respond publicly to any thread or click on the poster’s profile and send a private message.
We decided it was time for CommonPlace, our web platform for local community engagement, to have a promo video. We ditched the standard Web 2.0 animation video and went for straight testimonials from neighbors who use CommonPlace:
Throughout 2011, we sent community organizers into eight cities to organize neighbors onto CommonPlace. Below are some of the TV spots on their efforts.
Jeff Swift for the Raleigh CommonPlace:
Julia Campbell for the Burnsville CommonPlace:
And two spots for Sam Atkeson and Anjila Holland for the Marquette CommonPlace:
Peter Davis, Harvard University senior, got motivated to launchOurCommonPlace in 2009 after taking Bob Putnam’s course on social capital. He co-launched OurCommonPlace with Max Novendstern confident that the internet could be utilized to build up American civic life.
CommonPlace is a web-based platform that greatly facilitates local community engagement. It makes it far easier for you to connect with and share information with neighbors and local leaders.
Residents can find out what’s happening locally or post about local happenings, needs (a good roof repair company, or interest in starting a Boomer ultimate frisbee league, for instance). They can:
Ask to borrow a ladder or power drill
Publicize a tag sale or block party
Find out how they can take cooking classes
Ask who has a used loft bed they can have or buy
Find people and organizations with shared interests or hobbies around them
Ask how to fix a pot hole
Find out where their lost cat wandered off to
Organize a service project
CommonPlace’s Falls Church launch was featured in the Falls Church News-Press:
Falls Church’s Peter Davis, a 2008 graduate of George Mason High School, has teamed with his Harvard University roommate to launch a new on-line community organizing effort called “Common Place America,” and they’re chosen the City of Falls Church as their second community to begin their efforts.
The Falls Church website, which is designed to serve as a way for residents to share and receive information about things as routine as a lost cat, or a public event, to either fellow residents of specific neighborhoods, or community-wide. “It’s success will depend on our ability to sign up 1,000 to 2,000 people to participate, Davis told the News-Press. The Falls Church site lit up on New Year’s Day, and Davis is spending his January break from Harvard in Falls Church generating interest by leafleting door-to-door with fellow GMHS Class of 2008 friends, and meeting with local leaders and groups. Falls Church residents can sign up at www.FallsChurch.OurCommonPlace.com.
Also, here’s how I pitched CommonPlace to the City Council:
Peter and his partners have been creating CommonPlaces in neighborhoods around Massachusetts this past year, and now CommonPlace is coming to Falls Church this January. “Falls Church seems like the perfect city to try out a community information network in– it’s one of the most civic towns in America, it has high levels of internet access, and is known for trying new things out (in fact, my experience growing up in such a civic town as Falls Church is what inspired me to build CommonPlace)” Peter stated. As we talked he laid out commonplaces history of development and what he hopes to gain by offering this software to Falls Church City.