Using a blog for not fully formed ideas is probably not the best idea – but a discussion I had last night has spurred me on to thinking about hyperlocal information, the building of communities and neighbourhoods and how that can be achieved on an individual and community level. Most of the conversation came about from a realization that news on a hyperlocal level – not just cities and towns but neighbourhoods in towns – was both eminently achievable and socially very valuable.
Identifying needs within a community, or programs that can benefit that community and advocating for the implementation of those programs, happens on a local government level – but with internet campaigns and hyperlocal focus, can happen on a community level also
I live in Downpatrick, a small town near Belfast in the east of Co. Down. It's a beautiful place at the best of times and can be dreary and disappointing at others – like most provincial towns I'd imagine.
But I also live on English St., a street bounded by Mount Crescent, Bridge St., Church St., Scotch St. and Irish St. – a mixture of residences and business and across a wide spectrum of income levels and backgrounds. The neighbourhood has significant assets in the grave of St. Patrick, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Down County Museum, The Mound of Down, The Down Arts Centre, Downpatrick Primary School and Down High (although the latter is set to move within the next 5 years) as well as the prospect of a "Cultural Quarter" on Scotch St.
But we're faced with a fair few problems as well – petty crime and anti-social behaviour, lack of parking, poor pedestrian access and a general sense of "not belonging" – the feeling that a community isn't and never will be yours, leading to the gradual dilapidation of that neighbourhood. I see it happening in my neighbourhood as the weeks and months pass. There are some positive steps being made though:
Working with the Down Arts Forum on projects like "Art on the Shutters" is enormously gratifying and projects like this have to be the cornerstone of any hyperlocal effort – identifying needs and providing for them.
Like I said, this is just the kernal of an idea – we'll see where it goes from here.