One of the strong messages from our research into neighbourhood networks (especially in this section) was that they help residents to co-produce the quality of their local environment.

Where a local site encourages open interest in local issues, people are likely to get involved in action that might previously have been seen solely as the responsibility of an official agency. And they respond quickly and in a positive manner. It helps that the system is transparent, so if you put your hand up to do something, everyone can see that and others are more likely to get involved.

Now here’s a striking example, from Networked Neighbourhoods site Harringay Online. On April 18 at 14.13 Darrell Osbawn posted the following message:

‘Fairlands Park is in a bit of a state. The Council knows about it and is organising some staff to come and empty the bins etc. However, there is a lot of small litter spread across the grass areas and rocks/sticks all over the play areas which the Council probably won’t get. Is anyone interested in meeting at the park sometime in the next few days to spend an hour of so to help sweep the play areas and pick up the loose rubbish? If so, please send me a PM on here and we can organise a time to meet and clean.’

Less than two days later, thanks at least in part to the way the site helps people to organise informally, eight residents had turned out, filled ten bags of rubbish, notified the council to pick them up, and the job was done. There’s a follow-up post here.

Posted by Kevin Harris.