Neighborhood Blogs

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans There was a piece in the Times today that was frightening to me, and probably to all community organizers because as sure as I was reading it, I could see the workload climbing! The piece said that a website called “Outside.In” was collecting local news and blog posts covering about 3000 neighborhoods in 60 different cities. They had come to the not surprising conclusion that the incidence of blogs about neighborhoods was another sign of gentrification. Duh!

In a panic though I immediately looked up my own zip code on their site after a quick Google search, and sure enough, although most of the postings were about the tres hip Marigny section (on the fringe where our office is located!), there were WAY too many on the Bywater where I live. The rapidly increasing number of yuppies, dog walkers AT ALL HOURS, bikers, baby pushers, and just plain young white people had been increasingly impossible to ignore, and this seemed to confirm it.

Worse news is coming! As I read through the site, I noticed there were a lot of comments about an “art loft” construction project in the next block where we live. There were comments on zoning issues in the lower 9th ward and a host of things that intersect ACORN’s community organizations in these neighborhoods.

You must see what I’m saying now, huh? We are going to have to start training organizers and leaders to be “bloggers” for godsakes! It won’t be long before we will have to put up a blog — regularly! — on every one of the neighborhoods where we work. Furthermore, it is going to be someone’s job — and, I’ll just bet it’s a local community organizer — to begin reading the neighborhood blogs every morning or night and posting on them to both set the message straight and make sure that no evil transpires.

My brother, the wizard, used to point out carefully in the early days of e-mail an often overlooked truth in the excitement we felt about discovering a new means of “modern” communication that we should be careful never to think of e-mail as a “time saver,” since in fact it simply increased the amount of work required in a day by requiring people to check and respond to messages as an additional work task. There were many things, he was always careful (and correct!) to add, that were very good about e-mail, but it was not a labor-saving device. Amen!

The advance of blogging as a neighborhood communication tool augers well for rapid communications at least to those with the interest and access to the tools, which is not exactly a win for our constituency, but, brothers and sisters, this will not be a labor-saving device for community organizers. It will simply be another mountain to climb!