This past week I had the pleasure of being invited to engage in a conversation with our neighbors from some of the surrounding communities. We met at a neutral site so there was no location bias. Although, there was one community that had more participants, it is really several communities that share a common name.
In the Chatham community and 6th Ward we have several layers of communications. Our political representatives have websites,emails, and social media sites(Facebook,Twitter,LinkedIn, Pinterest, Etc.) Our community organizations have emails with several having websites and no social media sites. Several block clubs have email list. Lastly, residents have independently run social media sites such as this blog,The Sixth Ward Blog, and Chatham Now that are syndicated on various social media sites.
Other communities were not as fortunate as they were not aware of whether or not their political representatives, community organizations had email list, electronic newsletters or social media sites. So, how is information disseminated? There were a variety of answers with some depending on Chicago Alternative Policing (CAPS) meetings, Aldermandic community forums and others have electronic community portals. These portals are websites funded through grants as a way to bridge the "digital divide" in lower income communities. Most also depended on a website "Everyblock" that was shut down several weeks ago. The site was owned by NBC.
While it appears that Chatham has a good communication system, there are constant complaints that residents cannot reach the City of Chicago, political representatives, community organizations,etc. Also, there are complaints about information on programs and events is not disseminated on a timely basis. Most of our political representatives have websites and social media sites that are active and updated regularly as well as they attend community organization meetings on a regular basis. The community organizations have meetings on a monthly basis as well as some have weekly email blast and even go door to door for special events. The independent social media sites update daily but face some limitations because some information is not shared because of politics.
So is our communication efficient and effective? How can we increase the numbers of residents who engage in social media but who do not interact with community social media sites? How do we reach those who do not engage in social media?