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In today’s increasingly global world, many people have lost a sense of community. They’re left staring at their screens, feeling lonely, isolated, and unsupported. As social creatures, humans crave community, but in an ever-shrinking world, we are ironically more alone than ever. Fortunately, the same tools that distance us from each other can also be used to bring us back together.
The power of technology is virtually limitless, especially when used as a mechanism to build upon real-life relationships. Technology can be used not only to build new connections, but also to raise community support for neighborhood events, charities, and any other community-based initiative you can think of. Let’s take a look at the ways social media and digital communications platforms are changing the way we think of community.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 and shifting work-life dynamics, people have found themselves at home more than ever before while simultaneously going out less than ever before. During these trying times, we can use social media sites to share content with our friends, family, and loved ones.
From Facebook to Twitter, there’s a social media platform to suit any message and any audience. When it comes to building community, Facebook groups can help you plan your next neighborhood potluck or find books to borrow from a neighbor. Facebook even has a feature that allows you to check in as safe in the event of a natural disaster or another life-threatening event.
Connecting with your community members through a professional site, like LinkedIn, has the potential to spark real-world relationships and give rise to new business endeavors. Entrepreneurs help enrich your local community while knowing your neighbors means new employment and professional opportunities are likely to be passed on by word-of-mouth or through social media.
If you’re organizing a community project, there are plenty of technological tools that help you get the job done quickly and efficiently. One of the ways to do so is by creating an online document library. Not only can this help keep everyone on the same page for community projects, but it also offers a secure platform on which to execute contracts and hold yourself accountable.
Making use of a digital communications platform allows you to share information with volunteers, discuss the impact of a new piece of legislation, or simply view what your community is up to, all in one place. You also have the option to password-protect sensitive documents or only allow access to certain individuals, giving you the flexibility you need to pull off your next big community event. Whether you plan to throw a yard sale or hold a fun run for charity, it’s essential to stay organized with your team.
Additionally, you can keep everyone updated through communication tools like GroupMe and WhatsApp. These instant messaging systems allow everyone in the community to chime in from the comfort of their own homes. That’s especially important now that in-person meetings are rarer, with Zoom, email, and messaging dominating the communications market.
Whatever communication strategy you decide to pursue, keep it consistent. Chances are your community is a friendly lot, but you’ll quickly lose their interest if they have to jump between messaging platforms or download a new app every other day.
One solution is to create a community website or an event-specific site if you’re planning something big. However, if you do decide to create a website, there are some considerations to keep in mind. For starters, not all members of your community will be as tech-savvy as you. That means your website will need to have a minimalist design and be easy to navigate, even from a mobile interface. Keep things simple, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for customization. Those are just a few of the top UX design tips that can drastically improve your website and increase community engagement.
Other tips include incorporating Facebook auto-connect logins on your site and adding a featured content gallery to exhibit past projects. WPtouch Pro 3, one of the many WordPress plugins you can use to increase community engagement, helps by automatically creating a mobile version of your site.
With only beginner web development knowledge, you’re more than well-equipped to begin building your community. Now, you can start dreaming of all the beautiful things you plan to accomplish.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to use technology to rally community support, let’s discuss a couple of examples of community efforts in action.
Our first example brings us to Boise, Idaho, where members of the local community worked hand-in-hand to help build a housing project for the Boise houseless. The entire community came together in support of the project. The city of Boise itself contributed, as did several local churches and businesses.
As a result, the housing project expects to provide quicker access to shelter for the houseless community as well as more stable living situations that will benefit the entire community. The city of Boise continues to maintain a website dedicated to the housing project, where community members can coordinate donations and view uplifting stories from positively impacted individuals.
As you can see in the Boise case, pooling efforts and resources can lead to faster results. Down south in Clearwater, Florida, a similar phenomenon occurred in mid-October 2021. October ushered in “The Big Cleanup,” the “largest community-wide cleanup in Clearwater’s history.” Over 1,300 volunteers and 70 businesses chipped in, collecting a total of around 6,588 pounds of litter. The whole event was organized through social media and a website, where people could sign up as volunteers, take a pledge to become an “ocean ally,” and connect to the community mission.
People collected the trash through a series of cleanups centered on beaches, schools, parks, and other community gathering areas. Participants were able to see the trash problem in their community firsthand, and as a result, many now plan to practice proper waste disposal and avoid using single-use plastics. Perhaps best of all, they plan to continue volunteering in the hopes of beautifying their community.
No matter where you live or what kind of communities you come into contact with, you have the power to make a difference. With the help of tech, you can help garner community support for the causes you care about. Whether you want to help underprivileged people in your community, organize a fundraiser through your online gaming network, or simply get to know your neighbors, you can get there through social media, digital communications platforms, and simply getting out there in your community.