Community takes on new meaning when people plus technology plus social work together

Jamaica Plain's Snow Crew

It snowed. A LOT.

Accessibility was a critical, potentially life-saving issue. Neighbors for Neighbors, an online community founded in Jamaica Plain by local resident and social media guy Joseph Porcelli showcases the value of an in-place network that utilizes both traditional and social components to get things done.

Neighbors For Neighbors header

Built on top of the social community platform Ning (think Facebook but much more dynamic and flexible), and powered by Groundcrew (defined as “software for the real-time coordination of constructive crowds”), Neighbors for Neighbors solves real problems.

The immediate problem? Provide support to local elderly, disabled, and businesses that needed help. To learn more about how they did it, read the article from Jess Bidgood at WGBH. It’s a great story.

in a corner of Jamaica Plain, people plodded into the snow as the blizzard wound down on Wednesday to help their neighbors, guided and organized by a labyrinth of social technology that fused Google Maps and text messages with Twitter, Facebook, email and a tailor-made social networking site.

Joseph Porcelli and Roy Krantz assign volunteers to shoveling sites.

Joseph Porcelli, center, and Roy Krantz, via videochat, assign volunteers to shoveling sites. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

It’s a pilot project that you could call “Shoveling 2.0,” and it starts with longtime JP resident Joseph Porcelli, who is sitting in the front room of his apartment as people trickle inside, swaddled in snowpants, hats and boots.

“Have we met before?” asks Porcelli, shaking the hand of a tall, gray-haired man.

“No, I just text-messaged you,” answers Jay Pendexter, an artist who lives a few streets over. “I got an email about it and they said they wanted to get some people together to shovel, so here I am.”

Porcelli, 34, works as a social-technology consultant, but this is a guinea-pig side project. On his laptop screen, there’s a Google map with dots for houses, cars and businesses that need to be shoveled out.

The map also plots the addresses and cell phone numbers of people who have volunteered to help. Porcelli is using software called GroundCrew — first developed as a political organizing tool — to assign volunteers to each shoveling site. read the whole story here

Magic? Not really. Just good old teamwork, a few technological innovations, and the insight, willingness and dedication to make it happen. Oh yeah … and Joseph Porcelli, Chief Neighbor.

More Info

Read WGBH’s article on the SnowCrew

Groundcrew – the company and the software

or about the important things Groundcrew social mobilizing solutions can enable?
Check out Stowe Boyd’s video interview with Groundcrew founder Joe Edelman

Want to know more about Chief Neighbor Joseph Porcelli, visionary and social media guy who founded the Neighbors for Neighbors program? Visit Joe where he spins his magic full time.

See for yourself what can be done with social networks like Ning’s by visiting the Ning Gallery.

Thanks to all the good people who are involved in this wonderful project. You guys rock! [special thanks to @RoyKrantz for sharing it with me on Facebook.


About Melinda Moses

Social & Strategic Marketing for artisans, craftspeople, small businesses and the creatively inclined. Knot-Holer*, Blogger, Coach, Marketer, Audience Builder, Evangelist, Solopreneur, Mom, Technologist and Engagement Specialist. Get Found. Get Engaged. Get Results.
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