How do I start a Neighborhood Forum in my own community on E-Democracy.org?
Updated information is now available at http://e-democracy.org/startforum.
Neighborhood Forums require dedicated volunteers to set them up and keep them healthy. A “build-it and they will come” approach is likely to fail.
E-Democracy has identified these basic steps to set up and sustain a Neighborhood Forum:
Decide where you will host the forum.
- E-Democracy.org offers free hosting of neighborhood forums. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Recruit a volunteer Forum Manager who will:
- Make sure participants understand how the forum works and the participation rules
- Encourage participation
- Occasionally introduce new topics to stimulate conversation
- Monitor the forum and make sure participants adhere to forum rules
- Contact E-Democracy.org staff if there are any issues or concerns that require additional attention
Recruit at least 100 participants for a strong opening.
- Spread the word via email and via social media such as Facebook and Twitter
- Attend local meetings, events, farmers markets, etc. and pass around a paper sign-up sheet. This really works.
- Go door-to-door and drop off flyers at homes and businesses
- Once you have 25 participants enlist their help reaching out to others
- Send email invitations to local elected officials, government agency staff, and important organizations that serve your neighborhood
- Once you reach 100 participants, open the forum with a round of introductions.
Sustain the forum.
- Continue recruiting new members to maintain a healthy and active forum
- Encourage civil and respectful participation
- Periodically suggest new topics or start new discussions
- Occasionally schedule an informal event in the park or at a local coffee shop where participants can meet each other face-to-face
- Monitor blogs, websites, and newspapers for information or topics that might be of interest to forum members, and post relevant links or summaries to the forum
Updated information is available at: http://e-democracy.org/startforum