Our mission is to empower people to shape the development of their neighborhoods. We started with a simple question, “How can we help people improve their neighborhoods?” We built tools for people educate one another about the most important issues in their neighborhoods, and make ideas happen. Now we are focused on building Projects, a set of tools for organizations to collaborate with their supporters.
Solutions to our communities’ most important issues can be complex, and often organizations need residents to engage in a variety of actions over time to make ideas a reality. Some issues require money or volunteers, others need petitions or a visible show of community support. The new structure for dialogue on Neighborland helps residents, organizations, and municipalities track projects and nudge them towards resolution.
As we have evolved from an experiment to a social enterprise, we have developed these core values:
Action matters. We are experiential learners – we learn by doing. Small, incremental actions are an important way for residents to express their desires for their neighborhoods. Tactical interventions are not a replacement for traditional advocacy planning. Rather, they can inform the strategy of larger urban planning initiatives that require substantial amounts of time from experts and municipal funding. Not all prototypes succeed. If we want to innovate in our cities, we should embrace civic hacking as part of the urban design process.
Foster collaboration. We believe in open and transparent collaboration. Residents, community leaders, and municipal governments each have valuable perspectives on the development of our neighborhoods. Public dialogue about ideas big and small should be accessible, ongoing, and inclusive. Neighborland complements traditional advocacy forums like neighborhood meetings and city council hearings, adding voices and energy to ongoing debates and projects. Connecting residents with organizations who are already working on solving a problem is key. There is no us or them. In the wise words of Theodore Roosevelt, “We are the government.”
Social enterprise. We exist to make a visible, positive impact on the people, environment, and economic conditions of the communities where we work. Because accessibility and equity are core values of ours, Neighborland will always be free to use for residents. We have been working on several paths to sustainability as an organization. Whatever path we take, we won’t break with our core values.
Our purpose is to help communities become, in Douglas Farr’s words from Sustainable Urbanism, more “connected, compact, and complete.” By fostering the capacity for likeminded residents and community leaders to take action on their most important problems, we will help them build healthy, vibrant, and resilient cities.
Contact us if you’re interested in partnering with Neighborland in your city.