From Rural Voices to Tweet the Neighbors

Last weekend’s Minnesota Voices Unconference was a blast. We have tweets, blog posts, photos, video clips and more available on our wiki.

It was great to meet dozens of new people using social media to tell the stories of their rural communities like attendees in Moose Lake, Pine City (where my mom was raised on a dairy farm), and across the Northland. Folks from our growing rural Issues Forum network in Bemidji, Cass Lake Leech Lake, Cook County, and Grand Rapids attended in force as well.

After the conference, my family hung out at the pool and the next day as my wee kids were dozing in their car seats on the drive home, I was pondering how one might build the audience for small town websites. Hmmm.  We used Twitter with the tag #mnvoices successfully over the weekend and folks on the Red River are still using #Flood09 to connect.

I know, get a million people to tag there Tweets on May 1 with their postal/zip code. 🙂 Seriously. Why not? Craig Newmark, as in Craigslist, just blogged and tweeted it, so people seem to be noticing the idea.

With 30,000 Zip Codes in the U.S. (not to mention other countries), that would bring us about 30 people per Zip Code … or 30 neighbors in Moose Lake or where ever can say hello as well as introduce their community website. In my own neighborhood where there are over 300 of us on an online neighborhood forum, I can certainly generate some local Tweets, but it would be great if on one day, we’d be able to connect lots of new people to local public life online.

And this lead me to my final point – Up to this point social media has been great at networking people’s private and professional lives. Unfortunately, it publicizes private life but doesn’t really build place-based public life. Help us change that by Tweeting today:

On May 1 join me on #LocalDay and tweet your neighbors using your Postal/Zip Code –

Now if we could only get President Obama to tweet #20500 from his Blackberry, we’d be set. Say, speaking of Blackberry … something I noticed on my drive from Grand Rapids to the conference in Duluth:

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