When someone you know or a neighbor is a victim of crime, particularly violent crime, it hits home.
In my own neighborhood Issues Forum covering Standish and Ericsson in Minneapolis where we have close to 10% of households interacting daily, Erik Mitchell shared:
All, I regret to report that my [Erik Mitchell] wife, Jenny, was mugged today on her way home from work. She was walking from the 38th Street LRT station … a group of approximately 5 females, high school age, approached Jenny from behind, struck her in the face, and stole her purse and the grocery bag she was carrying. We’re thankful that Jenny was not seriously hurt and that no items of significant value were stolen.
– Full message
Over 30 posts later across a few topics – here, here, and here – have resulted in extensive community organizing, a public meeting on safety trends near our newer light rail line tomorrow, and this message from Jenny, who despite being mugged, now feels safer in part because of the role the online forum has played promoting awareness and action:
This is to thank everyone who sent me messages after my mugging on the pedestrian path by the 38th street LRT station. I was touched by your posts and emails. Walking home from work the next day, I felt safer thinking of all of you in your houses! I have a new appreciation for our neighborhood, and for this group especially.
I hope to see everyone at the public safety meeting Thursday–I got the flyer today (thanks, Shirley!).
Also, just an update for those of you who are curious–one of my neighbors saw the girls who mugged me, and he saw them rifle through my purse in his yard. They left my checkbook, so he was able to track me down. He also saw their faces, which he is telling to the sergeant in charge of the case. The transit police also called me and said they have the muggers on camera, and they are also passing on that info to the sergeant.
I doubt they’ll find the girls, but there’s clearly a larger issue we need to address about crime in the area. I’m grateful to live in a neighborhood where incidents such as this get a response–thanks again for your thoughts and (especially) action. – Jenny Mitchell
If your neighborhood doesn’t have its own active online forum (be that an e-mail list, web forum, blog, social networking group, etc.) you are missing out! No one knows if only 1% or 20% of local communities are covered by similar active online spaces (would make a good research project). While the world is amazed at the use of Twitter in Iran, I would argue our democratic revolution online is happening locally right under our noses but instead of the dramatic stopping power of protest, we are in a civic building mode that is beginning to help us meet public challenges even if the results are not made for television. At E-Democracy.Org we are plotting ways to extend these online spaces across neighborhoods (our Issues Forums are started by local volunteers working with (hopefully), but not waiting for permission of government, neighborhood associations, etc. who simply don’t have our experience nor confidence when it comes to hosting truly two-way online communication) in the Twin Cities and beyond. If you want to help us or simply step up as a forum manager in your area, let us know.
If you have stories about local online forums/places doing good in your own community or neighborhood where people have moved from talk to action, please share your story via the blog comments.