David Coleman explores the street where you live.
What if I was to invite every member of my street to join a group set up specifically for them on Facebook? This was the crazy idea I had after discovering that my wife was having Facebook discussions with someone living only a few doors away. I drafted a letter from me to all 60 households in our road explaining that I had set up a group on Facebook that would be restricted to members of the road only, and delivered it by hand – having as many doorstep discussions as time would allow.
The aim of the site was listed as follows: 'We believe that making the world a better place starts with our own homes and our own streets. These days we are all so busy we know less and less about each other. This site aims to foster a stronger sense of community on our street.'
As God-incidence would have it, I was able to pick up on the big lunch initiative which has been promoted via TV adverts recently and suggest a street party on July 19th. The feedback has been really good, with 11 households responding within two days. Comments received have included: 'A great initiative. I have often thought we were all a bit isolated and incommunicative. So, well.done' and 'Fantastic idea'. I have found out which householder has been resident in my road the longest time (50 years) and the names of five families I hadn't even met. I know it is early days but the signs are very encouraging.
On a related issue I set up a private Facebook group for a small faith enquirers' group a local church was running. This has led to some very interesting conversations. One person who didn't say anything much within the group opened up in a big way on the site and we were able to pray specifically for some very serious 'baggage issues' with which they had been struggling for years. The whole experience was liberating and mutually supportive.
Isn't it ironic that the virtual community has led to improved understanding and a stronger desire to be better neighbours in the real community?