Civic Networking

A friendly correspondent emailed me yesterday for clarification of the following comment:
If IP and the Great Lakes Urban Exchange and the Rust Belt Bloggers Network come across as a bunch of outsiders trying to fell trees in their own forest, then the movement is a non-starter, amusing to its own members and to no one else.

This was my brief, preliminary response:
The short version of the point is that the community organizers and urban visionarties need to engage the enterprise builders -- the venture capitalists, the lawyers, the investment bankers, and the technology developers. In my opinion, community organizing as such can never overcome the inertia that grips development efforts in Pittsburgh and elsewhere.

Am I right, or am I off base? Clearly, community organizers in some places are trying to forge an independent path. If they're succeeding at the community level, is that success spilling over into the economic development domain? So that we don't all look only at Great Lakes/Rust Belt communities for benchmarks, take a look at the impressive Imagine Miami, an interesting civic networking resource.


3 Responses to "Civic Networking"

90daystogreen said... 2/28/2008 9:56 AM

I have been reading your blog and just wanted to let you know the writing and content is excellent.

I appreciate the information you present.

kenneth Thompson said... 2/29/2008 7:31 AM

hi mike

just wanted to comment that we clearly need to something different then we have been. and its hard not to imagine that what we need is to engage more people, not less..
in addition to imagine miami, folks might be interested in googling "glasgow 2020" for an example of a web 2.0 version of community engagement.


Anonymous said... 3/03/2008 4:47 PM

There is a tremendous amount of inertia in Pittsburgh when it comes to development, but the way to fight it is by uniting people on an individual level. How much more effective would it be for community groups to approach developers/politicians on development issues rather than individuals?

The effect of community organizing extends beyond just connecting the dreamers with the doers. The larger and more organized the groups, the more influential they'll be in choosing more development-minded leaders and politician's.

It's not a quick fix, but it's a lasting one.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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