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Idealist.org Brings an Online Community to Real Space
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by Worldchanging San Francisco local blogger, Rose Miller

Idealist.org is a strong online network of socially responsible individuals who are active volunteers and professionals working in the nonprofit sector. While the online network has been a great resource for job-hunters and volunteers, it hasn’t managed to rise to the level of a community builder in and of itself. But recently, realizing that the infrastructure and the individuals are all connected to a common online community, Idealist has been working on changing this.

A few weeks ago, the organization sent out an email to every one of its registered users across the globe announcing a new initiative, the basic premise of which is to bring the online community offline. Idealist members hosted hundreds of “start-up? meetings between February 5 and 11. The organization wanted these meetings to be organic manifestations of the communities involved, so they only set down a few basic points on the meeting agenda that basically addressed the questions, “Why are we here today?? and “What do we need to do to make our community a better place??

I attended the Idealist meeting in San Francisco that was held in the kitchen at the hostel in Fort Mason. The gathering had the largest registered number of attendees to-date, and everyone in attendance was enthusiastic about sharing ideas and visions for building a better Bay Area community. A primary topic of discussion was how we could make Idealist a better site for connecting individuals who want to be change-makers in their communities. After a period of introductions and group discussion, we mingled with other participants, finding shared interests, and discussing projects. Everyone came away from the meeting with the knowledge of what an online community looks like in the flesh, and possibly a few new projects. After the meeting, one participant established a Yahoo! group for those who had attended the meeting, that will serve this particular community until Idealist establishes an online discussion group with similar functions.

Owing to the success of the first start-up meetings, a second round of meetings is scheduled to take place the week of March 12.

Image: Idealist.org

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Comments

It's really great to see these happening. Meet Up has recently added a number of localized social progress groups.

I'm curious to see which outlets work best for what audiences: those whose theme is generic (MeetUp) or slightly more narrow (Idealist).

I expect both to be valuable in different ways. Perhaps the generic ones will more easily bring in other disciplines, as a person using MeetUp for biology-centric meetings might happen upon others through the network.

The narrower ones will be able to offer deeper resources and tools related specificially the needs of a more specifically defined user base.


Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 18 Feb 07



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