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1Source Project Summary Report - January 2007

From Sustainable Ballard

January 4, 2007

STATEMENT OF OPPORTUNITY: Ballard 1Source Website Project


Concept:

Ballard 1Source Website (working title) is a community-generated project designed to make Ballard an even better place to live and work, by involving more people in their community. Using innovative web-based technology, Ballard 1Source will serve as a single-source web portal for information and discussion about events, opportunities, and issues in the Ballard neighborhood. 1Source aims to engage all organizations, businesses, groups, families, and individuals in Ballard to use and create the site, enriching their community through their active participation.


Project Origins:

This project is the result of the convergence of two efforts. In 2004, the Ballard District Council began talking about how a single, online source of information about events and volunteer opportunities could help support the efforts of all the community organizations that comprise the District Council. Meanwhile, Vic Opperman from Sustainable Ballard saw an opportunity to utilize innovative online technology to build community in Ballard, and joined with Rob Mattson from Ballard’s Neighborhood Service Center. In June 2006, they assembled a working group that began meeting twice a month to develop this idea, and the Ballard District Council set aside some funds from the 2006 District Enhancement Funds to support this effort.

Members of the working group have extensive expertise in web development, community involvement, communications, and project management. Members to date are Vic Opperman, architectural designer, co-founder/president of Sustainable Ballard, and board member, Ballard Chamber of Commerce; Michael Wolf, web designer and Sustainable Ballard IT Taskforce member; Sam Star, Executive Director, Groundswell NW (also active in Ballard District Council); Fulvio Casali, web developer and Sustainable Ballard IT Director; Julia Field, designer/writer and SB Community Guild leader; and Phil Mitchell, Founder/director, 2People.org. Rob Mattson, City of Seattle, Neighborhood District Coordinator, has provided staff support as a key participant in the working group.

The group researched other similar efforts, from communities around the country. A partial listing of sites studied is near the end of this document (see “Community Websites Studied,” below). In November 2006, Phil Mitchell developed a preliminary prototype of the 1Source site, to demonstrate some of the functionality the group has in mind. The demo was based on the architecture of his 2People.org site, which combines a wiki, blog, and social networking functions to engage people in counteracting global warming. In December 2006, the Ballard District Council awarded the group $350 to develop this progress report. From here, the group will be seeking funding for the next steps in the project’s development.


Needs Statement:

The working group began shaping the project around the following assumptions: 1. Ballard is a vibrant community with a great diversity of residents, businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations, a diverse workforce, and a rich cultural heritage. 2. While we have a number of community bulletin boards, a neighborhood service center, and a well-established community newspaper, there is no single, comprehensive source of information on what is happening in our community. Individuals, families, businesses, organizations, and visitors could all benefit from a single source of community information. 3. Most Ballard organizations and businesses lack the resources to provide up-to-date, high-quality web-based information that reaches the community as a whole. 4. Even if an organization is keeping a current online listing of their own activities, they would benefit from posting on and linking to a web portal that could put their information in front of more people than would otherwise find it on their own site. 5. While there are many cultural, educational, and community events happening in Ballard, getting the word out about them community-wide can be challenging and expensive. In addition, events that would be of interest to the same audience are sometimes scheduled at the same time. 6. Non-profit organizations rely on volunteer support, and finding volunteers can be difficult. At the same time, many Ballard residents would enjoy getting more involved in their community, if they knew of needs and opportunities. 7. Ballard businesses would benefit from having an efficient and cost-effective means to communicate about their products and services, and Ballard residents would benefit from buying products and services locally, 8. Building community and neighborhood connections within a large city is important and sometimes challenging. Having a means to connect local people with common interests would serve and enrich the community as a whole - from businesses with a common goal to individuals sharing a special interest (knitters, musicians, soccer coaches, etc.) 9. These assumptions hold true in other communities as well, and a website that meets these needs in Ballard could be designed in such a way that it could be easily replicated, saving other communities costly and time-intensive development.


Goals and Objectives:

The goal of the Ballard 1Source Website is to strengthen and build community by providing a single, accessible source of information about our community and a means for involvement in that is readily accessible to all residents, workers, visitors, and organizations in Ballard.

Specifically, the Ballard 1Source Website will:

• Elicit two-way conversations, on topics of interest to the community; • Give residents access to local businesses/services/talent/products; • Strengthen local organizations by highlighting the activities, accomplishments, and needs of non-profits, schools, churches, community groups, sports groups, political associations, etc; • Encourage/empower people to take action, get involved, participate in their community, and help people become better informed about their community so they can act as a resource/connector/”concierge” for others; • Attract members who will contribute time or money to organizations and groups; • Instill community ownership/pride/confidence; • Foster connections (among neighbors, with organizations and groups, among those with common interests/goals, between authorities and the public, etc.); • Complement other sources and resources (e.g. Ballard News Tribune, etc.); • Deliver more than users expect (someone who comes looking for one piece of information, gets drawn into a discussion on another topic or makes a discovery about their community on 1Source); • Be highly inclusive in both usage and content, to fully represent the community – with outreach to elders, young people, range of income levels, non-native English speakers, new residents, etc.; • Stimulate real human-to-human interaction; • Become a favorite on every desktop in Ballard, so people look to 1Source first for information about their community; • Be designed using innovative technology to be as cost-effective and efficient as possible. Users will be empowered to generate the content, and the site will include automatic updating capabilities; • Launch with content from organizations and businesses first, who will be the main pillars of the project.


Features of the Site:

The Ballard 1Source website will have the following features: • A home page orienting users to the site; • A comprehensive, community-wide events calendar, to efficiently publicize events more broadly and coordinate schedules; • Volunteer listings from local organizations, to engage people in their community and strengthen non-profits (we hope this will grow to be a comprehensive, one-stop shopping list of volunteer opportunities in Ballard); • Profiles of organizations, schools, and groups, with links to more information on their own sites (if they have them). For small organizations, this could serve as their web presence. (See list of Ballard organizations at the end of this document); • “Search” capability, to help users find what they are looking for; • A Business Directory, where Ballard businesses can describe their products and services, and people can find resources locally; • A place for individuals in Ballard to post their profiles, so those with common interests can connect; • A place for discussions on topics and issues of interest to the community; • Information and discussion on Emergency Preparedness, to assist the community in planning for and responding to emergency situations (building on Block Watch, SDART, and other community planning efforts).


Qualities, Functionality:

The Ballard 1Source website will: • Improve over time, as Wikipedia does. The site’s content will get richer, more accurate, more timely, and more representative of the community as a whole - as it is revised, edited, and expanded by the community. • Be built as a wiki, so anyone can add or edit content. A wiki site has two main features: 1) It can be edited by anyone, very accessibly. This makes it easy for individuals and organizations to post their information, and initiate or participate in discussions, and therefore, the content will be driven by the community. While there isn’t a single owner with any wiki, system administrators would trouble-shoot and monitor the site regularly, and we would also set standards and impose some restrictions to ensure that the content is appropriate. Building the site as a wiki will make the management of the project more efficient and less time-consuming for staff, while also giving ownership to the community as a whole for the content. 2) With a wiki, it is also very easy to create links from one page to another. With the resulting net of cross-links, the site will become a virtual demonstration of the ways this community is woven together. • Utilize feeds, allowing users to be notified of new content of interest to them. Feeds are a standard feature in blogs; they allow users to subscribe to certain kinds of content, to receive notification when that content has been updated. Ideally, these notifications will be presented on the user’s 1Source home page, so the site becomes personalized for them based on their interests, preferences, and usage history. • Allow any user, whether individual or organization, to post their own blog. A blog is a chronological collection of articles or comments that have a single author; any other user can respond to a posting. A community example of this is Alan Durning’s blog on his family’s year of living without a car. http://www.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2006/03/29/car-less-in-seattle This would be of benefit to organizations who do not have this functionality built into their own site. • Have elements of a social networking site, so users can connect with others with common interests. Users will register, and fill out a form to post their profile. Based on their responses, they can readily find others with similar interests or preferences. In this way, people who are interested in folk music, coaching youth soccer, or starting a tool lending library can find each other. • Allow users to send email invitations to join 1Source. Users of the site can readily invite friends, neighbors, and colleagues to join the 1Source community, thereby increasing traffic to the site and enriching the content through more participation. • Have the capacity to update some content “automagically.” Some examples: The site will have a Community Calendar, where individuals, organizations, and groups can post event listings. The site will be programmed to drop the listings for events as the date passes. Also, when an organization posts a volunteer opportunity, they could elect when the listing will expire. In addition to chronological updates, the site can also be programmed to read feeds of other websites – for instance, to have the weather forecast for our zip code be posted “automagically” on the 1Source site. Another example would be to use a feed from the Ballard News Tribune to highlight current headlines on the 1Source site. (Users could then click a link to read the full story on the Tribune’s site.) Further, we could also plan to have “automagically” rotating content on the front page, be it user-submitted photographs or highlighted blog postings. • Be easily replicated, so other communities could have a similar website without needing to go to the full effort and expense of developing their own. The same infrastructure could be given a different “face” and web address, and it could function for another community.


Community Websites Studied:

While these community-based sites have some of the same features we are considering, none are interactive in the way we envision Ballard 1Source to be. See 2People.org for a sense of this. • http://www.news4neighbors.org - This site uses a standard blogging platform, and gets 50,000 hits per month, with 95% local participation. • http://www.cannon-beach.net • http://www.cannonbeach.org • http://www.whofish.org/ • http://www.megawattjunction.org


Ballard Organizations:

There are literally hundreds of organizations in Ballard that could benefit from participating in Ballard 1Source, making 1Source a multifaceted reflection of our rich and diverse community. The following list includes many of the Ballard organizations that currently have a web presence; the Neighborhood Service Center maintains a much more comprehensive list of organizations (available from rob.mattson@Seattle.Gov). Even this larger list, however, does not include the multitude of other groups that could participate – including churches, businesses, clubs, fraternal organizations, youth groups, sports organizations, etc.

• 15th Ave NW Association, www.15thavenw.org • 36th District Democrats, www.soapblox.net/36thdems/frontPage.do • 36th District Green Party, www.wagreens.us/home • 36th District Republican Party, www.seattlegop.org/ • Ballard Avenue Landmarks Board, www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/preservation/ballardavenue.htm • Ballard Boys & Girls Club, www.ballard-bgc.org • Ballard Chamber of Commerce, www.ballardchamber.com • Ballard Community Center, www.seattle.gov/parks/Centers/Ballard.htm • Ballard District Council, www.ballarddistrictcouncil.org/ • Ballard Feet First, www.feetfirst.info • Ballard Food Bank, www.ballardfoodbank.org • Ballard High School Foundation, www.bhsfoundation.com • Ballard Historical Society, www.ballardhistory.org • Ballard News Tribune, www.ballardnewstribune.com • Ballard NW Senior Activity Center, www.ballardnewstribune.com • Ballard Pool, www.seattle.gov/parks/aquatics/Ballardp.htm • Crown Hill Business Association, www.crownhillbusiness.com • Friends of Burke Gilman Trail, www.burkegilmantrail.org • Groundswell NW, www.groundswellnw.org • Hiram Chittenden Locks, http://www.nws.usace.army.mil/PublicMenu/Menu.cfm?sitename=lwsc&pagename=mainpage • Loyal Heights Community Center, http://www.cityofseattle.net/parks/Centers/Loyalhtd.htm • Nordic Heritage Museum, http://www.nordicmuseum.org/ • Port of Seattle – Fishermen’s Terminal www.portseattle.org/seaport/marinas/fishermensterminal • Port of Seattle – Shilshole Bay Marina www.portseattle.org/seaport/marinas/shilshole • Seattle Public Library – Ballard Branch, www.spl.org • Seattle Public Schools & PTA’s, http://www.seattleschools.org/area/main/index.dxml • Sunset Hill Community Association, www.sunsethillcommunity.com • Sustainable Ballard, www.sustainableballard.org • Whittier Heights Community Council, www.whittierheights.org


Conclusions and Next Steps:

This report concludes the preliminary research phase for this exciting opportunity. After six months of research, the 1Source Ballard working group recommends moving forward to develop, hand in hand, the business plan and site infrastructure for this project.

We have determined that the next steps will involve another level of commitment financially. To that end, we will be submitting a Small and Simple grant application to the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, to fund the technical development needed to launch the 1Source Ballard website. As a part of this grant project, we will also be developing a Business Plan, which will detail costs, staffing/volunteer needs, ownership/governance, technological needs including maintenance, ramifications of possible replication in other communities, standards (e.g. ground rules for participation), and marketing.