In our day and age, the bricks and mortar of building community take many forms. One of the most important forms today is through Facebook and other social media.
During the month of July we held two workshops with the staff at the Gilo Community Council in using Facebook to build community dialogue. The workshop stemmed from our work over the last year with the neighborhood community worker and the local planner, and in our experiences using Facebook in the process.
The Gilo Community Council has a very active Facebook page and Facebook group with several thousand members that does a fantastic job in communicating a wealth of information (locating and taking care of nuisances, providing information, advancing small businesses, raising needs in different fields, requests to the Community Council lay and professional leadership to deal with burning issues, and more). There are a number of community-led groups as well; in many of them the community worker is an active member. Here’s an example of an event on the Community Council’s Facebook page:
Because we understood how much the use of Facebook is important in Gilo to the community discourse, we decided to use it to inform residents about the impending expansion of the light rail system into the neighborhood, and to create active discussion and involvement in this process. This work proved to be very effective and impressive. They opened a new Facebook group and uploaded all the relevant information. A number of community town hall meetings were set and advertised in the group, minutes were distributed and discussed in the group (residents expressed their opinions, asked questions and discussed different issues) between residents, as well as between residents and professionals. Here’s an example (in Hebrew) of one of their posts:
We learned a great deal as a result of this experience – the dilemmas raised, and the conclusions that we reached – and we concluded that it is important that everyone who works with the community should use this tool. Thus the community worker and JICC staff designed a 3-part workshop for all the staff at the Gilo Community Council: 1) a technical review that discusses the using different aspects of Facebook; 2) skills to use Facebook as a tool for dialogue; 3) ethical questions regarding Facebook and different solutions.
Throughout the month of July there were two meetings with the administrative and coordinating staff of the Gilo Community Council, which included the Director, who actively participated throughout the process. There will be another meeting in October.
We expect that these workshops will enable the staff and leadership of the Gilo Community Council to further engage the community in its important work. Of course, this is only one aspect of their community work….