November 20th, 2013
by Jessica Kartes
As a graduate student in urban planning, I often hear community members express their fears that a large development project will disrupt the existing fabric of their neighborhood. I began to wonder how the residents themselves could be empowered to take the development of their neighborhoods into their own hands. That’s when I thought of peer-to-peer networks. In computing, P2P networks allow users to act as both suppliers and consumers of resources. They are not reliant on a centralized server. Therefore, if one computer fails, the whole system is able to adapt and is not disrupted by the change. My idea for Neighbor-to-Neighbor Indianapolis is to use this model as a tool for community development by creating a network of neighbors that share resources and information. By doing so, the power for change can be put where it belongs, into the hands of the community. The philosophy behind Neighbor-to-Neighbor Indianapolis is that community development should be community driven, that neighborhoods become stronger when their residents become directly engaged in (and responsible for) their success, and that all of this leads to stronger bonds within the city.
Right now, I am working to compile guides for small-scale community development projects. While large-scale development can often disrupt the fabric of a neighborhood, small-scale interventions can act as catalysts for more organic growth that responds to the direct needs of the community. Indianapolis residents with hands-on experience, who want to share their own knowledge with their neighbors, will write these guides. Crowd-sourcing the guides in this way will allow Indianapolis residents to democratically promote projects they find not only important, but also specifically relevant to their neighborhoods and the city. It puts the focus on local efforts and assets, rather than resources from outside of the community.
So this is the part where you come in. This city is full of caring people who want to make Indy an even better place to live than it already is. But many of them don’t know where, or how to start. Do you have knowledge and experience that you are willing to share with your fellow neighbors? A little bit of guidance and the story of your own success could be all it takes to inspire someone to engage in a project in their own neighborhood. The possibilities for topics are truly endless. You might know something about how to throw a block party, how to plant a community garden, or how to organize a neighborhood association. If you would like to write a guide about one of these topics, or one that we haven’t thought of yet, please contact us through our Facebook page, or you can e-mail me directly at email@example.com. You could be the inspiration someone needs to take action!