Monday, April 23, 2007

Australians taking it upon themselves to create a vibrant community

Want to know how to create a vibrant community online or off? Give people a sense of ownership in something bigger than themselves.

Asi tells us of such efforts by the Australian city of Port Phillip Bay, which has launched a Sustainable Community Progress Indicators initiative. The city wants to bring the community together to improve everyone's experience, and to improve the quality of life for residents. The city is also measuring progress, such as tracking how many 'smiles per hour' residents should expect within the city from the other residents that they encounter. They have even set up a 'Smile Spies' program where residents volunteer to track how many people are smiling on certain streets.

My advice? Set up the 'Smile Spies' with a blog and have them blog about their efforts, and take pictures of residents that they encounter that are smiling. And make sure to talk to as many of them as possible, and get their names on the blog. People love seeing their names in print or online ;)

Asi adds that the city is also throwing street parties designed to get the community members out and to meet each other, usually for the first time. Other areas that the city is concentrating on include getting the word out about the area's falling crime rate, keeping housing affordable, and encouraging residents to shop locally, while working with merchants to make sure all of resident's shopping needs are being met. Here's a list of all the major facets of the plan.

Gavin, Shouty, have either of you been to Port Phillip Bay? Are other cities in Australian implementing anything similar to the SCPI?

And more importantly, what lessons can marketers take from Port Phillip Bay's initiative?

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Anonymous said...

I like your recommendation for the smile blog...but I tell you, NYC tried this (or I should say Rudy tried and failed)at a "politer" NYC. It didn't get press or promotion other than people laughing at it.

And the army is working on a "kindler, gentler army" deal which seems rather counter to the whole point of the serious nature of the armed forces. There was a soldier going off about it next to me on a flight and how badly it's hurting the army. But the area that you're talking about is neither NYC nor the US Army so maybe the campaign will do well. I like the idea behind it...and here's a smile, even ;-).

Anonymous said...

G'day Mack
I believe that this is an expression of an initiative of VicHealth. Suggestions to "smile at the person next to you" at bus stops, "walk instead" in car parks and "catch up with friends" are among 50 messages.
The health promotion organisation will also stencil streets in the cities of Darebin, Melbourne and Bayside in a bid to encourage people to get active and socialise as part of every day life.
Mr Moodie said depression would be the second largest disease by 2020, and one in five children in Australia was now overweight.
"Here's a fresh approach that will help combat these disturbing figures by encouraging physical activity and connecting with others," he said.
The gym and playing team sports were not for everyone, but exercise and social interaction could be as simple as walking to the bus stop, he said.
In addition Port Phillip has started a Sustainable Community Progress Indicators (SCPI) which compares the sight of smiles right across Melbourne.
I do love the idea of happiness and friendly interaction being a measure of success for both a community, a country (like Bahrain which has as it's most important indicator Gross National Happiness...and a brand.

Anonymous said...

Smiles can change our lives. All of us should give smiles often; we will get much in return. And, Mack, if I had the time and the energy to get release forms signed, I would begin photographing those who smile and post them daily.