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Started on 1 July 2007, Harringay Online was one of the first neighbourhood websites to be set up using social media technology. It was established with the stated aim of strengthening the community in the neighbourhood of Harringay in the north London Borough of Haringey. The site aims to achieve a blend of web-based and real world neighbourhood interactions.
- Building a sense of place in a neighbourhood – an understanding and appreciation of the neighbourhood to encourage a feeling of belonging and regarding a place as home.
- Building social capital in the neighbourhood – building networks, norms and trust that enable people to act together more effectively to pursue shared objectives – simply put building community spirit or neighbourliness.
- Empowering local people to take action to shape their neighbourhood – working to improve local people’s ability to influence local decisions and affect local circumstances.
- Engaging people in local democratic processes.
The site's main structure is:
- Main Page - summarising and linking to all content.
- Forum - for discussions on local and sometimes non-local issues.
- Blogs - for blog type pieces.
- Gallery - pictures & videos including an extensive series of film footage and photos on Harringay's history.
- Local Information - a wide range of local links and information including weekly updates.
- Events - calendar of local events.
- Local News - local news stories aggregated from around the internet.
Harringay Online is regularly referenced around the world as an exemplary, community-led, hyperlocal website, being referred to recently by Urban Initiatives as "the gold standard for community websites". It has been recognised by two national awards and was awarded a Judge's Special Commendation by the Prime Minister in the UK's 2008 Catalyst Awards. In June 2009 it was highly commended in the National eWell-Being Awards.
In 2010 it was a focus for the UK-based study on local websites, the Online Neighnourhood Networks Study
With a stated target population of 17,000, by 2016, it had signed up 11,000 members.
The site is somewhat thin- skinned when presented with criticism of local councillors. When a contributor (Stuart Matheson) asked a local Labour councillor (Zena Brabazon) how she could provide more homes if a local proposed development reduced the number of floors, the contributor found his post deleted without explanation. To date he has not been allowed access to the site.
References & notes
- Gibson, Andy (2010). Local By Social. NESTA.
- Azyan, Liz (2009). Exploring Online Neighbourhoods. LGEO Research.
- Joining the Conversation. Young Foundation, I&DEA, Local Government Association. 2010.
- Online Networked Neighbourhoods Study. Capital Ambition, London Councils. 2010.
- Referenced in Joining the Conversation: a guide to neighbourhood media, a paper jointly published by the Young Foundation, IDeA and the Local Government Association.
- Section on Harringay Online in Promising Practices In Online Engagement by Public Agenda.
- Referenced in Making Good Society report from the Carnegie Trust
- In Local by Social publication by IDeA
- Harringay Online in the Online Neighbourhood Networks Study
- Harringay Online on BBC London News
- Harringay Online on BBC Technology
- In The Guardian Social media can help riot-hit communities recover
- Referenced in the Sydney Morning Herald Blueprint for future needs to address loneliness, says report
- Referenced in The Connected Community:Local Governments as Partners in Citizen Engagement and Community Building, Arizona State University
- Harringay Online on the European Union's best practice website
- Harringay Online used by Smithsonian as an archive resource
- Referenced in NESTA's report on UK Hyperlocal media Here and Now