Sunday, January 4, 2009
With millions of web sites covering every imaginable topic, is it a big deal when a few new ones are added to the pile? When the sites cover neighborhoods or community issues – and provide information that isn't available elsewhere – well, yeah, that is very important.
So I was excited in late 2008 as new web sites brought visibility and news from four different community-oriented sources.
Greater Humboldt Park Community of Wellness – This consortium coordinates and promotes a jammed calendar of events, exercise classes, health fairs and meetings that promote healthier lifestyles and preventive health care. Administrative assistant Maria Ramirez got the site started and coordinator Katie Ediger took it from there. Though Katie had never edited a site before she did a great job figuring out a logical way to present information and avoid double- and triple-clicking to get to something good. With help from consortium members and executive director Juana Ballesteros, Katie hopes to build out the site with plenty of new content.
Claretian Associates – The NCP lead agency in South Chicago had a decent web site already but it was tedious to update with news stories, photos and calendar items, which meant, of course, that some updates never got done. Like the Community of Wellness team, Claretian took advantage of the Grassroots web template developed by Webitects Inc. for the New Communities Program. Associate director Kate Graham put the site together and didn't forget to promote it. On Decemer 16, just before the Christmas lull, she sent out an e-newsletter with multiple links into the site. Traffic spiked that day with 54 visits, not bad for a brand-new site.
Keep Our Homes – Providing information to people facing the risk of foreclosure is the intent of Keep Our Homes, a partnership of Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC), Southwest Organizing Project and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. GSDC executive director Jim Capraro put this site together using the open-source Joomla platform. A self-proclaimed "computer geek" as well as prominent community development leader, Jim has launched a side venture called CDwebsites.net to help more community groups take advantage of this powerful and low-cost way to build web sites.
Valerie Denney Communications – Valerie Denney has been helping community groups and nonprofits tell their stories for more than 20 years; now her newly revised web site gives a deeper look into her client base and methods. I learned about this site the old-fashioned way; a simple and classy New Year's card arrived via U.S. Postal Service (!) and suggested I take a look. And I did.
So, yes, it's important to have a web presence, to organize the material well, and to promote the site to your potential readers. Happy New Year!