Citizen Wausau

A Site About Life in Wausau, Wisconsin

Voice the official Citizen Wausau blog

Expanding on Community

by on November 26th, 2007

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the last few days about Community. For example, what does that mean – really, what is it specifically, what does it look like and why do I crave it? There has got to be reason this void forces me to drive on and create it wherever I can.

In 1996, my brother and I initiated what would eventually become RockWater. Teens were looking for something relevant to do in the city. It was straightforward — we saw the need for Internet, music and a place to hang out — but that was a distinct target market.

The Citizen Wausau experiment is much more fluid. Our target is dynamic and opinionated, even more so than teenagers.

So here is where I’m struggling: the Citizen Wausau project is elusive and free; it can spike with participation or dry up with silence, seemingly on a whim. No one has the ability to control it – and that freaks me out a bit.

At the same time, it’s exhilarating to watch this site take on its own personality. It’s an organic experience, one that can only be compared to child rearing. In this case, it really is going to “take a village” to raise this baby.

As parents we should discuss things about our baby. How are we going to raise it? What do we want it to do and how shall we go about getting it there? Those sorts of things:

  • Should it be just another “news-y” sort of discussion?
  • Who’s going to collaborate in contributing to its content?
  • What is the sole purpose of CitizenWausau.com?

These are pretty important conversations that need to be wrestled with – we’re only six weeks in and content is only being driven by a handful of people. So maybe this is the time to discuss where we should go from here.

  • How should we diversify content?
  • Have micro-blogs on topics like Politics, Food, Reviews, Events?
  • Who should should take ownership for these pages?

Let’s mull over this idea. Assuming only 20% of our signed up audience participates, that’s about 60-70 people. We could get a lot done with that many people helping, don’t you think?

The idea of taking this online offline seemed to suggest several ideas (and we still fully intend on doing that). Before the first of the year we’ll have a calendar in place to list new events and activities – just like we talked about before; game nights, concerts, poker, computer training, hacking and probably some more parties!

These too take time and effort to create, so we all have to work together. Many hands make for light work (as the saying goes), and Citizen Wausau has got to be a collaborative effort if it’s to form into an actual community site.

So, we should probably get more organized, which is why the calendar would be a useful tool.

Another useful tool we could start using immediately is Twitter. It’s a messaging tool for short form blogging. I’ve created a more thorough explanation on my blog, but I think if we can get people talking, both here and online – that would be a good step to growing this online community.

So let’s talk.

  1. What would you like to see?
  2. What part would you like to play?
  3. What other ways could you contribute?

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