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New "Durham Hoods" site showcases neighborhoods, listservs across Durham

Durhamhoods.com When Philip Bost's car was broken into in the Duke Park neighborhood, Bost got mad.

Getting even? Not so much. Getting neighbors informed? Yes, please.

Bost decided to reach out to his fellow 'hoodsters to let them know about what happened to his car. "I felt like I had an obligation after that event to notify my neighbors and my community that this type of thing was going on, and I was also curious about whether I was an isolated case," Bost said. "It felt personal, but now I know that it's not. These things happen."

He hadn't previously been signed on to or active on Duke Park's listserv, which is one of the more engaged and active in the Bull City.

(For the uninitiated, it has fewer bizarro flame wars than some other central Durham lists I could name -- discretion is the better part of valor for local bloggers -- though delinquent street sweepers and drivers bypassing the vehicular barriers to the neighborhood's namesake park should beware the e-wrath they'll find.)

Bost's venture onto the Duke Park listserv to share his crime experience got him wondering. How many other neighborhoods had listservs? How active were they? And, where could you go to find out more about all of Durham's sometimes-charming, sometimes-exhausting email lists?

His concern grew when a missing child report hit the police and Old North Durham listserv recently, but the email's author didn't know how to get the report passed along to the Duke Park list, despite the girl disappearing less than 50 yards from the neighborhood boundary.

The result? Durhamhoods.com, Bost's new site featuring a Google Map mashup of all the Durham neighborhoods he could identify, complete with links and engagement data on neighborhood associations' lists.

Bost says he looked online seeking resources covering what he wanted to do, from the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau web site (which maintains some data, including a list of known neighborhoods) to the Inter-Neighborhood Council, but was never able to find exactly what he was looking for, something he described as "frustrating."

Instead, Bost began a quest to find not just every neighborhood listserv in Durham, but to note how many subscribers were connected to each list.

Some differences may not be surprising; Partners Against Crime-District 2 has the largest number of subscribers of any PAC list, something that should be no surprise to those who've been to their well-attended PAC gatherings.

But even within PAC districts, Bost says he found big discrepancies in lists.

"There were some big neighborhoods in terms of neighborhood enrollment, and then right next to them there was a neighborhood that maybe had five members," Bost said. "I thought that if I actively seeked this information out, I'd better identify patterns and maybe seek to somehow remedy that situation, maybe just by pointing out that there was a shortcoming within a given community."

Visitors to durhamhoods.com can check out a Google Map that overlays every neighborhood and HOA Bost was able to find in the Bull City.

In many cases, Bost says he notified listserv moderators of problems he found when trying to access and subscribe to their listserv, such as neighborhoods that didn't mention the word "Durham" in their description.

Those moderators, Bost notes, provided a wealth of information to him, clarifying their neighborhood boundaries and pointing him to other local listservs.

Eventually, Bost would like to include links to neighborhood blogs within each category. And he'd like to do more data analysis on crime statistics, wondering whether lower crime rates in neighborhoods are correlated with more (or fewer) subscribers to lists.

"The number one goal is to just be available for people who might be curious about listservs," in providing a "static hub for people searching for that kind of information."

Comments

Ali

This is AWESOME!

Dudek

This will be a great resource, I think low list serve counts might also be illustrating the "digital divide" and not that those neighborhoods don't have ways of distributing information.

And based on Phil's neighborhood map it looks like the East Durham Neighborhoods have a number of boundary disputes in the making.

Andrew Edmonds

I thought about (but, lazily, never did) creating something like this site when I was on the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission — in order to more easily notify residents of trail construction projects and events in close proximity to their neighborhoods. There could be any number of uses for a site like this, so thanks to Phillip Bost for putting it together.

When I was with DOST, I was able to get from the City/County Planning Department a set of GIS shapefiles of the groups listed in the Neighborhood Organization Directory (found here: http://www.durhamnc.gov/departments/planning/pdf/nod_contact.pdf); Bost may want to pursue this himself. It included all known active groups, not just those with listservs, so it would simplify his mapping life.

Staci Rachman

Scarsdale Village's is: http://groups.google.com/group/scarsdale-village?hl=en&pli=1

GreenLantern

So what does the color-code mean on this map?

Phil Bost

GreenLantern, each color corresponds to which Partners Against Crime District the neighborhood falls under.
Blue = PAC-1, Green = PAC-2, Yellow = PAC-3, Purple = PAC-4, and Gray = PAC-5.

Thanks for your question, and thanks to Kevin for such a flattering write-up. I'm getting a lot of emails this morning requesting that I add this or that neighborhood. Keep them coming! If your neighborhood isn't represented, I want to know about it so I can improve this resource.

tom

hope valley has an active listserv. I don't see it on the durhamhoods page

Dan S.

I actually built a complete website for my neighborhood, including a blog, a photo gallery space, a neighborhood LDAP-driven directory and a forum. Spent quite a while getting it perfect and more than a few bucks on hosting and registering the domain and my neighbors refused to use it, preferring the existing (and frequently inaccessible) Yahoo group, instead.

Khalid

What does Red mean? Since it is distributed across PAC districts...

Rob Gillespie

@Khalid-
From what I can gather, it means that the website's creator couldn't find a listserv or group for that neighborhood.

Khalid

Please disregard the previous post. I went to the site and started clicking around. Red is for the neighborhoods without a listserve.

Some of these places have neighborhood block captains and regularly participate in the PAC meetings. They sometimes have one person who is active and engaged and gathers info from neighbors through word of mouth.

Mike Woodard

Phil: This is great work. As one who subscribes to most of these listservs already--and actually reads them almost daily--I'm happy to complete my collection.

One small rant: A number of 'hoods keep their listservs closed, which I understand. However, when there is news that their neighbors (or elected officials) would find helpful to know, we aren't able to learn of it.

If you neighborhood maintains a closed listserv, please consider two things:
1. Maintaining a separate, open listserv, realizing there will be confusion and extra work; or
2. Designate someone in your neighborhood to post "regional" issues, questions, and news to your PAC listserv and the INC listserv.

To everyone who maintains listservs: Thanks! When I talk with people from other cities, they are amazed at how powerful our listserv culture is in Durham.

Phil Bost

Mike, you and I are definitely on the same page here. Neighborhoods can benefit greatly from being in touch with the neighborhoods that border them.
Thanks for checking out my site. I meant to introduce myself at the last PAC-2 meeting. I'll catch you next time though.

Freddie

Yeah, this is great stuff Phil! I actually am amazed that not many other cities/towns have as powerful listservs and blogs as Durham. Every time I look to find info on areas, it's blogs where I look...I'm never satisfied...Even Neighborhood Associations. Not many other cities are connected via the internetlike Durham is...

Phil Bost

If this is the Freddie I think it is, I meant to introduce myself to you too at the PAC-2 meeting. Next time, sir!

Pat

I love this idea. However I hate that the mode of connection, Yahoo group listserve, would sell the top advertising spot to the right leaning NEWSMAX organization. A great idea spoiled by the follow thru...

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