As is tradition with our unconferences, at the end of #TAL12 we held the much-awaited Unawards ceremony to mark the very best in hyperlocal innovation and excellence. Below is our list of winners, who were rewarded with some very special prizes purchased from Latifs (‘Where Choice Meets Price’). The winners will also receive a ‘#TAL12 Unaward winner’ badge for their websites. Watch John Popham’s video above to relive the Unawards fun!
Best story – Annette Albert of W14 London for London riots coverage
Best community engagement – Steph and James of WV11
Pauline Sargent contacted Talk About Local in early 2010 when she was looking to create a community website for her home town of Drimnagh, a residential area on the outskirts of Dublin. Talk About Local gave Pauline remote training and ongoing support as she was getting started with Drimnagh is Good – a site based on the Digbeth is Good model used by Nicky.
Over the past year and a half Drimnagh is Good has become a strong voice ‘to help Drimnagh shout about the good things more often’. It talks positively about local people, initiatives and events and helps connect local politics with the neighbourhood.
Following the lead of Pits n Pots, Drimnagh is Good gave all 12 candidates running for a seat in the last Dublin South Central election 500 words to talk about about their campaigns, policies and reasons for standing. Eight of them responded, giving local people good, in-depth introductions to candidates before polling day.
Drimnagh is Good has more recently been busy raising awareness and publishing coverage of the Drimnagh Festival in late September. Pauline also works hard to share her new skills by leading local social media surgeries and strengthens the Irish hyperlocal network on twitter as @hyperlocalie.
Hyperlocal sites across the British Isles are using their Google juice to help define the area in the face of a bad reputation in the traditional media. When people want to find out about an area they search for it online – they don’t pick up the Radio Times or turn on the news. Hyperlocal sites quickly rise up Google and often do better in search than TV and print media – allowing people who live in an area to define it to the world, not salacious commentators…
Drimnagh/Crumlin, in my opinion, is now going through a…process of â€œstereotypingâ€ by the media. Don’t let them win; use all the resources at your disposal to fight back! Show them that the decent people of Drimnagh/Crumlin have no truck with the criminal scum who drag the name of your community through the mud!
These days, one of the best ways to ‘fight back’ against negative stereotyping of an area is to do what Pauline Sargent has done for Drimnagh – create and develop a simple hyperlocal website that presents a more balanced picture to the world and watch it rise up the Google rankings.
When someone wants to find out a bit more than they know about a subject or area (like Drimnagh), they don’t go to TV3, they Google it. Above are the results for a clean Google search for ‘Drimnagh’. Drimnagh is Good, a positive voice that celebrates the area, comes fifth – no mean feat considering it’s just eight months old.
Taking a closer look, I can see it comes underneath the Wikipedia entry (in which Drimnagh is Good is listed under External Links), the local church site drimnaghparish.com and then it’s a Google Map of Drimnagh and the dublin.ie Neighbourhoods Page, both of which are obviously not ‘of Drimnagh’. Quickly scanning the Google results, Drimnagh is Good seems to be the first website that appears that’s from and about the Drimnagh area.
So although Pauline is understandably frustrated when things like the TV3 gangs documentary come out, by taking hold of the online presence of Drimnagh and portraying it in a completely different way (highlighting the positive and celebrating it) she is making a massive difference to how Drimnagh is perceived. Pauline has created a website that essentially defines Drimnagh online and will be many people’s first introduction to the area.
I found this to be an unexpected by-product of Digbeth is Good, a community site I manage for my neck of the woods in Birmingham. As I saw it creep up the Google rankings and spoke to more people who’d found me and the website that way, I realised I could use it to show what makes Digbeth brilliant to the outside world and hopefully entice a few more people into the area.
Of course, these independent voices of an area that emerge online like this are not always overwhealmingly positive and can have the opposite effect to the likes of Drimnagh is Good, painting a bleak picture to newcomers. I’ve never visited Corby and after watching Graham Williams’ brilliant yet brutal film ‘Corby, Welcome to Hell‘ (which comes third in a YouTube search) I’m really not sure I want to.
How to fully realise the potential of the power that independent websites gain to define their areas online when they Google up well like this I’m not sure, but that power is there for the taking.
Pauline Sargent from Drimnagh, Dublin contacted the talk about local team in January of this year asking for advice on a new community website she was thinking about starting for her area, which we were more than happy to give her. Later in March Drimnagh is Good was born ‘to help Drimnagh shout about the good things more often’. Pauline used the skills and contacts she gained through her work on Drimnagh is Good to organise Drimnagh’s first Social Media Surgery on 18th May 2010.
From the looks of Pauline’s answers to our Ten Questions below, it looks like she has some exciting things in store for the Drimnagh community, especially its younger residents.
What made you start Drimnagh is Good?
Quick background: I got involved in community work when my son was about 4 (2005) and started looking around where I lived with new eyes. There was a lot that I didn’t like. From minor things like graffiti to major things like planning decisions being made on behalf of the community by a select few who believed they ran the area. My partner and I discussed moving for a while but fundamentally we liked where we lived. So I felt ‘well if we want a nice community to live in then I’ll have to get involved and be one of those people helping to make it good.’ From there I went onto several different committees over the years and started to realise how complicated and slow community work is. Communicating to all the people in Drimnagh was not easy and targeting the right people was even harder.
So from doing a bit of research I came across some hyperlocal sites in the UK and realised a one stop website could maybe go some way to being the answer. Then of course the excellent Digbeth is Good was my inspiration for the title and so many posts.
What do you feel the key local issues are for your community and how have you used your website to address these?
Unemployment. Drimnagh has above national average in early school leavers and young males out of work. The website would like to get more youth involved in the multi media aspect of the site and help increase their profile by displaying their projects. Efforts are underway with the local youth centre to see how the two can work together for mutual gain.
Anti Social Behaviour. If you were to listen to certain sections of the community and the media you would think Drimnagh has a high crime rate. However, police stats do not point to this. It would be great if the website could help eliminate the bad press Drimnagh gets and help sort perception from reality.
Planning & development. Drimnagh has a lot of derelict sites and although recently had a Integrated Area Plan (IAP) drawn it is felt the community was not fully on board. The website would like to help become a library for all the documents relating to the IAP. To post minutes, meetings, reports and to get feedback from residents.
What has been your favourite post or feature on your website and why?
My favourite post has been the TD contact details. As it was interesting to see how the display their contact details and an eye-opener to see 1) how difficult it was to get their contact details and that was with a computer and online access. 2) How few are using social media to engage with their constituients regularly. It is hoped to improve on that page and make it easy for people to see all their TD’s contact details in a user friendly format whatever and for whatever their preferered form of contact is.
What do you feel has been the most challenging story on your website?
The most challenging one I had I didn’t post as was to nervous of how to word it in an unbiased form. It was to do with the court case of the two polish men who were murdered in an horrific stabbing by local Drimnagh men. Also really not informed enough on reporting crime and the national media were covering the story also. Was thinking of just providing links to the story. But seeing as only new to blogging decided to leave it.
The one that I did post that was the most challenging for me. Was the alzheimers one. As in found the technology bit hard, the videoing and the interviewing difficult it was my first.
What obstacles have you faced with your website, and how have you overcome these?
The biggest obstacle is time & probably next to that is know how. As in writing technique and technology (inserting photos and videos). As a mother of two young boys, it is really difficult to be consistent with posts. Also I am trying to work and earn an income so the website is not getting the true attention it deserves. I am looking at getting some other people to contribute and hopefully by September the site will have more hands on deck.
What do you think it is that attracts readers to your website?
From the comments I have received to date it appears the need to know whats going on in the community. I think the opening times of the local swimming pool has had the most hits. Also the smarter travel project has received comments from people as to have we heard any updates. I truly believe people want to know what is going on in their community. But they do not want to spend half a day trying to connect with someone in the council.
What’s the most absurd thing that has happened on your site?
Nothing absurd as yet.
What changes would you like to make to your website over the next few months?
My wish list for the site would be? (Good question)
A techie person like me to help with all the background stuff.
Some new plug ins.
Make the About page less personal and less about me and more about it being an online newssite for Drimnagh people with x amount of contributors.
A weekly social media surgery dedicated to hyperlocal news to help attract people to getting involved on the site.
A daily post.
More reporting on council meetings/TDs/planning/& community groups events
Where do you see your website in a year’s time?
Increase in a regular readership. Perhaps a 100 daily viewers???
What one thing would make managing your website even more rewarding than it already is?
To see some of the young/not so young using the site to gain experience/respect/hope and to realise that Drimnagh is not a kip and that there is a lot of opportunities to be got from managing/working on a hyperlocal site and talking your area up.