By Michael Libes
The mobility of Americans over the past six decades has led to huge cultural changes, with the norm now for Americans to move every five or so years, and with those moves, to have friends scattered across multiple states. The rise of email, instant messaging, and most recently, social networking, it has become commonplace for Americans to connect to those friends online.
Meanwhile… as we spend time staring at our screens to follow the lives of our friends, we spend less time interacting with the people living next door, down the street, or across town, i.e. our neighbors. Most Americans do not know the people living two or three doors down the street. Many do not know the people living next door. And none of the social networking or other online tools are making that any easier.
Sean Kean of HERE.st would like to solve this problem.
His vision began back at his Brooklyn apartment building: a building filled with fellow artists, musicians, and other “creatives.” The building had a budding local culture, with the 300+ tenants interacting with the simple “technology” of paper flyers. That is, until one day when the landlord banned all flyers. Predictably, the culture quickly disappeared, until Sean came up with a solution. The fix was a simple website for the building, allowing anyone to post notices for others to see. These posts were little more than the discussion features at the bottom of a blog, without the blog, but it worked.
Fast forward a year and Sean has brought this vision and proven prototype to Fledge, the “conscious company” incubator in Seattle. He is busy expanding on this idea, to find a path to let all of us have a similar interaction with our neighbors. To go beyond one building, one block, or one town, to bring the whole physical world into the realm of social networking.
This is an idea too grand and too important to burden one visionary and one company, and thus he has a request of all of you. If you have stories of connecting online with your neighbors, local community, etc., please go visit http://here.st and post your story. Together, let’s help make your neighbors as accessible as your friends.
About Michael “Luni” Libes - http://about.me/luni
Luni is a 20+ year serial entrepreneur, founder/co-founder of five companies. His latest startup is Fledge, the “conscious company” incubator. In addition, Luni is Entrepreneur in Residence and Entrepreneurship Instructor at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and an Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus at the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization. Luni is author of The Next Step: Guiding you from idea to startup.