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Part 4: Exhortations (14 of 18)

Let me give you one of my favorite examples of this kind of networking on the web. Jervay Place is a public housing project in Wilmington, NC that a couple of years ago was being threatened with demolition. At that time, half the housing units were boarded up - the other half were almost all households headed by single African-American women. A group of these women formed what they called the Jervay Task Force, to start negotiations with the local and federal housing authorities hoping to gain influence over what would succeed Jervay. The task force argued that they should be given an opportunity to live in the new buildings that would succeed Jervay Place. And furthermore that they should have a role in planning and even designing these buildings. Lacking expertise in architecture and community planning, they went to a local public access computer which was on the internet and which they had begun to learn their way around. They started with an eail appeal for help to several usenet lists covering alternative community housing. Lots of positve responses came back and a few architects outright volunteered their time. The task force women then sent the city's plans (which had been a struggle to procure) to these architects who commented on and critiqued them, proposing some alternatives. The task force then sat down at a meeting with the housing authority, with the experts' proposals in hand. This gave them a kind of credibility at the table they otherwise wouldn't have had. This enlisting of participation at a distance played a role in the success of their interactions.
Last modified: Mon Sep 23 11:49:39 1996
Randy Trigg trigg@workpractice.com