My town was hurting.
The shooting of a Woburn police officer and the subsequent manhunt through the neighborhoods of West Woburn had left everyone shaken.
What you need to know is that just nine months prior, the day after Christmas, a Woburn police officer, Jack Maguire, was shot and killed under very similar circumstances - while intercepting suspects from a jewelry robbery. We were also just days away from the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The robbery and shooting had brought back the painful memories of Jack’s death to our collective consciousness. The memory of 9/11 loomed as images of that day were continuously replayed in the media. We were emotionally raw.
I was up early the next morning, wondering how, as a pastor and neighbor, to support the community in the wake of our shock and grief.
A "Why Twitter?" Ministry Story
A police officer was shot in my city yesterday. He was responding to a robbery at a local jewelry store.
Twitter immediately lit up and tweets started flying about the incident from news outlets, community leaders, and residents. Most people used the hashtag #woburn - the general hashtag we use here for community information - to tag their posts. For the rest of the day, Woburn was trending on Twitter.
Twitter is one of the ways I've become more engaged with our local community and so I recognized many of the people who were tweeting.
I jumped in and started retweeting information. One suspect had been apprehended. Three other suspects were on the loose, considered armed and dangerous. It was a manhunt. Local and state police, SWAT teams, helicopters all on scene. Road blocks. Door to door searches. Schools and the YMCA were in lock down. Residents were urged to stay inside with their doors locked. The officer had been shot several times but was in stable condition.
It was chilling.
A Conversation with David Crowley of Social Capital, Inc.
One of the critical questions surrounding the use and value of social media like Facebook and Twitter is whether they strengthen or undermine “real” community.
The most common measure of community strength is known as “social capital,” a term popularized by Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone, which tracks the alarming decline of social capital among American communities. (A trend, by the way, that began long before the rise of social media.)
The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. "Social capital refers to "the collective value of all 'social networks' [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [norms of reciprocity]." - from bowlingalone.com
This week I sat down with David Crowley, the founder of Social Capital, Inc, which is based in my hometown of Woburn.
David is an expert in the field of social capital. He is also an avid social media user (Twitter, Social Capital blog, Cooking Chat blog). I asked David whether or not social media is capable of building social capital. As you can probably guess, he does. Here’s what I learned:
Using Social Media to Support Your Cause
My library, the Woburn Public Library, was designed by the renown architect H.H. Richardson in 1897. It is a beautiful building, but it is too small to meet current demands and the building condition is deteriorating. The Library recently received a $5 million grant from the Mass Board of Library Commissioners to expand the building, but the majority of the cost, around $16 million, must come from the City of Woburn. It’s a hard sell in difficult economic times.
However, the library has redoubled its efforts to secure funding from the City through the Yes To Our Library campaign and they are doing an incredible job using social media to build support and make their case. It’s a great case study about leveraging social media for your cause. Here are some of the ways they are doing it: