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Reason to Love the South Wedge #2: Southwedge.org

October 18, 2010 by in South Wedge
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My husband built something pretty cool for our neighborhood, and though I am obviously incredibly biased, I feel like he’s totally earned this shameless plug. So with that, I present to you my reason number two for loving the South Wedge, Southwedge.org.   Southwedge.org is a social network that Ben built using a really simple, easy to use, web technology called Ning.

The site was built to reinforce the incredible synergies that are already happening in the South Wedge.  The South Wedge is privilege to a devoted, proactive planning committee, called SWPC (around the South Wedge, we say it “Swih-pick”).  When Ben got involved with SWPC, shortly after moving to the South Wedge, he started to experiment with helping the neighborhood in its branding and community development efforts.  Considering the work we do here at Newdigs, it wasn’t a far leap for Ben to experiment with marrying the community development work he was doing with SWPC with the web 2.0 fascinations that drive us to do what we do here at Newdigs.  I’m paraphrasing a little here, but Ben’s basic thought process behind creating Southwedge.org was, “What if we confined a social networking environment to a definable neighborhood? Now is the first time in the history of humanity that you don’t know the person who lives two doors down.  What if we took the community planning to the place that everyone’s paying attention to: the internet?”

Ben and I were instantly amazed with the inherent organic growth of Southwedge.org.  All we did was tell our neighbors, who told their neighbors.  Within a year we had over 300 members.  Its currently somewhere around 670 members, give or take.  I think it caught on so quickly because it really is a great way to get to know the Wedge.  One of our neighbors told us that she might check it out, but she didn’t think she’d use it because she had enough other social things going on online already.  A couple of months later, we saw her again while we were out and about, and she mentioned that she found herself using Southwedge.org often, because it had a built in relevance to her, since it was about everything going on right outside her door.

Last year we were surprised when it got nominated as a finalist for a Rochester Business Journal Best of the Web Award, when we hadn’t submitted it.  We had, of course, submitted a certain new Rochester apartment search site, but ’twas not to be.  Southwedge.org ended getting beat out by the Seneca Park Zoo’s sweet redesign, but it was still really awesome to go to the awards ceremony with the rest of the Newdigs crew.  The keynote speaker, during his speech, actually worked into his speech a congratulations of us on a job well done, saying that it was the nicest looking Ning network he’d seen. (Awwshucks, thanks Dana! – and I say that on behalf of my husband, whose awesomeness I take full credit for.) So in the end, the nomination certainly ended up feeling more like a win than a loss… and who doesn’t love the zoo?

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