This post is directed mainly at those social media evangelists, gurus and consultants that I’ve been fortunate to meet and talk to because of what I currently do, but I think all of you may like it anyway. Here’s the crux of it: I’m going to ask you to consider submitting a proposal to present for the 2009 National Trust Main Streets Conference in Chicago, IL (March 1 – 4, 2009). Then, I’m going to suggest that even if you don’t get to present that you show up and take part.
You may wonder why I’m pushing for you to do this.
The short answer, as seen here, is next year’s conference theme should make you at least a little interested: Becoming Main Street 2.0.
The long reason…
Well, I’m a Main Streeter and probably will remain one forever (hopefully you’ve clicked on that link earlier in the sentence so I don’t have to go into that much detail here). Even when I wasn’t really working for one I was, since my boss in Savannah had been one for more than 10 years. It’s as much a part of who I am as this interactive world that I participate in. I mean, I did go ahead and finished earning my certification in professional Main Street Management without having the “regular” job to use it in. (NOTE: That should explain to some of you why you see some extra letters at the end of my name in emails and around the web nowadays). One day I still plan to get back into that world on a daily basis, either helping one community or by sharing things I’ve learned while working in cities and social media with several of them. And if I really think about it, I actually ended up in the world of social media because of revitalization, preservation and specifically, Main Street.
I see the worlds of revitalization and social media as similar – both allow you to communicate something to a larger audience. That message could be everything from what’s going on that very second to providing a glimpse into the history of your community and how it’s changed over the years. We just use different tools to convey those messages sometimes.
But those worlds are due to collide and already have – we have websites that serve as virtual clearinghouses of information for developers and business owners and sites that help us understand what it is that we are doing in our communities to breathe new life into them. We look at podcasts as ways to engage our visitors to our downtowns and “rookie” and “seasoned” Main Street managers are beginning to recognize the power of MySpace and Facebook in their outreach efforts.
But what’s the next step? How else can we use these social media tools to reach out and engage this new group of potential preservationists and urbanites? Hopefully some answers will come from next year’s Main Streets conference in Chicago.
The mere fact that it’s in Chicago is great, as it is one of the major hubs for the social media movement. There are hyperlocal blogs like Gapers Block, great informational experiments like EveryBlock that strive to make the sharing of news easier and several strong examples of urban commercial districts that are doing quite well. I’m looking forward to a chance to have a conversation with some of the a couple of folks in Chi-Town seeing where the relationship between technology and revitalization can go next (and just to have some fun too) I know some of you would lend to this dialog very well.
Hurry up – you’ve only got until July!
Now I’ve just got to make sure I know how I’m getting there, since I’m expecting to at least see a couple of you…