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Engaging communities with social media

For anyone interested in how the new media is shaping community news media:

  • Engagement is key – robust and frequent content begets more content and whets the interest of potential contributors.
  • Citizen journalism is a field that has a high turnover. Fewer than one in 10 of those trained will stick around to be regular contributors and, even then, may only be “regular” for a short period of time.
  • Projects built on the grit and passion of a particular founder or corps of founders have created the most robust models for short- and long-term sustainability.
  • Community news sites are not a business yet.
  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools are ushering in a New Age for Community News, creating robust recruiting, marketing, distribution, collaboration, reporting and funding opportunities.
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Citizen scientists go fly a kite

In many parts of the world citizens do not have accurate maps of their communities and lack access to original satellite data. The mapping may not be up to date or the resolution of the maps high enough quality to answer legal questions concerning native title or the true impact of an environmental disaster, such as the Gulf oil spill. Grassroots Mapping involves balloons, kites and other simple tools for citizens to produce their own imagery, which they then own.

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The science of livestock welfare

Livestock welfare is again gaining momentum on the political and social agenda, although it never really went away. Aspects of livestock production are opposed by some for ethical, health and sustainability reasons.

In 2006, when working in communications at CSIRO, I produced an animal welfare edition of Livestock Horizons (left) which provided scientific information about the welfare of livestock in Australian production systems.

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How to plan for a sustainable community

Sustainability Victoria have outlined the process involved to develop a business case for sustainable development of Armstrong Creek, a principal urban growth area for the Geelong region which will accommodate up to 22,000 homes. Energy options include 7 star houses, solar PV and biomass systems. Sustainability Victoria has copies of the business case; analysis of energy supply and water infrastructure options; and guidelines for developing a sustainability framework available online.

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Bernadett in the bushfire

I recently ran a photo competition for the Beef Bulletin. We received this photo from Sharon at Longwarry in Victoria – of her beloved cow, Bernadett, calmly chewing on pasture amidst heavy smoke on the morning of the devastating 2009 Victorian bushfires. Sharon said: “There was a lot of smoke; you could not see the sky. The smoke crept in through the trees, much like the fog that we get coming in some winter nights.”

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Einstein’s tongue still has us talking

The iconic photo of Einstein poking his tongue at photographers continues to generate discussion. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it: On Einstein’s 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951, UPI photographer Arthur Sasse was trying to persuade him to smile for the camera, but having smiled for photographers many times that day, Einstein stuck out his tongue instead. This photograph became one of the most popular ever taken of Einstein, often used in merchandise depicting him in a lighthearted sense. On June 19, 2009, the photograph was sold at auction for $74,324, a record for an Einstein picture.”