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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All Local (or Close Enough): Sisseton Communities Meeting Place Blog

Click click click—my morning Web surfing leads me to the Sisseton Communities Meeting Place, a fun local blog from our neighbors in northeast South Dakota. I found it through a link on the Watertown Public Opinion's blogroll... hey! Jon Hunter! How come you haven't linked me back yet on the Madison Daily Leader site?

SCMP (anyone calling it Scamp yet?) is dedicated to discussing Roberts County, local government, schools, the jail, and other matters of import to the 10,000 hardy residents of the Sissteon-Peever metroplex. And Todd Epp thinks there's nothing to write about—there's always local news! And SCMP goes looking for it.

On the good side, SCMP is following the collaborative community journalism model, posting a few details, asking questions, and getting more background from commenters. For example, a post last Friday asked about a possible shooting incident folks were talking about. Commenters quickly explained that the incident was actually a police training exercise (though if the police train the way they drive, Sisseton folks might still be jittery). The blog also offers a host of links to local resources: local media, local reservation media (I think in the big city they'd call that alternative media) local schools, even the Roberts County Freecycle group (Discover the Unexpected™, indeed!). Local, local, local—I likey, likey, likey.

On the bad side, the conversation is mostly anonymous. Even the "Administrator" offers no personally identifiable information (though that toe looks suspiciously like South Dacola's Scott Ehrisman). Perhaps the locals know perfectly well who is producing the blog, and perhaps commenters living in the midst of mistrust between Indians and white folks can make a stronger case for wanting to keep their identities private. Nonetheless, real community discussion that brings folks together requires names and faces. I hope the SCMP administrator and his commenters will consider taking that step toward openness and authenticity. Real names and faces only make your words and your community stronger.

On the whole, I applaud this effort at community discourse and watchdoggery. Such online conversation may get ugly sometimes, but even the ugly stuff isn't anything folks aren't already thinking and whispering to each other. If something's amiss in your community, you might as well get it out in the open where everyone can facce it and maybe fix it. Keep up the conversation, Sisseton and neighbors!

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