The Community Walled Garden


A walled garden for the purposes of a Community Development Cooperative’s Community Media Center is a website, a community portal, that is the central depository of information regarding a community such as restaurants, automotive services, events, associations, institutions, local news, community blogs, real estate, classified ads, business directory etc.  More importantly, it is the reference point from which to find needed local resources.  Access to the walled garden should be free to accommodate tourists and visitors or anyone looking for local community information.

To facilitate communications when first establishing a Community Development Cooperative, I would suggest developing the walled garden website to act as a demonstration and reference point for local communications and scheduling of meetings.  There are a number of companies that offer turnkey solutions and I will detail these resources separately.  In your community there may be no infrastructure or resources to serve your website locally and ideally it should be hosted somewhere secure perhaps at a collocation facility.  My community, Maple Valley, Washington, is unique in that it is a bedroom community to Seattle, and as such doesn’t care to grasp the significance of what broadband is to local economic development.  You can discover more about my plight in this regard on a blog that I was asked to create by a local and regional newspaper, the Maple Valley Reporter.  My blog is entitled “A Musing Community Perspective” and is reflective of my exasperation in creating purpose, opportunity, and direction more than anything else.   The walled garden may look like the Maple Valley Reporter’s or that of another local community paper, the Voice of the Valley, or perhaps like one that we established, Maple Valley Online,  as an available resource tool which any community can acquire and host locally or at a collocation facility initially as we have done.  Our walled garden is not yet fully developed as you can see but all the rudiments that are necessary for community are there and I would be happy to direct you accordingly to our supplier.

The walled garden is a revenue resource made possible through advertisements.  You might also think of the walled garden as being the community’s online newspaper.  Certainly if there is a local printed newspaper already it could become a resource for it and there are a number of ways to get into a mutually beneficial relationship.  If there is no local print paper the community might want to explore printing out a double-sided newsprint reflective of the online information perhaps on a weekly basis.  This in itself can generate more advertising revenue.  The walled garden could be tied to digital signage viewed in local restaurants and other public places in the community which could also facilitate amber alerts.

If users wanted to go outside of the walled garden, say for instance, a tourist wanted to get his e-mail which isn’t hosted locally, then they would be forced through a captive portal.  This captive portal forces users to a special page that would capture the necessary information like billing to facilitate access beyond the walled garden – revenue.  An added incentive for local buying might be local currency or some coupon granted as a result of local purchases to also facilitate access outside of the walled garden.  Of course all websites of business members of the Community Development Cooperative would be accessible free of charge thereby fostering those businesses.

Really, does it make any sense to be hosting this information, including local websites outside of the community.  Think of those rural communities whose only access to the Internet, that is, backhaul, may be an expensive satellite feed subject to weather issues.  This is just another reason for cloud dispersion technology, that is, having cloud technology and applications based in the community and empowering the community.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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