Urban Gardening and Food Justice Orgs Using the Social Web

NetSquared's picture

Let me just start by disclosing that I've mentioned People's Grocery and Urban Sprouts here several times because they are nonprofits I support, so I follow their news and happenings, but they are also great examples of small, grassroots nonprofits using social web tools in effective ways.

For example, last week I got a mass email from the Executive Director of People's Grocery, Brahm Ahmadi, entitled, "Join the conversation about People's Grocery Market." The email asked supporters to follow and comment on the progress of a community-based grocery store on the Brahm's Blog:

People's Grocery is generating a lot of excitement and interest in our effort to create a worker-owned food retail business for the West Oakland community. This approaching venture, called the People's Grocery Market, is bound to make waves in the Bay Area, as well as for anyone trying to solve the food retail gap in inner cities. As we get closer to making this dream a reality there is much to share and tell about this venture including unique strategies, partnerships, programs and how it all fits within the food industry and the food system.

If you want to learn more and stay abreast of our progress, please visit and/or subscribe to my blog: http://peoplesgrocery.org/brahm/. Over the coming months I will be writing about the ideas and experiences that People's Grocery has developed for this community enterprise. I hope to stimulate conversation and response from others to generate even more ideas for creating the kind of grocery store we all want to see in the world.

See you in the blogosphere!

What I liked about it was:

1. The message was short and to the point

2. It gives supporters, who may not read blogs, a specific reason to do so, and a specific reason to comment on it.

When I give talks about nonprofits and blogging, I often use Urban Sprouts as an example of how to create a quick, low cost, interactive web site for a small nonprofit, without needing a lot of tech expertise.

Urban Sprouts uses a Blogger blog for its web site. In addition to their regular blog posts, they have a VolunteerMatch badge for people interested in volunteering, a link to donate with JustGive, a prompt to sign up for their newsletter, a CafePress Store to sell shirts and a Flickr Stream. Staff, volunteers, teachers and students can comment and post on the blog.

They recently posted about a Food Class at one of the schools they work in creating a Google Map of the four places students go to the most for food. Students used the map to answer these questions:

1. What do you notice when you look at the map overall?
2. Are there more healthy or unhealthy food locations, or are they about the same? Near school? Near your house?
3. How far do you have to travel from home to buy food? How many blocks?
4. What kinds of food can you most easily buy within walking distance of your house?
5. Why do you think this is so?
6. Do you think other parts of San Francisco look the same as our neighborhoods, or are they different? Why or why not?
7. If you could change something about the food locations in our neighborhoods, what would you change?

By posting lessons like these along with photos of students, and comments by teachers and students, not only has Urban Sprouts created a vibrant web site, but a living document to take to meetings with funders. In addition, they are ranked 6,177 on Technorati, not bad for a small nonprofit blog, eh?