Residents of Wind River Estates in Denton, Texas, are finding out the advantages of being connected through social media – in a number of different ways.
Finding Lost Pets
Lisa Hackler, a resident, uses the community’s Facebook group to help her neighbors find their missing pets. When her neighbor’s dog ran out of the house one day, she posted a picture of the pet on their Facebook page. About one day later, the woman who found the dog contacted her. Hackler was able to pick up the dog and return it back to her neighbour.
Seeking Volunteer Opportunities
Another resident, Stephanie Mueller, saw the Facebook page as a great way to join activities. When she saw a post requesting for volunteers in an Easter egg hunt, for example, she decided to join and help out.
Residents of Wind River Estates in Denton, Texas use social media as a community-based tool. (Image: TangYauHoong (CC) via Flickr)
Recovering Stolen Property
In April, resident Patrick Pluscht discovered some items missing from his car, and went on to post about the incident on the community’s Facebook page. Some days later, another resident posted that his car had also been broken into, but the thieves were probably in a hurry since they left some things taken from yet another car. A third resident came across the post and realized that it was his items that had been left by the burglars, and so he was able to recover his property.
According to Pluscht, the post encouraged him and his neighbors to try and solve the problem and help one another. Aside from having a Facebook page, Wind River Estates also has an official website, as well as two other social media accounts – a Yahoo forum and Twitter – of which Pluscht is the moderator.
Forging a Sense of Community
Residents of Wind River Estates perceive social media as a way to forge “a real sense of community.” Their Facebook page alone joins together almost a quarter of the community’s 430 households. Notably, social media has been tapped to help find missing pets, promote events, and solve crime. Steve Sumners, the vice president of the homeowner’s association and moderator of the Facebook group, describes the social sites as “an outlet” for providing information, feedback, and sending out requests for help.
The use of social media in the community has not always been successful, though. When Wind River Estates was constructed in 1998, an unofficial website was put up but it was not well-moderated. Residents often complained and bickered with each other. Fortunately, today their online connections are much more positive.