About Us

Our Mission

OurCommonPlace is a civic technology organization that works to revitalize the spirit of local community engagement in towns across the country.

OurCommonPlace.com is a “community web platform” that’s designed to make it delightfully easy for community residents to share and connect with the others in their community.

On CommonPlace, you can: borrow a ladder or a cup of sugar from your neighbors rather than buying it at the store; get in touch with that new family that moved in down the block; share your thoughts about the school budget with the town; organize the next great community event; and much more!

We built the platform because we believe that extraordinary things can happen -- indeed, have always happened -- when neighbors who care come together.

We believe in technology, and yet, we know it’s not enough. So we work with our partnership communities to implement a full community organizing plan designed to empower, celebrate and inspire civic leadership in real communities.

Empower

We help local leaders “plug in” to the Internet.

We dedicate a full-time organizer to helping local leaders and active neighbors utilize OurCommonPlace.com to its fullest.

Celebrate

Our national Civic Hero Awards program spotlights beloved local leaders in town.

OurCommonPlace runs a national awards program that celebrates local leaders everywhere.

With input from the community, we search for leaders whose work at the schools, at service organizations, in the local government, or at a great local business, have made it a better place to live in.

Inspire

We train ambitious students to be 21st century community organizers with our Civic Heroes Leadership Program.

OurCommonPlace works with ambitious students who are interested in learning the skills of a 21st century community organizer.

Students leave the Civic Heroes Leadership Program with a base of knowledge about how to organize in their community, how to publish online and how to inspire others to act. They’ll also get close to a group of engaged young people based in Harvard and in towns across the state.

Our Story

OurCommonPlace began with a story about bowling.

In 2009, two freshman-year roommates at Harvard read the book Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam.

The book was a revelation. In it Putnam used data to prove something we all know in our hearts: that when communities come together, they prosper.

Putnam found that in communities where neighbors know each other’s names, and feel like they can trust each other, the streets are safer, the schools are more effective, the businesses are more productive, and everyone is happier and healthier. Community was a magical variable that helped make our lives better.

Yet, Putnam said, the institutions that have traditionally connected us to our communities -- the community centers, Rotary clubs, local newspapers and yes, bowling leagues -- were in a state of transition. As our lives have changed, so have our communities.

We began by asking ourselves: What next? How can technology play a role in revitalizing the ways we have to connect to each other?

OurCommonPlace is our answer to that question. It’s like a newsletter written by your neighborhood, or a community center bulletin board designed to fit into your email inbox.

We dream of an Internet that works for local communities. That works for parents who want to share resources. For local leaders who want to create something for the people around them. For anyone who wants to make something in the local world they are part of.

Our Team

We’re a team of young technologists and veteran community organizers based in Cambridge, MA.

Non-profit? For profit?

We are a for-profit organization, but we believe in the “double bottom line”: doing good while doing well at once. For more information on the cause-driven business ethos that defines OurCommonPlace, check out this article on “Social Business” from Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mohammad Yunus’ Yunus Centre.

The Platform

OurCommonPlace is a web platform for local community engagement.

Our goal is to help neighbors and communities leaders to share information with the people around them and empower them to build awesome things for their communities.

CommonPlace works with cities across the country. We'd love to work with yours! If you're interested in a CommonPlace in your town, contact [email protected].

How CommonPlace Works

1. Sign Up

Sign Up

CommonPlace brings your neighbors and civic leaders together onto one 'community network' online.

Sign up once and you'll start receiving short email messages from your neighbors and community leaders like the police chief and the mayor.

2. Receive Community Bulletins

Receive Community Bulletins

Each day you'll receive a 'community bulletin' featuring events and announcements written by your neighbors and local leaders. Learn about local events. Find a good mechanic. Join a new biking group.

Whenever something's interesting to you, you can hit 'reply' and start a community conversation.

3. Search the Community

Search the Community

All these community conversations, events, and announcements can always be viewed at OurCommonPlace.com.

CommonPlace centralizes community information. Use it to search for people in your area, find cool local organizations, or locate goods and skills in your neighborhood.

4. Post to the Neighborhood

Post to the Neighborhood

Of course, whenever YOU have a need or announcement, CommonPlace makes it really easy to share it with the people around you.

  • Ask to borrow a ladder or a power drill
  • Publicize a tag sale or block party
  • Ask about how to fix a pot hole
  • Organize service projects for your community

Supporters

Burnsville dips into hyper-local social media

“The difference between OurCommonPlace.com and other social media websites: Its designers hope their project rouses community members to move away from their computers and participate in civic and community activities. The founders call their website a bulletin board and liken it to "infrastructure" for communities.”

from Shannon Prather, Special to the Star Tribune

Local news describes CommonPlace to Marquette, MI

News story from ABC10 in Marquette, MI about The Marquette CommonPlace.

“I've posted on and responded to Falls Church CommonPlace posts. People attended a community event I promoted. I found work through it. And I scored a free perfect-condition TV from it.”

— Debra Roth, a Falls Church neighbor

In Order to Form a More Perfect Community

“Because community is the heart of Raleigh, and because our neighborhoods are made up of amazing and inspiring neighbors who love their families and want to help each other, it is time we hammer the Internet into a tool that unites rather than divides our communities.”

from The Raleigh Creative District

Civic Hero Awards

OurCommonPlace runs a national community awards program dedicated to spotlighting and celebrating local leaders in towns and cities across the country.

As we launch OurCommonPlace.com, we'll be seeking input from the community on beloved community members whose work for the schools, for service organizations, for the local government, for great local businesses, make OurCommonPlace what it is.

We publish profiles of our “Civic Heroes” on the town's OurCommonPlace platform and on our Civic Heroes national awards page.

To join OurCommonPlace, first

Find Your Community