In the next six months, I plan to apply everything I’ve learned during my MA Online Journalism course in Birmingham by launching a community news site for Birch Cliff, the Toronto neighbourhood where I live.
The goal is to provide obsessively local news coverage on subjects of interest to the 15,000 residents of Birch Cliff such as crime, traffic problems, garbage pick-up, snow removal, local sports, the farmer’s market, restaurants and real estate.
Making information “findable”
In the UK, hyperlocal sites are all the rage and there’s a real sense that if communities develop a powerful online voice, they can better communicate and influence events at the neighbourhood level. Paul Bradshaw, has written numerous posts about hyperlocal news and, among other things, he says local news sites have a duty to enrich communities by making the “invisible visible; the obscure findable”.
How Councillor Gary Crawford voted
To that end, I have dug deep into the City of Toronto’s new open data website and ploughed through some data to try and find out what our new City Councillor in Birch Cliff Gary Crawford has been up to since we elected him in October 2010. The spreadsheet below lists every vote that’s taken place at City Council since the election and tells his constituents how Gary Crawford voted each and every time. You can search the data many ways — by date, by issue or agenda item. You can also compare Crawford’s voting pattern to the pattern of Toronto mayor Rob Ford.
I’ve done some colour-coding to make the spreadsheet easier to read, particularly when it comes to hot button issues in Toronto such as designating the TTC an essential service, repealing the personal vehicle tax and reducing councillor’s expense budgets
You can view the spreadsheet by clicking here.