I need someone to tile my shower. I'm terrified of doing it, because I'm sure something is going to go wrong. Plus, there are some baseboards that will have to be replaced, and I'm sure I'll mess things up.

On the other hand, if your computer is doing weird things, I can take a look at it and give you a diagnosis and most of the steps to a likely cure.

My daughter is starting to look for baby-sitting and tutoring jobs. My son needs a job - he's strong and smart, and he doesn't mind doing repetitive tasks, since that allows his mind to wander.

Who do I ask? To whom do I offer those services? Who is in my network?

Based on Facebook, I am in Wall4All and BuyAndSell groups in my geographical area. That's great, but I don't need crafts or an old car. Right now, that is.

On LinkedIn, I'm a computer guy. Most of my profile is meaningless to my neighbours.

On Google+? No, I didn't think so. Those who are, love it there. But it never clicked for me.

Twitter? Really? I can drop into the Twitter time sink as well as anyone, but as for usefulness?

Kijiji? Craigslist? Again, buy and sell, but not "Can you give me a hand?" or, "I saw a cougar on your quarter-section!"


There are parts of the prairies (probably all of them) where, when you pass another vehicle (truck) on the grid (gravel) road, you wave every time. It's just being neighbourly.

Driving on a gravel road is crazy. You can spin out any time. Going over a hill is pure trust, since if the other driver doesn't pull to the right, you will have no time to pull over without going into the "rhubarb". We teach our kids to be paranoid, but also to be trustworthy, because everyone depends on each other.

If you're stuck in the (rhubarb) ditch, who do you call? Your neighbour with a tractor, because no matter how icy it is, that machine will be able to get you out.


I'm a basketball coach, a member of the Baptist Church (where I lead singing most Sundays), and a recognized band parent at the school. I have done enough computer odd jobs that most people trust me to be able to fix their computer glitches.


Let's put all of that together, and come up with a uniquely Canadian, prairie, co-op solution to some of the small and not-so-small problems we have in our lives.

Let's say we have an app on our phone. Free, of course. We'll figure out how in a minute.

It knows where we live. Including #directions, so if a new neighbour needs to find our place, they could get there.

It connects to our other social #networks, so it can piggyback on their reach when necessary.

It asks us what #communities we are a part of. I live in Belle Vista Estates, near Sandy Beach, and I do most of my community stuff in Onoway, and my shopping in St. Albert.

It asks us what community #activities we do, so that we can find others that share those activities.

Now, based on those ingredients, it lets us find our neighbours. When we find them, we trust them (kind of like endorsing them in LinkedIn, or Liking them in Facebook). How far do you trust them? Well, would you be comfortable asking them for a favour? Lending them your tools? Letting them pick up a parcel for you at the Post Office? Letting them babysit?

So you set your trust boundary based on what you would be comfortable asking them to do for you.

Now you have an app that lets you put out the word to your neighbourhood. It is connected to EMS and the Police, so if you see a suspicious truck in your neighbour's yard, or a cougar in a pasture, you can report it to the authorities and they can track the mentions as your neighbours look for the truck (or the cat).

When you go in the ditch, you can put out a call for help in your area, or wherever you are, and a local person who's available can check out who you are, and decide to help you.

When a new person moves to the community, this app provides an introduction to who their new neighbours are, and where they can ask for help.

Eventually, there will be a marketplace within the app. With suitable security, your credit card (or PayPal account) could be associated with the app, so you could pay the babysitter (or the mechanic 1 mile over - who knew?) directly through the app. A small surcharge on those transactions would cover the costs of this app, allowing it to grow and spread without ads. Only local content, only stuff you asked for, or offered. Alerts - and if someone cries "wolf" (without actually seeing a wolf), the app allows you to lower your trust for that person, so it will police itself.

If you want to debate politics, religion, or celebrities, you can go to other networks. This would be the network for getting help, sharing alerts, notifying your neighbours of your new business, and generally...

Being Neighbourly.

Pilot in the Onoway Area starting right now! Sign up here, help birth a Prairie social network!

Categories: Social Network