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Small Community in Italy Materializes the True Meaning of “Social Media”


A project that arose spontaneously brings the cooperative spirit of social media to the streets where we live.

A few years ago, spouses Laurell Boyers, South African, and Federico Bastiani, Italian, moved to the city of Bologna. They arrived without knowing anyone or having any type of relationship with people near their home.

One day, Federico posted an ad on Via Fondazza, the main avenue of his neighborhood, announcing he had opened a private group on Facebook for only people in that area. His only goal was to make some friends. In less than one week, the group had twenty members, and little by little it grew to more than 1,000.


The number of people, however, has made this more than just a virtual meeting point, but rather a node of cooperation and closeness. The Facebook group became a reference point to improve the quality of life in the neighborhood with the help of its very residents, all based on concrete, everyday actions (for example, recommending a plumber, or even better, offering to fix the broken sink of a neighbor) which has the effect of consolidating concepts that would otherwise seem abstract: trust in others, the sense of belonging, identification with people and places, etc.

The idea has been so innovative and so simple that attempts have been made to replicate it in other neighborhoods in the world. Social Street is the name of this model that is currently underway in the streets of Brazil, New Zealand and other cities in Europe.

In general, the impression we have of big cities is one of individualistic, hostil and, at times, anonymous places, but initiatives like Social Street are proof that cities don’t have to be like this — rather, that digital communication opens multiple possibilities to revert those ideas and reformulate how we live in metropolises.

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