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Metro Jacksonville Gives a Voice to the Community for Continued Urban Growth

By Elisha Neubauer

Metro Jacksonville is more than just a public forum. It is a community resource, where discussion is encouraged, issues are confronted, and people are educated. Launched in 2006, the website has grown exponentially- reaching all urban areas of the Jacksonville community and lending a platform for metropolitan concerns and issues, with a daily feed of news, updates, and content.

"We fell into the role of community forum quite naturally," said Stephen Dare, Co-Publisher of the site. Dare explained that, at the time, there were a limited number of sponsored community meetings in the area. They were either through private organizations or city institutions and would hold meetings on community issues. However, these meetings were currently operated during business hours, when the most pressing speakers regarding the issues were unavailable due to prior conflicts and responsibilities.

"It drastically limited the amount of informed commentary and group problem solving that could be done in community work," Dare stated.

When Metro Jacksonville launched, it immediately caught people's attention. "The forums suddenly created a space where a professional or an impassioned person could speak in greater detail and thresh out ideas and issues no matter what their schedule or availability was," he explained. "This dramatically changed the ground game for community input, and because we had rules of civility in place (to prevent it from becoming a public cesspool) and many experts in various fields, we were a few years ahead of the rest of the media and/or government public outreach groups."

Operating with no private agenda and keeping free of propositions and oppositions, the site quickly garnered a reputation for fairness, equality, and diverse discussion. "A lot of community issues got parsed through as a result of it," Dare said.

While the forums are great for confronting widely-known public issues, the site also focuses on businesses within the community, offering recommendations and spotlights on homegrown institutions. "The types of business that we normally recommend represent good planning, great end user experiences, and things that bring technology, historic sensitivity or street vibrancy to the city," Dare told us. "For small businesses, we generally recommend places that are either local and representative of the things that are uniquely Jacksonville or new but exciting and forward thinking."

In addition to businesses, they really champion for the historic districts, ensuring that Jacksonville's gems are seen by tourists and locals alike. "We have relentlessly spotlighted the bizarre and wonderful historic sites in the city, many of which are obscure to present day residents," boasted Dare. "Businesses that we championed would include all the new shops along King Street and Murray Hill, Kickbacks, the Avondale Mellow Mushroom, Bold Bean Coffee, The French Pantry, 220 Riverside, Brew Coffee House, Healthy Town, TEDx Jacksonville, the Public Policy Institute at Jacksonville University, Laura Street, Hemming Park, and the Northbank Riverwalk."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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