Mayor Scott Avedisian announced yesterday the launch of a new city website designed to showcase the best Warwick has to offer, determined by Warwick’s residents.
OurWarwick.com is a new site sponsored by the city that allows people to post names, locations and personal stories of the places and events that make Warwick so special.
“It’s not for us to say what’s important. Let them say what’s important about their neighborhoods,” said Avedisian.
Although the site was empty of posts yesterday afternoon, the vision is to have it filled with all of the best places and events that make Warwick unique.
Bob Martin, the city’s e-government specialist, is in charge of maintaining the site. He explained that right now there are only four categories to post in: Our Places, Our Events, Our Memories and Our Warwick Map. Martin explained that as more and more posts come in, they will be able to create individual pages for each of the city’s villages and move the posts to more specialized pages within the site, showcasing the best restaurants, shops and events in each area of the city.
“We are going to morph the site,” explained Martin, giving the example of the Our Places or Our Memories tab getting a special Rocky Point section if a large number of people post memories and stories about that particular location. “So it doesn’t turn into one giant page of responses [to one post].”
The idea behind the site is that it will become a resource for residents and visitors to the city to find the best places to go in each of the city’s villages, as told by the people who live there.
“What better than to hear from local residents what’s a good place to eat or a good place to visit,” said Karen Jedsen, director of Warwick Tourism, Culture and Development.
The site also provides an opportunity for people to share their stories and memories from the different areas to create an online history of the city from the residents’ perspective.
“It’s an opportunity for people to write the history of their own neighborhood,” said Avedisian, who came up with this idea almost 30 years ago when meeting with people from the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress has been promoting the idea of cities working to create localized history by telling stories about neighborhoods with the American Folklife Center. According to their website, the Center’s goal is to “preserve and present American folklife through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications and training.
According to Avedisian, about nine years ago the city participated in a project where students interviewed veterans and sent the tapes to the Library of Congress. He is hopeful he will be able to link this project to the Center at the Library of Congress.
The Our Warwick site also mirrors the site Places Matter, which was created by the organization City Lore to preserve the history of New York City.
Martin also explained the Our Warwick Map feature of the site, which incorporates Google Maps. “It’s looking at things, as more sights and stories come in, looking at those stories geographically,” said Martin.
All of the places mentioned will be marked on a digital map on the site. This way, visitors will be able to visually picture where these different sites are in relation to each other. Martin used the example of someone saying their favorite building to see is City Hall and someone else saying The Remington House has great food; visitors to the site will be able to see that those two locations are close to one another.
“On that map, you can see the vicinity and see what other recommendations are around your recommendation,” said Martin.
The site even features a link to the blog of Nate Greene, the brainchild of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Development. Nate Greene is the fictional descendent of Nathanael Greene who writes a blog about all of the exciting events and places in Warwick.
The site also links to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Development’s Facebook and Twitter in the hopes of promoting the city even more.
Logging on to the site today, it is truly a blank canvas and it is up to the city’s residents to fill it up.
“It’s going to be completely user-driven,” said Martin.
Each of the current four pages has the option to “nominate” a favorite place, event or memory. Once someone fills out the electronic form with their name, suggestion and reason why the place or event is one of Warwick’s best and hits submit, it is sent to Martin to post in the appropriate location. Martin said the goal is to have the post appear within 48 hours, but it would usually be faster than that.
“Generally, we are trying to have them up within one to three days, because of weekends or our schedule here,” said Martin.
For the launch of the site, the city is also reaching out to neighborhood groups, faith groups and civic organizations to promote the site and submit their recommendations.
Check out this newest city by logging on to www.OurWarwick.com.