Member post: Social Media, Politics and Citizen Engagement

All politics are local, certainly according to AE member Bob Sprague of, Arlington’s very own online local newspaper. People are becoming more involved in everything from Arlington school issues to national politics. We still have a way to go in terms of engagement at the most local level (did you know there was an election in Arlington just recently?), but social media may a factor that helps encourage more households to participate.

Here’s Bob’s Article from YourArlington:

Rise of local social media driving politics

UPDATED, March 30: In last June’s successful public vote to support three large school efforts, a driving force behind the trifecta was a parent Facebook site.

Social-media artwork.

Now, as the town crawls toward an expected low-turnout Election Day on April 1, social media has expanded the possibilities to inform voters.

Last year’s force — the Arlington School Enrollment Community Group — remains strong, this year providing a fresh platform for Those Who Are Forgotten; that is, candidates for Town Meeting, both those seeking reelection as well as those pushing to be write-ins.

That group, which is nonpartisan, took the valuable step of asking Town Meeting members to submit statements about who they are and where they stand on issues relevant to articles to be discussed starting April 24. Read those statements here >> 

Ballot boost

The group, which has 1,271 members, was initially formed in December 2015 in response to what then seen as an enrollment crisis in Arlington. It provided a landing place for parents and others to express ideas about how to move forward. Idle chatter tended toward a minimum.

Data-rich reports from enrollment subcommittees and full School Committee sessions helped galvanize the group as the town moved to last June’s ballot questions.

Since summer, Arlington’s online communities have widened, as new Facebook groups have cropped up.


Of course, the Arlington Email List is the old-timer of local social media, having begun in 1997. Now it has more than 6,000 members. Its usual political dust clouds rise and fall, though as recently as March 29 a post provided evidence that politics is alive and well outside of Town Hall:

“One of the more hotly contested Town Meeting races is taking place in Precinct 15, pitting four progressive candidates against four who are anything but. If you live in Precinct 15, I urge you to vote for Edward Starr, Naomi Greenfield, Beth Ann Friedman, and Rachelle Dobbs for Town Meeting on April 1.

“Their four opponents have lined up in opposition to the Trust Act / Sanctuary Resolution among other progressive causes like funding public schools and alternative energy.”

The post does not say who the “anything but” are. For that, you have to go to Precinct 15 Progressives, an email group that shares their names.

Read the rest of Bob Sprague’s article here.

Did you know you could add your blog feed to your profile page on Arlington Entrepreneurs? That way your connections can read your latest posts. AE will also be posting (or re-posting) community news on an occasional basis.

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