Totnes Pioneers A New Community Website

 November 25th 2019

Totnes has taken the invitation to be one of 3 UK towns trailing a new kind of website this winter – a user-led not-for-profit online hub that will provide pages for all kinds of community needs under one web address.

Jenny Wellwood

The ‘www.TotnesTQ9.com‘ website is the result of a digital project called EEIO, led by John Martineau, a book publisher who knows Totnes well, having worked and raised his children here in the the 90’s. John knew Totnes would be a great place to approach in his search for adventurous towns willing to run a new website tying together chat and
discussions forums, events listings, arts, news, business, and community groups. Other participants in the ‘beta trial’ are Frome in Somerset and Stroud in Gloucestershire, with residents there signing up to launch their own EEIO, giving them their own unique participatory town website. Will every locality across the country end up with an EEIO? Possibly….

John says, “The World Wide Web has done global connection very well, but local networking has really missed out. EEIO could be a step in a great direction for bringing together local support, local sign-posting and all kinds of local life. We’ve put a local editor in charge of the introduction in each of our pilot towns, as each place using the website is different, and local people are best placed to run it! TotnesTQ9 is a ‘go-to’ hub for the town that the users moderate and publish upon themselves. Its not aimed at tourists, but residents, and gives precedence to local networking, community news, views, and ideas.

…local networking has really missed out

Jenny Wellwood is the lead editor for Totnes TQ9, and calls herself a ‘Hyperlocal enthusiast’. “I’ve had a passion for grass roots journalism and creative community action all my life, volunteering at Soundart Radio 102.5fm as a programme maker and taking part in many kinds of great community projects in and around Totnes over the years.” she says. “Recently I have grown cynical about Facebook’s moral direction, and its unscrupulous use of user data. I don’t want, for example, Facebook’s algorithms dictating what I see on Social media. And I don’t like the feeling my ‘chat’ is being scrutinized by companies keen to manipulate me with advertising. But I do want a online space to use that is safe, friendly, informative- so a new online culture, designed for locals to network, that is smart and easy to navigate, and that is collectively run in a ‘real time’, responsive, respectful way, sounds super useful and really cool to me.

TotnesTQ9 will be platforming Totnes’ ‘Totnes Pulse‘, and south Devon’s’ ‘Peoples Republic of South Devon‘ news in the News Area. Jenny says “Local journalists are writing great articles for both of these well-known and respected independent news projects– we’re collaborating with them, so our News Page offers links directly to their articles, as well as our own contributor’s news stories. We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel! The independent news writing in our area is of a really high quality – And we’re pleased to continue in those footsteps and share in, as the PRSD put it, an “ethos of communication, inclusion and participation”.

The first wave of invitations to sign up goes out to the TQ9 areas’ artists and makers late November. The website features a free-to-use gallery for local artists of all kinds to exhibit and sell their work. Jenny says “We’ve such creative talent in the area, all artists and makers can take the opportunity to share and sell their work and, we hope, enjoy the
exposure and networking the website can provide during the winter gift season.” A further and wider invitation will be on the streets and in the social media of the area in early December….

Please email jennyintotnes@gmail.com to find out more, and if you live in and around Totnes- and keep your eye out for the Invitation to join up.

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