Wissahickon may be a small neighborhood, but it still lies within a big city. One resident attempted to rid his block of that urban anonymity by founding a Facebook group for his community.
Jon Paul Miller, a local Realtor, rented in Wissahickon for several years before buying a home on Righter Street earlier in 2012 with his wife, Sara. He felt comfortable with the area but also a little isolated.
"When I first moved here I wanted to look around for a neighborhood association and I found Wissahickon Neighbors, but learned they don't cover our area. I didn't realize that WICA (Wissahickon Interested Citizens Association) existed," he said.
After talking with the civic and in an effort to increase the neighborhood's web presence, Miller launched a Facebook group for Wissahickon.
"I think it's a way to meet neighbors face-to-face and build the community so it's more open," he said.
Miller intends to post community news, information about local events, and also create a discussion platform for Wissahickon.
The group debuted slow at first, but Miller took out a Facebook ad and increased the likes on the page. As of Thursday, 107 people joined the group.
At the Thursday Oct. 10 WICA meeting, Miller shared that he created the group and neighbors were interested in this being the first in several steps to get Wissahickon where they want it to be.
One area of conversation the Facebook group spurred on was ideas on how to bring in better businesses—perhaps a coffee shop, bar or restaurant—to Wissahickon.
Miller said he thought the page could poll users on what they want and turn the information over to businesses.
"If we put the word out—'Hey, there's enough people here who want to have a coffee shop'—then put the idea out to the community, maybe someone knows someone, and bring it to a meeting," he said.
The Facebook group can really start a grassroots initiative for Wissahickon.
"Just some random coffee shop becomes Sara's Coffee Shop. We're excited about it, because we know her and feedback from the neighborhood already is positive," he said.
Additionally, Miller launched a private group where people can plan without the whole world seeing it. That could be more of a forum.
No matter what, Miller sees the online presence as a way to make real-world engagement more friendly.
"There can be a feel of a small-town neighborhood. Enough so that when you're out walking the dog, people can say 'hi,'" he said.
Editor's note: An earlier version incorrectly stated the type of ad Miller took out and has since been corrected.