Edinboro Neighbors FB group aims to drive community forward

Category:  News
Sunday, March 28th, 2021 at 4:41 PM

Stereotypes about technology would make you think it only exists to disconnect: the family night interrupted by lit-up phone screens; choosing to text or “DM” instead of a phone call. However, in the case of the Edinboro Neighbors Facebook group, technology has brought people together and forged relationships that may not have existed without it. It’s a community created via the digital world.

The private group, now over 6,700 members strong, helps citizens (past and present) keep up on current events, provides a space to share community stories, and can help a lost pet find their way home. You'll even find some Edinboro students posting and commenting. 

Edinboro Neighbors began in May 2019 and is led by three administrators: Melissa Lee, Daniel Wolfe and Stefanie Marshall. Marshall started the group and continues to serve in a lead role.

“I started the group because I simply saw a need for it,” she said. Marshall realized there was nowhere for members of the Edinboro community to access others if they needed to share or find valuable information. She said the group “grew exponentially when a local family couldn’t find their daughter one evening and the community was desperate to come together for her sake.” Members assisted in finding the missing girl, and the group began growing even further from there, with the main goal remaining intact: “to connect the Edinboro community for positive benefit,” said Lee.

As the group expanded, the administrators and members established what the page would be used for. Right now, you’ll find posts for local business and service recommendations, community events, charitable causes, lost and found pets, discussion on the college and community, and photos around town. “I think it has helped to put a face on our neighbors,” explained Marshall.

The leaders moderate the community by “independently approving individuals and posts based on our shared knowledge of our rules for the page,” said Lee. Marshall added, “The group allows any post that is positive and will drive the community forward” and that “The rules do not allow for any bashing of community businesses or other neighbors.” Instead, according to her, “people are encouraged to settle issues directly with those involved.”

According to the group rules, you also cannot buy or sell personal items (aka, use the group as classified advertisements), there is no political lobbying allowed, the group isn’t a form of community debate, and you cannot use memes or gifs “to comment on posts.”

More recently, and because of COVID-19 mitigations, the group has become a hub for local business updates. With the pandemic greatly affecting family-owned and small-scale companies, restaurants like Edinboro Hotel Bar, Bambino's Hometown Pizzeria in Cambridge Springs, and other establishments have been posting food specials and were communicating take-out information when in-person dining wasn’t allowed.

Posts can also take on a more urgent tone. An incident at Edinboro University’s Baron-Forness Library, tied to a suspicious person, has kept the community on edge during the last few weeks. The group became a source for relaying information about the different developments and police response to the situation. And as more information is awaited, Edinboro Neighbors has done what they do best: keep the community informed.

The 16412 zip code aren’t the only participants, either. “Some members of the group do not even live locally anymore, but it helps them to stay connected to our wonderful town,” said Marshall. “I think that says a lot about the people who live here.”

For more information about the group, or to join, search “Edinboro Neighbors” on Facebook.

Julia Petrovich is the Arts Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com.

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