Neighborhood Bulletin Boards

We are experimenting with neighborhood bulletin boards that display local news and community information, sourced from student, local and city-wide publications. These digital screens in high foot traffic areas will bring community news to public spaces.

How we started

In summer 2022, Julia walked by one of those old green news racks in her neighborhood. She looked at it and thought, "Wow, this is outdated. It would be cool if it was modernized and digitized." The next week she walked by and it was gone! What just happened?

Julia couldn't find any information about the sudden disappearance, so she decided to do some digging herself. She broke the story about the news racks disappearing, which she published in Mission Local.

After doing the research for that story, Julia was even more convinced that having a modern and digital version of the news racks would help people in San Francisco engage with their communities. And that's how digital neighborhood bulletin boards were born.

The vision

Our vision is strengthening democracy by creating a physical presence for community news and civic engagement. We will install digital screens in high foot traffic areas of San Francisco, with priority to low-income neighborhoods.

The screens will show a variety of content that is hyper-local and relevant, and will draw from student, neighborhood, and city publications. Based on the feedback we're hearing so far in Neighborhood Feedback Days, people want to see these types of content: local news, upcoming local events, community resources, local cats and dogs, art from local student and professional artists, and games.

We are thinking through how interactive the screens will be. In our prototype, we use QR codes for people to read more about what they're seeing. We've also heard the desire for a text-based way to interact with the screen, i.e. sending a text message to answer a question on the screen.

Phases of work

The short version of our proposal is this:

Cardboard prototype Test and iterate Digital prototype Test and iterate Get city approvals 6-12 month pilot Get city approvals City-wide expansion

Building a prototype

We built our first cardboard prototype from arts and crafts supplies that Julia had at home. 

Neighborhood Feedback Days

Neighborhood Feedback Days are the way we "test and iterate" our work. We bring our cardboard prototype to different neighborhoods across San Francisco and we get direct feedback from people who live, work, and go to school there.

We held our inaugural Neighborhood Feedback Day in November 2022 in District 7 (West Portal). In January 2023 we did one in District 4 (at Lincoln High School). We held a Bayview Neighborhood Feedback Day in April 2023 in District 10.

Community partners

Partnerships are key to the success of this project. Community partners co-design the bulletin boards with us, provide feedback on what is most engaging and helpful to their communities, guide what content is displayed, and help us select locations for where to put them. We are always open to connecting with more individuals and organizations in San Francisco who'd like to join this effort.