Locally Grown contributors Tracy Davis and Griff Wigley were among the co-founders of Northfield Citizens Online (NCO) / Northfield.org.
NCO was born at an Utne Reader Neighborhood Salon at Griff’s house in December of 1991. The discussion questions for the evening: What’s the likely impact of the Internet on local community? How can it be used to strengthen a geographic community rather than undermining it like other electronic media tend to do?
A group began meeting a year or so later and eventually set up a BBS called the Northfield Free-Net, which started operation in 1994 before changing over to a web site (using the domain nco.northfield.mn.us ) in late 1994/early 1995. The NCO Web Cafe (web message board) was added in late 1995.
For more history, see this Nov. 16, 2011 article on Northfield.org by Marika Christofides titled Happy Anniversary, Northfield.org.
NCO was formed as a 501c3 non-profit in 1994 with the help of the Northfield Community Action Center. The Northfield.org domain name was secured in March of 2000 (it was originally registered and used by the Northfield News for their website) and the site was converted to a blog in 2003.
From 1996 through 2004, Griff was moderator for the online discussion areas and Community Issue Forums that were hosted on various Northfield.org discussion platforms. He also was instrumental in launching the Northfield Blogosphere project and the aggregation service that it still performs.
Northfield News articles:
- A week in the life of NCO: Strengthening Northfield’s civic fabric via the Internet (column by Griff Wigley, September, 1999)
- High-tech Bridge Square (article by Rachel Vogt, Northfield News Staff Writer, Summer 1998, Roads to Progress Edition