Alumnus creates Boone Community Network, social media site for Boone

Stephanie Sansoucy

Appalachian State University alumnus Rio Tazewell launched the Boone Community Network, a social networking site dedicated specifically to the Boone area, on Aug. 18.

Tazewell said the site is composed of four parts. The booniverse, mediascape, marketplace and a calendar.

Booniverse is similar to a hashtag, where users can label and discover things they identify with.
Mediascape is a component that lets users upload pictures and videos publically and is connected with the marketplace, which uses the same functionality as Craigslist, Tazewell said.

Users can also create an event and share it with the community by using the calendar feature of the site.

“I wanted to do something that would help organize the community in a more comprehensive way so that people could become more aware of what’s happening in Boone and what’s happening on campus,” Tazewell said.

About a year ago, Tazewell had weekly discussion groups with friends, Appalachian graduates and business owners at his house to share ideas on how they could use their diverse skill sets to create a more connected community.

The idea of a social network was created a few months later during a conversation between Tazewell and his friend. As a result, Tazewell started brainstorming for certain features and functions that he would want to be included on the site, he said.

Tazewell said he believed that Boone was an ideal city to launch this network because it is a small town with a big population and lots of room for collaboration among local businesses and clubs.

“What better place to test an idea like this than Boone, that is relatively small but still has a relatively large amount of businesses and people doing stuff that is also contributed a lot by the university,” Tazewell said.

Lacy Morrow, a senior computer science major and a freelance web developer, was hired by Tazewell to create the Boone Community Network site.

“It’s probably the second or third most difficult site I’ve ever had to do,” Morrow said, “It has tons of features that was necessary in order to launch the site.”

Tazewell said he was able to finance his social media venture with the insurance money he collected two years ago, when he got caught in a house fire and had to jump off the roof of the third floor, leaving him in critical condition.

Not only did he make a full recovery, but he was able to pay Morrow and launch his company.  
Tazewell also hired Judith Bernholc, junior advertising major, as an intern in order to help with event coordinating.

“We’re still trying to get the word out, but I think it would be especially great for freshmen so they can see the potential in the college and outside in the community,” Bernholc said.
Tazewell said he sees potential for collaboration and synergy with the site.

“We want people in Boone and students to use it to promote what they’re doing, use it to discover what’s available to them in the community and get more connected with what’s in Boone,” Tazewell said.

Tazewell said there is no other comprehensive local social media network that does everything that the Boone Community Network is capable of doing.

“I would like the Boone Community Network to be used as a template to be replicated other places and set up other social networks elsewhere,” Tazewell said. “So I’m looking at going into Asheville next and then from there, who knows.”

Students and the community can visit the website at boonecommunitynetwork.com.

Story: MICHELLE PIERCE, Intern News Reporter