Mark Joeckel lives in Arlington — and is so proud of it that he launched a social media movement four years ago to make sure everyone else in town is proud of it, too.
Now, Arlington Proud has grown into a nonprofit community group with a board of directors, some high-visibility public projects and an online presence across seven social-media platforms. Joeckel is its executive director.
Arlington Proud has also turned into a business model for Joeckel that has him online teaching others how to use social media campaigns and find funding sources for public projects.
“I started Arlington Proud in 2010 when I got fed up with hearing negative stuff about Arlington,” said Joeckel, a 1982 graduate of Arlington High School who moved here in second grade. “I started the Facebook page with nothing in mind but posting about the positive stuff I come across from the great life I live day today in Arlington.”
A former Lutheran pastor, urban missionary, record and video producer, commercial real estate executive and advertising sales director, Joeckel soon saw civic and career opportunities in promoting Arlington.
“About a year into it is when I started having to be involved more and more in social media workwise,” he said. He began to envision Arlington Proud as a movement fueled by social media, and soon “it was off to the races, so to speak.”
Now, Joeckel said, there are about 40,000 people weekly interacting, commenting, liking and tweeting on social media about Arlington.
Arlington Proud posts appear on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Rebel Mouse, Google Plus and Snapchat. The messages are customized for each platform’s target audience. Arlington Proud also has a website.
It has sponsored concerts at the Levitt Pavilion and spearheaded the recent creation of the Park Plaza murals in east Arlington.
“It’s a really young following, too,” said the 50-year-old father of three. “What’s really happened is it’s developing new leaders for the city. The majority are millennials between 24 and 44 years old.”
Joeckel’s group has identified a list of “Proud priorities” including safe neighborhoods with sidewalks and well-lit streets; school options; short commutes; and nearby medical care, parks, libraries, grocery stores, locally owned restaurants, and cultural and performing arts.
Joeckel said he creates most of the Arlington Proud content and can manage it all from his phone, but interaction shapes the conversation.
“A lot of things come up from just being active around town,” he said.
Community branding meets business
Joeckel’s business aspect of Arlington Proud is new. It will support Arlington Proud with its individual and business membership dues and online marketing fees.
Arlington, Texas — Proud to Call It Home provides online marketing training for small businesses, community organizing for economic redevelopment, small-business startups and neighborhood building through social media.
Arlington Proud is a nonprofit organization and does not receive funding from the city or county.
“It’s a new approach. We’ll be funding what it costs to do this type of work through working with local businesses,” Joeckel said. “This is our first month of holding specific training events. Businesses will be able to join Arlington Proud as Proud Partners.”
Proud Partners membership costs begin at $10 a year for high school and college students and go up to $200 for small businesses with 11 or more employees.
Joeckel said his economic redevelopment strategy for Arlington is based on good schools, great parks and “those things that make a modern community more and more of an old-school neighborhood.” Millennials like many of the city’s attributes such as midcentury homes, community diversity and neighborhoods with their own unique stories, he said.
“Whoever can attract the millennials in the next five years,” Joeckel said, “is going to be the economic juggernaut for the next 25 years.”
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Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins