Meet the creator of Eagle County Classifieds
Jose Holguin avoided social media before using it to drive positive change in the community
If you live in Eagle County and are on Facebook, you are likely a part of Eagle County Classifieds. And if you’re a part of Eagle County Classifieds, then you’ve maybe heard of Jose Holguin.
The 32-year-old Avon resident and local business owner has lived in the Vail Valley for over 20 years and has long looked for a way to make a positive change in the community. He eventually found that opportunity in a place he least expected.
“I was actually reluctant to join social media for a long time,” Holguin said recently over a cup of coffee at Loaded Joe’s in Avon. “There can be a lot of negativity on social media, and I decided to stay away from it.”
Social media “wasn’t a thing” for Holguin until a friend told him about how one Facebook group in Phoenix was making a huge difference in its community. Shortly after, in 2015, he joined Facebook and created Eagle County Classifieds.
It took some research to see what similar groups were doing right or wrong. Holguin, with a little guidance from his sister and brother-in-law, then created the framework for what is now one of Eagle County’s most popular forums for public discussion.
More conversation, less classifieds
According to Holguin, creating a classifieds group was a first step toward the bigger goal of generating public discussion.
“The discussion was actually my main point in starting Eagle County Classifieds, but I knew that if we didn’t have the sales then we wouldn’t get to where we are now,” Holguin said.
What types of discussions did Holguin want to take place, exactly?
Holguin recalls a time where the Facebook group helped a person recover a lost GoPro camera that contained sentimental photos. He also mentions letting incoming residents join the group early, so they can start the housing search well before arriving in Eagle County.
Productive discussions that present solutions to everyday problems in our community — this is what Holguin had in mind for Eagle County Classifieds. And for the many that take place, there are occasionally less-desirable interactions that he endures as the administrator of a Facebook group.
As Eagle County Classifieds grew to over 25,000 members, Holguin has grown well aware of the responsibility that comes with managing such a valuable community resource.
“I have to check my phone every few minutes, really,” he said.
While most members are well-behaved, Holguin says, trolls linger.
“There aren’t a lot of trolls but it’s just that they’re so vocal and on every single post, putting a negative vibe on the whole group. That 10 percent is always the loudest. That 10 percent is always going to be on my case, sending me private messages and all that stuff,” Holguin said.
Holguin also gets plenty of private messages from members annoyed with the trolling, though the validity of complaints can vary at times.
“You guys deal with the same stuff that we deal with,” Holguin joked.
The challenges of citizen journalism
Another challenge for Holguin is curbing the spread of rumors in a fast-paced, crowdsourced information mill.
“Things can happen fast, and if it’s something we have to know, it can be shared on the group right away. But there has to be a balance between what we should be sharing and not,” Holguin said.
“We’re there to moderate as best as we can without deleting things that people should be aware of, but there are things that we can’t verify ourselves because we’re not journalists; we’re just providing a venue for them to share. We don’t know if what they’re saying is actually true or not.”
Unverified and untrue are two different things, and it’s not all hearsay on Eagle County Classifieds. Vail Daily journalists frequent Eagle County Classifieds for story tips and ideas; Holguin takes pride in that.
“It’s great because on Eagle County Classifieds, people will comment but they won’t go in-depth. Vail Daily sits down with whoever it is that the story is about, and they will go in-depth about what happened and then it becomes a good story that we can share back to Eagle County Classifieds.”
Well worth it
He might have to check his phone a little more often, but Holguin does not feel at all burdened by the responsibility that comes with Eagle County Classifieds’ popularity.
“I don’t think running Eagle County Classifieds is hard at all,” Holguin said, as he finished off his coffee. “If you’re going take everything to heart and have an emotional response every time something happens, I don’t think you’re cut out for this kind of work.”
Holguin’s enthusiasm for helping the community is unwavering, and he can’t wait for his group to evolve into an even bigger engine of change.
“It would be great if we could organize a highway cleanup for Eagle County Classifieds. I bet I could get a lot of people together for a 10-mile stretch,” Holguin said.
“Let’s get something together and let’s do it big.”
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