Work began this week on building the first version of Northwest Navy News. Expect to see the site make its debut sometime in the next few weeks.

I’m working with Greg Bear and his team at Bear Ideas, a Web development firm in Seattle that specializes in the open-source content management system called Drupal. This platform allows for quick development because it already has so many features common to community sites and blogs.

For the first incarnation of Northwest Navy News, I’m focusing on pages with resources for families being stationed at each of the four Navy base locations in the Puget Sound area. The site also will have topic pages on family issues, education and housing, as well as blog-like news posts, forums and basic user profiles.

I’m setting the groundwork to compile a searchable database of businesses offering military discounts. Companies will be able to use a form to add their information. Down the road I expect to offer enhanced listings, with a coupon or detailed message, for a fee—the first idea for how the site might support itself.

While the Bear Ideas team does its work with the code, I’m looking for ways to develop more content and starting to get the word out about the project. I’m using Twitter to post links and information, as well as to connect with Navy and Coast Guard families.

The timing of all this feels fortuitous. In the last year, the military began embracing social media and networking like never before.

The Pentagon launched its own version of YouTube called TroopTube. The Navy surveyed 15,000 sailors on how they use technology, including social networking. And most, if not all, branches created official blogs and policies about social media.

Complex issues of control are still involved when you talk about the military and any form of media, but I’m hopeful that the environment is right for a site like Northwest Navy News.