Re: Cohousing Digital System
From: Henning Mortensen (hmortensengmail.com)
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2020 08:44:13 -0800 (PST)
We use a mixture of a number of web services for our community. We use
box.com for file storage, wordpress for our website, groups.io for
messaging and google calendar for scheduling. Our community was not ready
to use a full content management service like drupal. Of course, the fact
we started out using wiggio, gave our community an easy learning curve.

if we were not so lucky, and didn't have technical resources, we would
likely have struggled with integrating these services. For this reason, I
believe that the work that Gather and Mosaic are doing is important.

On Fri, Feb 14, 2020 at 10:22 AM Sharon Villines via Cohousing-L <
cohousing-l [at] cohousing.org> wrote:

> > On Feb 13, 2020, at 1:15 PM, Scott Drennan <scottd [at] pobox.com> wrote:
>
> > We use a combination of G-Suite and Wordpress for sharing information
> among
> > our membership, budgeting/accounting, expense/invoice tracking,
> marketing,
> > decision tracking&minutes, calendaring/booking, intra-community
> > communication, etc.  But I wouldn't classify either G-Suite or Wordpress
> as
> > something which is similar to Mosaic and Gather.
>
> Agreed. Drupal and Wordpress are software programs that you have to learn
> how to use to make them do what you want. There are thousands of plugins
> that can be added for specific features but you still have to understand
> them so you can troubleshoot and use them to their full advantage.
>
> Gather and Mosaic are complete programs that do everything they do without
> programing or changes. They are designed for a specific purpose and over
> time have included more and more features. But they are also complete in
> and of themselves and not all changes are possible.
>
> I favor Wordpress because in the end, it will do whatever you want it to
> do. But in my community, some of the people who wanted to work on the
> website didn’t like Wordpress — they wanted something like Mosaic or Gather
> but when the decision was made neither were developed enough for them to
> feel comfortable with them.
>
> We ended up using Association Voice for the main website for the pubic and
> private pages, storage of PDFs of minutes, policies, etc. CalendarWiz for
> our complex scheduling — we schedule 2 parking places, 2 guest rooms, 5 or
> 6 places in the CH, the piazza, the SE corner, and record who is away.
> Other things as well. The calendar is very well used and very feature rich.
> No matter what we do we would probably still use it. People doing special
> meals, etc, use Google docs for sign ups. Each one does their own.
>
> Association Voice is standard condo management software and designed
> primarily for property managers. For me it is too programmed — changes have
> to be done by Association Voice and they are limited. It isn’t as flexible
> as having your own server with unlimited memory and ability to add features.
>
> We have also had good luck with a Facebook page. I was opposed to it
> because the decision was made during the revelations about Facebook’s
> involvement with the Russians. I didn’t want to be associated, but I also
> resist anything that feels like marketing. Business cards. Regular tours.
> Etc. In the end,  it has been easy for everyone to post pictures etc.,
> share comments, etc. And for former residents to reconnect and see what is
> going on now.
>
> One of the hardest things for members who have left is leaving the
> internal email group for members only. It’s like cutting the cord. The
> world goes blank and silent — even when they complained about email all the
> time when they were here.
>
> But it really depends entirely on who is going to do the work.
>
> The person doing the main website on Association Voice loves it and spends
> a good deal of time on it. She has developed it to do many more things than
> I or other webmasters did. But I also never use it. I prefer something less
> commercial. No matter what you do to it it screeches real estate. It’s just
> the look of it. I feel like I’m living in a retirement community. Too slick
> and controlled. But that is what some members like.
>
> I’m willing to spend days and days programming wordpress to handle a wiki
> for all our buildings and grounds stuff. We have had a very successful wiki
> on Google Sites, but they kept changing their policies and doing things
> without telling us. Limiting memory. Not doing what they said they would
> do. Etc.  I spent a month studying all the wiki software and finally ended
> up using Wordpress. I designed forms so entries can be made from the
> frontend so no one has to know anything about code or being exposed to
> things they don’t want to know about. Now we will have complete control
> over everything.
>
> If I walk in front of a truck, any Wordpress expert (I use the word
> lightly) can step in if something goes wrong and can help make the next
> decisions about what to do. People in the community who know anything about
> programming have been able to step in very quickly to do this and that.
> They just do so much computer stuff all day, they don’t want to do more.
>
> Because of our experience with Google — about to lose years of information
> after having lost years of attachments at YahooGroups — I wouldn’t trust
> any service free or expensive that doesn’t give you full control over your
> information. It has to be downloadable in a format that can be uploaded
> somewhere else in another program. That is vital. Google will tell you it
> does a lot of stuff but in the end, when you really need it, they have some
> limitation they never told you about.
>
> Wix and FourSquare — simple sites that produce lovely looking websites are
> not robust enough to handle all the stuff a cohousing community will build
> up on 10-20 years. You will end up using a bit of this and bit of that. It
> can be frustrating not to have it all in one place. Speaking one language.
> And one monthly bill. (I’ve yet to figure out how much we spend on
> telecommunications because it is in so many parts of our budget.)
>
> Who is going to do the work, and how much will it cost in the end? Do you
> have complete control?
>
> Sharon
> ----
> Sharon Villines
> Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
> http://www.takomavillage.org
>
>
>
>
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