Re: Looking for folks to have a community technology conversation with
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 06:39:50 -0800 (PST)
On Dec 21, 2012, at 7:38 AM, Tim Hunter <cohousingl [at]> wrote:

> 1. Scheduling common resources such as the guest rooms, the media room, the 
> project room, etc.
> 2. Calendar of events (both update and read)

This is our major use of online resources, other than email and a place to 
store policies.

> 3. Laundry machine status (we have a common laundry and it would be nice to 
> know if a machine is free)

My hunch is that people would not do this and it wouldn't be too trustworthy 
unless they scheduled in advance, for example, every Tuesday at 8:00. It might 
be too much like checking a time clock.

> 4. A "trouble ticket" system for tracking infrastructure problems that need 
> to be addressed. For example, a window is broken.

We have a person who tracks these so we just email her. She is very efficient 
and she also walks the property once a month to check things. Without her, 
having it online would be nice.

> 5. Statement of each member's account.

We use a management company for this so it wouldn't be possible. I think they 
may have it online. They are a new company so I haven't checked into it.

> The other thing I've had on my mind is how to get buy-in from everybody. Some 
> of our older members are very reluctant to look for files in our Yahoo! 
> Groups files area.

The reason I started putting more and more on the website is because the 
YahooGroups site is so hard for people to use and so inflexibly organized. 
Wordpress allows me to organize things a million ways and indexes the material 
automatically so people can find it.

> Partly this is because of usability issues, partly because they're just not 
> used to using a computer. (We still have one member who has not joined our 
> mailing list even with considerable hand-holding.) However, it will be a 
> problem if some members refuse to use an online reservation system to reserve 
> a guest room. I'd be interested in hearing how other communities handle this 
> problem.

When we moved in we put a computer in the office so no one would have an excuse 
not to use the computer. In 2000 a goodly number had no computer access at 
home. Only one or two had no access at all. If people didn't want to use the 
computer, they had to find a buddy who would be their "reader" and poster. 

We established one members-only email list to be the main communications 
channel. One person refused to join but we were clear that she had to keep 
herself informed. Now a few people don't read it and are a constant problem 
because they are uninformed. For some it has become a sort of adolescent 
bravura to say they can't be bothered with email but I find that when I post 
something they don't like they instantly respond.

For years, I did all the work with YahooGroups for many people who were not 
patient enough to figure out how to set up a new list or change their settings, 
but that has almost died out. Either people aren't changing so much or they 
have learned what to do. The stable free email accounts have actually helped 
stabilize email. People used to use various work addresses and free addresses 
by providers that went bust. And we have addresses available.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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