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The FIC website has a wealth of features that can help communities connect with each other and with other interested parties. Key features include the Online Communities Directory, Events Calendar, Classified Ads, and REACHBook.
Many of these features have not been used much by ICs and LRC organizations. Some users should benefit from coaching on how to using the resources more effectively. There is a lot of opportunity to grow the movement by helping existing organizations reach more people with information about a community, a community event, available homes/spaces within a community, etc. When to best use REACHBook, Events Calendar, and a Classified Ad is somewhat confusing - and there are some suggestions below.
This focuses on how an LRC might make use of the FIC Website features to:
- Help an IC use the features to help that community
- Use the features for local or regional networking
The FIC Communities Directory (directory.ic.org) is a very heavily used resource, with almost 20,000 people visiting the site every month. It is the best maintained publically accessible Intentional Communities database on the web and has been a valuable tool for people looking for communities for many different reasons.
Community Directory: Helping an IC
It would be helpful to dialog about how an LRC might really work the directory effectively. Ideally, each LRC would have some print resources that make it easy to see the current directory status of a community which they encounter. Today, you meet somebody who belongs to a community and they often don't know whether or not they are listed in the directory or its current status.
Getting a New Listing
Try to get every current and forming IC into the online Communities Directory. The online directory has well-written, clear instructions on how to enter a new community on the Directory homepage. A good practice when you encouter a community that you are not familiar with is to check to see if the IC is already in the directory. If not, suggest that they get a listing.
In conjunction with the FIC Art of Community Event, we are considering a Directory Drive, a campaign designed to make the directory more comprehensive for the NW region. This would seem to be a useful exercise for any local or regional group.
Updating an IC Listing
Many communities allow their listing in the Communities Directory to fall way out-of-date. It serves everybody's interests better if the information is current. A good practice is to encourage communities to keep their listings up to date. The real key is talking with people in the communities. Ask them about their listings and whether the information is current.
Improving an IC Listing
There are many IC listings in the directory with little useful information. You can help encourage communities to upgrade or improve their listing. As an LRC, you can adopt a coaching role with respect to upgrading directory listings for the communities in your region. You might want to carefully review the existing listings in your region and send communities emails.
Removing an IC Listing
What happens when we discover listings that are obsolete? The presence of obsolete listings lowers the value of the directory as people end up wasting time looking at useless listings.
Geoph: I've talked with Tony about this, and requested that we keep a dbase of defunct ICs that is somehow linked to the active ICs dbase. Tony was open to the idea, however he was not in a position to make it a priority. I think it's an incredibly valuable feature, and i would urge us to find a way to get it added to the site (though not necessarily by Tony).
Community Directory: Use for Networking
Is there a use for the Community Directory for inclusion of Community Networks? An older version of the print directory had a Community Resources section, which included a broad range of community-related organizations and groups.
Geoph: As with the "defunct ICs" list discussed above, this is also an important feature. I would think that these days the best way to pursue it would be to make sure LRCs know how to find, sort, and print the info from the online Directory.
Should there be Directory listings for LRC Organizations?
Today, in addition to listings for Intentional Communities, there are listings for Community Networks, like Category:Regional Community Networks found within the Communities Directory.
This is confusing, as the community networks appear to be actual ICs, rather than an association of ICs. If included, these Networks end up being counted as communities in tallies, etc.
Does FIC have policy for this? If its cool to include these, then should LRCs seek to get the other IC-specific Community Networks listed? If not, then should we find better ways to connect people to them?
Geoph: This is another feature that the online Directory should have ... a list of networks that is parallel to (and searchable with?) the IC database.
Like the Directory, the REACHBook exists in print (in the back of Communities magazine) and online, here: reach.ic.org.
REACHBook: Helping an IC
The REACHBook is a free way for an IC to reach out to the many people interested in what's happening in the IC movement. A few thousand people visit the reach book every month and listings that are posted here will be seen by many.
One community in particular, SunToads, has been placing a REACHBook listing every two weeks for many months (see Repetitive Entries by SunToads). This degrades the value of the resource. It is understandable that SunToads is doing this, as it keeps their invitations relatively prominent and fresh, instead of them aging into obscurity.
REACHBook: Use for Networking
On 12/27, Craig Ragland placed an invitation to join tribe.net onto REACHBook and a number of people have now joined that networking tool and entered into dialog around Intentional Community. Craig has also made other postings there and received no responses whatsoever. It seems to serve as a forum for people to express themselves, but since there is no mechanism for dialog other than via email or phone, its unclear how effective this space is for its users.
Events Calendar: Helping an IC
Today, relatively few community events are posted on the FIC Events Calendar. Browsing community web sites reveals that they run many events which are not posted into the FIC Events Calendar. As an LRC, you help educate communities about ways to use the FIC Event Calnedar to post community events.
Events Calendar: Use for Local or Regional Networking
LRCs are strongly encouraged to post all community-related events on the Events Calender. Its very easy. If you have recurring meetings, you can just change the date for older events.
Community Classifieds: Helping an IC
Unlike the other types of listings described here, Community Classified ads actually generate income for the FIC.