We get a lot of questions regarding what technologies we suggest for this or that. This section of our website starts to point out a variety of the online tools we have found helpful. There is no right or wrong answer. It is helpful to assess the skills and passions of those in your group. We are happy to work with Transition initiatives on a one-on-one basis with specific questions.
Next to a website, having a email list critical (maybe even more important). There are varying ways to maintain this list. The most simple is to collect names/emails (and other information) via simple paper sign-up sheets, and then have someone in your group responsible for maintaining this list using something like Gmail. A better approach would be to set up a Google Group which will allow them to sign up on line as well (and can serve as a listserv). As your list grows (along with your sophistication) we might suggest a email marketing system like Mailchimp. This will allow you to better track your outgoing messages, format them nicely, and make it easier for people to drop off the list without human intervention
A listserv is a different kind of mail list. The email list described above is really a one way communication with your community whereas a listserv allows people to send an email to the whole group at once (and allows members of the listserv to reply to the whole group if they choose). Having a firm protocol around what the listserv is to be used for is very important otherwise it can turn into a non-relevant soapbox that alienates rather than brings people together. Google Groups is a really good tool for this if you are just starting out.
Events such as films, talks, or reskilling classes are central to the Transition Model. Depending on how many events you host you may want to consider having an events calendar on your website. Each CMS has a number of "plug-ins" or "modules" that allow you to do this quite easily. If you need some recommendations please don't hesitate to contact us and we will give you some ideas based on the various groups we have worked with.
It won't be long before you will need to collect credit card payments and/or have people RSVP to an event. The online service we recommend is Eventbrite. If your event is free and you just want a mechanism for having people RSVP then there is no cost to use the Eventbrite service. They make their money by charging a fee thus eatting into your "profits" but sometimes this is well worth the price. It just depends. Brown Paper Tickets is another reputable, and more grass roots option.
Nothing could be easier that setting up a Facebook page. Facebook is proving to be an effective way to get the word out to those in your community (once you get a large enough number of people to "like" your page). Some groups start here before even creating a website. Let us know once you have set up your Facebook page and we will help let people know you are "online."
Having a website that tells your story and let's folks know what is happening in your community is critical in this day and age. The good news is that it is easier than ever to get up and running on the world wide web. With this being said, you will need someone in your community who is willing (and able) to set it up and maintain it. Believe it or not, Google Sites is a super easy and fairly robust way of setting up a website. For those who want to go the more "traditional" route here is a break down of what needs to happen to get a website up-and-running:
What about Ning?
Ning enables you to create your own social network complete with groups, chat, personal profiles, etc. When it was free it was a popular platform for Transition groups to create a quick online presence. Our experience is that for a local group who simply needs to get the word out you are best served implimenting a simple Wordpress site, avoiding all the bells and whistles built into Ning, and going out to meet people face-to-face.