Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Well, the time has come. I must bow out of BLF.

It's been five years since BLF started, and it has grown into a vibrant community of great service to the people of Brisbane and to people searching for information on the internet.

I am very pleased and proud.

It has been almost three years since I moved to country Victoria, and I feel I must now retire from the site. I am not exactly a Brisbane local anymore ;)

This leaves us all with several options.

If you wish to be considered to take over as creator of the network, or as an administrator (job descriptions below) in order to keep the site running, then please message me.

Otherwise, I will shut the site down at the end of June. If you wish to keep your content you will need to copy/ archive it manually I'm afraid :(

Ning requires a subscription fee to host our content, so I'm afraid we can't just leave it on the internet. 

Job descriptions as follows:

NETWORK CREATOR

* personal credit is card is billed monthly for ning subscription fee. Currently it's $25 per month, or $300 p.a., but it's about to go up to $49 per month i.e. $600 per year (with a lot more features like apps and facebook integration and phone support apparently)

* creates an adsense account to generate revenue. FY 11-12 earnings $442. So far, since I put more ads on this year, current FY earnings are $612. Google ad money is paid every few months when the amount reaches $150 or more. I've received almost $400 so far and gave $150 to the new farm house community garden and paid $40 for some fairly dud BLF badges from the internet :)

* create a google analytics account (optional?) to view traffic statistics

* approve new members

* check posts, moderate content for appropriate content and tone

* be available by email, preferably via smartphone, to act on inappropriate content asap (i.e. ban offending members and delete their content)

* design network appearance, choose elements

* send out notifications - e.g. events and selected discussions

* feature photos and discussion

* add tag words to content

* close off and unfeature old content

* create a brisbane local food facebook page and post selected links to it

ADMINISTRATORS

* approve new members

* check posts, moderate content for appropriate content and tone

* send out notifications - e.g. events and selected discussions

* feature photos and discussion

* add tag words to content

* close off and unfeature old content

*******

Note I have been donating any additional revenue to local food gardens and businesses in Brisbane but with the new fee structure, I foresee minimal funds left over.

The creator (and administrators) needs to check the network at least twice a week, preferably at least every 48 hours. 

I have intervened (deleting content and contacting members as appropriate) as a moderator, on 5 occasions in 5 years where I felt discussions were overly negative, or contained content I deemed inappropriate (swearing, and links to an offsite profile detailing sexual preferences). Some members join explicitly to send spam, and when these bogus members get through it is necessary to delete them. You get better at spotting them before you approve them, but there are still several per year - maybe 15 per year?

From April 6th 2012 - April 7th 2013,  115, 000 unique visitors have visited BLF, from all over the world. In the last month, there have been 12, 000 unique visitors and 16, 000 visitors altogether. 35% are returning visitors. Most arrive by search engines, some directly, and some from links on other websites. There seem to be about 5, 000 regular (returning) visitors per month - circa 300 to 600 per day.

I will cede direction, flavour etc entirely to whoever takes it over. 

Personally, I see BLF as a community service, a change catalyst, a knowledge exchange repository, an empowerment and resilience tool. I see the creator role as a facilitator, not a preacher. Although I have considered spamming you all with my 'world according to scarlett' views on the way out, heh heh. Okay, I won't ;)

If you would be interested in either of these roles please let me know - otherwise please consider saving your favourite blogs/ photos/info before they disappear on the 1st July 2013.

Without a new creator, the network will have to close down. Administrators can help share the workload re approving new members etc.

If I can share one observation here -I believe that in any community endeavour, it is the key people and the governance arrangements which are the most important for longevity. You can make a garden on any site, but you must have the gardeners. The best land in the world will lie fallow without the people who want to tend it. That's how we got things happening in Cuba - we found the key, capable, motivated  people and built what they wanted and needed. Same for community gardens. And unfortunately, my failure to attend to succession arrangements is what brings us to this pass now :(

I would like to say a huge thankyou to the biggest contributors to the site - especially Lissa, Elaine, Andrew, Donna,  Christopher, Joseph, Florence, Vanessa and Trinette. And indeed, to everyone who has ever posted on BLF . Your generosity and openness, willingness to share and exchange has helped thousands of other people. A special mention to all who have copied event details onto BLF - that is a real community service. May your positive karma return to you all threefold.

I do hope, though, that someone will take it over and keep it going. Give it some thought. It's amazing how much you get back from it in terms of happiness, pride, sense of agency, sense of helping. Also it's a CV stuffer :)

Ach, the end of an era!

Farewell

(although I'll stick around until end June)

and thanks for all the good times

Scarlett

PS I'd love to hear any thoughts/ comments you might have about this. Please feel free to leave some feedback.

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Replies to This Discussion

I hope that you will still be an active poster. Your experience and training are invaluable to amateurs like me.

I'm sure I won't be able to stay away altogether :)

I can cheer myself up on cold evenings looking at your beautiful pictures of tomatoes and green beans!

An oldie but a goodie:

Oh give me your pity!
I'm on a committee, 

Which means that from morning to night,

We attend and amend

And contend and defend
Without a conclusion in sight.

We confer and concur,
We defer and demur, 

And reiterate all of our thoughts.

We revise the agenda 

With frequent addenda
And consider a load of reports.

We compose and propose,
We suppose and oppose,

But though various notions

Are brought up as motions,

And the points of procedure are fun; 

There's terribly little gets done.

We resolve and absolve;
But we never dissolve,
Since it's out of the question for us
To bring our committee
To end like this ditty,
Which stops with a period, thus.
-- Leslie Lipson, "The Committee"

bit busy with another committe at the moment so not time to read all this.

Quick thoughts, I would not like to see it go to facebook, its so easy to use as it is & being able to access all old information quickly is great.

I would be more than happy to pay from 1 to $10 per year to help support the site.

Sorry Jane, not meaning to be offensive

I've been involved in a few death by committees and am keen not to revisit

On the other hand, a functioning committee/ high performing team can be a very enjoyable experience

hehehe

Hi Scarlett

I have not read all the responses to your post so please forgive me if this has already been sorted.  As you know I started Logan Food Gardeners 1.5 years ago and it has grown to over 300 members.  Recently I decided to hand over LFG to its members and as a group we resolved to incorporate LFG.   The major advantage of incorporation is to protect the administrators of the site from being sued.  With out it you are in a very vulnerable position. An incorporated association also creates a lot of new possibilities for a site/group such as ours: including obtaining grant funding.  

If you feel you would like to go down the incorporation road we would be more than happy to assist you with the process.  

I have included below an exert from a forum discusison I created for Logan Food GArdeners about why we should incorporate.

ps thank you Scarlett for your valuable advice and support when I first approached you about starting Logan Food Gardeners, it has been the most rewarding  thing I have ever done.

WHY INCORPORATE?

Liability and insurance

Incorporation will limit the personal liability of myself and other committee members.  It will also allow the group to obtain public liability insurance for all of its activities.

Incorporation is the creation of an artificial legal person

When a group is incorporated it can do most things that a human can do in its own unique name such as hold property, make contracts, sue and be sued and be left property under a will.  Incorporation will allow LFG Inc to apply and be awarded grants as well as source other types of funding to further the objects of the association.  As an unincorporated association we are not eligible to apply for these sorts of things. 

A clear charter

Part of the incorporation process involves setting the "objects of the association".  This is basically deciding on the purpose, objectives and values of the incorporated association.  This helps immensely in guiding decision making as well as the behaviour of members and its committees going forward.  Please see the proposed draft objects of association in the attached agenda.  

Financial transparency and accountability

As an incorporated association LFG's financial records will be kept in accordance with normal accounting standards and will be audited annually.  This allows members to be completely confident that money collected by the association is used for the associations’ purposes.

you're welcome Lyn - am very glad it's going well. The more the merrier I reckon. People find the things that suit them best. encouraging diversity is always good I reckon.

well yes, i guess it's one possible road for the future.

What I like the current Scarlett (1 owner) model:

  • Simple and easy
  • Avoids agenda running and power struggles
  • Invisible site control which is what the average user likes
  • Nobody wants to sell me stuff that I don't want (and if we want to buys something - we can look in the right forum area)
  • we keep our content.

I haven't been an active member but your efforts have been appreciated- thank you Scarlett, what a wonderful job you have done- bravo! 

thankyou Ian :)

So much interest and so many interesting posts!

I just thought I would weigh in to the debate on becoming an incorporated association vs having one person, or a group of people acting as an unincorporated association or management group, running the site...

First up, I am not at all sure that there is that much value in adding another layer of complexity to this. I am involved with a couple of start up incorporated orgs at the moment and believe me, they are not that simple!  They take a lot of time, meetings, paperwork and organisation. Sure, they improve transparency and accountability but this is in return for a significant loss of flexibility and increase in reporting obligations. Removing public liability is good, but we are primarily talking about maintaining a website, so  - and please correct me if I am wrong! - provided that people accept their own liability for what happens in their own backyard so to speak, this is (less) applicable. Relying on grants funding is similarly inflexible, time consuming for the grants writer and not at all ongoing or guaranteed!

If people can continue to be reasonably okay with having ads on the site, I reckon lets leave them there as a source of base funding but also open discussion on new, creative ways to fund the maintenance of the site - and support the local food community - moving forward.

For example, I would just love to visit a bunch of our gardens with a great photographer, record stories and put these together in a photobook documenting Brisbane's best edible yards and foodie characters... :) Something like this could be sold (unobtrusively) through the site for a bit of a profit, with a proportion of each sale going toward production of the book, maintenance of the site and a community fund for 'seeding' local food projects... (the management of the fund probably being where discussions of transparency are most important, but this bridge could be crossed later :)

And there are other (less ambitious?) means... occasional social events / BBQs / garden visits could be good fundraising opportunities, and even better ways for us to get to know each other face to face!

Finally, if none of this hits the mark, and it's definitely grants funding that we're after, there is also the possibility that we could apply for some grants as an unincorporated association under an auspicing arrangement with an established incorporated association such as Northey St, should they be willing, or another incorporated association.

Phew! Sorry for the overload... hope you're all well,  and may your gardens always be bountiful ;) 

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