One of the challenges of living in a community with lots of new residents or guests is getting everyone oriented to the tasks and projects at hand. When I lived at Foster Village, a 10-person community in Portland, Oregon, we had a membership committee in charge of welcoming new residents, and a liaison assigned to orient short-term guests.
A “Welcome Packet” outlined most of the chores and responsibilities a new resident might need to know: how to feed the chickens; where to refill the sawdust for the composting toilet; how to submit receipts for bulk food purchases; and so on.
For communities that welcome lots of guests and volunteers, conveying this information can take a lot of time and energy. Guests may offer to contribute to community projects, but may not know how to plug in when they arrive. Residents often have to take time out of their own schedules to orient volunteers and show them how to participate.
What if there were an easier way for residents and guests to plug in to what’s going on in a community? An app called Teem, developed by Danny Spitzberg and a team from Madrid, hopes to streamline that process. As Spitzberg writes:
“Community spaces can be beautiful, because people are always trying to help. But the image new people have of self-organized projects can be confusing or chaotic, which makes it difficult to see what’s going on, or to get involved.”
With Teem, project leaders can create a listing for a particular project, post pictures, and include a to-do list of things that need to be done. Volunteers can browse through projects and sign up for tasks, allowing them to get a sense of the bigger picture as well as the individual steps involved in a project.
While there are plenty of to-do list apps already out there, such as Asana, Teem was “developed specifically with collaborative community teams in mind, and it’s meant to increase participation along with sustainability. Although it was originally conceived for commons-based peer production communities, its features can certainly apply to any kind of open, online community.”