Community Email Groups

A community email server helps you and your neighbors band and bond together in these difficult times.

I’ve been trying to think of ways I can help everyone, everywhere, during this terrible coronavirus crisis.  I think I might have an idea.

The people in our small neighborhood have banded together and we created an email list server.  We have no HOA, this is just a casual grouping of us all in one particular development.  Any of us can send an email to the server, and it will get sent on to all the other neighborhood members, too.  It is an easy way to share information among us all.

Most recently, we have been using this so we can share Covid-19 type information – when we go shopping, we give reports on which stores are busy or not busy, what items are in stock or not in stock.  We also advise on matters such as what stores are even open or closed, which parks are open and closed, and all sorts of other information too.

Now that we’re all feeling a bit confined and anxious, the extra degree of community contact and the added value that shared information allows is invaluable.  We even use it as a light sort of “check in” on each other to make sure we’re all okay, and there have even been offers to help out if any of our neighbors find themselves short of toilet paper (!), to do some shopping for them as part of someone else’s shopping run, or in any other way.

We have used it in the past for sharing other information, ranging from concerns about possible prowlers to sharing local news (aka “gossip”!), information about road works, lost animals and found items, and all sorts of other things.  We’ve swapped advice about good (and bad) local handymen, gardeners and other service providers, used it as a type of “neighborhood watch”, as an advocacy/lobby group to get the local council to give us some money for beautification of the median strip in the middle of the road, discussed new mailboxes, and so on.

Some weeks there are no messages.  Other weeks, there’s a sudden flurry.  There’s nothing formal about it, and no-one is ever obliged to do anything at all.

There are some people in the neighborhood who I’d never recognize on the street, but now feel I know by virtue of shared messages through the mail server.  It makes the neighborhood more welcoming, friendly, comfortable and safe.

I’m considering adding a free service for Travel Insider Supporters that would give you the ability to create your own community mail servers, with up to as many email addresses on its mail list as your most recent contribution (annualized for those who send in support on a monthly or quarterly basis).  It wouldn’t require any particular skill at all, list members could add themselves or take themselves off again, and sending messages to the group and replying to group messages is really easy.

There are other free services out there – the best known of them being perhaps Nextdoor.com.  Those services are sophisticated, supported by advertising, but are for larger sized community groups, even potentially entire suburbs or townships.  My vision is for a micro-list of just the people in your small development (if single family residences), or part or all of a condo development, or maybe a block of rental apartments.  Something much smaller and more direct.

But people who use Nextdoor.com seem generally happy with it, and maybe that is all the solution that is needed.  Hence I’m asking if people want it before going to the time, trouble, and cost of creating a service that may not be needed.

If this proceeds and you wish to participate, you could decide what to call your list, and it would become the email address for the list.  For example, if you decided your list name would be Greywood Heights then it would use an email address in the form of

Greywoodheights@ourlocal.info

(Note, I haven’t yet decided what the domain will be, but “ourlocal.info” is one possibility.  It wouldn’t be branded “The Travel Insider”.)

Members of your community would simply send an email to that address, and it would automatically then send the email on to all the people who have joined your email group.  We could also have a page of information/instructions on a related webserver, either public or password protected.

Oh, one last point.  While motivated by the Covid-19 crisis, there’s no reason why you couldn’t keep the list running in “normal” times too.

Is this something that would be useful to you?  Please let me know.  If there is enough interest, I’ll get it set up over the weekend.

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David.