Thursday, 14 February 2008

Listserv policy (once more with feeling)

Sorry, guys, I couldn't get that link to work. Below is a copy of the policy:

Policy and tips for using the Montreal Childcare Network’s listserves

Hi! This document has two main purposes: to fill members in about how the network functions, and to suggest ways of improving our communication in organizing.

It’s a bit lengthy, but please take the time to look it over. Essential stuff is highlighted. Being a group that relies heavily on email as an organizing tool, the more effectively we use it, the better organized we’ll be and the more energy we’ll have to put into other things… like spending time with the families we work alongside of, or inventing new things to do with play-dough, etc.

The two lists and when to use them.

The childcare network currently uses two lists. The main one is the ‘volunteers’ or ‘big’ list, which we use for callouts for volunteers, to announce workshops and other events, or to post paid childcare opportunities. For the purpose of this document I’ll refer to this as the volunteers list.

The small list, AKA ‘collective’ or ‘organizing’ list, is mainly used for coordinating meetings, setting up workshops, assigning tasks, and other communication between members who are involved in the organizational side of the network’s activities. For clarity, I’ll call this the organizing list.

An important thing to note is that the organizing list is a SUB-SECTION of the volunteer list, not a separate thing – i.e., all ‘organizers’ are volunteers. In practice this means that you should never have to send the same message to both lists. A message to the volunteers list should make it to everyone.


When the childcare collective receives a request it can go down one of two ways:

The first: someone on the organizing side of the network knows of a need for volunteer childcare (as in, a group that they work closely with needs childcare for some meeting or event). That person can post the request to the volunteers list, and folks who are available to do it can communicate with that person directly. Although they may not be doing the childcare for the event themselves, it’s assumed that this person (the requester) is ‘bottomlining’ the request, and so is responsible for communication between the group and the childcare volunteers, including on-site.

The second: a request comes in on our email account or by phone at QPIRG, or a group makes a request for childcare via an organizing member of the network who’s not in the position to take on bottomlining. In these cases, a preliminary callout goes to the organizing list to find a bottomliner who can be in contact with both the group and volunteers (see section on labels). Once that person has stepped up, the request follows the same basic steps as in the first case.
In either situation, bottomliners are accountable to the Childcare Network for their requests (we put a lot of trust in folks not to use the volunteer list abusively, for example, to recruit free childcare for neo-con rallies, etc.)

Bottomliners should try to provide as much advance information to volunteers as possible about the event they’ll be doing childcare for, including but not limited to: *

What the event is about
Relevant info about the group
How many children are expected to attend (including infants)
How many volunteers are expected to attend
What time volunteers should show up and when they can leave (if there are shifts, who takes over for who and when)
Directions to and from the event
Details about space and materials (will there be a separate, child-friendly room? Are any on-site childcare supplies available to use? Kid-friendly snacks? Is there outdoor access? Etc)
Special needs of kids, if known
Contact person on-site for the event

*(We hope to clean up/systematize this list in the near future…)

Labels are not always a bad thing

Writing clear subject lines for emails is really important and can save people lots of time!
Below is a set of suggested labels and abbreviations that our group can use at the beginning of the subject line to identify different kinds of emails. The list is not exhaustive so you can also modify or create new labels/abandon redundant ones as needed, as long as the meanings are clear.


Instead of:
RE: re: [kid net]RE:(Fwd: [anti-racists coalition] Demo against racism!) re: RE [kid net]I’m too busy can somebody bottomline…

You could write:
B/L? march 29th anti-racists demo

Suggested labels:

Volunteers list:
VOLUNTEERS : a volunteer childcare request sent out by the event bottomliner. People responding to this request should communicate directly with that person/people.
PAID GIG : a posting for a paid childcare opportunity. Unlike volunteer requests, people may be directed to communicate with someone outside of the volunteer network.
WORKSHOP : an upcoming workshop hosted by the childcare net.
ANNOUNCEMENT : (self-evident)

Organizing list:
B/L? : a request in search of a bottomliner
$ : an update or question about finances
MTG : a proposal to have a meeting; a reminder of a meeting; etc etc etc. Ideally in the case of proposing a meeting, one person should take responsibility for calling it, and getting people’s feedback and availabilities if necessary. People can then respond to that one person, instead of having an email ‘conversation’ with the whole group.
DOC : some policy document in attachment for people to review (like this one. Save stuff as RTF for best compatibility!)
PROP : some other kind of proposal made by the sender
QUESTION : a question for the entire group
OT : off-topic (you are invited to a potluck to celebrate my dog’s recovery from his kidney operation, thanks everyone for the great treats last meeting, etc. Anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere but you really want to say to the group before the next meeting)
ATTN: (SOMEONE) : you need to communicate something to one or two people in the collective but for whatever reason you don’t have their individual contacts

Working group info or other stuff that comes in on our email account can be forwarded to the list with a default subject line (usually the QPIRGS have really clear subject headings to begin with)

Cross-posting and reply vs. reply all

Please keep in mind that lists can quickly become very high-traffic and this makes it hard for people to use. In particular, we want the volunteer list to be as light-traffic as possible to keep it user-friendly (and to keep our volunteers!) So, in the interest of keeping traffic to a minimum, PLEASE consider the following:

- The childcare collective list is intended as an organizing tool for people who want to do political childcare. Please ONLY post childcare-related messages.

- Most e-mail exchanges only need to happen between a few people. Before sending something to the whole group, consider whether it would make sense to send it to an individual instead. Comments that you would like to have communicated to the group can also be sent to the bottomliner of the next meeting, who can then bring it to the group.

- We have a blog! A forum for more dynamic online conversations exists now, so go ahead and use it. (

Thanks for taking the time to read this over! Solidarity and happy organizing…

Read more!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Listserv policy

Check it out! Laura Mac has written a great new listerv protocol. Yes folks, we are geeking-out pretty hard, but it's full of funny laura-icisms and will help us use the listservs as efficiently as possible. As she points it:

"Being a group that relies heavily on email as an organizing tool, the more effectively we use it, the better organized we'll be and the more energy we'll have to put into other things… like spending time with the families we work alongside of, or inventing new things to do with play-dough, etc."

If you use one or both of the listerves (or would like to learn more about them and how they're used), please give it a read.

Read more!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Coffeehouse feedback

Thanks to everyone who came out to the coffeehouse discussion on Sunday! It was great to see new and old faces alike, and to hear people share their thoughts and diverse experiences. Among other topics, we had some productive discussions about practical ways to be anti-authoritarian and gender inclusive in the work we do (questions that come up frequently!).

Thanks for all the great ideas!

If you want to have some say in how this all plays out within the collective, or to contribute to the organizing side of things, come on out to our next meeting: Sunday Feb. 10th at MUCS 5pm.

Read more!

Fun at St. Gabriel's

At Kader's solidarity concert, Naeem's message is clear; the immigrant minister is seeing no/hearing no/speaking no justice!

Read more!