Slow Money Maine Gathering 2015

The topic for this year’s day-long gathering was Food Hubs.

Jeremy was asked to facilitate discussions about Emerging Technologies in Food Hubs.  The topics unfortunately did not unearth “food hub technology” that we all thought might be there, but it was certainly an interesting discussion covering everything from phone Apps to food sovereignty to getting farmers in northern Maine a better Internet connection making it possible to do business from the farm.

One thing we learned is that most in food hubs and pretty much all food projects are still seeking technologies to help them succeed. Internet Farmer hopes to help in the process of matching logistics and technology to support our local/regional food systems.

Speaking of logistics, here’s a Tedx talk from Michael Rozyne CEO of Red Tomato. His philosophy is right on by inserting value in to our food chain, and that it is all about logistics to create our new path. This video was especially great to reflect on given that their Executive Director was the keynote speaker for the day.  The company is clearly getting it right as far as we can see.

Resources:

Slow Money Maine

Red Tomato

Project Review: the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative

 

mfscscreenClient: Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative (MFSC)

Site: MaineFarmAndSea.coop

Projects: NationBuilder.com Discovery, Website Setup & Development; E-commerce Setup & Integration; Content Development & Implementation; Video Direction & Implementation; Media Production; Campaign Strategy & Development; Website Architecture

 

Welcome to the nation’s first cooperative institutional dining service.  Which, is the first time ever to challenge the 3 global providers of such services.  If they win the USM contract, they will be expanding the local economy in a way never seen before.  Internet Farmer has worked with these people for years and it was a pleasure to engage in a campaign to change Maine’s economy.

At first, we had to develop a lot of content quickly for the launch of the service at the release of the USM Request for Proposal.  In about 6 weeks Jonah put together a marketing team and we developed website content and ideas for how to run a campaign online.  We also wrote a video script and shot the video to tell the story of MFSC.  It was a busy 6 weeks.

Once the content was developed for the website we dove in to NationBuilder.com.  This is a site building tool, but also a CRM software, e-commerce mechanism and campaign management.  Internet Farmer was impressed at how it all worked.  It was easy to get payments going, setup a template for a nice looking website, totally connected to social media, and you could see the world was at your fingertips as we added information to the system.

This is Obama-level campaign software, a game changer in fundraising and community building.  And it’s available to anyone for as low as $30/mo.  A great tool if you want to build a world around you and have it be organized and manageable.  It was such a good experience Internet Farmer is becoming a NationBuilder.com developer to further our work in food justice.

After launching we’ve seen the CRM work really well.  It automatically tags people based on being a member, a non-paying supporter, volunteer, etc.  As the campaign moves down the line, we’ll also use the automatic tagging to track referrals so we can see who is raising the most funds and growing the membership in order to develop those relationships.

Sending emails has been easy.  To whatever list, or sublist, you wish.  So easy.

Setting up the payment system was one of the easiest experiences I’ve had.  We used PayPal and connected it to NationBuilder and it was all set.  It has plenty of options to work with anyone’s commerce setup.

Internet Farmer is thankful for being a part of this project.  A first director credit reminded us of how awesome producing media is to tell a story.  Learning NationBuilder.com was a gift.  And being a part of a big team working for something great couldn’t feel better.

Speaking of the first director credit and story telling, here’s the video we put together… thanks so much to Joseph Brunnett (videography) and Patrick Bonsant (editor) for their incredible work on the video.  And cheers to everyone on the marketing team who all contributed ideas and logistical planning to make this come to life.  This was truly a team effort and I am so thankful for the opportunity.

Improved Audio Conferences – FreeConferenceCall.com

These days there are many ways to connect virtually.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, Google +, and much more.  Personally, I use Skype when I have willing participants.  When I don’t know who I’m dealing with, or what kind of technology they have, I go for simplicity.  A simple phone number for people to call in to, at no cost, and it’s called FreeConferenceCall.com.  I’ve been using it for years and highly recommend it for organizing on any level.

In Maine, where food activism is spread out in a state that is half the size of the north east, we have to think virtually if we are to have any chance of getting the majority at the table.

A couple days ago they sent an email announcing their improved service.  Basically, it still gives me a phone number to call in to for a large group.  More than that, it seems there’s a really great toolset for managing a call and I wanted to share it with you.

Here is a brief video introduction that will get you more excited than I will by blabbing on…

http://youtu.be/e7yIBIh20OE

Happy Organizing!

Exciting Technology – Convo.com

A private Facebook for discussions with collegues.  A task and project manager.  Does anyone need much more? :)

It’s called Convo.com and I encourage using it to organize and work with people.

Seriously, this is an awesome tool.  It is unfortunate that to prove this point we need to get all of us on there, or at least a handful to get the conversation going, for anyone to actually “see” that it is as awesome as I see it.

I started with a simple thought… Facebook + Project/Task Management.  Here’s how that breaks down…

It’s facebook in the sense of “like” and how you have conversations.  The interface is the same.  It’s awesome and easy.  Think about it… ongoing discussions about work, or in this case ‘food organizing’ that you can keep going back to and reference.  People love facebook because it merges email, chat and photos and lots more all in to one spot.  This is a bit dryer, but the same idea.  It’s just easier than managing tons of emails, chats with no meaning or history, and discussions that are often good but trail off to never be seen again.

The Project/Task Management is a simple added piece.  By making a group, like maybe the folks I work with at the Portland Food Council, we could all talk on our own schedules as well as manage the projects we work on together.  And all in a separate place than our private lives on Facebook.

For the record, Facebook is annoying to me.  It’s cool and really brings up interesting social ideas, but it’s just another thing to sit and look at on the computer that is often less important than being outside or talking with a friend or reading a book.  But I digress as I usually do… Convo.com is a tool, not a place to hang out.

It is the combination of these two things that make it work oriented.  It’s free for us organizers and I encourage at least trying it out.  And if you do, let’s work together!  I’m chomping at the bit to see if this gets any legs in a world where we organizers have to look at 50 other sites for 20 different reasons.  I certainly don’t want it to be yet another site to deal with.  I’d like to see it be “the” site for exchange of ideas.

Please share your thoughts and I hope you enjoy the brain stretch.