Community as Process, Installment Two

Welcome to Installment 2 of Community as Process. Last week we introduced three new wikis to the Farm Hack site: a new culture page, a farm hack methodology of documentation, and the recently updated getting started guide. Like everything documented on Farm Hack, these wikis are openly editable by the community–our intention is that they will be functional, usable documents, and that they will spark conversation and input by a broader swath of community members. 

Each of these pages has an associated forum which will host relevant conversation: Culture, Method, and  Getting Started. As a facilitation team, we want to create a public space where these significant conversations can happen. The forums are a great place to share feedback and conversations so that the entire community can benefit. 

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Values and Vision Survey

Last Fall, a group of Farm Hack community members circulated a survey to help us create a foundation for our collaborative work. The purpose of this survey was to organize ourselves around our commonalities and to discuss them. The result has been an understanding among ourselves of the kind of community we want to take part in and help to facilitate–a philosophical banner to rally behind. 

The survey includes questions like: “What is the situation, broadly speaking, around agriculture and the emerging Farm Hack culture?” and “What are the beliefs and behaviors that could foster the best possible outcomes for the Farm Hack community?” 

We extracted a working document from the survey responses and posted it as a wiki; it’s called Vision, Values, Strategy, and Goals. We invite you to offer your thoughts, and reach out to us to participate. Feel free to comment offering general feedback about this document as well as to address the specific questions. 


What’s next

In the next few weeks, we’ll revisit the topics and documents covered in the first installment of the Community as Process series. As we post this content, we are working to refine it, make it appropriate and useful, and frame it in ways that will best serve our community and ourselves as a facilitation team. 

We plan to incorporate additional methods of user participation into the Farm Hack platform itself. We will be collaborating with Public Labs to develop rich user profiles for our site, enabling each user to tell their story and display their involvement in the Farm Hack community. 

We will host and publish recorded video conversations with community members. Keep an eye out for these Farm Hack open hour convos as well. If you would like to participate in an open hour to talk about your experience with Farm Hack, tool development, etc., please contact us at info@farmhack.net

In solidarity, 

Kristen Loria, Nathaniel Levy, Dorn Cox, Daniel Grover

Community as Process: A weekly series on organizing Farm Hack

Welcome to our newly launched weekly series! Our goal is to share the conversations and philosophies which we (the Farm Hack facilitators) use to move this community forward. Transparency is foundational to the philosophy of our community; and dialogue throughout the community cannot happen if information (whether it be tool documentation or organizational and strategic planning) is siloed. To learn more about where we think we’re headed and how you can engage, read on. 

Part 1: Thoughts on transparency, association and Farm Hack Culture

On recent Farm Hack organizing calls, we (the Farm Hack facilitators) have been talking a lot  about how to make Farm Hack’s organizing processes more collaborative and transparent. Farm Hack is first and foremost a community of peer production and open-source exchange, better conceived of as an association of collaborators than a traditional non-profit organization. The human and technical infrastructure that supports the community—in-person events, the sharing of documentation, discussion in the online forums, and the platform itself—were created by people motivated by a shared belief in the Farm Hack mission and the desire to create something useful. Many, if not most, of these people have been volunteers; paid work and the exchange of money have not been the drivers behind Farm Hack’s growth. And we think that makes for a richer, more diverse, and more resilient community that can build and sustain itself according to the vision, skills and efforts of many people.

Cooperation, association, and mutual aid are foundational to how we think and talk about who we are. But talk has its limits. It’s vital that our practice demonstrates our thinking. As Farm Hack matures and gets bigger, we need to update our processes accordingly. Based on lots of conversation in organizing calls and elsewhere, we think it’s important to put more practices and structures in place to allow everyone, both those newly discovering Farm Hack and the old hats, to: see what is happening across the community; feel warmly invited, and encouraged, to participate; and understand how to go about participating. It’s natural that there will continue to be a diverse mix of interests and capacities for participation within the community. But we hope that many will continue to participate actively however suits them best. Our community’s commitment to our values has brought Farm Hack to the place it is today,  with thousands of registered Farm Hack users and hundreds of tools  documented. There’s so much more we’re still excited to accomplish.

Truly collaborative work can also feel (or be) slow. I am sure many of you have encountered a broken link or a disappointingly incomplete tool page on the Farm Hack site  and perhaps wondered whose job it was to fix  that. It’s not really anyone’s, and its also everyone’s – possibly yours. You, other platform users, casual visitors to the site, and contributors to in-person activities are all community members. The organizers and moderators of the community will work hard to make sure you’re empowered to contribute effectively. If you’re moved to do so, read the planning wikis; join the weekly organizers call; jump into Culture conversations in the  forum (more are coming!); submit some blog content; or, make that Farm Hack build event happen that you’ve been thinking about for the past year.  Because that’s truly how this whole thing has been built so far.

To this end, we (again, the Farm Hack facilitators) are going to start posting various strategic and  planning documents in wiki format with associated Forum discussions.  Because we want your feedback, and we want to spark more thought and  conversation about what our community is, what it means and where it’s  headed.

Here is a mockup of the coming soon Farm Hack homepage, with a Culture and Getting Started section:

Introducing the Farm Hack Culture Page

This week we are also launching a Culture page to  better discuss our thoughts on the “why” of Farm Hack–we aren’t just  posting some cool tools in a vacuum, we are doing it for specific  reasons and it means things. Important things. A lively and engaging  discussion of those things is the purpose of starting a Culture page –  so check out the working wiki, make some comments.

Also living on the Culture Page is the Farm Hack Design Principles wiki.

A working guide: the Farm Hack Method for Documentation

Documentation  is our bedrock. Without it,  Farm Hack wouldn’t exist. Knowledge sharing  begins with the creation  and dissemination of documentation. That’s why  it’s so important to  develop educational resources that empower our  community members and  help them produce high-quality documentation.  That’s the main objective  of this resource: to offer a how-to guide by  illustrating the  documentation process in the context of different sorts  of tools and  environments, including farms, events, and formal  education.

Check out the Farm Hack Method Version .01

How to Jump In

To start things off, we’ve put some work into the Getting Started Page, which discusses entry points into the Farm Hack community and how to navigate it. Go there to learn how to join organizer calls, contribute to the blog, or put on a Farm Hack event. More to come there.

Follow us to the Forum

We are hoping to use the Farm Hack Forum to continue these conversations. We’ve started a couple, so jump on or create a new thread.

Up Next:

Follow up on the SARE-funded redesign process we have been undergoing in partnership with UVM.

Working on universal logins and rich profile development with Public Labs.

 

In solidarity,

Farm Hack facilitators:

Kristen Loria, Nathaniel Levy, Dorn Cox, Daniel Grover