For many years, Ithaca Monthly Meeting has had a listserv, hosted through Cornell. There also has been an email distribution list, managed by Marilyn Ray, commonly called “Marilyn’s List” used for content relating to peace and social justice.
As a Meeting, we sometimes struggle with wanting to share information with our Meeting community while not inundating people with unwanted emails. When the Communications Committee was first formed, we heard from many Friends that one topic or tool they would like to see us work to improve is our listserv. Some of the frustrations with the old listserv are technical (messages sent from some types of email addresses don’t go through; unless you saved a message in your own email, there’s no way to find it again). Other concerns are about content. There is uncertainty regarding what types of messages are okay to send via the listserv.
Right now, the Cornell listserv remains active, but the Communications Committee has been working on plans to transition from our old, Cornell-based listserv to a new listserv using a service called “groups.io”.
The groups.io listservs work much in the same way as we’re used to. Anyone who is a subscribed member of the listserv can send an email to one specific email address and that message then shows up in the email inbox of everyone else who is subscribed to the listserv. A feature of the new listserv that we really like is that the messages are also available to be read on a website, so there’s an easily accessible record of what’s been sent and a person can go back and search for a topic or message.
Because some Friends only want to receive the bare minimum of email about the Meeting (just official events please!) while others want to share much more (from party invitations to poetry), we have set up three different lists in our groups.io account. Each person can choose whether or not to receive email from each of the sub-lists.
The main, foundational list is Announcements (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io). This list is used to communicate about the official events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting and associated Quaker bodies (e.g. FSRM, NYYM, and FGC). Then there are two sub-groups: Witness (witness@IMMRSF.groups.io) and Community (community@IMMRSF.groups.io). Everyone who joins any of the IMMRSF.groups.io lists is automatically a member of the Announcements list; it is the core or main group.
How are the three lists to be used?
- Announcements is only for news and events of Ithaca Monthly Meeting or wider Quaker bodies. Since this is the core list, we want to keep the focus narrow and specific. (This list most closely mirrors how we have used the Cornell listserv in the past.).
- Witness is for messages related to Quaker testimonies or witness. This is where we can share information about social justice, peace witness, or Earthcare events, activities, or information.
- Community is for sharing more general information, notices, questions, and happenings we want to share with our Meeting community. The purpose of the Community list is to build social connections among the members and attenders of IMM.
So which list do I use for what?
You may be thinking, “in theory this all sounds great, but I’m still confused. Where do I send my messages?” Here are some examples of the types of messages we tend to share over email, and which listserv would be most appropriate to use:
- Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business will happen soon, and the Clerk is asking for agenda items. Use the Announcements list.
- I just read a beautiful poem or an inspirational essay and I think others would appreciate it. Use the Community list.
- What if the essay I want to share is about how to be a conscientious objector? Use the Witness list.
- There is some important legislation pending and we need Friends to contact our representatives and encourage them to do something. Use the Witness list.
- I want to share an interesting article about recycling, or sanctuary, or prison reform. Use the Witness list.
- Our IMM committee is hosting a program or workshop about recycling, sanctuary or prison reform. If the program or workshop is specifically a Quaker event, use the Announcements list. If the program is for the community at large, Witness is more appropriate.
- We need Friends to help with Spring Gathering. Use the Announcements list.
- I’m having a garage sale, participating in a fundraiser, or looking to borrow an item. Use the Community list.
- FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation) is hosting a program online about prison conditions. Since there is a specific event, and FCNL is a Quaker organization, use the Announcement list.
- We’re inviting everyone in Meeting to a Super Bowl party at our house! Use the Community list.
- The latest issue of InfoShare is available online. Since Infoshare is a publication of New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM), the Announcements list is appropriate.
We hope Friends can discern the most appropriate destinations for their emails, and try to refrain from emailing more than one list in hopes of getting a larger audience.
Getting too much email?
One of the nice things about the groups.io service is that it is easy to control the frequency of email delivery, even to the point where you get none at all. That is, a subscriber to the listserv can always visit the groups.io website to read the messages… even if they have chosen not to receive email delivery from the list!
We will cover more of the how-to about the groups.io listserv in a future newsletter.
What about the old list?
For now, the old listserv (IMMRSF-L@cornell) is still functioning. The Communications Committee hopes to move everyone to our new listserv (announcements@IMMRSF.groups.io) within the next few months. We plan to bring a report about this to Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business in June.
What other email addresses are related to Meeting?
Friends might see references to email@example.com. That is the email for reserving space in the Third Street Meetinghouse. Messages sent to that email are only seen by the TSM scheduler.
Email to the Clerk, Gina Varrichio, can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Gina also tends to use this email to send official Meeting updates or info (such as agenda and reports for Business Meeting).