Simplicity may be one of our Quaker testimonies, but sharing or finding information about Ithaca Monthly Meeting (IMM) is complicated! As a Meeting, we use numerous communication methods in an effort to provide information and create community among F/friends. Some of the ways we share information include:
- Email sent to the IMM listserv
- Our monthly newsletter
- Announcements at the rise of Meeting
- Events listed in the Calendar on our website
- A detailed announcement or explanation shared in a blog post on our website (Such as what you’re currently reading.)
- Phone calls from a designated person in Meeting to F/friends
- A notice is posted in the Meetinghouse (generally only used for the annual meeting of the IMMRSF Corporation)
- A letter or note mailed to Friends’ homes (This is increasingly less common, though the Finance Committee usually mails a letter near the end of the year asking Friends to consider donating to the Meeting.)
- If there are documents or files to review (such as agenda, minutes, and reports for Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business), they may be stored in a shared online drive and a link sent via the listserv and included in the newsletter. Sometimes documents are sent as attachments via the listserv.
As we said, many ways to share information! Which methods we use depend on various factors, including how complex the information is, who needs to know, and when they need to know. We tend to use multiple methods to share the same information because we want to be sure everyone has an opportunity to see it. This is helpful because people have different preferences or options for receiving information. It can also be problematic because we risk not being consistent in the information we share (e.g., an email may list the start time of a discussion as 9am, but the calendar says 9:15am). Sharing the same information multiple ways can also add to confusion about how and where to share and receive information.
The first two items in the list of methods – the newsletter and the listserv – may be the most confusing to Friends, mainly because more than one email list is involved and there are additional options within the method.
Newsletter. Our newsletter can be found a few ways: it arrives in your email inbox; a few printed copies are available at the meetinghouses; and online versions are available on the Newsletter page of our IMM website (including an archive of previous newsletters dating back to 2006!) To make sure the IMM newsletter arrives in your email inbox, you need to be subscribed to the IMM Newsletter list (which is separate from the IMM listserv). If you’re subscribed and still don’t receive the newsletter, check your spam folder. You may need to add email@example.com to your contacts list so your email recognizes our newsletter.
Listserv. We communicate via email frequently, and use Groups.io listservs as an easy way to get information to a large group of people. The groups.io listserv allows anyone who is a subscribed member of the listserv to 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. 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, 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. Some of the recent messages sent to the Announcements list include:
- A reminder from the Clerk about Meeting for Worship and our monthly potluck lunch
- Reminders about Talent Night
- Announcements about our Peace & Social Justice or Earthcare committee meetings, including the links to join the meeting via Zoom
- Notices of workshops being offered at Powell House (a retreat center associated with New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM).
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. Messages recently sent to the Witness list include:
- A plea to tell Ithaca Common Council not to pull funding from Southside Community Center
- An announcement about a panel discussion on fracking (featuring Ithaca Friend Sandra Steingraber)
- Information about the conflict in Israel and Gaza, including pleas to contact elected officials about specific actions.
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. Recent messages shared to the Community list include:
- An invitation to a fundraiser
- An announcement about author Robin Wall Kimmerer speaking at Cornell (this was also shared to the Witness list)
- An offer of dining room furniture
- A request for information about potential housing from Quakers who will be moving to Ithaca.
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. Most people in our listserv either receive each message as it’s sent or receive several messages at a time in a digest or summary. You could even opt to receive no email and instead visit the groups.io website to read messages.
All the messages sent to our groups.io listservs are available to be read on a website, so there’s an easily accessible archive of what’s been sent and you can go back and search for a topic or message. To read messages on the groups.io website, you’ll need to create a login and password for that site.
How to decide which communication method to use?
Still not sure how or where to share information with others in Meeting? The easiest and quickest way is to send an email to one of the listservs. Which listserv you use depends on the content of the message. If it’s an announcement about an event hosted by or for Ithaca Monthly Meeting or one of our committees, use the Announcements list. Same guideline applies if it’s for or from a wider Quaker organization. There are also a few emails about organizations that Ithaca Meeting is officially a member of, such as Area Congregations Together (ACT) or Kitchen Cupboard, that are sent to the Announcements listserv.
If it’s not immediately obvious that the content of your message is about Ithaca Meeting or Quakers, send it to either the Community or Witness listserv. If the message is related to one of our Quaker testimonies or areas of concern (such as non-violence, racial justice, anti-racism, or social justice), the Witness list is probably the best choice. All other emails can be sent to the Community listserv. If you’re tempted to send an email to both the Witness and Community listservs, please reconsider. The majority of people on the Witness list are also on the Community list.
My general rule: if in doubt, send it to the Community listserv!
You may also be able to share your information via one of the other communication methods listed at the beginning of this article, especially if it’s about an IMM or Quaker event. Talk to the Clerk of meeting to have something included in announcements at the Rise of Meeting. If you’d like something included in the monthly newsletter or on the website, talk to the Communications Committee.