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Involved with Voluntary Groups who need a web site?

Are you involved with another voluntary group besides GL2030? If that group is trying to get online, but lacks the budget or know-how to do it independently this could be for you.

Help is now at hand in the form of innovative community web service, the People’s Times . A brand new addition to Aotearoa’s digital landscape, the People’s Times has brought together the latest internet technologies to create a world-class website with a very homegrown mission – supporting New Zealand’s grassroots groups to communicate, organise and promote their activities, while also giving individual Kiwis a place to express themselves.

The People’s Times offers three purpose-built, integrated services in one place. They are:

  • People’s Times Communities – offering simple, ad-free homepages for groups with user-friendly networking tools and online storage built in;
  • People’s Times News – NZ’s first dedicated “citizen journalism” platform: anyone can submit original articles and pictures or link to stories elsewhere; and
  • People’s Times NoticeBoard – searchable, community-oriented free listings (also accessible directly at www.noticeboard.org.nz).

It may be ambitious in scope, but the sites features are simple in application and determinedly non-commercial – everything on the site is free to use, and ads are kept to a minimum – making it ideal for groups who haven’t yet made it online for reasons of expertise or expense.

The People’s Times is the result of a partnership between the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, leading open-source developers Catalyst IT and e-learning specialists Flexible Learning Network, and the project has received financial support from the Community Partnership Fund as part of the Government’s Digital Strategy.

Project Director Richard Wyles says that the site began life in time-honoured fashion – as jottings on the back of a napkin over a beer with a friend.

“Many of us are involved in groups and clubs at the neighbourhood level – they’re a really vibrant and vital part of New Zealand society. Yet despite the internet revolutionising the way people do business and even run their social lives, many small, local groups are yet to make the leap online.”

Drawing on his experience using open-source web technologies to support communication and learning in business and education, Richard started to think about how the latest web developments could be customised to produce something simple and practical for community groups.

“We were trying to think of a way to help grassroots groups to harness the new communication tools available in the digital age, without needing to develop the infrastructure individually. Organising virtually can reduce the administration burden for small groups, while helping to ensure their accessibility to new generations of members.”

Richard had also become interested in the burgeoning web phenomenon dubbed “citizen journalism”, which is becoming increasingly popular internationally. As a result, New Zealand’s first dedicated citizen journalism platform – People’s Times News – is one of the three strands that make up the site.

Adding the Noticeboard to the mix was a logical third step, providing for community listings such as advertising school fairs, public notices, and Lost and Found.

For more information visit www.peoplestimes.org.nz or info@peoplestimes.co.nz