Welcome to the Collective!

Welcome to the Alaska Collective blog! This is going to be our informal communication channel to let everyone out in the CouchSurfing world know what is happening as the team of volunteer participants work their summer away in Homer, Alaska. We will give you a glimpse behind-the-scenes of what it means to hold a Collective, the work being undertaken by the participants, some of the fun things we get up to when we need a break, and what the Collective means to the participants.

This is officially the tenth day of the Collective. It is in the warm-up phase, as we have returning participants trickling in over a couple of weeks, in preparation for the Collective being in full swing by 1 June (which is when new participants are arriving).

Front of our Homer house

Susy was the very first participant – she has spent the past couple of months in Alaska, scouting for the location of this Collective, along with helping to recruit for new members of this Collective. She did a great job! We have a house big enough for all of us, complete with a hot tub…and she coordinated the set-up of enough bedrooms (including bunk beds – it’s reminiscent of summer camp in this place!) and the completion of a shed on the property that will be our office.

She managed to get this place for us, despite it not being on the market for tenants. The owners are trying to sell the property, but when they heard about our needs for such a short time frame, they were eager to help work out a solution – for a very special bargain price just for CouchSurfing! I have to admit that I am grateful for the modern conveniences that Alaska is providing…the fact I have a proper bed, is a step up from the mattress on the floor in Thailand!

It has been exciting to welcome back the family members of the past Collective back into my life. There have been excitable hugs exchanged, and a general atmosphere of anticipation for the great things we can accomplish together while we are here. It is a feeling that I have always craved from work colleagues as we work towards a common goal – I love it!

Laura, our House Manager, arrived late last week and has already launched into helping Susy coordinate the rest of the “set-up” things that are required. You know, the really exciting things like the chores list (which she managed to develop by surveying us on our favorite chores – its times like this that you appreciate everyone being different and liking different things!), and mass bulk food shopping in Anchorage. She has also been working hard connecting with local businesses to try and get discounts for things for the Collective. She told me how supportive and excited the local people are about CouchSurfing and the fact we chose Homer to hold the Collective – they definitely want to do all they can to help. We have already been gifted with free curtains, a multitude of things left in the house from the previous owners, and we have a lot of group discounts at local stores.

Jim and Weston have been busy working with Mattthew and Casey (who are currently driving on route to Alaska…last I heard the pair had just crossed the Canadian border), to confirm the organizational priorities to be worked on this Collective. The four of them have spent hours (honestly, one day their conversation went for four hours!) working through each team’s possible priorities. They are working out what is going to have the biggest impact for the majority of our membership base, ensuring there is balance between the teams, and examining the most appropriate time frames for completion of these goals. Team Coordinators will have the chance for input into these priorities and then we will be posting them on the Alaska Collective web page (there is a link from this blog page).Homer house bedroom

We also have Jeff and Doogie (aka Douglas/Ultraman) in the house. Jeff just returned from working in the wilderness and Doogie got here on Friday night. Jeff is busily working at setting up his new tech team buddy, Patricia (yes, the tech team will not be an all-male event this Collective!) – making sure she knows how to access the tools she will need in her role, including working with getting her some work as she has requested to get a head start (thanks Patricia!). Jeff is also going through the bug system to try and squash a few, and working on some extra things he identified as needed for phase one of the Project Matrix (which is going to be our integral project management system to help us manage projects from inception to completion). Doogie has just installed his development environment in preparation for all the work he will be completing this Collective and is getting started on sorting out some bugs that are in the translation tool.

Rachel got here on the first day and has been continued working with her team on issues that arise. She is also working on consolidating our safety information so members can find it easily in one place on the website, which includes creating some more documentation. As well as starting to clarify and write policies for different situations that might arise in our member disputes and safety area.

Shonali arrived on Friday evening. Her main focus for the next little while is the creation of our identity book. This will contain all the CouchSurfing visual identity elements – vision, mission, values, communication tone and manner, and colors. It will be given to all working groups to help guide us on effectively on creating consistency for the things we develop. It is also a key document in centralizing all the information related to what CouchSurfing is all about.

I am personally pleased that Weston was one of the first people here. He has been working on getting our internet connections running as optimally as possible. In preparation for over twenty of us working online during most hours of the day, he spent time sorting out the satellite internet connection that Susy organized. He also arranged this blog as a last minute request – thanks Weston!

Oh and me? Well, other than setting up our comms channels for this Collective, I am going to spend some time connecting with my new team members in the Member Communications team this week. The new team members have already started conversations on many topics, eager to get started on improving communications within CouchSurfing and I am happy to have the chance to help get them get up and running.

I know this was a long blog entry – hope you are still tuned in! Most entries won’t be this long, but I wanted to update you all on the past week and a bit. Others will contribute to this blog, to give you different perspectives during our time together. I look forward to keeping you connected with this Collective through this blog.

If you have any questions, feel free to submit them via the Alaska Collective Frequently Asked Questions page.

Bye for now!

Mandie (Member Communications)

ps – the photo at the top of this blog page is courtesy of Doogie, and is taken from our backyard!


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