Why Discourse? Why CERF?

Hello fellow SAV enthusiasts,
First let me introduce myself. My name is Dottie Byron. I have been working in seagrass and SAV systems since 1998 and for the past 17 years have worked with Dr. Ken Heck at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. I got involved (or maybe pushed my way in) with the SAVCOP Admin team because I love seagrass and community building! The collective knowledge we have, and the power to share that, can only propel seagrass, and broadly SAV, research to the next level. So many great people have been doing cool work, and any way for us to harness that and not reinvent the wheel is a positive in my book.

So why Discourse?

Because it’s not your traditional mailing list. While those have their place, there are lots of new, more engaging platforms out there (and if you prefer that kind of format, you can still interact on this forum that way). Since the first CERF SAV workshop there have been huge leaps in how we connect and engage each other. From the more social sites, like Facebook and Twitter to the more professional sites like LinkdIn and ResearchGate.
I was familiar with Discourse through my spouse’s F/OSS photography community building work and suggested it as an option instead of using Google’s mailing list option, Groups.

I’m no Discourse expert (yet) but playing around in it, I have not been disappointed. Discourse offers a more interactive way to communicate and pass knowledge to each other (and there’s even an app!).
Plus, and this is something I’m most passionate about, it’s open source. Meaning 1) "There’s no super secret special paid commercial version with better or more complete features. and 2) they follow the same philosophy that is the root of any community of practice- encouragement of open collaboration. “Because Discourse is 100% open source forum software, now and forever, it belongs to you as much as it belongs to us. That’s how community works.”

Now why CERF?

Well simple, the SAV COP was born out of the SAV mapping and monitoring workshops held during CERF meetings set up by a group including Bob “JJ” Orth, Dave Wilcox, Mark Finkbeiner, and Kris Kaufman. The group was looking for a way to keep the conversation going after everyone left the meeting and over the 2 years before the next meeting. From those meetings, a mailing list was born, then a google group, but the conversation still stalled. When we started talking about the Discourse forum, there was a small cost for Discourse to host the site. We could have tried to host the forum ourselves, but we acknowledged we didn’t have the infrastructure or skill set to do that. We talked about asking for donations and we even offered to put up our own money because we believe in what this community is and can become. Thankfully CERF also saw that vision and is covering the cost of the license.

CERF is always looking for a way to keep members engaged in the between times and have started a great webinar series, the CERFs Up! Quarterly Bulletin, and Coastal & Estuarine Science News (CESN). They have been a huge supporter of the SAV Mapping/Monitoring COP for a while and we decided to propose the idea of the Discourse forum to the Board. They agreed this was a worthwhile adventure and are using our group as the test case for other COPs. We believe this partnership will create great things that will last beyond our tenures in this field.

Whatever has brought you here, we welcome you and your contribution. Post questions, answer others, or just look around. Tell your SAV friends and let’s grow this community together!

Looking forward to interacting with everyone!

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