by Barry Koren, Founder of OurVillageLife, 4/16/13
History of the site
The first work on the site began in 2008. The initial site was called HomesAndBuildings.com. Its purpose was to create opportunities to connect people who needed work done on their homes or buildings with people who could help with that work. It seemed to me then, and now, that there was an incredible number of matches that could happen via a website such as this.
Our site was like a well-stocked department store. The site categories were plentiful and filled with links to products, services, and information for homes and buildings. Nonetheless, the reactions I got from people who visited the site were lukewarm.
Then in June 2012, I described the site to Todd, an owner of the local hardware store. Having known him for years, I was surprised by his very enthusiastic response when I showed him the site. He saw the site as a terrific opportunity both for him and his vendors. His enthusiasm resulted in a huge shift for me.
I turned my focus from the global links we were providing to the local resources that juiced Todd’s energy. As a consequence, we then developed the bulletin boards where Todd and other local citizens, businesses, and organizations could post And make public what they were up to.
We then focused on villages and groups. And we kept all of the well-developed resources of the HomesAndBuildings site, which became the starting place for our global resources. We also added and seeded two huge new categories: food and healthcare.
And now our site is about having a simple solution to our big problems...1) help people find common interests with those near them and 2) enable unlimited local exchanges in a local marketplace where you can buy and sell with and without dollars.
The entire site is designed to grow as people contribute to it with their comments, images, videos, and links. I hope our site will grow like – dare I say it – Wikipedia. Our site is a database that uses open-source software (called Drupal). As the Drupal community builds new features, we will add them to our site.
So that's the story of our site up til now. The rest of the story will be written by you, our dear members.
Barry Koren, AIA, PhD, founder
I grew up in Harlem, in New York City, in an apartment above my parents' Mom and Pop grocery store. Many years later, in 2000, I became active in progressive national politics. I've now concluded that the solutions to many of the significant problems we have in the US will come from people talking with and helping one another. This website is a step in that direction.
I became registered as an architect in 1971 and have subsequently worked for large and small architectural firms, a city department of community development, a not-for-profit organization doing grass-roots organizing, and a large corporation. My PhD is from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and focused on the question of why people stay in or move from a racially changing urban neighborhood.
My personal mission is this. By the year 2030 -- when my grandsons will be 22 and 19 yrs old -- to create a world or place where most people can sit around their kitchen table with loved ones and eat locally grown, wholesome food. And where there are no more garbage trucks because people have become masters of unwasting. More about this on my profile page http://ourvillagelife.com/user/200/barrykoren.
For me, this website is a step in carrying out this vision. It's also a place where people can meet and get the products, services, information, and inspiration they need to build and repair their homes and buildings.
Lisa has put the meat and soul on the bones of our website. She has helped figure out the various steps we have gone through in developing the site. For instance, on our global resources, she seeded the website with links, images, videos, blogs, classifieds, and Q&A. And she has made the website as user-friendly as it is. For example, she along, with her very able assistants -- Zach and Bryce Kayser -- have put together the kids' page and uploaded engaging photos.
Viktor is the artistic, technological person behind the website. Viktor has helped us move this site way beyond the original concept. He has built the structure of the website and it's face. He's our chief explorer, finding and implementing new features and new ways we can expand the site. And whenever we're stuck, he finds the way out and moves us ahead.
Felice is a screenwriter and film producer and Barry's life-time partner. She's been in on this site before it was even a glimmer of a possibility. She's our chief editor and Barry's confidant. Without Felice's support, this website would not be possible.
Lynne S. Williams
Lynne is the long-time, very smart, very creative associate of Barry's who helped him develop and launch the initial concept for the website. She and Barry designed the original logo for the site.
Emory is an artist in every crevice of his soul and the very talented artist who did the graphic design for the website.