A few months ago, I got to talking with some friends at post about how great it would be if there were more useful information online for family members in the tri-mission community here. You know, actually ONLINE, not on a State Department intranet site that we can’t access. Radical concept, huh?
Then a friend sent me this CLO blog from Brasilia, and was just wowed by it. I mean, it’s such a common-sense thing to do! And it’s free, even!
So, after making some inquiries as to whether this sort of thing might be do-able here in Vienna, we concluded that the only way it was going to happen was if we did it ourselves. And so we did. Check out Trivienna here.
I mean, let’s face it, when you’ve been in the Foreign Service for a while, you learn that sometimes you just have to do it. Especially when it comes to making information accessible to spouses. Really, we could all grow old and die before we see even the most basic post research information posted online for us to use. Meanwhile, Real Post Reports has been around for how long? A decade or something like that? Oy vey.
I wrote about our experience setting up Trivienna in the article for AAFSW’s Global Link newsletter, Build a Community Website with WordPress. The short version is: if you have any previous experience with blogging at all, this is pretty easy. And did I mention it’s completely free?
Our community website is (sadly) being ignored by the Community Liaison Office here at post. Though we have offered several times to make space available for generic tri-mission community information of the type that is available on the Brasilia site, there has been no response. But, the post newsletter editor has been willing to include notices about the site. We’ve gotten some great feedback from community members. And, our team now consists of several occasional contributors and four regular and enthusiastic writers/reviewers, two of whom had never blogged before. Bingo! A really worthwhile volunteer opportunity has been created for family members with an interest in travel writing, photography, etc. This can only be an asset to post morale.
Sometimes, State is ahead of the curve. You can certainly say that when it comes to recognition of LGBT rights, for example. Alas, when it comes to matters of technology–even the most basic technology–this is not usually the case. As family members, we have a choice: twiddle our thumbs and wait around for State to catch up, or do what we can to help ourselves. A community website is one small step in that direction, in my opinion. Now, the family members of potential bidders on Vienna and newcomers to post have a great one-stop resource with links to most of the information they need to get settled here. And to get out and enjoy the post! (That morale thing again.)
Security concerns? Well, there’s an answer to that. If you really don’t think that Foreign Service family members have the common sense to keep sensitive information off a website in the interest of protecting themselves and their families, set up an official CLO website under RSO supervision at post. Better get started, or spouses will beat you to it.
I am the webmaster for Trivienna, but I also contribute content on a regular basis. Rather than repost those articles here–restaurant reviews would be kind of a strange addition to my blog, really–I’ve added an RSS feed of those posts to the sidebar. So, if you are reading my blog because you are thinking about bidding on Vienna, or are going to be posted here, you might want to check those out, along with the rest of the Trivienna site.
If you are thinking, hmmm, my post could really use a website like this, please refer to the aforementioned article, or to this one, about the Brasilia CLO blog. And feel free to to email me. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about the design and content of our site.
Fantastic resource!! A family that arrived last Friday was just raving about it 🙂
Looks great, Kelly! Like I needed another project to consider…maybe one of the new people will have web skills and want to start this. We could use this in Moscow–we aren’t tri-mission, but we have three very separate housing areas, and people without kids in city apartments, and it would be nice to have an online place to meet.
Brilliant. I’m inspired now! Thank you for sharing!
I love the TriVienna website and use it all the time! Out of curiosity, why are the comments turned off on all the posts? Security?
Thanks! We turned off the comments just because we would rather spend time writing about stuff and building up the site than moderating comments. The spam on websites like this can get to be really annoying.
We just launched our CLO blog here in Dakar this week! It is so much easier than putting together the large weekly newsletter that is sent out PDF style. This keeps the mailboxes clean, is accessible from home, and RSO is ok with it because there is no sensitive info being put out. We send a weekly one-page email with that sort of information, just how it would have been in the newsletter. Still a work in progress, and it too was modeled off of Brasilia’s!
Such a great idea! I am definitely taking this with me to our next post, especially because I love blogging.