Gather is a web application for managing cohousing communities. It has been in use at three Ann Arbor communities since the fall of 2015. Here are some stats:
- There are 242 active users.
- About 500 meals (14,000+ servings) have been run through the system so far, amounting to nearly $50,000 billed.
- Over 2,700 reservations have been made.
Below is a detailed list of features.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or if you’d like to try it out for free!
Gather’s initial purpose was as a meals administration system. Gather communities tend to have very healthy meals programs.
We believe this is in large part thanks to Gather and a preceding, now-retired system from which Gather drew inspiration.
Meals support is robust, and includes:
- A full billing system (see below)
- Multiple signup types (adult, senior, teen, kid; meat/veg) with customizable cost formulas
- Beautiful, detailed reporting so you can see how your meals program is working
- Calendar exports so meals show up in your Google Calendar, for example
- A pretty, printable summary sheet for cooks
- Email reminders for workers and diners
- Automatic integration with facility reservations (see below)
- Ability to easily email meal attendees
- Gather is the central place for all your member info
- Easy photo uploading with drag and drop
- Contact sync to smartphones or other contact systems via CardDAV
- Search for users by name
- Full user profiles including birthdays, vehicles, and emergency contact info
- Automated profile update reminders so things stay fresh
- Printable version with photos and basic details
- Household pages
- Book rooms, vehicles, or other resources
- Daily, weekly, and monthly calendar views
- Customizable, rich-text resource guidelines so users are reminded of community policies at the time of reservation
- Fine-grained reservation policies including things like event type, max. days per year, max. length, max. days in advance, etc.
- Exportable reservation calendars
- Diners receive a regular account statement
- They can view current and past statements and get payment instructions
- Automated statement generation and emailing
- Ability to adjust meal signups at time of finalizing to accommodate late signups
- Cooks can receive a credit in lieu of reimbursement for grocery expenses
- Adjustable, per-user credit limits
- Beautiful design, delightful and easy to use (or that’s what users say at least!)
- Easy sign-in with a Google account
- A single sign-in for all services – no passwords to remember, and you only need to update your profile info in one place
- Built with data security in mind, using industry-standard frameworks and libraries
- Highly reliable, 99.99% uptime
- Responsive design looks and works great on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops
- Fine grained permissions system with roles like admin, photographer, meal biller, meal coordinator, etc.
- For nearby communities, ability to share meals, resources, and contact info, and customize what is shared and what is private
- Fully open source
Gather does a lot but it could do so much more. We’ve got big plans. In particular:
- Shared work system for managing community labor
- Full event calendaring system, tightly integrated with meals, reservations, meetings, birthdays, etc.
- Google Drive integration for document storage and collaborative editing
- Mailman integration for community email
- Emergency SMS alerts
- Wiki for frequently accessed community information
- “Meeting Minder” for coordinating meeting notice, agenda templates, minutes review and distribution, space reservation, etc.
- Online bill payments
- QuickBooks integration
- Private resource lending
- Other great ideas that you all will come up with!?
As you can see, many of the above features arise from the unique needs of cohousing communities. Each one of them represents a pain point in the operation of our communities here in Ann Arbor. Building solutions for them into a convivial tool could make everyone’s lives easier and perhaps also make the prospect of starting new cohousing communities that much less daunting.
Gather is a project of Sassafras Tech Collective, an Ann Arbor-based worker cooperative.