by Chris Dornan on August 14, 2008

Welcome to the new CHIBAH Blog.  This photo of me was taken at the recent CCH conference, so discreetly that I didn’t realise it had been taken until it appeared on the CCH website.

The CHIBAH Website: Work in Progress

First I would like to say a bit about this website which is more than just a website to us.  Some of our member co-operatives are also looking to develop or redevelop their websites and we are looking at how we can help, and looking at ways we can offer this as a service to housing co-operatives and similar organisations.

The website is based on the WordPress engine using Chris Pearson’s Thesis design and I am impressed by the craftsmanship that has gone into the whole package.  Don’t be distracted by the incomplete website. We will be filling out the content and refining the design to produce a more professional look in time. We are trialling the development process that we want to use to roll out the technology to our own member co-operatives and beyond (this process of trying something out on your own organisation first before offering iut to others is sometimes called eating your own dog food).

The alternative would be to have an ‘expert group’ to deliver the new website as a fait acompli.  However we want to give our members an opportunity to take part in the process and give us feedback and suggestions that we can use to complete the design.  Rolling out the website early also provides them with a stimulus to help us fill in the missing content for the website. Once it becomes clear how much redesign work we need to do we can carry out the design work and plug in the new design, something that is practical because WordPress does an excellent job of keeping the content of the site (the textual information) and the design of the site separate (you wouldn’t want to have to re-edit all of the site’s content after completing a redesign, yet this would happen much more extensively with first-generation website technologies).

We feel that this rapid-prototype approach to website design better fits the democratic requirements of co-operatives. Co-operatives also have less of a need for a big-bang development model where the all of the finished design is rolled out on launch.

The point about it is that it allows presentable websites to be built quickly and allow our members to become familiar with the technology and prepare for maintaining them themselves.  I think of it as a bit like using a production type font instead of trying to use our own type designs in a publication; it doesn’t guarantee beautiful publications but it takes you a long way in the right direction.  There has been quite a move to use WordPress in this way, powered on by the offerings of Chris Pearson, Brian Gardiner and others.


Here in the we will talk discuss general issues relating to housing co-operatives as well as CHIBAH projects and news.

I have written a few articles to get us going.

  • The CCH Conference: A write-up on the CCH conference with  emphasis on the governance challenges facing the co-operative housing movement as it seeks to respond to the current political climate.
  • Double Trouble: The first of a short series of articles on double-entry bookkeeping taking as an example the accounts I am maintaining at Monkey Puzzle H. C..
  • Open Co-operatives: This article leads on naturally from the first two.  To explain how I am preparing Monkey Puzzle’s accounts I chose to take the accounts themselves as a running example, so opening up the Monkey Puzzle accounts.  This I propose to adopt as a permanent policy and ask whether this is a good idea in general?
  • A New Website Collective: in this article I explain how we are making over the website/email infrastructure of CHIBAH and our member co-operatives and propose a new style of website collective to develop the expertise within the co-operative housing movement in this increasingly important area.

I am writing these articles to try and get the ball rolling and may keep doing so until I can get some other authors to contribute.  If you would like to write an article please drop me a line.

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