Members Voice, June 1997
Since I am new to the Voisins coop, I wanted to introduce Rina and myself to everyone here. I suspect I will have met many new friends by the time you are reading this, but hope that this letter will allow more of us to say 'hello' in the halls.

Rina and I will be getting married on August 9'th, and our apartment here in the coop is our first home together. It will represent many new things for us: a new marriage and learning new things about each other, and a new style of living within the coop as neither of us have lived in a cooperative home before. When we were looking for a new home together, we spoke to many of our friends for ideas. A couple of these friends included Nancy Shaver, Mike Kaulbars, and Mike Gifford all of which live in Voisins. They all indicated that we would fit in quite well.

Rina is a high-school biology teacher, currently teaching at J.S. Woodsworth in Nepean. She has a very soft spot in her heart for children of all ages, which is partly why she became a teacher. When we were being interviewed for living in the coop, one of the ideas that came up was the possibility of a homework time and tutoring possibilities in the common room. I suspect that there will be more talk about this in the future between Rina and some of the parents currently living in the coop.

I am one of those people who make a living in the high-tech field here in Ottawa. Unlike many of my peers who work at BNR, Corel, or other larger companies, I am a self employed consultant, and find that what differentiates me is not a knowledge of technology, but philosophical views on how best to apply this knowledge.

I see computers as a tool to aid human relationships, primarily in the area of inter-personal communication. I have become very active in the area of community networking, which is a movement to make use of computers as a tool to help build and/or strengthen communities. Those of you who have signed up to the National Capital Freenet are already familiar with the concepts: I am just part of the movement to extend the reach and ease of use of these tools.

I am lucky to be self-employed in my profession by being allowed to regulate the amount of work that I do, and concentrate on the parts of life that I feel are most important. While my consulting work pays the bills, my real interest has been in areas where I have mostly been doing volunteer work: I use the same skills, but the end result is often very different.

As an example, I run the technical side of a service called FLORA Community WEB off of my own computing resources. This service is used by a number of organizations to help communicate with their membership or the community as a whole: groups involved range from environmental and activist groups such as PERC, Auto-Free-Ottawa and the Citizens for Safe Cycling, educational groups such as the Home Based Learning network and the HomeSchool resource page, to medical areas such as the Ask-A Doctor resource. I hope that we will form a place on FLORA for the Voisins coop, both as a way to let the outside world know about us (Including advertising available apartments ;-), as well as a way to introduce to each other some of our more shy members who might be online and able to get to know each other that way first before getting together in person.

Recently my volunteer work has brought me into political involvement. It was first with the cuts to social services by the current Harris Government, and then with the issues brought forward during the election. It surprised me very much to find out that both the Federal Government and Provincial Government were wanting to get out of the 'housing business'. The very use of the word 'business' makes me feel uncomfortable, as does the extreme focus towards money that our society is continuously pushing. I now hope to work with other coop members to make sure that the things many of us hold as important are not lost in the global economic games that our governments seem to want to play.

I hope this small introduction will entice you to knock on our door for a chat, or stop us in the halls. For myself I would be just as interested chatting about technical stuff as I would about social and political things, or even just about the weather. I am always interested in meeting new people, and hopefully through talking, be able to get a glimpse of another way to look at the world.

If you are part of the online world and wish to say HI that way, the FLORA Website can be found at, and our Email addresses are and

Russell McOrmond, #609