What exactly is Villages?
Villages is an online platform designed to connect you with people in your local neighbourhood and local community. It’s the world’s first community-owned place-based online platform
How does it work?
Anyone who lives in the Bendigo region can sign up as a member of Villages. The first 30 days of your membership are free. After that there is a $5 monthly subscription fee
When you sign up:
- Your user profile is created
- A Village is created just for you. This is your very own space on the platform where you can connect and communicate with others.
- You will be able to see how many other users live close to you and their usernames.
- You can start adding people to your Village
- You can check out the different Communities that other users have created, join any that take your fancy, or even start your own
How many Villages are there on Villages?
Each Villager on the platform has their very own Village. Think of it as every user is the Admin of their own Village.
So, when the platform has 50 users, it will have 50 Villages. When we grow to 2000 users there will be 2000 Villages.
What is the difference between my Village and a Community?
Your Village is the space where you can connect your own hand-picked group of people who you know or want to know. Communities are spaces where multiple users can come together around a common interest/cause or connect with a local organisation.
What’s the difference between Villages and other platforms?
Commercial platforms that are ‘free’ generate their income from advertising and from selling your data. Did you know that when you post a photo on some platforms that you lose control over that photo – it becomes the property of the platform? The information about how often you use the platform, what you post, what you are interested in, who your friends are, where you go (yes it can track your location and share that information) is all shared with 3rd parties. By signing up to those platforms you agree that they can use and sell your data. Many of the commercial platforms also avoid paying local tax and the owners are billionaires. bHive is not like that. We have chosen to be a cooperative where the users own the platform. As a Villages subscriber you can join the co-operative and everyone has an equal vote on key decisions made. You can join the board AND we are local so pay taxes in Australia.
We have a group on Facebook already – why should I join Villages?
The main difference between Facebook and Villages is ownership and control but also the quality of your experience. Villages supports you to have a sharing library that is easy to manage and use. In Facebook posts can disappear so you have to scroll to find things and you may miss posts. In Villages you can easily find something that you want to borrow from someone in your Village.
Using My Village
What is My Village?
Your Village is made up of people who you actively choose to connect with. They can be people who live near you, or your friends from across the Bendigo region. Your Village grows as you invite people to join it, or you accept invitations from other people to join their Village. Because everyone gets to control who is or isn’t in their Village, no two Villages will be exactly the same.
What can I do in My Village?
Heaps of things!
- Add or remove people from your Village. When you add someone to your Village, they will have to approve the invitation- both users need to consent to being in each other’s Village.
- Write a public post: announce things, ask for things, give things away and tell stories of community connection.
- Set up events for people in your Village or join someone else’s event: set up a street drinks, a working bee, a pruning workshop or a street garage sale.
- Plan things together: discuss a topic (could we organise a shopping roster for new parents?), plan an event (when should we have our street Christmas party?) or design a project (like a street tree planting).
- Set up a Sharing Library: share your stuff or your skills or borrow and learn from others
- Verify that other users do live close by to you- this helps everyone be confident that users are who they say they are.
- Adjust how many notifications you receive.
- Send a direct message to anyone in your Village.
What distance do you recommend I use to start with when setting up my Village?
Start with thinking about who you would like to have in your Village – people that you want to share stuff with, organise a community event with, collaborate with etc and consider how far they live from you and start there.
Can I change the distance for the ‘boundaries’ of my Village?
Yes! This controls the number of other users you will see who live near your home.
You can choose to set the boundary of your Village at either 1.5km, 5km or 10km from your house. Don’t forget that you can always add someone to your Village who lives outside that boundary – all you need is their Villages username.
What is a community?
Communities are groups that you can choose to join. They are created by individuals or organisations and can be either public or private.
For example – you could create a community for people who are interested in playing the ukulele. If you made the community public – people across Bendigo could see it and ask to join. If you just wanted to create it for a specific group of ukulele players – you could make it private and invite those people to join. The administrators of any community can remove people if they are not being nice.
What can I do in a Community?
You can do almost everything in a Community that you can do in your Village (see above). The only exception is that Communities don’t have a sharing library.
Can I set up a private Community across Bendigo?
Yes. When creating a community, you can make it private and invite people to it. You could make a private family community or a private book club community for example.
Can I set up a Community for a local organisation?
Yes, if you have permission from that organisation. If you try to set up a community for an organisation, the bHive team will check with that organisation to make sure it is legitimate. Then you’re off and running.
What happens to my $5 a month?
Your $5 a month is the revenue of bHive cooperative. It pays for the next features of our tech platform, our running costs and our cooperative enterprise projects.
On Villages there is no advertising, we do not sell your data, there is no giant tech company deciding what content you see and no off-shore billionaire taking your money out of Australia. Your $5 stays in Bendigo with local people.
Each month, 4% of your $5 (20 cents) will go to local projects that aim to eradicate the causes of poverty locally or restore the ecology locally. It is the role of Co-op members to make these types of decisions, so we encourage you to become a member and help us shape the future of bHive.
Remember that bHive Bendigo is a co-operative so any financial surplus remains invested in the co-op.
Can we subscribe to Villages as a family or household?
No, at the moment if multiple people in a household want to be active users on Villages, they each need to have their own membership.
However, household memberships are on our wishlist for future tech updates. Let us know what you think about this- if lots of people really want this option, we will move it up the priority list on our tech roadmap.
Do all the people I want to add to My Village need to be subscribers to Villages?
Try to include those who are not on Villages …
Living around you, you might have an elderly neighbour without a computer, or teenagers who cannot have an account. Include them in local community events, projects and plans by all means. When you have a street event, knock on the door or put a note in letterboxes and invite people who are not on Villages. When the elderly neighbour wants to let the community know they have apricots to share, ask if they want you to post it on Villages.
Why can’t I connect with my friends who live outside of Bendigo?
Villages is about connecting people to the places that they live and creating local villages. This is what makes us different. Your friends can create their own Villages that will connect them to their neighbours and local community so we create what we call ‘an epidemic of local belonging’ that builds local connections to local place.
Do I have to pay for Villages straight away?
No! At the moment, new users to Villages get the first 30 days free.
Will other members see where I live?
No. They will know that you live within the distance they have set for the boundaries of their Village. But they will never get an address from the platform unless you give it to them. If you share stuff with them you might find out where they live, just like neighbours currently do when they interact.
Do I have to use my own name?
To register with Villages you need to use your own name. We are currently adding the ability to use a nickname on your public profile.
Who should I invite into my Village?
People that you already know or would like to know better. If you want to organise a street party then you might invite the people in your street to join Villages and then create a community of interest for your street. Or if you are comfortable you might invite them to join your Village We have some great flyers that you can use to invite neighbours to join your Village – just email us if you need more [email protected]
I am nervous about people knowing when I am going on holiday – what do you recommend?
There are benefits with trusted neighbours knowing that you are going to be away for a while, collecting your mail from the letterbox or maybe keeping an eye on the place. You are in control of who sees yours posts (people in your Village) and the information you share. You can also direct message people to give them information or ask them for help. bHive has been designed to provide connection and belonging between people so hopefully you will feel more relaxed about going on holiday knowing that people are keeping an eye on your home.
We are all human
What happens if someone breaks something that I shared with them?
Just like now when you borrow things from your friends and neighbours you have a responsibility to look after their stuff. Some house and contents insurance might cover you for loss or damage to your property – have a look at yours to see if it is covered.
You can decide who is in your Village and sees your sharing library. You can also decide what you want to share. bHive can take no responsibility for what happens to your stuff so please use common sense and only share what you are happy to see being used by others and consider that there might be risks involved.
How friendly should I be as I work from home and don’t want to be interrupted?
We know that sometimes when you connect with a neighbour, they might get a bit excited. We recommend you are clear about what is OK for example ‘ I work from home so please send me a message if you’d like to pop round and I’ll let you know if it is a good time’ or maybe ‘I work shifts so please send me a message before you knock on the door incase I am sleeping’
What happens if someone is behaving badly on the platform?
If the person is in your Village you can remove them from your Village.
If the person is in a community you are in, you can message the community administrator.
You can also report bad behaviour to the bHive admin team using [email protected]. Illegal behaviour, or behaviour that breaks the ‘Platform code of conduct’ will result in the person being removed from the platform.