Can a Community Save the World?

OEN Logo

If you visit the web pages of the Ontario Environment Network (OEN), their mission becomes immediately clear. Simply stated, it is to “Preserve our Environment”. So even before I spoke with the OEN coordinator, Phillip Penna, I had the greatest respect for him. That respect only grew with each conversation.

The “Communication Challenge”

Phllip believes that one of the most powerful ways to achieve his vision is by “facilitating communication and cooperation among organizations concerned with the preservation of the environment”. Yet facilitating this communication is not always easy. Phillip was facing several communication challenges.

  1. First, as Phillip said “I was acting as the main conduit through which information flowed. I needed a way for members to share information directly with their entire community.”
  2. On top of that, the OEN is an association of organizations, not individuals. So even though information would be disseminated to the member organizations, there was very little opportunity to “facilitate communication and cooperation”. After all, communication and cooperation is an activity undertaken by individuals who make up organizations - organizations themselves can’t “communicate or cooperate”.
  3. And finally, although the OEN membership is comprised of many caucuses, the OEN does not have the staff that would be required to support each caucus directly in their quest to communicate and collaborate.

The AssociCom Solution

Phillp now uses AssociCom as a tool to help achieve the OEN mission. His AssociCom community is a place where individuals from all of his member organizations come together. Information flows directly from the individuals not only to the other “organizations” but to the people within those organizations. This way information is always guaranteed to reach all of those who have an interest and a stake. In addition, since all those individuals are connected by their common interest, AssociCom gives them a mechanism where discussion, debate, questions and even votes can take place surrounding the issue. What used to be a one-way, limited information transfer can now be a dynamic living interactive knowledge community.

Each caucus also now has their own distinct community area (group) where members can organically (or as Phillip prefers “Convivially”) converge, share, collaborate and interact. Even more, because groups can have designated group administrators, this gives Phillip a mechanism to have natural leadership from within his membership emerge and lead their caucus. Caucuses can form and operate within the AssociCom environment without having to create or implement their own infrastructure.


We are incredibly proud to count Phillip Penna and the OEN among our customers. AssociCom is all about communication, collaboration and bringing people together to share common interests, support one another, and in this case “save the world”. Thanks Phillip!

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Murray Goldberg – AssociCom (murray at


About AssociCom: AssociCom ( is a private member networking tool built specifically for associations. It is focused on discovery of information and members, and has a sophisticated feature set facilitating in-house configuration, branding and customization, connectivity to your existing systems such as general website and member database, and professionally-oriented networking features such as member library, groups, reputation system, polling, question areas and much more. AssociCom is very affordable, can be set up immediately, and requires no upfront fees or long term commitments. You can create a trial site right now – there is no cost or obligation (

About Murray Goldberg: Murray Goldberg was a tenured faculty member in the department of Computer Science for over 10 years. He is a pioneer in the field of eLearning and social systems. His first company, WebCT, was the world’s most widely used learning management system – serving 14 million students in 80 countries at 4,000 universities and colleges. Since then Murray has gone on to create other social learning systems including Silicon Chalk, Brainify, and now AssociCom. Murray is a board member, advisor and consultant to the eLearning and social industry, has given over 200 keynote lectures and invited presentations and has been honoured with an honorary Ph.D. from the Southern Cross University, the 2004 $100,000 National Manning Innovation Award, the National CANARIE IWAY Award, the New Media Hyperion Award – and others – all for his work on eLearning and social systems.

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