Open Outreach welcomes new partner Praxis Labs

A managed hosting service will be the first fruit of a new partnership between Chocolate Lily Web Projects and the Montreal-based cooperative Praxis Labs aimed at strengthening and expanding the nonprofit-focused Open Outreach Drupal distribution.

Getting here

Collaboration between Chocolate Lily and Praxis comes out of a community engagement process that began last fall.

Powering over 500 sites, Open Outreach is the most-used Drupal distribution focused on community organizations and nonprofits. The software has been developed largely as a volunteer contribution by the two-person team at Chocolate Lily.

In late 2013, we as Open Outreach contributors began a process aimed at expanding and strengthening the project. We were interested in particular in the prospect of forming a technology cooperative that could include both developers and users of the software.

One of the groups we connected with is Praxis, a Montreal-based worker’s cooperative specializing in Drupal and Aegir, a software used for managed hosting of Drupal sites. Their core principles of collective management, transparency, copyleft, and solidarity closely align with those of Chocolate Lily and the philosophy and aims we brought to Open Outreach.

And, crucially, Praxis’ core focus area dovetails with a key project need. While Open Outreach provides out of the box a lot of great functionality for a nonprofit web presence, the work of downloading, installing, and upgrading a site remains a key barrier,  particularly to small organizations. Even when groups have the skills to manage hosting, sites are often slow or unreliable on shared hosts.

Enter Praxis and an affordable and reliable managed hosting platform.

Rather than immediately digging into the work of creating a new entity like a technology coop, Chocolate Lily and Praxis decided that “doing” was the key first step.

New services

Praxis will be offering a hosted version of Open Outreach which will allow groups quickly and easily to get going with an Open Outreach site, and, perhaps more importantly, free themselves from the ongoing technical requirements for maintaining and upgrading. The site is now hosted by Praxis and you can see how well it performs in comparison to many Drupal or Open Outreach sites on shared hosting. Praxis is hard at work building out the infrastructure for a one-click install service for Open Outreach sites.

Chocolate Lily will still be available for hire to work with groups in customizing or extending Open Outreach sites for cooperative, nonprofits and activist grassroots groups.

And beyond

As our collaborative work together expands, we’ll look to bring in new partners and continue to explore ways that groups using Open Outreach also can have a direct role in shaping its direction and organizational structure. For example, we’d love to bring in a partner focused on design and theming. Interested? Please get in touch.

And for those interested in the new hosting platform, we’ll be rolling it out in the next week or so. Stay tuned!