Virtual Lancaster has finally achieved the goal we've been aiming for for 15 years; an interactive website with a content management system that the whole community can access and edit — that is flexible enough to reflect and respond to the diverse interests and needs of local people.
The website was developed by local designer Andrew Baxter, who has worked closely with the VL team over the last 4 years to develop close understanding of the site's mission and the practicalities involved in attempting to fulfil it. The result is a custom-built website designed entirely to freely offer opportunities to our unique, diverse and vibrant community. To me it is a beautiful, complex and sensitive creation. It takes after its dad.
(If you do come across any bugs please contact email@example.com telling us time and date, what happened, what page you found it on and what browser and device you were using. Thanks for your help!)
The Events Calendar — 'What's on'
The Virtual Lancaster events calendar is the most comprehensive and up to date in the area, and to make it even better Andrew has built the most sophisticated calendar we have ever seen. It can take in your one-night-only gig or your irregularly-scheduled series of workshops without breaking sweat. Upcoming events appear on the right side of the homepage. If you click on 'What's on' in the menu running left to right across the top left of every page you will go to the main calendar, which now contains every event that was in our old one, thanks to a complex import process. To add an event just login/register at the top right corner of any page, then click on 'Add Content' in the top left menu and start filling in your event details.
You can post your own news items and publicise your own events, campaigns and causes. If you see something you believe should have wider recognition, you can tell it here, in your own words. Just login/register, click on Add Content and you're good to go.
If you have a business, a skill, craft or trade, a charity, an organisation, a group or association you would like the community to know about, you can list it in the Virtual-Lancaster classified Listings. It took a long time to develop a system that could attempt to organise the incredibly intricate, complex and diverse entities that form the energetic nodes of a community, without pinning them into false limitations. By enabling you to own, access and update your own tistings we hope that we can empower you and your 'thing' to be what you want to be as resiliently as we believe you can. Initially your listings will be moderated before publishing, but it's not hard to become validated as a trusted author for a business or other organisational listing. If your colleagues trust you to do it, we get it. To add your listing just login, click on Add Content and you're good to go.
Take ownership of your listing
If you find your listing is already on the website, you can find out how to adopt it here. Adopting it means that you can be validated as its future author so you can make changes and updates to it as circumstances change.
There are some clever bells and whistles on this website and as you use it you'll get to understand how they can help you. The 'Related Pages' option you see when you create an item means that you can make other site items, listings and news stories appear in the right sidebar of your item's page that you think are relevant to it and will help people engage more in your item and its scope. Your're not an island, right?
All in all, it's a big day for us and we hope that it turns out to be a big day for you too. In a good way! Working at Virtual-Lancaster puts me in a unique position to witness the incredible energy, creativity, kindness and huge-heartedness of our community. Every day I get reports of people going out of their way to create events and do work for the benefit of their neighbours, their community, and often for people they have never even met. The diversity of interests is staggering, the dedication and resilience is inspiring to me, every day. Our community is rich, a cauldron of energy held together by good manners, empathy, intelligence, tolerance and wit. I feel privileged to be a part of it. But the truth is, we've never beenable to keep up with it all. And we probably never will. But this new website brings us the chance to be a lot more use to a lot more people who both need and deserve it.
Editor John Freeman has been a tower of strength, keeping us going and constantly exploring innovations over the years that have seen the site blog and facebook presence solidly established. Adam Addis has worked long hours transferring and updating content from the old site to the new and learning the nuts and bolts of the new site. Peter Clarke has kept us entertained with his weekly cinema roundup and reviews. Mary Kinane has kept us posted on developments in the world of disability access and our local infrastructure and literally thousands of people have kept us posted on developments at every level of our community. And, finally, Andrew Baxter has introduced us to webtech possibilities we barely understand — and then built them for us.
Dean Marshall Consultancy
We owe a huge debt of thanks to Dean Marshall Consultancy, the company that has been hosting us, pro-bono, for over ten years now. Dean and his co-workers have always been unfailingly and immediately helpful, supportive and flexible and we could not have got this far without their material and practical help, support and advice.
It was with deepest regret that I heard today of the death of Michael Nunn, who was for several years the Virtual-Lancaster Arts editor. Michael was an accomplished and sensitive human who truly deserved the title 'renaissance man'. Michael found a haven in Lancaster and he was keen to give back to the community he had found his home in. His energy and productivity were legendary and his many erudite and witty reviews are still treasured in our archive. He could have really gone to town with this new site. He was responsible for recognising and encouraging many budding artists in their careers. He was a character. A star. Special. On behalf of the team and myself, we extend our deepest condolences to his husband John and to all who knew and loved him. We will miss him.
Virtual Lancaster is a loosely-based community organisation, run by unpaid volunteers, independent of outside funding. We do have unavoidable costs, which we meet through donations and very limited and carefully vetted advertising that we believe is of local benefit. Your donations mean a lot to us, however small, because they don't just represent cash to us, they are a vote of confidence and recognition of our efforts on behalf of the community we love. It all helps to keep us going. So please, if you are minded to, if you can spare it and you think it's worth it, donate to Virtual-Lancaster.
Independent community website for Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham and the surrounding area.