Making the tech work

(Part of my series on coven life in practice)

Phoenix: silhouette of phoenix in white on blue circle

One thing that’s changed a lot since my own training is technology. I started as a Dedicant in 2001, when access email was fairly common, but many people didn’t check it every day (or even, sometimes, weekly) and dealing with complex discussions about files could be annoying because you’d have to keep track of which version you had.

Cell phones existed, but not everyone had them, so you also had to check whether it was okay to leave a Pagan-specific message at the number someone gave you, or whether it was a work phone number or a shared family one. 

These days, the world looks a lot different! Here’s how I’m using technology with my Dedicants.

General communication: 

I let them know that I prefer most things in email – it’s the easiest tool for me to mark something for later (I can send it right to my todo list), it’s the easiest tool for finding information later, and I have a record of what I sent.

(Most of the time I’m good with this right now, but a flare of some of my chronic health stuff can mess with my executive function or bring brain fog as an unwelcome houseguest, so I try to have tools in place all the time that will help if those things happen.) 

I make it clear I’m okay getting texts or phone calls, but chances are pretty good I may not pick up or respond quickly both because my phone isn’t always handy, and because both my office and my apartment have sometimes iffy signal. 

We have a Google calendar with dates for upcoming events. 

Class notes:

I write up my class notes (usually in a fairly minimalist outline form, but noting any specific information or details I want to make sure are accurate.) I don’t share these since they’re so minimal – they’re reminders for me of what I want to talk about, rather than full teaching notes. 

This is by far how I prefer to teach, as it works much better for me to keep a class conversational rather than a lecture. It feels a lot more natural to pick up a related topic because of a question, or to note a thing to come back to.

I use my iPad (which has a Bluetooth keyboard) to read from while I’m teaching, and I add quick notes about things that come up or to send along afterwards. That helps me remember to send those things out or follow up about them. 

Other files

We have a Google Drive folder with several subfolders. 

The Group Practices folder has general group information – a document with some practices we’ve discussed so they can be referenced later (what happens if you’re sick, what about confidentiality, what about guests, what about other activities together, etc.) 

The Dedicant Class Materials folder is for class files (I usually keep the the most recent couple at the main folder level, for ease of reference). 

And then I have a folder for individual files – each person has one which is just shared with me and them. They can put things in there they want me to look at or check over, without sharing it with everyone. (I tell them that I won’t look at things in there unless they ask me to, so email me or otherwise let me know to look at things when they’re ready.) 

After each class, I set up a document in the shared drive that has notes about any upcoming things to be aware of, links I wanted to share from class, and pointers to the tags related to this class’s topics. That serves as documentation for all of us that we can check, and makes it easier for me to be sure I’ve shared key information in a way we can all reference later if we need to. 


Finally, to share links, I have a Pinboard account. Pinboard is a great bookmark sharing site.

For the Phoenix Song account, all bookmarks are public, and I am adding them gradually (from my own personal account, from rummaging for things I know are online, etc.) as we go. That helps keep it manageable: I’m adding 5-10 links most classes, rather than trying to go through hundreds on a wide range of Pagan topics and having to remember where I left off. 

Each bookmark gets at least one tag, and then I can tell my Dedicants to check the particular tags for a class topic. For example, class 2 was about research and learning, and one of the relevant tags is ‘research.skills’. Keeping it easy to maintain is key for me with this kind of thing: if it gets too bulky, it’s too easy to get behind. 

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