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About The Berkeley Parents Network
What is the BPN?
Berkeley Parents Network operates a parent-run email forum
parents who live
in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Parents are able to subscribe to
the forum and post questions and answers on topics
related to parenting using our website.
Volunteers compile submissions
from subscribers and mail out 7 different
newsletters each week.
Many of the discussions from the newsletters
are later archived to the BPN website, which has more
than 6,000 pages on different topics.
BPN gives busy parents an easy way to help and support each other
by posting a message to one of the newsletters via the website. Members can ask
questions about parenting, give advice to other parents,
find out about local resources and community events,
look for childcare, sell household items, and more.
Most people find us via our website, which includes
an archive of selected discussions from the newsletters.
See About the BPN Website for more
BPN, which recently formed a not-for-profit entity, is run entirely by
volunteers. None of us is trying to make money off BPN, and no one
wants to spin it into a business. We have built it to be a shared
resource for the community. BPN is useful because thousands of busy
parents have taken the time to enlighten and inform us with their
suggestions, their wisdom, and their experience. It's a gift that we
all benefit from. Please use it in this spirit!
The driving force behind the Berkeley Parents Network is an intense desire to make
information available. We aim to help parents be better parents and better people,
by giving them an easy way to take advantage
of, and contribute to, the great pool of knowledge we posses when we all put
our heads together.
How does it work?
Berkeley Parents Network publishes 7 different
newsletter that are emailed to subscribers every week.
See the List of the Newsletters for
a list of the newsletters and when each newsletter is mailed out.
Each of the BPN newsletters is moderated by a volunteer.
Members post a message or a question to one of the newsletters
by filling out the webform on the BPN website
for the newsletter they want to post to.
See Which newsletter? for a list of topics
and the newsletter they appear in.
Filling out the webform sends your posting to the moderator for that newsletter, who saves
the posting to include in an upcoming newsletter.
After a newsletter is mailed out, subscribers can reply to postings by again
filling out the webform for the appropriate newsletter.
Postings from some of the newsletters, such as Recommendations and
Advice, are eventually archived to the website so they can be
publicly available. The time-sensitive postings (childcare, for sale
items, events and announcements) are not archived to the website and only
appear in the email newsletters.
For more technical information,
see How to Start a Resource like BPN
How many people are on the list?
As of today:
- Berkeley Parents Network: 33,999
- Parents of Teens: 7,176
Most BPN subscribers have young children at home, and live in the East Bay,
though all ages are represented on
the list and members live in a variety of other cities in the
San Francisco Bay Area.
The newsletters are a digest of messages submitted by BPN
subscribers. Newsletters are moderated by a group of volunteer
parents. Here is a list of
BPN Volunteers past and present.
How long has the list been around?
How did it start?
The Berkeley Parents Network was started in 1993 by Ginger Ogle, then
a Computer Science graduate student at UC Berkeley and the mother of 2 school-aged
children. The list was originally for student parents in Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). We were working on a proposal
for parental and maternity leave for EECS grad student parents and we
used the mailing list to "rally the forces". The EECS faculty accepted
our proposal and we subsequently used the list to get an office for
parents in Soda Hall, along with diaper changing tables in the men's and
women's restrooms. Over the years, the list grew, most messages were
beyond the scope of just the EECS department, so in 1995 we opened it
up to all UC Berkeley campus parents. The list that started with 14 graduate
students reached 250 members in March 1996 and doubled to 500 members
in March 1997. It doubled again to reach 1000 members by late 1998. In
that year, we opened the list to community members as the result of a
collaboration with the Neighborhood Moms organization (later called
Neighborhood Parents Network). In 1999, the newsletter was split into
four parts to make it more manageable. Also in that year, a separate
list for parents of teens was started by Sally Nasman, whose children
attended King Middle School and Berkeley High School. Membership reached
the 2,000 mark in 2000, and by the end of 2001 we had doubled to 4,000.
The end of 2003 found our membership nearly doubled again, at 7,600. We
reached 10,000 members in the Fall of 2004. Ten years later, BPN had
more than 30,000 subscribers and continues to grow at the rate of about
100 new subscribers each week.
Although new subscribers continue to tell us they hear about BPN by word of mouth, today most people are finding us through our website after
doing an internet search for a particular topic.
Is it a publication of the University of California?
No. But BPN would not exist without the University of California.
We use UC Berkeley resources to mail out the newsletters,
and the BPN website runs on the UC Berkeley web server. But we are
independently run by community volunteers.
For many years the BPN website ran on a computer in the UC Berkeley
Computer Science Division. In January 2006, we moved the BPN website to a
computer used by UC Berkeley to run campus websites, thanks to the
generosity of the Information Services and Technology
group on campus.
However, BPN is entirely parent-run for the sole benefit of parents in the
The website and newsletters are administered by a group of volunteer parents,
whom are affiliated with UC Berkeley, but we also
have community member volunteers. We post this
notice on every web page and in the welcome letter to new members:
The opinions and statements expressed on the Berkeley Parents Network mailing
list and web site are those of parents who belong to the mailing
list and should not be taken as a position of or endorsement by
the University of California, Berkeley.
We appreciate and acknowledge the use of campus resources to keep the BPN
up and running, and wish to thank Information
Services and Technology (IST) and CalWeb Consulting, in particular Tom Cline, for supporting the BPN website on campus computers.
Special acknowledgement goes to system administrators in Electrical
Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley
for both official and unofficial support through the years.
From 1993 till 2006, these
guys kept our server updated and patched, advised us on security issues, and
solved technical problems for us when they arose. Many thanks to Jon Forrest,
Alex Brown, Mark Kraitchman, Jon Kuroda, Phil Loarie, and Lars Rohrbach.
Thanks also goes to Professor Robert Wilensky for allowing the BPN
website to run on a machine used for his Computer Science research project
from 1995 - 2005.
We don't know of any other mailing lists
that operate like the Berkeley Parents Network on the same scale
as ours, but there are lots of other mailing lists for parents.
For groups and lists that we know about,
see Parent Groups in the San Francisco Bay Area
and Networks like BPN in Other Cities.
Here are other places to look for parenting groups:
a bulletin-board-like resource for cities that includes childcare, for sale, more
ParentSoup a popular commercial website with advice, chat rooms, etc.
BabyCenter another popular commercial website that focuses on babies
Also check at your local childcare referral organization such as Bananas in Alameda County
and Parents' Place in San Francisco.
See also: How to start a resource like BPN
Many web resources such as yelp,
yahoogroups and craigslist automatically archive messages to a public website.
BPN doesn't. BPN is a members-only, moderated email list. The only newsletter
postings we put on our public website are selected reviews and advice from the newsletters.
archive these discussions, we remove personal information from the post
such as last names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Each post is reviewed
again to make sure it meets BPN's policies.
For example, in the email newsletters, we accept self-recommendations from business owners in response to a question,
but we only archive recommendations from people who have first-hand
experience using the service or product, not promotional postings.
BPN was created before there were wikis, blogs, yahoogroups, or social networking.
Our newsletters and website were coded by hand to function exactly as we
wanted, and then improved over the years to accommodate a growing membership.
Until recently, there wasn't easy-to-deploy software that had the functionality we
needed. For example, yahoogroups could handle moderated newsletters but it didn't allow
total anonymity and it came with advertising. The upside is that our system is
totally customized for our exact needs. The downside is that BPN cannot be easily
replicated in other cities, and requires a person with technical skills to stay up
Things have changed now, with the
advent of blogging software like WordPress and content management systems like Drupal,
and BPN is now investigating using these tools for the future.
this page was last updated: Feb 12, 2014
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
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