A background image for the top section, a photo of mountains next to a lake, with clouds overhead

Volunteer Project: The Blue Dawn Website

The Blue Dawn is a volunteer collective that connects Bahujan people with cast-aware mental health therapists.

Volunteer Project: The Blue Dawn Website

The Blue Dawn is a volunteer collective that connects Bahujan people with cast-aware mental health therapists, and sometimes with supporters who will sponsor sessions directly. I recently built them a WordPress site using Roots's Bedrock and Timber/Twig templating.

This project started because a friend reached out asking if I'd speak with a friend of a friend who was working on a new nonprofit and needed a website. I connected with TBD's founder, Divya Kandukuri, and spoke about their needs. They didn't need much – just a site with a CMS and some forms. I got the sense that Divya was supremely competent and had picked a really good intervention point: directly connecting people with resources that can help them in their time of greatest need, raising awareness about one of the most vicious forms of oppression, and helping those affected build community resilience among those affected by it.

How could I not get involved with such a great project! Besides, I was taking some extra time off work anyway, and I am trying to find more ways to be directly useful to smaller organisations rather than always (as I do at my day job) working with larger scale tech systems for more professionalised organisations.

Check out the repository here

We have been using Bedrock at work so I started there. The other WordPress site I maintain uses Sage, so I used that to deploy the first draft of the site at thebluedawn.org. But the design I wanted wasn't easy to execute even with Sage's relatively simple (but still very WordPress-y), so I added the Timber plugin and started porting the theme into Twig templates like this one.

A screenshot of TheBlueDawn.org's top section showing the site's title and a brief description with two buttons to get started, overlaid over an image of Bahujan leaders A screenshot of The Blue Dawn's google form to join the counselors network A screenshot of TheBlueDawn.org's section titled 'What We Do' showing three cards with brief explanations for matching people with good counselors, building the network of caste-aware counselors, and sponsoring counseling sessions for others

The styles are BootStrap 4 with very little customisation. The WordPress server is my own Digital Ocean box where I host another WP site. And Cloudflare manages the DNS and provides its free Universal SSL. Since I already had the server, the site is basically free to run for the foreseeable future (which is important for a volunteer collective that doesn't have funding).

Left to do:

  • Replace the remaining Blade templates with Twig templates
  • Different index pages for different post types, like Media/Press
  • WP Admin control over the content on the Home page or in the Banner. Right now it's just an index of recent posts, with a lot of hard-coded content before it, which means it's only a good solution as long as I remain actively involved and available to make updates.
  • Figure out how to better control plugins and mu-plugins.
  • Establish some proper seed data to make the site easier for others to develop on.