GringoTree, Cuenca’s four-year-old expat email network, expands its services and launches a website

Nov 12, 2012

GringoTree, Cuenca’s email information network, is expanding.

Created four years ago by Cuenca expats Penny Ripple and David Morrill, the subscriber service yesterday introduced its new GringoTree.com website, offering a number of expanded features, easy-to-use enhancements, and paid-advertising options.

According to Morrill, the change was necessary to accommodate the flourishing subscriber list, which recently surpassed 5,000.

“Because we’ve grown so much, it made sense to expand the format and provide more services,” he says, noting that GringoTree is the largest English-speaking expat network in Ecuador and, as far as he knows, among the largest in the world focused on a single expat community.
  
GringoTree, hosted by the English-language news site CuencaHighLife.com, had modest beginnings in December 2008.

“Penny went through the local newspapers, translated information about events into English, and sent them out to a few dozen subscribers,” Morrill says. “When expats asked her questions she couldn’t answer or someone had something to sell, she sent those out too.”

Today, GringoTree publishes more than 120 messages, notices, and announcements per week and, according to some subscribers, has become an indispensible part of everyday expat life in Cuenca.

“Before I came to Cuenca, GringoTree was, hands-down, the best source of information I found. Now that I live here, it still is,” says Kathy McClary, who moved to Cuenca in February. “It’s about what’s really happening, what people are doing, what doctors they recommend, what questions they’re asking.”

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Kurt Cowan, who lives in California and plans to move to Cuenca next spring, agrees. “GringoTree is great. I’ve found a lot of what I read about Cuenca to be inaccurate. With GringoTree, you get a real-time snapshot of what’s happening.”

GringoTree’s expansion is the result of a partnership between Morrill and Deke Castleman, who teamed up with Morrill in 2010, and Cuenca expats Richard and Sheryle Verkley and Bob Gordon, who joined the project in July 2012.

According to Castleman, it was time to bring new energy and resources to GringoTree. “Dave and I realized that opportunity was knocking, and Richard, Sheryle, and Bob are now helping us open those doors.”

Castleman is quick to point out that though the changes are substantial and have been in the works for many months, they won’t have any impact on GringoTree’s core mission.

“Our purpose remains what it’s always been: to provide the current and prospective Cuenca community with information of interest,” he says. “Only now, it’s centralized, categorized, chronologized, fully searchable, and user-friendly. And subscriptions are still, and hopefully always will be, free.”

New GringoTree website features include expanded Cuenca news coverage, in partnership with CuencaHighLife.com; one-click links to respond to postings; a convenient template to submit postings; a database search function of archived GringoTree posts by keywords; consolidated recommendations for products and service by expats who’ve used them; articles about the Cuenca expat lifestyle; and tutorials on how to get the most benefit from the new features. Other features, to be added soon, are restaurant, business and lodging directories.

In addition to the new website features, GringoTree posting policies have changed, says Castleman. “The major difference is that businesses can now buy advertising to reach the expat community. Most personal postings continue to be free.”

“The response has been immensely gratifying, almost overwhelming,” says Morrill about Cuenca’s reception of the new GringoTree.com. “Richard and Sheryle Verkley, Bob Gordon, Jonathan Mogrovejo, Heidi Brito, and the rest of the GringoTree team all deserve the big round of applause.”

To go to the new website, click here. For information about advertising, write DisplayAd@GringoTree.com. Questions and comments can be directed to Feedback@GringoTree.com.

Photo captions: (In descending order) Penny Ripple, David Morrill and Deke Castleman.

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