The current look of Rachel's Haven can be credited to 5 people:
Toying with code to get the overall look were Cassandra and Sara.
Designing custom graphics, including the logo were Leelee and Mickey.
Designing the new disclaimer/entrance page was Crystal
....and in my opinion, a great job they all did!
On October 3, 2006 I setup hosting, but on October 6, 2006 the software was installed and invitations to join the community began to go out. Sure it was all hush hush until February 2007 while trying to set everything up in terms of policy and making sure the software we began with was working well together, but the community itself was born with the first one hundred people who received the link and an invitation to join on October 6, 2006.
The idea of the Haven was something born over time. I spent most of the year hoping to find a community that already fit the bill, I even spent time helping other communities establish new aspects of themselves, but in the end it just felt like things were still missing. Though a couple places came close to what I had been looking for I just couldn't shake what was missing.
I wanted to attach the original message I had posted of the idea of the Haven, but unfortunately it's so lost not even the Wayback Machine could retrieve the page I posted it all to. Unfortunately I can't even remember what I said, but apparently it was good enough for several people to contribute startup cash through Amazon Honor System and PayPal. The promised community was enticing enough to draw interest from other captioners at the time, which became the beta testers. Everyone invited in those first few months either already had a hand in the TF/TG community at large or had begun to contribute in some way before it was even a public site. Back then the site itself varied drastically in appearance and functionality from day to day as we tried to manage software we had no understanding of and force different systems to bridge together for the first time. Policies could change on a weekly basis, and probably one third or more of the members had a staff title of some sort.
On February 20, 2007 the site became public knowledge. Within hours our traffic had spiked so much that our host assumed we were being attacked and shut down the domain until they managed to get hold of me. In truth we weren't attacked until 2009 when a hacker took advantage of a security hole in a modification to the forum in order to use our domain to attack a small college in Canada. That time they also shut us down, but we were able to verify the integrity of the code and remove the door they had used quickly.
When I began what would lead to the Haven my goal was simple and quite small. A community which dabbled in a little bit of everything, but could point you in the direction of something more focused on what you may be looking for. I never expected it to become the destination, more of a fun place to stop on the journey. Things changed when I opened the future of the site up to the early staff by inviting them to take part in shaping the community with me. It's a decision which led to something that while similar to some places I had hung my hat over the past year (as I had invited people from just about every stop along the way) it was still truly something standing alone at the time we opened the doors.
It's been an interesting ride to this point. This community has evolved far beyond my expectations of what I was putting together. All that's left is to see what it becomes in the next 10 years.