Tag Archives: community

Share Something Every Day – Community From What’s Lying Around

Again, building connections between people through social objects. Social objects that are things or ideas that are sitting around waiting for someone to go “oh this is interesting” and someone else to go “yes I think so too” because that’s the beginning of a new relationship and lots of those together make a community. That’s the schtick.

It’s why blogging and social media can be really good for building community. At the moment, we give more attention to the connections that people make with each other through anger, resentment, confusion and hatred – finding common bonds in who we don’t like and in the arguments that show other people are just wrong.

So I try to weave into that environment some positive and useful bonds, ones that encourage diversity and start from the principle of inclusion. That’s why working in a church ought to be a good place to do it. Not all churches are as at home with diversity and inclusion as they profess to be on Sunday. I’m grateful though that I landed in one where it’s written into our mission. One of my worries at the moment is that the members of the Muslim community, who use our Hall for Friday prayers might not be able to come to lunch because they’re praying.

I had a few people to contact today after yesterday’s post about Friday Lunch. I also had some work to do on the website. Oh and the Bowls Club has some vacancies.

Following yesterday’s order of service from 1965, today I pulled out 18 chorister’s caps from the box. One or two of them still had name labels in them. I think they might have been the non-standard sized ones. It must have been important that they got the same cap every week because they had a bigger head than everyone else. Or perhaps it was lice…

choir caps

And then I started counting out the dead batteries from the waste-box, but realised that some of them were a bit leaky and just needed to go to the recycling centre. There were a lot. We’re looking at all the things for which we might be able to be a central point for collection. To make it easier for people to recycle and re-use. Social objects again – something to talk about, something to do that feels useful.



OK that’s 28 days of making, sharing or at least being conscious of my creative process in a randomly guided way. From tomorrow I’m going to choose a project to work on for the next 28 days – it will be something big enough to take a few weeks of thinking, making and then probably re-thinking and re-making. It might not be finished in 28 days. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, that’s the first decision.

Share Something Every Day – Community (and Wife)

A gentle day at work today. I was a bit tired after going to London last night.

The Sunflower Caf√© group are getting to know each other better and relaxing a little. They’re excited about the music group that we’ll be restarting soon.

We found an Order of Service from the opening of the building I work in. Four Ministers and and Organist!

Untitled

I spent a lot of time this afternoon on tidying some loose ends and writing copy to promote things (and then getting up and walking around regularly to keep my brain going). I posted a thing on one of the local community groups on Facebook about our Friday Lunches and it’s had lots of nice responses.

But the main thing today is it’s my wife’s birthday (her work has sent her birthday cupcakes), so I’m not writing much and taking her out to dinner instead ūüôā

Share Something Every Day

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Community

Today I learned that there are (at least) two model railway societies in Guildford. The one that most people seem to know about is the Guildford Model Engineering Society who have a base in Stoke Park. They have 3¬Ĺ, 5 and 7¬ľ inch gauge passenger railways and have open days throughout the year. I didn’t know this level of detail, but now, of course, I’m going to have to plan a trip. Anyway, I met someone today from the other group, the lesser-known Astolat Model Railway Circle. I understand there was a break between the groups about fifty-years ago based on whether to work on fixed layouts (GMES) or portable ones (AMRC). So now you know too (though I’m open to being put right on details by anyone who knows better).

We heard that the church garden got a Gold medal from Guildford In Bloom. Ian, who does the garden, is justifiably proud.

I also got a list of films that we might be able to show at our Film Club. It’s tricky because of the Netflix problem of (near) infinite choice but also because we don’t really know who’s going to be interested, so we’re just going to have to plump for one and see how it goes.

We did make some progress on Panto planning today too, although again it will be interesting to see how our plan fares in contact with the people hereabouts.

I spent a brain-numbing hour on reviewing the new website layout too. At least I now know the things I need to do next and it’s not a terribly long list.

Podcast/Writing

I’ve been experimenting today with talking to otter. Otter.ai that is, the transcription service. So when I’ve had a walk (to work and back and into town for something) I’ve chatted away to my phone, which is recording what I say, sending it to otter for transcription and then at the end of the day I’ve been able to download some long rambling monologues in text and audio form. That helps me identify the (potentially) interesting bits and now I can use them either as the basis of a written piece or perhaps dropped into a podcast. In any case, it’s a good exercise for me in opening my mouth, rather than just thinking things over and over – stuff moves in me when I’ve said it out loud and I just look like an average idiot talking on their phone, whereas when I was doing this sort of thing in 2005, people thought I was proper odd.

Oh and I’m making progress using logseq.com as a general note-taker and knowledge-organiser, getting my head around syncing between all my machines and thinking about tagging and workflow. Baby steps.

I have to have an early night though because I’ve got to be up for a gig first thing in the morning and I need to polish my ukulele!

Share Something Every Day – Community

Friday Lunch With Friends

When I wrote my review of the week on Sunday, I forgot something that I’d meant to say.

I regularly forget that making Community is something that I probably work on every day. If I’m not actively doing it, I’m thinking about it. I’m writing about it or writing something that will help people connect with each other.

I have a part-time day job now. I’m Community Worker at a church just up the road from where I live. It’s lovely work and it can be challenging to do for someone who’s recent experience in community building has been mostly with people who want to be online and want to organise online – the congregation I work with are open-minded and enthusiastic about digital things but they just don’t have much experience and often default to the ways that they’ve always organised things. This isn’t always wrong but it can carry a bigger overhead, which might not be achievable or sustainable in a two-and-a-half-day week. There’s a big need to attract new volunteers and for me to delegate much more.

I managed to write a weeknote for the church website last Friday. That’s a discipline I’d like to maintain, even if it finds a different home.

I’ve rejigged my week to be Monday morning, Wednesday all day and Friday all day. That gives me days like today to do other things. Wednesday’s main thing is Sunflower Caf√©, our dementia-friendly coffee morning and Fridays revolve around the community lunch. I’m hoping that doing that every Friday will serve as a focus for attracting those new volunteers and collaborators.

This week I’m also going to be working on making the website a bit more useful, how we bring back our dementia-friendly singing group and working up the idea of a community theatre group – aiming to do a panto at Christmas.

On Friday mornings I also have been running Tuttle (my long-running networking event for people who don’t like going to networking events) on Zoom since March last year. It’s been fun and we’ve settled to a regular core who enjoy seeing each other.

And I’m aware that blogging again regularly (in my personal capacity) is also helping to recreate and revitalise some connections that had faded away somewhat.

A mini West Midlands adventure

I’ve got a few days this week in the best part of the country there is.

6709-003

At least that’s what Dudley¬†Zoo looked like 50 years ago…

I’m travelling up to Dudley on Wednesday morning and spending the afternoon with Lorna Prescott and friends and whoever else turns up at Gather Dudley¬†at 65 High Street. If you’re on the Black Country side, do come over and say hello. We’re going to talk about community, co-creation, creative collaboration and probably some things that don’t start with ‘c’ just for the hell of it. ¬†Lorna’s written about it here and it does help her¬†if you could also sign up on the Eventbrite page.

On Thursday, my tentative plan is to spend the day at the Impact Hub in Birmingham. Again, I’m open to visitors or invitations to stuff that’s going on in the City Centre.

There is a teensy-weensy plan for curry on Thursday night.  Ping me on Twitter if you want to join us.

On Friday I’m co-facilitating “A Conference on Unconferencing” with top gent Dan Slee. If you’re at all interested in self-organising events, or how to get people to do important stuff without bossing them around then this is the day for you, it’s on from 9.30 till 4pm and will be chock-full of interesting people and ideas and action.

I do love the West Midlands but I love what we’re doing there even more, so if you would like me to come and do some similar stuff where you are for a few days, please do get in touch.

On Channels and Combinations #ukgc13 #commscamp13 #tuttle

Sitting in groups of traditional marketers or comms people I often groan. ¬†The most likely trigger is hearing words like: “Social media is just another channel”

Yes, you can see social media as a channel, but if you treat it like the other “channels” that you’ve had in the past (TV, radio, press) you’re missing out on the secret magic.

What’s importantly different about social media is that they encourage many-to-many connections rather than one-to-one or one-to-many connections. ¬†The counting that goes on is all 1:1 or 1:M – how many followers do you have, how many people saw this tweet/ad/page/article/video. ¬†But what really counts, what really makes a difference is relationship, including the relationships that you foster with your media but aren’t part of yourself. ¬† This is social object territory – make stuff that other people use to connect with each other. ¬†Most traditional comms efforts are still focused on creating a relationship between the creator and their audience whereas the real value for the community as a whole is the potential for connection between members of the audience and that’s what the internet and social media unlock.

This is the magic of unconferences and #tuttle-like meetings too. ¬†They are designed to create connections between participants rather than building a dependent relationship between participants and the organiser. ¬†Traditional conferences want you to sit and listen and know how brilliant the organisers are so that you will buy subscriptions to their publication or pony up to come to the next event. ¬†They grudgingly give you more networking time because you are connected people who understand the value of having many, diverse, connections and you understand the power of conversation. ¬†But there’s a payoff in this for organisers – they want you to have just enough networking time to have your conversation-hunger satisfied, but not so much that you start to think that you can do without them and omniscience.

At an unconference or #tuttle though the whole point is about making connections and building relationships. ¬†Most newbies, when you ask them, think that they’re coming for information, but by the end, most know (even if they can’t articulate it) that what they ¬†really got was the benefit of conversation with fellow human beings and the potential for new actions that arise from the new connection.

Just quickly a bit of maths – In any group, the number of potential pairings is n(n-1)/2

(check it if ¬†you’re not used to this sort of numberwork – If I’m in a room ¬†containing n people, I can make n-1 pairs with others and there are n of us who can all do that. My pairing with, say, @danslee is the same as @danslee’s pairing with me, so divide by two)

At #commscamp13 there were 135 people – in traditional terms this would be quite a small gathering because we’d only be able to get our message to 135 people. ¬†But by focusing on connections and the relationships that result from that, we get (135 x 134)/2 = 9,045 – nine thousand potential connections being nurtured feels a lot more valuable than 135 ¬†people receiving the message through the channel, doesn’t it? Is it surprising that from those nine thousand pairs some amazing conversations happened? ¬†And that’s not even taking into account the three-way or four-way conversations that could have happened too.

That’s ¬†why I spend my time creating spaces where people can connect without being told what to talk about or when to talk and when to listen.

 

Oral his-stories

We like to talk, don’t we? At least some of the time. Chatting, telling stories over and over in different ways and with different embellishments, all the while helping us to work out who we are and who we’re not, what we might choose to be or do next. But also who we’ve been, who did what, what’s been done (or tried) what’s been talked about before and so what’s fun to talk about again.

I’ve found this history bit interesting in online communities. It’s not as important to some people as it is to others but I often find myself playing the role of reminding groups of what was said before and why, as a reminder of where we’ve been together, why we took certain decisions together or else to help out a newcomer who’s repeating the mistakes of the past, going down a real blind alley.

I was reminded of it when coming into contact with some of the “old-time” seesmicers at LeWeb. It’s only a year since the peak of seesmic for me, but a lot of what we were talking about is lost. And I noticed this at the time that as the community grew quickly there were a set of first behaviours or topics that were obvious when yu were new. But because seesmic didn’t have an inherent way of recording what we’d learned, the understanding and the rituals and traditions that came about could only stay alive as lng as the people there were willing to keep talking about them and reminding each other of them. The traditions were loosely held, it only took a few people to make up a new tradition and for a few people to leave for a once fiercely guarded tradition to be discarded.

There were many reasons why my seesmic activity tailed off, but one of them was that a greater proportion of my time was spent on watching new people go through the initial phases and I was left either waiting for them to catch up or spending my time helping them to catch up more quickly. Less time for me to be creative and just enjoy the flow.

There sees to be a difference for example between talking to people at Tuttle about how it all started and what I think of it all, between that and the tangible stuff on the web that you might find if you were bothered to research it. Does that mean I need to write down more of what I say to new people every week? Or has the saying f it been enough, are there enough people who know the story in rder for it survive without any other effort? Or might that lead to a distorted story? Is it important? Is it valuable? What would be lost if it were forgotten? And what is the definitive story anyway? Is there one? Or is it that my version is dominant because of my role and repeated attendance?

Dunno.