The Evolution of My Virtual Communities


communities already exist

Photo by Will Lion, on Flickr

The heart of being a Professional Enabler is to have a community to enable.

I’ve been thinking about how my online community has evolved over the years, as my interests and enthusiasms have waxed and waned. Some people have stuck even though my participation in the community where I met them has become sporadic at best, and for this I am very grateful. The list below is mostly chronological,  but it also reflects what is important in my life. I hope you find it interesting.

Judaism

When I was a graduate student in physics in the Netherlands, Internet communities were just beginning to come into bloom. We called it Usenet and we socialised in newsgroups – people coming together online to talk about things that interested them. I joined soc.culture.jewish (and later, when the trolls became unbearable, soc.culture.jewish.moderated) and met wonderful people who changed my life. I attribute my current level of observance to the Orthodox people I met online who encouraged me, modelled a beautiful life and did not judge me for where I was.

Parenting

When motherhood became part of my life, I joined misc.kids and learned about a parenting style that was new to me, called attachment parenting. Wearing my babies in a sling, extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping were activities that touched a very deep part of my soul and enabled a connection with my children that is helping us weather adolescence with minimal trauma (so far, anyway – tfu tfu tfu). I was working full-time and I discovered a mailing list called APW that allowed me to connect with other attachment parenting devotees who also worked outside the home. Of course, this was also the time that the connections in my March96 mailing list developed and deepened – my friend Holly was sure the list would not last beyond the birth of the babies, and G-d willing, they will start turning 17  in February. We still have each other.

Education

Having concluded that research was too isolating for me and that I derived great joy from helping people learn things, I took the plunge and went back to university for my B. Ed.  Aside from the usual subject matter, curriculum and classroom management classes, I also took a few courses by instructors who encouraged disruption of the status quo, giving the power to the students (the guide on the side as opposed to the sage on the stage). I was very fortunate that the first temporary position I had was in a classroom where the regular teacher (who was on paternity leave) used blogs and other exciting ways to have the students take charge of their own learning. He also encouraged me to join Twitter and find the teachers’ community there. What a revelation.

I did find that the coercive nature of school is just as repulsive to me on the other side of the teacher’s desk as it was when I was a student, so this career was not for me, either. But the wonderful people I met there are still in my heart (and my Twitter stream). I’m also still heavily involved with the local ASCD chapter, just because I love those folks and I learn something new every time I go to a meeting – and learning new things is what I’m about.

Paleo and Traditional Foods

A few years ago, after my oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah, I suffered a serious relapse in the auto-immune condition I am blessed with, and became interested in controlling it through diet. I found the paleo and SCD communities, and learned many ways to prepare lacto-fermented foods. This connection makes me particularly happy and I’m still pretty involved in it, especially on Facebook.

Writing

Of course I have this blog, but I have also written for the CBC, the local weekly, Squidoo and other places you can find on my Publications page. I’ve reviewed books and magazines, and my writings have generally been well-received. I’m also most of the way through a Technical Writing certificate at the local community college, and have got myself involved with  the local STC chapter. In fact, I’m in charge of their FB page, although there currently isn’t much on it (yet).

I’ve also joined the Manitoba Food Bloggers, and have been having a delightful time writing about food and getting invited to events. So much fun.

Business

My latest endeavour, as you know if you have been reading this blog, is starting my own little business as a Professional Enabler.  But not having a business background, I’ve been listening to podcasts and reading blogs like crazy. Some of my favourites are on my Resources page, but I want to give a shout-out to Dean Dwyer, David Wood and Chris Brogan, just because I’ve been giving them a lot of my attention lately. There’s also a totally amazing series of podcasts by Seth Godin called The Startup School, which has been absolutely mind-blowing.  I’ve been privileged to join a Facebook community I’m not going to link to here, because it is closed. But you can get there by visiting Chris Brogan’s page. The generous souls there have been wonderful to me.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got right now. So many communities, quite disparate and with not much overlap. But the diversity is the soul of who I am and what I think I have to offer in service to these communities.

What about you, what are your communities like? How can you best serve them?

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One Response to “The Evolution of My Virtual Communities”

  1. Holly Jahangiri Says:

    I didn’t realize you were active in STC! Good choice. I’ve let my membership lapse; it got quite pricey, and now that my primary focus isn’t on “technical communications,” I could hardly justify it. But I am a Senior Member, and one or more of my good friends are Fellows. 🙂

    I’ll have to give this some thought. I tend to circle back to communities that have “stuck” with me – my interests, too, wax and wane, but some communities are more like family. You know, because you can always go back and pick up where you left off. I’ve come to believe that when you can’t, and you’ve drifted off – maybe you weren’t MEANT to go back.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted…The Stone CavernMy Profile

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