Tag Archives: community

Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?

I joined Ali Manning’s Handmade Book Club this year and completed several challenges. Membership includes the possibility of connecting with other book members in your area. Introverted me would normally avoid a face to face group meeting, but I met a few women in the online community who suggested a meetup. I am proud to say that I agreed, not using my rural location as an excuse, and I spent a wonderful day with three other bookmakers sharing books and stories and creating together. We have a second date on the calendar, and I have homework.

I have seen lots of articles about how hard it is to make friends when you get to be my age. One good way is to connect with people who have similar hobbies, and online communities have made that much easier to do. I have lots of online friends who I will never meet in person. But it was nice to be in the same room with other people. I am looking forward to our next meeting, and there was a talk of a road trip. One aspect that made it successful was our shared interest in book making and other arts and crafts. The hostesses, long term members of the club, took time to create folders of materials for us as they knew we were new to book making and may not have had a stash of materials.

These women are visual artists ways that I am not, and I am looking forward to learning with them. Meanwhile, I am exploring ways to combine my crochet with books, and I created this accordion style book yesterday using two granny squares crocheted with thread.

Crochet Book

Community Made Visible

I tend to be a loner.  I like to do things on my own, including learning.  Given a choice, I would always choose to work alone on a project or learning activity.  I’m comfortable in my own company.  Working from home has only exacerbated that tendency.

But, yesterday, as I headed out to vote and then, later in the evening, as I waited for the election returns, I found I wanted to share with others besides just my husband and the dogs. And, happily, there was my online community.  Over the past year, I’ve made an effort to become a more active participant in that community, and last night, almost for the first time, I could really see that it at work, mostly through Twitter.  During the day, we exchanged voting stories, how long the lines were, how we felt about what we had done.  Many people posted pictures and videos.  Then, as the polls began to close, we gathered to share our anxieties, to celebrate the milestones, and, finally, to take a deep collective breath as we realize what had just happened in our country.

Looking back, I can’t point to a specific moment when I joined the community.  It’s been a gradual process, one that I suspect will continue.  One positive step I’m taking is to do more with this weblog by following along with Teach42’s 30 Days To Being a Better Blogger.  I’ve only gotten through the first challenge, to update my About page.  I was surprised to discover that it was woefully out of date, like from 2006.  My other plan is to do more reading and responding to others both as comments and as blog entries as a way of making connections.

Another step is going to do more with the Ning community I’ve chosen.  I’m a member of VSTEOnline.  This semester, I had my pre-service teachers sign up.  They’ve been doing a great job posting their ideas and questions and interacting both with each other and the other Ning members.  Sad to say, I haven’t done much except monitor their progress.  It’s time to make this community a priority.

It is easy to get distracted by multiple communities, something John Hendron recently wrote about, so I’m going to try to focus my energies.  I’ll still Twitter, of course, since I’m rapidly discovering how much I’ve come to rely on those little updates from my tweets, and just last night welcomed several more friends to my Twitter world.

Thanks to all of you who make up my learning network…some of you know who you are, others have no idea. (But I’ll be sending out a few thank you notes so you may find out soon.)  Together, we are living, learning, and growing together!