make our garden grow

17 01 2007

konrad glogowski recently shared his personal disappointment caused when he realized that he had been shutting down the  blog communities of his 8th grade classes each june at the end of the school year.  his post, i will be a gardner is worth reading both for what it has to say about building communities but also as an example of the power that honest introspection  conducted before the blogosphere can hold.

as the blogmeister for learning circuits blog, I’ve been looking at ways to nurture an online community as well.  konrad’s thoughts regarding building a communal history and building the means to assure that  contributions to the community will not evaporate for some trivial reason (the end of the school year for example) are well taken.  he further says he used to think of himself as the architect of the communities his students formed but has changed his metaphor to that of a gardner.

having lived in boston, the home of urban communal gardening, i think the metaphor of gardening is a apt one. 

konrad’s points are well taken.  when leading or seeking to build a community it’s important to let the individuals explore the topic(s) at hand freely and openly.  but at least as importantly, they must be able to explore their own growth path as a member of the community.

konrad’s thoughts jive well with a great blog post i recently stumbled upon by bud gibson on the community engine entitled high octane blogging — how to form business community.  gibson sets out three dynamic components he describes as vital to building a vibrant community.

  • creating an information space where participants can see each other
    as well as other related information from outside the community.
  • giving participants their own soapbox where they can say what they want and getting them to say it.
  • giving participants feedback so that they know what they are writing is having an impact.

while they are a bit broad in nature, i think we’re seeing evidence in conversations around The Big Question feature at LCB.  (more no that in a post on LCB soon.)  add to this list, konrad’s emphasis on archiving a communal history and I think you have a solid set of guidelines for community building.

I’ll close with the lyrics from the finale of bernstein’s classic opera, candide, which see quite apropo.

We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow!


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18 01 2007
Tom Haskins

dave:
I’m glad you’re thinking about this and using the garden metaphor. I suspect that Jay’s idea of learnscapes holds some potential for nurturing online communities. Dave Pollard had a list of “what bloggers want” in his sidebar in 2005. I’ve pasted it in here because it still seems highly relevant to “giving participants feedback”.

1 constructive criticism, reaction, feedback
2 ‘thank you’ comments, and why readers liked their post
3 requests for future posts on specific subjects
4 foundation articles: posts that writers can build on, on their own blogs
5 reading lists/aggregations of material on specific, leading-edge subjects that writers can use as resource material
6 wonderful examples of writing of a particular genre, that they can learn from
7 comments that engender lively discussion
8 guidance on how to write in the strange world of weblogs

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