Community {Discussion}


I have been thinking a lot about community in the past few months. My local community is still suffering from the after effects of a tragedy. Many of my friends are reliving the trauma daily as they work with the NTSB to investigate the accident. Many of my friends are struggling to come to terms with whether they want to continue to work in the same industry. And all of us are working through our grief processing in our own ways and time. I decided to reach out and make a concerted effort at the beginning of February to make a connection with as many of my friends in this community as possible. I could see that 3 months after that life-changing day, we were all starting to feel a bit isolated. I have had several lunch dates, delivered cookies, and helped to organize an evening event for friends to get together and interact. Connections and interaction are what make a community, and I hope my efforts are gentle reminders of the bigger community of support that can be easy to recede from.

I have also been thinking about community in terms of the online quilt blogging community and real life quilting friends. I am very excited to have the opportunity to travel to Austin for QuiltCon in just over a week to help expand and reinforce this community from which I have richly benefited in the past year.

community definition

As a child and young adult starting my independent life, I moved a lot. I have lived in 10 states and moved approximately 30 times in my life. For me, family was really the only constant in my life, and I have to admit that the idea of community was not one that I really understood or thought much about until recently. I have had the great pleasure and opportunity to live in my small mountain town for 7 years now. I am learning life skills that others develop naturally: how to have long term friendships and resolve conflict without shying away, withdrawing, or moving away(!!).

In that context, community is starting to mean more and more to me. I am recognizing how much I have benefited from a secure and stable friend and community base, and my recognition is evolving into consciously making choices to help cultivate and develop the feeling of fellowship within the communities that I value.

So, online quilting community, how is the temperature of the water? What do you need to feel fellowship and community? I think that the link up that happen throughout the week are pretty vital to the sense of our community. I really believe commenting on blog posts feeds the community. I am excited to see how QuiltCon and personal interaction influences the sphere. What else is could be done or what might be missing?

0 thoughts on “Community {Discussion}

  1. You once mentioned you are blessed with time to do lots of blog reading right now. For me, time is the bottleneck to my online community – I only have time to read a handful of blogs. Instagram has helped me counter that. I apprecite the rapid-fire inspiration and the ability to comment and speak to so many “in one place.” For me, it’s a nice place pose questions for feedback and establish a touchstone when I want to feel connected to a larger community. But I’m learning from you that I can’t forget that blog posts have a place in the comunity, too – sometimes there is more we should say to each other. I hope you continue to heal; your community is lucky to have you to help unite around a positive purpose. I feel lucky to know you in this quilting world!

    1. Time is definitely a big consideration, and Instagram is a great tool. I have to admit I wish I could get better photos with my silly iPad, though! haha! 🙂 I think that Lee @Freshly Pieced had a great post about the difference between Instagram and blogging… let me go find it… Whew, found it: http://www.freshlypieced.com/2014/06/are-blogs-dead-not-even-close-but.html

  2. DeborahGun says:

    I think Instagram helps with a sense of community. Quick responses from people and lots of encouragement!

    1. That is a great and true reminder, Deborah. I don’t have a smart phone to carry around and use all the time, and it takes a conscious effort for me to use IG (that is kind of why you’ll see me post in spurts), but I will try to keep it in mind for consistency!

  3. Vera says:

    I definitely enjoy to be part of community. When I met some online friends it turned into different level and I’m sure you’ll experience that at QuiltCon as well. Sometimes I wish I was living somewhere else though. At least I can be part of the virtual stuff 😉

    1. I know what you mean about occasionally wishing to be somewhere else. I don’t have any local quilting friends (yet??), and when I see sew ins between friends it looks like so much fun. The virtual stuff is definitely going to have to sustain me for now. 🙂

  4. Jessie says:

    “As a child and young adult starting my independent life, I moved a lot. I have lived in 10 states and moved approximately 30 times in my life. For me, family was really the only constant in my life, and I have to admit that the idea of community was not one that I really understood or thought much about until recently. I have had the great pleasure and opportunity to live in my small mountain town for 7 years now. I am learning life skills that others develop naturally: how to have long term friendships and resolve conflict without shying away, withdrawing, or moving away(!!).”

    This paragraph described me PERFECTLY!! I was great at being the new kid and making friends quickly, but I was also REALLY good at saying goodbye. I never learned how to maintain friendships. Now that my husband and I have finally settled in NJ and will be here indefinitely, I’m trying really hard to figure out ways to make friends my own age. (So far I’ve only been hanging out with my grandma and some couples from our bible study group, but they’re all in their 50’s+ too.) If anyone has any suggestions on how to make friends your own age after college, I would love to hear them! 🙂

    1. Hi Jessie! I guess I have not put a lot of thought into the age of my friends… I just participate in things that I enjoy and the friendships develop naturally. I have friends that range from much younger to much older to a few that are closer in age. Is there a local quilt guild you could join and participate in (Jess @Quilty Habit [http://quiltyhabit.blogspot.com/] is the president of a MQG in NJ somewhere…)? Do you have other hobbies or things that could help develop friendships? For me, I joined a local gym and have developed friendships with a few ladies there over the years.

    2. Jessie, Having lived in a very small community over 25 years, I found I knew only a handful of people. When I took up quilting full time, the online community was good, but I needed that IRL aspect for me, and assumed others did too. I was talking to so many people who had barely survived the past winter here, and depression and anxiety in our community was epidemic.

      We started with a hand full of quilters, sewists, and stitchers, and met one night at our local JoAnn’s. They offer meeting space for free with almost no exclusions. Check it out. At the end of the first night, all loved it, and set up a schedule for twice a month. Then folks wanted a full morning, and that was added.
      Add breakfast to Friday mornings, a trip to a quit expo, Can I bring a friend?, etc. You see where this is heading. We’re growing out of our space. We’re spending time with each other outside of the meeting times, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t get several picture texts about “This is what I’m sewing today.” It’s an eclectic multi-age group from 24-84, with an occasional teen who tags along. We’re loud, we laugh, we’ve built real friendships. People stop in and ask us who we are and what we’re doing, and we invite them to join in or walk through. We’re teaching people how to sew and quilt as they come. Looking back to our short start a few months ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be where we are, as we had virtually nothing in common except we all stitch. The model works, and there is no outlay to get it started. I encourage you to give it a try. It’s changed so many lives here in a few short months. Amazing.

  5. Renee says:

    I think you are so right about the linky parties and commenting on other’s blogs. Before I started linking up I had a few followers, maybe, and had no idea what people meant by “blog friend”. After linking up for a while and getting to know (and following) other bloggers I started to develop a bigger following and real friendships with a few of them. Then when I joined IG I got to know them even better, and became friends with even more people. I am SO glad to get to meet them at Quiltcon! Them (including you) have become such an important part of my creative community and I love getting and giving inspiration, support and encouragement. It’s a wonderful community, and before I was a part of it my quilting was a pretty lonely activity.

    1. It really helped me when I participated in Beth @plum and june’s new blogger blog hop. I just kind of stumbled into that, but I learned so much from just having a group of people to interact with and ask questions (I had no idea about Blogger or Feedly or anything like that!). I know that online and in person are two very different things, but without the online community I would feel very lonely, too.

  6. Wow, I can’t imagine moving so many times. My parents still live in the house they bought when I was 5, and my husband and I have lived in two towns since we got married. I love the online sewing community because I don’t have any sewing friends in real life, so it means a lot to me to be able to connect with others who share this passion/obsession. I’m very jealous of those of you who will get to meet each other at Quiltcon…maybe I need to start saving my pennies to be able to go some other year 🙂

    1. My husband and his family are much more like you, and having someone who is more grounded has helped show me the way a bit. I have sewing friends in real life… they just live hours and hours and hours away, so I agree that the online sewing community is invaluable to keep this activity from being a lonely existence.

  7. Jasmine says:

    I started blogging to make connections. What has made the biggest difference for me is comments and email conversations. While I enjoy the two clubs I attend at my local quilt shop, I still treasure my online quilting buddies.

    1. It’s great to know that the online community compliments the real life friends and people you know. That’s not really an experience I have had much to balance out with (yet?). It is really nice when a larger email conversation can happen, and I think that the value of the new quilt bloggers email was much bigger than I thought it would be initially.

  8. Shauna says:

    I am by nature more of an introvert. Once I get to know someone, I’m fine, but meeting people and getting to know them is hard for me. I’ve found it is easier and harder online. I feel more comfortable commenting on blogs and instagram, so that is easy. But it is hard too because sometimes it feels like a faceless venue. I wish I were going to QuiltCon, but that just can’t happen this year. So in the mean time I will keep commenting. 🙂

    1. I am definitely an introvert, too, Shauna. I find online to be a lot less stressful than meeting someone in person, so I hope QuiltCon isn’t too overwhelming (I will definitely be retreating back to my room to rest and recuperate!). Do you have any ideas for how to make the online community feel less like a faceless venue?

  9. I’ve been thinking so much about this post. Thank you for engaging us in these discussions, Yvonne. I started blogging because when I first began quilting I didn’t know any other quilters or sewists at all! The biggest change in my feelings about being connected has occurred as a result of my Late Night Quilters Club on Facebook (it’s a closed group so anyone who joins can post as much as they want about quilting without annoying or bombarding their non-quilting friends and family with pictures of quilts and fabric. But anyone can join). I personally am not active on Facebook other than this group. I like it even more than blog comments because the support and feedback and feeling of connectedness is more immediate and a constant flow. I feel like I know many of the group members now, and I look forward to meeting some of them QuiltCon.

    1. I think the Facebook group sounds awesome, Stephanie. I know that Facebook has a completely different feel / vibe for me. I suspect many of the very active QDAD designers feel the same way about that group. I guess I have been focusing on blogging / then IG / then Facebook for community.

  10. I hear you. When I was 25, I worked out that I had moved on average once for each year of my life. (I joke that my mother was a Bedouin in a former life. She moved to Vietnam last week.) As an adult, I get to stay put and establish roots. I love having lived in this house and neighbourhood for 8 years. I know people and belong.

    1. Congratulations on being in the same place for so long. It is a huge milestone for me. This is the longest I have ever lived anywhere, and it is really neat to get to know people so well and (as you said) belong!

  11. I cannot agree more about community! It’s such an amazing thing, my extended family has always been viewed as my personal community as we help one another get through some of the toughest times in my life, together as a group. As for the quilting community it’s nice knowing there are also people out there who care about us and comment. Taking the time from their busy lives to cheer us up, cheer us on, and talk us out of your mistakes. Joining this quilting community has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and wish I could meet everyone at QuiltCon. This last year has shown me online communities are just as important and influential as the communities I am apart of on the real world. Thanks Yvonne for always being so supportive 🙂

    1. It sounds like you have a wonderful support group / community. I am nervous about meeting people at QuiltCon – I don’t want to blunder and not remember blogs / names and I am guessing it is going to be such a whirlwind that I hope I actually have time for nice face to face conversations. We’ll see…

  12. Ruth says:

    I love the blogging community and the conversations like these. IG, while you get instant feedback, lots more engagement in terms of likes and fun banter doesn’t foster getting to know you in a deeper way. I took part in a few online swaps and learned more about the people I was making for through the blog ones rather than the IG only ones. Blink and you miss it on IG sometimes! I do my best not to miss the blog posts but need to spend more time to get through the IG feed and participate properly!

    1. I know what you mean about missing things on IG – it seems that discussions can happen there, but you have be be “at the right place, at the right time”.

      1. I have found a loop hole to help with this overall! I was finding more people were commenting on things and I was missing them, therefore losing a possible friendship or further interaction. With that being said, I finally decided on ICONOSQUARE which is web based. They give you all sorts of stats but my favorite part is their comments section, it tells you all new comments you have since you last logged on online and you can remove each one that you did already respond to or not and to top it off, you can comment right there on the web! Even like, etc. I have found it easier instead of constantly checking my phone or being aware of conversations, etc. While Instagram still is a ‘right place, right time’ and always will be type of place, this has helped and my interaction with others has grown by allowing me to make sure I don’t miss or overlook any comments! :o)

  13. This is a great read! I have really come to realize over the past few years that I am someone who loves to be surrounded by people. Not necessarily just anybody, but I love being with family and close friends. I do like to stick around home or somewhere comfortable; yet I still want to be with people I love and who I feel loved by. The blogging world has changed so much that people don’t necessarily comment on them as much anymore due to Instagram and such. It has taken me almost a full year to finally really dive into Instagram to where I know it is a place to really ‘gain activity’ and ‘get noticed’ if you will. It is still very uncomfortable for me (especially when my sister teases me about it haha) and even when I talk to people about it and the excitement, it almost sounds ridiculous yet I am finding that all I am doing is adapting with the times and ‘being present’ as Christa said from Christa Quilts. I know that I like to gain friendships and random conversations with others with interaction rather than just a ‘like’ but like so many others, sometimes that is all you have in a quick moment is to ‘like’ something. I think a good mixture of knowing people are around and intrigued or interested as well as the ones that you get closer with through conversation or other sorts. It’s the same for actual life, there are acquaintances and people you just pass on the street and then there are the people you just connect with and a new friendship is gained.

  14. Kaja says:

    Great post, Yvonne, and I’ve enjoyed reading through all the comments too. I blog because I have no quilting friends, despite trying quite hard to find like-minded people within striking distance, so it’s all about community for me. I absolutely agree that participating in linky parties and commenting on other blogs are the foundations of that community. As for Instagram, I can see that people get lots from it, but I feel more ambivalent. This is partly because too often now someone whose blog I enjoyed pretty much abandons it once they sign up with Instagram, which is fine if I just want pictures, but if I enjoyed reading what they had to say, then I lose out. Also, although I have a smartphone, I can’t be on it all the time, and stuff happens so fast that by the time I find a conversation, it is over and people have moved on (this is probably exacerbated by me being in UK, so out of step with the US quilters). I’m all for community in all its forms, but find myself crossing my fingers that not all my favourite blogs disappear.

    1. Well, I don’t plan to abandon my blog; I enjoy it too much! I do have an IG account but like you mentioned, I find it hard to be as active on it or as engaged. Now, when I need a quick pick-me-up bit of encouragement on a project, I’ll take some pictures for IG, though!

  15. sally says:

    I do have a few very important friends who are fellow crafters, but I really appreciate the wider blogging world. I find it very much helps me to look outwards rather than constantly being focused on my own small world patch.

    1. What a beautiful point, Sally. I have friends all over the world because of this online community, and it makes everything feel so much more connected.

I really appreciate the time and thought you take to comment, and I look forward to conversing with you. :)