(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
As mentioned previously, I help
run a group of writers who are current and future self-publishers. Each month
we meet to discuss how to improve and focus on a given subject. Once again, I
have a useful insight from the event.
In this case, our specific theme for November was
thought-provoking – we discussed what we were our good and bad points as
writers. The idea wasn’t venting or bragging – the idea was to see how we could
help each other out. Someone’s good practices could make up for another
So the first thing we did was go around discussing what
we’re good at – and why. The results were productive because we went in-depth –
not just what we did, but why and how we learned it. The group quickly had an
idea of new ways to be better at writing and how to get there.
For example, we realized that several of us used a
“when in doubt, power through” approach to writing. The idea was to
write no matter what and edit later. Someone who spent three days straight
writing an entire book’s first draft confirmed this worked.
And, yes, I am tempted to try that.
When we discussed our flaws, however, something became
apparent. We had a lot of the same issues, just in different forms or
manifestations. Not only did this build a sense of camaraderie – and relief –
it let us share ways we dealt with our similar issues. We weren’t alone – and
we had a wealth of tips to share.
I recommend this “Good and Bad” session for
your writing group, team, meetup, or what have you. Come together, find what
you do good and share it, see what you do poorly and help each other out.
There’s a lot to be learned.
Now I have to find a free three days for an experiment
. . .
(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, and Steve’s Tumblr)
My latest voyages into being more civicly engaged continue. So as noted my latest venture in being a civic geek were following important organizations, trying to write my congressbeings regularly, and looking for opportunities to be more engaged. I also had focused on the importance of any organizing to promote civic behavior.
SO what’s my findings this week?
- First, writing to my reps – specifically over the Panama Papers calling attention to tax shelters around the world. Though the (incomplete) Panama Papers didn’t implicate many big US names, it still calls attention to tax dodges, and I figured it’d be good to prod them to do the same.
- I should probably follow up on NC and Missisippi’s idiot Bathroom Bills as well. As there’s talk that NC may have suddenly made itself ineligible for federal funding, it might help to push that. Note – I wasn’t aware federal funds could be withheld under conditions like that, so I learned something.
- Following all these organizations makes you feel less alone politically. That’s a great benefit – but I can see where people get into cultlike devotion even to good causes. Just realizing someone thinks like you do is something.
- Once you start following organizations that keep you politically informed and find ways to be active, they often refer to other organizations and so on. Politically active organizations network and refer to each other, so you’ll find new and interesting was to stay informed and get active.
- On the subject of being civicly active, it only took a few weeks for me to realize if I followed every lead I’d never have time for anything. I’ve had this happen before, so be warned – diving into being civicly engaged may be overwhelming. Pace yourself.
- Since I started doing Civic Geek, and more and more as I do this, I realize a lot of the world survives on diverse, networked groups. From charities to political groups, official organizations to unofficial networking, there’s a huge amount of people keeping things going. It’s kind of hopeful, to be honest.
- I’ve also come to realize how many people think just commenting on things is “activism,” as if leaving a sentence of feedback actually does anything. I think “protest” of any kind has become enshrined as something that’s always good as opposed to its potential to be wrong, annoying, or terribly misspelled.
- A lot of people don’t appreciate the value of voting locally. So do it, damn it.
- I’ve noticed my civic posts get some attention on Tumblr. Thinking Tumblr may be an untapped source of networked political engagement, like Twitter.
(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)
So my latest Civic Diary is on community.
As I document my experiments in being a better citizen (which I haven’t exactly defined, but we’ll learn along), I wanted to share my latest finding on community.
My local writer’s group needed me to take over a writing event as the person running it at the time had a change of schedule and wouldn’t be doing so for quite some time. I took over out of a desire to help out – it’s a good group that focuses on getting together and writing.
At that point I suddenly thought about my other activities in communities. Helping at a museum. My video gaming group. Movie nights for another club. All those little things (remember when I mentioned the power of weak links?) that create alliances and bonds. I saw how important they were.
All these little bits of community involvement are important as community is important. Community ties us together, community helps us connect, community builds something bigger than us. If you want to be civicly engaged, building some community, virtually any kind, is important – and lets you use other interests to do good.
Some community seem trivial? That Steven Universe fan group could also let people network to find jobs. Your anime club can do charities. Your doll collector group might be a place where you can offer your skills in accounting to someone with tax questions. Multiply those opportunities over a lifetime and you can see how important community -any community – is to being a citizen.
Obviously, I think we need to consciously think what kind of community we should build. I will doubtlessly go on about that more in the future.
A few more thoughts on community building:
- * Real community is built by real people – be it face to face or with your real name, yu need to connect as human beings.
- * Functional community is integrative, not divisive. A community ma address a problem, but it does so with a larger purpose of bringing people together.
- * Community should be connected to the “big picture” even if the big picture is “man we all have hard days, let’s have a movie club every Friday night.” Insular communities have a way of being very non-civil.
- * Community has some kind of identity. It needs to know what it is.
So there’s my thoughts. What’s your community?