As an exercise in community management, I did an analysis my own circle of family, friends and acquaintances, breaking it down into some categories, noting if and how that group is growing and seeing what connections I can make between them.
Family – Unconditional support. This group only grows the old fashioned way. I love you, Mom!
Back in the Day – The old neighborhood, elementary, high school and college. This group grows as I reconnect with old classmates through Facebook and reunions. While it’s been great to scan photos remember the good ole days, it has been even better to find out what they are doing now and what is going on in their part of the world.
Bravehearts – In high school, through college and for many years after my main hobby was medieval recreation events. Although the combat was what drew me in, it also inspired me to study the history and material culture of the past. It was my first experience in a community where learning skills and sharing knowledge was encouraged at every level. Since I haven’t been to an event in ages this group is not growing, but after twelve Pennsics and countless other battles, the friends I made in those years are among the truest and most dear to me.
Assorted Geekery – While not completely overlapping, this group contains most of the group above and also plays computer, role playing, tabletop miniature and board games. They are into fantasy, sci-fi and anime movies, comics and conventions, with offshoots into steampunk, belly dancing, side shows and burlesque. While I still love to get in a good game when I can, I don’t get to that often anymore, so this group has more great friends but only minimal growth.
Fiddleheads – For the last 10 years I have been increasingly into Americana – bluegrass, old-time, blues and other roots music. These musical traditions also revolve around the community, where knowledge is readily shared and the professionals are always ready to “shake and howdy” with the fans. One of my greatest pleasures is to get into a good jam with some new friends. This group increases with each festival, house concert and jam session.
Around Town – I love living in a small town, and I meet new people here all the time. While not everything is rosy in our old railroad town, it is the kind of place where neighbors say good morning and wave from their porches. By playing music down at the local cafe, helping with the farmers’ market and going to community events, I have met many interesting and talented locals. This group is growing as I increase my involvement in community issues and events.
Train Gang – Since I’ve been commuting on the MARC train for 3 years now, I have become friends with several other commuters. Whether stuck behind a slow moving freight train or having to scramble for a ride home because trees have fallen on the tracks, it’s good to have some friends on the train for help and commiserating. This group grows slowly since I often read on the train instead of socializing.
Past Coworkers – I have never been one to use the office as a source of socialization, so I don’t have many close friends from my past jobs. This group grows slowly as I find past coworkers on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Business Contacts – This is the newest group for me and is mostly made up of social media and small business connections I have made on Twitter. Although I haven’t turned any of those followers into friends yet, I have made a few real connections and gained a lot of knowledge in a short time from their blogs. This group is growing but jury is still out on the quality of the connections.
Now that I have examined my community, the next step in my analysis will be to draw some connections between the overlapping interests of my constituencies. Until then, what is your community like? What connects you to the friends and acquaintances you have made, and what connections are there to be made between them?