Re: [cp] People Connecting to People
What a great story! and an even better message....
Debby Kilburn <debby@...> wrote:
We have the power to create spaces where people come together to do
good. That is what I told my web design class last night. The
Internet is not about creating flashy websites, trying to sell
products, pornography, and free software. It is about bringing people
together in ways never before possible and putting them in places
they never imagined. As web designers, we have the power to create
spaces that attract people and to give them the tools to communicate.
I normally don't share my websites with my class for several reasons.
Currently, most of them have outdated designs that I haven't had time
to keep up, mostly because of my graduate work right now. I also
don't want to hold myself up as an "expert" or a model that they feel
they need to follow. I know that some of my students will be better
artists than I am, better programmers, etc., and I am ok with that. I
see my role in the whole thing as giving them the basic tools and
sending them forth to create and learn. However, there has been an
experience on one of my websites recently that really drives home the
power of what we are doing and why we are doing it.
So what prompted this outburst of reflective insight? A community of
practice that has grown up around a space that I created and
initially facilitated. A member posted a thread titled "My Goats Were
Shot" (http://goatweb.com/coffeeshop/showthread.php?threadid=1293) in
January that gave me a glimpse of what was to come. Her neighbor had
slaughtered her animals and the Goatweb community rallied to support
her. To date there have been over 300 replies and 5600 page views on
that thread alone. More recently, a thread called "Good News, Bad
News" (http://goatweb.com/coffeeshop/showthread.php?threadid=1558) has
captured our attention.
The story begins with a young 16 year old girl, Rebecca, who has
always wanted a goat. She lives in Oklahoma and joined our community
last November. She asked lots of questions, wanting to know as much
as possible before she got her first animal. We could tell she was
eager and excited and willing to learn. Finally, the moment arrived
and she picked up her new baby from the breeder in January. Of
course, she came to Goatweb to share the good news, but to also ask
some questions about some problems she thought the little girl had.
Our community freely gave ideas and advice, but eventually her little
goat became sicker and people recommended that she take it to the
vet. It only got worst from there, as the vet could not figure out
the problem. Rebecca kept posting this whole time and we could feel
her anguish as she saw her dream fade away. Her posts were always
detailed and articulate, and we were all impressed by the depth of
her feelings for the little goat she had only had for a few weeks.
Then, Wednesday, she simply posted "She died". I almost started to
cry and you could feel the collective silence in our community as
people who had been caught up in the story wondered what to do.
Of course, communities are all about providing support in times of
trouble, and that is exactly what happened. Messages of support,
comfort, and sympathy poured out, encouraging Rebecca to come back
and letting her know that she did all that was possible to do. We
didn't hear from her for a day, and I am sure many sent personal
emails expressing their concern directly to her.
In another thread, one of my moderators, Paul, was planning a move
back to his native Australia. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky and has
been trying to get myself and the other 3 moderators to take his
goats when he leaves so he could feel secure that they were in good
hands. Paul had been following Rebecca's story and was moved to offer
her a mother and 6 week old baby. He felt confident that his goats
would be in caring hands and was willing to just give them to her.
Now the question became how to get the goats from Lexington to Tulsa,
Oklahoma. The idea of a "goat train" emerged as people who lived
along the route offered to transport the goats across legs of the
journey. Rebecca was tentatively interested, but you could tell she
wasn't sure it would actually happened. She was still hurting when
she attended church this last Sunday. Her pastor spoke to her about
life and death and the entire scheme of things, and that helped, so
on the ride home, she brought up the idea with her parents. I am sure
they were skeptical, but after she showed them this thread, they
Now this community of goat lovers from around the country has
organized themselves (http://goatweb.com/coffeeshop/showthread.php?
threadid=1733), generated maps and route assignments, set meeting
dates, investigated livestock transport regulations, and planned
other details to make this trip possible on March 14th. They are
talking about documenting the whole thing through digital images and
video and maybe even creating a children's book. Someone has
contacted Animal Planet, so who knows where it all will go. It has
spawned numerous other threads, including one where people can share
uplifting stories (http://goatweb.com/coffeeshop/showthread.php?
threadid=1752) of how doing something good seems to cause other good
things to happen.
So what was my part in the whole thing? I don't know that I even
contributed to the thread. I simply created a space where people
could come together and learn, share, and build community. I stand
back amazed at how people are connecting, what relationships are
forming, and what is being created. I recognize that as educators and
facilitators, we don't often get experiences that measure up to this
one, but I also realize that we do have the power to change the way
people interact and learn, the power to set forces into motion that
go beyond our wildest expectations. People connecting to people...
isn't that what this is all about?
A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled. --Plutarch
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