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Re: [cp] People Connecting to People

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  • James Morrison
    What a great story! and an even better message.... Debby Kilburn wrote:We have the power to create spaces where people come together
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 28, 2003

      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      Currently, most of them have outdated designs that I haven't had time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
      said "Yes!".

      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?

      Debby Kilburn
      A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled. --Plutarch


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