The Meaning Of Life Comes From How We Interact With Each Other

Connecting And Interacting With Each Other

A post I read today quoted Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and one of the PayPal Mafia, as saying:Reid Hoffman

What is a meaningful life, and what kinds of social systems enable it?

Broadly, the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other. The internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher, so what did that mean? What kinds of information would people want to publish about themselves? Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics. But that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…

The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

When he said “how we interact with each other” and “the internet was this new medium where anyone could be a publisher,” Reid was talking about internet-enabled social connections, but his comments are highly relevant to organized events and to a couple other topics I’ve discussed on this blog.

From my point of view, interacting with each other is a tremendously important facet of events. Events wranglers should facilitate participant interactions and optimize the value of those interactions.decentralized web

With regards to publishing, WordPress, the Decentralized Web, IndieWeb and the Personal Digital Home (PDH) are all about democratizing publishing and giving people control of their online presence and content.

Reid’s words and ideas got me thinking about three different areas related to interactions, events, and internet publishing.

  1. Collaborative development of events.
  2. Democratizing publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH.
  3. Connecting a community of disruptive innovators in NE Wisconsin.

In today’s post, I’ll just mention a couple points about each of the above three items. They’ll be addressed in more detail in the future as I have the opportunity, especially if I connect with others who are interested in those topics.

Collaborative Development Of Events

What I’m thinking about with this first item is taking participant-driven events (like unconferences) to the next level. There’s no need to organize large events that almost no one wants to participate in. And there’s no good reason not to have an event which many people are interested in and would go to. Taking the quote above from Reid, you can combine a couple of his ideas in a way that points to internet-enabled collaborative development of events.

“…publishers…often built communities of interest around specific topics…The web was a place where…people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

collaborative development of eventsSo a web service could be created for automated and collaborative development of events — let’s call it EventsOrganizer.blog. Anyone who wants to go to an event centered around a topic they’re passionate about could go to EventsOrganizer.blog and find out what events are coming up. If they’re interested in electric aircraft and want to participate in an electric aircraft one-day event in the Midwest USA within the next eight months, they can see if something like that is scheduled.

If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they can be an event founder by filling out a form listing the details of the type of event they’d love to be part of. Or they can find an event that’s close to what they’re looking for, and they can propose changes or maybe indicate alternate event design factors that would make the event one they would participate in. They could select drop-down criteria to say that they would go if the event was a one-day electric aircraft event that has a registration fee of <$50 and is being held in the next eight months within 800 miles of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, rather than being a two-day event with a $495 registration fee being held in California ten months from now.

[Speaking of electric aircraft, here’s an article about a new electric aircraft motor — “…One of the main implications of this work…is that hybrid-electric aircraft possessing 4 or more seats will now be a possibility within the near future…Siemens and Airbus will reportedly be using the motor for the development of regional aircraft…”]

electric aircraft

People who wanted to go to an event can promote the one they suggested or one that’s close to what they want. Algorithms, bots, or some level of artificial intelligence could be built in to suggest changes that would be acceptable to a minimum number of participants. Conversations and communities could be built around upcoming events. There is much more that would go into the design of EventsOrganizer.blog, but the idea is that people will be able to co-create the types of events they truly want and will benefit from. No need to have events that people don’t really care about.

Here are some of the issues and criteria needed for collaborative development of events.

  • Overall theme.
  • Three to five sub-themes.
  • Length, date, time, location.
  • Min and max participants.
  • Total event cost per participant.
  • Partners and sponsors.
  • 1/9/90 rule.

Democratizing Publishing: WordPress, Decentralized Web, IndieWeb, PDH

IndieWebCampThe second item, democratizing publishing, is a topic being approached from many angles and worked on by many people. WordPress has had a mission of democratizing publishing for over ten years. IndieWeb was launched in 2010, Brewster Kahle organized the Decentralized Web Summit in 2016 (although people have been working on aspects of the D-Web for years), and I launched the PDH in June 2016. Each of these approaches to democratizing publishing, and many more that aren’t listed, feel that, at a time when internet companies are doing their best to isolate you in their silo, these words of Reid’s ring a bit hollow:

“…The web was a place where millions and millions of people would create their own media identities, share information about themselves, and look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

If you feel the web has become too centralized, that there are too many silos or walled gardens, or that you don’t really have control over the content you put on the web, consider getting involved in one of the initiatives or projects related to the Decentralized Web.

Connecting A Community Of Disruptive Innovators In NE Wisconsin

The third item, connecting a region’s disruptive innovators, is of very high interest to me. Reid’s comments speak directly to this issue.

“…the meaning of life comes from how we interact with each other. The internet can reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other…Traditionally, publishers had often built communities of interest around specific topics…that didn’t mean all the people who were subscribing to Golf Magazine could easily find each other. But the internet made that possible…millions and millions of people would…look for opportunities to connect with each other in ways that could truly enhance their lives…”

Here are a couple points about NE Wisconsin to consider:wisconsin red NE

  • Conservative Midwest culture.
  • Major business sectors include agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, insurance and finance.
  • Relatively small technology sector, with the focus on IT — not CS, emerging technologies, or disruptive innovation.
  • No major research university.
  • Long cold winters; major geographical attraction is Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • 1.2 million residents.

I’m convinced that a small but significant number of those 1.2 million residents are disruptive innovators who would be highly interested in “opportunities to connect with” other disruptive innovators “in ways that could truly enhance their lives.” The number of disruptive innovators is probably between 5 and 500. Maybe there are as many as a couple thousand. Can you imagine what would happen in NE Wisconsin if 500 disruptive innovators were connected and interacting on a regular basis with even just a few like-minded people!

Our challenge is to use the internet to “reconfigure space, so that the right people are always next to each other.” Once we’ve done that and built a community of disruptive innovators, the next step will be to facilitate events and other interactions to connect them with each other in ways that will truly enhance their lives.

It just so happens that I discussed this very topic with a disrupter last Saturday at Starbucks on Northland Avenue in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. We’re working on Next Steps…

If you’re interested in discussing disruptive and destructive innovation in NE Wisconsin, or if you want to help make that kind of thing happen in our region, contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

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Hybrid Event Participation: In-Person And Online

Attendee Of The Future or Hybrid Events?

Today’s post was supposed to be about “The Attendee of the Future,” an insightful events wrangling post I read yesterday.

That post starts out with a timely question that is worth thoughtful consideration.

“The needs of your event attendees have changed. Are you keeping up with their demands?”welcome to the future

I suspect many events wranglers struggle with meeting the widely varying needs and demands of today’s attendees. In a world of partial continuous attention, blurred lines between work and personal time, and an increasingly connected society with smartphones and tablets, it’s almost impossible to know what the needs of the attendees are and even more difficult to keep up with their (apparent) demands.

So I was going to highlight a few particularly poignant points in that blog post. But then I got thinking about the excerpt below from the post:

hybrid events“…Consider meeting different learning styles of your digitally enabled participants. This may include…an active hybrid event, with facilitators who encourage conversation within your live audience, answer questions and invite comments from your your virtual audience, plus a moderator who facilitates discussion in a virtual chat room and where these two hosts can work to bring the viewpoints of both audiences together…”

Hybrid Events

[Wikipedia defines a hybrid event as onethat combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.”]

hybrid events 2

Hybrid events are a topic that hits four hot buttons for me.

  • Events wrangling.
  • Community building.
  • Relationship building.
  • Emerging technologies.

After I read the “hybrid events” post linked in the excerpt above and started thinking about all the opportunities and challenges that hybrid events offer, I decided today’s post on Events Wrangling just had to be about hybrid events.

My goals for today’s post are:

  1. Highlight the concept of hybrid events, encouraging you to make your events hybrid ones when possible.
  2. Discuss six issues related to hybrid events.
  3. Invite anyone highly interested in discussing hybrid events to contact me.

Goal 1: Highlight Hybrid Events

I’ve been working to incorporate virtual, or remote, participation in my events for over ten years. In the early days it was IRC (internet relay chat) or other chat tools. At our weekly tech meetups, we would also regularly test new video and audio tools as they were released. When tech enthusiasts in our region couldn’t attend the weekly meeting in-person due to weather or personal obligations, we’d experiment with different ways to make remote participants a valuable part of the meetup.

If you don’t already make your events hybrid in some way, consider deciding right now to figure out at least one way to make your next event a hybrid one. If you already have ways for remote participants to benefit from and contribute to your events, look for how you can take those hybrid components to the next level. Come up with a way to make the hybrid benefits of your event a competitive differentiator. Remote participants can’t experience everything that in-person participants can, but there may be hundreds or thousands of people who want to be involved with your event because of the value you provide to remote participants.

Goal 2: Discuss Six Issues For Hybrid Events

Issue 1, Building A Community — In “10 Things I Would Change About The Event Industry,” Kevin Jackson says:

“…I think we create experiences…the difference between an event and an experience for me is an event is a one-off moment in time and an experience is a whole campaign that really builds a community of interest around the subject or topic we’re promoting…

‘People’ don’t love events. They don’t sit at home and think ‘gosh I really want to go to an event tonight’ like you would the movie theatre or restaurant. People want to go and attend the event for the content…And we have to get more serious around developing great stories and great content that brings people into our events…

We have to try and encourage a community to [grow] up around our events. building communityBecause that’s really what we’re doing, growing communities of interest…”

Although not every event has enough value, scope, or impact to support an ongoing community, some of them do. When there is sufficient reason for an event, or series of events, to support or coalesce a community, there’s no need to limit that community to people who are able to physically be at the event. Your community can be much larger if it’s open and welcoming to remote participants. Facilitating the hybrid component may also result in new community members who couldn’t participate in person because of schedule conflicts, cost, mobility issues, or other reasons. Some of your remote participants may turn out to be key members of the community that gets built around a series of events.

storytellerIssue 2, Storytelling and Video — I’m convinced we don’t put enough emphasis on storytelling and video for events. These two event components can be impact multipliers which lead to higher visibility for events, more post-event collaborations and interactions, and more participants for future events. Storytelling and audio/video components of hybrid events will be critical items to make the event worthwhile and engaging for remote participants. So deciding to deliver a high quality hybrid event means focusing on storytelling and providing good video capture and (eventually) editing. Taking storytelling and video to the next level will provide amazing benefits to both remote and in-person participants.

The next two issues are discussed by Communiqué Conferencing in “What is a Hybrid Event?

Issue 3, Content and Format — Concise, compelling and engaging material that tells a relevant story via remote technology is crucial for keeping the interest of virtual event goers. Shorter sessions are generally necessary because the virtual participant isn’t a captive audience and because it’s harder for them to feel like an active participant in the event. Here’s how Communiqué addresses that:

“…Not all the content presented at a live event is suitable for remote audience. Meeting professionals with experience creating hybrid events say that they are adapting the content of their face-to-face events to the needs of the remote audience by, for example, offering shorter sessions. Hybrid event organizers often seek to reduce production costs by live-streaming only the most popular sessions. Others seek to limit what is offered to a remote audience as a way of encouraging more people to attend the face-to-face event. Anecdotal data from survey responses and e-learning experts suggest that broadcast sessions shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes…”

Issue 4, Speakers or Session Leaders — It’s challenging to have every session leader or speaker be a charismatic and polished presenter for an in-person audience. Bringing in the online audience just makes it that much harder for a speaker to do everything right. As Communiqué says in their blog post:

“…It’s even more important to train speakers for hybrid events than for face-to-face because the attention span of remote attendees is shorter, speakers must be more engaging. They must acknowledge remote attendees and look at the camera. The loss of physical connection requires speakers to develop new skills to engage. The camera is your friend. So, you’ve got to attend to that camera, and remember there are people with interest in your event on the other side of it…”

Issue 5, Facilitating Post-Event Interaction — In my mind, part of the job of an events wrangler is to facilitate post-event interaction. I feel that the biggest benefits of events are connecting like-minded and complementary-minded people, building new relationships and strengthening existing ones. The value of an event can be multiplied many times over if those relationships continue to grow and lead to collaboration on work or personal projects and ventures.

Building hybrid components into your event can facilitate post-event interaction in many ways. People participating remotely can connect with in-person participants, whereas those connections would previously only been possible between in-person participants. In-person participants who get excited about a session topic at the event can later review videos of the session and be motivated to reconnect with others who were likewise passionate about that topic.

VRIssue 6, Overhyped-But-It’s-Coming VR — I’m not going to discuss specific details of how VR / AR / MR and the tangentially-related holographic technologies will impact hybrid events. If you’re a fan of VR, you can easily imagine ten or fifteen cool or interesting ways you’d want to remotely participate in hybrid events. Ten or twenty years from now, VR is likely to play a huge role in most events, both real-time and post-event. For events held this year and next, think about connecting with VR tech partners. Research companies developing VR software and hardware, as well as a variety of marketing, video, storytelling, and promotional companies, may be willing to collaborate with you. Your events may be a perfect opportunity for them to experiment with new technology, to develop their VR skills and services, or to create marketing materials in a real-world situation.

Goal 3: Invite Discussion

From my perspective, almost all events five years from now will have a significant hybrid aspect. If you want to keep up, you’ll need to stay informed on developments in this area. If you want to keep ahead, or at least be one of the people riding the wave of emerging technologies and societal trends, you should be experimenting now with ways to make your events hybrid ones.

If you want to discuss hybrid events, ask questions, or share your ideas and experiences, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’d love to collaborate with fellow events wranglers to make events more valuable and engaging for both remote and in-person participants.

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Events Wrangler Interviews: Regular Feature

New Regular Feature On Blog

Today’s post serves two purposes:

  1. To announce to readers of this blog that “Events Wrangler Interviews” is being added as a regular feature.
  2. To force me to connect with lots of events wranglers and interview them for blog posts.

I’ve wanted to do “interview” blog posts for many years. But interviews seem like much more work than regular posts, and it will probably be challenging to find appropriate regular featurespeople willing to do an interview for an obscure blog. Since it was easier to do non-interview posts, that’s what I’ve mostly done for my blogs. (I think I’ve only done one interview post in my life.)

Other Potential Regular Features

Other regularly featured post topics I considered adding to the Events Wrangling blog were:

  1. Humorous, Irreverent, Or Non-Serious Event Stuff
  2. Event Partners & Sponsors
  3. High-Impact Event Outcomes
  4. Commentary About Recent Events
  5. Event Technology

Reasons For Events Wranglers Interviews

I see value in each of the above potential regular features. At a future date, I might add one of them to this blog as another regular item. But for today I had to decide on one feature to add, and the reasons I decided to add interview posts are:

  • interview silhouetteThe interviews will add value to this blog, giving events wranglers another reason to read Events Wrangling.
  • Information in the interviews can help us improve the quality of our future events.
  • It will be interesting for me to hear ideas, opinions, and observations from other events wranglers.
  • Events wranglers are usually interested in more visibility, even on an obscure blog.
  • It’s another way for readers to get to know more events wranglers and to expand their personal networks (and mine).
  • Interview posts will expand my blog publishing comfort zone and force me to learn new skills.
  • I’ve wanted to do regular interview posts for a long time. My class assignment was a good reason to start on that now.

Here is the point where I put in the caveats, aka escape clauses. I don’t have experience with doing interview posts, and I don’t have a bunch of events wranglers lined up for the next few months. My plan is to do a monthly interview post, but early on I might miss a month here and there if I have troubles getting interviewees lined up. Also, the first few interviews may not ask the best questions — so I’ll be working to improve the Q&A quality over the first six months as I establish a routine for interviews.

Requests For Blog Readers

help wantedIn order to kick off this new feature and to make the blog more valuable to visitors, I have four requests for readers of this blog post:

  1. Events Wranglers.  If you’re an events wrangler willing to be interviewed by me, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, or leave contact info in Comments below.
  2. Friends of Events Wranglers.  If you know an events wrangler willing to be interviewed by me, please have them contact me.
  3. Interview Questions.  If you have questions you’d like me to ask events wranglers for the interviews, please email them to me.
  4. Regular Features.  If you know of regular features you’d like to see on this blog, please email me about that.

The tagline for this blog is, “connecting people, one event at a time.”

The tagline for the Events Wrangler Interviews feature is, “connecting with people, one interview at a time!” 🙂

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Day Fourteen: Create Your Own Feature

blogging universityMy virtual assignment for Day Fourteen (have I already been a Blogging U student for two weeks??) in the Blogging: Fundamentals class is:

  • Work on inspiring reader loyalty by publishing consistently and giving your readers something to look forward to! Today, develop a regular posting feature for your blog.
  • Think of the type of regular feature you can commit to — something you’ll publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • This post can be the first installment, or an announcement of what’s coming.
  • Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

I actually already have a regular feature on this blog — doing a News & Views curated aggregation of recent, relevant, and meaningful post and articles from events wrangler blogs or events news sites, such as “June 11, 2016: News & Views Roundup For Events Wranglers.” But for quite a while I’ve wanted to do interview posts on a regular basis, and today’s assignment gives me a good reason to start doing them. So as of July 2016, I’m adding interview posts as a regular feature!

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A Storybook Day: An Events Wrangler’s Promptly Published Post

What Is A Storybook Day?

storybook dayIt’s a common goal for events wranglers:

Have this event be like a storybook day for the attendees!

That’s a mighty ambitious goal which will take a lot of work and luck to achieve. So…let’s start at the very beginning — a very good place to start…

What is a storybook day? This phrase means different things to different people, but for most of us, it will mean something special, out of the ordinary, almost magical will happen to us. An example of this is Melissa Hunter’s Instagram post, where she says:

Walking to our car after a storybook day in the English countryside, I said, “Could this be any quainter?” and a rainbow exploded into the sky.

storybook rainbow, Melissa Hunter

Wide Spectrum Of Event Types

Creating and delivering an event that makes something special and magical happen for even one attendee is an ambitious goal. Expecting and hoping for it to happen to many or most of the attendees is downright preposterous. And yet, that is the goal for many events wranglers.

A storybook day seems most likely to happen at events which involve celebrations, entertainment, and emotions, such as weddings or parties, much more so than at events like industry trade shows or a training class. But even the generally unemotional trade show or seminar can have a storybook element.

spectrumWeddings, New Year’s Eve parties, annual company picnics, plumbing industry equipment expos, unconferences, and three-day environmental regulations training classes includes such a wide spectrum of settings, attendees, and specific objectives that it seems impossible to offer general suggestions or strategies to delivery a storybook day.

Each of those different types of gatherings can present unique opportunities for something out of the ordinary for its attendees. The events wrangler in charge should already be aware of most of those event-specific opportunities or should figure out what they are.

But there IS one magical ingredient you should focus on, regardless of the type of event you’re wrangling. Personal relationships!

Create New Relationships & Celebrate Old Relationships

Every event, regardless of where it is on the spectrum, involves people coming together. And anytime people come together, new relationships can be created, interrupted relationships can be rekindled, and old relationships can be celebrated and strengthened.

The events wrangler is responsible for those relationship opportunities in three ways:

  1. Including specific event agenda items or activities focused on relationships.
  2. Working hard to enable serendipitous connections or collisions.
  3. Becoming acquainted with many of the participants and connecting a few people who seem to need a bit of help or those whom you just “know” will instantly bond with each other, spend a long time talking together, and probably stay in touch long after your event is over.

Traditional Relationship-Builders

The first item on the list involves the typical networking or icebreaker activities. These can be perfunctorily added to the agenda and just allowed to happen like they have for many years. Or you can seek out new twists on the old standbys and work hard to make the activities fun and relevant parts of the event that actually do help people connect and enjoy themselves.

Serendipitous Collisions

serendipityThe second item, enabling serendipitous collisions, will depend on your budget, imagination, and research into how serendipity works. You and the event goers need to be open to unexpected outcomes and activities which aren’t totally scripted. The serendipitous moments can be sort of like playing a game where the only rules are how to start the game, and maybe a couple rules for interacting with other players. After all, when two people meet for the first time, the only rules that should apply is that they listen to each other and that they be kind to each other. What happens after that is Life!

Personal Connector

The third item is where the events wrangler can absolutely have an impact and can work the hardest to ensure that at least two people walk away from the event with a storybook day. This item requires you to get acquainted well enough with some of the participants to know whether they have a lot in common, including personalities that are compatible enough to potentially lead to a long term relationship. Find out what people are interested in, what they’re working on, what they need help with, what they’d like to help others with.

introduce peopleIntroduce a few of these highly compatible attendees to each other, get the conversation started, then let them chat on their own. The two people may be a session presenter and an attendee at the session. You might talk with two different attendees who are passionate about the same topic. Maybe you notice two like-minded people whose situations may get in the way of them beginning a conversation, such as a big age difference, a social or financial status difference, or other personal factors. Give life a helping hand and initiate those connections you see just waiting to happen. If the people you connect do have interests in common and their personalities work well together, you may be responsible for a relationship which endures for years.

The other half of the third relationship item is connecting the attendees whom you can see need a nudge or are totally out of their environment. Figure out which other person at the event can connect well with the attendee who’s not fitting in. Turn the event from a failure and an unenjoyable experience for an attendee into an unexpected bright spot in their week. Maybe they never enjoy going to events. Maybe they have a personal issue which was preventing them from fully participating in the event. Put yourself in their shoes. Take the time to make sure someone else at the event acknowledges them as a person so they feel like more than just number 47 on the attendee list.

Storybook wineMay every event you wrangle be a storybook day for at least two of your event goers! 🙂

PS — if your event includes alcohol, you might want to include a few bottles of Storybook wine. That will help ensure your event is a storybook day for at least a few wine lovers!

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Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal

Today’s class assignment (on a Sunday?!!) is:

  • blogging fundamentalsLearn to work with outside inspiration so you never have to deal with blogger’s block.
  • Publish a post inspired by a writing prompt.
  • Visit our Daily Post site and check out today’s prompt — it’s in the dark blue box on the right.
  • Include a link to the prompt so that others can find your post on the prompt page.
    Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Homework done. One prompted post published promptly. What’s Next? 🙂

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A Storybook Day

Potlucks & Events Wranglers

Potlucks & Barbecues

I did a previous post about barbecues, and in yesterday’s post I mentioned meeting neighbors through a real world event. I’ll address both those issues in a bit. But first, let’s start with a definition for potluck.

potluck foodA potluck is a gathering where each guest contributes a dish of food that is to be shared…The word pot-luck appears in the 16th century English work of Thomas Nashe, and used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot.” The sense “communal meal, where guests bring their own food,” appears to have originated in the late 19th century or early 20th century, particularly in Western North America, either by influence from potlatch or possibly by extension of traditional sense of “luck of the pot.

Getting back to my BBQ post, how are BBQs and potlucks related?

  • bbqBBQs can include potluck food sharing.
  • Barbecued or grilled meat isn’t necessarily the central aspect of a potluck.
  • BBQs are usually outdoor events; potlucks are more evenly distributed between outdoor and indoor.
  • Either can happen anytime during the year, but BBQs are traditionally associated with summer.
  • BBQs generally have more central planning and financial aspects because of the main course meat(s).

Potlucks & Events Wranglers

I'll do itNow here’s where the events wrangler aspect comes in:

Potlucks will only happen if an amateur or professional events wrangler gets involved. To get the ball rolling takes that one person who sees value in the event and says, “we’re gonna do this!” Then an events wrangler, who may or may not have been the one to suggest the potluck, has to make it happen. A tradition of having potlucks can be established, and this will assist in repeat performances — if the first one is successful…

Even in an environment where potlucks have been done in the past, such as a church congregation which has had multiple potlucks each year, it still takes someone to lead the charge. We had a potluck brunch after church two weeks ago. But it didn’t just magically happen. One person, an initiator, had to say, “let’s do a potluck.” Then an events wrangler, either the initiator or someone else, had to lead the organizing and putting on of that church potluck. And it was delicious and fun — thanks, Carey! 🙂

Potlucks & Neighbors

potluck, neighborsRegarding meeting the neighbors, potlucks can be a great ad hoc way to welcome a new person or family to the neighborhood, or they can be annual events which provide an opportunity to meet new neighbors and to re-meet neighbors you don’t frequently interact with. If you’ve got some new neighbors, maybe you should organize an informal potluck to welcome them to the neighborhood. If you’re the new kid on the block, get to know one or a couple neighbors, then discuss the idea of a potluck as something you think would be a fun event to help plan. If one of your neighbors agrees, helping organize and put on the event might be the best way possible for you to get to know others living around you.

Potlucks are pretty much a real-life event, but here’s a cyberspace question for you:

Because it’s difficult to share food with the virtual neighbors discussed in yesterday’s post, can you think of any ways to do something along the lines of a “virtual potluck” that you’d be the events wrangler for if you connect with neighbors you’d want to invite to such a potluck?

To wrap up today’s post, ask yourself these three questions:potluck

  1. If you’ve been to a potluck before, was it a good use of your time and energy?
  2. If you’ve never been to a potluck before, does it sound like something you’d like to do?
  3. If your answer to either the first or second question was yes, when are you going to start finding people to help you organize a potluck in the near future?

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If you’re interested in organizing a potluck and haven’t done that before, use Google to search for answers to specific questions you have about doing potlucks. And get at least one co-organizer to help you. Below is a bit of background info and sources of potluck inspiration!

Reasons For Potlucks

There are lots of reasons for having potlucks, including:

  • Central event of a fun social gathering, like a block party or just a get-together for a group of friends.
  • Minimizing centralized food organization and expense for events.
    • Reunions or other large family gatherings.
    • BarCamps and other participant-driven events.
    • Church congregation gatherings.
    • Annual event for many organizations.
  • Optimizing personal or family meal preparation and variety.
  • Building or strengthening relationships and trust.
    • Connecting a neighborhood or starting a neighborhood association.
    • Starting a goods and services sharing group.
    • Starting a dinner co-op (sort of a recursive or seed potluck…).

18 Online Sources Of Potluck Inspiration

The public is invited to Pequot Library’s Great Lawn on Friday, June 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. for the 11th Annual Potluck, Outdoor Concert, and Campout…This favorite, traditional community event on Pequot Library’s one-of-a-kind Great Lawn is free and open to all. Potluck Supper begins at 6:30 p.m…Stay until 9 p.m. for The Big Pillow Fight and families are invited to pitch their tents and camp out all night… http://www.minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2016/06/10/entertainment/doc5756e1fb953e3709782335.txt

A meal with the neighbors — One Wednesday of every summer month, Carolyn Supinger and her neighbors come together to organize a community-based potluck…As neighbor Bill Bibbler said, “If it wasn’t for Carolyn this wouldn’t have happened…“It all really started with heirloom tomatoes,” said Supinger. Her husband was sure no one had ever tasted this unique variety of tomato…they invited all of their neighbors over to try it…
http://www.thesungazette.com/article/lifestyles/2016/06/22/a-meal-with-the-neighbors/

Hawai‘i Farmers Union United…is presenting its monthly locavore potluck…at Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation. This month’s featured chef is Kyle Kawakami of Maui Fresh Streatery, voted “Best Food Truck”…Kawakami will prepare a dish using a canoe crop, hemp seeds and moringa…The evening will also include a produce swap, a farmers market table, prize giveaways, networking and more…
http://mauinow.com/2016/06/01/locavore-potluck-at-mill-house-restaurant/

It’s Food Forward’s mission to not let such fruit go to waste..since he started the group…with a simple backyard pick, it has grown into an energized urban food-gleaning organization…It also mobilizes teams at…farmers’ markets, consolidating all produce that farmers don’t want to take back with them…putting up flyers on the surrounding Starbucks community boards announcing a pick and a potluck…
http://www.lamag.com/longform/the-crop-circle/

Actress Shailene Woodley will be stumping for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a “Potluck For Bernie” event Tuesday night in her hometown of Simi Valley. Woodley has been traveling up and down the coast…The RV tour has been a grass-roots effort by the three actors and is not officially part of the Sanders campaign…
http://www.vcstar.com/news/local/simi-valley/actress-shailene-woodley-to-hold-potluck-in-simi-valley-to-support-bernie-sanders-341836b6-26b6-16f8-381335641.html

Farm Potluck at Mountain Bounty Farm — Mountain Bounty is a beautiful 50-acre farm, offering the oldest and longest running CSA in Nevada County! Join John Tecklin and Angie Tomey for this Mountain Bounty Farm potluck!…Farmer John will have some pre-packed CSA boxes for sale so you can get a taste of what it’s like to receive a fresh box of veggies every week!…We’ll circle up for dinner at 6pm…
http://yubanet.com/regional/Farm-Potluck-at-Mountain-Bounty-Farm-June-2.php

Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors — Whether you live on a quiet cul-de-sac or a busy street, it’s important to get to know your neighbors to build a sense of community. Hanging out with neighborhood friends is also a wonderfully convenient pastime – no car, travel or reservations required! Take advantage of the…warm weather and organize an old-fashioned block party…a collaborative potluck party or an outdoor game night… 
https://www.punchbowl.com/p/ways-to-get-to-know-your-neighbors

Building community for long-term prosperity …There is no clear path to building a strong community. Different nuances, different people…will all lead down a different path, but there are some common ideas that can be used to develop your…town into the community that you would like it to be…Here are some of the potential ways that you can work to build community…# 20. Throw a block party, community BBQ or potluck…
https://personalliberty.com/building-community-for-long-term-prosperity/

A free, block party in the Cariboo Heights neighbourhood…Highlights include: Free hotdogs…popcorn, face painting…refreshments and mingling with neighbours. It’s a potluck, so bring a dish to share…The main reason you should go is to meet your neighbours. The Vancouver Foundation conducted a study…and found the most pressing concern among Lower Mainland residents was a growing sense of isolation…
http://www.burnabynow.com/community/save-the-date-community-block-party-1.2276916

No matter how many times we make a menu…and plan ahead, there are going to be days…when we just can’t get it together to make a healthy meal for dinner…I’ve found a different solution: neighborhood dinner swaps. Think of neighborhood dinner swaps like the neighborhood potlucks…Another way you can structure your dinner swap is to collaborate with several neighbors, say three other families…
http://www.moneycrashers.com/potluck-dinner-ideas-dinner-meals-dishes-swap/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/dining/23coop.html  http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/how-to-create-a-dinner-co-op/

There is a powerful social aspect to sharing…sharing works even better with three, five, ten or even 50 people all sharing in group format. Sharing is social…Call it trust-building. Trust-building is best accomplished face to face…Hosting a potluck is a great way to start a neighborhood sharing group…The potluck is an iconic community gathering experience that symbolically reinforces the idea of sharing…
http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-reinvent-the-potluck

Our [Neighborhood Association] Annual Potluck Picnic is right around the corner…We had such a blast last year we’re doing it again so, come join us, enjoy some music and good food and meet your neighbors. In fact, bring a neighbor or two with you!…Last year you took the word “potluck” to heart. We had so many wonderful side dishes I wonder what we’ll get to taste this year! Please bring a side dish to share with 5-10 of your neighbors…
http://mvneighbors.org/node/160

The Pollinator Potluck…featured oven-fresh pizza, fine wine, and an educational speech about the value of public gardens to migratory birds. In its second year, the Greenwich Garden Club (GGC) is using potlucks to bolster a sense of community….we thought the potluck was the best way to not have to charge for something, and everybody brings the beverages, the food, and it’s just a real community gathering…
http://greenwichfreepress.com/lifestyle/pollinator-potluck-brings-community-together-for-brick-oven-pizza-66125/

It was a potluck dinner unlike any P.E.I. had likely seen before: no meat, no cheese — not even any honey — were allowed in any of the dishes, because they were all vegan…60 people showed up Monday to the first monthly vegan potluck…The 23-year-old vegan said she thought the dinner would attract about 30 people…”I’ve been wanting to get a sense of the vegan community on P.E.I. — finding each other was the issue…
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-vegan-potluck-vegetarian-1.3615055

People of all ages, races and religions were invited to enjoy a potluck dinner at First Christian Church…The catch, people had to bring a dish representing their culture, and people couldn’t sit by anyone they already knew. “It’s been a rewarding experience for me to just see the different culture aspects…Hands Across the Table for Racial Healing focused on getting to know different types of people by breaking bread and asking questions…
http://wqad.com/2016/05/21/quad-city-potluck-serves-up-diversity/

Vineyard Voyagers, Inc…will host a film screening, potluck, and presentation of new projects on Sunday…The film explores the concept of “nature deficit disorder” in an age of technology and “stranger danger,” while examining the impact of outdoor activity on the health and development of toddlers, children, and adolescents…the gathering will include a zero-waste potluck meal…
http://www.mvtimes.com/2016/06/01/film-screening-potluck-will-launch-new-initiatives-vineyard-voyagers/

Potlucks are cropping up everywhere these days in a resurgence of popularity and it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Who would not enjoy an event where there are so many dishes to choose from?…The lure of potlucks is that people love to share their favorite dishes and in fact, I’ve tasted some of the best foods I have ever had at these gatherings. Plus I have gained the bonus of learning some new cooking tricks from fellow contributors…
http://www.unionvilletimes.com/?p=30037

The California City Arts Commission is sponsoring a drum circle and potluck to celebrate the Summer Solstice on Monday, June 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend and bring drums, rattles, singing bowls and/or their best voice or share available percussion to help raise a cone of positive energy and celebrate the spring equinox… http://www.tehachapinews.com/lifestyle/2016/06/03/pot-luck-drum-circle-to-celebrate-summer-solstice.html

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WordPress Personal Digital Home & Meeting The Neighbors

New Home, New Neighbors

welcome to neighborhoodMeeting the neighbors is a good idea when you move into a new home.

Even if it doesn’t require industrial-strength events wrangler skills, meeting the neighbors qualifies as a type of event. It can be fun and worthwhile to meet new neighbors, but it can also be a bit intimidating and easy to put off until “later.” For most people, it’s easiest to get to know those neighbors if someone helps you out or gives you a gentle nudge to get you started.

My WordPress.com Blogging University class gave me a gentle nudge today — my assignment was to meet my cyber-neighbors by leaving comments on a few blogs.

When someone creates their WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH), there will be virtual neighbors they should meet, so today’s Blogging University class assignment is highly relevant to the PDH initiative.

Blogging: Fundamentals — Day Eight

blogging fundamentalsThe virtual assignment for Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eight — Introduce Yourself To The Neighbors is:

  1. Browse the blogs and topics you already follow.
  2. Check the Recommendations and Discover tabs to find great posts we think you’ll love, or browse the bloggingfundamentals tag to see posts from other new bloggers.
  3. Leave comments on four of the posts you read.

Today’s assignment is one I find both straight-forward and of high interest. The part which is moderately challenging is writing comments to be of high interest to the blog author and to initiate a meaningful conversation. Writing that type of comment will take a non-trivial amount of effort, and it may generate replies of equal or higher quality only 20% or 30% of the time. But finding even a small number of simpatico souls is well worth the time and effort you put into writing your comments.

I haven’t completed the three steps above yet, but I’ll finish today’s assignment as soon as I publish this post.

WordPress PDH & Virtual Neighbors

WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineThe WordPress PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. It is also intended to democratize publishing by helping you write and publish things of interest to you on your digital “home.” A significant part of the value and purpose of what you publish is helping you connect with like-minded and complementary-minded virtual neighbors.

One step in connecting with your virtual neighbors is looking amongst the millions and billions online to find compatible cyber citizens. You don’t need to locate a clone or near-clone of yourself, but it does make sense to find people who have one or several interests in common with you, people with whom you can have a fun, respectful, and mutually-satisfying conversation.

The Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Three assignment helped with finding compatible neighbors by having the virtual students use the WordPress.com Reader to locate other blogs of interest to them. Today’s assignment extends the compatible-neighbor finding skills by having the student use the Recommendations and Discover tabs for locating more neighbors they might like to get to know better.

neighbor nametagOnce you’ve located neighbors you might have something in common with, leaving comments on their blogs is the best way to get to know them. In addition to the excellent Day Eight lesson suggestions for writing comments, the lesson also pointed to the post “Making Conversation: How to Think Up Good Comments.”

If you write posts in line with the lesson suggestions and with the Making Conversation post, I guarantee the blog author will be thrilled. High quality comments will help start real conversations with the type of neighbors who are interested in building meaningful relationships with like-minded or complementary-minded people.

Blog authors who participate in an engaging conversation with you are the type of neighbors new owners of a WordPress PDH want to meet. During beta testing as the WordPress PDH is developed, the early users will be encouraged to go through the Blogging: Fundamentals class, with extra emphasis on Days Three and Eight to help get to know their virtual neighbors.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at one real-world event which can have several purposes, one of which is meeting the neighbors.

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Blogging U, Day 3 (4): Ideal Reader, Media & Laughter

[You might not believe this, but I really am going to get this Blogging U class schedule figured out. Soon. I hope. For me, this is Day 3, but the class email from Blogging U said Day 4! I looked through my Trash folder, Spam folder, archived folder, Inbox, did searches for Day Three — couldn’t find that Day 3 class email anywhere. Better find out what the instructor assigned for Day 3 so I don’t get a zero on that assignment…]

Day 3 (4) Assignment

Today’s assignment was a harsh dose of reality because it included:

  1. Define the ideal reader of my blog, “Events Wrangling.”
  2. What do they want to spend their (very) limited spare time and attention reading?
  3. What do I want to tell them if they do read one or more of my posts?
  4. Put in a media element you haven’t previously used.
  5. Give the post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals.

The challenging part of today’s assignment was trying to figure out what the ideal reader(s) of my blog would find worth spending their precious and limited time and attention on. And I haven’t come up with a satisfying answer yet. So I’m going to spend next couple days thinking about and writing down who my ideal reader is and various topics, ideas, opinions, and information that might be of interest to them.

After I develop the list of their potential interests, I’ll start working on titles or descriptions of posts I can write addressing some of those interests.

This approach to today’s assignment means I can fulfill the letter of the law (assignment) today, but I won’t have the spirit of this assignment really done for a few more days. And fully addressing the issue will take many days.

It makes a lot of sense, though. Why write posts that your ideal reader won’t read, even if you do the unlikely thing with the long tail of the internet and somehow your ideal reader does happen to see your post. Once you’re writing content that people of interest to you will read, then you can work on promoting the blog and increasing its visibility. Until you write something people want to read, though, getting visibility doesn’t accomplish much.

TED Video: Laughter

Inserting a new media element was easy. I decided to embed a TED video using the WordPress short code. The TED video “Why We Laugh” is a 17 minute video looking at the science of laughter. It’s a bit of a long watch, but it has a couple good lessons for events wranglers, including:

  • You’re 30 times more likely to laugh if you’re with somebody else than if you’re alone.
  • If people are honestly laughing with each other, it can help make stressful moments much less stressful.

The reason those two lessons are important to me is because they relate to relationship building at events. If you get to know one or several people well enough at an event that you’re enjoying carefree and honest laughter with them, those relationships are likely to last much longer than a strictly business or information-based relationship. The more events wranglers can do to create connections which result in laughter, the better job they’ll do with all their events!

Well, the first phase of today’s assignment is done. The real work comes over the next few days as I struggle with what the ideal reader would be willing to take the time to read…

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