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Welcome to the Sunnyside... where community grows

Inspired in equal parts by my reflections upon turning 40, a $90K real estate mistake, and the comments made by our own Peter Coyote at the Red Room's panel discussion at the Commonwealth Club, I have started a motivational speaking career around the subject of community building.

I would be thrilled if you would visit my brand spanking new blog for Sunnyside Communications... Where Community Grows at http://caffeinatedponderings.typepad.com/sunnyside_communications/

My first speech, which I am delivering to local volunteer organizations, school groups and corporations looking to inspire team and community building, is titled Life 4.0 and includes 5 simple steps for carving out community where you work and live. I came up with the title when I discovered that the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon was already transitioning into Web 3.0. The way I see it, Life needs to stay one step ahead.

Here is Peter's quote that brought me chills when it rolled off his lips:

"A true community is there to bring you chicken soup when you are ill, take care of your children when you cannot , and bury you when you die."

My follow-up question to all of you is: Do you have a community that will be there for you in your hour of need? And, just as importantly, are you committed to being a source of community to those around you?

I hope you can answer a resounding YES to both of those questions. If you answered "No" or even a "Yes... ish," I am hoping you will take steps toward making deeper connections wherever you spend your time, whether you're in a cubicle at work, chatting with kids in your carpool, or even taking a moment to read and respond to the blogs written by your fellow Redroom authors (instead of just waiting for someone to respond to yours).

Though my words will be spoken rather than written in this new venture, I still have the same mission we all do as writers-- that of inspiring, informing and entertaining anyone willing to hear my message.

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Hi, Shana--Where to

Hi, Shana--Where to respond?  Here or there?  Here, I guess!

I do have that kind of community in a couple of places.  I saw that when I had a major surgery almost three years ago.  My friends came over to feed me, wash my hair, and take me to the doctor and pharmacy.  It humbled me and made me see how lucky I am.

A great idea for a blog, and a great idea for us all.  I feel that these forms of community will be more important for us than ever in the years to come.  And I do think in some ways, a virtual community works along the same lines.



Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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I agree

I love the Redroom for introducing me to people like you whom I might never have encountered in this 3D world we inhabit. The fact that we can support one another with our goals (like my excitement to gather friends to attend Gail Konop Baker's signing when she's in town at the end of the month), mentor and be mentored by peers with varying degrees of experience in this business, and simply open our minds to new perspectives is, indeed, a beautiful thing.

The import thing to remember, in my opinion, is for all of us to split our time in a balanced way between the cyber world and the real one. I desperately want to be swimming in chicken soup the day I need it, and I ache from the inside out when thinking that there could be someone who lives near me, whom I could easily help, who has no one to help out in his or her hour of need.

You clearly have that balance, as evidenced by the support of your flesh and blood friends who came to the rescue after your surgery. Isn't it a beautiful blessing to count?

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What a wonderful and POSITIVE thing to do!  (As for me, I would say Yes...ish -- I HOPE -- to both questions.)

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Thanks for the shout out!

I think you're being modest, Ericka. I find it hard to believe that you could be as generous as you are to us, your cyber-based friends, and not have strong ties to the people you encounter at school and in your home community.

But if it is, in fact, true, get to work on your chicken soup insurance policy. :)

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You are right, Shana, community is terribly important. As a working parent with crazy hours and absolutly no famliy to rely on, I relied very heavily on my community of friends. I believe it is one's community that makes or breaks a person's level of success in the world (career, life, etc.).

What I am finding now however, in 2008, is that my community is shrinking because much of my community has had to go back to work. I have fewer and fewer peeps to call upon these days.

That being said, I have found that it is my time to step off the fast track for now, take care of my own familial obligations and be the available community for others.

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Someone has to do it...

and I am glad to hear that it is you. I am reading a book titled Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand (How to Create a Culture That Cares for Kids) by James Vollbracht. If you are looking for an affirmation that you have made the right choice and a reminder that it is the smallest things we do that can have a ripple effect of goodness in our communities, this book is nothing short of a must read.

I am only on chapter two, but my highlighter is already getting a work out. Here is a sample: "Having gathered stories from rural Sundance, Wyoming, to inner-city Baltimore, to the suburbs of Seattle, it's my experience that when people hear what others are doing to create positive, healthy communities for our kids, their immediate response is "I can do that!" and it is then and there that the exciting process of restoring a kid-friendly culture begins."

This brought tears to my eyes because I had just had that very experience earlier in the day. Another middle school mom and I launched a book club that would meet at the school during lunch (only 30 minutes) just two times a month. (We are also in the process of creating a very moderated blog to accompany it so that we can keep the kids engagaed in dialog between meetings.) I wrote a letter to one of the directors at Project Cornerstone, the organization that is helping us with this pilot program. She said she shared my email recap of our first club meeting with parents at other middle schools and, right on the spot, three parents from three different schools said "I can do that!" The news brought tears to my eyes. I am giving just a couple hours of my time each month to a cause that I am genuinely excited about and already the ripple has started.

What if everyone chose to spend three hours a month giving back to their community for a cause they were genuinely excited about? Not out of obligation, but out of a true desire to see a small change that won't ever make the front page news, but could just subtly make its own little difference in the lives of a few kids... and, perhaps, inspire other adults to do something similar in a way that is genuine to them.

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Go, Shana!


Like your Red Room blog, I now have your Sunnyside Communications blog on RSS. Can't wait to read more about Life 4.0. Community is everything. 

 Katie Burke

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Thank you!

Thanks so much, Katie! I really appreciate the support.

I am firmly convinced that smallest deeds have the greatest impact because they aren't daunting for others to emulate. My mission is to remind people that the simple act of greeting every person by name is the easiest and most powerful thing to do. What you are basically telling them in that moment is that despite the flood of stimuli that washes over us every day in the form of email, phone calls and to-do list items, YOU stick out-- you matter to me. This, of course, includes children. We must greet them and inquire as to their interests if we want them to feel like something more than an accessory on their mother's arm. If they are noticed and engaged, studies show, they are less likely to become involved in high risk behavior.

Thank you, Katie! (walkin' the talk, dontcha know?)