Getting Involved in Your Community

This post is both for students and non-students. More then five years ago, I resolved (without it being a New Year’s Resolution) to get more involved in my community more so. I am already engaged on campus and within some networks in Political Science and Higher Education. What I wanted to do was expand these networks and friendships off campus in the city where I reside.  To this end, I started to attend more community events and actively networked more off campus.

It is too easy to get lazy and keep on going to the same old haunts and seeing the same people (some wonderful). At first I must admit, it was a little strange. Would I meet people? Would it be fun? Yes, to answer both questions. I have networked, relaxed, and socialized and in the process have met many people. Some of the connections have proved fruitful for former students—yes, I have helped students get internships or jobs. But, it has also been great for me. I feel like I was getting comfortable and not exploring the city and making Victoria my home.

Specific to students, getting involved on campus and networking is not only fun, but can also help you with your future career goals. And, you will meet your peers who are going through the same things that you are. You might even make some life-long friendships. As an undergraduate advisor, I want students to feel like they are part of the campus community. Why? Students are apt to be more successful and happier during their studies. Seriously. Check out the clubs and course unions. And, for community members–come onto campus and network with faculty, staff, and students.

I include a photo below of the wonderful Hudson Mack, who invited me to attend his class at Royal Roads. Thank you to Hudson and his great students! Hudson took the photo.

Janni and Hudson

Remembering to Breathe

On Saturday, March 17th I had the distinct pleasure of participating in a Mom panel on Real Parenting with Shirley Broback and two of the three co-founders and organizers of Breathe Now. The interview was focused on parenting tweens and teens and what this means for us. It was a great interview and I was reminded how almost two years ago we decided that we wanted to organize a conference for women.

The idea was that we have all attended work-related conferences, mom conferences, and social media conferences, but we did not feel like there was a conference dedicated to the three in such a way that also dealt with issues unique to women. And, as I noted on Real Parenting the fateful meeting at Murchie’s was when we came up with the name, Breathe Now. We wanted to remind women that it’s important to inhale, exhale and breathe. We need to be nice to one another and more importantly to ourselves.

My involvement with Breathe Now has offered me opportunity to get to know the other three co-founders well. And, with that I’ve also met so many wonderful people in the local community. We see the conference as part of our project to build connections for women. We run the gamut, though, with a former government worker–turned personal chef, communications consultant, a hotel industry executive, and an academic. What we share with this conference is an acknowledgement of the importance of women supporting one another. There is so much knowledge that we can share with one another–but the only way this will be done is by taking the time to talk and chat.

Breathe Now offers a weekend of events that is sure to inspire. We are proud that Rona Maynard is our opening keynote and Bif Naked is our closing keynote. The array of our panels reminds women that it is OK to take time for yourself. We are also setting up our slate of panels to look at the theme of It’s OK.  For instance, it’s OK to take time out for yourself, it’s OK to be successful…this theme is important, as women often apologize for taking time out for themselves or for their success.

I’ll end saying that I hope to see you at the conference on April 14 and 15 2012 at the beautiful University of Victoria!

Community Building Via Social Media

I am revisiting this post from the three years ago and want to comment on how positive my experience has been with engaging more in the local community and higher ed community in general. In the Fall 2009, I decided to make a concerted effort to get more involved in my communities. I have already blogged some about this, but this blog will speak more so to the consequences. What have I learned? Who have I met? And, has it been worth it?

Maybe I should first say that I enjoy networking and I’ve been pretty good and successful with networking within Women’s Studies and Political Science. I have lots of friends and contacts in the US and Canada and I really do feel like I am part of the academic community. Given the teaching focus of my job that I’ve had for almost two years, I have had a chance to meet others with similar interests in the Scholarship of Teaching  and teaching and technology. But, I wanted more–I wanted to meet more people in different units across campus and in the city in general.

Somehow I came to this realization that I wanted to expand my networks in academe and in my local community in Victoria, so I joined FourSquare (I broke up with FourSquare eventually), Twitter, and stepped up my involvement in local community related events in Victoria. I also made a point of contacting others in Vancouver or other parts of British Columbia. I don’t want to be one of those academics that is so niche focused that I miss out on other opportunities and connections. This led to leading workshops and giving various talks in the community.

I’ll start with FourSquare. I like the game aspect of it–it’s fun. And, I’ve actually met people from the FourSquare hits. In a previous post, I noted that I’ve attended some of the High Noon Hump Day Meet Ups and these are usually focused on iPhone apps, FourSquare, iPad apps and the like. Frankly, these have been fun–lunches and chats about technology. I am such a nerd at heart and admit to it. Big smile. Well, this lasted for a few years and eventually I broke up with FourSquare, as I got a bit obsessed with it and there was no real benefit.

My Twitter use has been a two-fold win. I’ve used it in the classroom and personally. I have made more friendships than I can count and here I am referring mostly to the people that I have met in real life (IRL). However, to be honest, I have also “met” some wonderful people in higher ed, other Latinas, YA Lit readers, political junkies, and academics on Twitter, who I might never meet IRL. We have shared journal article suggestions, URLS, statistics, book suggestions, recipes, and gripes about everything. I connect with prospective, current, and former students on Twitter. I have also made professional connections with others.

I guess this post is my evangelism about social networking and social media. Yeah, I’m sold. Yeah, I’m an enthusiast. Professionally and politically stepping this up has led to blogging for Equality 101, the University of Venus, the Globe and Mail, as well as speaking opportunities. I have also found that my profile on my campus and network of friends and contacts is wider and it is rewarding.

Can you build community via social media? Yes. How are you building community? I am using the usual subjects–attending events and meeting people, but social media and social networks are definitely part of my arsenal.