Esperanza and Jjiraffe wrote eloquently this week about community and blogging, more specifically, whether IF blogs have "expiration dates," and what happens when IF bloggers become parents. They are both gifted writers, and expressed some of what I've been thinking about here: why we write, what happens when a blog changes direction, how we relate to our readers and to each other. You should go read what they have to say, and weigh in.
Many of you commented in response to my last post that blogging was an outlet for creativity, a means of self-expression, and finally, along the way, a means of connecting with others, raising awareness. Most of us started because we wanted to write, and kept going because we found a community. That's part of the problem with a change in direction, isn't it? The fear that the friends we found will somehow disappear, finding us irrelevant, or worse.
The best blogs, in my experience, are not just a two-way street, but a massive tangled intersection. We write, others respond, and then those people connect to each other; we cite the posts of other bloggers, building a conversation from their ideas, and ours.
Over the past few days, articles about turning blogs into communities kept popping up in my Twitter feed. There were some interesting ideas: get your followers to create content for you (through guests posts, for example), creating your own social networking forum at places like blokube, becoming a follower of other people and commenting regularly, tapping into existing communities on Facebook or in real life, doing something for your readers, asking questions that can spark conversations among your readers, and promoting your blog through online advertising -- using your url when you comment on the blogs of other people, etc.
I confess that I've never read any of the Chicken Soup series from cover to cover, but I know that they're supposed to be full of short inspirational stories to make you feel all warm and fuzzy. To me, though, the healing properties of chicken soup were never really just about the contents of the bowl. I sort of feel like community is the equivalent of the blogger's chicken soup. And while that community may be available on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, I don't think that it's as robust as what we can potentially create here, in our small corners of the blogosphere.
What do you think? How do you create and sustain community with your blog? Is doing so important to you? Do you do it intentionally? How do you experience the communities created by other bloggers?
Curried Chicken Soup
adapted from Cooking In Sens
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 T. butter
3 carrots, sliced
1 bay leaf
2 t. thyme
2 t. curry powder
2 quarts of chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper
3 chicken breasts, skin and bones removed
4 potatoes,cut into large dice
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks and celery; saute until soft. Add the curry powder and thyme and saute for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the carrots, stock or water, salt, and pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chicken breasts (whole) and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove chicken, cut into chunks, and return to pot along with the potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes more. Serve with a crusty bread.