I’m taking part in an online blogging workshop offered by WordPress – Blogging 201. Our first task is to be clear about why we blog and to think of three specific goals for our blog. We’ve also been encouraged to post our goals because in makes us more accountable. So here goes.
I lecture in community engagement, community capacity building and school/community partnerships at the University of Newcastle (Australia) so I started the blog to provide resources for my students. I wanted to provide links to useful resources, find examples of community engagement, and discuss issues relevant to the subjects I teach.
I’m also actively involved in Transition Newcastle which is exploring how Newcastle can become more environmentally sustainable. With this motivation, I also wanted to provide information about sustainability. While I occasionally provide a link to something discussing the science of climate change or environmental issues, my focus is mostly about how we engage the community in addressing the environment.
I’ve now been blogging for a bit over three years and while these motivations remain, I also have another audience in mind and a couple of other motivations. While I work at a uni where there is quite an emphasis on academic publications, I am much more interested in reaching practitioners: the people who working with communities on a day-to-day basis. So as well as students, I want the blog to be relevant to practitioners.
Through doing the blog, I’ve found it helps me clarify my thinking on a range of topics, and this is now one of my motivations. It forces me to have a good (or at least a basic) understanding of a topic and/or to be clear about what I think about an issue.
As I am not just a lecturer but am also involved in community engagement projects focusing on sustainability, the blog helps me to reflect on, and share, some of my work – particularly Transition Streets Challenge and Kids’ Vegies on the Verge.
There are dilemmas at times. We started a blog for Transition Newcastle and so I sometimes wonder whether some of my content around this work (e.g., with the Transition Streets Challenge) should be posted there rather in my blog. I’ve decided to post here because it receives wider coverage. I also hope that people who come to my blog because of an interest in community engagement might sometimes look at some of the posts that focus on sustainability.
The third area identified in my blog’s header “the strengths perspective” (along with sustainability and community engagement) underpins my approach. I work at the Family Action Centre and all our work is strengths-based. That is, rather than focusing on deficits, deficiencies, and needs; we focus on strengths, aspirations and potential. This doesn’t mean that we ignore problems or needs, but identifying individual, family and community strengths gives the people we work with somewhere to start.
So what are my goals?
I find it’s easy to be over-excited and over-ambitious when setting goals, so I’m not going to aim too high.
I am quite excited by the Kids’ Vegies on the Verge and the Transition Streets Challenge and would like to focus more on these two projects.
Goal 1: Provide an update on the Kids’ Vegies on the Verge and the Transition Streets Challenge at least monthly.
It’s much easier just linking to other material, but writing my own content forces me to think more and clarify by thoughts.
Goal 2: Write original content about community engagement or sustainability at least monthly.
The first year I blogged I average 14 views/day; in year two it reached 23 views/day. I decided that if it didn’t reach at least 50, it was really time to stop. The following year it steadily increased up to around 200 in November with an average of 103 for the year. Last month I had an average of 250 views/day. I currently have 216 followers and think this and the daily views have the potential to continue growing:
Goal 3: Have 500 followers and an average of 500 views/day by the end of 2014.
I’m not a very visual person so things like photography are challenging. I do, however, appreciate photos and the look of some blogs.
Goal 4: Improve my use of photographs (particularly my own) to enhance the visual appeal of the blog.
Now to make it happen. Did you notice that I included a photo?
If you liked this post you might want to subscribe to the blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:
- Online community engagement – from tools to strategy
- Ethics and community engagement
- 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
- What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?
- What is…? (posts about concepts/practices relevant to working with communities)