As this is my first blog for the year, it seems appropriate to reflect on 2015 in the Sustaining Community blog. In February last year I set some goals for my blogging:
- Decide whether or not to change the name of the blog.
- Review the blog and find ways of improving it.
- Increase the number of people reading the blog.
Originally the blog was called Sustaining Community Engagement (to capture its focus on community engagement and sustainability) but the actual blog address was just SustainingCommunity so when I started focusing more on families I changed the name to Sustaining Community. I wasn’t sure it was the best name but when I asked for feedback there was strong support for keeping the current name. I think it works because the posts address more than community engagement and the header makes it clear that families are an important part of the blog. Someone also pointed out that families help sustain community and communities help sustain families so there is a nice synergy.
I explored a few ways of improving the blog. I updated the header, did some editing of posts, fixed up some of the tags and categories and added a page Resources for students to make it easier for them to find relevant content. I also experimented with some regular posts in an attempt to boost the views on the weekend: Some weekend reading (a collection of articles/posts by other people), Saturday quote and A song for Sunday. [Edit: I’ve now changed “Some weekend reading” to “Some good articles/links” – Weekend reading suggested a more relaxing read.] While they were fun to do, I finally decided they took up more time than I could justify and didn’t really help with the main focus of the blog, so I’m no longer doing them on a regular basis.
I increased the number of people reading the blog with over 100,000 views for the year (an average of 284/day) by more than 65,000 visitors from 187 countries. The top posts for the year (all of which were written pre 2015) were:
- What is the Strengths Perspective?
- What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?
- Making parents feel welcome in schools
- Definitions of community engagement
- 10 ways to reduce your consumption
- 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
I tried some regular posts in an attempt to boost the views on the weekend: Some weekend reading (a collection of articles/posts by other people), Saturday quote and A song for Sunday. While they were fun to do, I finally decided they took up more time than I could justify and didn’t really help with the main focus of the blog, so I’m no longer doing them on a regular basis.
During the year I’ve posted more about working with families (see Focusing more on families) and have posted on a range of related topics including:
- Building relationships
- Marriage equality (and a song for Sunday – Same love)
- Domestic violence, family, friends and neighbours
- Mutual self-help parent groups
A major focus continues to be working with communities particularly community engagement:
- 12 principles of a problem solving approach to conflict resolution
- Reflections on the 150th anniversary of Lambton Public School
- Social change and strengths-based approaches
- The joys of a community cinema
The other major focus is environmental sustainability. We made a short video about Transition Streets and Kids Vegies on the Verge in the lead up to the climate change talks in Paris. Other posts have included:
- How (and why) I joined the Transition movement
- The widening gap between rich and poor – Time to even it up.
- Can Ride to Work Day really make a difference?
- Climate change, health and children
One of the things I use the blog for is to share good resources I’ve come across. My favourites for the year include:
- Jihad Dib on school transformation (TEDx talk)
- Childhood trauma and brain development
- The still face experiment
- Give Frank a Break! (for a bit of light relief around a serious topic)
It can be a challenge to find the time to blog but I continue to see it as an important part of my life as an academic. I always start the year with the intention of blogging regularly – so let’s see what happens!
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