Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Growth of Facebook and the Need for Community

Somehow I got talked into presenting a talk on Facebook and the church. I'm not a Facebook expert or a computer expert of any kind. I just like explaining things in powerpoint format. Anyway, the agreed upon date arrived and I scurried to figure out what I was going to say. I wanted to go further than just showing people at how to use Facebook with the idea that they could then access church announcements via Facebook instead of the newsletter or e-mails. It just seemed like replacing an existing tool with a shiny new tool that does the same thing. I kept finding all these statistics about how exponentially Facebook was growing, how exponentially all things about this new digital age seem to be happening. If you don't believe me, check out the "Did you Know" video that has gone viral on You Tube. I'd provide a link, but I'm lazy and its viral, you can probably find it. Anyway, what I kept running into is this idea that everything is speeding up and getting smaller and digitized and faster. Kids in school today will be applying for jobs in a few years that haven't even been invented yet. That sort of thing. Anyway. At the same time that life keeps getting faster and we are getting more and more plugged into computers and networks, social networks are exploding. There was a time when life was calmer and you would say "hi" to your neighbor and ask how it is going. I think we miss that. I think we all need to be part of a community. For many of us, we had instant community in school and maybe we are lucky enough to have a good work community. But the explosion of social networking sites makes me think most of us still desire a connection to a community in which we really "fit". I am fortunate to have found several really unique communities to fit into. My family is currently connected in a way I have never experienced before, via Facebook. I know what cousins who live thousands of miles away had for dinner and all the other minutia of life that adds up to a connection that is almost as good as you get when you live or work near someone. I have a great group of girlfriends that participate in a book group. Mostly a social occasion, but once a month we read the same thing and even if we don't discuss it in full, it gives us an excuse to get together. I have a church that I am now attending regularly. Again as much social as spiritual. I finally know enough people who also attend to make it interesting. As an added bonus several other friends have also started attending and we all go to lunch each week after services giving more incentive to attend regularly. As I explained during the Facebook talk, fro many of us the idea is come for the community, stay for the sermon. Which brings me back to my presentation. I found 3 ways that Facebook can enhance a community. Considering that most people are on Facebook looking for community, this seems like a natural fit for any community type group looking to connect with new members. First, groups can have fan pages to announce their events. This is the first way most groups think of, but seems like the least effective to me. The fan page speaks only to members of the group who are also members of the Facebook community AND who are members of the fan page. Preaching to the choir if you asked me! The two other connections are WAY more interesting in my view. First, individuals post status updates about what they are doing. If I am involved in a group and doing things with it, there is a good chance I am posting status updates about what I am doing. I go to a very social church, so its kind of fun what 4 or 5 people I know are all posting how much fun they are having at our beauty pageant in which the men are the beauties or playing Texas hold'em at a church event. I added it up and if myself and the 15 people I am friends with on Facebook all post about an event at church, we have 5,000 friends between us who hear about what is going on at my church. Talk about outreach for any group! The last idea is that by reading your friends status updates you get a good sense of the climate of some one's life. I am very hesitant to ask for help and things would have to get PRETTY bad for me to put in a prayer request at church. But I ready friend's posts and know that they are looking for work or contemplating divorce. The leaders of a group can get a better sense of what their members need, but also the members of a group begin to see ways that they can offer help and the responsibility doesn't just stay with the leader. So people who are looking for a community through Facebook, can often come in contact with some existing real life communities that are looking to grow their membership. Sounds like a win/win to me, but I'm no expert.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What my students did for Turkey Day.

Once upon a time, my art room was in an old building, way up a hill, and far far away from the rest of the school. One of the perks to our old digs was a large hallway of floor to ceiling bulletin boards that connected the three art rooms. On the day before Thanksgiving break we would let the kids create a "Turkey Wall" of turkey inspired graffiti. It was always fun to see what creative things they came up with. This year, I put a few big pieces of brown paper on the walls in my room and let my students have at it. It wasn't quite the same as when all of the students from the entire department inspired each other in the dark halls of old G building, but it was fun all the same. Happy Turkey Day, from the students of ORHS VA 103!
Several students went non-traditional, with Chicken "wangs" and lobsters offering to save the turkeys.
We had PETA turkeys, the Mayflower, and this image of "turkey eating pants"!

One of my favorites was the Mothra Turkey attacking the city.

And then there was my own contribution, whose speech bubble read "I hope your thanksgiving is better than mine." My turkey day was pretty great, so I really do hope yours was as good if not better!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The art room is FUN (and messy)

Daycare was closing early today, so Jen was plan B, but she got sick, so on to plan C... Lydia came to school with me and then went to stay with a very good friend for a few hours in the afternoon. Here are a few of the things we learned at high school today. Big kids have REALLY big chairs and tables!

Dry erase markers and erasers are WAY more fun (and more messy) than crayons!

Mommy has TOO MANY books on her shelves. Good thing Lydia helped out by taking them OFF of said shelf! Overall she was a very good girl. She entertained the big kids and herself for an hour or so and then fell asleep on cue when we left during lunch. I wouldn't want to do it everyday, but i am very thankful it worked out today.
Gobble Gobble!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sliding into Winter

Well, it's still fall....but the chances to go outside and play are getting fewer and farther between. Lydia has been making good use of the leaves in our yard by sliding into a pile, but it keeps getting wetter and colder, so that may not be possible much longer. I refuse to admit how close we are to December....... and to winter.... and trying to find ways to entertain an active toddler inside the house....preferably by the fire! Hmmmm, maybe dairy free S'mores will have to be created to get us through. Until then, enjoy what is left of Fall!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hangin' with Nana and Popop

Larry and Debbie volunteered to baby sit the other night and we ended up taking several fall themed pictures of them with Lydia outside their house. Lydia was wearing such cute fall colors, thanks to my detour past the outlets after my art conference. She had such a great time banging around on the piano in their living room.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Diana, Goddess of the Hunt.

I just got back from an art teacher conference. I signed up for a workshop with fabric designer and fab mom of six, Anna Maria Horner. I took a workshop from her two years ago when the conference was in Nashville. This time around, I was able to plan ahead and bring fabrics from Lydia's first birthday dress. I also brought a picture of a statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt, that I took on the grounds of Biltmore Estates years ago. I have wanted to create something on that theme ever since we decided Lydia Diann would be named after her Grandmother Diann. I'm not ready to say that it is finished, but I am getting pretty fond of her. She is purple so she is neither human nor statue at this point. I feel like she is in a good place, she better be... I slaved away on her details for two solid days! The background was a little harder to bring together. I originally glued down a piece of paper from Lydia's birthday invitations, but the paint didn't want to stick to it, so off it went. I got just a small snippet of fabric that Anna Maria designed with deer and small houses that just seemed perfect for the land in front of Dianna. It was just too bright and kept coming to the foreground. I finally settled on picking up the diamond pattern in the Lydia dress fabric and used it like a chain link fence to separate the goddess and the animals. Maybe she has herded them into the fence.....maybe they are being protected from her? I'm not sure but I like the idea that the butterflies are breaking free at the top!

Now, like Dianna I too feel the need to hunt ....... for that adorable Anna Maria fabric with the deer and houses that I used in the background. Maybe I can make Lydia a new dress from it. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hop, Skip, Jump, HELP!

You know the saying, something is just a hop, skip and a jump away? Lydia knows it too, only its more like everything is suddenly a tug, a pull, and a leap away! Lydia has been tugging and pulling and (scariest of all) leaping into all sorts of locations that used to be off limits. Technically, most of them are still off limits, just no longer inaccessible! I turn around to do something in the kitchen and suddenly Lydia is sitting right next to me on a stool. Hmm, sitting may be the wrong term. If she has made it to the kitchen stool, chances are good she is not content to sit. She is probably still climbing, trying to tug, pull, leap, her way onto the island. Where to go from there? I suppose she will have to work on the hop, skip, and the jump between the island and the light fixture!