A pop-up art opening celebrating cultural diversity at Quann Community Garden. The exhibit featured photographs of gardeners alongside quotations about why gardening is important to them.

Community: Let's build some!

But why? Wikipedia's answer is "industrialized nations see the apparent loss of community ... as a key cause of social disintegration and the emergence of many harmful behaviors. They may see building community as a means to address perceived social inequality and injustice, individual and collective well-being, and the negative impacts of otherwise disconnected and/or marginalized individuals."

I am involved with community organizing to share important information, help accomplish desireable and shared goals, and simply to help people in community get to know one another. I've learned a lot about building community including how to facilitate meetings, deal with difficult situations, and encourage positive interactions by having civil discourse.

I also enjoy being on the "receiving" end when others are building community.

  • We have strong community in the Bay Creek neighborhood, where I've been on the neighborhood council since 1991. I've been involved with countless projects toward that end: I helped relaunch the neighborhood newsletter, created and manage an email list for discussion, wrote software which helped increase citizen involvement, started a plant exchange, and more.

  • Who knew that a gardening in a community garden is one of the best ways to build community among diverse groups of people? When I helped start Quann Community Garden I didn't know this, but city leaders clearly did. I love to garden in this setting -- a chunk of my time is spent talking with others -- and I do occasional workshops (fruit tree pruning, garden security, planting garlic and other late fall activities).

  • I was a board member of what is now Rooted (when it was Community GroundWorks) for four years. The most visable part of this organization is an organic urban farm with a CSA and a roadside food stand. We adopted all of the Community Gardens in Dane County when another local nonprofit stopped supporting them.

  • I volunteered with Make Music Madison, a "free, citywide, outdoor day of music held annually on the summer solstice, June 21st". One year we hosted 400 shows and attracted 20,000 attendees.

  • I participated in a team that came up with NeighborNation.net, which helped people in neighborhoods connect. We launched July 4, 2004, and shut it down five years later because we couldn't find other software engineers to keep it going. Years later, people still tell me they miss this.