I have a daughter and a son. My wife is my best friend. I live in the suburbs. Whether these are cliches or not, they are the truth that I live each day. The seemingly mundane existence found within these three facts is a lot of what makes me who I am. And yet, a lot of the communities that I have tried to be a part of, do not value these kinds of relationships.
Many of the communities I believe in are not interested in “staying home” with my son on Tuesdays and Thursdays so that my wife can go to work and school. These communities could not care less about the fact that I would rather watch a dvd with my wife than answer e-mail or tweet more consistently. They require a certain amount of commitment that I reserve for my family. And so I must be on the outside looking in, sometimes.
That is not to say that they that they aren’t worthwhile, or that the people that are more committed have given up their families. I believe that there are some families that understand the level of commitment required to take part. Mine doesn’t want to understand that. And, I respect them for it.
Yet, the communities of Entrepreneurs, and Ed Tech folks that I am interested in allow for many different ways of engagement. I can lurk and I can attend on occasion. I can go to a bar to talk about an idea. I can travel to a conference out of state. I can attend a webinar. I can blog.
These little pieces of attendance that I can string together will allow me to keep the pulse on these communities. They will not allow me to lead them, but they will allow me to engage people in conversation and create something with those people who can overlook my unwillingness to get past my “other commitments.”
I do look forward to a time, however, when my family and life in a suburbs will not be a liability. I look forward to communities that do not make the distinction between having a family and creating something great.
When I come right down to it, I will not be able to develop software or create engaging professional development as fast as someone without children or a significant other. I just don’t have that kind of time. What I can commit to, however, is creating something every day. I can commit to the knowledge that my family sustains me more than any amount of work ever could.
My wife pushes me to blog every day. She makes sure that I have deadlines. My children always make me think from their point of view. They make me understand what it is to be human and learn things for the first time.
And those are the type of people I want to work with. I want people who would rather go out for dinner with their family than people who want to go out for a night of drinking. I want a community that requires deep relationships, not a lot of tenuous ones that are interchangeable. I want a community that respects all forms of taking part as equal, and not just the folks who have the most time on their hands. But, I may just have to create it because I don’t see a whole lot of it going on right now.