“Every post should be a gift. Scrap it if there are too many I’s or Me’s.”
-Tamsin Carvin of @tamsinstable
This quote is just one of the many gems I scribbled in my notebook at the Gathering I attended in Australia last month. Sophie Hansen of Local is Lovely and co-host of the podcast My Open Kitchen is the genius behind the event. The point of the Gathering, she said, was to “get a bunch of farmers, food producers and small businesses together to share ideas and inspiration about how we can all use social media to better tell our stories and build communities around what we do.” Plus, she added, to “spend a weekend with awesome, like minded people talking about food, taking photos and learning from each other.”
Over the weekend Sophie’s vision came to fruition in its simplest, purest form: the Gathering was a celebration of human connection. It’s what we all want, (or at least this bunch) regardless of what we do for a living. When humans get together in person, we typically don’t gravitate towards those who talk about themselves and don’t ask questions. Tamsin reminded us, in a gentle way, that the internet operates in the same way. When you post online, you’re giving your community a little gift. Be thoughtful with your gifts, be generous and ask questions. Cut out the I’s. Throw in some YOU’s. Make friends. This is how communities are built.
It’s not far from what I’m trying to teach my boys: look at people when you say hello. Ask them how they are. Listen for the answer. Share a little, then listen some more. This is how humans connect.
These thoughts swirled through my head during the panel discussions at the Gathering, which took place in an old Convent just outside of Orange, NSW. The building was resurrected by locals to use for weddings, Christenings and gatherings like this one. The walls are coated in a storied patina, the kind that photographers swoon over. Autumn branches stretched through the exposed beams above us, their golden leaves catching the light as it traveled east to west as the day progressed. Plump persimmons, still attached to their branches, stood proudly on what would have once been the pulpit. Many hands made this happen; beauty takes work.
Australia is a long way for this Canadian to travel to “share ideas and inspiration about how we can all use social media to better tell our stories,” but it was worth it. I love face to face chat. Many of us had already met online (we all listen to My Open Kitchen, we follow each other, support each other, buy from each other, listen to each other’s podcasts…) but when you meet ‘your people’ in real life, relationships become rounded, fleshed out, whole.
That weekend in Orange was full of in real life moments with people I had only known online. I also had some in real life moments on a beach walk in Sydney with Anneke, over lunch with Maggie at the Art Gallery of NSW, at Fred’s with Luisa, Sophie and Annie, and while teaching a workshop with Skye. These new friends listened, they asked questions and they listened some more. There were hardly any I’s or Me’s. It was gift after gift.