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How can we best describe the History of this project?

Yesterday, Traveler Trish asked me for a quick history of how our project came about. I told her we really needed a historian, because this question might come up again. And here it is, as one of the desired elements of our 'front page' that Allan envisions! Each of us will have a different perspective, coming into the process at different times as the result of various synchronicities and motivations. How do you folks suggest we formulate a 'history'? Of course this project arose at just this time because we all had a pre-adapted desire to do it, and then we found each other!

For me, as I told Trish, I suppose the catalyst may have been the ["Sunset and Clouds duoblog"] that Lisa and I did a few weeks ago. The AHA! light went off for me and Lisa, and the idea of some kind of collaborative effort among 'place bloggers' began in my mind and hopes. I already knew Chris and about half of the 'place bloggers' on both his and Rebecca's list (which is how I found Lisa to begin with); Beth, I think found Fragments via Wood's Lot quite by happy accident, and was an instantaneous kindred spirit (and don't you hope that we will discover more of these as we create a 'home' for ourselves!?) Allan, I think I first 'met' you and Alison via seeing a visit from Feathers of Hope and finding your post (Emmett Reid Dunn) in response to the 'duoblog'; and Allan is the keeper of the history of how the technical thinking (wiki etc) evolved. That's my nickel's worth for starters. Keep in mind we STILL are growing a history and need to be able to retrace our steps someday. Your turn... -- Fred

I wanted to add a bit of deeper history here. Around December of last year I set up a little collection of links on [Bowen Island Journal] which represented for me, the first attempt to collect blogs about place. I was fascinated with the idea of "nature writing" and had decided that my blog should be more than just a diary of life on Bowen Island, but that it would also engage with deeper stuff including the nature of the place. What I noticed about palce bloggers is that our blogs tended not to be full of links to the world wide web, but rather they outlined links to the landscape. I thought this was a novel idea.

I got a big blast of momentum from Flemming Funch when he [published an entry] on his blog about what I was trying to do, and shortly after that, the community seemed to collect and explode into this wiki as per the history above.

I'm grateful for having found all of you and learning about your places and the nature of your attachment to them. -- Chris

Alison here... Fred, this seems about right from my perspective. Yet now I find myself wondering what got you in particular thinking about place way back when? I know you've said elsewhere that you have been pretty much tied to the Southern Appalachians all your life. I'm not asking this as a digression but because what I think the appeal of our project will lie in explaining to those who "aren't sure" they blog about place that they really do, because Fred grew up in this place, and Allan's a geographer, and Alison attended a poetry workshop focusing on the Putah Creek watershed, and so on, and it can trigger the corresponding "AHA! That happened to me too! Maybe I qualify!" in our potential new contributor. It's very exciting to me to think that this might get folks quite outside our cluster to think harder about place, even if only sporadically.

So: do we want to include a page in the wiki where people can describe, briefly, what got them interested in place? Or should this happen somewhere on our individual blogs? -- Alison

Fred here... Great! I've been nudging the group toward this very thing, at least in my 'uncommented' thoughts. I think we need to do just what Alison is suggesting, BOTH on our individual blogs, but also stored as 'examples' for 'outsiders' who may be wondering what paths led us here. This little project can also help me understand Ali's perspective and unique view of the subject that may be different from but enhance my own view (as other remarks and questions and suggested topics have already done, to the point that my thoughts become pleasantly saturated with it, and the spin-off topics that come out of it!)

I said a few days ago that I thought the first three of Beth's suggested topics would make a good 'introduction' to who we are. Answering those questions could also stand, maybe, as an 'entry pass' for folks who want their blogs listed as 'blogs about place' vs those who will have posts about place from time to time. We can talk about that. The questions, for convenience, I will paste below:

  1. What is "place"? (or) What does "place" mean to you? (or) Why is the idea of "place" important in your life?
  2. What got you started thinking about "place"?
  3. What are your goals in blogging about "place"?

You're right Alison. We have to go back behind the first meeting to the places we each come from in our philopsophies and land ethic and place relationship, to make the current 'history' seem the fortuitous and timely coming-together that I believe it has been.

I think we need to fish or cut bait here... be sure everyone (in the core group? or everyone on the bloggers list as it stands now?) gets the message that we have an assignment (3 questions above); but first 1) establish a word count limit if we want one; and 2) set up a deadline, if we want one; and later 3) decide what exactly we will do with these 'essays' when they are completed. A growing page that could contain 10's or (dreaming) hundreds of just such declarations could, as Chris mused, become the basis for a larger undertaking at some point. At least in my more megalomanical moments, I think so. :-]

I'll be up to my elbows in alligators attending a two week workshop tomorrow. My hope is I can shoehorn a writing assignment into some of what needs to be done re Ecotone Homework like this. Speaking of which... is everyone content with <b>ECOTONE Online Community>/b> as the name of the group? We need to get that firmed up soon, and I threw Ecotone on the table and put out a first-stab definition at PlaceBloggingDescription... but I'm not married to it, if you have other suggestions. Beth and I emailed on this a few days ago, and we were turning some other terms all directions, just to see how they felt, but didn't reach any conclusions about them.

If/when we agree to do this, we'll need a page to aggregate all our posts on the topic. Where? -- Fred

I'm on board with what Fred and Alison are discussing above. Let's go for it and set a date of June 15th for the first blogging "assignment". I volunteer to try to consolidate those three initial questions into one large, leading question that is mainly aimed at "what got you interested in thinking and writing about place...way back when". Maybe it doesn't need to be much more complicated than the part before the "...".

Fred, Ecotone Online Community is fine with me; I'd like to see us stress the "Ecotone" graphically. And since so many of us are rather new to each other, I wonder if it would be helpful for us to mention our strengths and areas where we feel we could best contribute to this group process, in addition of course to all being accomplished writers! :)

For my part, my career has been in graphic design and communications. I do webwork, but I think Lisa has more direct experience in this... and I think there are others more qualified in every technical aspect of this project! What I CAN perhaps offer is that I'm both a fast reader and experienced editor, and good at consolidating a group's thoughts -- which may come in handy especially if we really try to pull a publication out of this effort (and I think we definitely should.) --Beth

I've started reading Derek Powazek's book Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places, thanks to a fortuitous find in the public library yesterday. Derek, among other things, is the creator of the [San Francisco Stories] site, the initial site in the City Stories project which I've mentioned elsewhere. Anyway, one of the things he advises in his introduction is for people never to label their own sites "communities": that community is a personal term, and it's up to our visitors to decide whether our site is the basis of a community or not. Maybe we should just call our site "Ecotone", subtitle it appropriately, and leave it at that.

Oh, if we really are thinking of turning this into some sort of publication, we absolutely need to address the issue of a CopyrightPolicy?. Groan. Perhaps we should have a look at the licenses that the [Creative Commons] folks have come up with.

-- Allan

I fully see the point about 'community'... it does sound a bit presumptive. And re copyright et cetera... if this issue is too involved and especially if you all think this might in some way alienate potential participants, maybe we can delve back into this matter in a few months, after we see what we might have going then. My 2 cents.

And Beth, ya got yaself a deal. Please work on the distilling of the three questions. And I concur, in my vision I see a nicely laid out, comforting visual ambience to the site. That's as far as my skills carry me... visualizing. And re special talents, DUH. I can make any of my bucolic images available for use, certainly. And I sing a pretty good baritone. Beyond that, I'm a hanger-oner, but willing to use my wideranging mediocrity in any way that will not put other lives or reputations at risk. :-] -- Fred

Come on, Fred, you are the mover and groover of this project, its spiritual center, our nudger and cheer-er! Won't let you label yourself as above, except to note that without vision (and visualizing) we get precisely nowhere. As for that baritone, I'm looking forward to some harmonizing at our first Place Blogger get-together, some happy day in the future. BTW, good luck with your upcoming workshop weeks. --Beth

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Last edited September 25, 2004 11:22 am by Numenius (diff)