Quaker Blogging Workshop

Robin M. examines handwritten responses to comments previously posted on her blog, printed out for the workshop.
On Sunday, Robin M. and I co-led a workshop at our meeting on Quaker blogs and the "convergent" conversation. (Oh, and tonight, she made rhubarb crisp; if rhubarb is in season near you, I commend her rhubarb pie recipe to you highly!)

About half a dozen people came. It was a sunny day after a month of rain in San Francisco, so I am warmly pleased with the Friends who did stay.


1. Silent Worship

2. Introduction/Icebreaker
Variation on “Telephone” called “Internet”: circulate paper with “I had coffee after Meeting today” around and ask each person to add a comment. [Note: This was an experiment, not entirely successful. But it did bring the experience of commenting on someone else's writing. We felt the impatience of waiting to read someone else's comments after going around the circle; we felt the artificiality of it; etc.]

3. What are blogs? and Quaker blogs specifically?
• Describe a bit about blogs & how they work
• Discuss the Meeting’s own weblogs at www.sfquakers.org

4. Experiential exercise
Group reads excerpts from blog posts, taped on large paper to the walls, and writes comments below [See * at end for list of which posts we used]
• Ta-da: This is blogging!

5. Why is this exciting to Robin & Chris?
• How Quaker blogs are working:
- high-quality writing
- high level of respect
- gives some Quakers who feel isolated a chance to connect w/others who share their views (whatever they may be)
- not anonymous, but usually Friends of Friends
- chance for reflection, deepening of Quaker identity; as blogger Liz Opp called it, “Yearning, Forming, Deepening our Quaker Identity”
- We sense winds of the spirit blowing… same direction…
• Acknowledge the limits of the medium
• Sense of possibility of convergence of branches, Quaker renewal and deepening
• Blogs allow us to have conversations on our spiritual lives across branches and across distance.

6. Silent worship

We would have liked to have more dialogue at the end. But the sunshine was calling, and perople drifted out one by one. The dialogue really did start in the handwritten comments on the posted blog excerpts, and as we processed that experience together as a group.

* Here are the posts we excerpted:
> Robin's aforementioned convergence one
> LizOpp's queries on Lost Traditions?
> Amanda's take on Halloween
> Martin Kelley's classic We're All Ranters Now: On Liberal Friends and Becoming a Society of Finders

Robin M. and David M. (no relation) discuss Quaker blogs. See dmatchett.net for David's blogurl.
P.S. Extra credit for anyone who notices where a certain "guide to the Quaker conversation" got its name!


Robin M. said...

Thanks Chris for setting out how we did it. I'll have to write still about why I think it was important that we bring this conversation back into our Monthly Meetings, not just over the Internet!

Robin M.
What Canst Thou Say?

Anonymous said...

Sweet! What a great idea! My hubby and I are doing a workshop at YM on "Creating/Establishing an Online Presence" - kinda along the same lines. I look forward to hearing what more comes out of it.

Liz Opp said...

How great that you offered this workshop! Were you able to gather any feedback from the participants? Is there anything either of you would do differently?

Good for you for experimenting with a few things around making the Quaker blogosphere more "visible" or, perhaps, more accessible.

Thanks for sharing the outline here, Chris. It's great food for thought...

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Chris M. said...

Thanks for the comments, Robin, Liz, and AJ. I look forward to your version, Robin.

Liz, we did hear from the clerk of our Ministry & Oversight Committee that he thought it was just great.

I think we would have liked more time at the end for group discussion of the content. To some degree, we focused a bit more on the technology than maybe would be ideal. But people truly had questions about how blogs actually work, and whether they're really okay tools.

The opening exercise of "internet/telephone" was a little contrived, and we didn't frame it well. Needs more thought.

Otherwise, it seemed like an opening, and an opportunity, especially Robin's point about having these conversations in person not just online.

PS That's David Matchett in the second picture. His blogurl is found at the bottom of his homepage, which is funny: www.dmatchett.net.