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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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Community Building: I Often Fear It, But Never Regret It

Recent Event My Company Hosted

I’m shy at heart.  I’m ok at writing down my thoughts, but networking and speaking in groups and putting myself out there are things that take a lot of effort for me.  Not that I’m terrible at it, but it exhausts me and I usually dread it.

That means it’s a whole lot easier to stay at home and watch a movie or read or write.  “I need some down time,” I say.  Or, “I’m just exhausted today.”  Sometimes those things are true, but often I’m hiding because it’s hard to go out, it’s hard to talk to strangers, it’s hard to do new things.

But I never regret it.  There is always something I learn, some connection I make, some rewarding experience I have.

Last night I had on my calendar to go to the P-Patch Post Meeting.  The P-Patch Post is our community garden newsletter.  I want to be involved locally, and what better way than to do what I do anyway (ie, write about gardening), meet new people, and have a new writing experience.

But I was running late, and it was raining, and I was tired… I almost, almost, almost went home.  But I didn’t.  I walked into a pub without knowing who I was looking for (a table of strangers in a pub, how hard could that be?).  I walked up to one table who looked studious and involved, but that was a parents meeting.  Whoops!

Ah, that other table, deep in conversation – I bet that’s them.  There are no free chairs at the table.  I could still walk out now.

But I didn’t.  I walked up, pulled up a chair, and introduced myself.  And by the end of the night, I had agreed to writing a gardening series for every newsletter, and I had offered to use any of the photos I have on this blog.  They enjoyed my presence, and were happy to have a writer they could count on.  I enjoyed myself, and am on the road to becoming more involved with my community garden system.

All in about an hour.  That’s really all it took!

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7 comments to Community Building: I Often Fear It, But Never Regret It

  • I know exactly how you felt trying to get yourself out there, my hubby and I ran a Business Network for a couple of years and during that time I really “grew”. I was forced into speaking (I am a natural introvert) and was shaking with fear at times, but as time progressed I got better and more relaxed with it.

    This is something that should be started at school and continued through life, so you get used to public speaking and you won’t die of fright when it happens! What I realised eventually is that most people are scared, which made me feel a bit better.

    Bev Bailey
    Cape Town

  • I can totally relate. Over the past year or so I have gone to a few community builiding meetings with ‘strangers’. But now I consider many of these ‘strangers’ friends – and i’m still meeting new people all the time.

    I’m a natural introvert, as is my husband, and our 2 year old daughter seems to be a little that way inclined also. So I think its important for her to see her mum and Dad ‘working’ for their community. We drag her along to meetings or forums regularly and I love that she will grow up thinking that working for her community is normal.

  • I can relate up until the point where you start actually talking to them. I get nervous but probably for more of a reason than you – because I’m so shy and quiet that I don’t talk around new people until they’re not as much new people anymore. It’s frustrating and I don’t do well in group settings.

  • Stacy

    Wow! Way to go! It takes a lot of practice to do things like that, but you get better at it over time. I have a problem of talking to random people too much. I think it comes from growing up in a small town…but now I live in the city and people don’t like that!! The other day an old man at the grocery store asked me what I was holding and I said “Ginger!!” and broke off a piece and stuck it under his nose to smell. At least you don’t do things like that to people!!!

    How is that roundabout garden doing these days??

    Love the blog!!

  • Congrats on making a move in a direction you obviously have been wanting to go for some time. Certainly have been there and always have trouble trowing myself into something new in that environment.

  • I never regret it either. I always learn something, have a good laugh or better yet find a stranger isn’t so strange.

    Kind Regards

  • Bev, I agree – definitely networking and public speaking should be something we learn in schools!

    Tricia, So lovely that you’re bringing your daughter in early – how great to think she will grow up knowing community building is normal. :)

    Stephanie, It is always possible that community building for you is something that is not an offline activity – you seem to be very comfortable online, and there are many powerful online communities…. just a thought!

    Stacy, Thank you! The roundabout is doing well. It was admittedly tough to water it through the summer (an arrangement with a neighbor across the street helped however), but now that the rains have started, it is happy as can be. And it looks so much better than before! The birds love it, too. ;)

    compostinmyshoe, Thanks. Step by step for us all!

    Belinda, So true!

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