Building an Online Community

I wanted to take a moment today to think about the importance of community in our lives and the many different ways in which we find it. When the idea for Spirit Kid Network first popped into my head I knew I wanted it to be more than just a place for my own thoughts, I wanted it to be a community. 

One of the things I have learned the most since becoming a parent is that we are always stronger (and wiser) when we are surrounded by others who walk a similar path to us. I've seen this in so many areas of my life that it seems only natural to want it here as well. But how do you even start to create that, let alone build it?

My inspiration when setting up Spirit Kid Network came mostly from online communities - why wouldn't it, this is an online platform after all.  I've been blogging for around a decade now, and I used forums for several years prior to that, so I've seen a lot of changes in the ways we connect online. But one thing has always remained the same and that's the way in which the internet allows us to connect with people we may never have had the chance to if we were limited to our own regional location. And that's a powerful thing!

Technological advances have made it easier than ever to come together in real time with those you've never met face to face, and that's amazing. Take for instance Thrive Moms in the US, who run a twice yearly online retreat so that mums the world over can be inspired and join the conversation as it happens without even leaving the comfort of their own home - a real bonus for busy mums. Or how about Story of Mum who provide retreats here in the UK? I recently attended their Mini Sofa Retreat which included a live party on the Friday night, which I enjoyed whilst sitting in my PJs and eating chocolate!

Both of these communities are active on their websites and across social media, providing so many different ways for people to connect with them and with each other. The live streaming merely provides another way in which friendships can be developed further. The real power in communities is the way in which they inspire, support and engage us. When we use our voices online with the right intent, we can create some of the most powerful messages the world will ever see. And that is exactly where I want Spirit Kid Network to be.

I've been a member of some truly inclusive communities before and know just how wonderful that can be. There's nothing better than finding a place where you can share your heart, even the nitty gritty bits you'd sometimes rather hide than admit to. One of my favourite things about the Story of Mum Mini Sofa Retreat was playing "Bad Mummy Bingo" and realising that all the things I feel ashamed about are simply natural parts of parenting and I am far from alone in experiencing them! Isn't that wonderful?

So, where does that leave me in terms of building Spirit Kid Network from a simple blog into a supportive community? My dream for this space seems, on the surface, very simple - to be an inclusive, supportive and engaging place for anyone with an interest in modern spirituality and kids. But when I really stop and think about this I realise how vague and perhaps naive this is. Spirituality and faith are such broad subjects that it is impossible to cover every single angle - when I write, I automatically write from my own personal perspective, which I find difficult to define as it is. And as for the kids, what age group am I talking about and am I writing content for them or the parents?

So many questions to think about, but in asking them I am realising why I have felt so "stuck" in recent weeks - I know where I want to be, but I don't know how to get there. And do you know what, admitting that feels like such a huge relief. So often in life we are taught never to show our weaknesses, never to admit we haven't got it all sussed out, and the pressure to "succeed" can be overpowering.

But that's not what community is all about, is it? Community is about supporting each other and sharing ideas. It's about coming together and pooling resources. And it's about moving forward together. I realise, as I write this, that I have been trying to build a community all on my own - how crazy is that? I've been so determined to get things off the ground that I have forgotten the biggest lesson I mentioned earlier in this post - "we are always stronger (and wiser) when we are surrounded by others who walk a similar path to us."

So my friends (for you are all friends I have yet to meet!), do you fancy walking this path with me? Do you want to help me build a community that is encouraging and supportive to those, like us, who want to explore what it's like to raise spiritual kids in the modern world? If so, please take a few moments to fill in this super quick survey to help me understand more about what you want to see in this space. And if you have time to spare, please do consider getting involved in developing and growing Spirit Kid Network.

Thanks,
Amanda xx

In light of this post I thought it would be helpful to list some of the other communities you can join. I have added a page entitled "Online Communities" and included those I know about, however I would love to add more, so if you know of any please do let us know.

You may also enjoy reading this post by Aby at You Baby Me Mummy called "Finding Your Tribe & Why You Need One" it's certainly one of my favourite posts on the subject!


It's Award Season for Parent Bloggers and this year I'm asking for your support.

Whilst Spirit Kid Network is still very new, I hope that you can see where I'm going with it, and that the content I have already written has been helpful, encouraging and inspiring.

If you like what you see, please do consider nominating Spirit Kid Network in the "Fresh Voice" category in the BiBs and "Best New Blog" in the MADs by clicking on the links below. Thanks.


BritMums          Tots 100 Awards
Comment

Amanda Shortman

I'm a 30-something mum to one, blogging her way through the completely beautiful and yet utterly confusing world of faith and spirituality. Ever since I started uni I've been on a journey of self-discovery that has led me to where I am today, somewhere between liberal Christianity and New Age Metaphysics, with a deep interest in interfaith dialogue. My greatest hope is to raise my son in a way that engenders confidence to find and walk his own path in life.