Community Potential

There are moments in life that are difficult to fully appreciate. It’s that sudden realization you are part of a beautiful synthesis of people, technology, and social networking that has a potential far beyond anything you previously considered.

It’s the moment when you realize the power of community.

The day Arkansas got smaller

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure to attend BarCamp Jonesboro. It was a first-rate networking and educational event organized by Jonesboro Coworking and led by @steventrotter. If you are unfamiliar with Barcamps they are open, participatory events where attendees are also the presenters. It’s community learning from one another.

The sessions were great but I propose that something bigger happened today. Arkansas got a lot smaller.

The Little Rock Metro Community

In the past 16 months Central Arkansas has experienced an explosion of connected communities that are anchored by social networking. LRtweetup, RefreshCA, Southern Socials, Conway Coworking, & RockCity Work.

Each organization has a unique identity and while we are still exploring their roles of collaboration and participation the fact is they are all the result of a very connected community. A community has revolutionized the potential for networking in Central Arkansas.

But today I realized we are thinking way too small.

The Jonesboro Community

Northeast Arkansas (NEA) has been building a very similar community.

They created the first Coworking initiative in the state which has now spread to Conway and coming soon to Little Rock. In addition they’ve spawned Ignite Jonesboro, Refresh Jonesboro, and NEAtweetup.

Little Rock meets Jonesboro

Over the past months a few key relationships have led these communities on a collision course. What started on Twitter, blossomed into professional partnerships, podcasts, endless skype conversations, and an exchange of ideas between communities.

We’ve had regular envoys of the NEA community at several of our events but today we travelled to their house. A short 2 hour drive to #bcjonesboro was all it took for me to realize that we were part of something bigger.

Question of Potential

During a panel conversation today the question was asked,

What is our potential? When does it become too much? (That isn’t verbatim but it gets to the heart of the inquiry)

In other words-

  • How many events, groups, conferences can we as a community support?
  • How do we garner more participation?
  • How do we organize our resources?

In large part the answer is understanding the symbiotic relationship of these communities. It’s time to broaden our perspective.

No community is an island.

The same technology that brings the community together should in turn be used to create relationships between community. Through finding ways to collaborate and cooperate we can promote and populate the larger community.

Hyper-local and individual community identity is essential but the collective potential can’t be ignored.

We are just getting started

This is an amazing age. Social networking and technology is creating a renaissance of relationships.

I’ve spent a year and half sitting in rooms of amazing people that I’d never met without social network enabled communities. Business, friends, social calendar… everything in my life has been affected because I’m connected to so many incredible folks.

The cool thing is that this is still the dark ages and we are just getting a glimpse of the possibilities.

So let’s build something. Together.

5 responses to “Community Potential”

  1. Awesome post, Keith! Wow, I couldn’t agree more. We talked for several hours last night about how to merge, clarify and strengthen the NEA groups which are overlapping a bit. Great stuff!!!

  2. Lucas says:

    That’s an excellent recap of what the core conversation was about. I think it is awesome that there are groups like this popping up in our little area. I hear about them on the tech podcasts but I think of them as only being in the “big” tech areas like New York and San Francisco. It is awesome to be a little part of a community right here at home. I wish I would have been more active in Refresh since it has started, and more active in the “geek” community as a whole here in NEA. From now on, I am going to try to do just that.

  3. Lee says:

    I really enjoyed this article. Arkansas is really getting smaller!

  4. Oh the possibilities…excited to see how more Arkansas communities unite.

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