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Nine Months

Nine months ago, I posted my first blog on OWLcourage. Any woman who has experienced a pregnancy develops an often unexamined awareness of “nine months”. Gestation is really just one distinct human having an extraordinary experience that involves a potential second distinct human; birth creates a whole new journey for this second distinct emergent human. Mother and child may share the journey, but the distinctness is sharp and clear in the days after the birth of a child. The nine months have ended, and can never be reversed or recaptured.

My initial intent in creating OWLcourage, with its emphasis on hope and possibility, was to catalyze conversations. My hope was that my reflections would evoke a desire to share the post and discuss it with others. Initially, I think many thought the conversation should be with me, however I had always imagined a more diversified collection of conversations.

I have also always been very uncomfortable with the destructive and cruel, usually anonymous communication that manifests on the internet. I did not want to sponsor a site that made such behavior possible. So, I created the blog without a discussion site or function. People could, and did send me individual messages, however there was no public site for conversation, not just with me but also among the readers.

I find the “gestation” stage of OWLcourage has concluded, and it enjoys a fairly robust readership, more than I had anticipated. It also has several readers who have shared with me their desire to have the group conversation that OWLcourage evokes and encourages, not just with me but also with other readers. Many have substantive observations to add to the conversation, however there is no arena or platform. So, it seems to me that it is time for birthing, for setting the blog free enough to meet its own destiny, to create hope and possibility through shared conversation. The WIX platform makes that possible.

This posting describes this next step in the evolution of OWLcourage. The site will begin to host “gatherings” of readers who have observations and insights they wish to share as personal responses to blog postings or related musings. This requires first that these participants be subscribed to the blog (easily achieved by responding to the invitation at the bottom of every posting).

Blog subscribers who wish to be part of the burgeoning conversation can then seek a second role as a “community member”. To do so they would simply request this of me and consent to the communal “rules of engagement” (see below). They can then enter the shared conversation for the community’s reflective consideration. This would not be a completely public conversation but a “gathering” of like-minded people engaging in an online conversation about things they think are important. This “room where it happens” is part of the OWLcourage site, accessible only to those who are members of the community. The “conversations” would be catalyzed by postings on OWLcourage. For me, this creates the conditions for more Sparkles.

A disclaimer here seems relevant. I still marvel that I even tried to use a “social media” resource to achieve my life purpose of increasing light. I had planned on a book: I know how to do that. Besides, one doesn’t take on this kind of technology challenge in her 80th year. However, I had to face the fact that the resources and scope of distribution makes the blog a wiser and more widely available resource.

I have been singularly blessed in creating a partnership with Kelly Grogan, a writer, editor, graphic designer and educator… and valued and admired human…who provided the technological expertise I needed to launch OWLcourage. She is also instrumental in launching our OWLcourage Sparkle Community. You will find her “tech post” for the community very helpful, once you become a member of OWLcourage Sparkle Community.

Kelly and I are invested in making our experiment work, while constantly reminding one another that it is indeed an experiment. We invite participants to provide feedback as we proceed; we know glitches could be in our future  . We look forward to the competencies emergent from our learning.

So, nervously, I am taking this leap, and I am continually learning and sometimes failing to learn. Creating this new community experience with OWLcourage is the most recent challenge in my “new skill” trajectory. As I hope is obvious, I am actually acting on the premise that this is indeed an experiment. I’m hoping some others want to try this experiment with me and Kelly, to invest time and energy in creating a Sparkle!

Below is a “Phase 1” list of OWLcourage community members’ rules of engagement; one aspect of our experiment is the possibility that they will evolve and see several revisions over time. Still, we have to start somewhere.

OWLcourage Sparkle Community Rules of Engagement – Phase 1

1. Identities of all participants are public; there is no anonymity; new members will provide a brief self-description shared with all other members of the community.

2. Comments are best if kept brief; members will usually avoid lengthy commentaries though occasionally that will be the only way to present an idea.

3. Comments will emerge from personal reflections on OWLcourage postings or musings that are catalyzed by OWLcourage postings

4. All comments will be guided by the ethos of “Do No Harm” (said the nurse hostess).

5. Each member’s central contribution is personal, unique and emerges from the generous sharing spirit of Sparkles everywhere.

6. Sparkle Community Membership requires intentional engagement, making contributions that enrich the content of the whole for the whole; being a “silent observer” is not an option.

7. Persons who engage in destructive or harmful behavior will be excluded from community membership, or if they have achieved the membership, lose it.

8. Humor, compassion, and creativity are welcomed and encouraged

Some potential community members have asked if I would be involved in these conversations. Simply stated, I would participate as a member of the community. Concurrently however I do see myself monitoring the community processes to ensure the conversations are congruent with the intent of OWLcourage and honor the rules of engagement. If problems emerge, I will act to ensure the integrity of OWLcourage.

Optimizing the community exchange would be my primary intention, this goal overshadowing, for me, my direct engagement in the conversation. After all, I did have my say to start the conversation.

Helpful Directions…

If you would like to become a pioneer “OWLcourage Sparkle Community Member”, here is what you do. Having established that you are subscribed to the blog, there is a new link provided on the top of the page: “OWLcourage Community”. If you click this link, you will be asked to log in to start the process of requesting membership. I will be notified about your request and will respond within 24 hours, barring national disasters, health crises, etc.

Once you are notified that your request is approved, you are asked to provide the community with introductory information; you can then begin posting in one of two sites: blog posting specific or related musings. You are now in the conversation. You can also access the technical information Kelly has provided. Also, as you proceed, I urge you to remind yourself that you are joining an experiment; you are a resource to create Sparkles. You also may be the early adapters to our glitches 

As every post-partum woman can tell you, gestation never ends exactly as you had imagined it. A lot of unanticipated things emerge in the process of birthing, most never even imagined. It can be messy and challenging…yet most would say that the outcomes of the experience were worth the investment of time and energy. Beginnings…

“Much like a wave is not just part of the sea but the very sea in its specific materialization, my voice and my words only make sense within a commonwealth of other beings that make me possible.”

- Bayo Akomolafe -


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