Community, Connecting, Learning

During a recent stay in San Francisco, I walked down to the Ferry Building before dawn to enjoy the beautiful sunrise over the bay. I stopped in Peet’s Coffee for tea. As I waited for it to steep, I noticed a diverse group of people gathered around one of the large wooden tables in the public area of the Ferry Building. It reminded me a bit of a Lean Coffee. These table-mates were discussing something animatedly. Yet they apparently weren’t there just to talk. One had a laptop open, a couple of others had a newspaper, They represented a range of genders, ages and abilities. Nothing really seemed to connect them, except enjoying each others’ company at the same table.

communitycroppedWere they some kind of club? A Cheers-style group of regulars to Peet’s Coffee who gathered every day in the pre-dawn hours? Whatever their connection, I envied their obvious sense of community. What would it be like to meet with a group of regulars each morning, to drink coffee and pursue your own interests (the paper, the laptop) while also indulging in conversation?

I’d been spending the week engaged in different sorts of communities myself. I participated in an Agile Open conference for two days, followed by working with some of my teammates in our SF office. And as usual, I was involved in online communities via social media. These communities provide me with learning opportunities, a chance to share experiences and ideas with my peers. But that’s not quite the same as being in a regular gang where everybody knows your name, at Peet’s Coffee or Cheers.

What’s the point of telling this story on my blog? Somehow, the sight of this nice group of friends enjoying their discussion along with different pursuits prods me to spend more time finding in-person learning and sharing opportunities. There are so many meetups and user groups in the town where I work, but I don’t make time for very many. The evening before my visit to the Ferry Building, I met my friend Angeline for dinner. She takes full advantage of all the interesting groups and meetups in San Francisco, and invests a lot of time in learning. Right now she’s learning how to make hardware. That’s so inspiring to me.

So maybe I’d better make time for the next Women Who Code meetup, and converse in-person with people outside of my own (albeit wonderful) team. It might not be a Cheers- or Peet’s-style gang, but I might learn something and make some new friends.

2 comments on “Community, Connecting, Learning

  1. THANK YOU Lisa your post reminds me of my cowork space in downtown New Haven, CT. It’s called The Grove. Coworking fulfills that need for face-to-face supportive community you describe. There’s a narrative intelligence to how we experience community. The rhythm of sharing people’s days and weeks is different from the kind of time-lapse photography that comes from seeing people annually at conferences. To me, both are valuable.

    ps: Knowing that I’m so into coworking, Deborah Hartmann-Preuss sent me this: http://www.deskmag.com/en/coworking-spaces

    CHEERS, @artsint

  2. Thanks, Elinor, I’d like to learn more about coworking, I’ll check out that article Deb sent you. I was at Agile Testing Days last week, and it’s an amazing community even though we only meet up once a year, and though there is a core of people who come every year, we’re always welcoming new folks. It really stimulates learning for me, plus it’s fun!

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