How do we make our community better?

written by Catherine An
March 21, 2011
I’ve been doing some thinking about community. Last week, the Nonprofit Technology Conference descended on DC. Every year, thousands of happy geeked-out NGO workers get together to find out what’s new in the field of technology and how those new shiny tools can be used to make NGOs better! And while I enjoy the workshops, I think what NTC does best is gel a community together. There’s always ample opportunity to mingle between workshops, there’s a community lounge where people can rest up, plug in, and meet new people. There are endless opportunities for people who live in the same city, who have the same job functionality, who have the same interests, who have the same challenges to share their struggles and stories. And the playful spirit of the conference – from the opening remarks to the ice cream breaks to the relaxed dress code – perpetuates a sense of ease and comfort. “We’re all in this together!” the conference seems to announce from the get-go. And that experience, at least for me, is the backbone of this community. Every year, I’m excited to see the friends I met the year before and throughout the year, I join in on webinars and conference calls to stay updated on what’s happening. And I know that there is a resource out there to which I can turn if I find myself up against a technology wall I can’t hurdle over. We’re in it together, truly, and I’m as happy to lend my limited knowledge as I am to ask for some from others. Which lead me to my next question: are we, the Alliance, fostering a sense of community among homeless assistance partners? Among direct service providers and legislators and community leaders and advocates? Are we providing a space where people feel the easy necessary to share freely and ask for assistance? Are we providing the tools and guidance you need to do your job as best as you can? And more specifically, is that what our conference does? If you could offer us one pointer about our conference (and please do below!), what would that be? Because here at the Alliance (and definitely here on the Alliance Facebook page and Twitter feed, we want to offer a space where you can share ideas, links, questions, and thoughts. Please let us know if we can do better!