I just returned from the incredible Type A Mom conference in Asheville, NC. Those of you who know me IRL (in real life) you can stop your laughing now. The irony is that I am nowhere close to being a type A mom. Fortunately there was a great mix of women of all different parenting and blogging styles, there were even some brave dads. There are so many things to say about the conference but I want to devote my first to one of my favorite subjects, community.
Kelby Carr is the founder of the Type A Mom conference and she "gets" community in a way that so many others don't. It's easy to say that you want everyone to be comfortable, it's quite another to actually make that happen. In the weeks leading up to the conference, Kelby had time for everyone. She replied and retweeted on twitter and did what she could to ease everyone's anxiety. When the inevitable discussions about what to wear happened, Kelby didn't just say "It's comfortable" she said "Wear what you're comfortable in." There's a big difference. Some of us are most comfortable in jeans and flip flops ( I did bring my fancy sparkly flips) but others are most comfortable in dresses, or khakis, or leggings. I'm guessing that her philosophy worked because I barely remember what people were wearing, but I do remember their faces and their stories!
You see, community is about how we interact with each other. Kelby set the tone by communicating openly with everyone. At every conference you see little groups of people talking and laughing, heading off to wherever (dinner, parties, etc.) but at Type A it was different. The groups were not closed off. Everyone was encouraged to pull up a chair or join in for dinner. Introductions were made and insightful questions were asked. The hotel had groupings of couches and chairs outside of the main meeting rooms. These couches were actually comfortable and filled for the entire conference. There was no rhyme or reason to the groups that formed in those seats. It was whoever needed to recharge their computer or check their email or just get off their feet for a second. Great conversations happened around those couches and they were completely organic. They came about because people were willing to engage with each other.
There is more to say about the conference, but I was so grateful for the community I had to write this first. What's the lesson I learned? Be open. Be the one who takes a chance and walks up to a group. Be the one who tweets out about dinner plans. Be the one who always invites in. Be the one who welcomes. If you do these things you will find your community.