Community Focused

Having grown up in a community driven village, the essence and core of community is strongly interwoven into my identity. In the following article https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/ Wenger & Wenger-trayner (2020, pg 2) talk about community and the members within — How they form relationships, help each other through times of need, organise and participate in group activities. This sounds exactly like my childhood — I live in a small suburb (three streets) south of Sydney — In the bush and on the water. Because of our location we are quite removed from the surrounding suburbs, shops etc. We have our own Rural Fire Brigade (RFS), Fire station, Progress association, Travel Groups and much more. The people in this suburb have lived here for generations and all lean on each in times of need — flood, fire or sometimes for a cup of milk. Every year there are set events like the Australia Day BBQ or Carols by Candlelight. It is fair to say we are a community driven village (we are still zoned as a Village rather than a suburb).

In the article by Kavanaugh et al. (2005) https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/doi/full/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2005.tb00266.x Kavanaugh talks about the meaning of online communities and the likeliness of people getting to know each other offline, face to face in the community, before entering into an online community. My suburb, as well as having a strong community sense offline, also has an online presence. We have a closed Facebook group for past and present residents. This online portion of our community is used for social aspects as well as updates during crisis — Fire, flood etc. Matzat (2010) also discusses https://journals-sagepub-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/doi/abs/10.1177/0002764209356249 that communities such as the one I live in, are stronger online because they have a presence and network offline. This found to be especially true during the Covid-19 pandemic — Where our little community quickly moved any and all interaction online. Because of the comradery built offline, we were very successful in assisting neighbours in need during the pandemic. The community quickly set up services like shopping or locating lost pets for those in lock down or vulnerable members and general care for our community with mental health check ins.

Matzat (2010) goes on to discuss Communities of Practice, and their two main distinctive features being, members are usually professionals in a similar field, and they actively share knowledge with each other, online or offline. Of the three Facebook groups I am a part of — My suburb page which is the only group with an offline presence), the other two are online only communities — The only group I am involved in that may classify as a community of practice would be my university group, as we are all professionals, sharing knowledge. However, for me personally, I have no link offline to this group, so I find it difficult posting online and sharing my knowledge. Gibbs (cited in Kim et al. 2020) https://www-emerald-com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/insight/content/doi/10.1108/INTR-01-2020-0015/full/html states that in an online community ‘approximately 10% of online community members who are highly committed to a community have been responsible for more than 85% of the contributions’. I tend to agree as in any online forum you see serial posters, and other people like me who choose not to post at all.

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