On July 1st 2010 I pressed publish on my first ever OMHG post, I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to dedicate the next 5 years to championing handmade goodness and crafting a welcoming community of fellow makers. When I started my first handmade business eleven years ago there were very few places to connect with other makers and share resources or support and being a creative entrepreneur could be really lonely. After taking on OMHG as a young parent I quickly realized that the biggest need for the handmade community was a welcoming place for anyone regardless of what stage they were at in their creative journey.
Over the last 5 years OMHG has seen many evolutions as we grew from a multi-contributor blog to a community of peers, through every stage this project has been a labour of love and many helping hands. It has been hard trying to balance my role as the primary provider for my family and my cooperative non-profit ethics before finally realizing that OMHG isn’t a business, or a cooperative, or a social network it is a gift of my skills as a community organizer to the movement I treasure. What a relief to not have to hustle for anything and focus exclusively on creating opportunities for us to work together! I’ve been doing important work this year with 365 Days of Presence, Maritime Makers, our annual Maker’s Retreat, and as a consultant with Etsy on a new community led pilot called Etsy Maker Cities that is working with city partners who celebrate and invest in local creative entrepreneurs to foster a new model for economic prosperity.
Lately there has been an explosion of networks, membership communities, and private Facebook groups that the problem is the opposite of when I started my first business and there was no where to go for support – now there are so many options it is overwhelming. This has led to a real unease with how community is being used as a marketing tool instead of an invitation to belong to something precious. Was I part of encouraging a culture that sees community as something to buy not a gift we share? The thought has kept me up at night and it is why I opened up our membership to by donation in May. Why is the OMHG community still important? Because goodness always matters and with so many groups and clubs things can so easily become competitive making it even more important to have places to gather where cooperation is valued.
A community organizer I know has “If you want a better culture, throw a better party” as their email tagline, and that is exactly what we are going to do. This summer our community is trialling a new home on the Mightybell platform founded by Gina Bianchini who co-founded Ning before going on to build a platform to connect specialized networks. After years of building and exploring so very many ways to connect community online finally the technology has caught up with our needs, more diverse women led tech start ups are available to partner with (huzzah!), and there are simple to use beautifully designed platforms that make it possible to easily create gathering places for people to connect and organize around shared values.
Last year I looked back on my timeline with our community and since my 2015 is all about the present to celebrate the 5th OMHG anniversary I’m inviting you to all join the next 5 years of crafting a community of goodness for the head, heart, and hands. Whether you make things, make change, or are looking to make more goodness if you value our simple principles of Respect, Equality, Diversity, Cooperation, Compassion, Goodness & Citizenship and are looking for a place to come as you are and be welcomed, join us. You will find our community has no hidden sales or slick pitches, there is no agenda except for supporting each other. Contributions from our fellow makers, supporters, and partners keep the community ad free, our membership fees by donation, and collaborative projects like our art prints and Maker Mail possible.
Let’s work together to answer the question OMHG has been asking for years: what would be possible if you had a whole community cheering you on?