70 Ways to Build Community, Save Your Sanity, and Change the World

70 Ways to Build Community, Oh My! Handmade

It’s become such a cliched phrase-something we say and recognize to be true but don’t often act on:

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

What does that even mean?

I am asked all the time – “How can I possibly do it all?”

The hard truth is you can’t.

You can’t be everything to everyone all the time. You can’t be the only one responsible for raising your children, running your business, managing your life. You CANNOT do it all alone. And you don’t have to. You shouldn’t even try!

The superwoman/man myth is so dangerous to our parenthood and our lives. It causes us to not ask for or allow ourselves to receive help and to deny when we feel vulnerable, needy, or afraid. It also puts up walls and barriers that keep us from reaching out to others and building a community that knows us for who we really are. We present what we want the world to see, the very best parts of who we think we are, but beneath it all:

We human beings are all fundamentally the same. We all belong to a common broken humanity. We all have wounded, broken hearts. Each one of us needs to feel appreciated and understood; we all need help. 

Jean Vanier, Becoming Human 


Isn’t that is what is most beautiful about us? What unites us all no matter how diverse we might seem to be, is that we all need to belong, we all need support. Why deny that? Embrace it, that is where our humanity lives and where compassion comes from. Our brokenness is our biggest strength.

Jean Vanier is the leader of the L’Arche movement, a powerful community model that brings diverse people together to support people with disabilities in loving environments. His words are a call for all of us to live more compassionate and humane lives. He is also one of my personal heroes.

My mother was a young, visibly Black, single mama who had no family support while I was growing up. My nana was a brilliant artist but a truly awful mother, she was abusive, had serious baggage and offered my mother no support or encouragement. So it was little wonder that my mother felt called to help people who were suffering, to give them what she didn’t have. She worked in mental health and community development for people with disabilities and I often came to work with her. I have so many wonderful memories of visiting the group homes my mother worked in and spending time with people of every ability. This is such a huge part of who I am and how I see the world, but there was a price paid. My mother spent her days helping others and then came home to cater to my needs. No one was there to support her. She really did do it all alone and it took a toll on her physical and mental health. My childhood was beautiful but also incredibly hard, filled with loss and struggle.

When I moved out I was drawn to the same work with women, youth, and children. I have always wanted to offer people the support we never had when I was a child. No one should have to suffer alone or in fear. How I do that work has changed over the years but even here on OMHG it’s the same fundamental mission. To share love, be loved, spread love. Through handmade, yes. But mostly through connecting people with others and making them feel less alone and more empowered. This is the root of Jean Vanier’s philosophy:

jean vanier, sixty ways to build community, you are not alone, sustainable community development

If you are feeling like you just can’t do it all and you’re all alone-reach out! Open up. Creating community is the biggest investment you will ever make for yourself and of course for your business. Build both your local and online communities, connect with other people whose stories you care about, who you can be honest with, and who will be there for you when you are struggling. Be there for them. Stop trying to do it all alone, you will always feel like you are missing something and falling short. So whether you are a single mother struggling to fill the role of both mama and papa, or you have a large extended family, or a ton of supportive friends- it doesn’t matter. Your community is right there, waiting for you to  lend a hand or ask for someone to hold yours. Both are wonderful, both are needed.

It is just as important to accept help as to offer it, community building is about reciprocity. A give and take. So if you are in a position of strength offer help, if you see someone struggling stop and see if they will accept support, just be there for each other. Sometimes when we give help we actually get the help that we need. It is amazing that way.

I only have one caution – only offer what you are really able to give. Don’t offer because you think you should but don’t really want to do. Never give out of obligation, guilt, or because you want to feel good about yourself, give because you DO feel good about about yourself and giving is it’s own reward. We all deserve to have a village and it is up to us to make it happen.

How are you building community? 

Seventy Ways to Build Community, Save Your Sanity, and Change the World

This post was originally published in 2011 here and continues to be one of the most popular articles in the archives connecting with everyone from new suburban mamas to inner city ministers. As I slowly rediscover how OMHG fits in my life it was time to dust off this old friend for the first post of the year because the best goodness is worth revisiting. I made up an updated list of 70 Ways to Build Community that you can download, print, and share with your own communities by clicking the image above.  Learn the basics of personal community mapping with the 100 Ways To Build Community Mini-Guide available by donation here or if you are a maker in Atlantic Canada connect with the Maritime Makers initiative to build our local community and strengthen our region through cooperation!

All Oh My! Handmade Goodness printables and free downloads are for non-commercial, personal use only please. Copyright is owned by the designer unless otherwise stated.  If you have a commercial inquiry please contact the designer or email the editor. Please don’t host the PDF on your own site, we love sharing but link to the original post for the download, thanks!

Happy Birthday OMHG! Celebrating 5 Years of Community Goodness

Celebrate 5 years of creative community with #OMHG!

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? 

Creative Bag: Good things come in pretty packaging

{A sponsored post by Lorrie Everitt from Creative Bag}

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

I left my corporate day job in 2005 to purse my dream of starting my own creative business. While working for over twenty years as a visual merchandiser and marketing director for a number of large retail companies, I learned a couple of valuable lessons about selling anything.

First, more often than not, customers are driven to purchase something not because it is needed but because it was packaged so nicely that they had to have it. And secondly, your packaging is an important part of your branding story and the way you choose to package your products says a lot about your business.

When I started purchasing packaging materials for my own creative business ten years ago Creative Bag was my “secret” resource. I approached Creative Bag in the fall of 2011 with the concept of collaborating on some creative projects and I ended up working as creative blogger and packaging expert for them. Honesty, I feel like I’m in my happy place whenever I walk into a Creative Bag store.

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

Creative Bag is a family owned business from Toronto, Canada that has been supplying custom bags and packaging supplies to retailers, advertisers and marketing companies for over thirty years. Whether you are just starting out and need to purchase creative packaging supplies that you can DIY into something special for your small business or you are ready to invest in custom packaging for a growing business – Creative Bag is your packaging resource. You will find a vast selection of packaging products like bags, boxes, wrapping paper, tissue, ribbon, twine and so much more at Creative Bag’s three retail stores in the GTA and online. If you are looking to save money, most products offer discounts on larger volume purchases.

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

Your product packaging will be the first thing your customer sees if you are selling on Etsy and your own website, or the last thing your customer remembers if you are selling at craft fairs and markets. You don’t have to use expensive supplies to create great looking packaging. It’s amazing what you can do with custom stickers, stamps and baker’s twine to embellish something as simple as a kraft box or bag.

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

Magazines approach us every month to feature our products in editorials and DIY projects. I have been invited to appear on local television shows and to take part in workshops and YouTube videos to demonstrate DIY projects using Creative Bag products.

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

Creative Bag has just launched their new and improved website and is celebrating this week with daily giveaways and product specials. Today is all about doing-it-yourself! Our daily giveaway includes a tote bag that I created filled with lots of DIY goodies that can be used for a display or photo shoot, a Brit + Co diy Ecourse of your choice and a copy of Brit’s new “Homemakers” book. Select DIY products and tissue paper are today’s online specials. Check our website and blog daily for more opportunities to win and save. You can join the Creative Bag email list on our website for weekly updates on new products and special offers.

Creative Bag, DIY Packaging

If you are looking for packaging inspiration, follow me on the Creative Bag blog for packaging projects and simple how to tutorials. You’ll also find lots of great packaging and branding ideas on our Pinterest boards and, of course, on the Creative Bag Facebook page.

About Lorrie Everitt

Lorrie EverittI have always led a creative life. With the encouragement of my parents and grandmothers, I learned to craft and sew at a very young age. I graduated from university with a degree in art history and from college with diploma in graphic design. If I’m not creating something I’m working out the details on what I’m going to do next. You will always see me with my camera bag, a blank note book and a fine tip black pen. My computer is my best friend and I spend way too much time on Pinterest. I prefer to read books that teach me something and magazines with lots of DIY projects and visual inspiration.

I enjoyed working for many years in retail as a Visual Merchandising and Marketing Director for a number of fashion and home decor companies. I learned a lot during that time and it gave me the background and connections that I needed to become a branding and marketing consultant, to design products lines for retail businesses and to license my art to giftware companies.

I started a small online business with a close friend that specialized in customizing stationery products that I designed. I love to do workshops and teach mixed media art classes – when I have time. I have sold my handmade products and jewellery making kits on Etsy and in local stores.

My projects have been featured on websites such as Buzzfeed and in magazines such as Somerset Studio’s GreenCraft and Weddingbells. I still dream about someday publishing a DIY creative book although the three “CreativeLiving” (online) magazines that I created for Creative Bag last Christmas came very close to making that dream come true.

When I am not blogging for Creative Bag you can find me posting creative ideas on my personal blog at Lorrie Everitt Studio or planning new things to make and do with my family and friends.

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