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.

EatYourCake

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? 

100 Ways to Build Community this Summer

100 Ways to Build Community this Summer | #OMHG

“Community” has become a popular word in marketing-speak and is used to describe everything from support groups to mentoring sessions making it harder and harder to spot real connection (you can read my full unfiltered thoughts about this here in ‘Community is Not Clubs’).  Speaking to the global maker community through OMHG has been incredible but the more saturated with information and aggressively salesy the online world becomes the more I have needed to figure out new ways to find genuine connection and real human moments. Because of this OMHG has taken a break from publishing submissions and monthly themes as my work for the creative community goes back to my roots of community organizing, grassroots advocacy, and developing programs with measurable outcomes and tangible results.

Instead of sharing stories online lately I’ve been consulting with Etsy and sharing my knowledge to help pilot a new community-led initiative that will invest in creative economies, build networks of support for local makers, and start conversations about the maker movement as a vehicle for positive community change starting this summer in four Canadian cities. I have also launched Maritime Makers a new non-profit volunteer collective uniting makers in four Canadian provinces to promote a new model of inter-provincial cooperation. In my backyard I have been supporting local makers and businesses in the small town I live and love in to develop a greater awareness of the impact micro-businesses and women led enterprises bring to local economies. My future holds council meetings, block party potlucks, organizing diverse events, creating opportunities for free classes and education for makers of all ages & abilities, and continuing my daily practice and inquiry into crafting a present in each moment through #365DaysOfPresence.

So while I’m spending this summer working on making goodness happen for makers I thought it would be fun to host a new community challenge by revisiting the closest thing I have to a manifesto. Roll up your sleeves and join me in committing to our communities this summer and practicing good citizenship with a little help from this list of 100 Ways to Build Community.

To join the challenge commit to doing as many of the items on this as you can during the summer or write your own list and commit to that! Share your community adventures with the tag #OMHG and make this your summer of community. 

100WaysCHALLENGE

1. Commit to doing at least 5 things that will build your community each week.

2. Share freely of yourself, of your time, of your talents. Don’t be precious with your gifts, use them, give them away, offer help, pitch in with ideas-your contributions are needed and your voice is important.

3. Try not to get caught up in thinking about how you can grow your community too much and begin with something small you can follow through on.

4. Start with one. One friend, one outreach email, one volunteer shift. One action can be a first step in the greatest adventure of all.

5. You don’t have to do it alone-one at a time find mentors and friends who lift you up and will catch you when you fall then invest time and love into growing those connections.

6. Kindness always matters-hold the door, thank your cashier, tip your server, people won’t always be kind in return but adding to the good in the world is sweet on its own.

7. Make community a practice and part of your daily life. Being part of a thriving community is like any great work-it takes time, dedication, and regular commitment.

8. Don’t be a stranger-sometimes our lives and responsibilities take us away from our communities but we can always go back or adapt how much we can contribute.

9. If you can do just one thing every day let it be making someone else smile (belly laughs score triple).

10. Be a tender and patient gardener. Communities are like tiny seeds that if nurtured carefully and given the right conditions will take root and bloom into a vibrant garden.

11. Map out your community-find out where the resources, tools and services you need are. For your offline community mark the places you visit regularly, people who are important to you, and resources in your neighbourhood. Make a map for your virtual communities too and you will always know how to find what you need and help others do the same.

12. Say hello with a smile-on the street, on social media, to your loved ones in the morning.

13. Do small things in a big way-you don’t have to volunteer a million hours or change your life to invest in your community, a simple friendly welcome to a new person or giving up your spot in line to a tired mama can change someone’s day and make your community a better place to live.

14. Only offer what you can actually give and always be honest about your limitations.

15. Be present in your daily life- take time each day to simply be with yourself or the people who light you up.

16. Really listen to people and care about their stories. Allowing someone to be heard without judgement is where community begins, one story at a time.

17. Gather to celebrate-launches, births, new jobs, housewarmings. These events are the core of community life and are more joyful when shared.

18. Offer hugs and encouragement often.

19. Show up regularly, heart in your hands, ready to be of service.

20. Choose what kind of a community you want to cultivate in your life-write it down, map it out, envision it clearly then start taking steps towards that ideal.

21. Don’t just stick with what you know, be inclusive and seek out diverse people & perspectives. A community where everyone thinks and looks alike is a tribe or a clique not a vibrant culture.

22. Praise more-write little love notes, send encouraging messages, let people know they are doing a great job and you appreciate them.

23. Collaborate instead of competing-explore ways to collaborate with other people who have similar interests or complementary skills.

24. Unstick from the wall and get engaged! If you are uncomfortable in groups find a safe place that you feel comfortable pushing outside of your comfort zone.

25. Retreat from the world regularly. Turn off all the devices and spend time adventuring near and far without stopping to comment or capture it on camera.

26. Be compassionate with your community-no place or person is perfect, no two stories are the same.

27. Donate time, money, and products to causes, projects and organizations that are important to your community.

28. A playful community is a happy community-be silly, make jokes, goof off, embrace the ridiculousness of life and have fun with it!

29. Learn about the history, culture, and values of the places you live and hang out – pay attention to what is needed and where you can be of service.

30. Make time to be available for community projects and connections on and offline throughout the year.

31. Pick up the phone and call a friend, let them know you are here and you care.

32. Send more handwritten letters and packages of love in the mail.

33. Drop in and visit with someone who needs it-a senior, a new mama, someone struggling with loss-you don’t need to have the right words just knowing you are thinking of them is enough. Bring a meal or do the laundry for bonus points!

34. Do nothing regularly. Read the books you love in your fuzzy slippers and have a long bath or whatever else recharges your batteries and leaves you feeling cared for + ready to care for others.

35. Ask for help in concrete ways when you need it and then accept that help with grace when offered.

36. Go out of your way to be unexpectedly awesome-shovel someone’s driveway, drop off a box of goodies, offer to babysit.

37. Expect nothing in return.

38. Preserve and invest in local knowledge by connecting with local makers or organizations and help keep important regional techniques and skills alive like handwork, basket weaving, bee keeping etc.

39. Shop at farmer’s markets and craft events, say hello to the vendors with a smile and praise their talent + skill.

40. Introduce yourself to makers & leaders you love, let them know why they are important to you and ask how you can support their work.

41. Give lots of hugs – spread a little squishy happiness in your community.

42. Be a ray of sunshine for someone during a tough time-a tight squeeze and reminder of how awesome you think someone is can make a crap day magical.

43. Invite people into your home for dinners, play dates, craft nights & visits.

44. Sign up to volunteer or support at least one community event or committee this year.

45. Reach out to people who inspire you or you would love to connect with and say hello, you never know what might happen!

46. Listen carefully to peoples stories and show you care about their lives by checking in about important news or changes.

47. Help without waiting to be asked and be specific with what you can offer-a general offer of help is usually less helpful then a list of ways you want to get involved.

48. No more online only friendships! Call, send mail, Skype, meet up, visit each others kids, online connections are just as real as offline ones.

49. Follow up with your supporters, send them a thank you card or email.

50. Create opportunities for connection-plan a large or small community event, gathering, or project to bring people together on or offline.

51. Visit your local library, thank your librarians, donate books, support fundraising drives and keep your family reading!

52. Host a gift/cookie/mitten/recipe swap or throw  a dinner/dance/costume/ party.

53. Stop liking things & start loving them-take your sweet self offline and support something in person. Adore a business, blogger, or event? Participate, join up & give it some of your love.

54. Children are the future of any community-find ways to connect with kids locally and globally to share your time or skills. Schools, libraries, local groups and even websites can be great places to find community connections.

55. Parents, let your kids connect you to other families-stay at the playground after school to meet up, offer play dates and potlucks, join in on activities and participate whenever you can! Teach your kids that community always starts at home.

56. Start your own Success Squad or mentorship support group.

57. Care about what other people think of you. Do you want your community to know you as kind, capable, compassionate? Make sure your actions are in line with the person and community member you want to be.

58. Be a constructive, creative part of conversations on topics that matter to you and your work.

59. Take a class-at a local learning centre, at an event, or online.

60. Teach a class-join the growing freeschool/skill share movement and share your knowledge.

61. Plan a mini-retreat or adventure with friends.

62. Volunteer at a half-way house, jail, at-risk youth centre, homeless shelter, or animal rescue and meet important parts of your community that might be overlooked.

63. Grow a garden-in your backyard, on your rooftop, in your windows, with your kids, at a community plot. Save the seeds and share them with friends.

64. Take part in on + offline discussions and meet ups to connect with other people who have similar interests to you.

65. Ditch the car. Walk, bike, ride the bus-greet people as you go and your community will open up around you.

66. Be a loyal supporter to small businesses you love-find retailers, makers, and creatives then invest in their success. Financial support is excellent but regular cheerleading, spreading news of their work, and encouragement goes a long way too!

67. Take time to leave heartfelt comments online and interact with people-too often we like, pin, or scroll onto the next thing. If something matters to you stop for a minute to add your voice and make the internet a little bit more awesome.

68. Go camping with friends and family. Get to know your local parks, beaches and ecology to connect with a deeper sense of place.

69. If you haven’t heard from someone in awhile & have a niggling worry-reach out. Connecting with people you care about is always time well spent.

70. Notice problems and be part of exploring solutions-you don’t have to have the answers, no one does, but together we can each bring a part of the puzzle.

71. Don’t engage in or escalate violence, practice resolution, careful listening, and tolerance.

72. Plan less, adventure more. Lists and must-dos are grand things but not everything should be scripted. Make lots of room in your life for randomness and adventure.

73. Know the names of your neighbours and the people you see every day.

74. Thank the people who make your community function-the post office workers, your doctor, teachers, leaders & community organizers.

75. If you see someone struggling stop and help-carry a bag of groceries, distract a cranky toddler in a busy checkout, offer your seat on the bus to an elder.

76. Speak up about things that matter to you-even if it makes you uncomfortable.

77. Enthusiasm is contagious, pass it on whenever you can.

78. Teach your children about the importance of community involvement and that no one is ever too young to contribute something valuable by having them volunteer for causes or groups that matter to them.

79. Travel. Explore the world outside your community near and far.

80. Be a peacemaker-do your best to stay calm and help resolve conflicts.

81. Learn when to lead. If you see a need or a gap and have the skills + abilities to fill it, take action! Don’t wait to find your ideal community, you can lead the way.

82. Practice when to follow. Our communities are full of creative leaders doing incredible work, seek them out and allow yourself to be led, support the people that are passionate about helping to create a better world for us all.

83. Compassion is priceless, charity is cheap. Spend time volunteering at a homeless shelter, transition house or food bank in the harsher months, deliver food and warm clothing to children in need where you live, stretch your heart through experiencing what so many live with daily in your own towns.

84. Develop deeper friendships- take things below the surface and create meaningful relationships that support and sustain.

85. Avoid judgement and nay-saying. We never know how deeply our words can affect another person’s path-be careful to not step on dreams and hopes because you think you know what is right.

86. Slow down and savour it. Stop at that park bench and sit awhile, call a friend to come join you. Take the long way home-wander your local shops, stop for a coffee, linger in a bookstore, stop to talk with strangers.

87. Practice good citizenship – get involved with your town or city council, attend meetings, and participate in the governance of the places you live. It isn’t always the most exciting way to spend your time but is an investment in the future we can’t afford to ignore.

88. Make art together -invite friends over for make dates and craft parties, many hands make happy work.

89. Be a connector. Notice the overlaps in people and groups you have relationships with and be the bridge that connects them so both can grow.

90. Organize a community event like a trash pick up, group picnic, or play date.

91. Be a mentor-help other people grow by sharing your skills and experiences & getting involved in their projects.

92. Sell less, share more. If you are a business owner or marketer who spends a lot of time promoting look at ways you can do less selling and more sharing of knowledge, opportunities, and resources.

93. Cheerlead and champion-everyone needs someone rooting for them. Let your friends, supporters, and inspirations know that you are on their team.

94. Fail with friends, instead of keeping failures and losses to yourself or launching projects and ideas alone involve your friends and community in your grand ideas and not-so-grand outcomes.

95. Share your sorrows and your successes, being open and vulnerable is terrifying but keeping sorrows to yourself and only sharing your success can be lonely and isolating.

96. Say yes to invitations that are important to you-go to the party, attend the events,  join in the community projects.

97. Explore different currencies like barter and exchange. If there is something you need find someone who needs what you offer and swap!

98. Support the source: of your food by knowing your farmers, of your objects by knowing your makers, and your community by knowing your leaders.

99. Never forget how enough you are. You are awesome, important, capable, smart and valuable-your confidence and creativity are what we need to make our communities shine.

100. Make your own list of 100 ways to build community and share it with everyone!

I hope this list reminds you of just how important your contributions are and helps you gain the confidence to reach out and begin. Making community building a practice and part of my routine has led to a thriving business and incredible network of friends + supporters, taken me places I would never have thought possible, and taught me so much about about myself and place in the world.  If you are looking for cheerleading and championing as you create your community give what you can to join our warm and welcoming network.

Cheers to a summer of connection, creativity, and citizenship. May your community building adventures fill your life with goodness, love, and enthusiastic support!

This list has been an ongoing work in progress since I published the first version of 60 ways in 2011, what community building idea would you add? 

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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