Sunday, March 14, 2010

Info For Free - - Community, Too?

A few weeks ago I made some Ohio State University themed dishcloths for my son's classroom. Every year the parent-teacher organization holds a silent auction of gift baskets as a fund raiser. Each class has a different theme, the kids all contribute something, volunteers assemble the baskets, and they are auctioned off during the week parents come for teacher conferences. It's a pretty successful fundraiser, and everyone seems to love the different gift baskets.

At any rate, I went on-line and looked for knitting patterns having to do with Ohio State University, Buckeyes, and the State of Ohio. I was successful finding "state of Ohio" dishcloth, and knitted it in grey cotton. Here is a picture of my finished cloth.

Click here for a link to the free pattern for the State of Ohio dishcloth, and thanks to Rhonda White for making it available to the likes of me!

After getting the first cloth finished, I went in search of a "Block O" cloth. I couldn't find anything I really liked, so I ended up designing one of my own. I knitted it in scarlet cotton, and was pleased with the results. Here's a picture of the Block O cloth:

Once I get a bit of extra time, I will probably offer the Block O cloth on ravelry as a free pattern. Who knows? There might be a burning need for "O" dishcloths out there. Actually, I have a couple of free patterns to offer up, I just need to get busy publishing them! There is never enough time in the day!

Thinking about time and commitments, today Hubby and I had the neighbors over to discuss how to save a dying social organization, of which we are all members. We've been members for about two years and are the youngest, at 47 and 48 years old. The remaining five or so members are in their 60s or older. The organization can't succeed in getting any new members, attendance is dwindling, interest is lacking, and the current president just dropped out. No one wants to take hold of the reigns, yet no one wants to see it completely die out, either.

In the face of no leadership, we had our own "pre-meeting" today to discuss options before the "real" meeting this coming week. Our discussion led to some very interesting issues. This 75 year old organization started out of a need for neighbors to protect and look out for each other. Over the years it has become a social club whose members meet to visit and share food, and to spearhead community service projects. We were all racking our brains trying to think of something that would interest people enough to get some new, young blood in the organization. Frankly, it was hard to come up with anything.

We are rural folks, many of us farmers or homesteaders, some retired, a few of us young and just starting families, all of us busy. What is the common thread that could tie us all together? What lecture, workshop, or activity could we offer that would actually draw this group of neighbors together once a month? And, more importantly, keep them coming back for more? Hubby raised the point that people get all the information they need on the internet. It used to be, if people wanted to learn a skill, they asked their elders, their neighbors, or a friend with experience to teach them, hands on. Or they went to the library and got books on the subject, or took a class.

But now, there is a world of information at almost everyone's fingertips. Whether it's how to knit, how to compost, what to plant, when to plant it, how to field dress a deer, how to clean your shot gun, how to school your kids at home, where to find a doctor, how to can vegetables, what recipe to cook for dinner, or how to navigate your way to an unknown location. Factor in social and professional networking sites, some of them interest-based, such as facebook and ravelry, and you find people having a sense of community wherever they may be, as long as there is a computer handy. An interesting phenomenon. Perhaps people would rather sit at home on their computers than walk down the road to meet with neighbors in person.

This is the issue weighing heavy on my mind today. Information is free and for the taking. But what about community? Can we save our dying organization? And the million dollar question: What could successfully bring us all together? I'd love to get some comments on this entry. What would entice you out of your house and down the road to meet with your neighbors on a monthly basis, for food and community?

I can guarantee you, this question will be ruminating in my mind as I sign off and get back to my tasks at hand...

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