Bonding with a new community..or coping with change

In the last few weeks, I have stepped outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t expecting to feel this way. But my family has had a change – a new school. It’s not that far away, but far enough that it doesn’t feel like ‘home’ anymore. I have felt like I have abandoned my old community and replaced it with a new, unfamiliar, one. Is it better? Have I done the right thing? Maybe I should have just put up with the issues that forced the change, it would have been so much easier!

I consider myself flexible and easy going. I make good decisions. I like progress. But this change… it wasn’t so easy.

I am not alone. As human beings, we are in a constant tug of war between changes that are forced upon us – from job loss to relationship breakdowns, and changes we make ourselves to better our situation, like going on a diet or even taking a new route to work hoping there will be less congestion!

In all the uncertainty, we look for what is certain. We create certainties. Ensure there are things we know to be true and that we can rely on. It’s a bit like the scientific method:

– Form a hypothesis (I think cupcakes are better with sprinkles)

– Test the hypothesis (consume a cupcake with sprinkles and one without)

– Come to a conclusion (I am a cupcakes with sprinkles person, that’s what I’ll eat from now on)

Sometimes life’s not always that simple. The sprinkle recipe can change, your taste buds can change, sometimes you don’t get the choice. So we have to learn to cope with change.

So enough about cupcakes, what does this have to do with community?

Joining a new group of people or a new place, no matter how much you think this change is a good thing, will test your hypotheses about who you are in relation to your current neighbourhood and who you can be in your new setting.

So, I have been trying to:

  • Allow myself to grieve the life I thought I was having and let go
  • Reconnect in a new way to my community – I have visited the library, we have gone walking around the streets. I’m still part of my local area, just in a different way.
  • Find the positives in the new experience – I have a new community to join with my old. My friends to make, new places to explore. I am further blessed by the expansion.
  • Develop new routines. These help settle you down.
  • Be patient, it takes time to adapt.

I have learnt that a strong bond with your local community is a great thing. My family and I are supported, connected and strengthened by our neighbourhood. But stretching beyond these imagined ‘boundaries’ widens your perspective as well. I am glad I stretched. I look forward to bonding with my new community more.

PS. My son is coping with his new school much better than me! The routines have helped, and the reassurance that he hasn’t ‘lost’ his old friends. More about helping kids to cope on Kids Matter here.


Inspiration and connection

Now I thought festival monthin Melbourne was March, but there is so many things to see and do at the moment, I’m not sure how I’m going to fit everything in.

But I did make it Supergraph on the weekend. It’s a celebration of art and illustration and all things paper. Saw some fantastic businesses doing their thing, including old favourites and newbies.

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Images: cardboard arc inside the Exhibition Buildings, Mechanical drawing dogs art installation, discarded paper planes from the paper plane comp.

It’s great to get out and see what others are doing, take some inspiration, kick yourself for not thinking of that first and just absorb people in their element.

Where have you been finding inspiration lately?

Some other things on the to do list asap:

On this weekend: White Night Melbourne

Ends this weekend: Bohemian Melbourne

Hearing good things: Romance is Born at the NGV

There’s still power in print

It’s a little startling to me, but I have been around long enough now to have noticed a few changes in the way we communicate. When social media burst on to the scenes, honestly it was a little like watching young women fight over discounted shoes at a stocktake sale. There really was people who thought these platforms were the answer to everything.

I had a conversation the other day that reminds me that some people are still firmly of this view. I disagree.

Okay, so, all cards on the table here – I am biased. I love print. I love having a physical things in my hands. I love the process of enhancing images and added the words around them in interesting ways to create a publication.

But I am always on Google and frankly, have a bit of an addiction to facebook. I don’t think the two have to be in competition. It’s not one or the other – you ‘re not either online and still doing old school print. It’s more about knowing how to use each one well. Print can be awesome, online is so helpful. They are just channels, that need to fit the intention of the campaign.

And I’m not alone in thinking this. The New York Times had recent article on the resurgence of catalogues NYTas a thing of beauty. Creating and sending a magazine to my top clients when I ran Grid Maps was a masterstroke. It was so well received and orders started rolling in.

As a method of educating or changing attitudes there are some really great things you can do. The OPSM pirate story for kids that also performs simple eye tests like testing for colour blindness is a case in point. Brilliant. And it integrates print and online technology. Double brilliant.

Thinking about how you can use print or create a campign to inform, educate and engage? Let’s chat. I’m already excited!

How valuable is ‘free’?

Recently, we ran some school holiday workshops. We had 2 free sessions and 2 paid activities for $10 per child.

The result – the free sessions were booked out, and yet many didn’t turn up. And we had trouble filling the paid spots.

So I’m asking myself, do people just jump at things that are free, but don’t actually value them at all?

I did some digging. There are so many conflicting opinions – free means you are devaluing your offer; if you aren’t doing free work, you are missing out on audiences.

A 2012 study by Benckendorff and Pearce suggested that studies support 3 basic theories on why people attend events. These are:

  1. Attraction: the perceived importance or interest in an activity or a product, and the pleasure or hedonic value derived from participation or use;

  2. Sign: the unspoken statements that purchase or participation conveys about the person (e.g. identification as a fan of the team); and

  3. Centrality to lifestyle: which encompasses interaction with friends and family, and the central role of the activity in the context of an individual’s life.

Queensland’s touring program experts, ArTour say:

Unfortunately, being free is no guarantee of an audience. In fact, sometimes a small admission fee is a better way to help people feel committed to attending. Their ‘investment’ in the experience makes them less likely to forget or dismiss the event.

Basically, event attendees need to feel that their investment of time in attending the event is worth it – the fun, the personal identification with the event or the opportunity for interaction. A free event just might not seem as valuable. Even after making a booking, the value of other activities they could be doing may out way attending a free event.

But people do still come in numbers to free events like festivals, picnics and open days. Maybe the lure of big crowds is an attraction. Or that it is something special and one off.

It’s a tough decision. But we are trialling free big events and a fee of $5 plus for all other activities at the museum. We’ll see how that goes.

Do you run events? How is attendance, what tricks do you use?

Do you run activities? I’ll be launching a new service to match event organizers and activity providers son. Sign up for advance notice about it all here.