Transcript for "Community - with Tania Marien"

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00:00.00
podcomm
Hello I’m Craig Konine I like to torture people by not explaining then I hope they say hello back when I say hello ah Tanya Marion is the creator of a project called talla terra and she’s an independent environmental educator.

00:02.40
Tania
Hi I’m Tanya Marion

00:18.20
podcomm
And it depends on what context you ask her to introduce herself whether she says she’s an educator or a podcast host or a creator of a project that that involves environmental education and I think that’s a struggle that everybody suffers I mean or maybe suffers the wrong word. Maybe that’s something we’re all delighted to have that problem. Um. So today I think we want to talk about I’m not sure whether to call it synchronicity asynchronicity or how those 2 things affect community building but that was something that came up in the conversation that we have before we press record on these things and I’m wondering if you could tell me what. Like what are you trying to accomplish with community right now like the podcast is not the main thing or the main thrust of what you’re trying to accomplish so what? What made you ah like try to create a community What are you trying to accomplish there.

01:10.28
Tania
Well with the community I am trying to encourage conversation among independent professionals in the field. Not everyone identifies as an environmental educator yet. There are many people out there who. Through their work connect people with the outdoors and so I am trying to connect them and have conversation and to generate conversation between all of them and so my audience who I try To. Speak with. They aren’t the traditional environmental educators. You know as as you might think because as I’ve done my own independent work I’ve come across a lot of different people doing different things. Um, who have an environmental education focus but they don’t identify with that label.

02:03.87
podcomm
Nice.

02:05.75
Tania
They might be a photographer. They might be a weaver they might be a textile artist. They might be other things and so through by community by creating community for Them. You know I wouldn’t like for them ideally for them to to communicate with each other establish. New Partnership possible partnership um relationships and and so that’s what I set out to do the podcast I created the podcast to bring attention to the people who work in this capacity to give them a voice so that people then can hear their voice. And so that I could have conversations with them that I’ve always wanted to have with them when I was running around doing events with what I used to do yeah.

02:46.75
podcomm
Um, three. Do So did so that that sounds to me like um, you put a lot of thought into that I don’t mean like before saying and I mean before starting on that. So. Did you switched which parts did you think would be harder. Did you think well. The podcast is going to be really hard or the community building be really harder. Did you did you think oh if I do the podcast first then the community building would be easier like how how has your idea of what well this is what I want to build the whole Grand vision. How has that been different or the same.

03:22.80
Tania
Um, yes, it’s been different. So so I chose I chose to do the the podcast because I was a ah heavy blogger before and and used to interview people then as well have.

03:22.83
podcomm
After when you tried to actually do it suspected right.

03:41.88
Tania
Monthly featured guests and this that and the other and offer Q and a opportunities through the blog and so making things live and more interactive with the podcast that is what I set out to do So I Thought that if the podcast came first and people started hearing the voices of colleagues and other people. Who were like them then building the community would be Easier. You know it would scrum scratch yeah or or an and easier than just reading their words of of colleagues through a blog through a written Q and a interview.

04:04.60
podcomm
Should be easier than doing it from scratch right? like.

04:19.76
Tania
So that hasn’t turned out quite to be the case. It hasn’t been quite that easy to do people have been I started out with a co-working space and then I switched to a different kind of community I have of course the. Yeah, a summit event that I had earlier this this summer which was very was very encouraging. There are part I know of 4 collaborations to come out of that and so that is very encouraging and so that’s not you know that that is encouraging and so. But the community part in terms of the everyday weekly space for people ah to be in and learn from it’s the farthest thing from forward length and you can imagine. They’re there.

05:07.15
podcomm
Um, they’re there.

05:12.50
Tania
But they’re not stacking to each other they sometimes will contact reach out to me for chit chat. Um, but otherwise yeah.

05:17.61
podcomm
So my question is if you if you suspect that they’re there and said like I have I was Goingnna say have a dog in the fight right? like like I’m I love building communities and ah so I’m packing my opinion into a question here. Um I’m wondering if if you suspect that they’re there. How important is it that you see all of those people being active in the community versus. Okay I know there are you know some number there’s there’s 50 people. There’s 500 people here and the system is occasionally emailing them and. When I want to reach that person I know that I have this way to do it. So it’s like how valuable is ah, an inactive community. Even if you felt like you wanted to create an active community.

06:10.20
Tania
So how value that’s a good question. How valuable is an inactive community. Yeah no, what I know what you’re saying. Yeah.

06:15.15
podcomm
I mean I’m not sure inactive is the right? Yeah like ah yeah, like ah you know we we built this classroom. We wanted to hold ah a circle space here in the center but everybody’s standing around the edge and it’s like well I mean 4 people have the circle discussion.

06:25.91
Tania
So and.

06:31.74
podcomm
This is still useful like ah and I’m not saying you’ve created an awesome thing or you haven’t created an awesome just saying how do we figure out what is successful for. And Community isn’t quite the right word this assemblage of people using some technology. How do we? Define Success. How do we measure? success.

06:48.16
Tania
Yes, and in if we call it just was gonna so continue with inactive community and in activeive community. It’s it’s valuable in that you can see who self identify with your community. You can have some indication of enrollment. Okay.

06:53.83
podcomm
But in act of cuny.

07:03.73
podcomm
Um.

07:08.50
Tania
Because they chose to be there yet. What confuses me is that they choose not to interact and and I don’t know how to make people talk and I don’t want to be making people talk but I don’t know how many opportunities to provide.

07:22.15
podcomm
Right? right.

07:26.44
Tania
To encourage conversation. The co-working space my original co-working space I was busy all the time and had weekly methodical thought out you know three months in advance type things to and sent out. Um. Yeah, and and so I thought well maybe I’m being too heavy handed and so um I started this I close that one and then I started a second a second space and um, yeah, encouraged conversation in different ways but still and but then tried to back off to see what.

08:02.69
podcomm
My.

08:04.79
Tania
People might do on their own initiate on their own and that also isn’t working for me. Yeah.

08:11.20
podcomm
Spun down and I’m wondering so there’s a ah couple of things woven together here. There’s the synchronous versus asynchronous aspect. There’s the people’s choice to step forward. Um, and engage. You know to speak up. Um, versus being a passive consumer of what’s happening community those are those are 2 in my opinion different things. Um, and it’s tough to tease that apart because you can’t you’ve sort of a hundred people showed up for my. Synchronous workspace and I decide. Oh wait asynchronous is better like the chances of those same hundred people like making the switch is like see like start all over every time. So. It’s super tough to run the the experiments and I think that this the. Was gonna say social media but I don’t want to get them. Um like I’m checking under my desk my soapbox is not underneath me yet this social media I wind up hey where’d this come from social media has trained us but I don’t mean that they necessarily did it to us malicious I just mean we have all gotten used to um, not. Interacting so there is all the content that you could want if you just want to consume. There’s nothing wrong with be a consumer. We all consume groceries like you you need to consume things. But it’s super easy to go to Instagram or Facebook or recently I’ve been having conversations with. Linkedin has now turned into Facebook in terms of the quality the content that we’re seeing in our streams so you can go and you can consume asynchronously and you’ve gotten used to that. So if any of us you know Tanya or myself or other people if we build a community but and then hope for people that they’re going to engage with it. It’s like oh well, if it’s. Online and i’mmeric recordingting online then it’s the same kind of thing that they’ve learned now you and I know yeah, but you could y’all could use this space differently and could make it a different thing. It could be like the old school bolten board system. Not not that old school is necessarily better, but. Used to be these super engaged communities who would get online and it’s like just people are opposed like crazy and there’s tons of interaction. So some of this I think is the the and the difference between synchronous versus asynchronous and and the difference between whether people choose to engage or not kind of got. Buried underneath our habits and I’m not sure how ah that’s even our responsibility but I’m not sure how you get people to change that and I’m almost thinking the way to change that is to do something that’s very different to say all right? we’re we’re having an interactive. Um, you know I wanna say webinar because that’s got a.

10:51.20
podcomm
Broadcast connotation. But we’re gonna have this interactive thing in the podcaster community I’m trying to do a thing called a workbench which is where it’s like somebody who has a question or something they want to work on you pick a time Craig promises. He’ll show up and we’re just gonna all get together and talk about the thing and it’s ephemeral like you can watch the video afterwards but and it. That feels that idea feels very different than any social media because you know it’s it’s like it expires. It’s got a ah window that you need to show up for so I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on How do we go about figuring out. What’s the right medium to. Build in for the because the community is the thing that happens on or around or inside of like I built a a lodge and a community sprung up. Yeah I didn’t build the community I just built the space and then somehow that satisfied and neat. So I’m just wondering what your thoughts are I’m like how do we. Build spaces figuratively build spaces that fill a need that like yeah we did the hard work of making something happen and then everybody else engages with it and is it is it. You know do the opposite day where we’re like okay, don’t make it be like social media. Okay, make it be synchronous or. Or are there other places we can look.

12:05.41
Tania
Yeah, yep, Okay, so here’s what I’m trying now this is my opposite day approach right now? Yeah, ah.

12:09.26
podcomm
That was a Seinfeld reference right? remember George just ends in opposite day if everything I do is wrong. Okay I should just do the opposite right? that.

12:22.80
Tania
Okay, so I have closed these communities and real conversation is one of talentaire’s values and I know real conversation works because that was very much built into the summit that I hosted in June. And that worked and and that part worked that aspect of it because there was ah the people who were present did engage with each other There wasn’t zoom silence I mean and you know and there was there. There are people talking to each other and then as I’ve mentioned 4 collaborations have come out of that.

12:51.00
podcomm
Um.

13:00.55
Tania
That 1 instance that experience and so and so now that I’ve closed the asynchronous spaces I am doubling down on real conversation and so I’m having I’m hosting conversations about the purpose of environmental education. It’s ah it’s an egg. Um, and it’s centered around research and an activity conducted by knowledge which is a think tank on the East Coast and it’s about finding out ah reflecting on what you think is the purpose of environmental education and which. What the people around you the people you work with think and so they’ve created this really fun card sorting activity and and so I’ve tried what I’ve tried before with this particular activity is to invite people to for for an hour to do it in advance and then come talk about what they’ve found out. But I’m doing now is set up coworking ah 90 minute coworking sessions where we work or people can work on it together. Nobody needs to find time to go do this in advance and so it’s a more I think I hope it is a more comprehensive type experience and so i. It it touches on having live face-to-face conversation and us also supportive in this co-working type environment and that is my current opposite day activity I mean that’s what I’m that’s that’s my that is my move away from.

14:26.82
podcomm
Opposite.

14:33.96
Tania
Um, asynchronous communication and what I’ve also done is what I’m also doing is offering an opportunity for people to create their own workgroups so that they don’t have to walk into a situation where they don’t know anybody else if they already know about Colleagues. Community Partners who they want to have this conversation with my invitation to them is contact me claim one of the available sessions and it’s all yours. Yeah.

15:00.25
podcomm
That’s all yours I was my train of thought went to how much of the success that you’re seeing comes from modeling The um. Outward Behavior So You know there’s no reason why anybody else like they could make a work group right? like it’s so easy to do these things but it doesn’t happen. But for some reason when you do it when you like but the thing and then people are like oh yes I can do that too. It’s like oh you know like we all know that that modeling you know like. Ah, this is how we do it then other people do it as well and I’m wondering is that like an inherent human I don’t want to call it a flaw is that an inherent human thing that we’re not so great at so things go well when somebody shows us how to do it or or is that something that we’ve learned you know more recently About. We’ve all well forgotten how to like you know I see lots of articles online about how to make friends and I’m like what I mean how do you make friends. It’s easy like find something you want to do you want to go hiking go hiking and then when you’re run into somebody on the trail say hi and if you see them again. Introduce yourself, you know like and and I’m wondering is it is it.

16:10.60
Tania
Moon.

16:17.80
podcomm
Inherently Human do you think or is it the type of people who are into environmental Education. We can pigeonhole them all as being more introverted and I don’t think that’s real I Think that’s an actual judgment. So like what? Why do you think some air quoinggainst simply modeling. It. Suddenly seems to make it. You’re like well why why didn’t this work. You know asynchronously I put up a post that says you should get together and work in working groups. Nothing happened but when I make a working group and do it then it happens.

16:45.70
Tania
Yeah I I’m going to say it’s a little… It’s a little of both my reason for doing this is to Establish Seamless connections to make it easy like I said for by just by carving out a block of time for this type of thing that nobody else needs. My thinking is nobody else needs to carve it out So that part makes it easy and if they know people who they want to have this conversation with they know who to invite that is is easy I Hope I would think would be easy, but there is some truth to what you said about. Those in the field being a little more introverted. There is some truth to that. Um, yeah, there is. There’s some truth to that because what you sometimes find is is there’s tension. What I’ve seen heard and observed there’s tension between. The reasons why some have entered into the field. Not necessarily maybe the education part but the natural resources part I’m going to say they like this type of work because it’s kind of separate from the crowd and then they get put in a conversation in a position where they’re frontline Interpreter. You know and then they have to be more more outward. Um, and so I’m citing. That example as it as that that as that being ah some truth to what you just said? Um I don’t know when it comes to and sometimes I think the word coworking is. Is not the right word I mean it makes sense to me but I don’t It’s not a common word and so I don’t know if that concept is part of my my problem with getting people together.

18:36.19
podcomm
It is Yeah, there’s always the challenge of like speaking is so slow right? compared to the train of thought that you can have so at some point you have to I’m not like not currently referring to my inability to ask a question I’m referring to.

18:44.55
Tania
Me.

18:55.32
podcomm
I’m going to build a community and I want to set up this thing and you have all these ideas and you’re like okay I need a word for this I need a Noun so I can write a sentence to describe it to somebody else and you never really know for sure that the idea that you had in your head made it across to the other person and.

19:07.94
Tania
Ah.

19:11.35
podcomm
Maybe they have a completely different idea of what you’re thinking like oh the last one of those I tried was terrible. So you know suddenly it’s dead in the water before they even gave it a try or they might have had a great experience with that. So that’s one of the big difficulties I see with anything that I do in communities. Let alone building communities. There’s always this challenge of like. How does what I say actually affect the other person I’ve started going to great lengths I like to send people like random messages just like hey thinking about you today and I sell this cool thing and I wanted to share it with you and I’ve started actually adding a second message which explains why like to say I thought of you when I saw this.

19:32.58
Tania
Her.

19:49.62
podcomm
Because I’m like you know some people know that I can really be snarky and they might think that that’s a sarcastic dig at their inability to keep their house clean. You know or whatever the example is and I’m like I thought this was funny because it reminds me the time I felt on the stairs you know and and we all a good laugh and I just think what you’re doing by.

19:55.77
Tania
Yeah.

20:07.42
podcomm
Like repeatedly trying to share and then model the behavior that seems to me like that’s the way to do it. You’re like hey guys I Want to try this because and then I think it worked and like but saying all that making that all be overt I Think that’s really the only way to be sure that your ideas are landing.

20:22.10
Tania
Yeah, yeah, and that’s a good point to be more observable more ah to be more vocal. Yeah intentional and to live it and to to live fit out loud because I know I can.

20:32.27
podcomm
Intentional.

20:40.56
Tania
I Can really pull back dependent you know and be and in you know an introvert. Ah yeah, yeah.

20:44.42
podcomm
Yeah, well I Do that’s like that’s can be a defense mechanism like okay yeah me know like time out right? yeah.

20:52.94
Tania
Yeah, yeah, but I could I but I know that also one of my guess I would call it a strength is to be a cheerleader to to so bring attention to other people’s work because when I with what I used to do I used to interview a lot of people and I would reach out to them and say hey. You know can I interview for interview for the blog and they’re surprised and then they’re surprised that someone noticed one and then they don’t think they need to have anything to say and then but my reaction is well yeah, don’t you know what? you’re doing This is what it looks like to me and.

21:22.49
podcomm
Now.

21:30.98
Tania
This is what I see So let’s talk about it and so anyway I don’t know this is an ongoing ongoing experiment on. Yeah.

21:40.80
podcomm
But I I think your point there is That’s really good about you know the ah the unpacked version I see you That’s a super useful thing because not only is that super useful to the person that you said it to but you’re also modeling behavior. You know it’s like the whole pay it forward if everybody went around and said.

21:47.33
Tania
Um.

21:58.91
Tania
Um, yeah, yeah.

21:58.95
podcomm
That’s awesome to more people when they saw awesome things people will be like oh I’m going to build more awesome stuff if you think that’s awesome. So I think that’s also like there’s a meta level there and then there’s a Meta Meta level which is that’s exactly what I’m trying to do here with these conversations is just sit down with people who are in any way related to podcasting and talk about these things that. I think all of us are thinking about but it’s tough when you’re in your own silo. You know your your own day today. Mine of like well I know so here’s 2 people talking about synchronicity versus asynchronousity versus I think I’m calling this one community but unless unless you want a different word. Cool.

22:29.51
Tania
Okay, so.

22:37.38
podcomm
Tanya well it was a delight as always with you and I’ve had many conversations but delight as always to talk. Um and thank you for letting me pick your brain.

22:43.49
Tania
Oh well. Thank you Craig! Thank you so much I love the series that you’re doing. Yeah, it’s very good. Thank you you too

22:47.51
podcomm
Thank you enjoy the rest of your day bye.