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Passionate communities

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POSTED IN: My DTL blog: Chris' blog

Today, I posted this as my Facebook status:

I'm looking for people with a passion for learning, teaching and sharing something. It could be anything -- learning a language, fixing old cars, living sustainably, writing better computer code, being a good parent, surfing, astrophysics, taking great pictures, being spiritual, collecting stamps -- absolutely whatever you are passionate about. My new project builds online communities around those passions, and I'm looking for people to participate. Message me for more info -- thanks!

Even though I signed up very early for Facebook (my user # is less than 35,000), I'm not often on -- the signal to noise ratio is too low for me.  Still, it's been great for re-connecting with old friends, and for keeping track of people I've known all over the world.  And in this case, it's a great way to reach out to my extended personal network to look for some folks to help us start on our journey.

One of the first people I heard from was my friend, Valerie Gonzalez.  Valerie and I went to high school in Vancouver together. We were in the musical Brigadoon together -- she had the lead female role and sang, and I had the comic male role and didn't sing.  Valerie went on to become a professional opera singer, and now teaches vocal technique (and I still can't sing).  Here's what she wrote in response to my post about her passions:

Vocal technique is my passion.  The experiential physiology of singing etc. and the execution of it from a performer's perspective rather than an academic perspective. Also, the search for missing POW's.  Currently writing a book about my Dad's brother (WW II Philippines).

This is exactly the kind of thing I hoped to speak to with Dream to Learn -- the passion to share experience-based knowledge and mastery that isn't always well served by conventional academic programs.  It's also what Ken Robinson talks about (his story of ballet dancer who might today have been diagnosed with ADHD is particularly powerful).

I also had a question from my friend Peldi Guilizzoni in response to my post about how this project is not just a reinvention of the social networking site, reddit.  Here's how I responded:

reddit is focused on content, and subreddits (reddit communities) are (sometimes loose) aggregations built around subjects (things like 'A place to share interesting photographs and pictures'). We're more focused on the community -- you could think of it as building a college-like community around a particular learning/transformational goal (e.g. 'living locally better'). IMO, we've only begun to scratch the surface of what online communities can be, not to mention the radically democratic potential of the internet for education.

The conviction that we've only begun to scratch the surface of what online communities can be is a fundamental pillar of the Dream to Learn project.   Facebook, and so many other sites like it, have terrific user interfaces and features.  Dream to Learn will never beat Facebook on features, or the slickness of its interface.  What we have is a focus on building communities organized around learning and transformation.  Right now, that's not much more than some words on a screen.  But together with our early adopters -- people with passions like my friend Valerie -- we'll build communities that will allow people to see and to experience what that means.

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About the Author

Chris Tennant

Chris Tennant

I co-founded Dream to Learn in 2013. I love the outdoors, growing and building things, and the challenge and beauty of writing computer code. I live in Eugene, Oregon with my wife Giuditta, my two kids Joshua and Rebecca, and our cats Sprinkie and Hugino.

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Created: June 28, 2014

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