Friday, January 30, 2015

A Sense of Community

The following is a post I wrote for Handwoven magazine's newsletter with an introduction by Christina Garton, Associate Editor. 

Sarah H. Jackson
Weaving Editor, Handwoven

One of the reasons many of us weave (besides the fact that handwoven towels are the best towels) is the sense of community. Whether you are a regular guild attendee or an isolated weaver who takes parts in online discussions, we are all part of something big and wonderful. Sarah H. Jackson, frequent Handwoven contributor, guest editor for our fabulous new 
January/February cotton issue of Handwoven, and our new weaving editor, writes about her own experiences as part of this vast--and wonderful--community. --Christina 

In mid-January, I taught a three-day workshop on color for 16 members of my local weaving guild. Each participant chose one of several palettes that I provided and then developed an individual color study using their warp colors as a springboard for ideas. As I drove home on the last day, I found myself smiling as I thought not only about the beautiful samples and everyone's enthusiasm for learning, but about the many ways they had helped and encouraged each other (and me). Their generosity of spirit and a sense of community made the workshop a joyous time for all of us. 

Psychologists McMillan & Chavis 
define sense of community as "...a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together." They list four factors that contribute to a sense of community; as you read them, consider how they relate to the weaving community:

First, membership in a community is the feeling of belonging or of sharing a sense of connection.

The second element is a sense of mattering. People in a community acknowledge that others' needs, values, and opinions matter to them.

The third element is integration and fulfillment of needs. This has to do with a sense of belonging, a support network, thoughtful conversation, and inspiration.

The fourth element is a shared emotional connection: Members with a history of experiences together will form lasting connections. This factor is believed to be the "definitive element for true community."

I see this working on many levels in the weaving world; in the small group in my workshop, in my guild, and in the online community made possible by the wonders of the Internet. My association with Handwoven has afforded me numerous opportunities to expand my community by connecting with weavers I would have otherwise never known. To mention just a few: I've connected with weavers from my alma mater (University of Kansas), made a friend in Serbia (she's invited me to visit; wouldn't that be fun?), and had the privilege of participating in the Mayan Hands Dye Project where I got to "meet" the Guatemalan dyers and their dedicated team of mentors.
Handwoven's new weaving editor, I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be more directly involved with our contributors. I'm on the lookout for fresh ideas and inspirational projects, and I hope you will consider sharing your work with the community of Handwoven's readers. I look forward to meeting and getting to know you, and to the joy and excitement that I know our shared love of weaving will bring!  --Sarah

A trio of happy weavers. Photo by Claudia Mutialu.

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