Brewing Community with Andi Miller

Photo by Chris Fitzgerald. Used with permission.

Photo by Chris Fitzgerald. Used with permission.

Brewing Community is a series of guest posts in which readers, writers, artists and fans are invited to share their experiences of community. Whether online or in person, these groups bring a great deal of support and sometimes stress to their members. The aim of this series is to share the joy and find ways to brew stronger communities. If you have some experiences you’d like to share, please let me know.

I’ve noted many times that I’m a sucker for a reading challenge. The very first one I participated in was Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon back in April 2010 (wow, has it been that long already?). That was how I met Andi Miller. Andi is an amazing facilitator of community, particularly amongst fellow book bloggers. Today I’ve asked her to share a bit about Dewey’s Readathon and the community that surrounds it.


 

I am an introvert. I am perfectly happy, when I’m not forced to be out relating to people, to sit around my house and read. Having found the online community of readers 14 years ago, I do know for certain that I am eternally thankful for being part of something bigger. I relish the feeling of a community of readers thriving around me, even if I can’t always see or experience the gathering in a tangible way. I can read the Tweets, see the photos on Instagram, or visit friends on their blogs. I can wiggle my way through streams of hashtag posts. I can experience the interaction even if it isn’t a festival or a conference. The community is so real and so electrifying even though it’s scattered.

Three years ago my best friend Heather and I were asked to take the reins of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon which was founded by an amazing community-builder, Dewey of The Hidden Side of a Leaf,  in 2007. Sadly, Dewey passed away in 2008, but the Readathon has endured, a testament to Dewey’s forethought and community-boosting skills as well as the need for interactive events for our very large, and ever-expanding community here in the online book world.

Not only is the Readathon still going strong, it’s growing exponentially. Whereas the event used to be located across a series of blogs, we now see greater numbers of participants on Twitter, Instagram, and a thriving Goodreads group with over 1,000 members. While the ways we communicate may have shifted and changed, the lively spirit of it all has only expanded. If you ever thought about participating in something on Twitter, the Readathon is a must! By simply searching for the #dewey #readathon hashtags on Twitter, you’re catapulted into a teeming swirl of readers in the act of celebrating their favorite pastime. It’s nothing short of breathtaking…and sometimes a bit overwhelming. All you have to do is jump in to be a part of it. A comment to a friend, or even a stranger, is enough to spark a conversation and fuel the celebration.

With another Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon coming up on October 17, 2015, it’s time that the wheels behind the scenes begin to turn. Another testament to the online reading community is the amazing amount of volunteers who make this event happen. It’s truly humbling to see thousands of readers sign up to participate, but it tugs at our heartstrings even more that hundreds of you mobilize twice a year to make this circus of reading happen at all:

  • Goodreads group moderators
  • Cheerleaders who send their good words and best wishes out to the participants
  • Mini-challenge hosts who put on games in their favorite online spaces
  • Hourly co-hosts who keep the main website updated with good cheer
  • Prize donors who give of their own pockets and book stashes

Heather and I are facilitators more than anything. We’re blessed that the reading community answers this call and keeps this event fresh. We are thankful to you, readers, and you, volunteers, for bringing this whole thing to life.

We are thankful every day for this community.

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Andi Miller is a proponent of fauxhawks, gaudy jewelry, country music, and writing. When she’s not publicly relating at her day job or teaching university English courses online, she’s a hardcore reader, social media addict, and a 10-year book blogging veteran at Estella’s Revenge


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