Blogging 101 – Day 11: Blogging around a prompt – community service

Today’s assignment is to build a blog post around a prompt, and the prompt provided is community service:

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Part of my post (a big part, quite possibly the only part) is going to be to define my community.  Where to start?  I have my birth communities: my families (the Maxwells primarily of Guilford County, NC, along with the Rankins, and the Hairstons of Rockingham County, NC and Pittsylvania County, VA); and the churches and church-sponsored activities in Greensboro where I grew up; and my racial community, African-Americans, expanded later to include all people of African descent of whatever race.  Then I have educational communities that I am presently involved in: the Woodberry Forest Alumni group; the Stouffer Scholars group; the NC Governor’s School Foundation group.

pause …. catch breath…

College alumni communities’ fundraising efforts won’t let me forget them, and frankly, I love my alma maters: FAMU (BS), SOAS (MA), CUA (MSLIS).

“And reverence the wombs that bore you; surely God watches over you. ” Holy  Qur’an 4:1Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.34.04

One finds oneself connected socially and even politically to professional communities, which, in my case, include submarine, and in general, Navy veteran groups, and foreign affairs groups like AFSA and ADST, and Diplopundit readers and supporters. And most recently, by virtue of my recent entry into the library and information science profession, an entire new librarianship community emerges, a community of practice that also includes instructional designers, information architects, critical (and hybrid) pedagogues, and rhizomatic practitioners.

And finally, there are hobby communities that last a lifetime.  These include the community of poetry lovers (and writers and readers), the related community of life-long learners and MOOC enthusiasts, the community of gardeners and beekeepers, the community of art museum devotees and, in general, artists of all stripes.

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Blogging 101 – Day 1: Introducing myself to Blogging U

First assignment: Who am I and why am I here? We like to define ourselves in terms of who or what we used to be, what we do on our jobs, what schools we went to, and where we hope to be in the future. It works if it works, but it doesn’t interest me right now. I want to introduce myself in terms of the things that I am passionate about, the things I have always been passionate about, the things/thoughts that bring me pleasure and peace of mind. Those things/thoughts will identify both who I am and why I am here.

It is really quite simple, quite uncomplicated. I like reading poetry. I like writing poetry. I like seeing things grow in dirt. Art inspires me. All art. Music inspires me (which is also art). A package of seeds inspires me. Science is the ultimate turn on for me. Physics. Astronomy. Botany. Biology. Mathematics and reasoning. All the stuff you get in high school. I had all those merit badges in the Boy Scouts. It goes way back, that far back.

I never made Eagle Scout. I wouldn’t go for the “right” merit badges. Curiosity was my only, truest motivation. Then sports became important for me. Football and track, middle distances. I came late to cross-country, substituted it for football in the fall and loved it, loved the team, loved the interaction with nature, running through the woods, watching the seasons change. Rushing back to my room to write it all down in poetry.

After high school I decided I wanted to do something radically different, to break away from the pack. I joined the Navy, requested submarine duty. I got it. It was definitely different. I dug it, but I wasn’t seeing the world, just dials and pressure gages and thermometers. So I applied for a commissioning program at my enlistment’s end. I got it. Went back, finished school and got a reserve commission. Fell in love with the sea. Four years passed quickly, I took a test, and landed in the Foreign Service, where I spent 20 years. But there was no change there, just a smooth transition from one deployment to a series of deployments. And lest I leave it out, more poetry, more poetry, and in different languages, in Portuguese, in Arabic.

Took an early retirement. Time for a real change. Did a Master’s in Library and Information Science. Learned HTML. Learned a lot of stuff. Got a job as a librarian, and a second job, and a third job. Took a MOOC poetry course, and a second, and a third. Fell in love with Whitman, and Dickinson, and Brooks, and many others. At last I recognized and acknowledged “the ambrosia that nourished my soul.” There is more poetry to be written, more souls to save. More gardens to plant, to weed, to pick what grows. Blogging is keeping notes, chronicling the ofttimes imperceptible changes that occur.