wild garden

Niche Communities

I do think that social networking is important for a writer. Before I joined Soul Food, I might have answered that differently, but now, I know how important it is. Having a like-minded audience to share your work and ideas with, to brainstorm with, to support one another’s’ efforts, and to just visit with, can really help the creative process. And let’s face it, we’re in good company by having a group like this; authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were part of a writer’s group in Oxford named the Inklings. If it was good enough for writers of their caliber, then I think it is certainly a good idea! We at Soul Food also have the benefit of living in far different places and communicating in cyberspace - this certainly adds some interest to it all.
She Wolf

There is a huge array of communities online where you can establish a profile and meet other people. It all depends on your interest. The following are a few communities that are worth consideration. But really, it all depends on your personal needs.


Zaadz is well worth exploring and engaging in. When you join Zaadz you can create a profile, participate in forums (pods), make friends, establish a blog, store photographs, keep a record of your own library and much more. Check it out and see if it suits you.


Global Teacher is a safe environment for teachers to experiment and help keep up with what all those digital natives (their students) are doing. To join write to global.teacher at edumail dot vic.gov.au

Planet Sark

Planet Sark is an enchanting world which has a community for sharing. It is a rich place to participate in.

Creativity Portal

The Creativity Portal is an invigorating community alive with the voices of creativity coaches, artists, writers, and business professionals sharing their knowledge and expertise to inspire creative exploration and expression in everyone.


Avanoo is a global community of creative and interesting people who are making and sharing their own worlds in a fun way, and on a deeper level. Join in! and start connecting to people, experiences, and ideas that you care about.


Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you. Do keep in mind that it is a very big cluster. Facebook has over 55 million active members so it is huge. Do be be prudent about sharing private information about yourself. Of course this is true of all the football stadium sized groups.


TechnoLOTE is a site to support teachers of modern foreign languages, with the focus of integrating ICT into the language classroom.

Global Mindshift

The purpose of Global Mindshift is to "contribute to the emerging global community," and their mission is to "help make the emergence of global community unstoppable."


Daily Zen has been a contemplative haven for online visitors since 1998 offering a unique blend of Eastern quotes for each day of the year, Zen inspired ecards, and a meditation room


Pemberley is a haven for Jane Austen addicts who need to feed their obsession.

Bookmarking Communities


Discover, share and discuss the best of the web. Join Us or Learn More. Magnolia is a bookmarking community that enables you to meet and mix with people with the same interests.


Del.icio.us invites you to join a social bookmarking network. Like Magnolia you can then link the page to your blog and share your bookmarks with friends. Del.icio.us talks about tags. They explain that tags are one-word descriptors that you can assign to your bookmarks to help you organize and remember them. Tags are a little bit like keywords, but they're chosen by you, and they do not form a hierarchy. You can assign as many tags to a bookmark as you like and rename or delete the tags later. So, tagging can be a lot easier and more flexible than fitting your information into preconceived categories or folders. If you want to attract kindred spirits then you need to learn about tagging.



Day 10

Tapping on Chamber Doors - Social Networking.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visiter," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door —
Only this, and nothing more."
Edgar Allen Poe

The Soul Food Cafe was born in 1998 and is entering it's tenth year online. Each year over a million visitors come through the door. This is quite an achievement when you consider that the site began as a simple directory.

Webmaster, Heather Blakey, realized very early that if the site was going to grow and become a success she would have to work hard to keep any readership interested. She also realized that she simply had to lace up her cyber boots and go out and tap on chamber doors. She realized that social networking is essential. The subject line, 'Tapping on Your Chamber Door' became a signature. It was the line she used on emails when she was introducing herself to people who she thought might be interested in the concept she had developed. Few people could resist this famous line from Edgar Allen Poe.

The bottom line is that while you can make a blog within seconds it takes time and effort to build up contacts and attract regular visitors. These days a real benefit of joining Soul Food is that you gain an instant audience and benefit from all those steps that Heather Blakey took. There is a ready made community here, a community who will appreciate good writing, art and fun web tools. Like all communities however, you have to work to secure your place here.

Soul Food Community members have established themselves by regularly participating in the groups, supporting community members, by commenting on each other's work and by posting as regularly as possible. It takes time and energy but if you are serious about gaining a web profile it is something you have to do.

Quinn Creative - A Busy Blog

Quinn Creative

Quinn McDonald’s blog is about the trips, leaps, falls, and joys of living a creative life. Quinn is an artist, writer, speaker, trainer, and certified creativity coach and has a website at QuinnCreative.com. She regularly provides the Soul Food Community with suggestions for their blogs and about creativity in general. She is our in-house Creativity Coach. Here she provides ten tips about writing a blog

Simple Tips to Write a Good Blog
by Quinn McDonald

When I talk about blogs at a business audience, I get flinty-eyed looks and shrugs. When I add that I think in five years there won’t be any websites as we know them, the world will have converted to blogs, I start to get questions.

Here are some simple tips to help you write a good blog.

1. Use a blog host; it’s easier than to build a blog into your website.  A blog host is a company like Blogger, Typepad, or  WordPress that lets you create a blog separately from your website. (I’ve listed three. There are many more.) You concentrate on the writing, the blog host concentrates on the formatting, publication and getting you read through RSS feeds.

2. Make it easy for your readers. Choose a blog host that’s easy for you to work with so you can make it easy for your readers to find topics they want to read about.  I like WordPress, although I started with Typepad. Some charge, some are free. “Free” is not why I moved to WordPress. I like the choices I get with WordPress. I could help my readers find what they wanted. In addition to a search engine (for topics or words),  searching by the ‘most popular posts’ and ‘most recent posts’ as well as by date makes it easy for readers to find what they are interested in. And of course, there are tags and tategories.

3. Have a goal for your blog. Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Vent your spleen? Write on a focused topic? Develop a daily writing, video or photo practice? Having a clear goal helps you know what to post and what to put in a “save for later” file.

4. Post regularly. Your blog has a built-in ping. That means every time you post, it notifies the search engines. The more you post, the more your site gets updated on search engines. A good rule of thumb is to post three times a week.

5. Use images. People like to see an image when they get to a post. A post that is long and dense makes readers skim and miss your meaning. Images provide emotional connection and impact on a blog. Most blogs make posting images from your digital camera or scans very easy.

6. Name your images. When you give your images a title (there is a place for one on WordPress when you upload the image) your title is available for searching, too. Skipping the title, using a number or just calling it “image,” “chart,” or “graph,” doesn’t get searched for as often.

7. Get to the point. Blog rants of 10,000 words aren’t as powerful as 200-300 well-chosen words. Sure, you can write long blog posts, but keep track and see what your readers prefer.

8. Your blog is not private. Even if you password protect it, it will leak into some search engine. If you want to write down your secret, dark, unuttered thoughts, use pencil and paper and lock them in a safe. What goes on your blog may wind up in your employee folder.  Don’t want it there? Don’t run it.

9. Say what you mean. Or not. Once you start a blog and it goes out over feeds, your opinion is there for all to see. Sometimes that’s fine. But consider the future: would you want a potential employer to know all this about you? A potential friend? Your mom? Your date (before s/he falls madly in love with you?) If you are going to strip naked (figuratively or literally) in front of the world, you might want to use a pen name. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions. I’m a big believer in the First Amendment. But your potential boss, lover, date, or mother-in-law is also trolling your opinons. There are consequences. It’s good to remember that before you write.

10. Don’t get even. Recently broke up? Angry at your roommate? Don’t dump it all out on your blog. It might feel good for a few minutes or a whole day, but then there is the cleanup. It’s hard to pull back opinions. You might get back together, and then you’ll have ’splainin’ to do, Lucy. And a big, loud, angry rant about someone’s faults often says more about you, your tolerance, your inability to deal well with your anger and your issues than about the person you are writing about.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, blogger and certified creativity coach. She runs training programs and seminars in writing, presentation skills and journaling. See her work at QuinnCreative.com

Schools Network - E Looking

spy glasses

My grade 3 and 4 students are working on a joint voicethread with a class in USA (www.voicethread.com) comparing their interests and pursuits. Our site can be viewed at http://voicethread.com/#u7053.b13669  This wonderful web 2.0 software allows comments to be shared around images and allows the addition of students as identities.

Way back when the Web was more static I used Bravenet Forums with students. Students posted their work on a forum and other students were able to comment. The Web has marched along since then and busy computer geeks have thought up more amazing tools that foster social networking. As Anne Mirtschin from Hawkesdale reveals, blogging has opened a whole new means of sharing with other schools

"I teach in a relatively small P - 12 school at Hawkesdale. This small rural town is 30 minutes drive to the nearest large shopping centre of Warrnambool, so at times we work very independently and to a certain degree, in isolation as it is expensive now to drive to Melbourne (3 hours away) for PD activities and meetings that so many of our city peers take for granted.

However, blogging has opened up a whole new world for us. Our students have talked about their backyards, eagerly gone home and taken digital images or else scanned them and converted them to jpg files. Their blogs have been published. Kind people have actually made comments on their blogs which means that students have a real and authentic audience. These young digital natives are then encouraged to write and express themselves and explore further some of the comments made.

So, it is with a bit of fun that we have added a widget to our sites from clustrmaps. Once a user name and password is registered, together with an email address, a code is issued that is unique to that url or blogsite that you wish to use the world map on. So, once your email is activated, you goto clustrmaps again, obtain the code and paste it into one of your text widgets. Each time someone hits your blog site a red flag comes up in the reader’s country of origin. Our students love that because they can see that people in an increasing number of countries are actually looking at our backyard site.

Another fun widget might be a clock. An updated clock of your own choice at www.clocklink.com will keep your time and allow international guests know what the time is in your country. A code is again copied and pasted into another text widget and hey presto, you have a clock. I have only just got to experiment with widgets and will continue to do so. They are fun and add extra information or pizzaz to your site".