First, you need to get over the fear of putting your work out there. So what if it’s not “perfect”? Every time you write or make something and expose it to an audience, you learn something about yourself and your craft. You find your “voice”. Things like proper grammar or spelling, or in the case of art-making, technical skill, will improve as you continue.
BUT, let me give you a cautionary note here: I am talking about putting your creative and intellectual work out there. I am not talking about putting personal information out there about yourself or your family and friends. Cyberspace is truly a wild and wooly frontier and there are a few unscrupulous people out there. If you are not sure, ask a teacher or other mentor before you post. Be expressive but be cautious.
For over ten years Soul Food has had groups with Yahoo. Members come and go and some have stayed for the duration. Most people stumbled upon Soul Food quite by chance while others have heard about it. Here some community members offer some good reasons to join and participate in a Yahoo Group here at Soul Food.
"Heather provides two things that the undisciplined writer desperately needs — structure without judgment, and an established audience. The support of the Soul Food community gave me sustenance, and the daily assignments led me deep into a type of writing that I hadn't tried before. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and inspiration is gleaned from the other travellers. As a result, I have also ventured into digital art, collage, and altered books. After a couple years of "trying to break into the world of paid writing," I had lost the joy of writing completely. Heather returned this joy to me, threefold. Her site is an oasis for a writer parched from the journey." — Karen Roberts
"Prior to finding your realm, I hadn't done much with fictional writing. I had participated in NaNoWriMo once, and had enjoyed the experience, but that fictional writing, and writing in your blogs is very different. The NaNoWriMo story was controlled. I knew the plot and the steps to get there. There would be a surprise twist or turn I'd think of along the way, but the rest was predetermined.
On the other hand, there's nothing predetermined about what I write for the Lemurian blogs. I start with one of your suggestions and go with it. It almost has an element of "morning pages" to it. Plus, it allows me to write in terms of symbols and metaphors.
My posts come from my soul — just as a dream comes from my subconscious — with vivid imagery and lessons to learn.
Because this imagery that comes to me with my writing is so clear in my mind, I want to create it. So I have been doing more with creating collages or electronic art within Photoshop to illustrate my writings.
You wonderful world of Lemuria has given my creativity wings to soar, challenges to push my creative talents, and a safe place to explore the murmuring of my soul.
Thank you for providing this wonderful place!" — Shari Vogt
"I felt like cog in a wheel constantly turning but without direction. Thanks Heather, for making me feel important and worthy of the space I occupy in the universe. Blogging has contributed to renewing my desire to create because I now know there are people out there who appreciate my work without the complication of politics which my work place has become paralysing encumbered with. For the first time in years I am truly happy to be alive and feel like I am making a difference in the world." — Winnie Rose Reyes
"Each day I open my emails with joy and feel a need to go back into my past, my present and my future as I am again inspired by the storyteller and facilitator of this group... I write from deep within. I know that I am accepted for the life experiences I have lived...
I look back to when I first met Heather, when she encouraged me to take up the writing of a daily diary ...looking at the good experiences of the day, balanced against the not so good, and in time my life was turned around... I always say this to others who perhaps are doing it tough... Find out who you are... when you do, write yourself to wellness. I found who I was... I found Lois... before I was a wife, a daughter. a Mother, a worker, a friend ...but I did not know myself... I call it " Selflessness" ...
I have never looked back and thought to myself that I should not have written of some of the pain and anger... I needed to do this to grow... I owe much of this to my mentor and loving friend Heather Blakey who encouraged me to expand my life in so many ways... The Soul Food Cafe is to me the most wonderful and rewarding experience I have encountered in my 70 years..." — Lois Daley
"Through the Soul Food Cafè, I have been challenged to dream, to explore and reflect and write about all these experiences. I have gained confidence, learned new skills and have been energized and excited." — Leonie Bryant
from Zen and the Art of Team Blogging by Heather Blakey.
One of the first things Priscilla learned was that she needed folders on her computer to store all her things. She heard that she also needed this because lots of programs will ask you to browse and point to an image from the computer.
To save something on your computer in a folder all you need to do is go to My Documents on your desktop.
Right click your mouse on the screen. A box will appear that gives you a range of options. Choose NEW. This will create a Folder. Name it Wild Garden or Soul Food or whatever suits your purpose. You can repeat this process and create as many folders as you lik.
When you create a document or go to save a picture or photograph go to File. Choose save as and select this folder.
When asked by a program to BROWSE your computer for an image you will be able to go to this folder and select the image you want to use.
Personally, I dislike too many sites being blocked as I like to teach the children safety, common sense and a sense of questioning whilst they are in the safety of the classroom.
Make an avatar and keep relatively anonymous
When you join a group you will usually be asked to fill out a form giving a lot of private information. DO NOT oblige. Only give the bare minimum of information about yourself. No one walks around with a name tag on themselves and they certainly do not give out their address or phone number to everyone when they visit clubs, hotels or anywhere else for that matter. So you should not do it on the web either. It is simply not a safe practice.
When you apply for accounts use a disposable email account and create an avatar for yourself. An avatar is your persona in the virtual world. You can be a fluffy kitten or a waddling penquin if you like. Being anonymous is half the fun but do remember that other people are not telling you all the truth either. So keep safe and do not believe everything everyone says.
Second Life is just one of many virtual worlds that will help you make an avatar. Remember that hundreds of thousands of people visit Second Life so do be cautious and remember to be a discerning. It is very important to keep safe out in these virtual worlds. Unlike Soul Food these groups are not closely managed so it can be dangerous to give away private information.
Wee World enables students to create little computer figures fo their own choosing. In this way they create online personalities for themselves.
Voki's let you be seen as you will never be seen anywhere else
Noah and Saskia is a series produced by the Australian Children's Television Foundation. The series explores the relationship between two teenagers who find each other from opposite sides of the globe and looks at how they change. By projecting their ideal selves in a virtual world, Noah and Saskia get closer to reaching their ideals in the real one.
Avatarity is a site dedicated to being the best place on the net to come for Avatars. Whether you need an Avatar, an identity, for an online forum, a web page, or just to put into an instant messenger profile, you're sure to find it here! Avatarity claim to have the biggest, best organized collection of searchable Avatars on the web.
Click to join The Soul Food Cafe
Click to join Wild Gardeners
Well, some of my neighbors are computer savvy, but most of my close friends are not. Although almost all my friends have computers, most use them only for e-mailing and games, Solitaire and whatnot. I’m not into games at all, either on or off the computer. But, if they fill a need and I’m sure they do, so-be-it. There’s a whole new world out here on the web and I want to be part of it.
People, especially older people, need to keep their mind active. Keep on learning new things. Lifelong learning will help stave off such debilitating diseases as Alzheimer’s. It’s true, you know, when they say, ‘use it or lose it,’ so folks, for goodness sake use it.
When Vi Jones knew that Priscilla was coming to spend a fortnight with her she was propelled to improve her Web 2.0 skills. Within a few short weeks we saw a transformation and Vi is now uploading photographs. This is a rather becoming portrait of Vi and Priscilla at her home in Apache Junction, Arizona.
Priscilla, a small witch with a lot of personality, left Australia on a mission to unite the Soul Food Community and to learn as much as possible about this Web 2.0 that people have been talking about. Priscilla has already been hosted in four states in America and she has had her ear well and truly to the groud.
While she was in Arizona Priscilla interviewed Vi Jones, a long standing member of Soul Food about her involvement online and it became clear that most of Vi's friends have never considered joining an online community. For many it is enough to play Solitaire and Reversi and use the net to look up the daily paper. People like Vi look for more, have heard that there are communities of like minded people and want to join sites like Soul Food. You can join Soul Food and work with people like Vi. But first, you need to create an account with Yahoo.
If you want to participate in an interactive community you really have to have your own email. People who use email have learned about 'senseless, purile, aimless mai'l (SPAM) that comes from groups who have nothing better to do than trawl the net and mail to the addresses they have gathered.
It is really important that you do not publish your email account online and if you do you should write your address in such a way that a crawler cannot just pick it up. For example, write, johndoe at yahoo dot com dot au.
Your provider will have given you email accounts but it is a good idea to have a disposable account with a group like Yahoo. And, by joining Yahoo you will then be able to participate in online groups, which was the first of the interactive features online.
Remember not to give Yahoo or anyone else all your private details. People are constantly farming email addresses and information and you don't want more calls from those dreadful call centres.
Soul Food has groups at Yahoo and it is easy to join these once you have an account with Yahoo.
Go to the Yahoo home page
When you choose to sign up and create an account you will be expected to fill in some details. It is all quite straight forward.
The trickiest bit is getting an identity that has not been used before. The system will guide you.
Once you have an account you will be able to continue and if you follow prompts you will be able to create an online profile. Make sure to do this if you are new to the web. It is a good way to begin to get the feel for it all. The system will encourage you to browse and find a photo to put up as an avatar. This photo needs to be stored in a folder in your documents. It is a good idea to have one folder just to store things like this.
Now that you are a member of Yahoo you will be able to join Yahoo groups. Soul Food has Yahoo groups and encourages 'real' people to join. You can join the Soul Food Cafe and Wild Gardeners. These groups are here to support you as you work.
When you come to join you will have to write a few lines explaining why you want to participate. For example, Clare wrote "I'm an artist and I need a good shot of creativity at the moment. I work in textiles paint, print and collage and occasionally even write!"
This is a step which helps to protect everyone. Those spam people will join to farm email addresses so we make everyone take the time to write a formal request.
Initially you will see a screen that tells you that membership is pending. You will receive an email to notify you when you have been approved. This is the first step towards becoming involved in an online community.
Carol made these 3 bookmarks in response to a request posted in a Yahoo group for bookmarks. Each person was asked to make 3 bookmarks which will be sent to a school in the Bahamas which was destroyed by a recent hurricane. She shared her work in the Soul Food, Soul Art group, a group where members of Soul Food are engaged in art swaps.
Why join a Yahoo group? The first answer has to be to enable you to
interact with likeminded people. I think the first group I joined was
called Collage Cats and I joined because I wanted to see what other people were making - mostly in the field of ATCs at that time but there were also people experimenting with digital art. As my interests widened I joined groups - the carving consortium for example, for people who wanted to carve their own stamps or images, another group was dedicated to the life and works of the famous Belgian singer Jacques Brel and yet another group was interested in altering books. Membership of these groups led me to discover others. In fact I "met" Heather through a Yahoo group.
You can generally reckon to be able to find a group on any and every subject you can possibly think of. If you can't find what you are looking for, it is easy enough to set up a group of your own. You can store databases of useful information such as addresses and phone numbers or details of current swaps and their participants along with files of techniques or tips and tricks as well as being able to storephotos within your Yahoo group.
Yahoo groups can also be used by a small number of people to communicate easily through a central system as I have done for two private Round Robin swaps and as we have also done for the members of the Soulfulart group.
The biggest advantage, of course, is that you can communicate and
develop friendships with other members of the group, members who may be scattered all around the world as you will invariably find that you are
drawn towards some members more than others. Even though you may never meet you will never be short of people to whom you can ask questions, request help or information and share with others. By sharing photos of work you have done, you take the initial step of "publishing" your work to a larger and, generally enthusiastic and helpful, group. Thus encouraged you may decide to take the next, more adventurous step of establishing your own blog. But that is another subject altogether.
Decide who you will be. Make an avatar for yourself and join a group at Soul Food today. Remember that to be approved you have to give reasons for wanting to participate.