3 New Birmingham Groups: Writing, Connection, Community

Last week, I found myself starting a lot of conversations with, "I just met with the coolest group," and "I am so energized by what just happened during coffee/lunch with ..." This literally happened day after day during this week in which I met new friends and forged deeper friendships with people I've known as acquaintances.

I'm eager to share news about these three new groups, which also tie to three key themes essential to my work and my life: writing, connecting, and community. (There's also a dose of accountability, which is fab too.)

The best part about each of these groups is that though they have different missions, they were created to help people in Birmingham grow personally and professionally, connect with likeminded individuals, and support our community of creatives.

My goal in writing about these groups (which I will be doing on an ongoing basis), isn't to say, "Hey look how cool and connected I am," but to extend an invitation to the possibilities of participating. If you are interested in any of these groups or have questions, please feel free to contact me. We're only as strong as the people involved -- and we want you!

Agile Self-Development Birmingham

When my friend Pierce (@piercingwit) said he was assembling a new group dedicated to goal setting and accountability using something called "agile self development," my curiosity was piqued. Then he told me the group would meet at 7:30 a.m. Every day. It was so crazy I had to try. So, I set my alarm clock for the God-awful hour of 6 a.m. (something I don't see unless I am getting up for an early flight) and amazingly made it to Urban Standard near to the appointed time.

It didn't disappoint. Pierce explained to the small group the basics of agile self-development, which he'd learned a good deal about during a SxSW talk. It's based on agile software development, a system to achieve long-term goals by breaking them down into smaller, achievable goals. Central to its success is accountability -- meeting frequently (briefly) to share progress (and challenges) in meeting those goals.

From the co-creator of the system Dinah Sanders:

"One of my key beliefs, which led to the creation of agile self development, is that personal growth happens most effectively as a series of small, incremental changes. When there is a huge, daunting goal often our little monkey brains freak out and nothing gets done. The mountain just seems too high to climb."

Instead of freaking out (been there), everyone in the group has created a list of three big goals personal to each of us. Then, each day we're supposed to check-in and share what concrete steps we've taken to work toward those goals. No judgement, just support and feedback.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I only made it to two out of the five informal meetups, but I did send the group updates with my progress. My goal is to make it to the group 2-3x/week, school dropoff/travel/work permitting. It's an open group, and we're all learning as we go along.

When: M-F, Urban Standard, 7:30 a.m. For more information, visit Agile Self Development Birmingham

See Jane Write

For the past several years I've talked about forming a writing group. (That's what writers do a lot of: talk, talk, talk.) Javacia Harris Bowser (@writeousbabe) has done it! See Jane Write is open to Birmingham women who write personally and/or professionally, be it as journalists, bloggers, authors, poets, creative writers -- sky is the limit.

We met for the first time at The Cantina Thursday night, and I was blown away by the talent and personality at the table. (Put together 14 strong female writers and boom, you have some serious storytelling!)

Javacia, an English teacher, former journalist, essayist and blogger, is the force behind the group, which will "enrich, support, and promote female bloggers, journalists, and creative writers in Birmingham, Alabama," as she writes about on the new See Jane Write blog

The thought is that we will meet monthly for a variety of activities that support our writing -- workshops, networking, and supportive critique of each other's writing. I'm thrilled to finally have a formal group in which I can share my work for feedback, and thrilled to support other women in their growth as writers too. We all have so much we can learn from one another.

When: next meeting TBD, will announce dates as soon as they are scheduled

The Alabama Social Media Association (ALSOCME)

Last but not least, this is a big week for ALSOCME, which I'm proud to be a part of as a board member. On Wednesday we'll host our first ever meeting, featuring Ike Pigott's talk on social media and crisis communications. The meeting "sold out" (it's all free) in under three hours, and we're thrilled that our community has shown such an interest -- long before our first program! Our mission:

The Alabama Social Media Association (ALSOCME) is a professional organization open to anyone who wishes to share ideas or advance their knowledge of social media and how it is used by businesses, organizations, and consumers. ALSOCME mission is education: empowering individuals, businesses and community organizations with social media tools and knowledge to help them meet their professional goals.

ALSOCME supports Alabama's digital growth and works to grow its recognition as a technologically advanced and forward-thinking state.

ALSOCME exemplifies all three of the themes that are so central to me -- writing, connection, and community, which is why I have committed to serving on the board. Founding member Wade Kwon wrote this post about what can happen when people work together to create a group that serves the community.

We have a ton in the works for the rest of the year, with the goal of reaching out across across Birmingham and eventually throughout the state, making people feel welcome to learn about social media -- whether they've sent 10,000 Tweets or not a one.

When: April social and May program dates announced at Wednesday's Meeting. Visit www.alsocme.org or follow us on Twitter for more information (@alsocme).

Have I mentioned that I love living in Birmingham lately? I do. And these are just three of the reasons.

Related Links:

Why I'm involved with the Alabama Social Media Association

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