Monday, August 3, 2009

How do you pull together a community?

I grew up in Springfield, Virginia.

Springfield is not really a town or a city or anything. It's more of a mailing address than anything else. But when I was a boy, it was definitely a community. There was a real sense of place to it. One reason, I think, was that there was a community newspaper, The Springfield Independent. Three couples started it as a non-profit back in 1958 or something and when it grew beyond their capacity, they sold it to my parents. So I grew up with a front-row seat to the value of a community newspaper as a bonding sorta thing.

Which is a very long way to get into applauding the Capitol Communicator and Paul Duning. The Washington creative community is kind of disjointed. Ad folks over here, design studios over there, web people and PR people somewhere else. Geographically, it's a challenge. It's not like New York where everybody is a walk or subway ride from everybody else.

So developing a sense of community is hard. Which is unfortunate, I think, because I feel like that sense of community can be the vehicle toward this being a better advertising town. The Ad Club has been trying lately, with events like their upcoming Comedy Night, but so much of what the Ad Club does seems designed as much to make money as anything else. Advertising Week is interesting and lots of people go, and by many yardsticks, it's a success.

But I think there is a need for events that are more accessible. I'm in a real minority here, but I think that the more the various players at various agencies and studios in the area can feel like they are part of something, the better off we'll all be. There is no bar where all the creative folks show up on Thursdays to BS and have a few drinks. The Business Journal, Washington Times and Washington Post have all at various times had and then dropped advertising columns.

Which brings me to the Capitol Communicator. Paul has actually managed to put together a great web site that is a place where anybody can go and find out what is new and going on in your own or similar business areas. It's the closest thing Washington has to something like the Denver Egoist, which regular readers know I think is a fabulous thing for the Denver community.

Last week The Capitol Communicator put on an event called "Connecting Communicators" for no reason except to, well, connect communicators.

Generally, I'm not a cocktail-party kinda guy. I'm not good at striking up conversations with people I don't know, and I refuse to wear a name badge. Karen is good at that stuff, so I usually follow her around and just listen in while sipping a drink and sampling snacks as they pass by.

But I actually went to Connecting Communicators (to the absolute shock of my friend Rebecca Chanin) and I had a good time. It was -- or did not appear to be -- a business-networking event or anything at all but a party to see some friends and make some new ones. Or in my case, realize how many people in the communicatons community in DC you do not know.

So anyway, thanks to Paul Duning and the Capitol Communicator.

A community needs something to pull it together.

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