April 18, 2007

QuakerQuaker helps connect Quakers with Quakers

When I was asked to write a piece for the QuakerQuaker Blog Carnival, I immediately thought of the evolution of QuakerQuaker, and what QuakerQuaker was like before it became its current system. What follows below is my own recollection of how things grew, but I'm fairly certain it is neither complete nor accurate. Nonetheless, it is my recollection. -Liz

What started out as a simple idea by Friend Martin Kelley to start a web-log about his faith journey and then invite others to take a look at what he had been writing has turned into a rather comprehensive, ever-changing bit of internet infrastructure: QuakerQuaker.

QuakerQuaker now helps Quakers and other seekers from around the globe connect with one another, share their stories and struggles, and on occasion, join together face to face for fellowship.

When I came across Martin Kelley's blog after talking with him at FGC's 2004 Gathering, I was immediately drawn into a conversation that was thoughtful, rich, and provocative. Over the years, I have come to appreciate the twists and turns that that conversation has since taken and all that Martin has done to help advance that conversation--most notably, through the creation of QuakerQuaker.
in·fra·struc·ture (ĭn'frə-strŭk'chər), n.

1. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system.

2. The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.

source: The American Heritage Dictionary
In preparing this post for the QuakerQuaker Blog Carnival, I gave some thought to how the infrastructure that Martin has created also mirrors elements of our everyday faith among Friends.

For example:

1. Before there was QuakerQuaker, Martin used a plain ol' blog technique of what I think of as cross-posting. Martin's posts--then and now--include links to other emerging Quaker bloggers and to posts relevant to the current topic. Once a reader got intrigued by Martin's own writing, when the reader saw that Martin added a link to "Q Blogger," it was as if Martin was saying, "Oh, you've got to go over to that Friend's digs and check out what's being said over there!" ...The mirror to real live Quaker folk?
INTERVISITATION AMONG FRIENDS provides much joy and wonderful new learning.

2. Every so often, Martin will lift up a commenter's own remarks in a guest piece, often taken from lengthy, meaty comments on Quaker Ranter. ...The mirror to live Quaker folk?
PERSONAL EPISTLES that are lifted up and sent out allow others to know how the Spirit moves among all of us.

3. Readership has grown within the Quaker blogosphere since 2005 and so, it seems, has the number of Quaker blogs. And early on, Martin stayed on top of that growth by creating his own subjective guide to Quaker blogs, to help Quaker bloggers and blog readers track who's writing what and how to find them. ...The mirror?
LEND SUPPORT TO HELP ONE ANOTHER KEEP IN TOUCH so we may grow one another and help one another be faithful.

4. And then along came a predecessor to QuakerQuaker: Martin's own summary of posts in the Quaker blogosphere, when it was called Quaker Blog Watch. The mirror:
Like a daily or weekly MEETING FOR READING, a Friend or seeker might come to the Meetinghouse, seek out its library, and pull a book of the shelf for spiritual nurture.

5. All these little stepping stones of faithfulness that Martin has followed... and voila! QuakerQuaker emerges, as a way to bring in more eyes to help scan the Quaker blogosphere for meaningful posts that are timely and explicitly Quaker. The mirror of everday Friends:
EXPERIENCED FRIENDS help visitors and one another navigate the Quaker faith.

Martin, one of the most valuable things you have taught me through Quaker Ranter and QuakerQuaker is that when we give caring, thoughtful attention to the people with whom we interact, we will wish to provide a system that will nurture and nourish those relationships long into the future.


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