Write for you (and for me)

WP informed me today that I started blogging in this space two years ago. I actually had to check to see what my first blog post was about. Apparently, without any prefatory remarks, I jump right in by describing my Rites of Passage workshop. It’s befitting that I should begin with that post because the idea behind that workshop—that we should challenge young people to formulate meaningful definitions of adulthood for themselves—remains central to my work.

In other ways, however, this blog registers some very big changes in my life. Most manifestly, I chart my transition from academia to youth development. But on a much more profound level, I demonstrate a growing willingness to share my thoughts, ideas, and more recently, some intimate moments from my life.

A handful of loyal readers will remember the days when I used to blog privately about whatever struck my fancy, most actively during periods when my dissertation writing was going poorly. Friends still fondly remember when I blogged under the moniker plainlives about the Amish, Mennonites, Hutterites, and other religious groups that work to maintain very traditional communities within the modern world. (I was especially fascinated with plain dress.) At another point, when rooftop farming and raising chickens in the city became a thing, I started blogging about the history of farming in NYC. These blogs were invite-only because I was incredibly apprehensive about sharing any of my writing with the public.

Those of you who are glad to be reading my current blog have Brian Rowe to thank for always nudging me ever so gently beyond my comfort zone. He insisted that other people would appreciate the slew of commentary I sent him daily via email. And he also was the one who knew, long before I ever began to believe it, that I could actually turn my ideas on education and youth development into meaningful work.

Having made many wonderful connections with people through this blog, I am more than enthusiastic about pushing those around me to find a channel for self-expression. If you’re in my life in any significant way, it’s precisely because you’re not dull. So when I push you to activate your blog or be more provocative with your tweets, it means I believe you won’t get lost in the online chatter. It means that I want you to feel the thrill of connecting with absolute strangers who are grateful to run across your words. Just start. When you write through the fear you eventually tap into the joy of it. And, remember, you can always edit.

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