As Kim Thompson mentions in her recent post (Baby Thompson Sounds Off On Blog Squad) at this site it has been about a year since this reader-generated blog In Your Neighborhood was launched by The News Tribune in early February 2007 following a evening meeting at the newspaper offices.
The meeting was organized and hosted by Joseph Montes, formerly Community News Editor, who spoke that night on behalf of the paper to a small roomful of local citizens and readers who had gathered to hear details about the possibilities of blogging on-line as part of ongoing opportunities offered by this paper for readers to share their thoughts and feedback.
It was originally billed as a class in a e-mail I had received dated January 30, 2007 and signed by Montes, which explained that the contributors were being sought to write regular blog entries about their South Sound neighborhoods and communities. Interested persons were advised to contact Montes and plan to attend the event.
The night of the class, A family member dropped me off in front of the Tribune offices a few minutes prior to the meeting. When the doors were unlocked leading to the area where the class would be held, I was the first person inside and Montes was there to greet attendees.
The second guest who entered the room was friendly and personable.
This is how I came officially to meet my first neighbor on this block, the one and only Father Joseph Oneal McGowan. I believe we shared one or two passing comments prior to the start of Joseph Montes presentation followed by a short goodbye at it's conclusion. However, when the blog made it's online debut a short time later I was really delighted to see his moniker among the regular contributors, as I could place a specific name and face with at least one member of my new community.
As time moved on, the separation a person feels when setting down roots in unfamiliar territory dissipates as the names and writing styles of other bloggers online are increasingly recognized. In this process I believe the blog became for many of us, our new community.
Last fall I had the second pleasure of meeting three of the other neighbors on the blog for coffee including Kim Thompson, Lorraine Hart and Stephanie Frieze. This last weekend's gathering, where I met blogger Patricia Mannie and was reunited for the second occasion with my olde buddy from last February was icing on the cake! For pictures and more see Lorraine Hart's blog (About Last Night)
Today, the newly christened Blog Squad which has come to life in a warm and humorous moment of bonding and camaraderie, is being trumpeted among other things, encourage those writers in the Neighborhood who would enjoy an occasional optional opportunity to interact face to face, as well in print with other neighbors on the blog. Capture more impressions about the evening in Patricia Mannie's Neighborhood piece (The Blog Squad!).
It's quite possible that information about t-shirts, writing classes, writers conferences, locating agents, publishers (for future book authors) as well as what others who enjoy this corner of the creative universe are talking and thinking about will populate future gatherings.
Of course writers whose duties, responsibilities, calendars or personal preferences do not include extra time for another social event can be completely confident in the ever-present opportunity to abstain or decline without additional concerns.
We are coming together from all parts of the South Sound, following different scripts and from all walks of life. We don't look the same way, talk the same way or write the same way. There's no special qualifications needed to become a member of the Blog Squad. I do know that the five bloggers who got together on Saturday night are so glad we did!