Amy Stackhouse – Learning about bringing people together

You know the person in your friendship group that is a great . The one who is always arranging events for everyone to share in. Events like paintballing or dinner parties, sharing in a movie or hosting a BBQ. Well these social organizers we also need at work and in learning contexts to bring us together, especially during times of social+digital change.

These individuals are the social connectors who create opportunities for people to meet, converse and learn from each other. Who get us out from behind the computer or hanging out on Google+. They are the people who organize events, meet-ups and gatherings ensuring that they not only happen, but that they are social success.

Amy Stackhouse

Amy Stackhouse

Amy Stackhouse, officer at is one of these people. 

Last year I was fortunate to work closely with Amy on the development of the Cardiff University Digital and Social Media Strategy. Everyday we met for coffee, every email I received, and every meeting she chaired or workshop organized, I came to learn how good Amy is with people one to one, and how supportive she is in bringing groups of people together.

In a world of social digital change we need people like Amy more than ever before. We need her equally to the digital developers, designers and social+tech entrepreneurs who design the digital contexts we are connecting through. Unfortunately we tend to focus more on technologies(as tools) and technical people and practices (for use), at the expense of the social.

Social communication i.e., sharing, is critical to learning. So too is observation. We have called them *social* technologies for a reason. But, we don’t just learn with/through social technologies. We also learn around them, from those around us we are connected to, physically and emotionally.

This is why events like #WOWWales, irrespective of the theme, is so important.

Learning about brining people together

Bringing people together is an art and a social science. It is a dialogical negotiation of a multiplicity of needs. We all can’t do it. We all don’t want to do it. However some people, even when shy, can naturally draw on their social literacies to balance and navigate the needs of individuals with that of the group, with the purpose of creating a common footing for everyone to enjoy and  participate in.

In this, they draw on the meshing together of the practices of listening, sharing, empathy and network connectedness. A tell-tale sign of such an individuals is their tendency to put people and the “social” side as equal in importance (or sometimes more important) to the context the social activity is constructed within, be it the Southbank Centre in London or a Facebook page. They ask questions about the purpose and value of bringing people together. And then work with others to enable the “how.”

People, like Amy encourage participation through the very nature of their awesomeness with people. You’ve heard Kid President!

His words …

“Take a moment and spread some encouragement.
Amy spreads encouragement.

“It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.” ”Create Something that will make the world awesome.” .
Today, is an example of the awesomeness Amy creates. 

Over the last few months Amy has worked hard to coordinate #WOWWales. Arranging over 40 people to travel to London to represent Wales at the Women of the World Festival (WOW2013). A social event that is part of learning and mentoring [1] events and activities arranged by Cardiff University to support social+digital learning across the community [internal with external]. The theme for today’s event was Women of the World (WOW), a festival to discuss, share and celebrate women. 

You don’t have to come together for a “social digital” themed event to learn about digital. I actually think that is where we get a lot of digital learning and training wrong. We focus on the digital independent of the wider social context. We don’t us social technologies in  a bubble.

Today everyone a group of people came together, and shared experiences, ideas and thoughts about women and social change. In this social+digital practices were also shared by observing and participating with others naturally.

You don’t have to measure if learning occurred, participants can feel if it did.

Who knows what the next themed event, activity or initiative will be? The possibilities are boundless.

One thing, however is certain. Today would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the professionalism, support, friendliness and organization of Amy Stakehouse.

My 29th #WOWWales tribute is dedicated to Amy, for making the #WOWWales trip today a memory many of us will reflect deeply on; and for making Cardiff University awesome.

Amy Stakehouse, a # colleague, mentor and *awesome* friend.

Who inspires you?

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[1] #hackmentoring = where the meaning of mentor “as a person senior, older, more experienced” is hacked, altered; and the focus in stead is on the practice of sharing different experiences.

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Read more about my #Wowwales Insight Series. From the 9th February to the 9th of March, I’ll post a new blog post every day with a tribute to someone who has inspired, mentored or encouraged me during my 10 years here in Wales. :-)

You can follow my insight series @drkellypage with the hashtag #WOWWales. OR why not join me and contribute your own blog tribute to the Women of your World (#WOW) — women who inspire, mentor or encourage you.

 

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