Saturday, April 21, 2012

Endings and beginnings

I'm in Chicago for the spring board meeting of the AAR. This is my sixth and last spring board meeting, at least on this shift. I joined the board in 2007 as a regionally-elected director. I voted myself off the board in a governance restructuring in 2010. I was asked to stay on for two years as treasurer until an election could occur for that position. And here I am nearing the last meeting with this shifting, ever-changing group I joined so innocently when my daughter was two years old.

Earlier this week, I found out that another position of responsibility I've held since 2007 is coming to an end. The Ravelry Welcome Wagon has sent an individual welcome message to every new member of the site for the past five years. Almost two million people have joined the site in that time. I've personally sent over 27,000 welcome messages. It's a daily ritual for me -- open two tabs, post in the thread for my designated letter of the alphabet indicating where I started, copy the welcome message template from Evernote, and start clicking on the new user page until I reach the person I ended with last time. I've developed a system that I can do very quickly. And yet I reflect every time I click the "send message" button how special it is that we do this intentionally as users, rather than having the system automated.

Such a system is unsustainable at a large enough scale, however, and the pioneers whose brainchild the Welcome Wagon is have decided to shut down the effort rather than try to keep the ship afloat in increasingly high seas. I'm glad to see that the volunteers don't question their resolve or their decision. We're counting down to the last welcomes coming on May 1, and celebrating the legacy we've left for hundreds of thousands of knitters and crocheters.

I like being in positions of responsibility and influence. I like being in positions of service that make a difference for lots of people. And I'm leaving a couple of those positions soon. There are plenty of other things I have planned, that the demise of these responsibilities will help make time for. But I'll miss them. It will be painful seeing April and August and November roll by without anticipating a trip to see the AAR staff and my board colleagues, without strategizing and sympathizing about board issues and politics. It will be a lack and a loss every day to click over to my Ravelry tab without the need to spend a few minutes copying the welcome template into a couple of dozen private messages, replacing my name in the salutation with the user I'm welcoming. I will miss that more than anyone can imagine. It was a perspective on a site and a community I dearly love, that kept me grounded and connected and allowed me to answer a thousand random questions, showing people that there are people on this site, not just forms and forums and bewildering folkways.

I'm going to need an avenue of service to replace these. Stay tuned. I predict it won't take me too long to say yes to some other massive endeavor that will eat up six years of my life.

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