I went down into the cold storage room in the basement of Bedlam Farm this morning – this is where Florence kept her canned jars of vegetables and jams over the winter, a room that has been used for cold storage for nearly 200 years – to record my fifth podcast, "The Open Group At Bedlam Farm," the story of a new kind of virtual community centered around a diverse group of people with some powerful shared values – creativity, encouragement, love and connection, curiosity and adventure. Some brave people, coming out, some creative people eager to share their art, their photos, their words, their love of animals and family.
I have been writing on the Internet for 30 years, and have always imagined the true power of this medium to create digital communities that connect us in a new, but positive and creative way. This vision was interrupted by the unchecked hostility, arguments and disconnection of the web. There is sad news and bad news everywhere on the Internet, as there is off it, and few venues for people to express their creativity and find community in a sane and connected environment. A few weeks ago, I created the Open Group For Bedlam Farm on my Facebook page, and today, there are already 700 people there, almost all of whom came by word of mouth, I have not been promoting it.
This community is remarkable. It is free to people who e-mail me and are approved. It has taken on a life of its own. I asked that people not used it for arguments, to discuss politics, to rescue dogs or other animals or for grieving and laments. I call it the Bedlam Farm Ministry Of Encouragement, and that seems to be where it's heading – great photos, poems, blogs, travelogues, and observations are coming in from all over the world – the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. People got the idea and are running with it. Their are sharing their art, their work, their feelings in surprising and astonishingly creative ways, I see it taking root, taking hold. So I devoted this next podcast to the Open Group For Bedlam Farm, and I thank the wonderful people who are on it.
It is a safe space, and will remain that way. The people there share some of the ethos of Bedlam Farm, and there are some brave men and women who are understanding the power of authentic writing. Lots of surprising threads – mothers, fathers, goats, sunrise in New Zealand, old barns, flowers, emerging blogs.
Check it out and hear about it.