I sat in the VIP (Very Insecure Person) section at the Billy Goat Tavern for the second night in a row drinking Billy Goat Dark beer and realized it was not necessarily the end, but the beginning.
It turned out that there were two more bars to go – but that’s not what I mean…
Several of us had just left the Tribune Tower – one of the architectural monuments to the world of journalism. The Trib had hosted a reception for attendees of the inaugural Block by Block Community News Summit. Those of the 125 registered attendees that were able to stay for it talked more about what we’d learned – among my takeaways, the fact that I wasn’t “alone” anymore – and about what needed to happen now that we’d met.
That’s the most important part of the experience. What happens next?
We’ve been given an incredible opportunity – to connect with community news sites large and small in an attempt to learn from each other and provide support. There are currently tools that should help in continuing that dialogue, including a new LinkedIn group and an official summit blog to which many of us have the ability to post. Michele McLellan, one of the organizers of the event, has even created a Twitter list for those interested in keeping up with the people and publications represented at Loyola late last week.
The major benefit of this conference will be not what we talked about for Thursday evening and all of Friday. It will be the discussions, emails and links that are shared today and into the future as we look at how we take a form of community building that once lived only in print and find out how to apply it online.
When I got up on Thursday evening, I shared that I wanted to leave the summit reinvigorated about operating a community news site. I’m thinking that so long as the lines of communication stay open and new ideas (or necessary debates) flow between us, all of those that attended should be finding new reasons to stay excited for some time to come.
Photo: Tribune Tower. Bernt Rostad/Flickr