This week, Engaging Matters is one year old. Where has the time gone? And to date, according to the list in the administrative home for this blog, there have been (including this one) 97 posts. No wonder I sometimes can’t remember if I’ve discussed a topic.
Much has happened in this year. I’ve retired, started a business (or two), published a book, traveled halfway around the world, attended a zillion conferences, and written nearly 100 short essays on community engagement. Thinking about all of that makes me a bit weary, but it also brings a smile to my face because through it all (and in each of those instances) I have had the great good fortune of being able to advocate for my principal cause: making the world a better place and the arts more sustainable by highlighting the need for and advantages of engagement.
If I had more time and mental energy today I know I should probably do some kind of retrospective, but that’s not going to happen. I have learned a lot of things about blogging. One is that the more outrageous a title is, the more people will read it. (So for the two of you who open this post, I say thank you!) And I get kind of a kick out of occasionally being a fly in the ointment of the arts establishment. At the same time, I have no interest in being a firebrand. The work of the arts is difficult for both the creator and the producer. I’m sympathetic to and understand the pressures of day-to-day reality in the business. If you ever think I’m being flip in my comments, either you’ve misunderstood me or I needed to be more thoughtful in the way I said what you read.
Another thing I’ve learned is that there is *lot* of interest within the arts community in engagement. While we still have a good way to go in arriving at a common understanding of the different aspects of it, almost every post with engagement in the title has been widely read. That is probably the most gratifying aspect of my writing here. It’s not only important to me (in an admittedly obsessive way), it’s speaking to some of you as well.
I’m still trying to get a handle on my new life outside of academia and figure out how I can make my business interests work. I hope to hit a stride once again come the fall (clearly the habit of a lifetime in higher education–things begin in the late August). In the meantime, please accept my thanks for your interest, encouragement, comments (pro and con), and support. (It still feels weird to me when someone introduces themselves at a conference as someone who follows Engaging Matters. But I *am* grateful!) Remember that the point of all of this is to try to move the needle, at least a little, in the nonprofit arts industry toward greater awareness of, understanding of, and skill in community engagement. It’s in the interest of *all* of us.