Neighborhoods and Communities

Mar 25, 2008 / By Sheeri Cabral

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Recently I acquired Sesame Street Volume 1, and on the third DVD in the set I came across one of my favorite Sesame Street songs: “Who are the people in your neighborhood?”

The refrain is “Who are the people in your neighborhood? The people that you meet each day!” I live in a city of 34,000 people just 6 miles northwest of Boston, MA. I know exactly one neighbor, across the street, whom we met because I sent my husband over to get her live band to stop playing loud music at her party at 2 am. I do not know many of the local business owners. I do not know who lives in my neighborhood, yet people live around me. Saying I live in a “neighborhood” might be true, but I have no ties or links to it.

Calling a group of people with common interests “community” is just as meaningless as saying I live in a “neighborhood”. There has to be a bond there. I am proud to be a part of the MySQL Community, which actually has forged bonds. Much like Sesame Street, with dentists and bus drivers, our community has many different types of people in it.

In fact, I know that there are many who “only” read and perhaps comment. Remember that every single child (and adult!) that watches Sesame Street is a valuable part of the community — after all, a bus driver is useless without people to drive around. Similarly, folks who develop tools would be doing useless work if there was not such a need for these tools.

The MySQL Community is very real to me. If I were to “move away” from this community, I would experience a loss. There are so many folks whom I will be glad to see and spend time with at the upcoming MySQL Users Conference, and if they are not there, I will definitely miss them.

I blog about MySQL because I enjoy helping others. More importantly, I’ve enjoyed helping out the MySQL community a lot. I have been a part of other “communities” that did not have very much momentum and I was the only or one of the only contributors. I have also been a part of communities in which I’m mostly a lurker, or a learner, and while I gain a lot from it, I much rather prefer a more balanced give-and-take (that’s just my personality).

Speaking of personality, I’m human, as is everyone whose blog feeds to Planet MySQL (organizations excluded). This means that when folks e-mail me or find me in person and say “I love your podcast!” and “Your blogging really helped me.” and “Thank you for all you do,” I feel really good about myself.

If you are new to the MySQL community, feel free to come up and talk to me (or anyone, really) — during the conference, or otherwise. Even if you feel you have nothing to say, just say hello.

And I must end with a disclaimer: I won last year’s “Community Advocate” award from MySQL, so I guess all in all, I’m still a community advocate. Long live the dolphin!

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