Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jedcamp Brooklyn - Building a Community

Six months since the first New York-area Jedcamp, the second one was held this past Sunday in Brooklyn, New York.  For those of you not from the New York Metropolitan area, Brooklyn may seem relatively close to Paramus, New Jersey, home to the last Jedcamp.  However, locals know that the distance from one locale to the other may as well be a thousand miles, so daunting is the traffic in between and so seemingly far away are our two states (even though they are roughly contiguous).

And that is exactly one of the goals of JedcampNJNY - to start creating a community among the thousands of educators who work in Jewish education from Long Island to Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan to the Bronx to New Jersey to Rockland County.  While this is not something that is easily accomplished in one day or one conference, it is something that I believe can happen one step at a time.

The demographics of this week's Jedcamp were noteworthy, particularly in contrast to April's camp.  While the springtime event drew heavily from the local population in Bergen County, New Jersey, Sunday's camp predictably had a strong Brooklyn showing.  However, both camps attracted people from across the region, and it is that group of individuals who will likely develop into the core of the Jedcamp community.  How so?  As we continue to plan Jedcamps and related events, the educators who become regulars will be the individuals who carry the banner for Jedcamp in their schools, encouraging their colleagues to try it out, sharing their growing wealth of experiences from having attended several Jedcamp events.

The goal of creating a Jedcamp community is to craft something that exists at all times, at not only at the several events during the year.  As such, I see spaces such as #jedchat on Twitter, Jedlab on Facebook, the YU2.0 and YUHSchinuch communities, and the Lookjed mailing list as a series of overlapping communities that everyone is able to plug into between discrete events.  The core group of people who put together JedcampNJNY first came together via Twitter, but at this point we have all met face to face many times, and we have worked to collaborate on a variety of other projects, as have many other people who first connected at a Jedcamp.  The various online communities provide opportunities for people to continue conversations that they began at live events, or to start conversations that will then become live discussions at live events.  While no one can have 1,000 "best friends", it is good to know that there are thousands of educators out there who are ready to reply, respond, and reflect in a thoughtful and constructive manner.

There are more Jedcamps (and related events) coming, and the potential to create one exists everyone.  If you live near one, sign up to attend.  If there is none being planned in your community yet, step up and plan one.  Come and join the growing community.

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