Need a new way to talk about community management? The second CSCCE concept booklet describes “the garden metaphor”

Back in November, we shared our first “concept booklet” – a collection of essays and reflection questions that used the metaphor of a house party to discuss challenges and opportunities in STEM community management. This month, we’ve been sharing another metaphor – the garden! 

Each metaphor lends itself to exploring different concepts – the house party was great for thinking about scaffolding, and the garden is particularly “fruitful” when considering who your members are and how they interact with each other. And, as we discussed on our March community call, these two metaphors may resonate differently with you and how you think about your work. 

We’ve compiled all of our horticultural posts into our second “CSCCE concept booklet” which you can download for free, refer to as needed, and easily cite! 

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January Community Call Recap – Burnout, exhaustion, and fractals of care

For January’s community call, we hosted a “salon” – a loosely scaffolded group discussion for sharing experiences and generating new ideas – so that our members could come together and talk about care. 

We’d been noticing (and we were not alone) an increasing sense of tiredness and overwhelm among STEM community managers, accompanied by an uptick in conversations about boundary-setting and self care. If this was happening in our own community of practice, we wondered, what was going on in the communities our members were trying to manage? 

An illustration showing a person with their head on their desk, apparently asleep, clutching a coffee cup.
Adapted from an image by Storyset on Freepik
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January’s Community Call: The intersection of self care, community care, and community management

Pervasive in western culture at the moment is the concept of self care. Of setting boundaries at work and in personal relationships, of saying “no” more often, of striving for the perfect work-life balance. It’s important, in a world where we often feel compelled to be the best at everything – at work, as caregivers, even at our hobbies – to take care of ourselves. But how does self care intersect with community care? And if you increasingly see your community members stepping back from attending events or volunteering on committees, how do you continue to effectively manage a community? 

This is something the CSCCE staff team has been considering for a couple of months now. If it’s something that’s been on your mind, too, we hope you’ll join us for a “salon-style” conversation at our first community call of 2024. 

Date: Wednesday, 24 January 2024

Time: 11am EST / 4pm UTC

Zoom link to join

Add to calendar (or contact us at info@cscce.org to be automatically added to CSCCE calendar updates)

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Metaphors for community – a thematic series from CSCCE

While every community has its own nuanced context, there are many recurring themes in community management that can be helpful to discuss with others. One tool to support those conversations is the use of metaphors.

Over the next few months, we’re going to be releasing a collection of blog posts that explore several key metaphors related to community management – and we’ll introduce how each metaphor can support conversations that address key community management topics such as creating and enforcing codes of conduct, developing a content strategy, deciding how much support to provide around community activities, and more. Alongside this blog series, we’ll be using our monthly community calls to host related discussions, which we’ll be facilitating with a new collection of worksheets. 

At the end of the series, we’ll release all of this material as a single, downloadable booklet, which we hope will support ongoing discussion about the importance of community building in STEM. 

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CSCCE Open-Source Tools Trial Recap: Using GitHub to facilitate community activities

On Wednesday, 30 August 2023 we held the first of our new series of five Tools Trials focused on open-source tools for community-building. The series is funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and is intended for anyone interested in exploring open-source tools – including community managers who’ve never tried them before! 

In this first trial, we focused exclusively on GitHub – one of the go-to platforms developers use to share and build open-source software. At CSCCE, we often say “meet your members where they are,” and for open-source communities, that often means you’ll find them using GitHub. 

In this blog post you can find the recordings of all of the presentations from the call, as well as a summary of some of the (really interesting) discussion that took place both in the Q&A at the end of the call and in the chat and the shared virtual notes doc. Over the next few weeks, CSCCE staff will also be collaborating with the presenters to create a tip sheet that distills some of the key takeaways from the call; especially technical tips and tricks to help you explore implementing some of these GitHub-based community solutions. 

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October’s community call recap: STEM leaders share their definitions of successful community management

This month’s community call was part of an ongoing series focusing on the role of community, and the community manager, in STEM. These conversations flowed from the 25 Community Manager Case Studies we published earlier this year, and we’ll be publishing a report to summarize our findings in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can catch up on our August (an overview of the case studies project) and September (a conversation about self-advocacy for community managers) calls on the CSCCE blog, and add our November call (which will focus on supporting and recognizing volunteers) to your calendar. 

One of the common challenges identified from the case studies is that many community managers feel that their role is poorly understood, and so people in these roles sometimes find themselves juggling disparate definitions of success. During this session, we heard from three STEM leaders — Josh Greenberg from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, John Ohab from the Hertz Foundation, and Karthik Ram from the University of California at Berkeley — about how they think about the importance and impact of communities, and the qualities they look for in a successful community. This recap describes some of the themes that emerged during this discussion, and includes the recordings of each presentation.

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April’s community call recap: Exploring CRMs for community management

On our April community call, we considered how Customer Relationship Management platforms (CRMs) can be used to manage communities in STEM. We heard presentations from community members Yamina Berchiche, Erin Conn, and Chris Hartgerink, who are each using different platforms in their work, and learned about their similarities, differences, and general utility for relationship-building. We also took a few minutes at the end of the call to brainstorm some of the features we’d like to see in a CRM that was optimized with community management in mind.

In this post, we describe some of the themes and insights from the call, and share the recordings of the three presentations. This is not meant to be an exhaustive review of all of the CRM platforms available today, nor is it an endorsement of the products mentioned. Instead, we hope it will help you as you to work through your own requirements, and consider whether a CRM might be useful in managing your community. 

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CSCCE to work with Bioconductor on a new grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

As part of the latest cycle of grants under the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI)’s Essential Open Source Software for Science program, CSCCE will be working with the software nonprofit Bioconductor as they develop a new training program and community platform for their users. 

About Bioconductor 

Bioconductor is built on the R programming language, and is an open source platform for the statistical analysis of genomic datasets. 

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What do community members want? CSCCE partners with the Environmental Data Science Inclusion Network (EDSIN) to learn how member needs have changed in the age of COVID

Over the course of the past 20 months, scientific communities have worked hard to pivot their member engagement strategy to support meaningful interactions in the digital space. Earlier this year, CSSCE worked with the Environmental Data Science Inclusion Network to reassess their members’ needs and ensure that the content and programming provided is responsive to them.

Launched in 2019, EDSIN’s mission is to facilitate and support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts within the environmental and data science fields. EDSIN was established during an in-person conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and its leadership was planning a second in-person workshop to develop long-term sustainability plans, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

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First Birthday Series: Behind the scenes of community programming

For our “First Birthday Series” of blog posts, we are taking some time to reflect on CSCCE’s community of practice, which turned one year old on 21 October 2020. Our first post summarised the community “by the numbers,” and is a fun run-down of just how far we’ve come. In this post, we go a little deeper into the strategy and philosophy behind our programming. This post was jointly authored by Communications Director, Katie Pratt and Center Director, Lou Woodley.

A community of community managers

We are in a unique “meta” position at CSCCE in convening a community of community managers. That means members of our community of practice already know the potential value that’s waiting to be released when people with experience, knowledge, and ideas that are valuable to others in the group are brought together. Part of our job as community managers is to devise programming that supports the realization of that value, and that signposts to members what might be possible together. That’s true for CSCCE staff, as well as for our members as they support their own communities, although what that programming looks like will be specific to each community’s context.

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