Introducing the garden metaphor for exploring community management 

This post is part of an ongoing series exploring a number of metaphors about community management that can support conversations about specific concepts and common challenges in a creative and free-flowing manner.

You can read more about the series – and the accompanying community calls – in our overview post. For each metaphor, there will be a blog post describing the metaphor and several additional posts applying it to specific scenarios. This post is the first in a series of four posts dissecting the garden metaphor. Previously, we described the house party metaphor, and we subsequently published that series as a free-to-download booklet.

Imagine yourself in a garden. Maybe you see a rose climbing a trellis, pink flowers blooming and scented. A long border filled with flowers of all different colors, bushes of different sizes, and in a couple of places large trees offer shade. A vegetable plot in one corner is filled with carrots, onions, and tomatoes, and in pots here and there lavender and mint grow tall and fragrant. All around, bees and butterflies buzz and flutter, stopping now and then to take a sip of nectar while unknowingly hauling pollen from flower to flower. 

Just like a garden, a community is made up of different member types, who bloom and flourish at different times, and who prefer different environments. And just as a gardener works to nurture and maintain the plants in their garden, so a community manager scaffolds activities and provides key resources to support community members in their activities. 

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February Community Call Recap – Community-engaged content and its informational roles

Communities rely on content – from websites describing purpose and personnel to documentation guiding activities, gatherings, and collaboration.

Creating content that serves these purposes well, and inspires ongoing connection between members, is therefore something that community managers are often tasked with. It’s also the topic of our advanced training course Content Design (CODE), and on this month’s community call we shared one of the frameworks we’ve developed to demystify the process of creating community-engaged content. 

In this blog post, you’ll find an overview of the call and some of the topics covered in it. It would be impossible for us to condense a 6-week training into a single 90-minute community call, and even less likely that a single blog post could capture all of the nuances of content creation for STEM communities. If you’d like to go deeper, we encourage you to sign up for CODE. Registration is currently open for a Spring 2024 cohort of the course, however if April/May is not a great time for you to participate, please use this form to let us know when might make more sense for you

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February’s Community Call: The informational roles of community-engaged content

Content creation is a core skill for any community manager in STEM. Creating content might look very different depending on your context – from writing monthly newsletters or resources and reports, to creating podcasts, videos, and slide decks. And it’s a skill that many of us pick up on the job, without formal training or a sense of strategy behind what we make. 

In this month’s call, we’ll share a new framework for thinking about how to share information with your community members, and how the content you create can meet specific goals in your engagement strategy. The “informational roles of community-engaged content” is a CSCCE framework that we explore more deeply as part of our Content Design (CODE) course, the spring 2024 cohort of which (CODE24Sp) is now open for registration. So, this month’s community call is both a primer for anyone creating community-engaged content, and a sneak peek into what you can expect from a CSCCE professional development training course. 

Date: Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Time: 11am EST / 4pm UTC

Zoom link to join

Add to calendar (or contact us at to be automatically added to CSCCE calendar updates)

Join this month’s call to explore content-creation through the lens of community engagement. Image: CSCCE
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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 to be automatically added to CSCCE calendar updates)

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December Community Call Recap – Reflecting, connecting, and looking ahead at our annual community potluck!

On Friday, 15 December 2023 we convened our last community call of 2023 – a community potluck for members of our community of practice to take a moment to look back on the highs and lows of 2023, and think a little about what’s coming up next year. 

This was our fourth annual community potluck, and this year’s gathering was as kind and generative as always. A big thank you to everyone who came and shared a dish (which took the form of a reflection or a learning)! In this blog post, you’ll find a taste of what we talked about – including some suggestions for your own end-of-year reflection. 

A screenshot of the gallery view in Zoom, where everyone is smiling and some people have added visual effects to their video so they have festive hats or accessories.
A screenshot of some of the potluckiest STEM community managers around! Image credit: CSCCE
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December’s Community Call: Join us for our annual community potluck!

Every year, we host an end-of-year virtual “potluck” for our community of practice. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the year’s successes, share some of the things we’ve learned over the past 12 months, and look ahead to what’s coming up after the holiday season. Since it’s a potluck, everyone is encouraged to “bring along a dish,” and in this blog post we have a few suggestions! 

This year, we’d also particularly appreciate your feedback on the types of programming you’d like to see more of in the community of practice. We’ll take some time during the potluck for a brainstorm together, and hopefully prioritize activities that would best support you next year. 

If you’re curious about previous potlucks, check out these blog posts from 2022 and 2021. And don’t forget – festive hats, sweaters, and/or mugs are encouraged!

Date: Friday, 15 December 2023

Time: 11am EST / 4pm UTC

Zoom link to join

Add to calendar (or contact us at 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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June’s Community Call – Annual Mid-Year Social!

As the academic year winds down for many of us, and we head into the season of conferences, field work, and vacations, it’s time for CSCCE’s fourth annual mid-year social!

Every year around this time we invite you to join a community call that’s focused on helping you to meet other members of the CSCCE community of practice who are interested in some of the same community management topics as you are. In brief, you tell us the topics that you’re hoping to connect around, we work behind-the-scenes to make everyone a personalized list of pairings, and then we all spend the call enjoying meeting the people on our virtual “networking dance cards!”  Read on to find out more about what to expect and how to sign up, and do reach out to if you have any requests or suggestions

Date: Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Time: 11am EDT / 3pm UTC

Register before 14 June: click here

Zoom link to join: click here

Add to calendar: click here

Join us for the opportunity to get to know other members of the CSCCE community of practice! Image credit: CSCCE.
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May Community Call Recap – Discourse Tools Trial

Whether you’re a new community manager tasked with standing up an online space for your members, or you’re just not happy with the platform you’ve been using for years and need to find a new one, picking the right software or application for your community is a big deal.

There are a number of different tools available, all with their own features, quirks, and costs, and it can be daunting to get started with your market research, budgeting, and, eventually, implementation. That’s where CSCCE tools trials come in! In 2020 and 2021 they were a semi-regular event as communities necessarily embraced online connection – and now they’re more of a pop-up event as needs arise. 

At this month’s community call/tools trial, thanks to a thread that took off in the CSCCE Community of Practice Slack, we took a closer look at Discourse. Discourse is an open-source community discussion platform that can be tailored to meet the needs of a range of communities. A brief tour of the platform by CSCCE’s Maya Sanghvi was followed by two demos from members of the CSCCE Community of practice: Andra Stratton (Program Manager for the Rare as One Network at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and Isaac Farley (Technical Support Manager at Crossref). 

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