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Around the world in 80 Stitches

Around the world in 80 Stitches

Talk about a crazy trip.

Phileas Fogg’s journey around the world took eighty days to complete. I had to do mine in ten!

It began with a business meeting scheduled in Phoenix, Arizona, followed by the 2018 Great Stitch Get-Together in Saratoga Springs, New York. That meant travelling halfway round the world, so I figured I might as well go all the way, and add in a visit to our newly-forming London community on my way home.

The aim was to meet Stitch members from across the US and the UK, and spread the word about the exciting changes we’re making at Stitch to help grow the community in new locations around the world.

It was also a great opportunity to hear from members about what it’s like to grow communities in different locations, and why a city like Sacramento (for example) faces quite different challenges than cities like New York or London.

So with passport and notepad at the ready, my journey began. From Sydney to Phoenix, Oakland to San Francisco, New York City to Saratoga Springs, and finally to London, I managed to cover six cities in under two weeks … and speak to well over 100 Stitch members along the way!

Below are some highlights from my travels.

San Francisco and Oakland

I’ve always had a soft spot for San Francisco and the Bay Area.

This isn’t just because of the creativity, energy and optimism that always strikes me when I visit, but because this was where we first launched Stitch. That means our Bay Area members have taught us more than anyone about what Stitch needs to be, and some of our members in the area have been with us since the day we started. It’s always a privilege to get to visit them and say hi!

The Stitch office in San Francisco is located at WeWork, a co-working space that is shared by multiple companies. I invited Stitchers from the area to visit for a presentation on the future of Stitch, followed by a quiet night out at a local restaurant.

Around the world in 80 Stitches - Stitch

This was followed up with a brunch the next day in Oakland, to allow me to meet with members from the East Bay without forcing them to battle peak hour traffic into San Francisco.

I wasn’t, however, quite prepared for how far some people would travel.

Shelly drove all the way from Sacramento to meet me, and longtime Stitch member Leslie travelled all the way from Nevada! To say I was honored would be an understatement.

It was also fantastic to get to see other members I hadn’t seen in ages, and to meet a number of wonderful new Stitch members. We spent a great morning in the historic Oakland Lakehouse, overlooking the stunning Lake Merritt, discussing our plans for the Stitch community in Northern California and beyond. It was magical!

A very special thanks goes to Ann from Berkeley, another incredible longtime Stitch member, who helped organize the event.

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New York

New York, New York! The city that never sleeps is many things, but one thing it is for sure is a great melting pot of cultures.

Stitch is a massive supporter of diversity in all its forms, which was why it was great to see so many members from different cultural backgrounds come along to our Stitch event. This was a presentation and roundtable discussion about what Stitch needs to do to build its community in New York City, followed by a dinner out for those members who wanted to stay on afterwards.

A big theme of the conversation was around the fact that cities like New York are too big to just rely on creating a single Stitch community the way it exists in other locations.

New York needs smaller location-based sub-communities to form around different boroughs, suburbs, sometimes even individual streets, while also being part of larger interest groups that might span larger metro areas.

We got some great insights about the needs of the New York community, and generated a lot of enthusiasm from members interested in helping grow and contribute to the community in their areas.

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Saratoga Springs

You have probably already heard me say that Stitch is a community built by its members, for its members.

And there is no better example of Stitch’s community spirit than this year’s 2018 Global Get-Together in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Community Champion Regina, along with Stitch members Susan, Hawkeye, Gina, Richard and Joey, organized a memorable weekend of fun, festivities and socializing, with Stitch members travelling from over a dozen US states to attend.

From informal dinners at award-winning restaurants, day trips around the picturesque Saratoga Springs and Lake George area, jazz nights and the Stitch Gala Dinner Banquet, everyone left with brand new friends and promises to catch-up soon.

It was also incredible to discover how many friendships had formed through Stitch, even in cities where we don’t yet have active communities. I found it truly inspiring and a real promise of what the community will be able to do as it grows.

I also managed to have more fun than I had had in months!

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London

After yet another red-eye flight, it was on to London.

Until recently we haven’t had the resources to truly build the Stitch community in the UK, although we have had plenty of members sign up and tell us Stitch is just as needed in the UK as it is anywhere else.

So that’s why we’re so excited about our plans to start growing the UK Stitch community in the coming months.

My visit to London was an opportunity to hear from new and existing UK members about what they want from Stitch, as well as get their thoughts on how we can grow the community both in a large city like London, as well as smaller regional communities.

We organized a get-together in Paddington in the heart of London, reasoning that a central location would be convenient for most people to attend.

Boy, was I surprised. Some of the members who attended travelled 2 hours to meet me!

We were all enormously grateful for everyone who attended and gave us their input. Much like the feedback we received from our New York City members, it was clear that our UK members want local micro-communities to join and participate in, as well as being part of the wider Stitch community. Our members want to find companions and have fun without having to travel hours to get to an event.

Around the world in 80 Stitches - Stitch

This is one of the reasons we are going to be spending a lot of time enhancing the Stitch Group capabilities. If you are not familiar with them already, Stitch Groups are designed to help members connect around specific locations or interests, and you’re going to be seeing a lot of improvements to Groups in the coming months.

Our aim with Stitch Groups is to help foster more meaningful relationships between members by connecting them with others with similar interests and ideals.

Groups are also a great way of discovering other members with similar interests. So even if there isn’t an active community in your area yet, if you create a Stitch Group, you’ll be creating a signpost to other members who join about the sort of community you’d like it to be. Best of all, suggesting a group doesn’t require any work, it’s really just a suggestion of the sort of community you’d like to be part of as Stitch grows.

Why don’t you suggest a local Stitch Group today?

 

Postscript

Finally, after the London get-together and over 14,000 miles, it was time to get back on a plane and head home. Two further red-eye flights and I was back in Sydney, totally exhausted but completely exhilarated about having had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic Stitch members in such as short time.

I also proceeded to get sick for the next week.

(After spending 4 nights on a plane in 10 days, maybe this shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.)

I’m already looking forward to my next opportunity to visit Stitch members around the world. If you are a Stitch member and would like me to visit you on my next trip, please let me know.

I can’t promise anything, but I’ll see what I can do .

7 Comments

  1. Peter Veney

    Sounds lovely je an absolutely fabulous trip Andrew. Keep up the good work
    Peter

  2. Judith Santibanez

    So dedicated, Andrew! It was interesting and fun to meet you and the locals in downtown New York during my 3 week stay there. The internet connects us internationally but important, vital, to have real personal contact such as you are undertaking from the top. I came home via Houston and Auckland. Had a great day out in Auckland, and hope that Stitch will grow there too!
    Judy Santibanez

    1. Andrew Dowling

      How fun was it to meet on the other side of the world Judith! Believe it or not we do have members in Auckland, just not an active community there yet. I’m confident we’ll get there eventually! Hope to see you next time I visit Victoria 🙂

  3. Regina Harper Odom

    Andrew, Saratoga Springs was awesome. The only problem was it was too short.
    I wanted to hang out with everyone longer. So many new friends to get to know.

    I can’t wait for next years Global Stitch Get Together. Some talk of Albuequrque, New Mexico for the hot air Balloon festival in October. Sounds like an amazing adventure.

    Thank you Andrew for being in Saratoga Springs, so good to see you again, you are a big hit every where you go.
    Regina

    1. Andrew Dowling

      Thanks should go to YOU Regina, the event wouldn’t have happened without you! It was quite a stretch (financially speaking) for me to attend the event, but once I was there it ended up being one of the highlights of my year. Thanks so much for being a great member of the community, let’s hope there are many more like these in the future!

  4. Regina Harper-Odom

    Andrew so happy you enjoyed yourself and was not disappointed.
    I will do what I can to insure many more like the Saratoga Events in the future.

    It is my pleasure to be a part of this Stitch community, and I thank you for making it available to us.

  5. Regina Harper-Odom

    Andrew, I certainly hope there are many more of these events. I will help where I can.
    I think I missed my calling, I should have been an event planner. I sure like to throw a good party. LOL

    So glad you were pleased with the event and it was a hightlight.

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