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December, 2011

"The Sum is Greater than the Parts"

by Webmaster

I'm five days late writing this column. I am almost done with Dad's book; I just have to revise the footnotes, but I've put it off. I'm way behind on my clients' work. Why?

I have blamed my health, the weather, other commitments and the holiday season. All valid excuses.

But what little time I had, I spent building a web site for a new group, of which I am a part.

In 1999, when I started the web site for the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society (CBMS), I took their mission statement to heart. It includes a four-part purpose. Two of those purposes resonated with me:

  • To promote and encourage the development, performance and preservation of bluegrass music in the communities of our state.
  • To provide a centralized source of information regarding events related to bluegrass music.

As I built up the CBMS web site, I realized it was more than just a web site. People looking to hire bands came to the site. People looking for bands to hear came to the site. Bands joined the site looking for gigs and fans. The more bands, the more attention came to the site. The more attention on the site, the more bands. Instead of competing with each other, the bands could join together to create a successful web presence. The sum was greater than the parts.

Four years later, I asked myself why no one was doing that for acoustic musicians. And, in one of those "Doh!" moments, I asked myself why I didn't do that for acoustic musicicians. On January 1, 2004, AcousticByLines came online. Unlike CBMS, it has no organization or publication to back it. All it had were a handful of Founders, musicians who believed in what I was trying to do and risked some money to see it happen. More important than the money (which did cover the initial expenses), was their faith in me. Because of them, this site became another two-way means for bands, fans and venues to connect with each other.

Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of the idea that if we build a strong community, we'll all do better. The economy has hurt us. Venues for live music and gone. Fans have gone. Stronger drunk driving laws have kept fans home from some gigs. We're all getting older — maybe we don't go out and party the way we used to. Summers are hotter; winters are colder and snowier. Money is scarce. I've gotten older, injured, tired, and jaded. I'm ready to retire. I lost the belief that it matters to anyone. Does anyone even read my columns?

In November, 2010, I went to a Western Music Association (WMA) awards show. One of my songs was a finalist for best original song and my CD was a finalist for an award. I went because I thought I should. I didn't interact much but still had a good time and met a number of people who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. So I decided to go back again this year. I stayed on site, jammed at night, went out of my way to meet people and attended a meeting for poets.

That meeting has given birth to a WMA Chapter: Western Wordsmiths. And I met a whole group of people who still believe that building a strong community is a great way for all the members of the community to do better. It is full of people who want to see the Chapter and the WMA thrive, and are willing to work to make that happen.

I feel lucky to meet and work with a great bunch of talented people. I'm learning how to use closed groups on Facebook for communication. And, I got my feeling of purpose back again.

And, I found my faith again: my faith that together we can build a community and help each other — that the sum is greater than the parts.

Thanks for visiting AcousticByLines.

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