Driven by a desire for genuine and a positive connection, I've found myself over the years creating the kind of communities I wanted to experience myself. When I first became a mom, I was overwhelmed with everything. With little family to help and not a big pool of friends to pull from, I felt increasingly isolated. I joined mom's groups online and went to a few in person. They all seemed to focus on...talking.
I know, that sounds funny. But I didn't want to talk to anyone. I wanted someone to help me clean my house. To hold my baby while I showered or went outside of the house, on my own, to breathe fresh air. I wanted someone to cook me food or sit there and not say a word while I just sat there too. I didn't have space for anyone else's personal process as mine felt big enough.
I decided to offer up exactly what I needed - practical help. I posted online in a local moms group.
This was the start
...of Mamas Helping Mamas, a group I created a few days later on February 22nd. It grew to 2700 local Portland moms. The premise of the group was to ask for and offer practical service, mom to mom, for free, no explanations. Mamas were helping organize houses, give career feedback, fold laundry, sharing meals and groceries, toys and clothes. Once a mom was helped, she'd go back to the group to post a public thank you. This way all members felt linked in a chain of gratitude even if they weren't part of the exchange.
For quite some time, it was a pretty amazing experience. So many moms were being helped and the connections were priceless. I envisioned having chapters all over America and the profound impact that could create. For a period of time, I worked with a business mentor to help me figure out how I could create this. Though I chose not to pursue this path, I'm grateful for how it shaped me as a leader, community creator, and of course, as a contributing member of an active community focused on uplifting connection.
Utrecht Mamas Skillshare
In the Spring of 2017, my family and I arrived to Utrecht, Netherlands by way of Portland. I was feeling more settled by the Fall and ready to start again on my next community creating adventure. I took to the internet again, posting in a local moms group.
A learning community
The following month, I created Utrecht Mamas Skillshare. The community was quickly active to share their skills, talents, passions, and culture with each other.
We've had classes on the essence of Indian cooking, personal style and capsule wardrobes, how to get the best lighting with photography, cloth diapering, how to make kombucha and fire cider, developing cultural intelligence as an expat, sewing basics, meal planning, and started monthly potlucks.
With such a large international expat community, the range of what each person brings is diverse. Because we are getting together to learn from each other in this fun and informal way, it's a great ice breaker for connection and ideally, friendship.