community (noun): a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
It's interesting that this traditional definition assumes a physical location is necessary to create a community, something that has changed greatly in the last decade or two. Even more interesting, where once I would have reached for the dictionary in my office to find that definition, now I automatically type in the URL to a Web site that I frequent regularly, enter the word I am seeking, and within seconds, the definition I was looking for appears on my computer screen.
A dictionary or thesaurus does not currently reside in my office, unlike during my days in college and graduate school. Like most other professionals, if not the general public, I am now used to finding much of the information I need online. In the last several years, the Web has evolved and moved towards a more inclusive and interactive way of doing business that has affected not just our daily work, but how we live our daily lives. Opportunities abound for two-way conversations unconstrained by time zones that enable richer, more intimate connections.
On any given day, for example, in addition to answering e-mail or visiting Web sites, I might look at several blogs, read a listserve, view a video on YouTube, teleconference with colleagues, or look at my RSS feeds. These are just a few of the ways that technology has changed how we learn and how we communicate. All are unique ways that enable people with similar interests to come together and share their thoughts, build on each other's ideas, and learn from each other, even if they live in different parts of the country or even different hemispheres.
Web 2.0, as this phenomenon is called, has been getting a lot of airtime lately here at The Center for Health Design. Any member of the CHD staff will tell you that the heart of our work is collaboration and engaging with interested and active people to create change. We're excited that this new generation of Internet-based tools allows us to marry the power of the Web with the passion of our staff, board, and the organizations in our network to do extraordinary things for you.
When the work is as far-reaching as ours is, it can take a lot of manpower and resources to get the word out. The advent of Web 2.0 means our mission is driven further and faster because we have new ways available to us to spread the message. It also means no planes, no jet lag, and a minimal investment of resources, an idea very much in keeping with our commitment as an organization to be as green as possible.
The Center has always been a repository of ideas and resources for our community. More and more we find that people engage with us not only by attending the seminars and conferences we produce or by purchasing the research reports and books we publish, but also through a much more amorphous path. Our Webinar series that we recently launched with Vendome Group, LLC, is one such example that has been a huge success so far. Our staff is also working on a series of podcasts about evidence-based design that will allow you to listen and learn when it's convenient for you.
The Center is about research, education, and advocacy work. We are about improving people's healthcare experience by promoting the design of better buildings. How well we succeed at this mission and how quickly change occurs depends on our ability to reach and have a dialogue with the community of busy individuals that engage in this work with us. We have placed RSS feeds on our news releases so that you can be automatically notified of the latest happenings at The Center. Look for an RSS feed on our research reports and articles of interest next. We also have our very own YouTube channel, a place where you can find (and add) video clips of interest to our community, and a Center for Health Design blog, where you can interact directly with CHD staff and board members on a daily basis.
We are committed to making The Center a place to communicate with on your own time, from the comfort of your desk chair, sofa, or if you're lucky enough, maybe even somewhere surrounded by the great outdoors. We're committed to making the research and news from our industry available to you in a way that allows you to collaborate and build on it to make our community stronger. We're also committed making it easy for you to share your ideas and thoughts with us so that we can disseminate them to the larger group.
When I think of our growing community I prefer this definition to the traditional one:
community (noun): a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.
Web 2.0 allows each of us to be researchers, educators, and advocates. To transform the community of healthcare at large, we all very much need to be all of the above. HD
The Center for Health Design is located in Concord, California