Kathleen Hamilton

Partnerships Director at Force of Nature
October 21, 2021
AMA sticker

Max: Growing up, my family moved around a lot too. I like that you used this to help build community and also friendship! What was one of your favorite places that you have lived in?

Favourite place I’ve lived in.. that’s a tricky one. I really loved Bali, Indonesia where I lived for 10 years! It’s lush and the community there was really deeply connected.

Alex: Always love fellow community-product-community folks! I've definitely found that the product experience helped me frame how I think about and speak about community. What was the biggest takeaway for you when figuring out that transition and how to communicate to get buy-in from people of all levels within an org?

Great question! The biggest takeaway for me was definitely to find out what problems each team are working on and then frame community as part of a solution that addresses those — all without creating more work for other people to start with.

For example: when a new product was going to be launched, build community feedback into the process, pitch a reward system for referrals, see how a community element might enhance the experience. By keeping it low effort to start but helping people understand the value, it’s a lot easier for other people to say yes.

Ella: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when building a community? Have you got any tried and tested techniques to help with engaging unengaged community members?

I think the most important thing to remember when building a community is that every person in there is an individual with their own story, needs and skills. To that end, I’ve found reaching out individually and finding out what those needs are has helped me to engage people who have been unengaged!

Katrine: As someone in the community space, what do you find most rewarding about community management? And what do you personally find most difficult within CM? Any advice for folks just starting the space?

Most rewarding has to be connecting people to one another! I love to see relationships extend out beyond the communities I manage. Personally I find keeping up with people at an individual level most difficult — I think this comes down to time management, where I often fill so much time that it leaves little room for 1-1 checkins or relationship building.

For people just starting in the space, I’d have to say join other communities! You can learn so much by participating in communities, and you can then apply that learning to the community you’re managing. Don’t get stuck in your own community bubble.

Alara: I have an AMA question! Last week we had a real-life meetup & AMA for our wellness community for the first time after the pandemic. The thing is, the person we invited was a doctor and after a while, questions get a little too personalized like “Can you diagnose this…” “what’s wrong with me” the goal was to spread awareness about a certain disease not to have a bulk diagnose etc. We somehow managed the questions but what would you do to prevent this before happening? People can get bored with questions that are way too personalized.

To prevent this from happening I’d just announce before the questions what people should be asking about. Give clear instructions. For example: “Thanks everyone for being here for this session, we are now going to have a chance to ask them questions. Please keep these questions specific to the talk and general so that they can be applied to everyone listening.” People love instructions and you can be super clear ahead of time to avoid these situations in the future!

Lindsey: I really enjoyed reading more about your work with Force of Nature! This particular quote on their website stood out to me: We believe the threat even greater than the climate crisis is how powerless we feel in the face of it; and we won’t solve this crisis until we mobilise mindsets.

In approaching this from the Community side and especially working with young people (~16-25):

a) How do you go about creating a safe space for them to express vulnerabilities about their mental health at the intersection of a global crisis? I'd imagine the needs of teenagers can differ a bit from folks in their early-mid 20s.

b) What are some tips you can offer to empower these youth to take action without them feeling hindered by those vulnerabilities?

So glad to hear that the work we’re doing resonates with you.

That age group is within the cohort we work with — if you get a chance I recommend reading our impact report which is on our website! It gives some more insight to how we speak with young people.

I think the key thing from the community side is to listen and meet people where they are. Often young people are met with judgement about their emotions, or they judge themselves, and creating a safe space has to do with opening a space without judgement or expectation. We have some questions we ask specifically about climate change that let young people respond with their feelings.

We believe that the feelings we have can freeze us, or they can fuel us.  It’s important for young people to start with one problem that they care about and work on that — the scale of the climate crisis is what makes it so terrifying and immobilising. Scale it back to make it manageable and start from there. Happy to speak more about the workshops we do where we go into this in much more depth!