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AMA with Sascha Mombartz

Are you looking to take your community to the next level? Join us on Thursday, March 25th at 2pm EDT for an AMA session with Sascha Mombartz!

Sascha is an artist, designer, and community builder, with an amazing background at Google's Creative Lab, the New York Times, and co-authoring the Community Canvas. Recently, Sascha has been working on Close Knit, a framework for building stronger and more meaningful communities (launching this year!).

As for this AMA, Sascha is here to answer any and all of your questions related to community building, especially as it pertains to your community's identity, experience, and structure!

The AMA will happen in this post, so feel free to start posting questions now!

Discussion (25)

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anapal profile image
Ana María Palacio

Thank you Sascha.
I am looking forward to your talk.
I am just starting a virtual community for social organizations in LA.
There is around 70 people interested to help in the co creation of the community.
I was w3ondering, in wich stage of the community should we start to implement the community canvas?I ask this because I have a team who is working in the creation of the community (a paied work) and we will have an expert that will give us some workshops on the co creation of the model (at least the minimum viable product) and we would like to know what to expect. Thanks

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hi Ana, thanks for your q! its hard to give specific advice without knowing the specifics. generally i think its true that you shouldn't built for or at but with your community. that is get them involved in the process. you can do that with a small group of ambassadors, catalysts, guides (its nice to give them a special name), who are a subset of your community. insofar i think the canvas is also more of a guide, than something to implement, that is they are ideas to consider when implementing. feel free to follow up with clarifications or more specifics!

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anapal profile image
Ana María Palacio

Thanks you sascha. that gives me a better idea of where to start. In fact I am already meeting with the group of ambassadors. By the way, do you have any samples of non profit virtual communities I can show them to get them thinking on how the platform should look like, what thinks do they want to see in the platform we will use and so on. I would appreciate some samples or website so we can show them next meeting

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hey Ana, it really depends on who the community is for and what you're doing. and i think the best people to tell you are your ambassadors and your members. what do they need? what do they want? how can your platform help them connect more efficiently and deeper. it might be better to start doing that work "manually" to learn what your community needs and wants and then building a platform that supports that. hope thats helpful!

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anapal profile image
Ana María Palacio

ok thanks for that answer. Rather than platforms, It would be great to have some samples on some communities that already exist just to get them thinking in how it can look. If you can share some website of comunities you or your colleges have developed, so they can se the possibilities they have.

Besides. Do you have any suggestions on places to get content that can be useful for the platform?, considering they are non profits organizations.

On the other hand, can you mention some of the sections or tools you have developed in some virtual communities and its utility? for example: Q&A space, webinars, libraqry and so on.

Thanks again.

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jocelynhsu profile image
Jocelyn

Hi Sascha! Thanks for doing this. The Community Canvas was one of the very first community frameworks I ever saw, before I even knew there was a whole industry of community builders out there.

What pushed you to create the Community Canvas? How did you land on these 3 sections and 17 themes? Were there others you wanted to include?

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hey Jocely, great question. Two things were really the impetus: 1. My friend Fabian had the idea to create a guidebook for communities and 2. I grew up moving around a lot between countries and that experience, and often the lack of community made me think really deeply about it. I actually just wrote about all of that last week here: closeknit.co/learning-journey

the 3 sections and 17 themes came out of our research, trying to distill whats most important to consider when building a community. since the launch i've expanded my research and thinking around this and I'm working on a new framework thats centered around Belonging - Trust – Resilience – and there will be I think more themes but in a new, modular structure (fingers crossed, im in the process of putting it all together). Find out more under closeknit.co

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katrine_129 profile image
Katrine

Hi Sascha, so excited you're here, thank you for participating in this AMA!

A question I have for you is- what do you think are the top important things to know/think about when starting a community, and what are the top mistakes you've seen folks make in their community building/managing efforts?

Thank you in advance!

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cole profile image
Cole Ask Me Anything

Hey Sascha! Appreciate you taking the time for this AMA. 😄

Two questions for you:

  1. We're often asked what the "right" or "best" community platform is. From your experience, how important is choosing a community platform/channel? Is this something CMs need to be prioritizing right out of the gate?

  2. What are you most looking forward to with the launch of Close Knit this year? What should community builders expect?

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hey Cole! happy to be here.

  1. great question. the people are the platform. ultimately its all about connecting, doesn't matter what tool you use or how you do it. i think its an easy distraction to focus (spend time) on finding a tool, rather than engaging and working on connecting people (which is hard work and complicated). so don't get distracted by the shiny tool and see how you can connect people. simple and informal wins – the less fancy the more people can show up with their whole self rather than their best self.

  2. Oh an even better question! haha. im excited to get these ideas into peoples hands and see what they do with them. i love the work of creating frameworks and tools – but the satisfying part is to see how it helps others, see what they are building and how they are connecting people. im working hard to make these ideas of belonging, trust, resilience as well as all the threads (as im calling the smaller ideas) not only easy to absorb but also actionable. so there will be a bunch of worksheets, guides and (shiny) tools to help community builders do that hard work of bringing people together (and hopefully make it a tad easier).

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alex profile image
Alex Angel

How do you think your time working at Google's Creative Lab influenced how you think about community building/design?

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything • Edited

Great question Alex. I think actually that my work at the New York Times might have had more of an impact. They were incredibly well organized, had really good processes – which were important because you had a lot of people working together on very different things, from journalists, to editors, to designers, developers. there was a strong understanding and respect of everyones skill, strengths but also boundaries. I also worked at another startup called Urtak, really the first community tool I built (even though back then I didnt think about it like that) – it was all about asking readers ("your community") questions. it really made me appreciate the power of questions but also how valuable and powerful it is to give others a voice. here a fairly old video of it in action 😂 youtube.com/watch?v=K4b3g0TJH4M

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nishers profile image
Nisha Baxi

What is the easiest way to build branding and design into a brand new community?

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hey Nisha, say more about that. I would say you put it out there, the more you can get (some of) your members involved the better (decision making is hard in larger groups, but can be a great bonding experience).

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Thanks Cole. Very excited for this and everyones questions! ✨ Feel free to start posting questions here.

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

FYI i thought we're doing this live! haha. maybe another time we do a live AMA?! async is cool, but it would be nice to see all of your faces.

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cole profile image
Cole Ask Me Anything

We'll make it happen 😎

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sagi profile image
Sagi Kadosh

Hey Sascha!! What are some of your favorite engagement strategies?

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything

Hey Sagi, good question. with what goal, online, offline? let me know some specifics if you can.

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sagi profile image
Sagi Kadosh

The goal would be to get inactive users to become active again on an online community

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supermombartz profile image
Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything • Edited

Hey everyone! excited to answer your questions!

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anapal profile image
Ana María Palacio

How can I register? is this the time for which time zone? thanks

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cole profile image
Cole Ask Me Anything • Edited

Hi Ana! The AMA will start at 2pm Eastern Daylight Time. Feel free to ask your questions under this post and Sascha will give you an answer on the 25th!

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benregier profile image
Ben Regier

Hi Sascha! I read your post titled, "My Community Journey" on the Close Knit page, and I loved how you said it wasn't necessarily the abundance of community in your life, but rather the upheaval, change, and lack thereof that caused you to really think about the broader scope of what it means to belong. Do you think this is a common background many community builders come from? Thanks for answering our questions today!

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Sascha Mombartz Ask Me Anything • Edited

hey Ben, thanks for reading and this is a really good, deep question. I can only speak from my own experience: you only really deeply appreciate something once you don't have it anymore. its easy to take our family, friends and the people around us fro granted. not just that but much of our connections and interactions happen naturally and subconsciously. when suddenly something changes and have to take a close look or work hard to get them it gives you a different perspective. i do think that people who are building communities often yearn for the connection or the change in the world that they want to create with others. the hard truth is that its often quite a lonely job, you are creating something to that others will enjoy, its very much about being of service. would love to hear what others think and feel about this? this could be a great separate conversation in of itself. feel free to follow up with thoughts!