Early in the pandemic, I joined a private community called ForwardLink, for alumni of Akimbo workshops. ForwardLink exists outside the realm of traditional “social media,” on the Discourse platform.
Entering the portal of ForwardLink exposed me to an online world where conversation flowed without interference from advertisements or algorithms, where the discussions were not only civil, but also compassionate, caring, and generous.
In ForwardLink, I found “the others.” “Ruckus makers,” as Seth Godin would say.
I met creatives and writers and entrepreneurs who cared about the art of daily practice of their craft — whether that craft was writing or painting or serving. Individuals who cared about making a difference.
In this world of Forward-Thinkers, weekly prompts are explored with open-hearted vulnerability. Beliefs are questioned with compassion. Resistance and fear are called out and embraced.
People offered coaching and focus groups and generous feedback.
It was through ForwardLink that I discovered the GoGoDone co-working community that helped me survive the first year of lockdown, and the Creative Community that has helped me reignite my creativity and provided me with collaborators.
The Ending of a Community
Today I learned that ForwardLink is shutting down in December. Apparently only 3% of Akimbo alumni actively engage. The team decided that it wasn’t worth the investment to maintain.
Admittedly, I have not been in that 3% lately. As much value as I found there, I didn’t engage regularly. There’s only so many hours in a day and the volume of conversations across all communities and platforms can be overwhelming. I chose to direct my focus and energy into other places.
I’m sure the decision to shutter ForwardLink was difficult, but as the saying goes, sometimes we need to “kill our darlings.”
It’s a reminder that everything is impermanent.
I regret that I didn’t show up more fully or step up in a more active leadership role here, and that I’ve been absent since the summer.
Whether intentional or not, the timing of this announcement and the closing of ForwardLink is perfectly aligned with the seasons.
Nature offers us the cues.
This final week of October is a time when many cultures celebrate their dead. We are moving into the “death” time of year.
When we honor and celebrate death we open the door to two important states of being: grief and gratitude.
Endings Allow For Grieving
Every ending is an opportunity to grieve not just the thing that is ending, but also all that has ended and died that we never fully grieved.
Grief is a topic that is so taboo in our culture, yet necessary for clearing the space we need to incubate new creations.
I feel a palpable sense of loss, not only for the sunsetting of the platform, but for the opportunities I neglected, for my failure to step up more in a leadership role, connect with others, or otherwise make full use of this vast resource.
I will grieve the loss of this space, as well as what could have been and what will never be.
Endings Allow For Gratitude
These moments of ending are also opportunities to express gratitude for what was.
I am grateful to the team behind it for creating and holding this space for the time that it has been here.
I am grateful for all the people I’ve met through ForwardLink, for relationships I continue to nourish through Creative Community and GoGoDone.
And I am deeply grateful to my ForwardLink peers for showing me what’s possible when you dare to lead with courage, conviction, and compassion, when you’re willing to be generous and vulnerable, and when you cultivate a community of like-hearted others.
I am honored to have shared this space with them for the time we had it.
I also know that while the space may be closing, real relationships transcend any platform.
From the emptiness of the void, new community will emerge.
This is the creative process. This is life. It starts with death.
I honor it. I celebrate it. And I am grateful for the life it makes possible.
embrace death of things
from decay emerges life
and all beginnings