Ze Frank knows about community

by Mathew on November 6, 2008 · 13 comments

At some point during a long night of Twitter responses to the U.S. election, Ze Frank posted a simple message saying that he was looking for people to post where and what they were doing when Obama was elected president. “Gimme snippets of your night,” he said. And about 130 people did just that, some of them just a few sentences, some of them long messages of 800 words or more. Here’s a few samples:

— “I was the girl who ran up and hugged you under the gigantic American flag. One of the most surreal moments of my life. Thank you.”

— “It was incredible. Went down to Providence to be with friends. When he won, we went through the streets of Providence in a gigantic parade and ended up filling the State House at the end. Incredible.”

— “After Obama’s speech I proposed to my girlfriend of three years. She accepted. Today is a new day, and a new chapter in my life and in the life of my nation. (From Ze: Congratulations!)”

— “I cried tears of joy watching people all over the world waving American flags and cheering. I have never felt so hopeful in my life.”

— “I drove by every bar in our neighborhood, rolled down the windows, and honked and shouted YES WE CAN! Everyone outside the bars shouted and cheered back, and then I started honking and shouting for every person I saw walking on the street, and every single person cheered back and raised their hands.”

— “When CNN called the race for Obama, I teared up, stopped dead in mid-sentence. When Obama took the stage to accept I openly wept into my hands with relief and joy. And last night, for the first time in recent memory, I slept a full night of dreamless peaceful sleep.”

Why did people choose to post such personal comments at Ze’s site? You could argue that they would have done it anywhere, but I think the community that he has created around himself and his quirky Web productions has a lot to do with it, and how free people felt to respond. I also noticed that he stepped in several times to respond, even in small ways. As someone whose job now involves helping to encourage community, that’s the kind of thing I’m starting to think a lot about.

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