Ah, the self-indulgent joy of making a podcast on one of my own passions.
“They” say that turning cooking from an enjoyable hobby into a business is a recipe for disaster, and while I’m flattered that people will pay for an additional loaf of bread I’ve baked, there’s no way I’m going to be getting up at 3 in the morning every day to sell enough loaves to make a living. But there are people who have done just that, and one of them happens to be a friend. Suzanne Dunaway and her husband Don turned her simple, delicious foccacia into Buona Forchetta bakery, a multi-million dollar business that won plaudits for the quality of its bread – and then sold it and walked away.
Suzanne was also one of the first popularisers of the “no-knead” method of making bread, with her 1999 book No need to knead. Using a wetter dough, and letting time take the place of kneading, has been around among professional bakers and some, often forgetful, amateurs for a long time, but it was Mark Bittman’s article in the New York Times that opened the floodgates on this method. Since then, as any search engine will reveal, interest in the technique has exploded, both because no-knead is perceived as easier and because the long, slow rise that no-knead usually calls for results in a deeper, more complex flavour. I’ve had my troubles with it, and had more or less given up on the real deal. But I’m looking forward to seeing how a quick no-knead bread turns out, especially now that I know that in Suzanne’s case it was the result of a delicious accident.
Yet another episode that I would have listened to for hours if it had gone on. It reminds me how sad it is that they’ve moved out of LA and La Brea Bakery has become so huge. It also reminds me of fond days back on Barry Avenue in my “youth”. I’m always one to daydream about having my own pastry shop, but the repeated instances of 3AM start times reminds me why I don’t do this.
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Tonight was the last meetup for HWC in Los Angeles for 2016. We’ve managed to make it through more than a handful of meetups throughout the year as well as an excellent IndieWebCamp experience. We also recently managed to get our first virtual meetup off the ground two weeks ago with participants in LA, NYC, Portland, Florida, and Maryland!
Thanks again to everyone (near and far) who has helped to encourage and get the budding Los Angeles IndieWeb community off the ground this year.
Though I’m not personally ready to go all in on #100DaysOfIndieWeb, I am on the verge of committing to 100 Days of Book Donations to Little Free Libraries (or the potentially easier and just as effective 100 Book Donations) particularly as I managed to do 31 days of donations last January.
I’m also seriously considering 100 days of closing tabs which has always been a real problem for me in the past. 100 days of posts also seems relatively interesting as well as doable. 100 days of deleting email toward inbox zero could be useful too.
Following a productive quiet writing hour, we did a quick round of introductions and a short demo or two. Given our group size/composition, we split up and delved right into some building and helping each other out.
I helped newcomer Jeffrey Stewart begin to build a WordPress site on a temporary host which he can later to a personal domain name he’d bought a while back and had resolved to begin using. He’s been siloing his content primarily on Facebook for a long time now, but wanted more freedom and flexibility than Facebook allows. In particular he’s looking forward to a better platform for longer form content as well as better/richer interactions.
In under two hours, we managed to get a pretty significant start on his site including rel=”me” links to his current social media presences. We also set up and configured several IndieWeb related plugins courtesy of the Indieweb plugin to allow for Webmentions as well as future syndication capabilities. With just a few hours of work, I suspect he’ll not only be able to put together his first post and syndicate it to several silos, but he’ll be receiving his first webmentions and backfeed via Brid.gy.
Meanwhile, Angelo Gladding managed to simultaneously work on not only his own site, but assist Thaine Allison with one of his itches. Several years ago Thaine had built a website in HTML3, but he wanted to update it to deal with the demise of Flash and make it more mobile friendly. Despite some difficulty accessing his site due to issues with hosting, they made some reasonable progress.
No photo (Sorry Tantek…)
We all got so wrapped up in what we were working on and discussing, we completely forgot to take a break to get a group photo. In fact, I sadly didn’t think about it until I was in the car and halfway home. I even forgot to “check in” and POSSE a copy to FourSquare, which is pretty uncommon for me lately.
At least this is an area on which we can improve on for our 2017 resolutions...
About two years ago, I registered Little Free Library #8424 and a year and three months ago it opened up with a just a few books to serve the Adams Hill neighborhood in Glendale, CA. Along the way during the intervening time, we’ve had almost 500 donated books go through our humble metal doors. In addition to our local library, some of our donated books also go to help seed several dozen similar libraries in surrounding communities, many of which are considered book deserts, meaning that there are few outlets (public libraries, school libraries, or bookstores, etc.) for books or reading available to people in those communities. As a result, and unsurprisingly, the literacy rates in these neighborhoods are not as high as they should be.
A Surprise Invitation
Several weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from Little Free Library stewards and founders of The Literacy Club, Doug and Jean Chadwick, who said they would be hosting a steward meet-up for people running Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area.
Little Free Library & The Literacy Club Presents: An evening with Todd Bol
Come meet Todd and your fellow stewards for an evening of fun! You’ll get to talk Little Libraries and books, enjoy snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks, and swap stories with everyone in attendance.
Part of the motivation for the event was because Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library movement was coming to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 3rd.
It seemed like a great excuse to meet some of my fellow library stewards in the area and swap stories, and exchange advice.
Little Free Library #50,000
At the time I didn’t know that Todd was coming out to the West coast from Wisconsin in part to celebrate the unveiling of Little Free Library charter number 50,000 in Santa Ana, California, the day after he met with us. To help put the growth of the movement into perspective, remember that I registered library #8424 about two years ago.
The Literacy Club
As I was to discover when I arrived, Todd came not only to meet several library stewards in the Los Angeles area but to help honor all our efforts. In particular to honor the efforts of the Literacy Club which has helped to set up and run over 50 Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area including in hospitals, various neighborhoods, and every police station in the city (except two, which are on their to-do list). They’ve also built and host libraries in Ohio and Wisconsin as well.
I was very impressed with their efforts and even a tad jealous that I hadn’t thought to set up dozens of libraries like this, though trust me, the amount of work involved is no small potatoes–it’s obviously a full time hobby and then some.
As a small comparison, I opened up Little Free Library charter #8424 a year and three months ago, and we’ve had almost 500 books move through our library; the Literacy Club is moving thousands of books a month!
Paul Krekorian, Councilmember of the Second District of the City of Los Angeles, had sent a Certificate of Appreciation to present to The Literacy Club for all of their fantastic work in the city. Our little soiree included a lovely presentation by Field Deputy Sahag Yedalian (who was representing Krekorian’s office) to the Chadwicks for their work on The Literacy Club’s behalf.
After catching my breath, I was a bit sad that the certificate wasn’t made out to the Little Free Library #8424, which is really the true recipient of the honor. While I did do a good bit of work to put the library together and erect it in front of my house, it really is the neighborhood and community that do all of the work in supporting and using our Adams Hill treasure. So I’ll take a moment to say thank you to all my neighbors and friends in and beyond Adams Hill in Glendale for supporting our neighborhood Little Free Library.
Many other LFL stewards in attendance were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their help in seeding book deserts in the surrounding Los Angeles areas.
During the evening it was great hearing some stories and ideas from many in the room. In particular it was nice to hear the story of Little Free Library #1 that Todd built and thereby started the growing movement of book exchanges.
It was also interesting to hear his philosophy of treating the Little Free Library organization as a “reverse franchise” set up. Most franchise operations perfect the concept of their business before spinning it out into thousands of locations. He prefers to have a few interesting ideas to put out into the community, which is likely to be wildly more creative and perfect those ideas or come up with incarnations and offshoots that the small staff at headquarters couldn’t have possibly created. Then, once perfected, headquarters can help disseminate the ideas to everyone and everywhere else. I though this was great advice for non-profit organizations like this.
Also at the party, I also got to meet the President of the Burbank noon Kiwanis Charles Chavoor who was present to show support for The Literacy Club and their efforts. The Kiwanis there are funding a large Little Free Library to be dedicated shortly.
We also got to hear advance news about a major pending announcement for which we were all embargoed until November 14th, so you’ll have to wait until then for more details.
Todd also shared some of his work in growing the Little Free Library movement in Indonesia as well as several partnerships including the U.S. Army which is stewarding a large number of libraries.
Doug Chadwick shared a somewhat heartbreaking story based on his volunteer experience. He said that an unintended consequence and benefit of putting Little Free Libraries into police stations around the city is that police stations are often the site of court mandated child exchanges between divorced parents who don’t always get along or respect each other. At least while waiting during drop offs and pick ups, the children who are caught in the middle are able to sit down and not only read a book or two while they wait, but they can take them home with them as well.
Doug also shared a previous story of receiving the Little Free Library’s “Master Builder Award” and Todd indicated how rare these original Amish planes were to be able to establish such an award.
The Book Room
When I came to the party, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring a book or two from my own library for the hosts or to swap with some of the other stewards. I noticed that a few other attendees did the same. Our gracious hosts also had the same idea, but, like the Literacy Club with its grand mission, they managed to pull their version off in even grander style.
As I was leaving, I was invited into The Book Room. Now, I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve been into the offices and stock rooms over more than a dozen nice sized specialty book shops. The book room in the Chadwick’s home handily put most of them to shame. I was immediately surrounded by shelves with hundreds of stacks of books each with a dozen or more copies of the same book all waiting to be pulled off to create restocking boxes for any of the various Little Free Libraries around town that The Literacy Club stewards.
While I often try to have lightly worn or like new books in my library, every book in this room was brand new and sure to make a proud treasure for the thousands of children who were soon to receive them. It’s exactly the kind of room every library steward dreams of having in their own house.
I was thrilled to be sent home with not just one box full of books, but three boxes. Thus Little Free Library #8424 will soon have some new children’s selections, and, much like an early Santa Claus, I’ll be dropping off many books at some of the surrounding LFLs in the Eagle Rock, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Pasadena areas to spread the wealth and cheer and help continue seeding libraries nearby.
In the meanwhile, I’m dreaming about how I might be able to add on an additional room to the house for books…
Thanks again to The Literacy Club and to Doug and Jean Chadwick, who have impossibly edged me out as the #2 most enthusiastic Little Free Library steward after Todd Bol. And thanks again for hosting such a lovely little party to bring us all closer together. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my love for what we’re all doing. I’ll be in touch shortly about volunteering some of my time to The Literacy Club’s efforts.
Thanks also to The Little Free Library organization which provided guests with lots of great items like The Little Free Library book, buttons, book marks and more.
And finally, thanks yet again to all my friends, family, and neighbors who help to support Little Free Library #8424.
A close up of the beautiful header on the certificates of appreciation.
You too can make a donation to The Literacy Club. On the table: bookmarks, pins, and magnets supporting the Little Free Library movement.
Little Free Library enthusiasts swap stories and experiences.
Would you like to help?
You can help in a variety of ways from donating your lightly used books, volunteering your time, starting your own library, or even making a financial contribution. We welcome your help and know that it will help make our communities better one book at a time. After seeing some of the excellent work that The Literacy Club is doing, you could also help support their GoFundMe campaign.
The IndieWeb movement is a global community that is building an open set of principles and methods that empower people to take back ownership of their online identity and data instead of relying on 3rd party websites. Come learn more about the next generation of the Web.
For the first time since 2013, when it appeared in Hollywood, IndieWebCamp is coming to Los Angeles! I’m definitely going, and I invite you to join us. For the past two years or so, I’ve been delving into the wealth of tools and resources the community has been developing. I’m excited to attend a local camp, help out in any way I can, and will help anyone who’s interested in learning more.
Join us in LA (Santa Monica) for two days of a BarCamp-style gathering of web creators building and sharing open web technologies to empower users to own their own identities & content, and advance the state of the #indieweb!
The IndieWeb movement is a global community that is building an open set of principles and methods that empower people to take back ownership of their identity and data instead of relying on 3rd party websites.
At IndieWebCamp you’ll learn about ways to empower yourself to own your data, create & publish content on your own site, and only optionally syndicate to third-party silos. Along the way you’ll get a solid grounding in the history and future of Microformats, domain ownership, IndieAuth, WebMention and more!
For remote participants, tune into the live chat (tons of realtime notes!) and the video livestream (URL TBD).
General IndieWeb Principles
Your content is yours
When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.
You are better connected
Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.
You are in control
You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as example.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.
1333 2nd Street, Suite 200
Santa Monica, CA, 90401
United States Map
Day 0 is an optional prep night for people that want to button up their website a little bit to get ready for the IndieWebCamp proper.
18:30 Organizer setup
19:00 Doors open
19:30 Build session
22:00 Day 0 closed
Day 1 Discussion
Day 1 is about discussing in a BarCamp-like environment. Bring a topic you’d like to discuss or join in on topics as they are added to the board. We make the schedule together!
08:00 Organizer setup
08:30 Doors open – badges
09:15 Introductions and demos
10:00 Session scheduling
12:00 Group photo & Lunch
13:00 Sessions on the hour
16:00 Last session
17:00 Day 1 closing session, break, meetup later for dinner
Day 2 Building
Day 2 is about making things on and for your personal site! Work with others or on your own.
09:30 Doors open – badges
10:10 Day 2 kick-off, session scheduling
10:30 Build sessions
12:00 Catered lunch
14:30 Build sessions continue
16:30 Community clean-up
17:00 Camp closed!