Like so many others, I spent the second half of March watching our city slowly come to a halt along with the rest of the world. In the midst of the noise of non-stop announcements of restaurants, businesses, and events shutting down, I was equally encouraged by the number of organizations stepping up.
While we came to terms with the reality of social distancing, IndyHub led the charge of connecting and engaging Indianapolis residents through a variety of virtual gathering options. I’m a proud IndyHub 1828 Project Class V member and have always valued the space the organization creates to build authentic networks, so the email I received promoting an IndyHub digital book club caught my eye. I am, after all, an English major (go Hoosiers!) forever looking for opportunities to re-live those glory days of structured discussion around semantics, themes, and the power of stories.
Traveling to a physical meeting location is always a time commitment itself. IndyHub’s virtual option not only took that excuse off the table, but it offered an opportunity to create a stronger connection with other Indianapolis 20-and 30-somethings that traditional networking events just can’t deliver (although we did regularly lament the lack of appetizers available virtually).
As a group, we worked through the complex and extremely nuanced issues in “Talking with Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell with the added – or meta – layer that we were all strangers. That didn’t last long, though, as group norms created a safe space for us to have an open dialogue about how our own experiences compared to those in the book.
With the extensions of the stay-at-home order, the book club took on a whole new role. Like clockwork, I would end Wednesday workday video call marathons and almost dread staying on-camera well into the evening, but I leaned into the promise of what happens when you surround yourself with inspiring people. I was never disappointed, and at each meeting conclusion, I left with the affirmation that we really are all #INThisTogether.
Lauren is a proud Indianapolis native who has spent her career in communications and public relations for the City of Indianapolis Mayor’s Office and Project Lead The Way (PLTW). You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @LaurenClaraJane.