Build a Journaling Community

A joy that is shared is a joy made double.

—English Proverb

What if you could make your own journaling process more fun, speed up your learning and development as a sketcher and journaler, and increase your motivation to get out and explore with your journal on a more regular basis. You can, but you can’t do it alone. The secret is to get a journaling buddy or build a little local community to practice journaling together.

We are social creatures. When we work with a group we are more engaged and more likely to persevere when  we hit difficulties. This is why people worship together, why couples that decide to exercise together or diet together are more successful, why Alcoholics Anonymous builds recovery around small group interactions and close sponsor partnerships, and why taking a live class is more motivating and engaging than an online course.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, members of the Nature Journal Club meet monthly for field trips and workshops. People in the group get to know each other and look forward to seeing their friends at upcoming events. Some people in the group meet regularly outside of scheduled events to explore nature and journal together. These social bonds help all of us stay with it and give ourselves the opportunity to grow. People learn a lot by watching each other draw. We regularly share journal pages. When you see how someone else approached recording an event, phenomenon, or species that you also observed, it is easier to see how you could adopt some of their ideas into your own work.

If you are not in the Bay Area, you can build your own community to support your journaling efforts and inspire others. This can be done in classrooms, home school, communities, or by starting your own local nature journal club.

  • Journaling with your classroom: School teachers are in a great position to build a classroom community around journaling. When you engage your students in journaling, you reach important concepts across disciplines. Journaling combines science, language arts, applied mathematics,and art.  It is a perfect way to teach fundamental science skills and thinking as described in the Next Generation Science Standards (new science standards that I love).
  • Bringing journaling to your home school community: Get your homeschool network outside and jouranling! If you are using the Charlotte Mason methods, you already have an nature journaling practice. Now get together with other families, share inspiration, and watch your children’s motivation blossom.
  • Journaling with our family: As a parent, lead with your example and work in your own journal in front of your kids. My daughters (ages 4 and 6) each have their own journaling kits. When we go on an adventure we bring our journals with us and find time to explore some wonder on the pages of our journals. On a recent exploration of a redwood forest, I sat down beside a mushroom and started  to sketch. My daughters knew just what to do and got their journals out of their backpacks and went to work.
  • Schedule regular nature journaling programs at your museum or nature center: If you work for a nature center, get monthly nature journaling workshops and trips on your events schedule. Make each month a little different so that members and families will want to come again and again andcan grow with the program.
  • Starting your own nature journal club: It is easier than you think to start a nature journal club in your area. Clubs are a great way to meet like minded naturalists and artists in your area and to help your development as a journaler. You can find ideas to help you start your own group here.

You can do this and it is better (and more fun) when you do it together.