Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Watching the Community Grow...

I started in this hobby in 2000. That makes it 12 years that I have been building, and that's a long time.

How long?

When I got in the hobby, there was only one website: LUGNET.

There was one photo site: Brickshelf.

There were only a handful of LEGO stores, and LEGO Shop at Home was just beginning.

LEGO conventions? They were just starting.

LEGO Users Group? There was one in my state (NCLUG). It was a small group in number, but the amount of stuff built was amazing.

And me? I just was starting out. My first MOC was an alternate build of the first X-Wing set (the grey one) No, I don't know the set number (and I tend to not try to remember them - it's the box I remember).

And when I posted the model online, it was greeted with positive comments from people online, and that led to me building more. I was encouraged by others from places across the country, and I built and improved my craft. At the time, that's all I thought I could do - just build.

It was my first convention, which was BrickFest 2001, that opened me up to a new universe - I met some friends that have become very close friends there, and I met many of the builders that I looked up to...and they were just like me. That was a big epiphany.

A lot has happened since. I can tell you the story, but the short of it is that I took a different route from the expected, as I realized that I wanted to do more than build. It became apparent to me that the LEGO community needed a document to record it as it grew. Coming from a publishing background, it was too obvious to me, but it took some time to fully realize what I wanted to do. What happened was BrickJournal.

That was 7 years ago.  BrickJournal went to print from online 4 years ago, in a printing environment that wasn't positive. However, the magazine has persevered and is still growing.

The community has also grown by leaps and bounds all over the world too. Events have been done in the US and Europe and Asia. And BrickJournal has been able to cover many of them, from Brickworld in Chicago to Bricking Bavaria in Germany to BrickFan Town and Brick Fan Castle in Japan. It's amazing to see this growth happen, and to be part of a growing, vibrant community.

But the most important thing that I keep sight of now, that manages my direction of the magazine, is the simple act of discovery. I want BrickJournal to discover the people of this community. I want this spirit of discovery be the inspiration to the next generation of builders, whoever they may be.

The community still grows, and I have seen the generations of AFOLs take their shot at moving the community. I saw the community expand from one website to many, and with that I felt a little sadness as fragmentation began. I also saw the community get closer to the LEGO Group thanks to efforts of the company and the best AFOLs on the planet.

Think about it. We now are able to submit our ideas to the LEGO Group on LEGO CUUSOO and have it produced, if there is enough interest. That was something completely impossible when I started. There are now other AFOL publications too, which I welcome. The community can only grow better.

We live in incredible times, and so we are left to discover what lies out there for each of us. We can make a difference. You can do the same. Explore what you can do. Inspire a new builder. Build an astonishing model. Volunteer for an event.

I know that because I started as a builder, but decided to see what was out there and I did all those things. And now I am going back to my roots, back to NCLUG, back to building. I was hit by inspiration again. There's so much more to do...

So here's to another twelve years in the hobby at least.

And even more exciting things happening.

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