Thursday, 7 March 2013

Harnessing the Power of the Web: The Adventures in Parenthood Project

Guest Blog by Meghan J. Ward, PWAC Calgary / Banff

Living in the Canadian Rockies where outdoor enthusiasts abound, the subject of how to pursue adventures with small children is common. As an outdoor adventure writer I often find myself at the centre of these discussions. Many outdoor enthusiasts struggle to brave the changes that would result from starting a family, fearing it would negatively affect his or her adventure-filled lifestyle.

"We announced our transition to parenthood with a photo
at the top of the Bear's Hump,
Waterton Lakes National Park" (photographer Paul Zizka Photography). 

Being one such adventurer, I was eager to dig into the topic and dedicate a large writing project to it (which I hope will someday become material for my first book).
So, back in May 2012 I started The Adventures in Parenthood Project and launched a website to support my research.
My intention with the project was to cover the spectrum of adventurers – from professional risk-takers to the people who quietly go about their outdoor activities – in order to discover what it means for these kinds of people to transition to parenthood.

Since that time I have interviewed over a dozen outdoor adventurers, conducted a survey with 442 respondents and had the opportunity to write some memoir components – all of which I have begun unpacking somewhat on the project’s blog. In September I announced that my husband and I were expecting a baby in March, which has brought the project’s topic even closer to home.

I have been blogging for many years, but not about very personal issues. However, the challenge of writing memoir components for the project has allowed me to dig into the material through my own experience and leave a record that I will be able to look back on. The process of writing some of these posts, including How (Not) to Cross a Glacier in a Thunderstorm While You’re Pregnant and The Ultimate Alpine Start, has given me the opportunity to work through some of my own feelings on the topic, and in some cases has opened up a lot of discussion through the website’s comments feature. All of this material, including the interviews, survey results, blog posts and comments, will be invaluable to me when it comes time to write the book.

By putting The Adventures in Parenthood Project online I have opened it up to a much wider community. This has allowed me to benefit from new connections with other outdoorsy parents, and to network with new sources, ideas and websites, many of which I have now compiled in a list of Resources for readers. My ability to leverage all of my social media streams has been key to successful community building. 

I highly encourage other PWAC members to consider using the web as a platform for research ideas. You can never know what kinds of doors will open to you until you put your ideas out there. Finally, when it comes time to release your next book or publication, you will have already created a community that is eager to read and support your work.

I invite you to check out The Adventures in Parenthood and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter (@yaheweha), Google + and LinkedIn. My hub for all things freelance is

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