Mar 5, 2012

The Network

Today is an exciting and loving day, as my wife Susan releases her first book - Feeding Eden - essentially a memoir about our family, how we have dealt with some serious food allergies my son has, and how as a result our relationship to food is now pretty different from most people.  No Foodie Nation for us. She calls it our New Normal.

More than that, to me this whole process is the story of a networked community. Almost 8 years ago when we found out that Eden was allergic to 7 of the 8 FDA determined most common ingredients to trigger an allergic reaction, there were few places to go to figure out what it all meant. Susan, who took on the bulk of managing this, instead had to create a community out of fragmented people, places, sites, medical studies and ideas. She turned to medical research journals, practitioners of various medical specialties, alternative and therapeutic healers, advocacy organizations and, most importantly, people all over the world. She connected with them, at least initially (and I would say most effectively), through the Internet. The tools were email, Twitter, a blog, Facebook, then a platform on Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and others she tried that didn't work as well.

The tools often led to a rabbit hole of hours lost in front of screens. But ultimately some worked, and she figured out how to make them work for us. A community of people experiencing similar "New Normals" but from an amazingly diverse set of experiences were connected. Ad hoc of course, but connected deeply nonetheless. If this had happened to us 10 years earlier, we would not have had the tools to construct and find and become part of this growing network. This community - and the organizations they support - not only publishes constantly online, they have also help to enact supporting laws relating to food labeling, restaurant regulations, emergency medications and the like.

So what was once an narrative of our son's medical conditions, later became an essay, and then a book.  But more than that, its backdrop is how *the* network can become *your* network if you want and need it to be.

If you like you can find the book here or here.

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