Why did I choose the name RaftLearning? Read on and you'll find out...
Sea otters are cute and fluffy critters that also very intelligent, and unlike many mammals they really don't NEED to spend time in social groups. A single otter can be quite happy spending quite a lot of its time alone--especially males who don't participate in raising pups--yet they still seek one another out and form loose groupings, known as rafts because of their unusual hand-holding behavior. While speculation is that sea otters form rafts in part for safety during resting periods or bad weather, scientists aren't entirely sure why these mostly solitary animals group together in this way when there doesn't appear to be a threat.
So why did I choose the idea of a raft of otters for this name? I find the sea otters' social structure compelling. They're quite happy spending time alone--foraging for food, exploring, raising their young--but they still see the value of forming groups for certain activities. These are groups of like-minded individuals who don't rely on the raft, but who take pleasure in sharing space with others for a time, both for social and practical purposes. Groups where the whole benefits, as well as the individual. I also find it interesting that these rafts are not static. On the contrary, they are quite dynamic. They are constantly changing--growing and shrinking as need and whim dictate--with as few as a dozen members and occasionally numbering in the thousands. All are welcome to come and go as they please.
This sounds to me like the ideal kind of setting in which to function. I look at the sea otters' raft model of socialization and envy them. As humans we have created so much structure in our everyday lives that we miss out on the benefits of flexibility and fluidity. I would love to live my life, both professionally and personally, more like the sea otters. I envision living life in this way: As the context changes so does the group, or even the need for the group; there are times when being alone is preferred or needed, and retreating to a solitary place is accepted as a normal occurrence; appropriately-sized groups form to work on a project; the same group, or different groups, form to simply to share stories and experiences. In my raft-based model, members are willing to allow others to join and disengage as need and convenience dictate. There's no "in" crowd. There may be recognized leaders, but that role also shifts as experience, expertise and interest come into play. Engagement is encouraged, but not mandatory. Openness is the key trait.
RaftLearning is meant to be just that. An open space for sharing and gathering thoughts, ideas and stories. For collaborating. For promoting openness and embracing change as the shifting world of knowledge and access to information moves around us like the sea. We don't NEED each other so much as we WANT TO BE WITH each other. We seek one another out. We listen. We share.
Welcome to the Raft.