Back where it all began…the story of DPSN

Our first DPSN theme for the year is, quite appropriately, “Beginnings”.  Read on to find out more about the roots of DPSN, how we decided on our themes for 2018 and what’s in store for the year – and make sure you catch up with our other bloggers reflections on “beginnings” through March as well.  We’d like to hear your thoughts too, so let us know in the comments below, or jump over to our Facebook page to join the conversation.

I wasn’t a part of the DPSN team – originally the Diversityworks Peer Support Network – when it began in 2009.  In its first iteration DPSN was a pilot project of Diversityworks Trust run by its original Project Manager, the amazing Anna Nelson.  DPSN started life as both an online and offline venture, aiming to create a network that would bring together peers and stimulate conversation about diversity, complexity and social change.

I joined not long after the pilot, in 2010, and helped to run events as well as moderate the site on its original Ning platform as part of my role as Executive Assistant for Diversity New Zealand, the business run by Philip Patston which powers DPSN.

Since then DPSN has gone from strength to strength, through two MyFilm projects in 2010 and 2011, the 100 Days Project in 2013 and our most recent You Mean a Lot to Me (#UMAL2M) in 2014.  In 2012 we changed platforms to the now current WordPress blog, in recognition of the important role technology has to play in bringing together diverse communities of people and fostering changes in attitude around diversity, acceptance and inclusion.  Given that we were no longer an offline network, we also changed our acronym to Diversity Promotion through Social Networking, to reflect our new purpose.

Some things have changed behind the scenes as well.  In 2014 I stepped out of my role as EA and became the Online Project Manager for both DPSN and IGODAP, while Anna evolved into our excellent Social Media Moderator, and the wonderful Sam Orchard came on board as the new EA for Diversity NZ.  For the past four years, along with our fearless leader Philip, we’ve worked hard to bring you fresh content every week – including contributions from some talented guest bloggers along the way.

Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago that we started this little project.  Our readership and reach grows every year and I’m so proud of the blog, and our team, for coming so far from our humble beginnings.

I’ve reflected as well, on how we’ve made it all work for so long, and the answer was highlighted to me so clearly only just recently.  

Every year our team takes a break over December and January – a much needed rest and respite, which helps us to keep our ideas fresh and creative for the coming year.  This year we met, as we usually do, in late January for our annual planning day.  We actually met on Auckland Anniversary Day and I had a number of friends comment on why I “had to” attend a meeting on a public holiday.  

But DPSN never feels like work!  We met, we had a delicious potluck lunch, and a glass of vino on the deck in the sunshine.  We caught up with each other as good friends that don’t see each other often enough, we laughed, we hugged – and we tossed around ideas for the blog for the year.

We wanted to continue to have monthly themes for the blog as we all felt it was a great way to provide inspiration.  Philip suggested we alphabetise our themes, and we hilariously brainstormed some options for A, B, C and so on (including a whole variety of suggestions that will never see the light of day on the blog!)  Then we very democratically voted for our favourites, and in the end decided to mix them up a bit so we could start with B for “Beginnings” and have a good balance of lighter and darker topics over the year.

Then we ate some more, laughed some more, and called it a day on the “meeting”.

How can I not love being a part of something so fun?  It’s true that this year I’ll be reducing my hours a little bit behind the scenes, as I’ve been feeling stretched between the number of projects I’m involved in.  But there is no way that I could let go of working with such a compassionate, inspired, dedicated, realistic, fun and funny group of people.  So here’s to 2018 and all of the fresh ideas it may hold, and long live DPSN!


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