The Joys of Being a Community Manager


A Glimpse into My Role at Bailiwik


Introduction: Unveiling the Joys of Being a Community Manager

Being a community manager for the Bailiwik app has been an incredible journey, allowing me to foster connections among people who live and work in close proximity. Bailiwik thrives on facilitating meaningful interactions on the app and through real-world engagements. In this blog post, I'll share what I truly enjoy about my role as a community manager and host, and how it perfectly aligns with my passion for connecting with others.


The Heart of Bailiwik: Meaningful Conversations and Local Events

What sets Bailiwik apart is its emphasis on real connections both on the Bailiwik app and when people get together in real life. Rather than endless scrolling, the app encourages locals to engage in conversations and discover events in their vicinity. It's a joy to witness new friendships developing as community members chat, organize gatherings, and share experiences. What's exciting is that these interactions on the app also lead to fostering in-person connections that truly enrich people's lives.


Embracing the Role of Host: Facilitating Bonds and Memories

As a community manager, I proudly wear the hat of a host of a few different communities on the westside of LA. One of our particularly vibrant communities is the Downtown Culver City Bailiwik.  This role resonates with my natural inclination to connect with strangers effortlessly, I’ve really never met a stranger. Hosting allows me to leverage this ability to help individuals meet new friends, curate exciting events, and craft engaging content that resonates with our members.


Cultivating Bonds: A Natural Fit

One of the reasons why being a community manager and hosting feel like a natural fit for me is my genuine interest in people's stories. I thrive on initiating conversations by sending direct messages through the app, engaging with the content they share and when I meet them in real-life. It's incredibly rewarding to witness the evolution of relationships and stay up to date on what’s going on in our members' lives.


One of our members Eric Gray (AKA Rocsta Q) is a musician and plays music outside of a restaurant here in Culver City.  It’s been such a pleasure getting to know him and seeing him on his musical journey. Oftentimes, I'll step out of my coworking spot BLANKSPACES (one of our community partners) in DTCC to go see Rocsta who plays about a block away from the office outside of Ugo Cafe. Since I’ve known him he’s put out two albums and is working on more songs right now.


Shared Experiences: The Magic of Events

Nothing fosters a sense of community quite like our events. From our weekly trivia nights to monthly happy hours and board game extravaganzas, the events we host bring individuals together, creating opportunities for connections to flourish. These occasions allow me to not only remain connected with the community but also to make new friends.


Since trivia nights happen every Tuesday, I’ve really had the chance to become friends with the people I play with.  This leads us to hang outside of trivia by going out for drinks or by grabbing lunch together.


Conclusion: A Privilege and a Pleasure

In the realm of community management and hosting, I find myself truly fortunate. The opportunity to merge my outgoing personality with a role that I genuinely enjoy is a gift. Through Bailiwik, I have the privilege of facilitating connections, creating memorable events, and witnessing the growth of meaningful relationships. It's not just a role; it's a fulfilling journey that continues to bring joy to both myself and the members of the Bailiwik community.

The Truth Behind The Simpsons Trump Prediction

My claim to fame, if I have one, is that I wrote the episode of The Simpsons that predicted the Trump presidency. That’s at least true enough to not be untrue, but at the same time, a bit of elaboration could make it true-er. And explain how it relates to Bailiwik.

First, there’s the matter of the show’s writing process and the idea of authorship. All of the episodes are written collaboratively, so to give anyone credit as author is not really accurate. On the other hand, generally one person pitches the idea and takes the lead in developing it and writes the first draft. That person has as much or more claim to authorship as anyone, and since we all play this leading role on occasion, and because you really do feel a certain ownership of the script despite everyone else getting involved and wrecking it – or, worse, making it better – giving this writer credit as author seems to capture as much of the truth than any other practical approach.

The Trump "prediction" was included in an episode called "Bart to the Future," which was itself a shameless rip-off of Gregg Daniel’s classic "Lisa’s Wedding," which established that Lisa would one day be president. My episode was about grown-up Bart redeeming himself after a misspent life by saving Lisa and the country. We needed the country to be in a crisis so profound that only Bart could save her. That raised the question of her predecessor. Who would leave the country in such bad shape that not even President Lisa Simpson could fix it?

Another writer pitched Johnny Depp, and that seemed to be on the verge of going into the final draft, but it didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t see a reason why the American people would vote for him, even a satirical one. Why would anyone vote for Johnny Depp? What's in it for us?

I thought the American people – you know, us – were more likely to vote for someone completely uninhibited by any scruple or restraint in promising us everything we ever wanted. Someone like Donald Trump.

That’s in the American grain. We've been falling for the same kind of sky's-the-limit, get-rich-quick con-job for 200 years. It works, and it's going to keep working. It wasn't a prediction, it was an observation. 

The fact that it "came true" doesn't mean I or we can see the future, but it does make me think that maybe my observations about us as a country aren't completely off-base. (But then again I missed Trump darkness, so maybe I'm not so perceptive after all.)

I think the work of a writer and that of a company founder are more closely related than one might think. The key to both is seeing things that others feel, that they'll recognize when you respond to them, but which they haven't quite put their finger on.

That’s what I’ve tried to do at The Simpsons and at The Office – and what I hope we're doing through Bailiwik. In my writing, I have looked to my own confusion and delusions and trusted that these would resonate with others. Bailiwik is a response to my own sense of isolation, social disconnection – dare I say loneliness – which I also saw reflected back to me in the people I met while traveling the country for USA today. It struck me that we were all feeling that we were all suffering from an unmet need for basic human solidarity and connection –and that very universality of this need also pointed to a solution: connecting to the people around us.

That's the idea anyway. But as we say at The Simpsons, "It's just a pitch!"

You Can Learn Something From Every One You Meet

At the gas station the other night, a stranger struck up a conversation with me. He was an older man in his late 70s. The gas pumps were down for a few minutes for some kind of daily security check so there was a brief opportunity for us to chat. He asked me if I lived in the area and if I knew that the gas station we were at had the cheapest gas in the valley to which I replied, “Of course, that’s why I came here!” He shared that his wife had passed away years ago and I expressed my condolences. 

After that, he made a comment about how crazy gas prices have been lately and lamented about "what's going on in Washington," he asked me what I do for work. I told him I wear many hats but that my passion is teaching. He then proceeded to go off on a rant about how he thinks "it's crazy that these teachers are telling kids to change their gender," and that he "saw on tv that they brought a drag queen into a school, and that is just ridiculous." He asked my opinion and this was my reply: "With all due respect I wouldn't just believe everything you hear/see on TV. They take isolated incidents and exaggerate them to shock people.” Then I told him to think about a child that he knows. I asked, “What if that child told you they didn't feel like themselves because they didn't identify with the gender they were assigned at birth? Now what if this child expressed that they felt like they didn't belong? A lot of the time people who feel like they don't belong isolate themselves further and become depressed/suicidal. Would you make that child feel like something was wrong with them? Or would you seek out resources to help them feel more like themselves so they can be happy?" 

We continued to talk a bit more about it but honestly I think I opened his mind a bit to something he was VERY close-minded about at first. I chose to come from a place of curiosity instead of judgment. I could have easily written him off and let him go on thinking this way but I couldn't. I felt a sense of responsibility to at least TRY to change his mind. This is a man who grew up in a very different time. He was judging what he didn't know. At the end of the conversation, he told me that the kids I teach are very lucky to have me. We wished each other well and went our separate ways.

I decided to share this because it’s so important to talk with people who have different perspectives from yours. If you’re open- you will learn something from every person that you meet. I think many of us believe that we can’t “teach our elders” things because they are set in their belief systems and think they know better than younger generations. But just because they have been alive for longer, does not mean they have nothing left to learn. For example, I learn things all the time from my younger sister. If I let my ego get in the way, I would close myself off from all of the valuable lessons she has taught me about social issues. If it weren’t for her, I might not have felt confident enough to teach this man about what I know. 

September is National Suicide Awareness month. According to a recent U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of Young People, 41% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. While these conversations like the one I shared may be uncomfortable, they are necessary. Everyone should have the right to be themselves and to be supported by their community.

Connected Communities Help to Grow Businesses & Commerce

A few years back as I was really starting to get my photography business off the ground, I had an idea about a location I wanted to start my business out of. A friend I play volleyball with was working out of a coworking space called BLANKSPACES, and suggested I work out of the shared work space.

Coworking spaces, if you’re not familiar with them, are a shared work space where individuals can run their own business. So I decided to set up my business Steven Hankins Photography out of BLANKSPACES in Santa Monica.

The benefits of working out of a shared space is that I was able to mingle with other people in the office and offer my photography services to them. In working out of BLANKSPACES, I quickly realized that there was a community connections platform called Bailiwik that also worked out of the shared office space.

Bailiwik is a platform (available on iOS, Android and for use on the web) which helps connect people that either live or work within walking distance of each other. What appeals to me about Bailiwik is that it allows me to chat with the community around me, offer my photography services and find deals from other local businesses.

Since Bailiwik already aligned with the desires I had for the community, I started working for them.

As I started working for Bailiwik, I was tasked to meet all of the other members of BLANKSPACES, plus reach out to businesses to see if they wanted to be part of the community and might want to offer deals…and who doesn’t like a good deal right? In meeting BLANKSPACES members and businesses, I was able to use Bailiwik to promote my photography services.

In closing, I’m thankful for the community that Bailiwik has helped me develop and how I’ve brought in new photography clients.

If you’re interested in connecting more to the community around you, join one of our existing Bailiwiks if you live in the area. Or start your own and invite your neighbors and local businesses to join.

What's a Bailiwik?

Bailiwiks are communities that share a real-world place and a commitment to treating each other in a friendly, neighborly way.

Why are they called Bailiwiks?

Our name is based on the old-fashioned word “bailiwick,” which means area of responsibility. We think of our Bailiwiks as our areas of responsibility. Bailiwik is about taking a little bit of responsibility for the people around you. We dropped the “c” from the word “bailiwick” to communicate the sense that we’re creating it together as a community, like a wiki.

What’s the Point?

Bailiwik is an expression of our belief that everyone should have an opportunity to experience unconditional membership in the human community, and the most simple natural way to do this is to create stronger sense of community at the level of the neighborhood — or other small, shared real-world place.

We think isolation and alienation — and not being seen and accepted as you are, simply for being you — underlies a lot of the other issues challenging society today. Bailiwik is our attempt to address that in away that seems sensible and fun.

Why Places? Why not some other kind of community, like a shared interest?

Shared interests are great and many platforms exist for communities based on shared interests. They are not under-served or neglected on the web.

Place, on the other hand, seems to us both under-served and under-acknowledged as a basis of community. We believe that we are all, in reality, members of communities made up of the people around us in the real world, but that this most basic kind of community is often not seen as clearly as it could be, or supported as well as it might be, to serve the well-being of its members. Bailiwik is an attempt to use tools of social media to support this most basic and unconditional kind of community.

Of course, people can use Bailiwik how they want, within reason, and if people want to create communities that combine a specific interest and a place that’s fine with us. We’re creating this together.

What’s the Story?

Bailiwik was founded by Dan Greaney and Jeff Baron, two old college friends who had pursued different paths that left them both with the feeling that they had more to do personally and professionally. Dan’s background was in TV writing, Jeff’s was in the world of computing and consulting. Dan had been carrying around the idea there should be a smaller, more personal level of local media ever since working for USA Today right out of college. He shared this thought with Jeff and together they developed it into into Bailiwik, a process which lead them to clarify their own underlying motivation: to give people an unconditional sense of membership in human community, a mission which was was deeply motivating to them both and to the many talented people who helped move this vision into reality.