Last week I put up a survey on the blog and Facebook. It was a really unique opportunity to hear back from the thousands of visitors to LivingVertical.org and the social media community. I always feel like it’s a tricky proposition to put up that kind of a survey–asking people what they like or don’t like–asking what we do well and what we could or should be doing instead. This endeavor has always been really personal to me and believe it or not, I notice when people unlike the Facebook page or unsubscribe from email subscriptions, so putting out a series of questions like this always leaves me feeling a little bit vulnerable–but it’s worth it!

The two clearest points that came through were:

  1. You want to connect with and interact with other people with diabetes based on common interests and being active outdoors.
  2. You want more information about being active outdoors with type 1.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.11.22 AM

In the coming months I will be getting on the road with my family and my goal is to use the travel that is built-in to that lifestyle as an opportunity to host free meet-ups everywhere that it is feasible for as long as I can manage it. I want to see opportunities for people with diabetes to just get together based on what we want more of. To me that means less structure and more freedom. Hiking, Camping, Climbing, Biking, Photography–you name it. If it can happen outside and fits in with campfires and open air then I think we should have more of that available to us and I don’t see a better alternative than just going and doing it ourselves.

Here’s the thing though–not everyone can make it to meetups and I can only be in so many places at once. Also, I won’t be on the road for a few months still. Thus, the LivingVertical Forum! Blake has put a lot of time into executing this project–which I would be completely lost attempting on my own and I want to make sure he gets the recognition for actually doing the work to create this space for us.

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.14.32 AM

A forum for diabetes and adventure, like many of our endeavors here, started with the desire to connect more of YOU with each other–using the tools we have available. There are Facebook groups it’s true; but if I’m being honest (which I am, for better or worse!) the shelf life of the Facebook thing is starting to wane. There is just so much distraction and nonsense on there that I find it hard to spend time there. A big part of excellence involves focus and freeing ourselves from distraction–and while that isn’t the way of the mainstream, I believe that having a resource for people who want to dial in on connecting and building community with others with diabetes based on common interest–could be hugely impactful. Where that virtual resource didn’t exist before, it does now.

I really envision the forum being a lasting resource of questions and answers about diet and exercise and adapting diabetes to the lives we want to live outside of what we are told is “normal” for us. I also hope that as it grows, that we will have more opportunities for real world interaction and engagement–for example, there is a category for “Events/Meetups”  that I will be making use of once I am on the road (and I hope you will too! As I write more blogs about the Ketogenic diet that I’m on, you may wish to connect on the “Diet/Food” category on the forum to post questions and experiences that you have had. Lastly I want to highlight the “Photos/Trip reports” category. I was trying to basically create a place for us to share our experiences and accomplishments on the blog with the Go Beyond Diabetes posts earlier in the summer–and now there is a place for you to control what you post and submit lasting content to inform and inspire others.

One of the inevitable results of a survey like this is seeing some expectations that I know I can’t meet. For example some of you want shorter podcasts–but I know that the time and effort it takes to produce a shorter, more tightly edited episodes far outstrips the time and resources I have as one person working a full time job in addition to LivingVertical. Most short format podcasts are written and produced by a team of people whose focus is doing just that. Time constraints demand that I do a longer format, oddly enough, because longer format usually means less time cutting and editing–and honestly, those are the type of podcasts I listen to because they go deeper and provide more connection than just brief entertainment.

There are always limitations and expectations and my struggle has been (and will continue to be) balancing these as best I can–but at the end of the day, you’re still here. There is lots of work to be done here but knowing that you still are on board even though we are still growing and learning really gave me a lot of inspiration to focus on expectations that I can meet!

Thank you for being part of this community in whatever way you find most beneficial in your journey with diabetes. I am excited because while I know that I can’t serve up everything the way everyone wants, I know that a lot of people are getting some benefit out of the multitude of things we share across our different channels and are willing to be part of our growth as we continue to offer more. This quote from the survey really hit home for me:

I don’t think that this is about us. I think that this is about you finding an approach to market your interests. Are you wanting to share information, inspire and educate or do you want to make money? If the latter, then you have to focus on what products you create to sell who you are. How you brand yourself. A documentary maker. A photographer. A type 1 educator. An extreme outdoor enthusiast, etc. When you decide what is important to you, those who are the same will follow.”

Priorities are always key and this was such a great reminder of that. My priority with LivingVertical is (and has been from the start) reaching more people and building relationships with those who find value in our work. Period. I know how I want to accomplish that, using the tools and resources I have and it means a great deal to know that you’re invested in being part of that.

LivingVertical thrives because of YOU. I (Steve) personally appreciate the time you’ve taken to read this. The biggest support that we need is for you to share our posts on social media. If you’d like to contribute financially, that’s an option too–via the “Donate” button in the right hand column (or scroll way down on mobile!) You can also buy one of our photo prints if you want to own stunning images from our expeditions!