Taking online groups offline to create real-life relationships

Online groups are increasingly going offline. Not entirely, of course, but creating IRL (In Real Life) relationships based on online connections are one of the greatest benefits of creating an online identity in the first place. But what do those offline groups look like, how do they evolve and what purpose do they serve? The Austin Food Blogger Alliance grew out of informal happy hours and potlucks that started back in 2008, when Addie Broyles, who was just starting a food blog for the Statesman at the time, reached out to established food bloggers in Austin to get a feel for the community she was jumping into.

As the group grew, so did its potential. In late 2010, Addie and a handful of the most active members of the informal group put the wheels in motion for AFBA, which is the first food blogger alliance of its kind in the country. The group now has more than 130 members and is in the process of creating a community cookbook; not a digital book, but one of those so-called “real books” that will help the group raise money to give back to the food community through scholarships, grants and donations to other nonprofits.


Addie will talk about the pros and cons of formalizing a group to the extent that AFBA has, what the future of the organization looks like and, through a conversation with attendees, what AFBA and ONA can learn from one another.

We’ll use this discussion as fodder in a closing brainstorming session on what our members want out of ONA-Austin in the coming months. Please come with ideas about what you would like to see or participate in at future ONA-Austin meetings.

NEW LOCATION: This meeting will be in a new location at the Capital Factory space on the 16th floor of the Austin Centre complex (which includes the Omni hotel) at 700 Brazos St. Being a Monday, street parking should be available for free after 6 p.m., or fee lots are scattered about.

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  • Lewis Knight

    Good meeting, good discussion!

    July 24, 2012

  • Steven Polunsky

    The program was about leveraging online communities of interest through offline contacts and events in order to expand knowledge and involvement. The speaker, Addie Broyles, spoke from her experiences with food bloggers and writers, and gave thoughtful comments as well as useful tips. I appreciate her insights.

    July 24, 2012

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