Less than 18 months ago I was on the outside looking in. I wasn't into pens or stationery, but decided to try out a fountain pen to see if it would help remediate growing RSI issues. I listened to the most recent Pen Addict fountain pen primer episode. Since then I have fallen deep into the pen, and other stationery, rabbit holes. Beyond that I have discovered what an amazing community there is here. As many have mentioned previously, the stationery community has been the best community that I have been a part of.
At the heart of a good community is a focus on the health of the people, the relationships therein, and an empathetic basis. The stationery community has this in spades. The welcoming and inclusive attitude of the community, even to an introverted fledgling such as myself, is one of its shining characteristics. Regardless of your current knowledge of stationery, people in this community have always been ready to help you find out what work best for you and troubleshoot problems. People are open and willing to share their knowledge and experience, and are overall excited to share and spread the love of good writing instruments.
Something that has always struck me as significant about the community is the care people have for each other and how giving they are. This is not a group of people whose connection to each other ends at the discussion of one's latest acquisition. They truly care about the people in it and come alongside both in the positive and more difficult moments. On one such occasion last year the community secretly orchestrated the funding, purchase, and delivery of a Nakaya for Mary Collis after she received news of her MS diagnosis. The accompanying note sums up the heart of this compassionate and caring community: "...This pen doesn't fix anything, but hopefully every time you use it it will put a smile on your face as you tackle all that lies ahead." Such care and support are something to be cherished.
I too experienced the sheer generosity of the people here. After saving up for months fairly early in my pen addiction I finally was able to purchase a Franklin Christoph Model 40. Less than two months into owning it, I somehow lost it (my most expensive pen at the time and the only one I ever lost). After sharing the sad news in the Pen Addict Slack Group I got an unexpected message from Thomas Hall offering to give me his Model 40 because he wasn't using it much. That was something that totally caught me off guard--that I, a nobody in my perspective, would be the recipient of such generosity from someone I didn't even know. The generosity of this community shows itself regularly through freely offering ink samples, picking up and shipping of Field Notes only found locally, etc.
Additionally, the stationery community is a great place where we can challenge each other and disagreements don't devolve into the normal internet vitriol. Conversations include TWSBI's build quality, the temporary transition of Noodler's ink to plastic bottles, Kickstarter snafus, the renewal of the Esterbrook brand, and more. Most recently, Ian Hedley began a great discussion about Pilot's product availability and significant price difference between the USA and the UK. It has continued with an official response from Pilot and Ian sharing some additional thoughts on Pilot's response here. Even amidst disagreement, conversations remain productive and respectful, which is the best we can ask for. A community where everyone agrees lacks diversity and the opportunity for growth.
The stationery community is not just a place where people share their nerdy obsession. Rather, that serves as the societal impetus bringing us all together. The community is much more than that. It is a place that is welcoming and works to cast off the notion of societal cliques. It is a place which avoids myopic behavior, where people care about each other deeply and are giving in spirit. It is a place where disagreement and civil discourse can take place. Ultimately, the stationery community is a place to be welcomed into, to belong, and to call home.