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Mar 05
Photography 4 comments

Color or B&W?

(Be patient ... these may take a while to load, sorry. )

So I am finishing up the edits of photos I've been taking of a woman farmer in my town. She does it alone, handles 18-22 cows and sells raw milk. Relentless work.

These are a sampling of the photos and I'm pleased to say that a gallery wants to show them. However, I have not decided whether to go color or black and white. I may have a mix, but I am inclined to use color only when color is a part of the story. And part of me is wanting to go all B&W to give it more of a documentary feel and also get the viewer to focus on the forms and light. B&W seems to work well in the barn, but also works outdoors.

What do you think?



Aug 10
The Community 22 comments

A Welcome and An Update

Photo by gevalt

More than a year ago a few of us launched this website as a place where writers, artists and musicians could post their work – in private – for some feedback. The idea was that all of us would love to have the wisdom of some fresh eyes or ears on our work to help affirm our ideas, direction or intentions.

We had envisioned a small community – maybe a couple of hundred people – who would use the site off and on. For many months, it seemed to be heading in that direction.

But inertia set in. We believe there are lots of reasons:

  1. We all are posting to so many places.
  2. Our work isn't necessarily shareable.
  3. We value our work and don't want anyone to swipe it.
  4. There was not enough critical mass to assure you that there'd be robust response.
  5. A lot of people aren't well versed to give good feedback (and by good, I mean, detailed, thorough response).
  6. The name of the site. (What does yapnet mean?)
  7. It was a pain to either log in or apply for an account and then log in.
  8. In an attempt to generate more activity we also instituted some challenges – something to get you going; but that seemed to negate the central purpose of the site.

So what to do? Activity has been low so the easy thing would be just to close it down.

But we don't give up easily. So with, sadly, Covid-19, again limiting our person-to-person interactions and, perhaps, our ability to get face-to-face feedback, we are going to make one last push:

  • We're eliminating the challenges and tiny writes
  • We're going to push the site on social media to find more writers and other artists
  • And we're going to start up a workshop or two that would be tied to some other activity being done online; for instance, Geoffrey Gevalt, one of the founders of Yapnet, will be encouraging people who write on his weekly Facebook Live writing sessions to come here to post and get some more detailed feedback on what they are creating.
  • And we'll do a mailing to everyone who's signed up in the past to see if there are other ideas or interests.

In the last analysis, we still believe in the premise and the potential value of this community. We'd love to see it grow and gain a life of its own.

Jul 22
Feedback 19 comments

Yapnet Updates

photos by me

Final Update

I am back from being off the grid: Cape Cod. Dawn swims with seals (no sharks); seafood and beer; books; sleeping on sand; much swimming. Sublime.

The site looks good upon return. Things I notice:

  • Several of you are very active (yay)
  • A number of members haven't been back in over a month (sniff, sniff)
  • We need more members to get to a critical mass that will keep the site diverse and vibrant as people come and go based on workflow, schedule, interests and needs.
    • I have created a WIKI that can be found here for you to share some strategies for growing this community: Jump in.

Also, you will see I've started an ABOUT page -- please react and suggest other things to say or better ways to say it in comments

  • AND in the drop-down menu below About, you'll see YAPNET - FAQ /node/647



UPDATE July 10

Site looks good. I'm going off grid for 10 days. Cape Cod without phone or wifi. Yay. Have fun. Contact @LauraRitchie if you have issues. But the site seems to be performing fine.

Be well, friends.



I moved over the final changes over today — a few tweaks to the style (links are now bold, elimination of the double "read more," eliminated the buttons on sprout and read more, etc.)

You band of sisters and brothers have been prolific in our first six weeks -- 325+ posts and 1025+ comments. The number of comments is unusual and clearly an indication that this group appreciates the opportunity to exchange observations and dialogue. Fantastic.

Now is a good time for the community to expand. Think small. Think of two people you know who you think would benefit from or add to or appreciate this community. Invite them. Follow up if you can. For instance, we have three new members who've created accounts but who've never logged in. I'll send them gentle emails to encourage them to take the next step. That's where follow up helps. No need for guilt; a reminder might do.

If each of us invites two people and they invite two people, over time this community will become deeper, more diverse and more substantive; it will then take on a life of it's own.

I feel the web stuff is now done. I will soon put out a more formal appeal for donations to the folks who are lending space on their server for this community — Young Writers Project: -- free of charge. If any of you wish to go ahead and donate now, please feel free. (FYI, most of my out-of-pocket costs have been covered with a genrous donation of $450 at the beginning of this enterprise by the institution of a wonderful Community Builder here. If any of you want to contribute to site expenses, msg me, but I'd rather money go to YWP; it's a great organization.)

Please let me know who among you would like to be designated as "maintainers" of this space — occasional approval of new accounts, making sure people get comments, doing regular recruitment of new members. This is light lifting but important work, in many ways. Email or message me.

Thanks everyone.


UPDATE June 28

Well pretty much everything is done now. Finally. Here's what's up:
  • New look has returned with no issues that I can see. (As always, let me know if something is broken on this site.)
  • Front page and profile pages look nicer.
  • If someone "sprouts" off your story -- creates a related post by clicking the "sprout" button, you'll get an email notification (providing you've made sure emails from the site aren't thrown into spam.)
  • Comment column is wider
  • There's an "Invite an Artist" in the options below "My Blog" in the upper right corner of the menu. Use that to bring someone(s) you know into the community.
    • I've added a Captcha for people registering for an account. Please advise any invitees of that AND that it may take a few hours for the account to be approved.
  • You'll see that @LauraRitchie functionality -- "mentions" -- now will automatically link to that @LauraRitchie's profile; further you'll see a "mentions" tab on your profile page that will show where you've been mentioned.
  • Also, images loaded up to the "body" of a post are now fully responsive.


  • Fix links so they are more distinctive
  • "About" page and the "How to do stuff" page. You guys can riff off those and suggest changes that I'll incorporate.
  • I think I'll change the way emails are sent out; I think some of you may be seeing site mail (notifications) as spam.

I think the site is ready for primetime. Is there a plan afoot for bringing more people to our little amazing community?


UPDATE June 27

Well to move forward, sometimes you have to move backwards... Sorry for a few hiccups on the site over the last few days. We've discovered a few problems created with a few new changes, so I've reverted back to the original look and feel while we do more testing. Isn't web development fun?

UPDATE June 23

Well we've been busy:
  • you'll see a subtle change in the look:  downplayed the date of creation, shifted to black with green hover, cleaned up the front presentation (will populate with other boxes on rightside), made the type slightly larger and made the comment sidebar bigger to reflect that you guys like to, well, yap.
  • Remaining: To get avatars/pics displaying again; links underlined so they stand out
  • I've also added an "Invite an Artist" link for you to send an invitation to someone you know via email to invite them to join the site.
  • You'll now see a tab "Mentions" on your profile page (which has been cleaned up) which will list all the times you've been mentioned with the @LauraRitchie tag and where
  • We are now finishing up on figuring out how to do notifications on sprouts and @LauraRitchie mentions. ... Y

I confess that I'm getting to the end of my string here -- my other projects are suffering. I've enlisted a little help, but I'm going to hold off on any new intiatives for awhile. This has taken a huge amount of my time -- as a for instance, a couple of you were clamoring for a video solution; I spent a better part of a day developing a way to upload video but in the last analysis I wasn't happy with it and I'm not sure how much it will get used and I simply can't put the time in right now.

I'm really pleased by where we are both in terms of community building AND the actual site/code/performance. Now's the time to strategize on how to gather more folks.

My next tasks will be to build an About page and the FAQ/how-to page; these will not be finished works and will be open for suggestions, but I want to get the most important things done soon. I realize this is a bit "hierarchal" to do these now, but we I think we'd all benefit from some basic guideposts and instructions. In response to @tellio I, too, would love this site to evolve organically -- and it will -- and if there are people out there who'd love to help create a group of Community Leaders to make decisions and maintain the community aspect of this, we're all ears... And, of course, I'd love to have someone help with the site maintenance. I think sometimes people forget just how much time this takes.

I appreciate all that you've done to share. Your comments have been amazing -- kind, thoughtful, specific. I appreciate that many of you are embracing our initial intention: to create a safe, respectful space where artists/creative minds can share unfinished work for support and feedback and potential different approaches as well as a private space to try out new ideas without worry about your digital identity and to share knowledge on how you do things in your field.

Be well,


UPDATE June 19
  • Added functionality to include a mention of somone as in @tellio ... Am trying to figure out if we can wrap notifications around that (and when someone sprouts off your post) and will advise.


UPDATE June 18
  • I've changed the profile pages to provide a bit more information on users and their activity. This will be prettied up slightly in the next few weeks.
  • In anticipation of more people coming in, I've changed the permissions for community builders -- you no longer have the ability to edit other people's posts and comments and profiles. That was handy at first but it now represents a security risk. Hope you understand
  • There remains an unexplained glitch with the Group Shoutbox function -- it doesn't instantly refresh itself -- you have to do it manually to see your shout. I'll fix.
  • We are looking to do final CSS changes (and a few navigational tweaks and a bit of cleanup on invisible "warnings" in the log reports) by July 1. This is also my deadline for creating an About page and a How-To FAQ page. I say we, because I'm enlisting a bit of help on the CSS part.
  • Presuming I (we) make our deadline, I'd like to have a strategy by then for spreading the word about the site, attracting more members and building a critical mass for people to come in and out -- as time and need permits.
    • So we have an exercise for that ... Give us some great ideas from all of you on how to get more members here. Hop on:
  • Be well


UPDATE June 16

We continue to be amazed, gratified and appreciative of the amazing work and commenting going on in here. We really are excited by the potential of this community of creative people helping each other.

Because we've gotten ample feedback we will begin making some improvements to the site over the next few weeks. Be patient with us, occasionally we'll have to put the site in maintenance mode. But only for a sec.

  1. You will notice we have a new logo. Yay to Abigail Bartell who is amongst the early Community Builders. Thank you Abby.
  2. You will notice a Login/Join button in the upper right menu bar. That should be easier for you if you've logged out.
    • The JOIN button represents a bit of a change -- we are tightening up access to the site to keep bots and sundries out. NOW, applicants will have to wait until one of the administrators checks to make sure the applicant is real and then the account will be activated. This may take a half day or so in some cases given that this is a volunteer operation. So please tell anyone you think might be interested that access to the site is not immediate and that Geoff Gevalt will email the new member once he activates the account.
  3. You will notice a NEW photo treatment via "ADD MEDIA" Add Image... You can see it in the small slideshow above (and in all other slideshows on the site). The big changes:
    • If you hover your mouse over the photo you will see in UPPER RIGHT corner an option to make the photo full screen. Yay. (As a photographer, I was looking for a solution that could display photos and scanned art at full screen.)  Just hit ESC or the upper right button to return
    • The slides are manually controlled. (I am exploring this software and as I test it out more on our dev site, I hope to bring you a user-controlled auto scrolling AND injection of sound.
  4. We have moved to a more robust server. You should see a difference in the site's speed. The move was made partially for that reason but also to build towards the future -- on the presumption that we'll have more people signing up when we actually go live and start promoting it. (And FYI, I did this on Father's Day no less!)
    • I trust that I got all of your posts and comments in the move -- I didn't realize until later that some of you may stay logged in which would have allowed you to bypass the fact I had put the site in maintenance mode and still gain access to the site. If any of you are missing anything, let me know and I'll upload the files and db from the old server again. (It's kind of a pain, so I'm hoping.... )

In next few weeks:

  • Slightly different look -- I am going to nix the dates so prominently and nix the turquoise in favor of black with green on hover for links etc. I think it will look nicer.
  • cleaned-up profile pages with more collected info and nicer look
  • cleaned-up front page
  • A library of exercises which we'll roll out from time to time, highlighting one a week for people to play with.
  • A How-To page
  • An About page

Happy Father's Day
And, in a jingoistic aside, way to go U.S. Women!

UPDATE June 12

Three weeks in... Some numbers: 34 users; 175+ posts; 750+ comments. Whoa. Commenting pattern indicates a vibrant community and a desire to share, support, connect. Fantastic.

Thanks to Laura for holding two video conferences. Thanks to all who participated and all who watched the recordings. You can see them here (if you are logged in):

Thanks to the 12 people who've completed our survey/questionnaire. If you haven't, please do; here's the link (if you are logged in):  This provides us extremely important information for the final web development and "launch" of the site. Your voice is important.

Given that Vermont (after an extraordinary 3 days of sun) is going back to all-rain mode, I hope to get to some development work on the site in the days ahead. Will advise.

We still need a few folks who fit the primary mission of the space: A creative person who would benefit from sharing, in a private, safe space, unfinished work or ideas for feedback, support and affirmation. So think of people who are NOT in your primary communication/creative circles, people you respect and think might appreciate and use a space like this. We still need more musicians, writers, phtographers, visual artists, performance artists to populate and seed this space before launch. THANKS! Send them to and I'll send them the info or send them the secret link to create an account, but please be careful with that, we've already had a couple of spam accounts created.

Thanks everyone,



It has been almost two weeks since this site was created. What is happening is encouraging, exciting. You are like bees to blossoms. There are now 25 people on the site, testing, poking around, posting, sharing, sprouting, commenting. We've had over 400 comments, over 100 posts. Some of you know each other, some don't. That was intended. You've, for the most part, figured out how to do things; it was intended to NOT give you directions to gauge the site's intuitive nature. You've shared some very personal projects and content. Some of you have been inspired by others, witness the burgeoning #100Days project, more here: and thanks @abartell

Awesome beginnings. I believe this can become a self-sustaining, thriving community.

Upcoming June 6 and 7 are some video conferences being led by @LauraRitchie. We hope as many of you can participate as possible; each of you is a key part of what this community will become. More here:

We've cleaned up some technical issues, made some tweaks and built out a backup/dev site. In about two weeks, we'll start finishing up the final tweaks to the site -- better looking front and profile pages, an ABOUT page, a FAQ (How-to) page. VERY open to suggestions. Comment here.

Thanks for all you've done in this community. You are the explorers. You have set a tone of openness and support and collaboration.

Our next step is to get a few more people onto the site. Knowanyone who might be interested? Someone who would benefit from sharing work in progress, ideas half-baked for support and feedback? In private? This is the place.



Jun 30
The Community 2 comments

About Yapnet

YapNet is a private community of respect where any artists and creative thinkers can share unfinished work or ideas for feedback and suggestions.  Click login/join to jump in.


YapNet, while a private site, is open to anyone who wants to find a knowledgeable, helpful audience for work in progress. Simply create an account and we'll approve it (be patient; we're volunteers) and you can post whatever you'd like — writing, music, digital media, photographs and other visual art, audio, ideas for the classroom, essays, plays —  to get some feedback. We know the creative process is a lonely one and sometimes it's great to get some objective affirmation and suggestions to keep you going.

You can also see how others do it. Or you can respond to our frequent creative challenges designed to get you started.

We are a small band of artists and volunteers. We promise that no one will appropriate your idea and that you will be treated with care and civility. But we are looking for art with an edge, work you are excited about but may not be sure about.

The founders are Geoffrey Gevalt — a writer, editor and photographer; a former journalist, he founded, a respectful hive of creativity for young people; and Laura Ritchie — a performing cellist and innovative educator at the University of Chichester in England.

A couple of suggestions: 
  • The best way to get feedback is to give feedback; if you get feedback, say thanks.
  • Remember this is open space is private, meaning that only members who are logged on can see your work. While that seems like a contradiction, we believe privacy releases you from worry about your digital reputation or identity and openness to welcome anyone to have an account on this site ensure inclusion and agency for all. (NOTE: you are free to make any of your posts public should you wish to have a link that works for the outside world.)
  • This is not a new social media site. This is not a replacement for other communities to which you belong. This is not a place to promote yourself or your work. This is a community that you can visit when you need help or a small, caring external audience or, simply that you wish to give to others.
  • We have several overarching words that govern this site: Respect. Empathy. Caring. Show it. Believe it. Practice it. Try as we might, we have never found a behavior that isn't covered by those words.
  • To reiterate, anyone from anywhere is welcome to join this community. We define artists as people who create – musicians and painters, writers and digital storytellers, photographers and performers, educators and re-mixers. Don't worry about the occupation you list on your tax form; consider only, Would I like to get some other perspectives on what I'm working on?

Yapnet is a non-hierarchical, emergent space, meaning that while we hope to keep to our core we fully expect that this community will shift and change and grow. You will determine that.


If you haven't joined, click "login/join" and register for an account. We'll activate it as soon as we can.

May 20
The Community 5 comments

Are you interested in helping build this community?

We are looking for Community Builders on this site. Job would entail:

  • Helping shape and seed the site
  • Recruit people to join
  • As things get going, devote an hour or so each week (at minimum) providing feedback to others.
  • Participate by sharing some of your own work for feedback.

If so, please go to and fill out the form.


geoff gevalt