This blog originated as a venue to share the creative energy behind the development of uencounter.me and has morphed into a collection of travel stories, partner introductions, and posts that demonstrate the value of people we meet in our personal journeys. This post will be the beginning of a “Founder’s Reflections” series; a collection of observations by me (Leslyn) on any topic relating to my own, or the Team’s experiences in the pursuit of building uencounter.me.

Since our launch in November, we have been amazed at the ways in which people are using the virtual pin map platform that exists at UE. Of course, mapping the places we and UE users have lived, worked, and traveled are the core functions that we expected to see when we first began. Yet we have noticed that our vision on how to use the pin map was extremely limited.  We are thrilled to see the map being used for so many different types of reasons; churches mapping congregants, businesses mapping clients, retailers mapping sales, guest house owners mapping renters, bloggers mapping posts, listserv admins mapping members, genealogists mapping ancestors, and one of the most unique and heartwarming uses – A user who is mapping emotional support. It is this story that I would like to share.

Each day I start my morning by sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee and browse through the new pins that were added overnight from around the world.  Last week I noticed a large number of pins that were related to “spiritual activity”. This was the name we came up with for users who may want to pin a retreat, a church function, or something along that line and I thought it was interesting that someone was pinning so many ‘spiritual’ locations. While my interest was piqued, it was a busy time and I didn’t think about it again until I received an email over the weekend. The email was from Wendy Mueller, who has graciously given me permission to use her name and comments, and quotes:

 “I’m hoping to use this in a unique way, and I am wondering if you could assist me. I am currently homebound due to some significant health issues. I have become discouraged in thinking that I am alone, but I have realized that I am really not, my support is just spread throughout the world. I realized as I dropped pins around the world where my friends and family live, that it was as if I were receiving a virtual hug.  (edit)  … I’m wondering if there is a way that would allow me to share [my map] with others [to share] what an impact they have made on me, and how they have become an important point in my virtual hug. The fact that you so boldly encourage your site as an opportunity to say thank you and ask forgiveness makes this the ideal site for what I am envisioning.”

I was immediately touched by Wendy’s request and noticed that she had already placed 80 pins on the map. For her, those 80 pins represented support and I was able to understand why she would relate them to ‘spiritual activity’.  I offered Wendy some feedback about how to share her map with all of those people and it stimulated a ton of creative ideas with the UE Team on how we could implement sharing more globally (exciting options coming and will be discussed in future posts).

Wendy’s Map

Essentially, I am sharing Wendy’s use of the uencounter.me map because it is a fantastic demonstration of the unique and versatile ways in which to use a virtual pin map but more importantly, it is an example of the serendipitous nature of life in general. The idea that by visualizing representative pins on a map can offer a sense of connection and belonging is at the core of the UE founding philosophy.

Thank you Wendy, for validating the value of when you encounter me!

You can read more about Wendy on her blog: Odyssey of a Lifetime and connect with her on Facebook. To view and interact with Wendy’s map at uencounter.me, create a free account and send her a LINK request! 

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