Passionfruit's (my) Learning Community for Friendly Fruits (and Family): An intro!

Christopher Chen
Published in
7 min readFeb 10, 2019


“Passionate from miles away” — AKON

Signup Form:

Hi, Chris here! How are you?

So as you might have heard, I graduated! And as I can’t stay away from learning for too long, I’m creating this Learning Community for Fruits. Let me tell you about it.

TL;DR I think learning on my own is hard; I really stink at it! I think people generally stink at doing things on their own, but learning is something that most people tackle largely individually. I think that changing how we openly share and celebrate the learning process can make us all more successful at staying motivated, keeping focus, and building a library of personal learning stories.

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What is this Learning Community for Friendly Fruits?

*NOTE:* This next part is just a “Chris rambles and writes something silly because he thinks he’s funny.” You can skip to the next section: So… what is the Learning Community for Fruits? if you’d like!

A relatable(?) story

Let me tell you about a constant self-dialogue that happens in my brain.

Kristofferson: “Oh my gosh! Topher! Did you hear that last 🍓Strawberry Generation🍓 show? That was 🔥🔥🔥🌶 like Gordon Ramsey on Da Bomb hot sauce on the last episode of Hot Ones.”

Topher: “Oh yeah totes-mah-goats Kristofferson. Golly-gook they are so darn good. We could totally be way more famous and cool though if I sat down to learn a little song writing. Am I right or am I right?”

Kris: “Yeah! And I’ll learn some more guitar than the 5 chords than I know right now! I already got some spicy lyrics in my head. Let me drop some quick bars.”

🎵 Scoopity poop. Poopity woop. Scoop. Woop. 🎵

Topher: “Yeet man! Eskeetit! is the wayyy! The best guitar lessons online, and they’re free!”

4 weeks later…

*Noms on doritos.* *nom nom nom*

Rice Krispiez: “How is that music-stuff going Tofu Boys?”

I ❤ Tofu

Topher+Tofferson: “Oh hold up Rice Krispiez. *alt-tabs* I’m on Touyube. I just found this hot new Fletnix series: Messying down with Karie Mondo. I’ve been binge watching it since 4 weeks ago. It’s about training dogs to roll in the mud and then sending them into their worst enemies house. Really sparks joy in my life.”

Rice Krispiez: “Ah… gotcha…”

Now replace guitar/song writing with drawing/reading/art/creative writing/singing/running/beatboxing/Arduino/Javascript/math/mastering King Dedede, and you have a 100% accurate representation of me simply failing to muster the long term mental energy to commit to pursuing a passion.

But, everything changed after the graduation nation attacked. /sarcasm


I’ve been investigating, particularly in unstructured environments, what makes people (really me) succeed at learning, and even more, what makes people fail. I think perhaps the biggest contributor is the often the mental energy wall after the “honeymoon phase” required to make unstructured learning effective and continuous. To me, this usually looks like getting ready to work but ultimately lazily running autoplay videos on Youtube, or rolling around in bed in the morning instead of getting up.

So… what is the Learning Community for Friendly Fruits?

This learning community adds some structure to unstructured learning with the goals of:

  1. Inspiring and being inspired by your peers to pursue your passions!
  2. Encourage effective learning strategies to make significant progress even in the middle of your busy life
  3. Share, normalize, and collaboratively hone your learning process (as opposed to just sharing the results). Narrate a learning story!

Why do these matter?

My hypothesis (that I need your help to validate) is if having an active and social learning experience will be powerful enough to turn that frown upside down with regards to practice. See your peers’ effort and learning process to support your own motivation to put in the elbow grease alongside them. Stay accountable to focus your learning not just to yourself, but to the community. Learn smarter, not harder.

Finally, I believe that learning and effort, today, is something that is really opaque and, in someways, ignored. Not in the sense that learning isn’t supported, but in the sense that the core struggle and individual experience is invisible and isolated.

How often do we see Before & After Transformations or 10 year challenges? How often do we actually share, or feel OK to share, how dedicated and disciplined you’ve had to be in order to actually learn how to play piano, succeed at math, or even just pass that next test?

hot dam what a steal

These are easy to talk about in retrospect, “Oh yeah, I played 2 hours a day”, or (jokingly) “I live in the SciLi,” but this shoves the process backstage, and puts the results on a pedestal. The process, effort, and struggle is what deserves the real spotlight and celebration, regardless of result.

Rather than thinking that no one will care to listen or look, in my experience, hearing someone’s story is humbling and inspiring. I want to see not just the what, but the how. I want to see a the successes and failures, the focus and distraction, the excitement and disappointment.

Rather than just saying “use metacognition,” “apply active learning strategies,” and “Follow these 7 rules to turn something into a habit,” I want to see what it means for YOUR NAME HERE to learn. Is there a way to create a world where learning looks like that?

Sometimes I get stuck in the “I’m not an art person,” or “I don’t do ____” mindset. People absolutely have different skills than others, and, perhaps more importantly, some people have had different access to different opportunities throughout their lives. However, for the skills, hobbies — passions — that you do have access to and want to have in your life, you should have all the cheerleaders you deserve for all the highs, and even more importantly for all the lows. Maybe your story will help someone else who is struggling with the same things. Maybe you can help each other improve. But it starts from being open and sharing.

“Sharing is caring.” — Abraham Lincoln

The reason I call this narrating a story is it gives your time a frame of reference. First, what you learn isn’t just about the skill itself. It means you’re a part of it too —when you sit down, remind yourself why you wanted to learn something in the first place. A story is continuous; it’s a journey! Not only that, but stories are about opening a piece of the author to others.

Here’s my first story

I decided to try to draw a manga page with some friends over the holidays (and I was responsible for main female character). I am really proud of the whole process! There were so many times when I felt like I was moving sideways, or even moving backwards.

(These are just some excerpts!)

Me drawing head shapes for literally 2 hours straight… but still having a hard time applying what I learned
So many times I was like “What am I drawing?”
Finally I created something I wanted to share

Concrete Expectations

Rice Krispiez: “OK bruh… nice humble brag bruh. You graduated and need attention. I get it bruuhhhh. Get to the point or I’m gonna get back to wiping my butt with these nice wet wipes I stole from Sumit’s bathroom. Somebody’s bound to suspect I’m constipated at this point.”

Chris: *Coughs* Ahem… OK now that all of that’s out of the way…

Well, what do I need from you?

I’m trying to learn if these theories I’ve been churning around in my head are valuable — so I want to put them to the test. What that means is: do you want to be a part of my experiment? Here’s what I (hope) you’ll get!

What you’ll get to do!

  • Join a learning community!
  • Learn something you want to learn/improve/try
  • Hang out with cool people who are also learning
  • Share your learning

That’s about it!

What I need you to do

  • Pine to go on an adventure to learn/improve/try something!
  • Commit to 30 minutes/day practice for at least 5 days/week for a month
  • Be excited to share your work/process everyday to the larger group (more details later)
  • Support, encourage, and engage your teammates
  • Tolerate Chris + Chris’s crazy ideas and machinations

If this sounds exciting — message me with any questions or comments and fill out this form. Let’s write our own stories together!

More details/structure/dates/everything are coming as I am coming up with them right now.



Christopher Chen

1. Tech. Maybe it's stockholm syndrome, but coding is fun. 2. People. What makes you tick? 3. China + East Asia. What freakin' cool place.