A group of women that meets at the sprawling Navy support complex in Marysville, Wash., once a month while their husbands are deployed prepare for when their ship returns. The group’s leaders invited me to join them last Friday evening to get ideas for my project. I talked with the women while they worked on their own project—a surprise for the day their husbands return.

“I didn’t even know where to start,” one woman told me when I asked if she used any social networking sites to find support in the Puget Sound area. Another woman said she used Meetup.com to find activities and meet people, and several others said they connected with Navy wives on MySpace.

Several women said they used Web sites like GreatSchools.net, checked sex offender registries and called local police departments before they moved to the area to decide where they should live. Some relied on family or friends for advice. Others got suggestions from a Navy housing office and then did more research on their own.

One thing they mentioned that hadn’t occurred to me was that it would be helpful to list laws that vary from state to state, governing things like drivers licensing, car insurance, gun ownership and landlord-tenant responsibilities.

These women were inspiring and full of great ideas based on their experiences. I’m grateful they invited me to their gathering. I hope to meet with more groups like this and continue to learn from them as I move forward with my project.