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Posts Tagged ‘linkedin’

Yesterday, during a rainy and gloomy evening in the Union Train Station, I met up with K, a fellow volunteer with the organization I’m working with to create exhibit tours on human rights. L, the head of the organization, is looking for ways to increase her web presence as well as create avenues for contact besides the standard word-of-mouth and snail mail campaigns.

I suggested she start an e-newsletter, launch a mega-upgrade of her website, and while she’s at it, create a blog (and get on Facebook!). Why not?

Blogs are wonderfully creative ways for small NPOs (as well as small biz/startups) to cultivate interest in their mission as well as develop connections with potential donors and supporters.  Blogs behave as your “active” link between your organization’s website and its official publications – and their awesomely fun, too! Plus, it fosters an environment for e-brainstorming with supporters, donors and other sponsors – people love to suggest things when given an open (but seemingly semi-private) forum.

The e-newsletter that L, K and I are working on will be developed by www.myemma.com, a nifty little website that requires no software, no crazy programming and best of all – it’s super affordable. It only requires a carefully tailored list of contacts that will be uploaded to Emma’s server and divided (as we choose) in various categories of our creation. I can’t say anything more in particular detail yet, but I’m quite excited! It’s a great feeling to see your suggestions put to (much appreciated) good use.

Our goal with the e-newsletter is to be short and sweet. I believe it is bad e-etiquette to clog inboxes with an overbloated newsletter or blast readers with publications that have the visual display equivalent of a 4th of July fireworks show.

Therefore, K and I want to make sure that the initial newsletter is finely tuned to only include very little text and teaser paragraphs about upcoming initiatives and community engagement. We have to figure out other (but, relatively boring) nuances like official organizational wording and formatting, but we are having a blast so far.

This is a great outlet for me, as well as a way to hone my more creative passions. I wouldn’t say that volunteering is for everyone, but if you find yourself bored to tears with a job (or looking to change jobs altogether) volunteering is a great avenue to tread. You can make dozens of contacts, develop a bigger social circle as well work with a cause you care deeply about (or want to learn more about).  

Honestly, I feel like my work with L and K is much more meaningful than anything I’ve gotten paid to do in the last 8 months – and that’s all that matters for right now.

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flagYesterday, I went to a screening of the (not quite so underground) documentary Chicago 10.  Later, that evening, I also went to see Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna.” 

Essentially, both movies cover war and questions of citizenship, although they are set in two completely different types of political and social climate. The common link, however, is the attitudes of citizenship civilians and soldiers develop during wartime, conflict and distress.  

This particular debate has become even more visible in reference to the government’s treatment of its citizens during natural disasters and economic crisis. Hurricane Katrina has led to a mass upheaval of New Orleans residents from their communities with little government assistance for the repurcussions (not to mention, undercurrents of hostilty towards the survivors). Lousianians currently question their place in America and are forced to renegotiate their sense of community. 

Meanwhile, Washington’s mulling over the finer details of a $700 billion dollar bailout  causes Americans to wonder if the financial package will really put the economy back on a solid financial footing. Understanding the link from Wall Street to Main Street has not added much to the fading confidence of struggling Americans in the US financial infrastructure.

Also, the events of 9/11 which place us in the current turmoil of Iraq have created a murky, muddy strain of answers when questions arise of our involvement (and purpose) in the conflict abroad.

What does this have to do with citizenship?

Plenty. 

Recognizing the interconnectedness from me to you, from state to state, from country to country  (and, ultimately, to the world at large) will be equally challenged by the definition of what it means to be citizen.

Does your citizenship include economic stability (should it?)? Does it include government assistance when you are displaced in your own community? What about recognizing your role in the preservation and conservation of nature and humanity? Does citizenshp imply automatic protection?

The simple side of this argument includes that we already know what it means to be a citizen of [insert country here] – what does it include? What parts do individual citizens play in the larger role of contributing to their own nations and communities? What must we expect of ourselves and others (as citizens of America, of the world)? We shouldn’t be allowed to limit ourselves to its base definition.

I know these are broad questions, but they are meant to start an internal dialoge – and then, maybe foster a debate amongst friends. Then, perhaps, it will spread and people will challenge themselves to re-define a simple little word into something more powerful and brilliant than ever before.

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A Message About Darfur

Currently, I’m volunteering with a fledgling organization that is dedicated to using art and design to create social awareness about human rights issues across the globe. I’m helping in a number of ways, which includes developing the organization’s web presence, creating a newsletter, project cataloging – and oh, did I mention that I’m also supposed to develop one of their art exhibit tours?! Specifically, I will be handling the print exhibit that showcases the work of photojournalists who visited Darfur.*

Yes, it’s a lot. And there is a lot of work to be done.

But, it’s definitely worth it. In the end, people will get to learn in a new way about the atrocities happening in Darfur, the Congo and other areas of the world where violence has infiltrated the daily social infrastructure. Yet, beyond that, there is a rich, beautiful and powerful heritage that people don’t get to see (or understand). 

I will keep you posted as we take the (baby) steps towards growing the work and spreading the message of this organization.

*If you aren’t aware about what’s going on in Darfur, please read this, this or this.

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swingJon Fine, author of Businessweek’s weekly column, “Media Centric” brought up the interesting topic of blogs/alternative journalism and their influcence on politics.

Essentially, Fine surmised that blogs and the new wave journalism won’t have much of an affect on voting trends and election campaigns.

Political bloggers and readers alike have already made up their mind early on (thus named “high information voters”) . The electoral campaign is currently focusing on the slow pokes just now catching up to the bubbly political brew that is McCain and Obama (this group is imaginitively dubbed “low information voters).

I believe Fine makes a valid (and obvious) point. With the information overload that plagues the radio, broadcast television and now, the internet – I can imagine there will be only so many people who can pretend they have enough time to read the endless maze of blogs available.

According to Fine,

“Congrats if you can spit out the results of the last three Ohio polls right down to the margin of error, but the campaigns care more about the harried parents of three kids in exurban Colorado who’ve only started to pay attention.

As always, those voters will be pounded with messages as simplistic as an old Miller Lite ad.”

Yikes.

Anyway, it’s obvious with every election year (and turbulent presidential incumbant years) people hungry for change are most likely to investigate their options early, hence, pegging themselves into the “high information” voter category. As Fine puts it, over extended parents in places like Colorado probably haven’t had the time or energy to pay attention to the campaign. 

Even with enough YouTube, political blogs, Democrat demonizing and Republican griping at their (internet) fingertips- swing voters want to be wooed the old-fashioned way.

They are most likely worried about crippling gas prices, dwindling 401(k) values resulting from the reeling of Wall Street and the uncertainty of their home’s equity (not to mention job security and healthcare costs).

This is not to imply that high information voters are not in the same boat as their Colorado-esque counterparts, I only want to suggest that the latter demographic presents – cha-ching- swing voters. 

Virtually, the voting equivalent of an NFL free agent – up for grabs from the highest (or, in this case, most politically beneficial) bidder.

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