Blogging for T-Ron’s Cause: Results

Let’s start with what I didn‘t get:

  • immediate attention from Obama
  • attainment of the end goal

I would still say it was a beneficial exercise because:

  • it was a fun first experience for me in cause-blogging
  • I was able to publicize the post to get more readers than usual – many times my average daily readership since returning from hiatus.  It’s a good thing to know I can do.
  • increased readership means increased awareness
  • I learned about Squidoo.com in the process of spreading the word
  • I now have a concrete motivator for furthering my current network work

The way I see it, the only way to totally fail is to learn nothing.  Onward!

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State of the Welcome Video Request

To re-cap, I’m hoping secure a 1-minute video of Obama saying “Welcome” to new citizens.  It’s part of every new citizen ceremony, and the first one is the day after Obama’s inaugurationRead more about the request here.

The good news is that people are looking at the post (not in overwhelming droves, but significantly more than normally read my blog).

And I know that at least a few people have tweeted @obamainaugural.  Thank you!

Next steps:

Continue tweeting @obamainaugural and @barackobama the message:

1st new citizen natlztn ceremony = 1/21. Will they have a new welcome message from the new Pres? http://bit.ly/14EUV

Spread the word to your contacts, linking back to the explanation post at http://bit.ly/14EUV.  From that we’ll either get numbers or the attention of one person with an in.

How else are the Obama folks listening?

What do you think about next steps?

Last Chance to Reach Some New Citizens

Teacher Ron Mazurowski
"Teacher Ron"

At every Naturalization Ceremony for new US Citizens, they play a recorded video welcome message from the President.

The first Naturalization Ceremony of Obama’s presidency will be Wednesday, January 21st.

According to Teacher Ron, a roving citizenship teacher in the Twin Cities, the video is about a minute twenty seconds – not a big deal to create, especially for a skilled speech-writer and orator.

They can’t use the old welcome video, and unless Obama and some helpers can find five minutes to record a greeting for the country’s newest citizens, they just won’t be welcomed by the President at all.

Crowds of prospective citizens taking an oath - LIFE - L Larson
Crowds of prospective citizens taking an oath - LIFE - L Larson

I guess you could argue it’s a small beans issue.  I, however, would argue that it’s not.  It’s a symbol. This one small nod to the community of the very newest Americans, this stopping everything for just a few minutes to welcome them to the country he just took leadership of, would send a powerful message to them, the larger immigrant community, Americans, and the world.  It would say, “I, the President of the United States of America, value new citizens.” It would be some of the change we’ve been promised.

Teacher Ron pointed out that Obama would need to get the request no later than Friday, 1/16 for there to be any hope of a video for this ceremony.  He looked at change.gov, and tried contacting MN Senator Amy Klobuchar’s office to ask them to contact Obama but was “politely blown off.”  He’s not sure how else to tackle it.  Frankly, I’m not either.

I know I don’t have many readers, and I know it’s short notice and a seemingly small matter, but I thought I’d put it out there on the off chance that the message would get through.

Even if it’s too late for the 1/21 ceremony, we can still ask for it to be a priority.

If you’re listening, could you help get the word out?

Any suggestions for what else I (or we) can do?

Lunch at the Volunteer Management Conference

I posted yesterday about the sessions at the Volunteer Management Conference.

Another really great aspect of the conference was lunch.  The organizers picked a wide variety of discussion topics and assigned each a lunch table.  When people signed in in the morning, they picked a lunch table based on what they wanted to chat about.

Lunch by LOC on Flickr
"Lunch" by LOC on Flickr

About a week before the conference, one of the organizers asked me if I would lead the Web 2.0 table.  Naturally, I said “sure!”

The attendees ranged from Gen Y to Baby Boomers.  We had about 8 people at the table.  About three of them were new to web 2.0, and the others have adopted it at least somewhat.  We had a great discussion – I loved that I was not the source of all answers!

It was a really nice setting for people to ask questions they’d been embarassed to ask.

  • what is web 2.0?
  • is it a separate web from the first one?  Did they build another internet?
  • blog and wiki what now?
  • how do people have time to do this stuff?

I found that giving concrete examples of web 2.0 technology in action was effective for showing people what it could do and for illustrating that the idea was to do things differently, not in addition. This is what worked for our conversation:

Example 1: My Family’s Christmas Wiki

I’m in MN, my sister’s away at college, and my parents are in New York.  We all come home for Christmas.  But a lot of planning has to happen before then: food, who’s traveling where when, cards, wish lists, decorating, and dividing tasks.

Instead of having 10 separate 2-person phonecalls about these things, or a huge confusing email thread, my family made a wiki.  It’s private – only our family can see it.  We have a separate page for each of the categories I mentioned, and any of us can update it at any time.  You can have the wiki email you after every update or just once a day with a summary.

One of the ladies in particular really liked the idea and is thinking that she wants a year-round family wiki so that her large, spread-out family can stay caught up on whatever’s happening.

This example led people to ask how to start a wiki, and I recommended http://pbwiki.com.  This way I wasn’t just dumping information on them.  I told a story and they asked how they could get involved.  Good stuff.

Example 2: The Curriculum Team and Google Docs

We have seven different learning center staff spread across five learning centers working on curriculum for our centers.  In the past, we’d have to email documents back and forth and the versions got confused.

This time, we’re trying out Google Docs.  They live online (in “the cloud”).  This means that there are no versions – we can all access the one document right where it lives instead of having it live in seven different places.  Google Docs tells you who is updating the document in real-time, and also tracks all the changes ever made.

That seemed like enough information for them on that – they didn’t ask more questions about it.  But now they have that story, and if they’re finding themselves in a similar or parallel situation, I hope they’ll think of Google Docs as a potential solution.

 

It was so valuable to have a casual forum for people to ask their questions!  I had a great time talking with the ladies at my table, and I think we all walked away with some new ideas.

More About Goals: Thanks, Trent

I would just like to give a shout-out to Trent of The Simple Dollar.

I can’t really remember why I started reading his personal finance blog – I’m actually quite good with money.  And he does write primarily about money: managing, investing, spending less, saving for retirement, budgeting, and the like.  But I kept reading because what he has to say is a bit more universal than just money.

Screenshot of the Simple Dollars About Page
Screenshot of the Simple Dollar's About Page

Trent took a look at his life, discerned what was most important to him, and acted upon that assessment.  Moreover, he continues to act upon it, reflect upon it, and adjust his habits and lifestyle to maximize what’s important.  Luckily for the rest of us, he blogs about it, so we can see how he decided on his goals and how he acts upon them everyday.

Yes, he gives financial answers.  But beyond that, he’s just such a great influence.  He knows what he wants to do, he knows he’s not there yet, and he knows how to spend his time to get there.  He is honest with himself, which allows him to have an extremely simple and rich philosophy of how and why to do things.  And from that clarity his readers get a glimpse of what they, too, can accomplish when they decide to buckle down and do it.

So Trent, thanks for the inspiration, and keep on writing.

Beyond Story-Telling: What’s Next?

Photo by David Webber
Photo by David Webber

I was just talking to my mom on the phone, and she told me about a big book donation project her library did for an alum stationed in Afghanistan.

I think it’s a powerful story – the request, the way the community came together to make it happen, the challenges that never seemed to become full-out problems, and the way she facilitated the whole thing.

She said the college was excited about the potential for publicity, and that she was doing a big write-up of the story so that PR could send it to the regional newspaper.  She also said she might present this project at an upcoming library conference.

What was really exciting to me was the feeling that this was a big success for the community; my mom agrees that there’s a sense of “Great!  We rock!  What’s next?”  I’m interested in how they could use social media to keep up the momentum.

I see a huge opportunity for the college to reach out to its community of neighbors and alumni.  I see a way for the library to assert its continued relevance in a changing world.  I see a successful project whose nuts and bolts should be shared, and a story about a large county-run community college going above and beyond what many would expect.  This doesn’t have to be a one-time occurrence.  It could be a direction.

I have so many ideas for where they could go with this, but I think my ideas are a lot less relevant than those of people affiliated with the college.  I wonder what would happen if the college worked wikily (Beth elaborates) with its faculty, staff, students, and alumni to look for a place where needs, interests, and resources met.

No, seriously.  They’re planning to send out an email to the whole college with thank-yous and some donations stats.  Why not enclose a link to an extremely simple wiki called “What’s Our Next Project?”

(Really, Mom, why not?)

General questions:

  • If they had time to share their story in only one additional way, what would you suggest
  • How did you tell your story?
  • How do you keep the momentum going, turning one great instance into many?
  • How do you bridge a large preexisting community from newspapers and emails to Web 2.0?