Back to Basics

I tried to think of a snazzier title for today’s blog, but then that would be defeating the whole purpose of this morning’s Fastbreak.

For the uninitiated, Fastbreak is a series of young, successful often highly attractive people who give an inspirational talk on a chosen topic and expose my insecurities at not having started my own social entrepreneurial start-up for orphans in Vietnam/ amazing carbon-neutral recycled clothing company/ flown to the moon to raise awareness for orphaned, disabled elephants.

Although seeing the work of self-taught paper engineer Benja Harney and Juliette Anich’s passion for The Clothing Exchange was really cool, the most engaging speakers took the theme of the day to heart. They stuck to the basics, no power point slides, just personal reflections on their life from 11Eleven Project Danielle Lauren’s undying love of her toy bunny that she’s had since she was six years old to Charles Prouse’s need to balance the role of CEO of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA) with the simple pleasure of flying a kite.

But the real show stopper was Jude Lawrence, self confessed party boy and leukaemia survivor. While still on maintenance therapy, Jude formed the company I Like to Party that now runs snowboard tours to Japan and New Zealand and dive tours to Thailand. Nine months of chemotherapy treatment gives you a lot of time to think or as Jude eloquently put “hitting the pause button”. And he summed it up his life goals quite nicely by explaining what a perfect day would look like:

Feelings: the treasure trove of memories that we have stored in our minds and can be revisited whenever we choose.
Relationships: have meaning in al relationships, new and old.
Experiences: have an intense experience or at least plan one every day.
Exercise: push yourself every day.
Discovery: learn and explore new ideas and new ways of thinking.
Om: meditation, stillness – his second ‘o’ was orgasm, but was too bashful to go into detail
Make progress: but don’t become overpowered on focusing to achieve a goal
Sunset: take time to write a journal and document the day with a photograph or writing.

For me I’m going to to take a bit of time today to think about why I do what I do, and what I really want from life. Time to dream big people 🙂

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Hanging out in Melbourneo with other word nerds

Attending the 3rd Australian Aid Communicators Conference in Melbourne was a delight. When I say ‘other word nerds’ that roughly means a room full of inspiring, passionate, informed and switched-on aid and development communicators from across this sunburnt land in a slightly wet but beautiful town.*

Over our fair trade coffees and delicious multicultural vegetarian snacks we bemoaned the public’s apathy and sluggish response to Pakistan, found out who was working where these days and shared common tales of staff shortages.  There was also some good news for the sector, the old campaign strategies still ring true: be honest, stay on message and be persistent.  The (not so) ‘new’ media tools are pretty much all free and user-friendly. Have a play and see what you can do, there are no rules. Creating a social media campaign is like any other campaign. You need clear strategy and framework, something along the lines of –

People – Assess your audience social activities
Objectives – Decide on what you want to accomplish
Strategy – How will you satisfy your objectives
Tactics/Technology – Decide which social technologies to use (note how technology is last)

It’s not the first time that the Social Media POST Framework and I have shared the same space, I too have stood in front of a room of eager communicators with the trusty POST on my PowerPoint slide (I didn’t use the rather sexy prezi.com, that’s quite the discovery). 

And we have our work cut out for us. The development sector doesn’t have the best public image. From cries of “you spend too much on advertising,” “it never reaches the people,” “what about our own problems in Australia,” “our money will end up in Taliban hands,” the list goes on … it is up to us to do a better job at explaining how aid works. And aid does work.

Want more development rants comin at ya? Follow the UNDPI Global Health Conference on twitter #AchieveMDGs – @sarfos is doing some darn fine tweetin’ from the Conference.

*If I could make babies with a city, it would be Melbourne.

Reflections on changing the world in 2.0 days #emc2010

Summer conjures up many ‘s’ words; sun, sexy surfers, swimming and summer school.

Being the consummate dork that I am, I find all of the above as equally exciting, especially when the summer school is about the limitless bounds of 2.0 to create social and environmental change.

To seem like a total smarty pants, none of the information presented was new to me, but then again how can it be? With over a third of Australia’s population on Facebook, established about 5 years ago with about 400 million users globally, social networking sites like FB are no great secret.  But it was the framework of how to engage with communities to start a dialogue and flipping the funnel which got me thinking about our online/offline selves and drivers of behaviour. No matter how carefully crafted your integrated marketing strategy may be it is so hard to get people to care and act.

Even if people are engaged with a subject matter which is often the hardest step, we are so saturated in information and misinformation. For example my friend who is an environmental education officer and I had a conversation about climate change and both of us realised very early on in the piece that the issue is almost too big for us the fathom, so what about the people who don’t care at all? How is change ever going to occur?

I like the idea of leveraging cognitive surplus; the web has created a platform for creative debate but also of videos of goats falling over – both are of equal importance. Never underestimate the power of fun

 – Also, per previous post, I found the men!  Men it seems if they forgo the wealth of the private sector like to loiter in the halls of power and politics. Journalists, campaign managers, freelance consultants; these men are working towards a social good yet some have the air of a Prius driver about them and wear expensive shoes.

For blogs that are more informative than mine:
http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/ – Very useful blog if you want tips to make the most of the latest tools and to optimise your online presence. Especially written for not-for-profits but good for any group.
http://gillin.com/ – Paul Gillin, author, blogger and pioneer writer in the field. Definitely worth subscribing to.

Where are all the men?

 Or should I say – why don’t men give a shit?

No, this is not some hardcore neo-feminist attack breaking the balls of all men who dare tread the earth but simply an observation.

Once upon a time I worked in international education in an office of around one hundred people. Roughly 80% of the office was women. Education = usually more women than men.

Then I volunteered with AusAID; in my intake to the Philippines there were 7 women and 2 guys, the last intake was 10 women (can you see where this rant is heading …)

Are men lazy, or they just don't care?

Are men lazy, or they just don't care about the environment?

I now work for an NGO, once again the same staff numbers and ratio as working in international education with men at the executive level.

Then last night I went to a free workshop about green renting and there were NO MEN AT ALL. It couldn’t have been an off-putting venue as it was at the pub and also had free pizza. Not even the alluring combination of being in a room full of beer, pizza and women could entice the men out of hiding. Don’t men know that women find altruism sexy?

Is the pull of money to great for men to resist? That can’t be right either, I know plenty of men who ride bikes to work, have eco-type jobs in bush regen, own worm farms, recycle and in short ‘do their bit’. Men are not ‘all bastards’ as the cliché goes, but where are they?

Should men be encouraged into the non-profit sector or should women continue to dominate the industry? Both men and women express high levels of commitment and satisfaction with their work for non-profit organisations. But inequality exists for women even in an industry we dominate – when leaving the sector men more often cite “pull factors” (such as a desire to pursue other opportunities, including those outside the non-profit sector) whereas women tend to cite “push factors” (such as having no room to advance in their current organisation).

And the burning issue, why do guys in non-for-profits have such bad shoes?

I’m aware of the bundle of contradictions I possess: although I want to minimise my environmental footprint I believe beautiful shoes is one of my fundamental human rights. However, to those guys out there who are armchair environmentalists or think smoking a bong equates to being eco-friendly – step up and take a little more interest in the world around you!