Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap into Action

It's time to give some notice to the little creatures of our planet, the frog. Governor Deval Patrick has declared today, February 29, 2008, "Massachusetts Day of the Frog".

Of course naturally this day was chosen because it is the leap day of the leap year. Zoos and aquariums across the country have declared this year the Year of the Frog.

In honor of this celebration, Franklin Park Zoo is having a Leap Day Celebration tomorrow from 11:00 am to 3:00p.m. There will be a leap frog competitions for children, along with crafts and other various activities.

The zoo hopes to bring awareness to these creatures who are quickly becoming on the endangered species list.

If you would like to learn more about the conservation efforts of Franklin Park Zoo click here.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

10,000 Reasons to Buy...

i'm sure many of you have heard about, passed by or even shopped in a store called ten thousand villages. if you've never heard of this store, listen up 'cause you're in for a treat.

ten thousand villages is a company whose inception was inspired by mahatma gandhi's following quote: “…India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages…we have hardly ever paused to inquire if these folks get sufficient to eat and clothe themselves with.”

the company extrapolated from those words their guiding principle: "each village in the world represents a unique, distinctive people…offering extraordinary products born of their rich cultures and traditions."

as one of the largest fair trade organizations in north america, this company brings in the work of artisans from over 30 countries in asia, africa, latin america and the middle east to the US. they maintain long, nurturing relationships with these individuals and offer them not only a means to live but also dignity.

ten thousand villages stores has partnered with the national coalition against domestic violence, and during the month of march, they are celebrating international women's day by hosting community shopping benefits for local domestic violence prevention agencies and shelters near the 80+ store locations throughout the country. during these events, ten thousand villages will donate a percentage of purchases to the local agency to help provide needed services, all in a concerted effort to build a global community of empowered women.

there are over 160 ten thousand villages stores across the counry, and there are three stores in massachusetts. i know budgets are tight, and pennies are being pinched, but they have items in a wide price range, so maybe you'll scrounge under those couch cushions and come up with a few dollars to impact the village in which you live. (but if you still don't think you can spare even just a few dollars, let me be the blunt woman i am and tell ya: we *are* the richest amongst all the villages.)

besides, we all deserve to live with a little dignity wherever we are, no? (although sometimes oyfp members push it a side for a little while - for a stinkin' good reason, of course!) ;)

Everyone needs a little handmade Peruvian wool vicuna love in their lives.
Yes, vicuna. They're related to alpacas and llamas.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

United Under A Common Cause

On Tuesday, February 26th both state and federal political figures joined many local business leaders to discuss the national problem of homelessness. Shelter hosted an educational event, 'The Plan to End Homelessness in Massachusetts' at the Le Meridian Hotel in Cambridge.

The event included a discussion about the recommendations made by the Massachusetts Legislative Commission to End Homelessness. Notable speakers, members of this commission and attendees included: Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, State Representative Byron Rushing, Senator Edward M. Augustus, Jr., former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives & former Lieutenant Governor Thomas P. O'Neill III, and the Executive Director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness Phil Mangano.

Massachusetts Legislative Commission to End Homelessness recommended: “a broad based housing plan that recognizes service needs to end homelessness in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The recommendations include a five year budget proposal and will guide the Executive, Administrative and Legislative branches in their effort to implement a housing and support services strategy.”

The main consensus among these leaders is that collaboration is necessary to end the national problem of chronic homelessness. No one state or federal agency, no one level of government and no one sector of the community can reach the goal of ending homelessness alone.

To learn more or inquire how you might help in this effort to give help and hope to homeless children, families, and individuals throughout Greater Boston please contact the
Department of Housing and Community Development.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The little orange ball and purpose

Besides running OYFP with our executive board and working full time at a marketing agency, I spend a lot of time chasing after a little orange ball. That darn little thing is always getting away from me, or coming at me when I'm not expecting it, but once in a great while I get in the right place at the right time and make the right move with my stick... now that's satisfaction, not to mention a great workout.

The little orange ball and I meet on the floor hockey rink at least once a week. I wasn't really into sports in high school (aside from a few years on the cross country ski team), but when the opportunity came to join a team free through work, I joined, not knowing I would enjoy it so much.

Aside from the teamwork and competition aspect, I think what I really enjoy is the sense of purpose. Sure, the purpose is a little silly (orange balls aren't that important in the grand scheme of things), but it's a purpose nonetheless. When I look back at all the activities I've enjoyed, from my job to my hobbies, the activities I enjoy the most are those where my actions are directly related to a purpose and a corresponding visible result. Very simple: I lift stick back, bring stick forward, pass to teammate, score goal, yeah!

Perhaps that explains why I can't get myself to go to the gym - running in place just isn't connected closely enough to an actual result to get me to see a purpose and result. Yes, in my brain I know that going to the gym is good for my body, mind, and soul... but the gains are so incremental and difficult to see and far removed from the action that I haven't yet figured out how to get myself to the gym.

The benefit of working with OYFP is that there is a purpose, and one that I can see every time we meet, respond to an email, or post on this blog. I suppose I've been working with OYFP for so long that I have a clear picture of the impact of all the work... and that translates to a clear understanding of purpose.
If only I can figure out a way to involve the little orange ball with OYFP, my life would be that more more efficient.

Adventures in Recruiting

When Bostonians feel the urge to get involved with their community, they often try and find an organization to get involved with. Our name appears in their search and they see all the wonderful things that OYFP does for Boston and they ask, how can I help out?

Casey and I meet with all the interested applicants to explain to them what we do and what kind of help we are looking for. I met with one interested applicant, yesterday after work at Starbucks, or so I thought.

I get off the train at Davis and walk over to the Starbucks and try to open the door. It is locked. The person who is waiting in the entrance tells me that it is closed for training. There is no note on the door, and it is pouring rain outside. Thanks, Starbucks. Instead of a cozy cup of coffee in a snuggly chair, I'm waiting in the little entrance with this random person, hoping that that the interested OYFP applicant will arrive soon.

Other people come and the other person waiting in the entrance and I tell them all that Starbucks is closed. Most people can't believe it, a few join us because like me, they said the were going to meet somebody here.

We all start talking about why we were there: waiting to exchange tickets through Craigslist, interviewing students for Alumni board, students meeting study partners, and of course moi. I actually was able to promote OYFP to a couple of them while waiting for my unknown individual to come, so Starbucks helps out OYFP again!

I was able to meet with the interested applicant and she is going to be at our next meeting helping us to do more good work for the community around us. If you yourself are interested in joining OYFP, contact either or Casey at

I will even meet you at Starbucks again, though this time I'll call ahead to make sure it's open. :)

Photo courtesy of dyadyavasya.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Bruins: Responsible Corporate Citizens?

This evening, I attended the Bruins-Ottawa hockey game at the Garden with Social Boston Sports. The Bruins were skating circles around the other team. When we left after the second period (to be able to catch some of tonight's Democratic debate), the Bruins were winning 3 to 0.

Obviously I enjoyed the company (SBS members are high quality people), the drunk guys yelling SCORE SCORE SCORE behind us, the bubbly beers, the salty deliciousness of the hot dogs, oh yeah, and the hockey.

But almost as interesting were the pre-taped pieces on the big screens that ran during the commercial breaks and between periods. I guess I didn't know how involved the Bruins were with local charities, mainly Cradle to Crayons. Related events were featured several times over the course of the game. Besides being an outstanding team (this year), the Bruins are clearly very involved with the local community.

Between talk about elections, the war, and the economy, "corporate responsibilty" has become a hot topic. (Did you know that February 25 was Corporate Responsibility day?) It's becoming more common for the public to expect corporations to step up to the plate and help. And I certainly count myself in that group - for a capitalistic society to work well, corporations need to share the wealth. We're taking a very, very, very small piece of the wealth - but an important one nonetheless.

Certainly Boston sports teams like the Bruins, which are corporations lest we forget, are involved with their community. OYFP has been fortunate enough to receive small grants from IBM and Digitas. Our email service is courtesy of Emma's 25 Initiative, and we have a Google Grant for pay per click advertising. Diverse businesses including DeLuca's, SalsaBoston, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and the Howard Yezerski gallery have supported us. I only hope that over the coming years obtaining corporate support becomes easier.

What does your employer do to support your community? What do you wish they would do? Do you think the likely recession is going to negatively impact actions supporting "corporate responsibility?"

BostonNOW: OYFP famous yet again

OYFP is making its rounds in Boston. Ok, well, we're starting to make our rounds. An excerpt from our "Dancing the Day Away" blog entry was featured on page two of today's issue of BostonNOW.

It feels good to be published. This is our third time around, and certainly our best placement. Unfortunately it seems they like our entries about attending funny Boston area events and/or economics more than they like OYFP events... at least thus far.

Don't they know that we're young (well, young-ish... all under 30... is that young?), fun, and ethical?

Who wouldn't want to cover a learn-how-to-Salsa event? Or a Valentine-making-with-kids event? Or, say, a concert for charity or a Guitar Hero competition, both of which are upcoming events...?

We'll see about you, BostonNOW.... we'll just see. I don't think you can resist OYFP for long...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dancing the Day Away

It was time to bring a little spontaneous joy to the Boston area yet again. Similar to the pantless subway ride, this event was supposed to confuse, amaze, and delight passerbys... assuming, of course, that they hadn't seen any of the event's press coverage.

Enter ~200 participants, a previously downloaded MP3 with instructions, some fancy shades, and a very public location. It was the Silent Dance Experiment, and we were ready to rock and roll. We danced alone. We posed. We danced in circles. We squat like The Thinker. We danced the conga. I was so busy following the instructions coming in through my headphones that I had little time to see what effect our actions were having on passerbys.

When it came time to "swing your partner round and round," I looked up and saw Erica, OYFP's Guru of Graphic Design! Apparently I'm not the only member of OYFP who likes to make people laugh through mass action. :-)

We laughed, onlookers laughed (I think? I know I would have laughed if I saw us), generally it was a feel good situation. I only hope that OYFP's next event will be as joyful as this one was. Did you act joyfully this weekend?

Until next time, my fellow dancers... until next time. In the mean time, check out more photos of the event at the Facebook event page or on Flickr.

We end the day by forming several mass conga lines! Who's the wacky dude on the right with the blue hat?
I'm in the back, in the blue coat, white pompom hat, and sunglasses.
Photo courtesy of Alicia Karas.

photo of dancers swinging round and round courtesy of Marlena Flannery.

Friday, February 22, 2008

good2gether: connects people to causes

The Massachusetts-based startup good2gether aims to connect individuals who want to volunteer to non-profits who need them. OYFP has previously written about good2gether in a post a few weeks ago, but we feel this service is such a good one it deserves twice the coverage!

Watch the good2gether CEO, Greg McHale, give a demonstration of good2gether to get up to speed.

“Part search engine and part social network, McHale’s creation provides online readers with links to local non-profits directly related to the article being read. At the same time, it provides non-profits the ability to keep their online presence up-to-date, and offers media outlets the ability sell ad sponsorship.” This excerpt was pulled from the Melrose Free Press, you can read more here.

If you work for a non-profit and want to learn more about how good2gether can help you read more on good2gether's Non-Profit partners page.

In any event, please stay tuned so that we can all get on our feet and be good2gether. Hopefully we'll get OYFP involved!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lack of Motivation

Let's face it we've all had those days when your motivation is not there. Perhaps its the bad weather, maybe you haven't had your Starbucks in the morning, but you look at the mound of paperwork on your desk and you don't really care to do it at all. It's Friday, and studies have shown that it is not the most productive day of the workweek.

So what motivates you, Boston, to get on your feet? Is it that poster with the cat that says "Hang in there"? Is it because it's for a good cause? Is it because it's something you're passionate about? Maybe it's because when you're out in the town and someone ask you the proverbial question, "What do you do," you can have an answer. A friend says she does it for the feeling of accomplishment and doesn't like leaving things for later.

Psychology says what drives you to accomplish work goals is the underlying drive to satisfy your basic needs such as hunger, shelter, comfort, etc. In other words you work to live and if you don't work, you don't have the money to pay for shelter, food, etc.

So as I procrastinate more at work... I would like to hear what other people feel inspires them to get up and do something.

Taking your celebrity gossip indulgence to the next level

This Sunday is the Academy Awards show, which everyone expects to be a little quieter than usual due to the recently ended writer's strike (no Vanity Fair party?? what was the point of this night again?!)

But do not fret, I'm sure your wait in the checkout line at the grocery store will still be filled with entertainment from the gossip rags.

As for actually watching the Oscars, it's always a night that falls between excitement and tedium. Yes, you look forward to watching it but then again, it's just glamour on tv.

Why not glitz it up with an Oscars party of your own, or even better, throwing a party to promote a local charity? The occasion is there for you, as is the entertainment.

The Ellie Fund always throws a black-tie Oscar viewing bash, with this year's taking place at the Hard Rock Cafe in Faneuil Hall. It'll cost you a pretty penny but it's a chance to experience fabulous Hollywood right here in Boston.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Blogger: Updated look and feel

We thought we would celebrate our blog's 3 month anniversary by changing our look and feel. The new formatting should make the blog easier to read and navigate around, while still maintaining OYFP's blue and gray motif. We also added "email this" and bookmarking functionality to each entry.

Are you a regular reader? If so, what do you think of our new design?

Biking in place gets the homeless far

My dad used to bike 9 miles each way to work (uphill both ways in a snowstorm, of course). I used to bike 2 miles to my first job at Boston Market (uphill only one way - I'm a wuss). Over the past few years, however, biking and getting nowhere at all has become all the fashion. They even have a fancy name for it - "spinning."

I'm sure all y'all have heard of spinning before. I myself have even attended a class or two, but I had a hard time "biking to the beat." However, I may hop on a bike going nowhere sooner than I think.

The non-profit HomeStart is holding a spinning marathon to raise money for the homeless. The public is invited to raise $250 for an hour of riding, and then hop on one of the stationary bikes at International Place -- outside -- for a one hour spinning class.

The shenanigans are taking place from 7am to 6pm on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at International Place in Boston. This is your chance to show off your spinning skillz, and raise a little dough for an excellent cause. Hit up your friends! Hit up your relatives! Ask your work pals!

If you can't imagine biking in this weather, imagine what it would feel like to live outside in this weather. At the very least, show up and cheer the brave riders on.

We'll leave this kind of spinning to the grannies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Play Ball!

Recreational sports are a great way to remain active, meet new people and have fun!

When I moved to Boston in May of 2005 I used Craigslist to join my first softball team. Since then I’ve had a blast and met some quality people. I’ve participated in:

Year Season Sport League Team Name
2005 Fall Softball
Boston Co-Ed West Dukes of Hazzard*
2006 Winter Basketball Basketball City BWH Free Agents
2006 Winter Dodgeball BSSC
2006 Summer Softball BSSC Powderpuffs*
2006 Summer Softball Boston Co-Ed West Angry Pandas
2006 Summer Softball Prospect Hill League E-Med*
2007 Fall Softball Boston Co-Ed West Angry Pandas*
2007 Summer Softball Boston Co-Ed West Angry Pandas
2007 Summer Softball Prospect Hill League E-Med*
2007 Summer Softball Typhoon League Hungry Pandas
2007 Fall Softball Typhoon Tournament Hungry Pandas
2007 Fall Softball Boston Co-Ed West Angry Pandas
2008 Winter Basketball BSSC Bamboozled
* = Championship

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Salsa: One step at a time

I'll be honest. Salsa's not really my deal. Yes, I "salsa-ed" during my semesters abroad in Spain and Nicaragua, but I never really got it. Mostly it seemed like short Spanish speaking men were just expertly twirling me around the room while I just tripped over my feet, tried to shake my booty (per hannah's instructions), and sweat a lot.

Last night at OYFP's Bring the Latin Heat Salsa event (photos on Flickr), instructors from SalsaBoston broke it down for me. The basics. From scratch. "One, two, three --- five, six, seven.." was my mantra for the evening. I started to feel like I was getting it - I could follow the beat, I was spinning in time. I was even helping my boyfriend with his steps.

It's often tempting to just jump into a new activity. "Lessons? Who needs them?" While there's something to be said for faking it 'til you make it, sometimes it's more effective to admit you don't know something and let someone else show you the way. You may look silly and awkward and sweaty at the beginning, but by the end, no one will notice that sweat dripping down - they'll just see your rhythm and sweet moves.

However, as soon as the lesson ended and the "free dance" began, I was lost. This time. For now. 'Cause I have the building blocks - the foundation - to become a dancing queen. Or at least halfway competent. I hope.

**Updated: Photos of this adventure are now on Flickr! Be sure to watch us on TV on Fernandito's show on BNN on Friday night... we definitely look silly, but we're having fun.

PS. Many thanks to our sponsors, Social Boston Sports and SalsaBoston. They helped us raise $$$ for Christopher's Haven... and I think they had some fun too.

My zesty colors (pink, green, and gray) make up for my lack of zesty skills

Monday, February 11, 2008

i like to move it, move it~

alright, party peoples. get your moneymakers ready.

this wednesday, february 13th, from 8-10PM OYFP will be hosting "Bring the Latin Heat" at An Tua Nua on behalf of Christopher's Haven (a home for kids when cancer hits home). you'll get a free salsa lesson, free apps, and a chance to go buckwild for kids (ain't nuthin' sexier than someone gettin' down and dirty for little ones~).

tickets are $15 when purchased in advance online or $20 at the door (but let me strongly encourage you to sign up early since we won't be gettin' them stimulus package checks for a few months, and a penny saved is a penny earned. thank you, mama kim).

so, to recap: this wednesday, february 13th at An Tua Nua. get your tickets here. oh, and stretch before you come. who knows? you may move and groove so well, your moneymaker will become a lovemaker ;) (is that too risque for a non-profit blog?)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hearts and Crafts

On Saturday OYFP volunteers visited one of our partners the Italian Home for Children (IHC) and did an arts and crafts day with some of their children.

First of all I want to thank everyone who woke up and braved the cold (okay so it was cold for me) weather. For those who are unfamiliar with IHC it houses emotionally disturbed children. From what I saw, these children have a great place they can call home. Every care taker, and every social worker of the IHC demonstrated patience and a lot of care for these children.

You can tell by the smiles on our faces that everyone had a great time! We volunteered with roughly 20 children ranging in age from 10-13, according to our host, Alicia from the IHC.

Unfortunately we can't show you any pictures of the children because we here at OYFP protect these children's right to privacy during perhaps a difficult time in their childhood.

The kids were enjoyable to be around and I was quite surprised with some of the clever ideas the children came up with for Valentine's cards. I saw a lot of Valentine cards for their parents, letting them know about much they love them. I think homemade gifts mean a lot more than the type you can get at the store, so I know these parents are lucky to get such gifts this Valentine's Day.

I think my favorite Valentine's Day Card was the card that had a bar code on the backside of the card. If I am being honest with you, I don't think I ever came up with something as clever as this kid did! Later I saw that the same boy also make an envelope for the card and placed a sticker that sealed the envelope together. We also made decorations for these children’s doors in the dorm room.

It was sad to leave but it made my day knowing that we probably brightened their day as well. One of the kids even hugged the volunteer he worked with before she left! More pictures of the volunteers and the crafts we made will be updated on our flickr sight by the end of this week so stay tuned!

If you would like to learn more about volunteer opportunities for IHC please contact Alicia Chick at 617.524.3116, or email her at

Now on to learn how to dance Salsa and eat some great food at Au Tua Nua!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Culture in the Workplace

Let's face it Boston, we live in a multi-cultural society. To succeed in today's workforce you need to know how important of a role culture plays and how to work well with other cultures. I have my Master's degree in Intercultural Relations and I would like to share with you some knowledge I have learned. One's own culture effects everything; from the rate of which you speak, the tone with which you speak, personal space, eye-contact, and of course the way you dress, to name a few examples. Although you may not think so, when you are having problems with a co-worker there is a good chance it could be related to a cultural misunderstanding. So learning about your co-worker's culture and the way their culture handles their interactions can make a more productive, and enjoyable workforce. Take an example from me who grew up in the Mid-West, adjusted to the East coast life-style, with a boss whom is Chinese, and my boss's supervisor is Jamaican.

Now I can go into the complexities of each culture and give you a few examples from which to derive a basic understanding of intercultural relations, or I can let this brand new website,, do it for me. I really like that it tries to show you the basics of every countries way of interacting with people, whether it be for business or for pleasure. For example in America we tend to favor direct eye contact, while in Japan, indirect eye contact is preferred. If both people do not realize this subtle preference of eye contact then the other person would be perceived as unacceptable to work with and more than likely nothing would get accomplished.

A word of caution though, please take what it says on this website as a basic form of explaining cultural differences. This website explains intercultural relations in generalities, not taking into consideration the context of the situation, which can create varied differences from those listed on the website. If you would like to learn more in detail about specific cultures, please go check your local library or bookstore. There have been countless books written about perceived cultural differences.

I asked my Chinese boss on what she thought of what this website says about China, and she agreed with me that it works well as the basics of the culture but it does not go into the depth of explaining cultural differences. It also brought on a dialogue of what cultural distinctions she found difficult to adjust to when she moved here to America. I am glad I asked her about this website, because it gave us a chance to learn something new about each other. So at the very least, this website creates a chance to have an open dialogue with co-workers, which can only help alleviate cultural misunderstandings.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bring the Latin Heat - It's Salsa time, baby!

Did you know salsa is the number one most popular condiment in the world? (Source: John R)

Did you know that Salsa is also a fun, sexy dance? (Source: Me)

Did you know OYFP is holding a "learn how to salsa while mingling with stand-up young professionals and enjoying apps" event, otherwise known as "Bring the Latin Heat" on Wednesday, February 13 at An Tua Nua in Boston?

This blog entry is quite informative, I know.

Tickets are just $15 ahead of time... and all profits (which will be approximately 99.5% of the ticket price since An Tua Nua and Salsa Boston have kindly donated their venue and services) are going to help kids with cancer. How can you say no to kids with cancer???

Answer: You can't.

OYFP Salsa events have proven quite popular in the past (see photos), so don't miss out. Buy your ticket ahead of time to save $5!

So. I'll see you on the dance floor on Wednesday, February 13. While you're patiently biding your time until next Wednesday, check out one of the sponsors of our event, Social Boston Sports. They have even more opportunities for you to get physical (and social) with other Boston area young professionals.

Sky (in the pink stripes) has brain cancer. Funds from the Salsa event will provide housing for families like hers while their kids receive treatment at MGH. Help out a kid. Help out a family. Help out your dance skills. Come play with OYFP on Wed., Feb 13!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

January Round Up

Want to catch up on anything you've missed on the OYFP Blog? Here's a round up of some of the best posts from January.

Casey reminded us all to find our voice politically during this important election year and shared her scary run in with burnt rice as well as how to help the Red Cross.

The recession was a big topic, with John posting some interesting facts about the r word and Ethan chimed in with his thoughts on the topic, what we know may kill us. or not? John also posted about Starbucks' economic recovery plan.

Krystle shared thoughtful tips on how to go green and keep your home warm.

Liz covered turning a cause into a community and her love for local TV.

We've also shared some of the causes we hold close to our hearts. For Hannah, it's autism and heart disease and I care about leukemia and lymphoma research.

Is there anything you'd like to see us write about? Don't be shy, let us know.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Vote For Hillary Because…

*Note: The following commentary is the opinion of John R, and John R only, not the On Your Feet Project.

According to
a New York Times/CBS News poll, 79% of Democratic primary voters believe that Hillary has "prepared herself well enough for the job of President," compared with only 40% for Obama.

Here are the facts: Obama served 8 years in the Illinois state Senate and is halfway through his first term in the U.S. Senate. Hillary is about to begin her 8th year in the U.S. Senate. Obama's 11 years is greater than Hillary’s 7.

Does being first lady count as experience? That depends what your definition of ‘counts’ is. A New York Times story
revealed that during Bill's two terms, Hillary “did not hold a security clearance, did not attend meetings of the National Security Council, was not given a copy of the president's daily intelligence briefing and she did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.”

If Hillary expects the first lady experience to count then the Clintons should release the White House papers that would let us see what kind of authority she really enjoyed. Eugene Robinson was quoted as saying: “Who donated how much to the Clinton presidential library, and might those donors expect anything from a Hillary Clinton administration? What business tycoons have snuggled up to the former president, and what -- other than the chance to bask in the radiance of his wit -- did they hope to get out of the exercise?”

Google the term
"unconstitutional third term.” Do we really want Bubba back? As Richard Cohen put it: “He was a good president with bad associations -- beginning with Jim McDougal of Whitewater fame and ending with Marc Rich of pardon infamy. Bill Clinton has a tropism for the faintly corrupt, and his wife has more than a tropism for him. He would stalk her presidency as he has her campaign, and when she vows that she alone would rule the White House, she is talking personnel, not marriage। It ain't the same.”

Timothy Noah, a senior writer at
Slate, wrote about Hillary: “Clinton's claim to experience isn't merely dishonest. It's also potentially dangerous should she become the nominee. If Clinton continues to build her campaign on the dubious foundation of government experience, it shouldn't be very difficult for McCain, now serving his 25th year in Congress, to make Hillary look like an absolute fraud.”

Ok, so experience won’t work and the baggage of Bubba isn’t looking too great.

What should her new theme be? Maybe:
Bush & Clinton Forever. Since the inauguration of George Herbert Walker Bush on January 20, 1989, every President of The United States of America has been a member of one of America's two political royal families: Bush or Clinton. If we vote Hillary into office in 2009 and if she serves 2 terms, we will have had either a Bush or Clinton in office for 29 years (1989-2017).

Now, is that the type of experience we want?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Creating Your Own Online Community Online - Non-Profits

A few weeks ago, Liz wrote about how in order to be successful and both retain and gain new donors, non-profits need to have a community for their donors. I find this a fascinating topic, and believe it's true. Non-profits typically have events ranging from casual teas to galas, send regular mail, and call their donors in an effort to create and maintain this community.

Much research has been done on why we like communities, and what we're looking to get out of them. Essentially, once our basic needs are met (shelter, substinence, and safety), we look to fulfill our emotional needs, which include affection, understanding, participation, recreation, creation, identity, and freedom (Source: Max-Neef, Fundamental Human Needs). Communities help us fill all these needs, from the basic to the more abstract.

New research from Communispace posits that those more abstract needs can be met by small, highly focused, online communities. Of course, because Communispace is in the business of providing businesses with the software and technical know-how to create their own online communities, so they're no doubt biased.

However, I think they correct. By providing individuals with the opportunities to connect to people who are similar to themselves, share information, and form long lasting relationships, businesses and non-profits are moving above and beyond their traditional role. They are integrating themselves into people's lives - a marketer's dream!

Non-profits do not take advantage of this often enough. Even when researching for this blog post, I had a hard time finding examples. The AARP has message boards (and a strong community), but that's not exactly where I would hang out online. Some non-profits (like us! or Interplast, which helps impoverished people get much needed surgeries) have blogs, which are a step in the right direction... but usually fall short on fulfilling the affiliation/sense of community needs as blogs are more about putting out information, and less about receiving.

So. If you're a non-profit, where do you start if you want an online community?

First, determine what it is you want to get out of the online community. Is it member retention? Donations? New members? Industry recognition?

Next, assess the demographic you are trying to attract. It may make more sense to create a community within another community that has already been set up (Facebook or Bebo, for example) than to create your own. Or, perhaps your demographic is not as comfortable in online communities, and it might be good to start with an email campaign to "warm up"
your audience before launching the community.

Thirdly, list out the necessary resources. Do you need to recruit some IT help - perhaps an intern? Make sure the infrastructure is easy to update, and that you will have access to help in the future.

Fourth - Launch the community internally. Work out all the bugs. Make sure your web analytics system is working correctly. Get some content up there.

Fifth - It's time to set that community free! Launch to all your members. Connect with them in the community - engage them. Interact. You will have to get the ball rolling.

Sixth - Promote the heck out of it. If your goal is to attract people outside of your current donor network, participate in other online communities. Make sure you're adding value to the community, not just spamming them with your promotions, though. Invite noted people in your field to guest post. Discuss events that you attended, and invite those people who attended with you to view the post.

Seventh - Never stop trying. It's not easy. Even a blog takes a lot of effort. But at the very least, in the process you will learn more about your audience, and more about the people you work/volunteer with. I think the OYFP team has gotten more out of this blog than our readers have - our online community was/is intended to engage our members, but has had the side effect of engaging us more fully in OYFP itself, and making us even more dedicated to our cause.

Best of luck out there - your online community is just waiting to be formed.

Related Posts: Non-profit networking Aug 13; Who is Happier?; Eyes Wide Shut

Super Tuesday Preview: Who's the Decider? You Are.

This Tuesday is going to be fun. And it is going to be a big-ish day for recent American democracy, which has been mostly marked by indifference, itself a product of things in America being, well, too good for us to need to care too much what our leaders are doing besides lunching with lobbyists.

Fortunately for those of us who rejoice when voter turnout increases (and really this should be everybody), we are starting to be given reasons to care more. It might never be the same as back in the days when anyone of a certain age held a lottery ticket to could send them to war, but those days may yet return. That said, in lieu of reviewing the positions of the candidates on issues that they have chosen to highlight, I thought it might be useful to note what I think is going to be at stake in November:
  • America's place in the world (politically): No one can be the dominant power in the world forever; the mark of a declining power is when you can't see it staring at you in the mirror. If you think national security is an issue now, wait until one of those countries with one billion people and/or with nuclear capabilities decides that they don't want to take our petulant attitude toward them anymore. Who will put us on a track to prevent that day from coming? Who will have the judgement to correctly answer the question: "What is an imminent threat?" Or, if it's inevitable, who will make sure that there are some other countries that still like us enough to stand with us on that day? I think that it will be the individual who best appreciates the value of human life (not in the family planning sense, let's set that issue aside for the moment).
  • America's place in the world (economically): First, the dollar is falling. And most of us don't have the foggiest idea of how to pick it up. It's like our paychecks are all getting smaller. I'll tell you what doesn't help: spiralling national debt. Forget policy: mathematically, you just can't collect less taxes and spend more money and expect everything to be cool. Not too mention folks around the world worrying that America is not a creditworthy place (or a welcome place, for that matter) to invest their money. Second, globalization. It is inevitable. And when people in poor places get jobs, that's good for the globe. But someone needs to invest in American innovation too.
  • The "O" word. Oil is a consumer issue (it's making everything more expensive here, and even more so because the dollar is worth less); a jobs issue--if we invest heavily in long-term, leap-frog alternative energy initiatives, you can bet we will generate lots of jobs here; an environmental issue--I don't know much about CO2, but it seems like the downside of doing nothing about our emissions issues could be a lot worse than the upside; and, by the way, it's also a national security issue--if we don't need oil then we don't need to fight about it, and we don't need to be nice to shady-ish governments just because they have a lot of it.
  • The Supreme Court. Stevens, 87 years old. Ginsburg, 74. Scalia, 71. Kennedy, 71. Breyer, 69. Souter, 68. Thomas, 59. Alito, 57. Roberts, 53. Four members to the right, four to the left, and a swing vote. This was touted as an issue in the last election but ended up being swallowed by other matters, and sure enough, we got two new judges. Looking ahead, we will have at least one new judge in the next four years, and we might have as many as four new judges in the next eight years. Aside from amendments to the constitution itself, the Supreme court has made the most influential decisions in the history of American policy. The President gets to pick these folks, almost at will. So let's choose our President very carefully.
  • The future of Africa: If you're under 40, you probably recognize the hook, "mo' money, mo' problems." Well this is true in some places in Africa. What is even more true in Africa is the lesser known hook, "no money, mo' problems." That's right. No money, no education, no food, no electricity, no running water, no political stability, and perhaps most importantly, no healthcare. I know how hard it is to compare a problem down the block to a problem 7,000 miles away, but the magnitude and immediacy of Africa's problems are gi-normous and rather harrowing. Can you imagine dying from a cavity? Can you imagine if all your friends had HIV at the same time...and no medical care? And, incidentally, unstable countries are more prone to influence from bad guys. So this is a national security issue, too.

These are some of the issues where we find ourselves at a fork in the road, but there are plenty of others. What is at stake for you this November?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Take Action

I was reading the news on my way into Boston this morning when I happened to read this story. The part that struck me was that a passenger was able to take the wheel over from the bus driver after the bus driver was impaired with some certain illness. According to a witness, a sharp turn had to be made, and the witness was unsure of how the passenger was able to make the turn. Not too many people will take action when they see a dangerous situation in front of them. This passenger did take action and now we have a happy end to this story.

This news article reminds me of what happens when people don't take action: The Kitty Genovese case. For those who aren't familiar with the story because it happened before they were born or didn't study it in college (thank you Psychology Degree), Kittty Genovese was murdered in Queens, NY, on March 13, 1964. After she was attacked she screamed out loud to try and scare off the attacker. Lights went on and windows opened from nearby apartments. One person even yelled at the attacker to "Let that girl alone!" This scared off the attacker momentairly.

Kitty was able to drag herself to her apartment buiding where the attacker returned 15 minutes later and stabbed her fatally. It was 15 minutes after the fatal stabing that police first received a phone call, 30 minutes after her first scream.

If someone called the police right after the first scream, the whole story could have had an entire different ending. Some say people didn't call because they were being selfish, they didn't want the attaker to turn on them. While others argue they thought some one else would call and they felt less obligated to do so, otherwise known as the bystander effect. Only the people who heard her screams could really know the answer behind their decision.

I was really blown away by this case when I read it in undergrad and it still makes me wonder what will happen if I am in a situation where I depend on the help of a stranger. Would I be ignored by a bystander? I would like to say that I would have called the police if I heard Kitty scream, but I wasn't there, and this was not to be my call to action.

Perhaps this is why I enjoy being a part of OYFP, because I am taking action in the community around me. Either way, the story today about the passenger on the bus in reminds us all, to step up and take action when we see another person in need of help. Will you?

mic check! one, two, one, two~

youtube has taken the world by storm... and by storm, we mean the perfect nor'easter. you can't escape it. i even know of a church that used the site to sponsor a homemade video contest about one of their events. but aside from some laughs, gasps of "are you serious?" and maybe an occasional video to raise awareness for a cause, youtube's contribution to humanity is limited in scope and depth (unless i'm completely unaware, which is not an unlikely possibility).

enter "five for fighting" and their newly created video community. it's the first one to "give back" because they believe that "we are all connected to one another through our actions [and] each person has the ability to make a difference."

you simply create a video that answers the question, "what kind of world do you want?" and for each hit, the site will donate $1.00 to specific charities (there is a limit, but they also take general donations, and 90% of those donations go directly to the charities).

so, bust out that gel, lacquer up those lips, and put on your snazziest threads. you're up next. what kind of world do you want?