March 31, 2008

Record Setting Donations And Trend-Setting Reputations

The Phoenix Business Journal is reporting that the Valley of the Sun United Way raised a record-setting $52.5 million in donations during its 2007 fundraising campaign.

That's a chunk of change. Seven hundred (700) companies and over one hundred twenty-three thousand (123,000+) individuals invested into the mission of the organization. This is really good news for those in the nonprofit industry.

Why, you ask, is this such big news? About fifteen (15) years ago, the United Way got into a little trouble. A huge ($463,000) salary and a comfortable expense account are two things that are hard to hide. Especially when you are the CEO of the most recognized and influential charity federations on the planet... Oh, and also when you spent a big piece it on a seventeen (17) year-old volunteer you had a crush on.

Justice was served, and other organizations stepped up to the plate. But as one of my professors is fond of saying, "A reputation is all that a nonprofit has going for it." And I think to a large extent, the story of United Way shows that. The organization has had to battle through their tattered image, even though one man out of thousands of employees really was responsible for the bad press.

Recently, however, that fight has been fruitful. At least here in Phoenix. Obviously, the news today was huge. Literally. And leadership over at VSUW has been dreaming up some amazing things to do with all that money. A few weeks ago, I saw Brian Spicker (SVP of Community Impact) and David Smith (Maricopa County Manager) discussing their plan to end homelessness. Seriously. Officially, it's called the Regional Plan to End Homelessness. Here is the sixty (60) page document (PDF) outlining the details. There is also a National Alliance to End Homelessness.
"United Way? Oh yeah, I've heard of them. They're the ones responsible for ending homelessness."
How's that for a reputation?

Cheers,
Sam
"We should become prosperous by working hard and then donate generously."
Atharva Veda

March 29, 2008

The Mayor On Earth Hour

The mayor stopped by Palatte this morning for breakfast with his family. He has been busy the last few days. He threw down a pretty big speech yesterday calling out Sheriff Joe Arpaio on some of his questionable actions lately.

He also took some time out of his day to explain why he feels Earth Hour is so important for Phoenix:

The reason I wanted our city to be one of the lead cities for “Earth Hour” is to help remind every individual that there are small, simple changes each of us can make that will help curb carbon dioxide emissions. Each one of us can make a difference. Emissions equal to taking 48,000 cars off the road will be reduced during that hour.


That's alot of cars. Here is his full letter posted on the Downtown Phoenix Journal, and here is a list of the other seventy (70) sustainability programs that the City of Phoenix is committed to.

I would love to hear about how you celebrated Earth Hour. Let me know in the comments!

Cheers,
Sam
"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world."
William Shakespeare
(In The Merchant of Venice)

March 27, 2008

New Toys, Same Blog

I am doing a little virtual "soul searching" and I'm trying to focus the vision of the blog a little bit.

Over the next few days everything over there --> will start to look a little different. Right now there is a few options for getting the blog sent right to your feed reader of choice, and the option to make it a "favorite" on Technorati.

Just for fun, anybody out there getting this through a feed reader, or do you most of you just stop by all willy-nilly?

EDIT (3/28) - The side bar has been updated! After doing some serious consideration, I decided to focus on two main areas - The Nonprofit Industry, and Downtown Phoenix. Let me know what you think works, and what doesn't work. Thanks!

Cheers,
Sam
"There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul. We search for its outlines all our lives."
Josephine Hart

March 26, 2008

Juan Williams At ASU Downtown!

Big news, everybody. Listen up!


Next Friday (April 4th), ASU's Downtown Phoenix Campus is hosting NPR Senior Correspondent Juan Williams. He and Raul Yzaguirre - former CEO of La Raza - will be leading a community forum on civil rights. After the forum, participants in the inaugural Community Advocacy Symposium will engage in focused dialog through breakout sessions. Through "Vision Mapping" (solutions through art) and community-led discussion, members will begin conversations surrounding topics such as Economic Justice, War, Immigration and English Only, and Gender Issues. A full list is on the flier pictured to the side.

The event happens at ASU's Downtown Phoenix Campus, but is open to all community members. In fact, a wider audience would only make this a more vibrant discussion, so please consider joining us next Friday. Registration and lunch begin at 11AM, with Juan and Raul taking the stage at noon. Register here. More information here. And just in case you needed another motivator for joining us, I will be co-facilitating the breakout session on Economic Justice. Does it get any better?

Oh yeah, it does. After the sun goes down, we break out the party hats for First Fridays. Once a year, ASU Downtown opens up its doors for First Fridays, calling the event TRES (Timely, Rea,l Expressive, Social). That flier is to the side. Great live music from The Stupors, and showcased art from local nonprofit organizations. There you have it, a fantastic Friday all set and ready for you. Discuss real-world civil rights issues with members of your community, and then relax and have a great time enjoying good music and beautiful art in the evening.

Can't wait to see you there!

PS - If you traveled here from the Downtown Phoenix Journal, thanks for stopping by! We are honored to be a part of the DPJ community, and look forward to the growing partnership.


Cheers,
Sam
"Injustice is a sixth sense, and rouses all the others."
Amelia E. Barr

One, With A Hundred Zeroes After It

I am an avid user of all things Google. I use it for my email, my calendar, my photo storage, and my feed reader. You cynics out there might say I have no choice. That in fact, all things are Google. They own almost everything, you say. Well, I would like to think they are a little more altruistic than that awful picture you just painted. Have some decency.

Last week, Google announced a "one-stop shop" for people who make the world a better a better place. That's right - Google for Nonprofits. With the exception of Google Grants, no programs are brand new, or specifically tailored for the people working in the nonprofit industry. However, all the programs in the bundle would greatly aid an organization with a small technology budget (all of these programs are free to the end-user), or any-sized organization with an interest in lowering technology costs.



To keep up with what Google is doing, I highly suggest the Official Google Blog. If only I went the way of my cousin Matt and learned computer programming, I could have been working for these people... Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?!

Google also has Google for Educators for all you teachers out there. I'm looking at you, Mom, Dad, and John. Also recently released, a new feature through Google Earth to watch a tree grow.

I feel like soliciting a little feedback today. How do you use Google? Daily, once a week, twice a month? Let me know via the comments section.

Cheers,
Sam
"As a rule, we don't preannounce new features."
Eric Schmidt
CEO of Google, Inc.

March 24, 2008

How To Use A Bike Rack

Oh, that's how you do it...



From the Transit Authority of River City. Too good to pass up.

Cheers,
Sam
"Enter, Click, Plan Your Trip!"
TARC Slogan

March 21, 2008

They Might Be Fake, But They Are Green...



Reportedly, this song is about large-scale consumption and mass marketing. I hate it when musicians hide the meanings of their songs under layers and layers of confusing subtext. After the band got back from seeing Jeff Buckley, Thom went into the studio and recorded the vocals in two takes, breaking down in tears after the session. Complete lyrics here.

Every once in awhile, I like to research causation. You know, the what and why behind someone's actions. What makes them tick. It was this thinking that lead me to believe that this song is possibly what brought to the band announcing that they will only play at venues easily accessible by mass transit. Pretty cool, huh?

So cool, in fact, that back in January NME Magazine named Radiohead the "World's Greenest Band." The ratings were based on bands' efforts to reduce their carbon footprints while on tour. Thom and the boys scored a two (2), far outshadowing many others, including The Police who chalked-up a seven (7). Maybe because they don't care if it is wrong or if it is right...

Anyway, just a fun little piece of information for you as we head into the weekend. Now, we just have to figure out the best way to get to Grant Park by bus...

Cheers,
Sam
“One of the conditions of the band carrying on touring is that we do everything we can to minimize our impact on the environment. That has included buying two lots of equipment and keeping one in Europe and one in America so we never have to fly our kit around the world again.”
Thom Yorke

March 20, 2008

Warming Up

It was a little chilly for the season this past weekend. I had to wear a sweatshirt riding my bicycle. But temperatures are getting back to normal now (83 for a high today), and we have nothing but higher temperatures to look forward to. Found this on Wooster, and it reminded me of exactly what we are in for...



It's the first day of spring, which means long-time Arizona residents are preparing for summer.

Cheers,
Sam
"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!'"
Robin Williams

March 17, 2008

Soy Amigo De Obama

I'm working on another installment of "Round Up From The Ground Up." Worth the wait, I promise. In the meantime, enjoy this:




Oh, did you say you like Reggaeton?



Lyrics and more here. See you soon.

Cheers,
Sam
"My job is not to represent Washington to you, but to represent you to Washington."
Barack Obama

March 14, 2008

Phoenix Friday | Turn it Off!



From the website:

"Join thousands of people across Phoenix-and millions of people around the world-to make a bold statement about climate change on March 29th from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Turn out your non-essential and non-emergency lights for one hour. Earth Hour.

World Wildlife Fund is partnering with Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon and community leaders to help make history. Phoenix is honored to be one of four major cities in the nation-along with Atlanta, San Francisco, and Chicago-leading this landmark international event. Public buildings, landmarks, and major corporate offices will take part, and residents throughout Phoenix and its surrounding cities are encouraged to participate in this groundbreaking celebration.

At the first Earth Hour last year in Sydney, Australia, power consumption dropped by more than 10 percent. But Earth Hour is not just about cutting back for one hour. It's about taking a stand and thinking ahead about what you, your neighbors and your city can do to make a difference.

Seize the Earth Hour moment. Change some of your outdated energy-wasting light bulbs to new, efficient and inexpensive compact fluorescents (CFL's). Think of other ways you can cut your energy usage and trim your electric bill after Earth Hour has passed.

In 2007, Phoenix experienced the second hottest year on record. Six of the 10 hottest years in the Valley's history have occurred since 2000. We have realized that we have to take a stand on climate change. That's why World Wildlife Fund is organizing Earth Hour around the globe, and that's why Phoenix is committed to this unprecedented event.

One person can make a difference. Cities, coming together, can change the world.

One hour, Phoenix. Earth Hour."


Please sign up on the website. They won't sell your email. Just count you as one of the many who will be participating.


Cheers,
Sam
"We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day."
William Shakespeare

March 13, 2008

Start Seeing Bicycles!

A video for you tonight. It's fun, I promise:



Also, there is a petition that I am asking you to sign if the message strikes a chord with you. There is a group of bicycle riders pleading Google to add a "Bike There" option to Google Maps. My signature was #24,729, and a few more couldn't hurt. Here is the link to the petition.

Both of these things I borrowed from my new friend, Jonny, over at Zero Per Gallon. He has some really amazing things going over there in San Fran. I talked about his stuff a little on Sunday, but I know not all of you went to check it out. Go buy a belt or a shirt or something. And tell him I sent you.

Cheers,
Sam
"Be alert, be aware, be alive."
Safety Slogan

March 10, 2008

Forgive Them, Father, For They Have Learned

Last Monday, the Washington Post ran an article titled "Credit Crisis May Make College Loans More Costly." This piqued my interest on two (2) counts. First, I am in college. Second, I have loans in order to make the first one possible. After doing a little digging, though, I found a third reason to get excited, and one that now brings me to the keyboard.

In a Letter to the Editor that will run in Tuesday's edition of the Post, Representative John Sarbanes from Massachusetts says this:

The Post highlighted rising educational debt and its impact on career choices ["Credit Crisis May Make College Loans More Costly," front page March 3]. Particularly troubling is that the burden of debt has aggravated attrition within the leadership ranks of the nonprofit world.

Last fall, Congress enacted the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which makes college more affordable. Within this law is a measure that brings special relief to those who enter the nonprofit world. This provision, also known as the Education for Public Service Act, will allow graduates with direct federal loans and consolidated federal loans to obtain immediate reductions in their monthly payments as well as loan forgiveness after 10 years in public service.

Linking loan forgiveness to a decade in the nonprofit sector will not only help build careers, it will create future leaders in the field.


Well said, sir. Well said. The bold is my addition. But I'm sure Mr. Sarbanes wouldn't mind. He authored the bill, and is working to move it through the long process of getting a signature by the (Wo)Man In The Oval Office. It was introduced in June of 2007, and hasn't moved much since. You can track its progress and read the full text here.

The House Committee On Education And Labor and its subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness are responsible for the bill. This is cool because it brings a more local focus into the picture. Representative Raul Grijalva sits on the committee serving Arizona's Seventh District.

I am thinking that a letter writing campaign is in my midst. Anyone want to join? The text defines "Public Sector" as anyone working for Federal, State, local government, or a 501(c)(3) organization. Sounds like a lot of people I know...

Here is some contact information in the mean time:

Representative Ed Pastor (D-AZ) - Arizona District 4
Representative John Sarbanes (D-MD) - Author of Bill
Representative George Miller (D-CA) - Committee Chair

If you don't live in the Phoenix area, find your local Representative here. Looking forward to seeing this materialize!

Cheers,
Sam
"The lack of money is the root of all evil."
Mark Twain

March 9, 2008

My Peace Of The Puzzle

Just a few random things for you guys to have some fun with today...

First, there is this warning from the City of Santa Ana. Parents, make sure you watch out for those backpacks and black books. Those things are scary!



Next is my newest bike-related obsession, Zero Per Gallon. ZPG has a variety of products, including belts made from recycled bike tires, stickers with the clever their clever logo (pictured), and shirts boasting that bikes have the ability to go fifty-three (53) miles per burrito. I wonder how many miles a torta will get you. Those things are amazing. The site is a real fun time. Poke around, you'll find some good stuff in there. Promise.

Lastly, I have to let you know about yet another opportunity to join the Social Networking world. Ladies and Gentlemen, let me present to you, MyPeaceSpace! It would only be cooler if your computer started to smell like Patchouli when you visited the site. I kid, I kid. Seriously, though. This is a really neat project and you should check it out. Speaking of amazing things happening, I wonder if the people working on creating a US Department of Peace have profiles on MyPeaceSpace?

That's all I have for tonight. Let me know what you think.

Cheers,
Sam
"All we are saying is 'give peace a chance.'"
John Lennon

March 7, 2008

Phoenix Friday | Measuring Inches | March 7, 2008

Andy Warhol said once, "Don't pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." I got hold of this article online, so I don't know exactly how many inches it was in print, but Downtown Phoenix artists have some measuring to do...

The Arizona Republic (Motto: "We like pretty pictures and hyperbole.") is reporting that Phoenix city officials are going to crack down on ordinances that make selling on sidewalks illegal. Sidewalk vendors have become one the main draws of First Fridays here in Downtown Phoenix for four (4) years, and there fate is now in great jeopardy. The galleries, taverns and eateries are amazing, no doubt, but the fact that anybody can set up a table and sell theier artwork is amazing. And if you've been down there, you know that just about anybody has set up a table and sold artwork.

Beatrice Moore is the founder of Artlink, Inc., the brainchild behind First Fridays and Art Detours. She was quoted in the article as saying, "The sidewalks are so crowded that people are in the street." An estimated ten thousand (10,000) people showed up for February's First Friday events, and nearly two hundred vendors (200) where there in addition to galleries. I am no business maverick, but I can venture a pretty safe guess to say that growth is a good thing. And if Downtown Phoenix is trying to be a little bit more "edgy" and promote its Urban Core, the last thing people should do is complain about an overflow of people. Warnings go out tonight and in April, but starting in May vendors will be hit with up to a twenty-five hundred dollar ($2,500) fine.

On the brighter side of this whole thing -if there is one- there is a proposal up for city consideration right now that would create an official Arts & Culture District. This would allow for "Block Party" events, legalizing and possibly re-legitimizing the street vendors' efforts to make Downtown Phoenix a place actually worth living in. Until then, they just count inches.

Cheers,
Sam
"Why do people think artists are special? It's just another job."
Andy Warhol

March 6, 2008

Marching To The Beat Of A Different Drummer

Different is being defined as "Icelandic" in this instance. Just hold on. I'll explain why in a second...

I tend to study /do homework to wordless music. I love jazz, but sometimes I need a little more giddy-up to get my brain waves operating at a functional level. Tonight, I put the finishing touches on my last assignment before I can send the space between my ears to Daytona Beach. One last five (5) page paper to write, then Spring Break.

The playlist? Thoughtfully put together by Quinn, it included The Album Leaf, Explosions in the Sky, and This Will Destroy You. Like I said, a little more giddy-up than 'Round About Midnight.

There was a little surprise for me at the end of the playlist. Right along the home stretch, when I was doing some final revisions and rewrites, Sigur Ros started to play. And not just any song. It was from a long-lost album (Takk...) that took me back to the days when I shared a three (3) bedroom house with four (4) other people. Quite an adventure (The album and the house). And just in case you think the only thing Iceland succeeds at producing is athletic-trainer vixens, I put the video here at the bottom for you to see why the song recalls such vivid imagery. The song is about six (6) minutes long, so if you don't have time to watch it now, make sure you come back when you do. It will have a better impact if you watch it in its entirety.

I'm done with the paper. I'm done with school until St. Patrick's Day. And I'm done being twenty-two (22). Goodnight.

Cheers,
Sam
"People are always asking me about Eskimos, but there are no Eskimos in Iceland!"
Bjork



March 2, 2008

The Search For An Organic Compound

Chemists everywhere are cringing. The good news is that I don't have to pass my post titles by them. It looks as though the Public Market is getting ever closer to a permanent building. But they need a final nudge in order to open the doors by summer. And if you haven't been there, make a point of it. Saturday mornings and Wednesday evenings. The following article is from Lyle over at the Downtown Phoenix Journal:

The Downtown Phoenix Public Market which operates at 721 N Central, between McKinley and Pierce St's on Saturdays and now on Wednesday evenings is thriving. The outdoor operation, which just celebrated it's 3rd Anniversary (Hope I got that right!) is doing very well. If you haven't visited the market, you really should go check it out. The locals love it!

The Market which is operated by Community Food Connections, a non-profit organization committed to alleviating hunger and creating food self-sufficiency in Arizona is about to embark on a new and exciting expansion of the Market into a 4,000 square foot building adjacent to the Outdoor Market. In this space, you will be able to stop by 6 days a week in a climate controlled environment and buy your goods which will include Arizona produce, dairy, eggs, meat & poultry. Also, prepared foods, breads, pastries, fresh flowers and while you're there you will be able to check your e-mail using the free wireless internet at their coffee bar.

The Market would like to launch this new store in Summer of 2008. In order to do that, they need to raise $50,000 by April to begin renovations on the building. If you would be interested in making a tax-deductible donation, contact Cindy Gentry, the Executive Director of the Market at cgentry@foodconnect.org or at 602 493 5231 or send your donations to Community Food Connections at P.O. Box 22216, Phoenix, AZ 85028.


Shopping there definitely helps, but the market itself is an organization in apparent need of its own financial help. As the article said, all donations are tax-deductible. Speaking of donations, my birthday is on Thursday. Unfortunately, the IRS won't give you a kick-back for hooking me up. I asked, but no dice.

Cheers,
Sam
"People spend money when and where they feel good."
Walt Disney