August 31, 2008

Gustav + Social Media = Better Than Katrina

With the impending Worst Deja Vu In History looming on the horizon, social media has attempted to come to the rescue. Over the last year or so, I have had many conversations with people about what it means to be part of the Nonprofit Sector (also; Social, Independent, Voluntary, etc.). Overwhelmingly, one of my favorite definitions was this: "Nonprofit organizations and voluntary actions take the responsibility of filling the gaps that the government and business sectors leave wide open." And over the last few days, I have seen this definition play out in goose bump-causing ways.

Sure, the Internet is responsible for spreading questionable "newsworthy" items at Fiber Optic Speed, but it also has some amazing potential for good. And it's now being tapped to help the victims of Gustav in ways that FEMA could only dream of.

Andy Carvin (@acarvin) has set up a Wiki for all things Gustav. The Gustave Information Center is chock full of up-to-date weather patterns, the latest related news, a flickr photo stream, videos from the area, and most importantly, ways in which you can seek or provide help. The site and its related pieces have the Twitterverse and other social media outlets abuzz. The coolest part about this endeavor for me is that it is 100% user-generated (read: the textbook definition of Web 2.0). The Federal Government didn't ask Andy to start this up, nor is he receiving any huge amount of grant money to undertake the project. In all likeliness, he won't even have to spend that much more time in the creation of the content. For the record, I'm sure tons of time went into the creation of the site, my point is that thanks to social media, the real meat of this project is going to be carried out by others. Users from around the country (and the world) now have access to everything they need to know about the storm, and the ability to alter that information as needed. Please take a moment to check the site out. It is well worth the visit.

The page for "Aid & Agencies" is currently being finalized, so in the meantime consider a donation to Mercy Corps, a disaster relief organization that is able to utilize at least 89 cents of every dollar donated to the earmarked cause you are giving towards.

One last thing before I let you go and take some action. Some of you remember our conversation about NoLA Rising, the art organization that was trying to lighten up the city a bit with creativity and color despite a few grouchy neighbors. Below is a letter from Michael that he posted on his blog today. Katrina was a difficult experience, but Gustav has now become a little more personal. Please keep Micheal and his brothers and sisters of NoLA in your thoughts and prayers as the long weekend continues.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Brothers and Sisters,

It is with sad regret that I have been convinced to leave New Orleans in hopes to avoid the impending second apocolypse of New Orleans. Hopefully, we will not suffer the same Federal Levee Failures that destroyed the large majority of our city as we did last time. The Federal Government has had three years to fix their mistakes, let's hope that along with the levees in New Orleans, they will also fix the other 125 levee concerns in 28 of their states!

Having said that, I sadly regret having to leave my home. I hope that I will have something to return to. I leave with a week's worth of clothes, a few canvases, and about a hundred dollars to my name. I don't know where I am going or what will happen to me once I get there. Hopefully, I will be able to return to New Orleans soon and be here as part of the positive change that the citizens of our city have been trying to make. It is the people that make New Orleans what it is and we will stay, we will return, we will rebuild and NOLA WILL RISE! Say it and spray it loud!

For those of you staying, I will see you soon and I hope for the best. For all of us spread out across the country right now, may we meet on the other side of this hell and have ourselves a carnival of food, music and art...

I love this city of mine!

Michael "ReX" Dingler

To take action:

Stay tuned to the Gustav Information Center

Donate to Mercy Corps

Donate to NoLA Rising

Come to this film with me on Saturday

"He that gives quickly gives twice."

August 30, 2008

The Axe In The Attic

"’The Axe in the Attic’ is one of the most important, engrossing and compelling documentaries we’ve screened in our 6 year history. It is the best documentary of 2008."
Steve Weiss, Executive Director, No Festival Required LLC

Next Saturday, September 6, No Festival Required and Space 55 will be showing "The Axe in the Attic", a documentary on the Diaspora of New Orleans. The trailer looks stunning (caution: language not edited), and if Steve says it's good I'm taking his word for it. Tickets are $7, or a dollar less with student (read: ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus) ID. The film runs at 7PM and 9PM.

Space 55 is at 636 East Pierce Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004. The film's official website can be found here. On top of the high quality of production, I can't imagine a more appropriate time for such a film to be screened. I'll see you guys next week!

"We've certainly learned a lot from Katrina."
Michael Chertoff

August 28, 2008

We Can Solve It

I'm a big fan of finding positive and lasting solutions, not just complaining about the issues du jour to see how well your voice bounces off blank stares. Thus, I have become increasingly interested in the work in which the We Campaign is feverishly engaged. We is a project of the Alliance for Climate Protection, which was started by the Father of the Internet himself, Al Gore. You learned earlier this week how powerful a signature can be, so why not stop by the We Can Solve It site, and join in the growing numbers of people urging our leaders to rethink power in America, and free us from our addiction to oil?

"Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town."
George Carlin

August 27, 2008

A Message From Uncle Mike

I know there are plenty of critics out there, even I at times have been among those ranks, but I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised and excited about the direction that the President is taking our fair little University. Twenty Rhodes Scholars, a Research One Instutuion, one of the greenest campuses (except when Oregon comes to town), and the list goes on. The 10-3 record schpeal, though? Probably could have done without that. Maybe saying a "10 win season" would have been better. Those were a painful 3 games to be a Sun Devil...

So, here's to a better season (maybe the Bubble helped), and a perpetually better University.

"A school without football is in danger of being turned into a medieval study hall."
Frank Leahy

August 26, 2008

What Can A Signature Do?

Apparently alot. Amnesty's website.

"There, I guess King George will be able to read that."
John Hancock

August 25, 2008

First Day Ritual

I did this last semester, and I like traditions. So, enjoy.

Welcome back, everybody! Here's to another fantastic semester.

"Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance."
Will Durant

August 24, 2008

It's Sunday, This Is Football

I'm a fan of football. All sorts of football. I play fantasy football, I'm a big college football fan, and I like to play a little two-hand touch on Thanksgiving Morning. But today, I'm talking about the football with penalty kicks, not penalty yards. You Yanks call it "soccer." I don't have any sort of premium cable package, so I am a seasonal fan- like when the Euros or the World Cup are on network television. The next Cup is in South Africa during the summer of 2010, and I can barely stand the anticipation. But honestly, I just got way more excited about the World Cup of 2018:

The website behind Israel-Palestine bid is well-thought out, streamlined, really intuitive, and totally worth a visit. Oh yeah, and it's actually a side project of OneVoice, a movement of people "eager to support a serious process, leading to a comprehensive agreement that will fulfill the hopes and aspirations of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people for a two-state solution." That makes sense to me. And, I found out, a bunch of other people, too. Nearly 650,000 (I was number 646,402) voices are singing the song of a two-state solution in perfect harmony. Add your voice to the chorus. And go watch some (real) football.

"Peace and football are the best combination."
Avram Grant
(Former Coach of Chelsea Football Club)

August 23, 2008

Stream Of Rivals

"This Nation (under God) shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth."

As odd as it sounds, Abraham Lincoln has been on my mind for the last few weeks, and today his relevance seemed paramount. I was in DC a couple months back, and was able to see the Lincoln Monument. It's my second favorite place in the District, right behind Capitol Building. I also recently watched Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, a film that features the Monument in a few key scenes. While I was there, I also visited Senator Obama's office, where a picture of Abe hangs prominently on the wall of the reception area. It's probably because they both represented the Great State of Illinois (Lincoln in the House) as Congressmen, but I'd like to think it's because Obama recognizes Lincoln's fantastic leadership style.

In particular, I'm reminded of the leadership discussed in the book Team of Rivals. You'll see why in second. The book explores Abraham Lincoln and the people who he chose to surround him in high-level policy-making positions. It's been on my "To Read" list for quite sometime now, and I think this morning's events just catapulted it to number one in the queue. What's the relevance, you ask? Barack Obama chose Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential running mate for the '08 Election, but Joe and Barry haven't always been on the best of terms.

He made that comment about Obama being clean and articulate, and told (Jason Bateman look-alike) George Stephanolopous that he thought Barack Obama was not ready to be our next President. Of course, John "I'll Get Back To You On That" McCain is all over this, spouting his usual negative rhetoric:

But I'm looking at if from a different perspective. Their storied past doesn't have to be a bad thing. Abraham Lincoln surrounded himself with people who didn't always agree with him, and through his leadership a nation ended a horribly unnecessary war and began to heal. Hillary (and Joe, for that matter) made Barack a better candidate because they didn't always see eye to eye, and Joe will make him a much better President for the same reasons. Having a steady stream of rivals will only make Obama stronger. Plus, I read somewhere that "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Just thinking out loud...

"Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine. You sit there at night before you put the kids -- after you put the kids to bed and you talk, you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you are worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It's a pretty hard experience. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at."
Vice Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden

Jocks Can Twitter

The Net Tuesday folks here in Phoenix had an event on Wednesday looking at the (potential) power of Twitter used for good in the Nonprofit Sector. "Using Twitter and Podcasts in an Interactive Photo Exhibit," was a presentation on COAR's use of social media to deepen the individual's relationship with an organization. It was a very cool experiment that had some outstanding results.

I'm interested to hear how you see Twitter and other forms of social media being used in the sector. Or if you have any ideas how to better make use of these powerful tools, I'd like to hear those as well.

Here's how regular people use it. As always, I can be found @samuelisaac.

"Journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones: Dead" to people who never knew that Lord Jones was alive."
G.K. Chesterton

August 22, 2008

Pass The Van Goghgurt, Please

Americans for the Arts has a fantastic new marketing campaign out right now; "Art. Ask For More." Dr. Seuss taught us all that being silly can be a very effective way to communicate. Who knew that a talking feline could teach us so much about cleaning up after ourselves, a crazy yarn about oddly colored eggs could teach us to try new things, or that an elephant with an identity crisis could teach us that a person is a person, no matter how small? These TV ads will begin airing soon (thanks to funding from the Ad Council and the NAMM Foundation), telling parents and teachers how to better "feed kids the arts" in some extremely effective (read: silly) ways. Theodore, eat your heart out:

In addition to the TV campaign, radio spots will be hitting the airwaves, billboards will be up, and print ads will be in, err, print. And hey, look at these cool banner ads!

If you're inspired enough to do something, do it. Here are a few ways that Americans for the Arts would like you to Take Action, and there should be some automatically generated ones on that cool widget over there (pretend that I'm pointing to the sidebar). The Phoenix Art Museum is free on Tuesday afternoons, and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is free all day on Thursdays. Bring a kid or two. And don't forget the Goghgurt...

"The fact that people do not understand and respect the very best things, such as Mozart's concertos, is what permits men like us to become famous."
Johannes Brahms

August 21, 2008

New Digs, Shame Shovel

Life is exciting.

My new home, Taylor Place, is full of people. The energy is great, and the food surprisingly delicious.

School is just around the corner, and I can't be more excited. All of my general classes are out of the way, and I can start digging my teeth into what I'm really here for: Nonprofit Leadership & Management. Class lineup as follows:

Professional Development Seminar (American Humanics Workshop)

Inclusive Community Development

Sustainable Communities


Marketing For Nonprofit Organizations

So, I'm pretty stoked. I'm off to a take a tour of all the restaurants in Copper Square to show the Freshman that Downtown Phoenix is a decent place to be. Maybe Adam should join us, the Good News of Downtown needs to be shared with him...

If you're reading this in a reader, come check out the site. I did a little work to the sidebar, new buttons courtesy of Joe Rib. And that's pretty much all I got for now. Looking forward to being behind the keyboard a little bit more now that I'm all settled in the new digs. So until next time I remain,

Anxious To Hear Who Will Be VP,
"I dislike feeling at home when I'm abroad."
George Bernard Shaw

August 18, 2008

StARs In The News...

StARs shine light on college life for potential students

A team of Web-savvy students is using new media in unique ways for recruitment

A group of six students at Arizona State University’s College of Public Programs are using new media in unique and creative ways to recruit students.

The students are in the Student Ambassador for Recruitment program, or StAR, which provides them an unedited student voice as they work in concert with staff recruiters to assist in the recruitment and retention process.

This is the first and only program of its kind at ASU. It’s among only a handful of similar social-media-focused recruitment programs across the nation, including Cornell University.

The StARs each have an interactive blog linked through the college’s Web site, and they frequently answer e-mails from potential students who have concerns and questions about student life at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The team members also make videos for YouTube to show examples of what they’re learning and how much fun it is to take classes at the college.

“This generation of students has always interacted through new media. The days of recruiting at a table in a high school are done,” said StAR student Samuel Richard.

Since the program began in January 2008, freshman enrollment has increased at units within all three schools at the college. For example, freshman enrollment more than doubled this academic year in the Nonprofit & Leadership Management Program.

Among the team’s biggest successes is the recruitment of a student who was accepted to Harvard and Yale but chose to enroll at ASU in the College of Public Programs based partly on the personal connection she felt with the StARs, who traveled to Tucson to meet her in person before she made her decision.

Some college recruits have merged organically, because they knew friends of friends on the StARs’ Myspace and Facebook pages.

The StARs represent each of the schools within the college: the Schools of Social Work, Public Affairs, and Community Resources & Development. They primarily write about their perspectives on being a College of Public Programs student and voice their opinions on issues they face as students. Topics on their blogs primarily are related to their academic major.

The StARs include Elenia Sotelo and Edward Jensen, Urban & Metropolitan Studies majors; Candi Henriquez and Samuel Richard, Nonprofit Leadership & Management majors; Amarone Thach, Tourism Development & Management major; and Kirsten Martin, Social Work major.

“You’re getting an almost real-time perspective from students who are in the college and in the programs that potential students are interested in,” said Jensen.

Richard is quick to point out that social media is a great vehicle to meet potential students, but is just one step in developing an overall relationship.

“The Internet and social media are one piece of a larger puzzle that leads to a more holistic recruitment experience,” said Richard. “It’s not only about Myspace, and it’s not only about tabling high school campuses. The magic happens somewhere in-between.”

The StAR Web site includes a guide for new students, a calendar of events, and a “Downtown 411” section in which the students offer reviews of local restaurants and suggestions of unique places to visit near the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus.

The StAR Web site is located at For information about the StAR program, contact Dena Frei at (602) 496-0411 or

Note: This story originally ran at

"Men who never get carried away should be."
Malcolm Forbes

August 4, 2008

Upcoming Schedule Or: Why You Should Get Excited About This Blog Again

In constant pursuit of betterment, I'm looking into a few new tools to make this blog a little big more fun. One of the first things I'm going to do is realign my focus. I've done this before, but this time is a little different. Over the last few weeks and months, my interests have evolved (not flip-flopped). Social Media has emerged as a topic I am really interested in following, but more specifically how it relates to the Nonprofit Sector. Also, I haven't done a very good job at keeping you up to date on what's happening in the Sector, and trust me, there's a lot...

The sidebar needs some heavy work, and I'm also going to look into broadcasting the blog (and the website) in different, and hopefully more efficient ways. So, the next few days might be light on the posting, but it'll ramp up again soon. Promise.

"A good retreat is better than a bad stand."
Irish Proverb

August 1, 2008

Call & Response

"Never forget, justice is what love looks like in public."

Dr. Cornel West

The movie won't come to Phoenix unless there are 1,000 interested people. So please, go here and sign up for the email list. Sex trafficking is a huge industry, making more profit than 499 of the Fortune 500. And the solution to overwhelming problems begin with a single, defiant voice. Yours.

"This is the 21st Century Abolitionist Movement."
Tagline from Call & Response