December 22, 2008

Plenty Of Happy Holidays

The Winter Solstice was observed yesterday (5:04 AM Arizona Time).

Last night at sundown, Hanukkah celebrations began across the world.

It's Christmas on Thursday, and Friday marks the start of Kwanzaa.

Here's to family, friends, and whatever it is you do as we inch closer and closer to a New Year. See you in 2009.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."
Hamilton Wright Mabie

Also throughout this Holiday Season, many disgruntled parents will be celebrating the Festivus for the Rest Of Us. (For John & Quinn)

December 18, 2008

Seek First To Collaborate

I like quotes. But more than the quotes themselves, I enjoy their application. That's why the sage words at the end of every post here at Deserted After Dark relate to the not-so-sage words above it: I like to offer a take-home. How presumptuous.

Below is a post from Lois Savage, President of the Lodestar Foundation. Recently, the Lodestar Foundation sponsored The Collaboration Prize (it's exactly what it sounds like, an award recognizing achievement in partnership). The winner of the $250,000 grant will be announced at the ASU Lodestar Center on Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation's Annual Spring Forum for Nonprofit Effectiveness (or NAMBLA). This post was originally published on the fantastic blog PhilanTopic:

In this tough economic environment, calls for nonprofits to adopt business strategies in order to become more efficient and maximize the impact of their work abound. Usually included in the list of such strategies are the dreaded "c" and "m" words -- collaboration and merger. The implication is that employing either of these strategies is a sign of weakness, a last-ditch attempt to avoid organizational extinction. In reality, collaboration and merger strategies often are employed by nonprofits when they are healthy, with powerful synergistic results: the collaborative entity is more effective and impactful than the individual nonprofits, acting alone, ever were capable of being.

Still, collaboration can be daunting for many organizations, which is why they avoid it. Frequently cited as barriers to collaboration are the sheer time and resources it takes to collaborate; difficulties in integrating staff, programs, and different organizational cultures; loss of funding from long-standing donors; and ego and turf considerations.

These challenges are real, but the benefits of collaboration can be exceptional. For example, the Global Forum for Media Development, a global conference of world-wide independent media NGOs, has led to organized coordination and cooperation within the industry, enabling significantly more efficient utilization of resources and effective results within the field. Similarly, the Arizona's Children Association's acquisition of two existing nonprofits resulted in a dramatic reduction in operating costs for the first acquired nonprofit, Golden Gate Community Center, while the second acquisition enabled the New Directions Institute for Brain Development to increase its training capacity by 100 percent in a single year.

Since our inception almost ten years ago, the Lodestar Foundation has focused on helping nonprofit organizations collaborate to leverage the growth and effectiveness of philanthropy. While there is a wealth of information about collaboration in the business world, including case studies, models and how-to books, there is very little information about the unique realities of nonprofit collaboration. With the goal of providing such information to the sector, Lodestar earlier this year initiated the Collaboration Prize, a $250,000 award to the best U.S. nonprofit collaboration (including joint programming, administrative consolidations and mergers) between otherwise competitive organizations. We thought that if we received a hundred nominations, we could consider the project a success -- and were amazed when we received 644 nominations, all of them formulated during relatively prosperous economic times.

We are now in the process of organizing and analyzing this treasure trove of information. One thing is clear, however: While some of the nominated collaborations were formed as a result of adverse conditions (such as loss of an executive director or loss of funding) or pursuant to funder mandates, many involve marriages between strong viable organizations focused on maximizing effectiveness through joint action. This latter group demonstrates that collaboration can be a thoughtful, positive strategy for fulfilling an organizational mission, not just a desperation-induced tactical decision. All the nominees provided quantitative evidence of efficiencies and impact achieved through the vehicle of collaboration.

Collaboration will continue to be promoted as an option to nonprofits as a way to reduce costs and survive. Learnings from the Collaboration Prize, which we will begin to roll out in the first quarter of 2009, can be used to advance the concept of collaboration as a positive tool. In addition to providing models for initiating and managing collaborations, data from the nominees address a broad range of collaboration-related issues of import to funders and to nonprofits, issues ranging from how funders can create an environment that encourages nonprofits to explore collaboration, to how nonprofits can overcome common challenges that inhibit collaboration. Armed with practical knowledge about successful collaborations, perhaps more nonprofits will consider this powerful strategy. Stay tuned.

"Seek first to collaborate, only then to lead."
Bill Clinton

PS - Much to my girlfriend's delight, tonight is the last night of Mustaches For Kids. Much to my delight, the three of us have raised nearly $1,000. Pretty cool for three dudes with a little extra upper-lip fuzz. On behalf of the 1,200 students you have impacted through your gifts, thank you so much!

December 16, 2008

Point, Click, Match

Sometimes, people ask me what I do all day. I usually work quickly to change the subject because I don't really have a good answer. But when these said people really get me backed into a corner, I say that in between searching for the latest YouTube craze and refreshing the New York Times website every fifteen (15) seconds, I try to get people to come study with me at the College of Public Programs.

I visit high schools, community colleges, world-changing organizations, and oh yeah, get paid to play on the Internet. Up until this week, I didn't really have a believable answer as to why that last part was relevant to the job title, "Recruiter." Well, now I do. Here you go, Naysayer:

The cumbersome college guidebook, with page after page of statistics-heavy summaries, is creaking under its own weight, and the glossy brochure is increasingly consigned to the wastepaper basket like so much junk mail.

Instead, more high school students are pointing and clicking their way through the college search, tapping into an array of new matchmaking websites that pair them with prospective schools based on their personal preferences. And colleges, no longer content to cede the digital terrain to the teenage set, are also turning to the Facebook-like pages in their recruiting efforts.

The shift is reshaping the admissions process, long dominated by mass mailings and college fairs, into a virtual, yet highly personal, courting process many liken to online dating.

The rest of the article can be found here at the reputable publication, The Boston Globe. Thank God for real journalists. What are we going to do when all these writers are baristas at Starbucks?

Happy Sam's Last Final Day. It's an official holiday. I decided.

"My name is Harvey Milk, and I'm here to recruit you."
Harvey Milk

December 15, 2008

Pep Rally

One of my favorite things to say on my least favorite day of the week is, "Monday is a horrible way to spend one-seventh (1/7th) of your life." With that in mind, here is a little pick-me-up:

Well, shoot. I feel better already.

"How far that little candle throws his beams! / So shines a good deed in a naugty world."
William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

December 13, 2008

There's A Theme Here...

Two fun videos for you today. Won't hurt, promise.

First, the most recent winner of the Golden Lion at Cannes. The video comes from German company, Epuron:

Second, a video from Greenpeace. Coalfinger is five (5) minutes long, but worth every innuendo-laden moment. This spoof deserves a place in the Ring of Honor in the James Bond museum. Seriously:

See? That wasn't so bad. Now go think about how we can better utilize the energy our planet provides.

"If you asked me to name the three scariest threats facing the human race, I would give the same answer most people would: nuclear war, global warming, and Windows."
Dave Barry

One Line Is All You Need

"When I make graffitti in the street, I don't write my name. I developed a way to draw characters with one line, as a kind of tag."

Dave The Chimp does other cool stuff too:

Thanks, Wooster.

"People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible, and childish. But that's only if it's done correctly."

December 12, 2008

Deserted After Dark?

The title of this post is also the title of the blog. What irony.

Speaking of irony, isn't it rad that an Ambassador for Downtown Phoenix sends people away from the heart of our city to Scottsdale and Tempe? That's right, Steffin Newman said in a recent USA Today article that those are the places he recommends to tourists looking for night life because Downtown Phoenix is a "ghost town". Just to recap, it is Steffin's job to serve as an Ambassador for local businesses operating downtown. Awesome.

Tyler already offered up some comments - and an email to Downtown Phoenix Partnership CEO, David Roderique - so I'll keep mine relatively short.

There is plenty to do downtown. Period. I named this blog Deserted After Dark with my tongue firmly in my cheek with the hope that I could help dispel a stigma two decades old - and entirely false. I'm not the only one invested in that work, either. Jacqui and Dave do a great job over at CenPho TV highlighting awesome happenings on a weekly basis. In addition, there is the Downtown Phoenix Journal, the Downtown Voices Coalition, the Copper Square website (which has a calendar of the 327 events happening downtown over the Holidays), and a whole slew of others that all do a fantastic job bringing attention to what's going on in Downtown Phoenix. If you know of any other resources, I would be happy to hear about them in the comments section.

I'll be at the Public Market tomorrow morning, which happens to be downtown. Weird.

"Everyone's looking to the urban scene for inspiration."
Robin Gibb

December 11, 2008

Everybody Can Be Great

What are you doing on January 19th?

More here.

"Everyone can be great, because anyone can serve."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

December 9, 2008

Pocket Poetry Or: How I Made This Personal

I know, I know. You're shopping for gifts, eating, and keeping the lights on. But I've been growing this so-called mustache for almost a month now and I'm just itching (literally) to get rid of it. But before I do, I would love to raise some money for poor school kids...

And now, I'm making it personal. Laying down the guilt trip. Playing the sympathy card. Ok, that's enough. My mom teaches kindergarten at a Title I school here in The Valley and she just posted a project up on called Pocket Poetry. Here's a little snipet of her salespitch:

Twinkle, twinkle, little --

Jack be nimble, Jack be --

Apples, peaches, pears, and --

You know the missing word in each line, don't you? You are a literate adult, and have mastered the concepts of the language. The kindergarten children I teach don't have those language skills mastered just yet. Star, quick, and plum. Those are the missing rhymes from above. My students are learning many poems, and I would love to re-create those poems into a collection that each child could keep forever. However, I need 3-ring binders.

This is exactly the type of project that made me sign up to help out Yeah, there are flashy projects that will send a group to Washington, DC, or fund a rad science experiment linking cafeteria food to possible alien life forms. But sometimes Federal and State money fail to meet even the most basic needs in a classroom. Sometimes, a teacher's need to better serve her students is surprisingly simple. Like 3-ring notebooks.

Will you help me get this project fully funded? Don't go to Starbucks for the rest of the week. Don't fill your tank all the way. Give this gift in lieu of a boring gift card or an ugly sweater. Take a side job. It's that important. However you do it, every donor gets thanked by a grateful classroom. And that's pretty cool.

We're almost to the finish line, and would absolutely love having something to celebrate once we get there. On behalf of the kids benefiting from these projects, thank you for your support of public education.

Feel free to come hang out with us for some beer foam retention practice and general hairy revelry on Thursday night. The 'stache growers of Phoenix - including Justin and Zack - will be at The Roosevelt on Thursday night at 8PM. See you there, hopefully with a fully funded project or two!

"Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason."

Note: If you're one of the 50 or so people getting this in a reader or through email, come visit the site so you can click through to my Giving Page on the sidebar.

December 8, 2008

The Next Eighteen Months

Puzzle Master Will Shortz could have a field day with the Arizona political scene.

"Take the first syllable of the current Governor's first name and add three letters describing the frozen state of compound H2O, and you'll get the name of Arizona's next Governor."

For those of you playing at home, the answer is Secretary of State Janice Brewer. That's right, Janet is headed Washington way and per our State Constitution, the SOS plays second fiddle in the succession dance. And as with any political shift, people are going out of their minds trying to guess what is going to happen next. This is where my part of the story comes in.

"Ice" might be the frozen state of water, but it also describes the frozen state of reception that Brewer is currently enjoying from liberals and progressives in the State (not to mention the nation). And even though I count myself as a progressive, I am doing my best to warm up to our next Governor.

For instance, I am following her Transition Team on Twitter and Facebook. They even have a nifty page on the website where Jan asks for "Your Vision of Arizona." Gosh, all this interactive, Web 2.0 stuff. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? And if it's good enough for Barry, why can't Jan embrace it?

Yes, Jan Brewer is about as Republican as they come. And with a Republican majority in the State Legislature, things could get interesting. But it seems as though the Brewer Transition Team is working hard to make this transfer of power as peaceful - and productive - as possible. For that, she has my support.

"When you run for Secretary of State, you do so knowing that this day may come."
Jan Brewer

December 4, 2008

Prop 8: The Musical

Finals are creeping up on me. So I'm not writing, just watching hilarious videos on Funny Or Die and passing them on to you. Enjoy:

"The Bible says a lot of interesting things."
Jesus /Jack Black

December 3, 2008

What Are You Doing Tonight?

After class, you better believe that this is where I'll be. Listening to the World Famous Rani G, shopping local for the Holiday, and enjoying a vibrant Downtown Phoenix. Does it get any better? See you there!

"What a nice night for an evening."
Steven Wright