One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for December 2014

2015 New Year’s Resolutions – For the Blog

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?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????This past year has seen a great deal of growth and success for me personally and professionally. Normally, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but in looking at how this blog has moved forward….I need to change that habit, because Chicago is experiencing a renaissance in driving social good and social benefit. From key legislation being passed to new incubators, from non-profit successes to great initiatives, it is a good time for me to reevaluate the blog’s success….and more importantly, set some goals. So in that spirit, I am proposing some 2015 New Year’s resolutions for One Cause At A Time

Goal setting is always important in meeting resolutions, and I am going to adopt a SMART approach towards setting goals. No, that isn’t a typo – according to Wikipedia (and other sources), SMART goals usually have the following characteristics:

  • Specific – What specific areas do I see a need for change or improvement
  • Measurable – How I will know that I have progressed in my efforts
  • Assignable – what will I need (and are there resources/people who can assist)
  • Realistic – Are my expected outcomes achievable given available resources, and
  • Time-related – is there a specific time frame for successblog

(Keep in mind – what follows are rough ideas about my goals; some of the details I may not divulge only because they require further work. But what follows are my off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts about the direction of this blog. Plus, it may make for more entertaining reading)

So my 2015 New Year’s resolutions for One Cause At A Time – in particular – are as follows:

  • Double the number of unique readers/visitors within six months – thanks to Google Analytics, I know that the blog averages 190 users (readers) per month, with an average of 250 page views. In order to increase my blog’s traffic, it will mean stronger outreach and better writing…but having a specific goal for the blog also means that I avoid the usual cliche of “finding and speaking my voice”.
  • Develop a monthly editorial calendar to maintain consistent blogging schedule: Although a once-a-week schedule is easiest and most appropriate for this blog, I haven’t been as diligent in maintaining that schedule; developing a monthly editorial calendar determining key topics per week will allow me to not only stay consistent, but avoid the dreaded “what-will-I-blog-about” syndrome that sometimes occurs;
  • Maintain a consistent schedule of blogging once a week for three months beginning in January 2015: I try to update this blog every Wednesday, and if I schedule appropriately and set aside time, I believe that I can maintain a regular schedule of blogging to not only drive traffic, but to also keep current.
  • Grow the blog’s Facebook page and reach 100 followers by May 2015 – admittedly, much of the blog’s current Facebook presence is minimal, mostly consisting of blog updates with the occasional side post; more consistent outreach and a potential Facebook ad/boosted post campaign will allow me to widen my audience. Speaking of which….
  • Diversify the types and sources of blog content – I think we do a really good job of touching on a diverse range of topics focusing on technology and the social good in Chicago; I want to insure that we focus as much on smaller, community-based efforts as we do on higher level issues. In addition, Google Analytics shows that after Illinois, our next major sources of traffic come from California and Maryland….with our neighboring states (Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Iowa) in the distance; I would like to focus on more regional, interstate collaborations when possible…and finally
  • Better advocate for local organizations without becoming another “PR Channel – thanks to past work with Amacom Books and NetGalley, the blog has provided resources for great literature. I have good, positive relationships within both the non-profit and social enterprise communities, and would like to serve as a hub of information. We already do this with series like “Meet Your Neighbor”, but I also want to insure that we maintain those positive relationships, but develop at least three new blogging relationships that allow us to share information without becoming a “mouthpiece”.

Now you’ll notice – many of the goals and resolutions don’t quite follow the SMART criteria….but that means that over the holiday, I’ll be working on refining and setting some benchmarks. (I have to do so for a variety of projects over the coming year). Professionally and personally, 2015 has been a success – some freelance assignments have come my way; I’ve been able to get involved in a variety of volunteer efforts, and I’m seeing myself moving into another phase of my career. As we gear into the holidays, it’s my hope that the coming year brings the best for everyone who reads this blog.

Plus, I got to discuss some key online resources while making resolutions for 2015…and will continue to focus on local efforts to use technology to drive social change.

Have any comments or questions? Please feel free to leave them below. In addition, my personal contact information can be found on the blog’s About page, so don’t hesitate if you need to reach out individually.

And as always, thanks for reading.

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Written by gordondym

December 17, 2014 at 10:41 am

The Gift of Social Change Through Technology

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Chicago TARDIS

The past few weeks have been a flurry of activity between Thanksgiving plans and running a charity auction for the Doctor Who-themed Chicago TARDIS Convention. Several things happened as a result: the first and most important is that we raised over $2,700 for Northern Ilinois Food Bank, and second thing is that I developed a slight case of laryngitis. Spending considerable time in silence has led to much pre-holiday contemplation, and I realized one thing: the greatest gift I ever received was the opportunity to cultivate and indulge my interest – and love – in social change through technology.

My professional coming of age happened in a very interesting time; I’ve discussed what led me to my interests, but I also happened to grow up in the early days of the Internet. So for me, establishing professional connections was as important in person as it was via a machine. (Yes, I’m old enough to have worked with the infamous dual five-and-a-half-inch floppy drive PCs). There was minimal online activity around nonprofit/social enterprise/overall social benefit conversations, but this wasn’t a bad thing – it meant plenty of room for growth. In fact, I had built a very then-typical web site focused around psychology and mental health. (But others had built better, more thorough sites, and sadly, I cannot find that early site via the Internet Archive.)

But in an ironic twist, it was moving to St. Louis that lead to further exploration of technology and social change. Thanks to a friend of a friend, I had been invited to Facebook back when it was invitation only. Because St. Louis is a media-poor town with several grassroots information networks, several colleagues encouraged me to sign up for Twitter. But it was the discovery of Blogger (and later WordPress that struck a vital chord, allowing me to indulge my interest and passion for writing.

Of course, my initial blogging efforts went more for comics, popular culture, and….well, Doctor Who, but I became more involved with face-to-face networking around social issues. One position allowed me to provide needed services for the homeless; another allowed me to engage in more community development and policy issues, meaning an increasing need for travel. (And a strong working knowledge of tobacco control issues – I am one of the few people who checks out yearly Synar rates). In time, I learned about McMurphy’s Grill – run by St Patrick’s Center as a way to generate revenue, but as something that I would later learn was called a “social enterprise”.

But even in St. Louis, pursuing social change through technology was a challenge – many workplaces still had a “you-can-be-online-but-only-for-work-purposes” policy. St. Louis’ insider culture (in which “where did you go to high school?” isn’t just making conversation – it’s a social determinant) also provided unnecessary complications. So when I needed to return to Chicago to handle family health issues, it was an easy – yet emotionally fraught – decision to make.C Now - Flower Midsection

In Chicago, I have to admit – both interests have come full circle, and I have had the opportunity to participate in various organizations. Finding and getting involved with Chicago Net Tuesday was the single best move I had made upon my return, since it meant meaning various other like-minded people. Although my professional career took a slight turn into the public sector, I still remained active in advocating social change through technology. (Thankfully, many colleagues in the public sector consider me a kind of “go-to” person for knowledge of the nonprofit/social change field. I’m not quite sure how to respond). When the opportunity came to run a charity auction for a convention focused on a television show, I jumped wholeheartedly, seeing it as a way to keep my skills sharp. Although I’m currently freelancing (and looking to develop a more full-blooded client portfolio, hint hint), I am finding that my skills and knowledge are being celebrated and rewarded….rather than just downgraded.

We’re lucky in Chicago to have a thriving, active network of people committed to better using technology to implement social change. Even running a small scale auction meant utilizing open source tools like LibreOffice, engaging others via social media, collaborating with others via e-mail, and a variety of resources. Over a lifetime, it has been a challenge – being part of the cusp has meant great experientation and exploration…and wielded positive results. It’s also meant a great deal of personal opportunity that has come my way almost randomly….but that also has provided for greater rewards

And that is the best gift that keeps on giving.

Any further thoughts or comments? You’re more than welcome to leave them below. If you wish to contact me privately, please feel free to do so – my contact information can be found via the About page.

And as always, thanks for reading.

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Written by gordondym

December 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm