One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for March 2018

Representation, Nonprofits, and DOCTOR WHO

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c2e2-2018-panel-flyer-01Representation in nonprofits has been on my mind recently…but mostly because I’ve been working on a C2E2 panel on female representation in Doctor Who. (As well as other various projects – check out my personal blog post with my personal and professional activities)

I grew up during the “classic” era of Who, and I can honestly say that Doctor Who had a huge influence on who I am, how I behave, and my attitudes…attitudes which served me well in my past professional life with nonprofits. But it took time for me to adjust to working with some nonprofits.

Mostly, I was “fortunate” to work in the mental health/chemical dependency field, where I had to learn how to work with a diverse workforce and clientele. (And sadly, mental health issues affect people of color disproportionately, often resulting in greater difficulty). But for many other nonprofits, there is a serious lack of representation within their staff.

But wait, some of you may be asking, nonprofits actively help the community! You’re not being fair! And besides, aren’t you just sowing dissension and making trouble? 

(It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve faced criticism for this blog; I was once criticized by Facebook message for suggesting that gatekeeping occurred in the nonprofit space. But having these conversations, especially in current times, is necessary and warranted. Plus, it’s easy to stay afraid, especially since fear makes companions of us all.) IMG_20150627_072732621

Much of my thinking has been influenced by Helen Kim Ho’s recent piece on “tokenism” in nonprofits. What struck me about the piece – and which started me thinking about this in relation to my C2E2 panel – was her comments about establishing leadership within organizations, as well as having a diverse group shape and deliver their messaging.

In the history of Doctor Who, there’s only been a handful of female writers and directors. During the classic series, there have only been four female directors and three female writers. (Two other citations besides those three are dubious: one is a pseudonym for a male writer and another is a co-writing credit with no supporting evidence). Since 2005, there have only been six directors and four writers…and with many female television writers openly discussing a “glass ceiling”, that becomes critical, especially with a woman playing the role.

For nonprofits, especially those working with underserved populations in Chicago, this becomes extremely critical. Especially since critics (both of diversity within Doctor Who and nonprofits) tend to advocate against it in three distinctive ways:

  1. Aren’t you being a bit segregationalist? After all, you’re saying that only women can write for women, people of color for themselves, etc.
  2. You’re advocating for the “superiority” of a particular gender or race, and you’re not being inclusive
  3. Nonprofits, by their very nature, are inclusive and person-centered; why are you making trouble?

But these criticisms miss the point: inclusion is a necessary aspect of providing social good. Most of these arguments on the Doctor Who side are usually by white males (with some women) who believe that the show has “lost its way”. (Kind of like criticisms from viewers who claim that Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Trek: Discovery have “too much diversity”…and for those in the LGTBQIA community, well, Google search “Russell T Davies” and “gay agenda”). It’s a perceived loss of power rather than a welcoming attitude to bring more diverse voices to our popular culture.36630602215_981e8c35f3_k

Now, I am not saying that nonprofits are that toxic…and this is more of a think piece than actual criticism. But in these times when many are feeling under siege, unsure of their future, having more inclusive policies in their marketing efforts and board leadership becomes critical. Shaping messaging that includes diverse voices frequently means more effective efforts that truly represent the communities that nonprofits are hoping to reach.

Admittedly, this is more of an effort to spark consideration and conversation rather than suggest particular actions…but I think I’ve started in a positive direction.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below, or join the conversation via our Facebook group. If you wish to contact me directly, please check out this site’s About page or contact me directly via e-mail.

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

March 31, 2018 at 9:54 am

Social Media, Caregiving & Friendships

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Photo by Gordon Dymowski - Taken at B-Sides Coffee & Vinyl

Photo by Gordon Dymowski – Taken at B-Sides Coffee & Vinyl

This week, I had a birthday. A milestone birthday. It wasn’t something I would promote via social media (the milestone part, that is, not the birthday). Regardless of the various friendships I’ve had over the past, there’s something a bit embarrassing about it…especially since at this age, I never thought I would be caregiving for my mother.

But this is also a milestone in another way…I am less than ten years from the age when my father passed away, three weeks after a triple bypass.

My father was never tech savvy (he left that to my mother), but like me, he was driven by work. His schedule was filled with all sorts of appointments (he was an attorney who specialized in tax law, as well as an accountant). Although he had acquaintances, none of them seemed deep enough to count even as “drinking buddies”. But he worked – twelve hour days. Several jobs at once. His life was filled with finding work, doing the work, and delivering the work. Like other men of a certain age, my father held onto the antiquated notions of his 1950s-era upbringing, compounded with the Eastern European attitudes of my grandparents.underemployment

In short, my father was the very definition of “toxic masculinity“…and I was falling into the same patterns. Letting my search for freelance work, my current freelance assignments, and my caregiving for Mom take precedence over self-care. And my friends weren’t really friends – they were those occasional people I talked to on social media. I was feeling isolated, disconnected and…well, lonely. After all, I never really tell my friends how I feel: living with a sick parent blunts many emotions, and the resulting stress colors my compassion fatigue with streaks of depression and anguish. Efforts to escape underemployment in the gig economy felt useless…

In short, like my father, I was turning “hustling” into “hiding”. This year, I decided to do something different – I decided to be more emotionally available to my friends.

And social media will play a role. I’ve written about how life under Trump has improved my friendships…and I can start using my social media channels as a way to stay connected (So far, it’s been mostly used for snark). My Facebook and Twitter feed are now organized into lists to keep track of certain groups of people. I’ve also been budgeting my social media time accordingly so that I have time for meditation, freelance work/searching, and personal projects like my Doctor Who panel for C2E2.

On my birthday, I even took the bold step of a tweetstorm focusing on several of my friends. Here it is:

Perhaps this first step may be embarrassing or short-sighted, but I need to move beyond the limited range of my current engagement with the outside world. Many people in my life often dismiss the things I strive for: “Why would you want to move into your own place – you have to take care of your mother?” “Your mother is your job – why bother looking for work”. (And yes, there are some…personal relationship goals I would like to pursue as well. But this is a family blog). I am not a saint and have never claimed to be one. (Or as the Twelfth Doctor says to Clara, “I’m not your boyfriend…I never said it was your mistake”.)

Like J. Alfred Prufrock, I am afraid that I am measuring my life in coffee spoons. Caregiving is not what I do, it’s who I am, and friendships are important to me. Social media can play a limited role in reconnecting, and although I have no intention of using social media as a narcotic…at the very least, I can use it to stay part of the community.

Because right now, community and connection are sorely needed.

Share your thoughts down below or on our Facebook page, or feel free to contact me directly.

And thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

March 10, 2018 at 11:45 am

Some Upcoming Chicago Events to Check Out

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As we’re gearing into spring, many great mission-driven and cause-related Chicago events are popping up. If you’re looking to get out and about through the next few months, here are a few suggestions for your consideration. If you know about any other great Chicago events we should know about, please leave them in the comments, message us via Facebook, or drop us an e-mail….and thanks for reading!

As always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

March 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm