The Grandfather of Sustainable Productions

•March 1, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I never had the opportunity to meet Ray Anderson, but I have had the pleasure of knowing and spending time with his amazing family. I’ve watched videos and read posts about Ray. Terms used by those who had the pleasure of crossing paths with him are:  humble, compassionate, a visionary, influential, a pioneer, and a fierce competitor. I am most certain he inspired and influenced all who came to see and listen to him speak. I am also certain he inspired and influenced companies, corporations, and small businesses to give back to the Earth, rather than take from it it’s most valuable resources. He encouraged others to continue on the path he carved in industrial sustainability. Ray carved the way for business leaders to incorporate sustainable product and consumption tactics. Ray had a vision, a desire and was able to make the impossible, possible. Interface, Inc. – the largest modular carpet manufacturer in the world – became more energy efficient, adopted renewable energy, eliminated waste, began transporting people and products more efficiently, and much, much more.

If you’ve walked through the airport, you’ve probably seen Interface, Inc.’s revolutionary invention. They have also designed modular carpet tiles for corporate offices, educational buildings, government facilities, healthcare facilities, hotels, libraries, retail stores, senior living facilities, and transportation entities such as airports and airplanes.

 What do you think about when you hear the term “environmental sustainability“? I think about Ray Anderson, the Atlanta Community Food Bank (the ACFB built a sustainable building on the West Side of Atlanta because of Ray), and McCall and Harriett Langford who are now continuing on Ray’s legacy. The Ray C. Anderson Founation was established recently and seeks to promote a sustainable environment by funding initiatives that advance sustainable production and consumption.

If you are interested in learning more about Ray, his family, and his legacy…McCall Langford is helping to organize a RayDay at Georgia State University on April 4 at 12 pm at the Rialto! There will be guest speakers and food! Stop in, have some fun, and engage someone!

Listen Closely

•February 21, 2013 • 1 Comment

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How do you listen? What are ways you keep up with what’s going on in the world? Whether it be about politics, art, music, news, the environment, or sports. Or what about outreach? Gaining an audience? Recruiting? If you need answers, listen closely…

Throughout my journey using social media and taking a social media course at Georgia State University I have come to learn how to use a website known as Netvibes. Netvibes is used to incorporate updates about various topics from the largest search engines and social media sites on the web. I have also learned the importance of remaining up-to-date on information, of which we social mediaites call listening. If you listen really well on the internet you can become more informed about the conversations taking place. Listening will further inform your conversation and soon enough the conversation will change – which should be the ultimate goal.

Using the web, social media, and blogging you have the opportunity to make an impact and give your own spin on top conversations being heard around the world. Always remember to keep your audience in mind because listening helps to maintain supporters by keeping them updated as well. Learn new things and correct the misconceptions. When you listen closely you are able to see things others don’t and you can obtain evidence that no one else has. Listening can have an impact on how you develop as a social media manager and increase your chances of becoming the expert.

Putting Two and Two Together

So how do you put it all together? My point is, Netvibes is a great tool that forces you to listen. I intern at a local non-profit organization known as Soccer in the Streets in North Atlanta. Our School of Life program uses soccer as a medium to teach kids life skills to make them employable, self-sufficient adults. The program guides youth to job opportunities, graduating high school, and going to college. While helping our School of Life Director create a new curriculum and overall plan of action, I directed him to Netvibes. While searching and listening, we discovered a non-profit in San Jose, California known as Strive for College. This organization has a 93% success rate of getting high school students to college – incorporate! How can we find out about how they have become so successful? Let’s listen! Strive for College has a blog. And a Facebook. AND they are always being tweeted at! We need to ask questions, post comments, and tweet back. We need to engage people who might have ideas about how Soccer in the Street can reach their goal. Let’s inform ourselves and change the conversation to include how we can increase players chances of obtaining an athletic scholarship. Let’s continue to listen and see what the rest of the world is doing. Why? Well, why not??

Inspire

I have enjoyed my experiences as a weekly blogger. I have enjoyed finding my voice, telling stories about my life and the things I enjoy most. I was surprised of how powerful blogging can be. It’s such a powerful tool and has had many positive impacts on my life. Those who blog for a living have influenced the world. I came across Mark Schaefer while listening one day on the internet, who wrote a blog the top non-profit blogs around the world. Included on the list is Feeding AmericaAmerican Red CrossWorld VisionOperation Blessing, and the Salvation Army. If you are looking for ways to increase knowledge about blogging, take a look at these. Listen closely to those who believe in you and to those who disagree…increase your awareness…inspire, innovate, conquer.

Bravery or Courage to Share

•February 10, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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Rather than asking yourself the question, “How brave am I?” Take on a different perspective and ask, “How courageous am I?”

What is the difference, you might ask, between being brave and being courageous? After discussing with roommates what the difference is, I have come to the conclusion that bravery is not being afraid of fear, whereas courage is having the personal power of overcoming fear to achieve something assumed to be impossible. Charlene Li says to have courage means to be afraid, still move forward to the edge, and jump. Courage is taking that leap without knowing what lies ahead or what other people will say – the power of overcoming fear.

Having the power to share a story takes both bravery and courage. I found out by sharing my story. I debated numerous times and asked those close to me if I should write about my coming out. Even though they all said I should, I still didn’t have the courage to do so – I hesitated, was fearful. But, I did and am proud to say I did. I took a risk, a risk of knowing that my story will no longer by a private part of my life. Not many people know about my blog, but once you put something on the internet, it’s there forever.

In America, it’s the user’s choice

In the new digital age, privacy has been of huge concern to millions around the world. Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are all banned in China. Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook are banned in Iran. YouTube and Wordrpress are banned in Brazil. Twitter and Facebook are banned in the United Kingdom (to see what’s banned in other countries, click here). Why? Is privacy the issue? Is it because there is no freedom of speech? These countries do not give their citizens the right to speak positively or negatively about governmental organizations, directors, leaders, or presidents on the World Wide Web. Social media is not an option.

What is the purpose of using social media? I believe we use social media to connect, to make ideas, thoughts, photos, and other aspects of life public. We use social media to inspire others, face fears, and develop change. We choose to not be private. Either way, whether you agree or not, the simple truth is that privacy is not possible, especially in America where people have the right to free speech.

Here in America, the choice is ours and when it comes to using social media, the user has the choice of what will be turned from private to public. We can choose to use filters, choose to post what we want people to know. There are both benefits and consequences to this issue of privacy and user’s making courageous choices to share their stories.

“Too dangerous?? Nah, that’s what training is for!”

•February 9, 2013 • 2 Comments

Football is real, exciting, and dangerous! I think that’s what I love so much about it. I currently hold a graduate assistant position in the football department at Georgia State University. We have an up and coming program, a new head coach was recently named, and so much progress has already been made. I have grown to love the sport even more since I’ve been around the coaches and players every day.

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On Sunday I, and millions of other Americans, tuned into CBS for the Superbowl where the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens battled it out for ult

imate glory. Not only do we tune in to watch the teams play, but also to catch all the hyped-up commercials and halftime performance. In my opinion, a commercial that stood out is portrayed below:

I enjoyed how the NFL displayed history in the making and how far we have come over the years in reference to performance improvements, uniform and helmet improvements, and simply how the game has evolved.

A recent Washington Post blog by Ezra Klein got me thinking about why guys choose to play football. Klein’s post was a response to the NFL ad displayed above that was played during the Superbowl this past Sunday. Basically, Klein believes the video depicted how football has gotten “worse” over the last 100 years.

I was eager to know if the danger aspect was of any concern to players – and so I asked. Of the fifty-something GSU players I have in my phone book, I asked fifteen of them two simple questions: “Is football too dangerous?” And, “Why do you play football?” The responses varied based on personality types, but overall most said the same thing. Some responses included:

There is some risk involved, but the benefits outweight the risks. The main reason I play is because of the life long relationships football creates with my teammates. Other reasons are because I like to be challenged physically and mentally.” -MD
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I love football. I believe it’s the best team sport. It’s dangerous, but that’s why I love it. You also get to meet people you’ve looked up to your entire life. It teaches you discipline on and off the field and the little things prepare you for life overall. I do it for the love, it keeps me going.” -JM
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Too dangerous? Nah, that’s what training is for! We prepare to hit and get hit. I played for fun in the past, but the reason I play today is to pay for school and to fulfill my dream of playing in the NFL.” -AW

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When you’re out on the field, you don’t really think about how dangerous it is. I love it. It’s what I do. I just plain out love it.” -AM

The Love of the Game

I believe that many players, college and professional, would agree with what these guys had to say. Hundreds of people commented on Klein’s post. Many agreed and many disagreed. There are players who have been severely hurt from playing. I would like to know if knowing what was going to happen prior to, would they have stopped playing? I don’t know the answer. One thing I think we can agree on is many professional athletes who have trained their entire lives to “go pro” play because it’s what they love to do.

To Tell a Story…

•February 3, 2013 • 7 Comments

Imagine the day when interracial couples, same-sex couples, and transgender individuals can walk down the street without stares…

Imagine a life where everyone is treated equally…

Image a life of true tranquility, peace, and no suffering…

As a child and young adult, I lived confused and unaware of who or what I was. I knew I was different so to speak. I was different from all the other girls who had boyfriends, dreams of marrying someone, and starting a family. My dreams were different… I dreamt of going to college, getting a softball scholarship, meeting a girl, falling in love, graduating, and taking on the world with that special someone.

In high school I was “outed” without my consent, without truly knowing if I was gay. It was unfair and selfish, and I can honestly say it was one of, if not THE, worst time of my life. I had lied to my parents, I had lied to my friends, and I was lying to myself. I was not ready to live that life. I refused to be judged, bullied, or looked at differently. However, a few kind words in a Facebook message changed my own perspective. A girl I had rarely spoken to – but who was an acquaintance – told me it was okay. She gave me reassurance and expressed how she knew I was strong enough to be this person. I should probably get around to thanking her for saving my life…

This all happened when I was a senior in high school. Soon after, I decided it was time to tell my parents. My biggest fear was them finding out from somebody else. When I thought things could not get any worse, after telling my parents it was clear it would take some time for them to approve of who I really was. I will never forget that day…my father cried and began reading passages from the Bible. My mother screamed and told me I was not gay, it was a phase that would soon pass. But, what they did not understand was that I was the same person. I was still their daughter and my dreams of going to college, playing softball, and graduating were still of most importance.

Every day I was scared to go home. I would fall asleep to my mother crying and for a few weeks, I never saw my father. I went to counseling and talked with preachers because my mother wanted me to. Everyone tried to talk me out of being gay – as if it was a choice I had recently made. Everyone except for my brother and aunt – two of the most amazing people in my life. Things started to look up after receiving a phone call from a former head coach who offered me a full scholarship to play softball at Georgia State. It took time and patience for my family to realize my goals had not been affected. Finally, after a couple of months had passed, the next conversation I had with them both ended with more tears, hugs, and many whispers of “I love you”…

Last October marked the 6th year of my coming out to my parents. I am lucky to have such caring and supportive people in my life. We have all had our hardships – my mom and dad have come a long way. I never would have imagined my parents to be as accepting as they are today. I thank God every day for the life He has given me. I would not change a thing.

This is my story. Through family support and personal maturation, I learned it is okay to be who you are. Not everyone is going to agree with you or the decisions you make in life. And that’s okay. If you keep dreaming and keep believing, that day you once imagined will become reality…

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Emily, mom, & I

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“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Dalai Lama

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Emily and I

Blogging to Tell a Story

Throughout the short time spent blogging and learning how to get people interested, I have realized your words must be real and personal. You must be able to relate to your audience in a personal way without worrying of how they might react or whose feelings you might hurt along the way. Bernadette Jiwa states it perfectly, once you start thinking you’ve got something to lose you’re killing the strategy that made you successful while no one was watching. Her blog is more for building a brand or business, but the concepts can be related to encouraging others to follow a cause. We must change the way people feel by connecting with them emotionally. 

Even as important as words, pictures can show followers what you’re really aiming to accomplish. Pictures are worth a thousand words so they say, but they also leave a longer lasting impression. Let’s face it…isn’t it much easier to remember a picture compared to a paragraph full of words? Organizations like the Atlanta Community Food Bank have begun to show people what they do and how they do it through photography – follow their Instagram here

Remember to be real, get personal, and show people what you’re all about!

Resources 

For all those other young individuals who might be going through a similar situation, don’t be afraid to tell your story. If in need, there are numerous resources that I never knew about – Check out Parents, Families, Friends, and Allies United with LGBT People here, the Family Acceptance Project here, or the It Gets Better Project here.

Art or Crime?

•February 3, 2013 • 5 Comments
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Hense @Piedmont Park

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Hense @Piedmont Park

Graffiti: Atlanta’s modern and most unique art. It encompasses the city’s inner walls and captures all wandering eyes that pass. Mine in particular because no matter where I’m headed, I always stop to take a quick photo. Each story is different. Everyone who stops to stare has the ability to create their own meaning of the art that is drawn across the building or walls. Is that what the artist wants us to do?

Hense is a local street artist in Atlanta. I’m sure you have seen his art and not known it was his because that is exactly what I did. I am an active Piedmont Park visitor; taking my dog to release energy numerous times each week. One particular large piece of art catches my eye and each time I take a different picture. Something new to be seen I had not noticed before. I always think how an old, beaten bridge could be turned into something this beautiful? It’s thrilling that someone could design something so extrinsic.

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Graffiti is an art form and those who choose to create a masterpiece with proper consent should be able to do so. It is a way to bring color into a once dead and gloomy community. Abandoned buildings are brought to life. A CNN reporter who wrote a piece on a local Atlanta artists known as PLF made the statement of graffiti being spontaneous, public, and fleeting. It is truly inspiring. 

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However, in Los Angeles, graffiti symbolizes crime, damage, and gangs marking their turf. Thousands of dollars has been given to task forces around the nation to crack down on graffiti artists. Even so in Atlanta, whose task force was funded $10,000 to keep the city clean and identify unwanted graffiti artists. But, who decides what is unwanted? Even at the park earlier today, I noticed others stop to stare at Hense’s mural. Residents admire the art, not just at the park but all over Atlanta. Letting talented artists use the city as their canvas can help to inspire those passing by.  Art? Vandalism? Crime? The decision is yours. 

Hense is not the only street artist making his mark across Atlanta. There are thousands of artists within the city just as talented and eager to tell their own story.

 Corey Barksdale

 Peter Ferrari

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