Monday, December 15, 2014

Washington D.C. Day Three

Well, it's sort of day four since it's past midnight, but that's details.

Today was day two of RootsCamp. We managed to also throw in some sight-seeing and socializing.

It's late and our flight leaves early tomorrow so a few quick photos is all I have for you tonight..

Me at the White House!

Me at the Washington Monument

Me at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

I practiced the art of selfie taking today.
How'd I do?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Washington D.C. Day Two

I'm not going to lie, the highlight of today was the #RootsCanuck lunch at Saint's Paradise Cafeteria.

Today was the first day of RootsCamp and as Canadians do in a foreign country, we all found each other and went out for lunch. And Twitter helped us mobilize.

In some ways I'm still surprised by how many political organizers don't use Twitter. In fact, if I hadn't been a regular Twitter user I don't think the other two people I'm here with would have known about the RootsCanuck lunch.

There are about 15 different sessions going on every hour throughout the day over today and tomorrow. Each hour seems to have a minimum of three sessions covering digital media, online and social ads, sending email, using Facebook.

I poked my head into a few of them. Really competent presenters and audiences with tonnes of questions. So I tried to get to sessions I don't know as much about.

I went to one session which brought together canvassers out in the field and the data people back in the office. I went to another session on organizing and making change through food. And my favourite session so far this weekend was one on podcasting.

The thing with an unconference is that the attendees are encouraged to run a panel. Well one fellow was interested in learning more about the art of podcasting and understanding if it can be used to help being people together around a movement. But he was not a podcaster.

The room had a good handful of people in it, most of whom were in the same place as the organizer of the session. They were looking for more information.

At first glance I wasn't going to go to the session since podcasting, and political podcasting, is a topic I know well between my own show Limited Release and the show Gang of Four I often guest hosted on. But the session I had been in was not delivering me what I was looking for, so I used the unconference rule of two feet and walked to a new session.

And boy was I glad to pop into the podcasting session. For one thing I almost doubled the number of women in the room simply by joining. For another not a person in the room new how to upload an mp3 file and submit it to iTunes.

Once we got past the technical bits we had some great conversations about editing or not, interviews or conversation shows, storytelling, finding an audience. I finally felt like I was with my people.

Well that's not entirely true, it wasn't finally. I mentioned the high point of my day was having lunch with a large group of Canadians, and some adopted Canadians. 

In our walk to the restaurant the gentleman I was walking with was telling me about a great soul food restaurant he had heard about in the basement of a church.  We joked that we should ditch  the large group and head over there. Good thing we didn't since the first restaurant choice for the group was too small and we ended up heading to the church basement after all.

Man, we could not have ended up at a better place. It's the kind of eatery the locals go to and is not a big tourist draw.

I may have found my people in the podcasting session, but I found my home over a plate of fried whitefish, mac and cheese and candied yams.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Washington D.C. Day One

Here I am, blogging from a hotel room in Washington D.C. Well, Imagine me, because I have no selfies of me at the airport, on the subway, checking in at the hotel, or at the delicious restaurant where I just had dinner. I'm really terrible at taking selfies, or even thinking about them.

I did however think to take a photo of my wood-fired pizza at the restaurant, but it was one of those local hipster joints with craft beer and bearded gentlemen patrons, which means it was way too dark in there to take a photo of my food.

I'm in Washington D.C. this weekend to attend RootsCamp 14. It's an unconference put on by the New Organizing Institute. RootsCamp brings together people behind the scenes in politics, the people who work on getting people elected, the organizers. I'm here with some of the other Green Party team who worked on the most recent Ontario provincial election.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Service, the Series - Gang of Four, Beyond the Ballot Box

It seems strange to right about this extra curricular activity of mine since as of next week it will be over, but it is something I have been spending time on since September, so it deserves a few words.

Our local university radio station is quite fun hodgepodge of shows, some funny, some entertaining, some an experiment. It's the reason campus radio stations exist. They are real public radio.

Three years ago a show was born, or more specifically I think evolved from something else. Beyond the Ballot Box brought local, provincial, national and international politics to the listeners every week through a round table discussion.  Not only were the people sitting around the table (which by the way is most definitely not round) intelligent and funny, they also represented a variety of political views, which is always refreshing.

Two years ago, I was asked by my friend Adam to meet with the group and run them all through a presentation on how to use Twitter and Facebook. I was happy to meet with them all and get them set up and understanding how to get the word out about their show, and how to continue the political discussion after the weekly show. Some took to it like water, others took to it last month :-)

Because of my work with the Green Party and leader Mike Schreiner I kept in touch with the hosts, Jan and Oliver, since they also conducted interviews. I really enjoyed listening to their interviews since they really took a good cop/bad cop attitude with their guests.

Early this year I was asked to guest host on one of their rotating weekly programs, The Guelph Hour. I have lots to say about Guelph, so I fit right in, and it was lots of fun. After that spot I was honored to be asked to join them more regularly. You see one of their regular members, Phil Alt, had decided to run for city council and it's pretty difficult to stay impartial when commenting on something you are a part of.

Which is also why I had to decline the offer. At the time the provincial election was right around the corner and since I was acting at the communications director for Mike and the Green Party, acting as the media probably wouldn't work.

Luckily for me, having political opinions and leanings works on this show. The point of the round-table is that there are a bunch of different views represented, so once the election was finished, and I was no longer in the position of begging for media (which is what it feels like sometimes when writing and sending press releases) there was less of a conflict with me being part of the show.

So for the last four months I was able to join in every few weeks and dissect the news of the week in the world of politics.

I found being on the show really challenging. In a good way. It's easy to become complacent to what's going on at the top. It's also easy to become so embroiled in it, and enraged by it that you burn out. The show always helped to lighten things up. The show always took time to see some of the absurdities in politics. Being able to laugh at problems is really good.

I'm really sorry to know that it won't be continuing after next week's show. The hosts, Jan and Oliver, each have many responsibilities that make it difficult to keep doing a weekly show, for no money, let me remind you. I know I take about 3 hours to prep for the show some weeks I'm on,  and I just have to show up and talk. I respect the amount of work everyone else puts in to consistently create smart, insightful commentary on the news.

In a community the size of Guelph, the end of a balanced and fair news source is a sorry thing to see. I hope something fills the void in the new year.

**spoiler alert, something will be replacing it, but I don't know the details yet.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Accountability, what is it good for?

How do you hold yourself accountable?

I had a coffee this morning with Tony Roy, a business coach I met through BNI. I wanted to know more about what he does, and if it might be something beneficial for my business. I guess that sounds a little silly, I'm pretty sure a coach would always be beneficial for someone's business, so I knew he could only help me and my business. I guess the question I really wanted answered was, could he help me with the bit I know I have trouble with: holding myself accountable.

I've talked about this a bit when blogging about my business website. I've joked that I suffer from the cobbler's children syndrome, I help clients get their online presence in order and I barely have one.

This doesn't make me unique, but a weakness is a weakness no matter if I'm part of the majority or the minority. So, how do I fix this? I almost never hold myself accountable for tasks I need to do to build my business.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It's not stalking, it's research!

I spent more than the usual amount of time online today stalking other people. Of course, in my case it's called research.

I have had 3 meetings in the last few days which might result in new strategy clients. So, step one for me is to have a look at what my potential client has been doing, who they are following and engaging with, who is talking to or about them. Then I step back and try to decide who they want to be talking with.

Right now, it's a lot of data analysis and a lot of numbers. I like that part. I like to dive in and really figure out what is going on. The best part of that, is finding the places where something can be changed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Are you on Google+?

If you are reading this on or near December 8th, chances are pretty good that you are a Google+ user since Blogger shares automatically to my G+ page. But if it's at least 24 hours past that, you probably stumbled across this post via some other social share, or by searching for info about Google+.

For the second group, this post is for you.

So, are you on Google+? Technically speaking, you probably are. But I suspect you are not using it yet. There's a lot of confusion around G+. People aren't quite sure why they need another social network. People think it's a graveyard, there's no one there.