Exit the Terrarium: Why Your Community Needs You!

IMG_20160613_191409.jpgI’m not going to lie, since the tragedy in Orlando, I’ve been having trouble mustering up the emotional energy to write a blog post. Instead, I found  myself furiously Googling and making plans to build a terrarium. It’s not TOO strange when you consider that I am a proud lizard owner (see Dandy, pictured above), but it is a weird thing for my mind to be mysteriously fixating on in the wake of this tragedy. However, I think the feeling mirrored my desire to close myself off in my own social ecosystem. In times like these, it is very easy for us to choose one thing to focus on, and huddle up with like-minded friends in a miniature version of the “real” world. Continue reading

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How Do We Value Activism?

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We all know that different levels of activism will naturally have different levels of social impact. Activism that is well-researched and informed will have a greater social impact that activism that isn’t, and giving $2 to a cause will not have as great an impact as giving $2 million. That said, not all of us have $2 million that we can afford to give away, and not all of us have the time to thoroughly research a 30 page position paper on the issues that affect our world. Being an activist means that you are doing something – even something small – to make the world a better place. While many detractors would pick on people who make low-stakes investments in a cause (such as social media sharing), shouldn’t we instead be directing our energy toward a positive impact?

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Gaming for Good – Charity at GenCon 2015!

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I neglected to take a picture of the panel, so instead, enjoy this picture of an octopus made out of balloons.

This weekend while I was enjoying the geek heaven that is GenCon, I had a chance to learn about how gaming is not only a great way to have fun, learn skills, and connect with other people – it can also be used to raise money and spread the word about worthy causes in your community. I was lucky enough to participate in a panel with lovely, purpose-driven gamers Andrew Christopher Enriquez and JR Honeycutt of DFW Nerd Night, Oliver Wojtyna of Extra Life Indy Guild, Tiffany Ralph, Dan Patriss of Gamers for Cures, and Adrienne and Jim Jones of Great Big Table and Baby Toolkit. The whole team gave some wonderful tips for organizing charity gaming events and supporting charity through geeky pursuits. Here are some of the tips they shared and lessons I learned: Continue reading

Forward-Thinking vs. Backward Philanthropy

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Philanthropy comes from the Greek term meaning “love of humanity,” but when you take a realistic look at the way we view charity today, much of it stems from Puritan ideas about penance and making up for wrongdoing or selfishness in other aspects of one’s life. A more forward-thinking philanthropist, instead would take a practical look at how they can integrate philanthropy into all aspects of their life, and achieve the greatest good overall, not just enough that they break even. Today, I’m going to take some time to explore what forward thinking philanthropists are doing, compared against old-school styles of philanthropy.
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More than a Warrior: The Social Justice Hero

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I will be honest, I have some difficulty wrapping my head around how “social justice warrior” became an insult. After all, doesn’t our society typically reserve some respect for warriors, particularly when they are fighting for a noble cause such as justice? That said, there’s a big difference between fighting for justice, and winning that fight. Today’s post will center on what it means to be a social justice “hero” as opposed to a “warrior.” Continue reading

How Social Good is Becoming a Real, Measurable Thing (and why that’s wonderful)

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Once upon a time, the “goodness” of an individual person or entity could only be measured in vague perceptions of public opinion, and “well-being” could only really be measured in terms of financial comfort. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that philanthropy and social welfare have existed as concepts for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, the concept of thinking strategically about social problems is very new, just gaining in popularity over the past few decades. We are still new to this age of organized efforts to improve the world we live in, and though we have not yet come out with one standardized measure of social impact or well-being, we have come out with many different tools for measuring benefit to society and well-being. Do-gooder culture is indeed shifting in favor of us data nerds (or perhaps us data nerds have just been more effective at doing good?). Continue reading

From Inspiration to Effective Action

Happy New Year everyone! For my first post of 2015, I wanted to share a resolution I made, and dive into what it actually means:

For me, this gets at the core of what this blog is all about – not just inspiring people to action, but inspiring people to action that is informed by facts. The truth is that there are many places along the way for the train to get derailed or run out of juice on the way from inspiration to action. In order to clear a path (or lay down some tracks if we’re sticking with the train metaphor), let’s first chart our course:

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Factual Inspiration – Facts that will make you happy in 2015!

This week I’ve noticed a lot of sites taking a look back a 2014 – best, worst, most memorable, most forgotten, etc, etc. Rather than focus on the past, or tell you what you should do to stay on track for your resolutions, I thought it might be nice to dish out some straight-up inspiration to get you pumped and ready to make this year an awesome one. Here are a few ways that we’re already halfway there:

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How to find a satisfying and meaningful volunteer opportunity

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As we get ready to ring in 2015, I know there are a lot of people out there looking to lend some of their time as a volunteer – either to build experience for themselves, give back to their community, build their connections, or all of the above. Today I decided I would give some advice for those of us looking to get involved in a cause: Continue reading