Art for Orphans

Memory ProjectI’ve been big on causes lately, and I really love this one: The Memory Project. High school art students paint portraits of orphans and then the orphans get to keep the painting. Considering that orphans don’t have parents taking thousands of snapshots (like me) or very many possessions of their own, having a portrait of themselves would be huge.

Ben Schumaker of Madison [Wis.] started the project in 2004 after spending time at an orphanage in Guatemala. He felt overwhelmed by the poverty around him and helpless because he wasn’t in a financial situation to do much about it.

“Then a Guatemalan man who had grown up in an orphanage stopped by and told me how much he wished he had something to help him remember his earliest years,” Schumaker said. “He didn’t have any photographs of himself as a child or any parents to tell him what he was like. I’ve always enjoyed making portraits of people, so the idea came naturally.” (Duluth News Tribune)

I love the simplicity of the project, yet it has a profound impact. Plus it was started out of frustration and having no apparent way to help–that’s how we can deal with consumerism.

It also reminds me of Dale Johnson’s Frogtown King CDC playground mural (which has since been torn down). And the synergy is nice–I covered this for both Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07 and Personality.

Tired and Energized by the Consumerism Debate

Relevant magazine has an interesting interview with Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution, on consumerism:

When you think, “How do I love my neighbor as myself?” it becomes just impossible to do that within the worldview of the American dream.

But I think what’s exciting is that Jesus has another dream, and Jesus is offering us another dream. Where it’s not even just this ascetic simplicity–give up everything and be poor–but it’s this idea that God created an economy of enough. God didn’t create a world of scarcity. But we’ve created poverty and need by not living out this command to love our neighbor as ourself.

Continue reading Tired and Energized by the Consumerism Debate

Bono: We Need to Get Better at Storytelling

I love this quote from Bono talking about his guest editor stint with Vanity Fair:

“We need to get better at storytelling,” Bono told the Times. “Bill Gates tells me this all the time. We’ve got to get better at telling the success stories of Africa in addition to the horror stories. And this magazine tells great stories.”

It’s all about telling stories. As a writer, that sounds great, but even as a regular Joe that’s what I want to hear. Good stories are captivating and compelling. Tell me a story, don’t put me to sleep with your market-speak. Telling stories is what I do as a writer. It’s part of what one of my clients, Personality does (look, more client synergy!). And it works.

Subscribe Via FeedBurner & E-mail

I just added a new FeedBurner RSS feed and the ability to subscribe to this blog via e-mail. Nobody was begging me for either option, but I’m testing them out to see how they work and if they’re worth using. The e-mail subscription option seems pretty nice, especially for those unfamiliar with RSS (like the mom contingent that reads my blog).

I think Movable Type has an e-mail notification system, but I’ve never bothered to set it up. Plus it seems easier to let someone else handle it.

I’m not sure how helpful the extra RSS feed is, but it comes with the e-mail subscription service. Plus it has a lot of fun extras that might be nice. FeedBurner recommends condensing all your RSS feeds into a single feed–theirs. Of course they want me to do all my RSSing through them. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea yet. It seems smart, but I don’t know. We’ll see.

Whether or not it works out, when it comes to my clients it’ll make me smarter. And I like having work as an excuse to play on the Internet.

How Many Spaces After a Period?

It’s been an issue of great debate in both my professional and personal life: how many spaces should you put after a period?

Some people prefer two spaces, some prefer one. You can read all sorts of background and history and opinions on this.

But it comes down to this: two spaces is a relic from the days of typewriters. It’s no longer necessary in today’s world of word processors and can actually muck things up. It doesn’t even transfer to the Internet–HTML actually ignores more than one space in a row. You have to force HTML to display two spaces by entering code for a non-breaking space, and that’s way too much work.

So please. Stop with the two spaces. I know you learned on a typewriter (like me) and a teacher hammered it into habit. But that doesn’t make it right. At the very least stop insisting other people follow your out-moded style. It’s about as effective as using whiteout to fix mistakes on your screen.

Thanks. I feel better now.

Monkey Outta Nowhere Rebooted

In an attempt to communicate better about myself I’ve redesigned the Monkey Outta Nowhere site. I’ve also merged the Monkey Outta Nowhere blog with my personal blog because really, I am the company. If it’s hard for me to keep up a company blog, how hard must it be for anybody to actually read it? It’s bad enough that I have my fingers in 20+ blogs, so maybe it’s time to condense and simplify.

I’m highlighting the Company News and Monkey News on the homepage, which keeps the business clients from having to read my ramblings about my daughter or my dogs. I’m also running headlines in the sidebar so they can learn about my dogs if they like, as well as headlines a few other blogs I oversee.

I doubt it’s a final solution and I’ll probably have bugs to fix and things to tweak, but for now, here it is. We’ll see how it goes. Hopefully this is a step towards making it easier to update my site.

May the Lord Shine Upon You

When I talked about my daughter yesterday I neglected to mention one of my favorite things (and I have a feeling this a common component of parenthood: being so busy you forget basic things).

On Sunday mornings when we go up to the front of the church for communion (yeah, those wacky Episcopalians) I love watching Lexi receive a blessing from the priest. When kids are too young to take communion the priest lays a hand on the child and says a simple blessing.

It’s become familiar to Lexi now and she watches expectantly as John (our rector) gives bread to mom and then bends down to place his hand on Lexi’s head. She grins and looks up, sticking her mouth out in this goofy, hamming-it-up sort of expression. And John says a blessing, usually something about “May the Lord shine his face upon you,” and right there in Lexi’s grin is God shining on her. I love that.