Oh Sandy

As I watched enormous hurricane Sandy move up toward the Northeastern coastline this week, I thought of all the places I have visited in that part of the country. My most favorite, by far, is New York City as I have mentioned in a previous post. Seeing the darkness in the image below (South of 34th Street) reminded me of the great power and unpredictability of super storms such as Sandy. New York is a city that I think of as incredibly powerful and able to withstand anything, but it was pushed to its limits during this storm. Mayor Bloomberg said the following when he addressed New Yorkers Tuesday morning, “MTA CEO Joe Lhota has described this as the worst disaster the agency has seen in the 108 years the subways have been running…We expected an unprecedented storm impact here in New York City, and that’s what we got. So while the worst of the storm has passed, conditions are still dangerous.” The latest updates from the mayor can be found on his website at mikebloomberg.com.      

Places that used to be so recognizable like the Carey Tunnel below are now covered with water and debris. The New York Times has been an incredible resource during this time, especially its continually updated section called Assessing Damage from Hurricane Sandy. This article and others have explained that officials believe that it could take up to five days to get the full transit system running again. Water must be pumped out of 50 miles of tunnels, and the electrical system must be fully checked and approved before the trains can begin running again. I wish I could be there to take part in the restoration of this great city, and I am very grateful that I was protected from this horrible storm by living inland.

The New York Times storm assessment section has made an update with the following photos of crews working to pump the water out of the city and back to where it belongs:

You can follow @MikeBloomberg, @NYTMetro, and @nytimes on Twitter to get updates on the restoration of New York City and surrounding areas. The photo below was tweeted by Diane Sawyer Tuesday morning as an image of hope for the areas impacted by the storm. As Mayor Bloomberg stated, “New Yorkers are resilient and we have seen an enormous outpouring of support from people eager to volunteer, donate and help out.”


How Pinteresting…

I used to think Pinterest was silly, but after joining (and spending many hours pinning things), I realized that it can be a very useful platform to use as a resource. After getting through the honeymoon phase (Pinterest Honeymoon Phase: the first few weeks of having a Pinterest account during which you pin ALL. THE. TIME.), I began using Pinterest as a resource for recipes, crafts, and other things that were easier to find on Pinterest than Google. Most of the people that I follow on Pinterest are friends and family, but I follow a few strangers that I have come to recognize as particularly skilled pinners. Here are some examples of great resources I found on Pinterest:

This blog, called The Nest Effect, has great organizational advice, especially when it comes to organizing your finances and making sure you stay on budget.








As a graphic artist, I’m always looking for creative new fonts to try. This website has some great ones!






This is a watermark t-shirt made with Elmer’s glue and fabric dye – it really works! I made a purple one that I am quite proud of. This website has lots of other crafty ideas for kids, home, and parties.








So, whether I have convinced you of Pinterest’s greatness or not, check it out to see for yourself!

We Are the Future

The headline “Teen Takes Educators to Twitter School” caught my eye on Mashable today. The article is written about a 15-year-old girl named Adora who spoke at an educational conference in front of 3,000 educators in Austin, Texas this month. This teen has also spoken at Mashable Connect, and has given a Ted Talk – all before the age of 16. The positive response that she received from her audience (on Twitter), exemplifies educators who see the importance of not only listening to their students, but also continually updating their teaching methods by educating themselves:

This semester especially I have been told by my professors that my generation has something that older generations do not have: social media knowledge and skills. This knowledge gives us an edge in the professional world. Recently, I have been working with a local non-profit on developing a social media plan, and I quickly learned that social media is a foreign language to those who have not grown up with it or need it in their jobs. Though they seem like just another normal part of my life, I hope that these “special skills” that I have will help me in the work world.


Building Relationships with Social Media

Two posts ago I wrote about an article that gave several examples of ways that non-profits can successfully use Twitter to gain more interaction between their organizations and the people in their community.

As I have expressed in earlier posts, I dream of working for a non-profit organization some day, and I am always on the lookout for ways to increase interaction with organizations in my community. So when I came across this tweet, I had to share it:

This is the official Twitter account for the Habitat for Humanity Organization, not a local branch, but the organization is using Twitter to interact with people who are interested in Habitat all over the world.

The key to successful non-profit organizations like Habitat is not just funding, but it is volunteers. That is why I get so excited when I see non-profits engaging with people like Habitat did through this live chat. Social media is an exciting way to get people involved with any organization because many people are already on social media, so meeting them where they are to show them that the organization is willing to interact with them can make a great impact.

Home Sweet Home

Home. Most people have one of these. Me? I’m not so sure. My university is in my home town, but “going home” does not feel the same as it did when I began college a few years ago. As graduation draws near, I find myself getting anxious about where I will end up living and working in just a few months from now. Part of this could be from moving around so much as a college student. From dorm rooms to apartments to rental houses, I have not lived in one place for a long period of time since I lived at home in high school. One place that I have considered working is a large city far from my home town. I would live in a smaller town about 30 minutes from this place, so working from home would probably be incorporated into my new job (whatever that new job may be). I began thinking about the increasing amount of people who work from home. My mom is a professor so she does some work at home such as grading papers, but many of my friends also do work at home outside of their offices. So, I went searching for information about how common it is to work from home. I found the following infographic on Mashable:

How cool is that? Working from home used to be considered a negative thing, and it definitely can be if all you do at home is work. It can save you a lot of money, gas, and time, however, and can even help you eat healthier! Whether or not I end up moving to that big city or not, I will keep this graphic in mind when considering jobs.

Leaders and Tweeters

Mark Schaefer tweeted a blog post today titled “Do Non-Profit Leaders need to be great tweeters?” by Niceworknj. The blog gives advice to non-profits about different ways to tweet successfully. I would love to work full-time for a non-profit, so this information was a great way to study examples of tweets from all types of non-profits. The screenshot below is from Salvation Army of Newark’s Twitter account:

This tweet seeks to make its followers aware of a power outage, but doubles as a method to get followers talking about the event and Salvation Army by adding the “Salvation Army” hashtag, along with the local branch “Team Newark” hashtag.

So, do non-profit leaders need to be great tweeters? Yes. “Twitter is an excellent tool to connect, inform, inspire and share conversations with constituents and stakeholders” (Niceworknj). Twitter is about connecting and interacting with followers. Using it purposefully will not only increase awareness of an organization, but it will also connect people with the organization and hopefully get them involved in the community through the organizations they are following.

Degrees of Separation

I came across an article and video on Mashable today called “Facebook World Map Reveals Unexpected Trends Between Friends”. The article features a video about an interactive map that shows the friendship connections of the one billion active users on Facebook. The Mashable video pointed out an interesting fact about this map. It shows the top five countries that have the most connections with the country that the user clicks on. Many countries still have strong relationships with the countries that colonized them such as the United States and the United Kingdom. I am currently taking a world civilizations class, and the most recent lectures have focused on the “scramble for Africa”, or the fight for African lands by the greatest powers of the world at that time. Those countries believed that in order to be a great power in the world, and to have great influence, they must claim as much land as possible. It struck me that even though the majority of the colonizing countries treated the natives of their colonies horribly, those lands still have strong connections with those colonizing countries today. No matter what, people are connected- even through evil acts such as slavery. What does this say about our relationships with the people within our own lives? Are we willing to forgive and move on? Maybe that is a discussion for next time…

Keep Your Eyes Open

Tomorrow I get to spend part of my day with some amazing kids who I have gotten to know over the past few years. These kids live in a government housing project here in my city, and I look forward to seeing them each weekend for soccer. Sometimes I get to see them during the week, or outside of soccer. It really makes my day to get to love on these kids, and I don’t say that to make myself look good.

I can’t believe that there was a time that I didn’t even know that this place existed. I grew up in a blessed home with everything I ever needed. It was not until late in my high school years that I really got to experience first-hand what it looked like to be in need. I’m not going to preach about the incredible amount of poverty in our world, but I would actually like to be selfish and attempt to reflect on the blessings that I have gained through pouring myself out to others who haven’t been as blessed as I have.

I used to be afraid to step out of my middle class world and get my hands dirty by helping others. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help them, but I was afraid of what would happen if I did- would they be offended that this rich girl was being charitable? But I quickly learned that it is not about me. I’d like to repeat that- it is not about me. Whoever I have been in contact with, whether it is playing soccer with kids in a government housing project, or holding dirty naked babies in Haiti, the moment I let go and just loved these people I realized that they were just that- people. And what they wanted from me wasn’t perfection, it was love. It really didn’t matter whether or not what I was doing to help them was perfect. The fact that I was there to love them seemed to be all that mattered. And yes, giving water and clothing to a child who had none was a huge blessing to them, but holding them was what made the difference. I have learned a very important lesson over the past few years, and this lesson has been resurfacing in my life the past few weeks: life is messy, so get your hands dirty and care about people! This is the only life you have. Do you want to look back with regret because you were afraid of getting too involved? I have decided that life is not long enough to sit around and debate about whether or not it’s worth it to put yourself out there and love people who might not love you back. So keep your eyes open for opportunities and see what happens. I can guarantee you’ll be surprised…