SAP Community Cares

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mourning and Celebrating Earth Day

In my part of the globe, Earth Day, April 22nd draws to a close. While it was gratifying to see it recognized by so many and varied entities, among them Time magazine honoring it with a “green border”, Google with a moss encrusted landscape, my twitter friends using it for an avatar with monkchips and yellowpark creating a @earthdayavatars visualization for “ambient community” display and my colleague Craig Cmehil creating/supporting an eventtrack to aggregate all the earth day tags in flickr, technorati, and twitter, I still can’t help thinking that this isn’t just a day to celebrate earth but to mourn it as well. So unless there is some very powerful innovative and restorative activity happening and very fast, all the wearing of the green will have little more effect than it did when I dressed up for St.Patrick’s day in junior high. Lots of sentiment and identification but it didn’t at all make me Irish.

This I mourn deeply: since 1970, the first Earth Day, almost no real perceptible change.

“After Earth Day, nothing was the same,” environmental writer Philip Shabecoff said. Earth Day brought revolutionary change and “touched off a great burst of activism that profoundly affected the nation’s laws, its economy, its corporations, its farms, its politics, science, education, religion, and journalism…” It achieved Nelson’s long-sought goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s political agenda. “Most important, the social forces unleashed after Earth Day changed, probably forever, the way Americans think about the environment.” Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 114.

Is nothing the same? That would be cause to rejoice. But alas, if this is our "new" political agenda, why is it that the conference sessions seem recycled and stale. Recycling earth day translates into a stagnation which can only make its meaning toxic plasticity. It will take some very engaged, determined and creative minds to bring it back to vibrant life. That would really be a day to celebrate.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Moment's Pause

While we are busy in New York celebrating the Blogger Social '08 I find myself taking more than a moment's pause to mourn what is presently happening in Tibet. Ironically as we Socialites boarded the Circle Line for a wonderful and joyful trip around the big apple, protesters were lining the streets protesting the genocide in Tibet.

Business as usual? A time to mourn a time to rejoice? Some further pictures of both events here.
Small consolation. With about 80 people who care, that's 80 more possibilities in the world to express outrage over the killings. From people who know how to make ideas sticky. From people who have larger than average voices. Lift them.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thanking Good People (Pass it on)

"Sometimes life's events just come together at the right time, and things falls into place. The last few hours have been exhilarating, and a perfect ramp up for me to celebrate today's internet holiday: Good People Day 2008."

Thus blogs Kristen Forbriger inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk's declaration that today, April 3rd, be a day to thank good people.

And thanks to a randomly read tweet, I've been virally infected with this meme and picking up the phone (3 am just as it was for Kristen), I find myself speaking to Cambodia. Why Cambodia? Why now? Who thanking? I'm making good on a promise I began to keep a week ago, when I sent a small package to a tiny village 5 kilometers outside of Siem Riep. There, last December, together with my friend and my son, we found ourselves cared for and nurtured by Mr. S., a survivor of the Pol Pot Child Labor camps and our guide through the history, past and present, of his country, Cambodia. He, like his fellow countryman(woman) Chanrithy Him, lost his parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles in the killing fields.

Mr. S. is a spiritual person. He shared with us his beliefs, his dreams for a quiet and peaceful and pastoral life. It seemed to us, that he supported and guided a handful of "relatives" whose only relation was experiential. The family who shared their wood hut with us had suffered the same fate as Mr. S. and I can truly say that never have I met a more generous or good family. Chanrithy's words resound here:

"As a survivor, I want to be worthy of the suffering that I endured as a child. I don't want to let that pain count for nothing, nor do I want others to endure it ... . Throughout a childhood dominated by war, I learned to survive. In a country faced with drastic changes, the core of my soul was determined to never let the horrific situations take away the better part of me. I mentally resisted forces I could only recognize as evil by being a human recorder, quietly observing my surroundings, making mental notes of the things around me. There would come a day to share them."

So I called Cambodia to say a simple "thank you". I did not detail the reason. The gratefulness and privilege I felt that other human beings had opened heart and family to us was what I was acknowledging. Mr. S. has not yet received the package, but the joy he imparted across those many miles was for the call. "I am so happy you called and hope to speak to you often". Thank you Mr. S., from my family who learned from you and your family the recognition of the purest goodness. The acts of generosity and kindness to total strangers, the gifts of sharing the enormity of your past and the remarkable resilient hopefulness of your future. You've passed it on.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Twittervite to a Blogger Diner

Yesterday, I noticed a quick "tweet" from Jeremiah Owyang in which he invites locals to a blogger dinner in New York, then uninvites them, then kind of re-invites them to a meeting with Charlene Li.

After a rather cryptic plea to Sam Lawrence to argue my case before Jeremiah, I decided to take my chances and hopped over the George Washington bridge into midtown Manhattan to see if I would be a persona non Grata if I showed up for the event without being formally registered (as registration had already closed).

On the subway I was busy musing about whether I would appear to others as a Zelig character, crashing the party and behaving in a "chameleon like way" as one of the pseudo-blogerati. I started wondering if indeed I had any business calling myself blogger, let alone going to the meet-up, when suddenly a poster caught my eye: "Working for the radical notion of fairness". This is the tag line of an online community for "independent workers, mutual support, advocacy and the spirit of friendship".

I thought about how blogging is a very personal form of expression and decided that working for fairness was exactly who I am and want to be. The radical part was a bit strident but heck, having passions around causes is part of my DNA. Regardless of credentials I felt armed with a real persona even though I see my blogging experience as a modest one.

I got to NYC, attended the meet up, found Charlene Li to be gracious and welcoming, received a copy of her excellent book, Groundswell, which she authored with Josh Bernoff and considered the evening a success. In addition I met with a number of folks who I had hoped to be introduced to for a long while now such as Robin Carey and Jerry Bowles, being a visitor of their Social Media Today and their Energy Collective blogs. Then too, I encountered a number of others who I'd like to add to my twitter buddies and who engage in activities regarding the tracking, creation, and promoting of social media. I'll need to check my "dance cards" for exact names but companies like Razorfish and Monster and Clickster come to mind.

Upon returning home, I went to further reference the event, the hostess, and some of the folks I'd met and found this post in Charlene's blog: Turning radicals into revolutionaries: the key to kick-starting your social strategy Really resonates. I think I'll change that poster tag line for me to read: "Working for the revolutionary notion of fairness".