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Archive for the ‘HopeLab’ Category

Okay so this is already out-of-date since I wrote it a few days ago but I’m posting it anyway to kick-start this blog. I wanted to leave it in the form it was written but, quickly, my visa was denied in Canada so I’m not making it to SXSW. I’ve got a second interview coming up and my only aspiration now is to get back to San Francisco to help K pack up and ship our life back to Australia and say goodbye to my friends in person.

I’m sitting on a bus crossing the Canadian Rockies, 13 hours into a 17 hour trip. I’m here in Canada getting one last visa to the US before moving back to Australia. I’m taking the bus specifically because I wanted to cross the Rockies at ground level and couldn’t afford the train. I was very impressed by Greyhounds description of their new buses: more legroom, power plugs at every seat, wifi. This, however, is not one of those buses, so I’m missing a number of skype meetings I had planned and am limited in the work I can do.

But maybe this is a good thing. For starters, knowing my laptop will only last a few hours I’ve been sparing in my use of it, mostly staring out the windows at the gorgeous scenery (which is what I’m here for after all!). And being offline has encouraged me to finally write post for my long-form (and long-ignored) blog.

It’s been shockingly long since I posted here and a great deal has happened in the intervening time. Those of you who know me personally or follow me on social media, and really that must be nearly all  of you, are probably abreast of most of this already, so I won’t labour over the details. But here are the highlights:

  • In August/September More Carrot mounted another successful expedition to Burning Man, expanding the farmers market to hot and prepared food and sending a mobile market out into the city.
  • I finished at HopeLab in October. Despite my love for the organization and people there my actual role wasn’t the right one for me, for a variety of reasons I may blog about more later.
  • After leaving HopeLab I focused on StartSomeGood.com, which has brought so much more energy and excitement to my life. I’m loving being a full-time entrepreneur again.
  • I spent a week in Tucson working with Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis at Creating the Future, which has had a profound impact on my thinking and on how we express things at StartSomeGood, which I blogged about here.
  • K and I did an introduction to Shamanism course in October which deserves its own blog post sometime. Interesting stuff.
  • In November/December I spent three weeks in Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, traveling with my sister and a close friend, learning to scuba dive and visiting ancient Mayan cities:
  • Upon returning from that trip K and I discovered she was pregnant and due in August! Woh! Not part of the plan (yet) but a delightful surprise, we’re super-excited to embark on this new journey together.
  • But as one journey begins another comes to an end, and K and I are moving back to Australia in April, and looking forward to catching up with many friends and re-exploring Sydney. We’ve been hearing really good reports about all the cool things happening there at the moment and are excited to re-engage and catch up.

So there you are, you’re up to date if you weren’t before. Life is very full and very exciting. There’s so much I want to pack into these last eight weeks in America – visiting friends and places I haven’t made it out to, (such as I’m doing in Canada right now), returning to a couple of my favourite camping spots near San Francisco and spending lots of quality time with my favourite people. And I’m going to be absolutely cranking away at StartSomeGood, before I get separated from my team mates by even more timezones than usual.

We’re starting to see a real return on our efforts now, with more and more ventures getting in touch and looking to utilize our platform. We’ll be hosting a great event featuring social innovators called Pitch Some Good during South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, which I’m also speaking at – please come along if you’re in town.

You can also check out some of our success stories from our first nine months in our eBook: Start Some Good: What’s Next for 2012?:

Now that this big update is out of the way I’m going to try to make a commitment to blogging more often, hopefully on topics more interesting than me.

Cheerio!

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So I published my first post on HopeLab’s StickyNotes blog today, saying hello to the readers over there. I thought I’d re-post it here too:

Hello there! My name’s Tom and I’m very happy to see you. You’re going to see quite a bit of me actually. You see, I’m the new Manager of Communications and Emerging Media here at HopeLab, so I hope we talk often.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

First of all, that accent you hear, it’s Australian. Not English, South African or New Zealand, which I do understand all sound pretty similar to the untrained ear. I recently moved to the Bay Area after spending the previous two years in Washington DC and, before that, living in Sydney.

I love working in communications because human culture is based on stories and the right stories can change the world. I love social media because it has given us incredible new tools and opportunities to inform and inspire one-another, to build communities around shared values and aspirations, and to fuel innovation, cultural exchange and new understanding. I am passionate about building a form of democracy which is more participatory and responsive, a world which is more sustainable and just and organizations which are more human and values-based.

Prior to joining HopeLab I was the first Social Media Director at social entrepreneurship innovator Ashoka. Before that I founded Australian nonprofit youth organization Vibewire in 2000 whilst at university and led it up to March 2008. I am also the co-founder of the social innovation crowdfunding platform StartSomeGood. You can follow me on Twitter or check out my several blogs.

Just between you and me, HopeLab had me almost at hello. The first paragraph of the ad for this position read “When you’re a small nonprofit like we are at HopeLab, impact is sometimes measured by what you’re doing to promote the greater good, not just the number of customers you reach through products and programs. The insights we share about our work – lessons learned, risks taken that paid off (and the one’s that didn’t) – are valuable measures of impact as well.” I find this broader view of impact, one focused on the human connections, transparency and the greater good, both exciting and inspiring. Creating this impact, sharing these insights, listening and learning as well as talking, is the kind of work I am driven to do. It’s why I’m here, why I’m talking to you now.

This is going to be an incredible year for HopeLab with the launch of Zamzee, the ongoing work with the Re-Mission game, the fun of the Joy Campaign and much more. There’s really nowhere I’d rather be.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What brings you to HopeLab.org and what sort of content would you like to see on this blog and elsewhere? How can we stay in better touch and get you involved in our work?

And most importantly, what brings you joy?

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Starting at HopeLab

 

Over the last month my life has gone from ambling along to whizzing by, a wonderful blur of new thing: people, work, projects. During this time I have however found myself struggling to carve out time to write and so a catch-up is in order.

Two weeks ago I started work at HopeLab as Manager of Communications and Emerging Media, a nonprofit which harnesses the power and appeal of technology to improve the health and quality of life of young people. This also ensures that K and I will be staying in San Francisco for a bit longer, through 2011/12. I couldn’t be more excited by the organization and position.

HopeLab had me from hello really. Reading the very first sentence of the position description got my mind buzzing and I knew I had found something I was interested in. It said “When you’re a small nonprofit like HopeLab, impact is sometimes measured by what you’re doing to promote the greater good, not just the number of customers you reach through products and programs”. It went on to read “The insights we share about our work – lessons learned, risks taken that paid off (and the one’s that didn’t) – are valuable measures of impact as well.”

In other words, HopeLab’s purpose in using social media goes well beyond transactions, and unlike many nonprofits see it as more than a fundraising medium. This is really important to me. I believe social media has given us an extraordinary set of new tools which give rise to exciting new possibilities for community building, cultural formation, knowledge-sharing and storytelling. Doing these things well also creates great opportunities for organizations to build a supporter base which is prepared to help fund projects.

But if fundraising is the primary focus I believe many of the other opportunities can be lost or neglected. And as a communicator it’s also less satisfying. I’m driven to share stories that matter and create relationships that are real and two-way. This requires a focus not just on what your online supporters can do for you but what you can do for them. I find this broader view of impact, one focused on the human connections, transparency and the greater good, both exciting and inspiring. Creating this impact, sharing these insights, listening and learning as well as talking, is the kind of work I want to do. This is the work I am excited to take up at HopeLab: informing, inspiring and involving a diverse community of stakeholders in designing technologies that improve the health and quality of life of young people and workplaces that support human beings.

HopeLab have an incredible intentionality about the work, mission and organizational culture which I have never experienced before. And they have made me feel more welcome than any previous workplace. I’ll be working on a number of exciting campaigns this year including the launch of Zamzee and the Joy Campaign. I think this is going to be a very happy and productive home for me and I’m thrilled to be here.

For a great overview of HopeLab’s work and approach check out this talk our CEO Pat and my boss Richard gave at the Wisdom2.0 Summit recently.

I am also, with their blessing and support, still working on StartSomeGood, a new crowdfunding platform for social good. We actually launched yesterday, which naturally I’m psyched about but will commemorate with a proper stand-alone blog post, coming next.

I’ve also been maintaining two new shorter-form blogs, one of them shared with K and devoted to San Francisco street art. More on that soon also.

Over and out, for now.

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