Hey there folks, I'm figuring out what's my deal, what do I spend time doing and what'll be my main focus for 2013. This seems to be the shortest version which makes any sense to anyone else.
A lot of this involves quiet, back-channel communications which I might never go public with. Sure, sometimes I gotta be a squeaky wheel, or sometimes I need to be annoying enough to motivate people, but will do so reluctantly.
You'll see a focus on matters in the here and now, looking to help solve problems that exist now, while learning how make things work better in the longer term by motivating people in increasingly large numbers.
That includes figuring out how to get people to work together, particularly the people at groups with similar goals. Nonprofits with common goals normally find it really hard to collaborate and that begs for a solution.
Craigslist customer service is something I've got a hard commitment to, only as long as I live. I got only lightweight stuff to do these days, which is a big deal since:
- it reminds me of what's real, when I hear from people who get food on the table via our site.
- it reinforces my emotional investment in operating from the grassroots level on up, in identifying with the grassroots, and in viewing life from the bottom up.
Also, there's my craigconnects.org stuff, which includes a number of areas, but the two big areas are military families/veterans issues and journalism trust/ethics issues.
If someone's willing to serve overseas and risk taking a bullet for me, I should give back at least a little. Also, everyone should remember that it's not only a troop serving, it's also his or her family who give up a lot for all of us.
1. There are networks of military spouses, often linked by the mailing lists (listservs) where spouses at specific bases help each other. Multiple spouse organizations maintain their own networks. Finally, the senior-most spouses talk with each other. If they would work with each other and support each other, they could get a lot more done, including much of what follows this item.
2. Military families sometimes need a hand from one of the tens of thousands of helping organizations around the U.S.. This is what the Joint Chiefs call the "sea of goodwill," and the problem is locating who can help with what. A milfam group has built the beginning of a database and smartphone app toward this end. (Veterans need this also, but spouses groups might just have the lead.)
3. There are specific areas where maybe I can help in very minor ways, for example:
- schools that serve military kids, at specific bases, are underfunded. A matching grants effort via DonorsChoose.org might be useful.
- when a spouse moves from a base in one state to another, we need to find ways to make re-licensing fast to avoid loss of income.
4. Spouses and veterans need jobs, and the Veterans Job Bank is a good start. It needs updating, and then, we need to tell people it exists and is useful.
5. It's really difficult for veterans to express military skills and experience in terms that civilian hiring managers can understand. Better programs need to be developed and they need to be actively used during transition from active service.
6. Troops who transition from active service can have a really hard time getting disability claims approved. The Fully Developed Claims effort needs to be amplified during transition and thereafter. Also, perhaps the Department of Veterans Affairs disability approval backlog can be helped by effectively getting the assistance of Veterans Service Organizations. VSO worker level personnel, maybe working directly with VA disability raters, can help accelerate processing in unexpected ways. (Disclaimer: I've been personally involved with the VA employee innovation effort, which has already helped a little.)
7. There needs to be greater outreach by VA medical centers via social media, and also regarding Blue Button efforts which allow veterans to download medical and work experience while in service.
OK, the other big area I focus on involves journalism integrity and ethics, toward increasing the trustworthiness of news reporting. I really am aware that I'm not in the news industry, and won't tell people how to do their job.
However, I really want to get news I can trust. After all, the press is the immune system of democracy... or should be.
Toward that end, I'm already working with the Poynter Institute, which is a really big deal in professional journalism. They've run a conference on journalistic issues, raising big issues. For example, to maintain a pretense of objectivity, it's common to bring on a speaker a reporter knows will attempt to deceive the public. In such a case, is the reporter and news outlet complicit in that deception?
Moving forward, I'll be increasingly involved in publicly raising such issues, with the objective of finding news I can trust. That means working with more news organizations with a history of trustworthy behavior.
Finally, well, I was heavily involving in protecting the rights of all eligible Americans to vote, mostly by supporting organizations with boots on the ground. I figure this is about the values articulated in the Declaration of Independence, in that all are created equal, and that we really can be the "shining city on the hill."
However, there are people who disagree with universal suffrage, and have taken that to the Supreme Court, so I'll continue to help.
Please remember that I'm doing this real discreetly, not really rocking the boat except when a little of that is required, just the least amount needed.
Finally, nothing I do is altruistic the way I look at things; it just feels right. A nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.