Social Impact

This week, Somersworth became the first city in New Hampshire to raise the Juneteenth flag. Juneteenth, also called Liberation Day or the Day of Jubilee, marks the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation — two and a half years after it became law — in the final state of the union. Since it is also Pride month, and there are two flagpoles at Somersworth’s Citizen’s Place, the Juneteenth flag now waves next to the rainbow Pride flag, where they will wave together for a week (the Pride flag stays up all June long here in the Rainbow City).

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Crystal Paradis for Somersworth City Council At-Large, Somersworth, NH

Somersworth is New Hampshire’s smallest geographic city, and I grew up knowing about it mostly for being the home to General Electric (GE) and to my stepfamily, and for the WalMart that was seemingly the only place open late during my years attending high school in Dover. Later, I’d learn that, just like the city of Portsmouth where I was born, it’s also a mill town on a river, with a working-class legacy and lots of brick in it’s beautiful historic downtown. I lived in and around Somersworth multiple times in my life, and most recently relocated back here just under three years ago, just as it was starting to develop a new reputation — as New Hampshire’s “Rainbow City.”

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lift each other up

I had a vision a few years ago, while in a Kundalini yoga class. It wasn’t like an other-wordly revelation or anything, just an image that came into my head as we were in the meditation portion of the class. It was an image that simultaneously felt so profoundly truthful, while making little logical sense.

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The word “feminist” is on my business card. Not as a title I’m using to define myself, but because it’s in the name of my business. Even with its recent rise to acceptance in mainstream popular culture, the word “feminist” still prompts startled reactions most times I hand someone my card. Since I’m so frequently reminded of the baggage of this word, I’m also increasingly aware of my responsibility to define, and demonstrate by my actions, what I mean when I use the word “feminist.”

Feminist theorist bell hooks (no, the lowercase of her name isn’t a typo – she consciously declines to capitalize her name in favor of putting the emphasis on her ideas) defines feminism as “a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.” Defining feminism as a commitment to end oppression is notable in that it is not (as it is sometimes misperceived to be) seeking to reverse it. Taking power from one group and giving it to another doesn’t solve the problem – it simply perpetuates domination and systemic injustice.

Feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.” The goal of a hooks and Lorde kind of feminist movement is to dismantle systemic power structures altogether in favor of equity for everyone – all genders, all identities.

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In her TED Talk, “The danger of the single story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns that knowing only one story about people different from you can result in a vast misunderstanding. A single story can never be representative of the entire group that the subject of the story represents. The power of stories is that they show one possibility. That possibility, if it resonates with beliefs we already have, is very motivating – for better or worse.

“Single stories create stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.” Allowing single stories to speak for the identity of a vast group of people is, to say the least, problematic. But that doesn’t mean stories themselves are the culprit.

Adichie goes on to say, “Stories matter. And many stories matter.” Our job is not to stop telling stories, it’s to stop repeating the same tired stories, listen to new stories from others and start telling our own.

What does all this talk of stories have to do with guns?

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If you’re a business or nonprofit with a social mission, and you’re looking for some help managing your online presence, we just might be a perfect match.

You might need help with content management if…

  • If you have a website but people who visit it can never figure out how to find what they’re looking for
  • If *you* can never find what you need on your own website
  • If you know what you want your website to say, but don’t have time or skills to make the edits yourself
  • You want to figure out how to make it easier for website visitors to take an action (share a post, contact you, buy something, book a consultation)
  • You want social media to play nice with your website
  • You want to come up higher on the search engine / Google results pages (SEO Copywriting can help with that, too)

What is content management?

Content management is managing (editing, publishing, updating, rearranging, freshening up) your content (blog posts, web pages, photos, videos, infographics, memes, sidebars, menu items, forms, etc.) to help you reach more people more effectively online.

Content management is not a thing that non-techie folks are necessarily able to learn intuitively — and even if you are able to add or edit blog posts, you may not know enough about user experience (UX) or search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. That’s where a content manager — like me — comes in.

Okay, what’s WordPress content management?

“WordPress content management” simply means editing, updating and maintaining your website on the WordPress platform. Not sure if your website is on WordPress already? Well, since WordPress is still the most widely-used content management system (or CMS) out there, chances are good that your website is on it.

Why WordPress content management for socially-responsible businesses?

I care about helping teams that are working to create better communities.

Many socially-responsible businesses and organizations have service providing as a top priority, but their digital /online presence might be taking a back seat.

I’ve written before about how search engine optimization is community engagement optimization.  If people can’t find you online, they can’t advance your mission.

A robust communications strategy is really important. And, a fair amount of communications strategy can be demonstrated with a really clear website content strategy — and that includes everything from menu structure to clear and compelling calls-to-action.

Therefore, providing WordPress content management for socially-responsible businesses is critical to building better communities.

So, should we work together?

If you’ve ever worked with me before, you know about my commitment to working with socially-responsible, values-aligned organizations and businesses — aka values-centric work. If you’ve seen my Services page, you’ve seen the list of the types of organizations and businesses I will and won’t work with. Socially responsible is a category that encompasses many attributes that my favorite clients share.

So, if you’re part of a socially-responsible business or organization in need of some WordPress content management assistance, I’d love to talk. Since I work freelance, I can typically offer rates lower than agencies — and if all you need is content management (organization, re-organization or optimization of your existing site), you likely don’t need a pricey agency anyway.

Drop me a line, and I’d be happy to give you a free assessment, take a walk outside with you or grab a beverage and talk about your communications and marketing goals and whether I’d be a good fit to help you achieve them.

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Tipping promotes inequality, and fosters discrimination and sexual harassment. The roots of tipping in the US can be traced back to the freeing of enslaved people, when change-resistant employers could avoid paying newly freed people an actual wage by making them work for tips. People who work for tips are twice as likely to live in poverty, and can be paid far below minimum wage. People of color are tipped at lower rates than their white colleagues. Workers who rely on tips to make a living experience twice as much sexual harassment. Is this what we meant when we used to say, “Here — for your trouble”?

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Photo by Ben Kramer

We’re fast approaching Seacoast Outright’s third annual Portsmouth Pride event — and this year our notoriously fun crew is on a serious mission: Paint the Town Rainbow! Hopefully you have already seen the rainbow save the date posters for our Saturday, June 24 event popping up all over town — and that’s just the beginning. The closer we get to the fourth Saturday in June, the more rainbow we hope our city will become.

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This blog post was written after a visit to the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, in Geneva, Switzerland in December of 2015. The goal was to collect some of the most easily-digestible information on this massive global crisis, along with resources to make it easy to take action from here in the US.

I chose Medium as the platform, due to its media integration features and built-in audience for timely and topical blogs.

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“If we leave all the activism to people who do it as a full-time job, we’ll never make the collective impact we need.”

In early 2017, I gave a Pecha Kucha talk. The Pecha Kucha format is a classic win-win for both speakers and audience. The slides advance on a timer (every 20 seconds), totally out of the speaker’s control: if someone plans their talk really well, the timing is impressive; if they’re woefully unprepared, it’s hilarious!

And so, a few months into my recovery from the 2016 election (I worked as a campaign organizer in New Hampshire for the final 6 months of the campaign), I said yes when asked to give a Pecha Kucha Talk. Worst case scenario, it would be at least be hilarious, right?

But the topic I chose was one I took very seriously, because it was something that had been on my mind throughout the election and even more so in the weeks and months that followed, as I searched for my next path. Before joining the campaign, I’d quit my job as Director of Communications at a fast-growing digital marketing agency, for reasons that included a vastly different set of values from my employer.

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