Watch the Prop 8 Trial – Dustin Lance Black’s Play About the Prop 8 Hearing

If you missed Saturday night’s live performance of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play based on the transcripts of the Proposition 8 trial, it is now available. Celebrities like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jane Lynch, and Martin Sheen brought to life the trial’s powerful arguments for equality, the ineptitude of those who oppose same-sex marriage, and the emotional impact on the plaintiffs’ families. Given the fact that Prop 8′s proponents fought so hard to prevent public distribution of the videos of the courts proceedings, this reading is a must-watch and must-share glimpse into what actually transpired:

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My Grampa Bud

My favorite person in the whole world is my Grampa Bud. His real name was Francis Hess but everyone in the neighborhood called him Bud because he was that person on the block that always made you laugh, had a great story or had time to help out a friend – also, the name Francis did not fit his personality very well….. He was one of those larger than life characters that you would see in a movie from the 40’s or 50’s – a tough guy that swung steel hammers during WWII but managed to fit in the time to support 4 kids and a wife.

I remember when I was a kid (early 80’s), he would tell me, my sister and my cousins stories about his travels and life but the best were the stories about the monsters in the attic. He would get us so riled up and scared that at some point my mother would have to step in because we were practically in tears. Of course, when you are young you are more open to belive stories that adults tell you because you trust that what they are saying is true – how could there not be a monster living in the attic? that place is definately dark enough and cold enough to support the lifestyle of a monster – it smells like there is a monster living up there – and something about going up the creeky old steps leads me to belive that yes, in fact what Grampa Bud says is true – there is a monster living in the attic!

So one day me, my sister and my 2 cousins decided to find out for sure. We informed Bud that we were going up in the attic to check it out – we had been hearing about it long enough to know that there was a pretty good chance that we were not going to make it back downstairs. The 4 of us crept up the stairs to the 2nd floor landing and kind of hung out around the door to collect ourselves before we went further. The door was noisy when it opened and you could immediately feel the coldness of the floor as we started up the steps. The attic was divided into 2 areas as one side was a bedroom and the other side was a walled off, dark, dank closet. We opened that door and it was pitch black inside. The light was connected to a hanging cord about 10 feet into the room so we had to tread carefully before we made it to the safety of illumination. A few steps into the room and we noticed some rustling and we stopped dead in our tracks – we were toast – from behind the boxes popped out a horrible figure with a disfigured mask, making all kinds of terrifyine noises. Our reaction was something out of a cartoon where we were all falling over each other in a mad sramble get away from the monster and back to safety. By the time we got downstairs, there was my Grampa sitting in the kitchen – that sealed it, his stories were true, we just witnessed the monster and it was obviousley not my Grampa as he was in front of us – of course, we had no idea there was a second stairwell to the attic let alone the fact that my Grampa would trick us like that!

The point being is that Storytelling can be a powerful tool that can draw people in and create a reality that may not even exist and how social service agencies use this tool will relate directly to their ability engage clients and supporters. As Mike Margolis, founder and president of Get Storied notes, “Tell a story that people can identify with as their own, and the need to persuade, convince, or sell them on anything disappears”. This speaks to me as I have the desire to enter politics and biggest question I have, is how do I get people to follow me, to believe in me and to work for me? I think that answer is simple, it’s more than messaging, it’s storytelling….

I like this story – what is your story and how do you plan on telling it?

And – I always meant to go to this – just missed it this past weekend….maybe next year!

Blogging about Blogging

Some reflections on my fist month of blogging:

I learned that blogging, depending on your chosen content, can be a very time consuming but also a very enjoyable endeavor. The main skill that I have developed, is to listen with purpose.  I am just a little bit obsessed with politics and I know that my intake of “noise” is most likely higher than others as I never stop reading and listening to “news”. I have always listened from both sides of the political spectrum to gain insight into what people with opinions different from mine are saying – yes, this means that I read 10-20 “liberal” based blogs everyday but it also means that I listen to Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Rush LImbaugh everyday as well…..masachist? yes, yes I am… I have taken Chris Brogan’s advice to heart from his article on how to write three blog posts per day – I used to tell myself to remember topics to research or write about, now I carry a note book and write the ideas down that spark my attention. The notebook acts as a source for ideas but it also acts as a filter for the noise.

The experience has been what I expected – I expected to gain an outlet for my energy and I have found it. Blogging in the context of taking a seminar class has also allowed for receiving feedback that I would not have access to if I was simply starting a blog on my own. It was surprising to me as to how easy it was to pull together a blog and maintain it. The wordpress site is user-friendly and the start up time was fairly limited. I was also surprised to see the amount of traffic to my blog given that fact that it is brand new.

A blog can be a useful tool for any nonprofit as it can be used as a “clearinghouse” of information for an agency. Information can constantly be gathered, recycled and sent out to their audience and the general public. Nonprofits can use a blog to enhance fundraising campaigns, seek out volunteers, engage interested parties or sponsors, highlight social issues and causes, promote events or gatherings or support or oppose legislation. All of this can be done in a platform that is free and has limitless possibilities.

A few of the nonprofit blogs that I have been interested in and following are:

Queer ideas – effective fundraising – I’m working on a fund-raiser for my community project and I have been trying to find quick tips and info so this has been interesting to read – Occupy Wall Street – I feel like this movement has changed the recent political tone and I feel that it will be a major player in the 2012 election – I also think that nonprofits should pay closer attention to the movement as they cover the issues that most nonprofits are tied to – nonprofits might not want to or be able to align themselves with the movement but they should be aware of the issues being raised by the movement – Beth’s Blog – this blog seems to have something everyday that I have not considered or even know about – my major weakness/issue is developing quality content and the advice here has been very informative!

The resource that I found to be most helpful is a tie between Chris Brogan’s blog and Kivi Miller’s blog. Both have provided a huge insight into the process of blogging and have really ignited an interest that I was not thinking about up until recently. I am scrambling to save as many of the links and resources that we have been exposed to as possible before the semester ends!

Prop 8 – Ruled Unconstitutional….Again……….

So once again………Proposition 8 from California (which rescinded Marriage Equality) was found to be unconstitutional. A federal district court had previously thrown out the ban on constitutional grounds and yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s Proposition 8, was unconstitutional as well……

What is Prop 8?:

  • A ballot initiative that Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry – A State of California Constitutional Amendment (called California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition (voted on by citizens) that passed in the November 2008 elections.

What the court ruling said:

  • Should the lower court judge have recused himself simply because he happens to be gay and may wish to marry his partner, as marriage equality opponents contended: NO.
  • Do the proponents (supporters) of Proposition 8 have the legal right, known as standing, to defend it in court: YES.
  • Is Proposition 8 constitutional: NO.

What the court said:

  • In a 2 to 1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Walker’s decision declaring that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

From the majority opinion:

  • Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.
  • The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.
  • That designation [of marriage] is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.
    (emphasis mine)

What this means – 2 things:

  • The ruling is unique and narrow to the state of California which limits the possibilty of the Supreme Court hearing the case, yet it remains a possibility. A broader decision would have certainly drawn Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) attention but there is a chance that the justices may pass on it as it is limited to issues within the state of California.
  • By not ruling on the case, the SCOTUS avoids having to rule on other state based cases such as Alabama’s Marriage Amendment. The bigger, national fight is put off until tomorrow but the people of Alabama suffer but Proposition 8 is likely dead in California…….

Next week – Why elections matter and what does the 2012 election means for the Supreme Court….

Is E-Mail Dead?

To answer this question one must look beyond statistics that show that e-mail usage and access frequency is trending downward. Studies show that e-mail engagement dropped 9-15% in 2010 and the number of visitors to e-mail based providers dropped 6% over the past year. Based on these number, the answer to the question – is e-mail dead? – would have to be a resounding YES! 

However, looking at personal characteristics that influence one’s e-mail use and modes of access is critical in determining if e-mail is really, in fact, dead. I would consider your job/occupation/profession to be the two most influential factor that guides how you use e-mail services.

Stepping back from the question, I wanted to analyze my own use of e-mail – as well as how I access e-mail to provide a broader context and explanation of the reasons for the above noted statistics. With regards to my profession, I am a graduate student, no job at the moment, interning with limited responsibilities.

As a student, I most likely access and use e-mail from a traditional laptop or desktop more frequently than lets say a sales professional or attorney that travels 3 days per week. As a student I need options to store information and compose extensive, informational based e-mails and the ability to add multiple documents. There is no mobile app that would allow me the ease of use that a traditional desktop computer offers users. Would you want to or even attempt to compose a 500 word e-mail and attach multiple documents to an e-mail on an i-Phone – can you even attach multiple documents to an e-mail using an i-Phone? It would take you twice as long to do it on a phone as it would using a keyboard and computer – but then again, if you are an attorney that is traveling and a client demands a quick, “yes” or “no” response, the i-Phone is perfect – mobile access to quick information is what you need. In other words, your “use” of e-mail is not in question, the mode of access is the determing factor.

For a social service agency, knowing how your clients, donors, and employees use e-mail will be a critical factor in your success as opposed to whether or not your interested parties actually access and use e-mail. In the end, e-mail delivering information, services, and communications via e-mail is not going away anytime soon, especially as most agencies are still in 2.0 mode.

Don’t believe me? Check the stats:

”Is

If you are looking for an answer of “YES” to the question “is e-mail is dead” then I believe that you need to change the question – the question should be, “how do you use e-mail”…….and how can we best reach you?

Personal v. Professional Use of Social Media

 The seemingly non-stop rise of social media has led us into a world where whether you like it or not, you have to develop your own personal social media use policy with regards to how you utilize services. 

By this I mean that you have to develop parameters in which you work and communicate through social media, on both a personal and a professional level. Some of my friends have no problem posting obscenities, rude or insulting statements and compromising photos. I attempt to stick to posting music video’s from YouTube, communicating and commenting with friends and supporting political issues – not to say that these things don’t sometimes go wrong as I have had to delete two “friends” over multiple abusive comments they have posted about politically related issues. As we have all heard before “Don’t feed the trolls”….

My opinion (and advice) is that no matter whether you are using social media for personal or professional reasons, keep in mind that everything is public and open to scrutiny. If you don’t want someone finding it, don’t post it, if you are not ready to deal with opposing comments, then don’t open yourself up for comments, if you don’t want people seeing a picture, then make it private or just don’t post it, if you don’t want to be found, then don’t “check in”.

The difficult part about this issue is balancing your use of Social Media from a professional perspective especially when you work at an agency that may demand extreme privacy (like a shelter for battered women), may be highly stigmatized (HIV Care or Addiction) or may focus on a oppreseed group of people (Homeless or transgendered). Any “sharing” of information could have disastrous consequences for your own job prospects or for your clients. The question is, how can you constructively use Social Media and promote the issues associated with your agency while at the same time protecting the safety, personal information and identities of your clients?

Choices

So as we enter Tuesday night’s Florida Republican primary – the choices are pretty much narrowed down to 2 candidates:

Yes, you can argue that the NOT-Romney campaigns of Rick Santorum & Ron Paul are still in the mix but in reality, neither will ever be the actual nominee. I just can’t imagine that there are enough people in America that have not “googled” SANTORUM!
As Santorum and Paul start to run out of money and resources, their voters will eventually peel off and side up with one of the two big candidates. I’m sure that most Paul supporters will hold out in hopes that he runs as a third-party candidate in November but that is yet to be seen – and that would also eventually doom any Republican candidate in a face to face with President Obama in the National election.

So let’s look at some numbers:

The latest Wall Street Journal poll (1/26) shows Gingrich with a lead of 9% points over Romney with 30% of the vote still going to Santorum and Paul. When Santorum eventually drops out, and he will drop out, his “conservative base” voters are most likely to run to Gingrich – I could see 12% going to Gingrich, 4% going to Romney and 2% not being able to hold their nose and vote for either front-runner. That leaves us with Gingrich with a strong 17% lead over Romney from a National Republican Primary perspective.

So, is Newt the man? Not so fast, let’s look at some more numbers……

NATIONAL (NBC/Wall Street Journal): Obama d. Romney (49-43); Obama d. Santorum (53-38); Obama d. Gingrich (55-37); Obama d. Romney and Ron Paul (45-32-18)

NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Obama d. Romney (46-42); Obama d. Gingrich (49-39)

NATIONAL (YouGov/Economist): Obama d. Romney (47-41); Obama d. Paul (47-40); Obama d. Gingrich (49-39); Obama d. Santorum (49-39)

MICHIGAN (EPIC-MRA): Obama d. Romney (48-40); Obama d. Gingrich (51-38)

MINNESOTA (PPP): Obama d. Romney (51-41); Obama d. Santorum (52-40); Obama d. Paul (51-38); Obama d. Gingrich (53-38)

NEW YORK (NY1/YNN/Marist): Obama d. Romney (58-35); Obama d. Santorum (61-33); Obama d. Gingrich (63-31); Obama d. Paul (62-28)

WISCONSIN (Marquette Law School): Obama d. Romney (48-40)

Three National polls and 4 statewide polls released this week show Romney as the only viable Republican that can even keep pace with Obama in a National election – Romney lags behind Obama from anywhere from 4-6% points but Gingrich comes in behind Obama by at least 10% points and as much as 18% in the WSJ poll. So……as a Republican, who do you vote for ? The guy that can’t win the State primaries or the guy that can’t win the National election – Rock, meet hard place…..

So where does this leave us?

What this tells me is that the Republican primary is far from over and there is still much blood to drawn – Let’s see what happens on Tuesday night – I predict a win for Romney but then the show goes on the road to Nevada & Maine – Find the full schedule here – Republican Primary Schedule 2012.

On a side note, I sure do miss this gal and all her crazy talkin’ ideas!!!! Check the video at 1:45 for a real good laugh!