Susan's Super Citizen Showcase

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Never say you can’t dance, Fana tells the children

Master drummer and balafon player Fana Soro had enough authentic African drums for everyone who wanted to play one.

Fana's only rule was that no one was allowed to look sad while they were drumming because if they did, he would have to take their drum away. He said if you are feeling sad, you can be happy again if you let yourself feel the energy of the drumming.

It was quite literally a “hands-on” demonstration! Indeed many, many hands were on the drums at the ArtStarts Gallery today at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. in downtown Vancouver, B.C. Canada. A few dozen kids and parents sat in a circle and learned some basic rhythms and songs that Fana brings from his original home in Ivory Coast.

Fana told us Africa has only two seasons: rainy and dry. When the rainy season starts, it’s time to plant food.

“If you just sit at home, there will be no food for you next year,” he said. “There is no Safeway and no Costco.”

Fana shared a traditional song in his language, with these words: “There is rain today. Let’s celebrate! Tomorrow we’re going to work hard.”

As everyone sang along, Fana invited a tiny girl to dance with him in the centre of the circle. As a shy dancer, I really admired her courage as she jumped up and waggled her thin little arms and legs and sang and danced with Fana. Then Fana turned to a “tween”-aged boy who joined him with a smile. A few people were too shy to join him and he said: “Never say you can’t dance or your body will believe you.”

Fana said we should dance whenever there is music playing – and try to spend our time with happy people.

Many thanks to Fana for sharing so much cheer!

Two more sessions remain in the Saturday ArtStarts program:

Bhangra Music and Dance
Saturday, March 28 at 11 am & 1 pm
Learn the dance form that has energized audiences across the world with its hard-hitting beats with South Asian Arts. This dynamic duo will get young people and their parents dancing in a fun and interactive atmosphere.

Stringing Them Along!
Saturday, April 25 at 11 am & 1 pm
Have you ever seen a string dog and turtle climb a string Eiffel Tower and fly away on a string bird? Storyteller Anne Glover gives you a fistful of string tricks and a new respect for your shoelaces. No dexterity required! "All-thumbs" welcome!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A tour of WordPress from Miss 604

Many thanks to Rebecca Bollwitt for taking the time to meet with me today at Waves for a quick run-through of WordPress.

Rebecca's company, sixty4media, is going to set up and install WordPress for me - and then I'm going to use it as a content management system for everything on my current site at: It's good to know sixty4media offers tutorial services, just in case... I really like how the company is willing to "do it for you" and, if you want to learn, they will also show you how to do it. That is so cool and empowering!

Rebecca, who blogs at Miss 604, organized Vancouver Twestival on February 12, which raised more than $4000 for clean-water projects in developing countries. She says she expected about 100 people to attend the event at the Opus Hotel in downtown Vancouver, but twice as many showed up. Vancouver was one of 202 cities around the world to have such a fundraiser. According to the Twestival website, participants raised $250,000 as of February 18 for charity:water. This amount of money is enough for 55 water projects in Ethiopia, Uganda and India - clean water for just over 17,000 people.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gus Fosarolli and Deborah Jang talk Social Media 2.0

Many thanks to MarketWire for hosting a talk on social media press release product: Social Media 2.0 for the marketing communications committee of IABC's BC Chapter on Feb. 17 in downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada. IABC BC is going to use Marketwire's social media newsroom to update members on events and opportunities, market to potential new members, and raise the profile of our industry and its award-winning communicators.

Picture the social media press release as one of many tools in a press kit.

"It won't replace the traditional press release," Gus told us. "It's just an added component... but the trend is that everything's going online."

The SMPR is a single web page with the press release headline, core news facts in bulleted form, links to other press releases, stories about the organization in the news, embedded video on YouTube, podcasts, photos, the organization exec's LinkedIn profile, and many other choices for connecting. Not all press releases are suitable for this format - depends on the audience, your story, your goal. Social Media 2.0 uses a template into which clients enter their own... stuff (for lack of a better word!)

"It's bypassing the media and going directly to your stakeholders," says Gus, adding that SMPRs are as short as possible, using minimal words, written in a blog style. "Make it a conversation, but lose the 'spin'... and make sure it is easily shared."

If you are curious to find out more, Marketwire is holding a free webinar: "LEARN THE "SECRETS" OF OPTIMIZED PRESS RELEASES" on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 10 to 11 a.m. PST.

The invite reads: "If you are looking for visibility in the search engines – and who isn’t – understanding optimized press releases and social media press releases is a must. An optimized press release, when written using relevant keywords, may get you page-one results in search engines."

Marketwire also offers a four-part webinar series starting in March featuring local social media experts : "Each 90-minute session builds upon the previous one to help you create a complete, actionable social media plan that will measurably boost your organization's ROI."

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free barf bags for viewers at Sick and Twisted Festival

Alex hands out Sick and Twisted leaflets on the corner of 12th Avenue and Commercial Drive in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Just down the street, Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation 2009 will be opening at its new location on Friday Feb 20: the RIO Theatre at 1660 East Broadway (at Commercial) in Vancouver, BC, Canada running to Thursday March 5, with midnight shows on opening weekend: Feb. 20 and 21.

Alex's leaflet promises: "Bar Service for late shows opening weekend! FREE barf bags! ... For the first time in 10 years, Spike himself will be present for the opening weekend in Vancouver... he invites everyone to watch 90 minutes of the sickest, most brilliant, artistic and funniest animation shorts he's ever put together."

Alex said I could get in touch with him through the Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation Facebook Group. As he walked away, quite busy with his cel phone, he added: "the real one!" So I checked and found a few Facebook groups - and now I'm not sure which one is the actual real one - so if you know, please do tell me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Why and how is VANOC protecting the Olympic brand?

The answer to this question is very very complicated - but Bill Cooper, Director, Commercial Rights Management for VANOC took on the challenge at today's IABC/BC - Vancouver Sun Speaker Series lunch event at Steamworks Brewing Company Uber Lounge in gastown, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Bill explained that VANOC is charged with the responsibility of protecting the Olympics brand in Canada as a provision for having the games here - responsible to the International Olympic Committee. The Canadian government enacted new legislation, The Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act, to back up this responsibility.

Only certain groups are allowed to use the Olympic brand, including: official 2010 winter games merchandise companies; authentic ticket sellers (no resellers); official sponsors, licencees, and government partners with "exclusive rights to access the marks, images, and stories that make the Olympic and Paralympic Brand a sought-after marketing tool." VANOC's approach is (to quote from their booklet "Real 2010: Protecting the Brand"): "to educate the marketplace on how to appropriately align with the 2010 Winter Games while respecting the exclusive commercial rights of the marketing partners."

VANOC is monitoring the media, including online sites which are easily swept and filtered, and investigating infringements on the brand. VANOC considers six factors when investigating a potential case of unfair use of the brand. Much much more information from VANOC on protecting the Olympic brand is at the official Vancouver 2010 website.

"We're not just being some grumpy brand protection person sitting in a cubicle being grumpy," Bill said with a laugh, as he explained how he and his team assess each case using criteria that quantifies their "concern level" with the infringement. He said 95 percent of brand infringements are resolved through voluntary compliance. "Despite some of the headlines and fear-mongering, we're not in court."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines Massacre at the Anza Club

Last night in Vancouver, BC, Canada at the Anza Club - two days before V-Day - a host of local legends got on stage to cover songs by The Sex Pistols, the Stranglers, Husker Du, and Frank Zappa. The Next Pistols, The Manglers, the Huskee Dudes, and Slowpoke and the Jets excited the crowd with classics from the aforementioned bands.

In the photo above, is the trio usually known as Slowpoke and the Smoke - but at the Anza last night they were called Slowpoke and the Jets and they had an an excellent sax player with them. From left: Tony Twilight, Bradford Attitude, and Eric Napalm.

Manglers front man Doug Donut, formerly from Death Sentence (a band my pals and I loved seeing back in the 80s), did an especially excellent and lecherous-sounding version of "Peaches." In fact, he brought a sort of hilarious extra-raunchiness to the music, which was a bit more sped-up and harsh than the original. The Manglers' Stranglers "stick in your head" bass sound was brought to us by Phil Addington, who has been playing music in Vancouver for so many years and who also owns Bone Rattle Music on Commercial Drive. He and his staff are so nice to my little son who loves his store full of cool guitars (and they tolerate my son's outbursts of disappointment when I drag the little fella kicking and screaming out of the store when it's finally time to leave!)

It was interesting to see so much recording at the show. There must have been at least six people with video cameras on tripods and 15 people using cameras. I thought I saw local photographer Bev Davies walking around looking for good angles or subjects (or whatever really good photographers look for!)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Panel a-buzz on the business of communications consulting in Vancouver, BC, Canada

The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) BC Chapter hosted a panel discussion on "Setting Up As A Consultant" at the YWCA in Vancouver tonight from 6 to 7:30.

Panelists included - in photo, above, from left: Elizabeth Phillips, consultant and managing partner of MPA Communication Design Services Inc.; Gayle Farrell, president of Siena Consulting Inc.; Simone Abt and Gwen Hardy, managing partners and co-founders of Elettra Communications; Karen J Lee, ABC, MC, owner and principal consultant of The KJ Lee Group; and Chris Freimond, president of Chris Freimond Public Relations Inc. - and our president of IABC B.C

The event was billed as a chance to: "Listen in and ask your burning questions to a unique panel of knowledgeable speakers from diverse communication fields – they’ll tell you how and why they began consulting, the dos and don’ts of getting started and ways to be successful."

The audience of communicators - some of us whom are already consulting - asked the panel questions about: the most effective way to get new clients, fee structures (hourly vs. per project), differentiating yourself, how to get the confidence to go it alone as a consultant, what kind of insurance you need, how to estimate the number of hours a project would take, what to put in a contract, why it's a really really good idea to have an accountant...

The session could have been much longer than the 90 minutes scheduled - with so many interesting stories from the battlefield of consulting and so much good advice for working as a consultant in our town.

Chris reminded us that IABC is "a great pool of mentors" and we are free to reach out and ask questions. He said we "need to be thick-skinned" because some people might be too busy but most will make time to help. Karen says if you are looking for a mentor, make sure you have a good question ready - and Chris suggested it would be good to bring a business plan or a specific document. Karen says not to ask a potential mentor to "do your thinking for you." She would rather be presented with a specific question from someone who already knows their market and how much to charge.

Karen is a great storyteller who told us how much help she has received from her IABC connections. She says she once met an IABC mentor for advice on interpreting the language of an RFP (request for proposal). They sat together, on plastic seats in McDonalds, and her mentor (who worked in government procurement)went through it line by line.

Karen also told us about how, years ago, banks didn't like it when women signed for business loans without their husbands present. She once told a bank account manager: "Actually no thanks - I don't want your money" when he said her husband should be there before anything was finalized. This deflating experience didn't stop Karen, who got in touch with an IABC contact who set her up for lunch with a Royal Bank manager. This manager took interest in her vision and helped her get a business loan for a much-needed new computer and software for the first graphic designer she ever hired.

Gwen and Simone worked together before they decided to partner as PR consultants. One of the partners mentioned their company, Elettra Communications, responds to about three RFPs per year. RFPs offer a good way to draw in new business but can be very time-consuming. Some companies use RFPs to get free strategies from consultants offering solutions - so you need to be careful and set your boundaries re: how much free planning you are willing to offer in RFP responses.

Elizabeth says throwing herself into new areas of information is an important part of her professional development. It could be high tech or investor relations; the development comes when you, as a communicator, learn new languages that let you communicate the messages of different industry groups. "I'm hungry to build my vocabulary," Elizabeth told us, explaining that every year she sinks her teeth into a new lingo zone.

Gayle says her favorite way to get new clients is by word of mouth. She talked about the benefits of having a network of associates with skills and credentials that may be needed on your projects. It's great when the client trusts your judgment and you are able to source your own team from within your own network.

These are just a few of the many ideas I took away with me - and I invite readers to add: what did you get out of the discussion? Thanks to the panel of speakers and to the folks who arranged the night's events.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

One-woman circus teaches kids to juggle

Sand Northrup is a clown and circus artist who shared her skills with kids at ArtStart Saturdays for two free sessions open to the public on Saturday. The youngsters tried their hands at feather balancing, juggling, rola bola and plate-spinning. When you look at the photo, use your imagination to add the sound of a seal barking.

Sand's show is the first of four free workshops for school-aged kids at the ArtStarts Studio at 808 Richards in downtown Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Here is ArtStart's vision (which I copy from their web site for your reading pleasure):

ArtStarts envisions a society where the arts are regarded as an essential part of educating young people and a catalyst for creating innovative, engaged and contributing members of society. ArtStarts in Schools has a leadership role in transforming the way children and youth are engaged, in and through the arts, and in promoting the value of the arts in young lives.

ArtStart's mission
ArtStarts In Schools provides innovative arts programs for young people, practical resources for teachers and artists, and leadership in advocacy for arts in education.

Here are the rest of the cool shows:

Drumming with Fana
Saturday, February 28 at 11 am and 1 pm
Join master drummer and balafon player Fana Soro in this hands-on workshop where each child gets the use of an authentic African drum and learns basic rhythms and songs.

Bhangra Music and Dance
Saturday, March 28 at 11 am & 1 pm
Learn the dance form that has energized audiences across the world with its hard-hitting beats with South Asian Arts. This dynamic duo will get young people and their parents dancing in a fun and interactive atmosphere.

Stringing Them Along!
Saturday, April 25 at 11 am & 1 pm
Have you ever seen a string dog and turtle climb a string Eiffel Tower and fly away on a string bird? Storyteller Anne Glover gives you a fistful of string tricks and a new respect for your shoelaces. No dexterity required! "All-thumbs" welcome!

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