Monday, November 23, 2009 1 comments

From Suppression to Celebration

This weekend, one of the coolest parties ever planned in our town was a roaring success. There were no invitations, no known alcoholic beverages and if you went, you'll never tell. Details were spread only by word of mouth, you wouldn't THINK of entering through the front door, and while many imbibed, I doubt they could tell you exactly what they were imbibing with. Can you guess what this party was celebrating? One more hint. Pinstriped suits and fringed dresses were all the rage.

It was a Prohibition Party!

Held by a Hostess with the Mostest whom shall not be named, all beer and wine labels were removed and any liquid entering the "speakeasy" had to be in unmarked containers. My sources tell me there may have even been a real live jazz band churning out tunes in the style of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington.

While Prohibition may be long over (and Thank Heavens for that!), the 13-year failed experiment in reducing alcohol-related crime has no doubt left a legacy on America. The era has been described as a time when people drank more than ever, when the black market boomed with mob-run liquor distributors, and popular celebrities entertained at underground nightclubs.

What is it about the act of prohibiting a thing that makes us humans desire it even more? As a little girl, when I was just starting to be allowed to use child-scissors I remember sitting at the table as my mother left the room warning "only cut the paper or you'll be in BIG TROUBLE!" Ten minutes later I had 1/2 inch bangs, holes in my dress and a welt on my little behind (this was way before spanking became another prohibited behavior!).

This Thanksgiving, I am trying to be grateful for the things in my life that were at one point banned or at the very least, frowned upon. Obviously, the fact that I can have a Mimosa on a random Monday in the comfort of my own home is one. That I am able to blog about my experience as a 20-something job seeker when others are still restricted is another. Still another, is that I can be encouraged and excited, watching many of my dear female friends start businesses when not-too-long ago Rosie the Riveter was the glorified example of a "working woman."

The decisions our government is making or has made in the near past may be exalted or shamed someday as history marches on. Only time will tell, but I think that the rough global economy has inadvertently prohibited some freedoms previously taken for granted. For example: all hardworking, educated people will have jobs that pay they what they're worth and will assist with health insurance. Keeping your "nose clean" and showing up each day means that The Man will be gracious in issuing retirement pensions. The American Dream is attainable to all who cross her borders.

Maybe I am nay-saying a bit on that last one. Perhaps by discouraging loose loans and demanding that companies be more efficient with their dollars and their labor, this prohibitive time period we are now living in is actually creating a new economy - much like that of the underground entertainment that existed in the 1920s. Where before, I know I was guilty of over-spending and under-thinking, of being complacent in my job and too busy to be active in my community, now I am constantly thinking about going back to school, about starting my own business, about participating in local government and fighting to bring about social change. As these thoughts solidify and new people in my life encourage their growth, I may be celebrating this time of economic prohibition almost as much as the revelers this weekend did in celebrating alcoholic prohibition!

If you are feeling ill-at-ease these days, I encourage you to take heart - listen to that squirming little voice that begs you to cut out a new place for you, not to listen to the warnings of others or settle for the status quo, and to seek out like-minded people. And I promise - as hard as it is, I will be doing the same.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 2 comments

The Power of Social Media

Once when I was about eighteen, and feeling nervous about my decision to attend Arizona State University (one of the largest public universities in the nation) I remember someone I trusted telling me not to worry, that as "birds of a feather flock together", like-minded people will always find each other. Since then, I have experienced this phenomenon enough times to fully agree. In fact in the last year, I have seen the power of social media speed this process up so much that I can't even think of an appropriate metaphor.

Now before you think I don't already know: I get that with this post I am flying in the face of good judgement and rule #2 of "10 Things You Need to Stop Tweeting About". But this isn't Tweeting! It's blogging! There's a difference, right? Right?

While I understand that using social media to discuss social media is redundant and often self-serving, I am also out to live a life of impact and joy with like-minded people. Enter @kaileenelise, @ALCinDC, @analiesemarie, @patricksalee, @azstiner and @laurajordan. Only one of these tweeting people actually lives in the same state as I do. Only two of these people have my personal cell phone number. There are a couple that I may never meet in person and a couple whose words and advice impact my work daily.

@ALCinDC is a good friend and fellow blogger who used to live here in Phoenix. We met in a very traditional way, having been introduced through her fiance whom I've known since college. While she now resides in Washington DC, we still talk daily over phone, text, instant messenger, and as of yesterday - video chat! (How amazing is it that she could take me on a tour of her new house in real time, from across the country?!)

@kaileenelise is a girl somewhere on the east coast whom I started "following" on twitter a few months ago, probably based on a comment she made to @tranquilista. Upon checking out her profile, I saw that she often tweets about things I am interested in. Recently she acknowledged her friend @analiesemarie's blog Tulips and Tea. Naturally, I checked it out and saw that not only does she have a great deal in common with @ALCinDC, she lives in the capital as well! Of course I sent the URL to @ALCinDC, who read it, contacted her, and now she and @analiesemarie regularly read each others posts, recommend local restaurants and activities to each other and may get coffee together one of these days!

So there I was yesterday, feeling oh-so-pleased with myself, having been a little like Friendship Cupid when I get a Twitter Direct Message from @analiesemarie. Apparently, she had recognized me as a fellow nonprofit professional though something I'd tweeted, and boom - overnight we were swapping emails and articles about fundraising. All I can say, is Everybody Wins.

I used to say that Twitter wasn't for everybody, that while I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is for old people, per se, I considered the value to be for work-related purposes. Now though, with the things I have learned and the friends I have made via that little chirping sound I just want to spread the joy and encourage others to try it out for themselves!