Archive | May 2012

Week 22: Get involved!

In our second week of discovering new ways we can create a larger community, week 22 of the 52 Weeks of Good campaign will look at different ways to get involved.

So often I hear excuses on why someone isn’t contributing to their community. A couple common ones are: “I’m broke, so I can’t donate any money.” or “I’m too busy. I don’t have time to volunteer.” Excuses, excuses. News flash, WE’RE ALL BUSY! And, with the economy, we’re all watching our nickels and dimes. Getting involved with a local organization doesn’t have to be so complicated, exhausting or drain your bank account. Starting with a local nonprofit is a great place to start. I think many of us have put this idea of volunteering high up on a pedestal and have made it so unapproachable we end up just writing it off as not possible. If this sounds like you, I have 5 easy steps to find a way to get involved in your community, that suits your lifestyle!

Here are 5 easy steps to get you involved:

  1. Pinpoint an area that interests you. An easy block is getting overwhelmed with how many organizations are out there and the fact that you can’t help them all. Just start with one. Figure out what it is that you are passionate about. Do you like to run? Do you like to buy local or organic produce? Do you feel there is a need to empower women or our youth? Maybe you’d like to see fewer homeless people on the street? Maybe your dog or cat is your best family friend and you’d like to connect animals to proper homes? Or, you’re tired of seeing people throw items away that should be recycled, so you’d like to look more into an environmental organization. Whatever suites your fancy, there is an organization for you.
  2. Figure out how or what you can contribute. Maybe you are the busiest person on the planet and aren’t able to give any of your time, so maybe giving a small monetary amount is the path for you. Have two less cappuccinos a month and donate $10 every month. Doesn’t seem like much? To the organizations, every dollar counts, no matter how big or small the amount. Money too tight? Maybe you have a free hour on Thursday afternoons after work that you could give to an organization. Think about the skills you have to give. Are you a web designer? Do you have a large network? Are you an artist? Are you good at talking to people over the phone? Any admin skills? Like photography? Good at writing and telling a story? No matter what organization you end up helping, they need people of all different skill sets to help keep their organization going. Read More…

Week 21: Know your neighbors

Now that we have looked at how we can improve on our closest relationships (that of our friends and family), it is time to look at how we can expand our networks and relationships. What better place to start than with your neighbors? We live next to to all of these people, and yet we don’t know them. Sure, you may recognize the people that live on your street, may even smile as you walk by them, but do you know their names? Know where they grew up? What they do for a living? If you didn’t answer yes to all three of these questions, it is time to do something about it!

Here are five ways to help you connect with your neighbors and build a stronger community:

  1. See them moving in? Offer to help! You don’t have to help them all day long, but when it comes to moving furniture up or down stairs, having someone else would be a huge help to them. You never know when you may need a favor yourself.
  2. Be old fashion! Welcome them by bringing them a freshly baked pie or cookies. Now you will be unforgettable to them!
  3. Extend your hand to them and give them your email and phone number (if you feel comfortable with that). Maybe they are new to the city and could use some advice on good places to eat or they could use your help feeding their cats some day or just to keep an eye on their house while they are out of town. By you lending help to them first, you will have started a good trusting relationship.
  4. Start a block party if you don’t already have one. They are a great (and a less creepy way) of getting to know everyone. Set a date. Leave invitations on everyone’s door and have everyone contribute their favorite dish. You’ll be surprised by the number of people that come out of hiding. You could also turn this into a block watch group by collecting everyone’s email addresses to send quick notices to everyone. It is a great way to keep each other safe.
  5. As you get to know some of your neighbors, invite them over to your place for dinner or some drinks. You’ll be able to get to know them a lot better.

Happy socializing!

Greening your spaces

Today we have a guest post from our Environmental Queen at Brown Paper Tickets, Erika Harder. She has been working hard to find all of the ways our company can be more environmentally friendly. Here she shares some more ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle, at Brown Paper Tickets, that will hopefully give you some new ideas on how to green your own spaces. Here are her tips:

  • Just like greening your home, the first thing to do is identify the waste in your space. Paper is a big thing. Every week, the checks we cut for our producers generate a lot of “stub” paper that we keep in the office. We try to use it as scrap paper for jotting down call notes, but we don’t keep up with the supply. Currently, we have been thinking about donating our excess to a school as to not waste it.
  • Our ticket stock, check envelopes, and checks all come in boxes that would be great for home organization.
  • Lights are another thing – we had the fluorescent ceiling lights in one of our buildings upgraded a few months ago from the “old, bulky, inefficient” tubes to the newer, more compact and efficient tubes. The City of Seattle offers some sort of rebate for upgrades like that right now, and I expect (or I hope to see!) more incentive programs run by municipal agencies to promote energy efficiency in the future  – I know there are currently several across the country.
  • Read More…

Week 20: Send some love!

In the age of texting, email and online messengers, we have severely decreased the amount of really personal communications. Time we spend talking to one another in person or over the phone has decreased. We send emails instead of letters and tend to send a quick text message instead of calling. While technology has helped us in so many ways (for example, being able to communicate faster) we have lost a lot of the personal touch.

This week, it is time to bring that personal touch back.

One thing technology has done is to make old ways of communication feel that much more special. When you get a hand written letter or a present full of little surprises, you know that person really was thinking of you. They took the time to think about what to write or to fill the box with and then went down to the post office to send it to you. Yes, it would have been 10 times easier and 20 times faster to just send an email, but emails are not nearly as fun. This week, send someone you love a little present, card or flowers for no reason other than to say hi, letting them know you are thinking about them and that you care. It is easy and pretty fun for you to put together, and even more special for the person who receives your surprise.

The picture above is a little gift I received in the mail a couple weeks ago from my best friend that lives far away. To you it may just look like a mug, but it is from my favorite breakfast place about an hour from where she lives in Chicago that we ate at last time I visited her. This means she went all that way back to the restaurant to get this for me and then sent it to me. She is so thoughtful. I use it every day at work and it makes me very happy.

What will you send?

Top 5 Gift Ideas for Mom

If you don’t know already, Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13th this year. (Yes, that is this Sunday.) Don’t have your gift for her yet? Not a problem! Here are 5 great ideas that won’t empty your wallet:

  1. A thoughtful, handwritten card. This could even be free if you made the card yourself!
  2. Have your mom over and make her dinner. She really wants nothing more than to spend time with you.
  3. Something for the garden. This is a gift that will last all year with her green thumb.
  4. Frame a picture of you or a family picture. This is a great one if you don’t live close so she can feel like you are with her all year round.
  5. My favorite, spend the whole day with her. This one could be a little more expensive depending on what your mom likes to do, but even if it just running errands, the time you spend together is important.

Have a great Mother’s Day, everyone! Let your mom know how much you care.

Week 19: Host a dinner

Nothing is more important then spending time with the people you care about and that care about you. This week, invite some friends and family over to your place and make them a home cooked dinner. Set your phones to the sidelines and have meaningful conversations. Catch-up. Learn what is new in their lives and share your support. This will bring you closer together and let the people you invite to have around your table know how much you care and how important they are to you.

Also, as Mother’s Day is this week (Sunday, May 13th), invite your mom over for a meal cooked with love. You don’t need to find new material items for her, just spending time with you will mean more to her than anything you could buy her.

Happy cooking!

Random Acts of Kindness Weekend

Last weekend was a weekend full of random acts of kindness. It was a weekend that left me with a lot of hope and a large drive to pay it forward.

My boyfriend’s parents were in town and on Saturday we decided to go to the Mariner’s baseball game. We didn’t have tickets or expectations, it was just a nice day in Seattle and it would be a nice thing to do outside. We had lunch outside and arrived to the game a little late (which was ok because the Mariner’s were loosing, no surprise there). We drove around for a little bit trying to find a cheap parking lot, but they were all $20 or more! We drove down a back street and as we started to approach, someone pulled out of a spot that was in the shade! And not only that, it was a free sport, which is pretty much unheard of down by the stadium. Perfect.

We started walking to the stadium to buy our cheap nose bleed section tickets out in the back field bleachers when a car drove past. Stopped a few feet back. Rolled down the window and shouted back at us, “Are you going to the game?” We acknowledged with a “Yes” half expecting them to say that it wasn’t worth it because they were loosing so badly, but to our surprise they replied, “Do you have tickets?” “No,” we said, “we were just about to go to the booth to get some.” “Here you go,” the woman replied, passing us four unused tickets. We thanked them about 100 times. I tried my best to think if I had anything in my purse I could give them to say thank you. A chocolate? A pack of gum? No, that would be weird. A gift card? Nothing. They drove away, all of us were full of smiles and the four of us danced our way to the game singing about our great luck and fortune.

The game was quick and fairly uneventful. Well, for the Mariner’s that is. The White Sox, Philip Humber, pitched a shutout, making him the 21st person to throw a perfect game. Now, if you think of all the major league baseball games, throughout all of the years baseball has existed, between all of the team, that is pretty amazing that he is the 21st. And we were there to see history. Amazing.

The sun was out. The skies were blue and we were happy.

With so much good fortune all I could think about was paying it forward. All of these great things happened to us, so now it was our turn to pass along the good to others that crossed our paths. So, that is exactly what we did and continue to do. This Mariner’s Saturday reminds that everyday is an opportunity to pay it forward and make someone else’s day as bright as that other family made ours.

What have you done to pay it forward today?