Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chik-fil-A's LGBT stance: Business & politics collide

A visual meme from
the Courage Campaign
You've probably heard about it by now.

"The Muppets have filed for divorce from Chick-fil-A citing irreconcilable differences" (thank you, Ricky!!).  And just in case you haven't, or even if you have,  Jezebel has a great piece on it, "Muppets and Homophobes Locked in Fierce Battle Over Chick-fil-A":
Last week, Chick-fil-A's CEO confirmed what liberal fun-ruiners already knew — the restaurant not only serves up delicious waffle fries, but also some good old fashioned from-scratch bigoted homophobia. Like Mom used to make! (read more...)
This caused the Muppets, via the Jim Henson Company, specifically their Facebook page, to assert their own stance on the matter:
A parody of
Chick-fil-A's catchphrase 

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)
If you're on Facebook, you can go here to see the note. As of the time of this post, the note has had almost 12,000 likes, roughly 5,600 shares, and over 2,500 comments, mostly positive and supportive. And as you can see from the images posted, it's inspired a number of visual memes shared via social media.

The divorce also inspired calls for a boycott of Chick-fil-A from the LGBT community and its allies, but als a day of support from those who consider themselves stewards of the "traditional family".

The Atlantic posted an interesting opinion piece, addressing the call to boycott,  "In Defense of Eating at Chick-fil-A" which kicks off the article by asking, seemingly rhetorically:
Do we really want a country where people won't do commerce with those who have beliefs different than their own? (read more...)
I consider myself a man of logic, and for the most part, I could follow the author's point, and agreed with certain aspects of it. Until he stopped short of seeing his argument out to fruition. While I can empathize with his feelings about the knee-jerk reaction to scream "boycott" in a crowded theatre when you realize a company you've supported doesn't support you, to me this causal relationship, this flow of money can't be ignored.

Because I'd rather be part of a society where we might feel the desire to boycott more than we need to, versus one that encourages a culture of consuming without considering consequence and not speaking up against discrimination.

There is always consequence where profit is concerned. In fact I would say that it's actually hypocritical to claim that you treat every customer with "honor, dignity and respect", when as soon as you have the money of your LGBT customers you spend it on policies and rhetoric that causes harm to them. It's as if to say they're only your customers at the time of purchase.

And to encourage people to spend blindly, without thought for what business owners spend their profits on, when it's spent on organizations that affect others' lives for better or worse...I would say that is the worst trait of consumer culture.

On the flip-side you have Boston's Mayor, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has vowed to keep the franchise out of his city. Time has a piece on this, "Boston Mayor Blocks Chick-fil-A Franchise from City over Homophobic Attitude":
"You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against the population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion." (read more...)
What it comes down to is corporate philanthropy. Grantspace has a page answering the question "Where can I find information on corporate giving?"

And it's the realization on the part of businesses and corporations that what they do with their profits can encourage or discourage consumption of their product. Anything that goes to something other than their own personal pursuit of happiness and begins to affect others is up for scrutiny. While most corporations have acknowledged this to some extent, it seems Chick-fil-A believes that their consumers and the causes their profit support exist in two different worlds.

Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for them as similar issues have been for others companies and even non-profits, teaching that eternal and universal lesson, with every action comes an equal and opposite reaction.

This is a bad thing when that action works against and excludes people. And a good thing when the action works with and includes others.

Divided, we fall, and all. Obviously, all this is just my opinion and based on personal experience. Would love to hear what others think, even if, especially if it's a different point of view, as long as it's constructive and respectful.

- JR

Monday, July 23, 2012

Two social media books have shipped!!

So first off, curse you Amazon!! For making it so easy to find and order things.


Okay, now that I've got that out of the way, I'm REALLY excited for these two books I ordered. I received the emails last night saying that they have been shipped.

One book is titled Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Nonprofits. Published in August of 20122, its description on Amazon is:
Based on more than 15 years of experience in nonprofit communications and 15,000+ hours spent utilizing social and mobile media, Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page hardcover book packed with...(read more)
Heather Mansfield is the author and is one of the main individuals involved with one of my go-to website on social media advice and references for nonprofits, Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits.

DEFINITELY check out their website and connect with 'em on any of the 10 social networks they've got linked on their home page and/or email as well as SMS.

For my second order, the book is Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits. It was published a bit more recently than the title above, in February of this year, and its description reads:
101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits features 101 actionable tactics that nonprofits can start using today, and most of the featured resources are free. Broken down into five key areas, this unique guide explains the steps and tools needed to... (read more)
While I'm not familiar with either of the co-authors, I did recognize the contributor of the foreword, Beth Kanter. With regard to not recognizing the others, I chalk that up to how much I'm still dipping my toes in the social media pool, rather than it being any reflection of their own presence or authority. Besides, I got the book, right? And seeing Beth Kanter's name was just icing on the cake.

You can keep up with her by checking out her website and connecting on any of the 6 social networks she's linked on her home page, as well as by rss feed.

But I digress. I'm personally a fan of books (and I not-so-secretly want to start a Social Media Book/Reading Club). And when it comes to social media, a friend brought up a concern of how dynamic the platforms are in terms of updates and format changes and any other number of things to keep up with. The question became, how useful are books like this if the subject they're referring to has  changed by the time the book is published, much less referred back to months or years down the road.

While this might be true, I believe that when it comes to overall strategy and tactics like what is addressed in the books I've ordered, I believe that they can and will still be relevant regardless of how the various social networks might evolve and manifest.

So that being said, if anyone else thinks they might join me in adding to these titles to their library, or already have, please be in touch!! And if you have any other books you'd recommend, then definitely do so.

- JR

Monday, July 09, 2012

Top 3 moments at GALA Festival so far


So as some of you might or might not know, I'm in Denver for my first ever GALA Festival. Just in case, it's an event organized by GALA Choruses, every four years.

And I just wanted to share my top 3 moments, so far, of many!! Every hour's been full of significant and wonderful ones, so these aren't necessarily more so. They're just the ones that have stuck out for one reason or another. In no particular order, here they are:

The first was the audience's reception to our performance of Alexander's House. The synopsis of the story is that it's about what happens when a man passes away and his lover and son meet for the first time. Other stories come out of the woodwork as ownership passes from the former to the latter, especially as the deceased left his wife and child when the son was young. There are definitely many more layers to that story, each of which is significant to one person or another who has seen the show.

But I know for me, leaving that theatre and just seeing the look in people's eyes...in all the work I've done, I've never experienced that raw and true of an emotional connection after a show, the gratitude for that gift of story and music. It was very humbling.

In fact, just talked about it with our Chorus President, one of many individuals who give everything a chorine can, and more (check out who else is on the board). Experiencing the audience's response to last night's show reaffirmed the work we do, both locally with GMCW, and as members of the larger LGBT chorale movement.

Which leads me right into my next favorite moment, the Our Legacy = Our Song concert, last night.

Have you ever had a moment where you felt like you touched the stream of history, and jumped in at its source, as its being made?

That's what happened when Anna Crusis kicked off the concert. Growing up when I did, there's so much I realize I still don't know about where we've come from, with regard to the LGBT community. Seems to be a theme, what with seeing The Normal Heart at Arena Stage, recently.

These women, these organization...I still can't quite find the words to express just how much that moment and their performance last night has fundamentally changed my life. And it kept happening with every other chorus and piece that was performed.

So I've touched on my present, our past, and it leads me to my third favorite moment, and I'm just going to apologize for the cheese. My third favorite moment was really about the future, and not my future, or that of the LGBT community, but THE future for everyone. And it happened during yesterday afternoon's Youth Choruses block.

GMCW was actually proud to perform with one of the groups this past spring, Dreams of Hope, and they did a fantastic job, again, with their multi-disciplinary work, some of which I recognize in the pic to the left.

All the groups, large and small, were wonderful, but the moment that it really hit me, the phenomenal work these youth are doing in their communities, was when Diverse Harmony took the stage.

Diverse Harmony was the first GSA youth chorus to be started in the U.S., ten years ago.

And, again, I am speechless. Or, in this case, textless. These youth groups are game changers in terms of leading their communities to a more diverse and inclusive future. I really can't say much more at this moment, as I'm starting to tear up yet again in what has already been quite an emotional roller coaster.

But now that GMCW's work is done with yesterday's performance, I'm stoked to get out and continue supporting all my fellow LGBT chorines from the audience, for the rest of the fest!!

- JR

P.S. Here's a YouTube clip of the audience's response to Alexander's House. And for anyone who might not have seen the performance, the recording's available for download at CD baby.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

GALA Festival 2012 on social media

Hey there,

For any other GALA Chorus members who want to connect on Facebook or Twitter with this year's festival approaching in Denver, here are some links.

On Facebook:

On Twitter:

Looking forward to meeting GALA Chorus members from around the country and the world this upcoming week and weekend, in Denver,


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Artists and the Affordable Care Act

Hey there,

So while trying to stay informed about the various reactions to last week's Supreme Court decision, with regard to President Obama's Affordable Care Act, I've been trying to pay particular attention to the decision's impact on the artist community.

Below are three selections, I've come across and highly recommend checking out.

The first is from ARTINFO.com, a site from Louise Blouin Media (go to here to learn more about 'em). The article, How Artists Will Be Affected by the Supreme Court's Decision to Uphold Obama's Affordable Care Act, was written by Reid Singer & Shane Ferro, two writers based in New Yrok City.

Here's an article at the Huffington Post, A Victory for the Creative Economy. This was written by Adam Hutt, the Executive Director of Fractured Atlas. If you're not familiar with the organization, here is their mission:
Fractured Atlas is a non-profit organization that serves a national community of artists and arts organizations. Our programs and services facilitate the creation of art by offering vital support to the artists who produce it. We help artists and arts organizations function more effectively as businesses by providing access to funding, healthcare, education, and more, all in a context that honors their individuality and independent spirit. By nurturing today's talented but underrepresented voices, we hope to foster a dynamic and diverse cultural landscape of tomorrow.
Go to their website to find out more about the organization.

The final article is up at Americans for the Arts', ARTSblog, The Supreme Court's Healthcare Decision & The Arts. The piece was written by Narric Rome, senior director of federal affairs and arts education at AFTA. And if you're not familiar with AFTA, here's some info from their about page:

Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. From offices in Washington, DC and New York City, we provide a rich array of programs that meet the needs of over 150,000 members and stakeholders. We are dedicated to representing and serving local communities and to creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts.
All-in-all, a huge step forward, particularly for individual artists. This isn't to say that there isn't more work to do, and all of it is moot if artists aren't aware of or don't take advantage of the benefits they get from the ACA.

Any other articles others have come across with regard to how this act and last week's decision affects the artist community? Does this affect and significantly change your own situation with regard to increasing your healthcare options and actually making things more affordable?

Will definitely be keeping track of this, especially as the law continues to be implemented over the next couple of years.


P.S. If you're interested in following any of the authors of the pieces written on Twitter, here they are:

GALA 2012 Parties

Hey there,

So less than three days until I head to my first GALA Choruses Festival in Denver. Trying to wrap my head around all that there'll be to do.

While the festival guide will probably have information on all of the concerts, I wanted to also keep track of what social events I could.

So here it is. Links go to FB event pages.
If there're any others, please let me know, and I'll update this page.

Can't wait!!


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Pepco's social media use after Friday's storm

Hey there,

So, Pepco's been utilizing Social Media to stay in touch with their customers, at least those that still have charged batteries and, if their power's still out at home, an alternative location with juice.

This morning at 8:44am, they tweeted this.

Pepco even started a Facebook photo album of not just damage from this past Friday's storm, but also crews working to repair that damage.

But with great social media comes great transparency and these tools are just other platforms for them to receive comments, criticism, and complaints.

A couple of hours ago, Christine Byrams left this comment on Facebook, "Power in Cheltenham and parts of Upper Marlboro are still OUT!!" from her mobile device.

Not missing a beat, PepcoConnect replied, "Christine, we will work around the clock until restoration is completed."

This is a great example of how important it is to listen with Social Media. Eric Harr made a great point in a blog, aptly titled, Myth: To Be Heard, Talk. Truth: To Be Heard, Listen:
"Social media was created as a refuge from that very method of “interruption marketing.” People seek honest dialogue and authentic discourse. They want to be heard."

And natural disasters are definitely a situation where people want to be heard. If there's any question as to why Social Media is worth it for an organization you are with, this is one.

Obviously, crisis is relative and not every company or organization deals with the same product or responsibilities that affect peoples lives to this degree. But that's no reason to ignore it.

Kivi Miller, of NonProfitMarketingGuide.com, has a great post from this past February titled Nonprofit Crisis Communications 101: Shorten the News Cycle. And while her site is geared towards the Nonprofit community, best practices are best practices. Here's one of her points on why an org needs a crisis communication plan:
"Whether you can predict it or not, whether you think you are controversial or not, whether you are careful and prepared or not, every nonprofit is vulnerable to some sort of crisis. In some ways, the actual substance of the crisis is less important than whether you are ready to respond quickly and competently to it."
So Pepco is doing their best to use the tools at their disposal to let their customers know that they are listening, and doing everything they can around the clock until power has been restored.

People will probably still be angry and frustrated until their power is restored, but they have more than a website and an 877 number, and social media done right ensures that they'll receive a response sooner than later.

Every customer might not be happy, but every customer with such access will be heard. Yes, accessibility's a whole other can of worms which I'm sure I'll blog about later.

In the meantime, are you someone who's Tweeted at Pepco or left a comment on their Facebook page? What did you say? How did Pepco respond? And most importantly, are you satisfied with their response?

And if you have any comments or insights you'd like to share, please leave a comment.

- JR

P.S. if you care to follow and/or like either of the two people I mentioned: