Blogue de Lyne Robichaud

16 décembre 2010

It takes a community to raise a calendar

Posted on December 13, 2010 by Brad Grier (e)BGRIER in Announcements, Planet Empire Avenue.

In mid-November I became aware of some activity happening in one of the more active communities in Empire Avenue. It seems that within the Phoenix’s Nest was a group of folk with heart and creativity to spare.

And thus, The Men of Empire Avenue calendar was conceived. You can buy the calendar through eBay (it’s a .pdf you’ll download) and proceeds go to the Canadian Red Cross, but if you’re interested in some of the detail and background on the genesis of the calendar, read on, gentle reader, read on.

To fill in some of the details, I decided to ping the head honcho over at the Phoenix’s Nest, Lyne Robichaud (e)PAPIER for the details. She kindly consented to an email interview, so without further adieu, here’s the what how and who of The Men of Empire Avenue calendar.

So, where did this idea (of calendars) come from? What made you think is is a great idea?
By mid-October, after Phoenix’s Nest completed the Hairdo Competition (where members were asked to add their wildest hairdos at the Phoenix’s Nest group pool on Flickr, and then voted for their favorite picture via an online survey), Darcy Kieran (an ex-EAv user) and Victoria Lee (e)VIXLEE came up with the idea of calendars. The Hairdo Competition made us realize that there was interest from members for projects featuring popular members of the community.

Members were first asked to create a wish list of people they would like to see selected. In two weeks, they came up with several suggestions that led to designing two calendars: one for the men of Empire Avenue, and another one for women. Furthermore, Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL suggested we should make a calendar dedicated to ‘talking animals’ as well, but we extended this project to 2011. Dragon_flaming suggested we use the calendars as fundraising tools. Allie Wojtaszek (e)ALLIE proposed the Canadian Red Cross as our cause. The Canadian Red Cross raises funds to provide immediate needs and longer-term relief for survivors of a disaster.

No project of this scope happens in a vacuum. Tell us about your team and what they’re bringing to the table.
The dynamics within the Phoenix’s Nest community are wonderful. Since this community has been founded, Dragon_flaming and I have continuously hammered these three words: friendship, solidarity and love. This last word – love – is very strong, and I did not think it would become widely used. This week, Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL declared: “No secret, I love everyone! “. If we were selling content, as we sell shares on Empire Avenue, I would not accept the bids go below a million eaves for this comment. So much has been accomplished in just three months!

We manage to consolidate strong networking ties by ongoing conversations happening simultaneously on all platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Empire Avenue.

Our community administrative team is scattered around the world: Jitesh Panchal (e)UNS33N is in India, Fee Easton (e)BOOTCOOT in United Kingdom, Steve Jaeschke (e)DRAGONSCALE in Australia, while Doug Walters (e)DARING, Avenue Influence (e)AVEINFLUENCE (edited by John Moore (e)JOHNFMOORE) and Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL are in United States, and I am [(e) PAPIER] in Canada. This has proven to be an advantage as we are able to cover all time zones.

Phoenix’s Nest community administrators are building a group that focuses on a passionate niche by interacting with community members and engaging in conversations; by being helpful to others, by responding to their requests of calls of action and information (it is important to listen and react to the needs of the community); by participating to group projects; by bringing ideas – consistent, relative and relatable content.

Sometimes we do fun and silly things and we all have fun together. However, we are also capable of conducting extremely deep and serious conversations on difficult topics, such as the beneficial effect of social media on the structural crisis of gender relations (a discussion thread called ‘Active Directory of Couples and Secret Lovers’).

Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to affect change in their own communities.

Phoenix’s Nest is an exploratory laboratory, where we contribute to online community development.

How did you select the images profiled in the calendar?
Once members completed the wish list of ideal participants, we sent invitations to these people. Most of them accepted. We did a second round of (collective) suggestions to fill up our number of months/participants to 13. We are still looking for three to four more ladies for Women Calendar 2011, which should be completed by January 2011. In most cases, participants handed in one photograph, while some gave us access to their complete online portfolio of photos, where we were allowed to choose one.

For the cover of Women Calendar, we insisted on selecting an image as strong as the one provided by Brian Smith (e)COMEDY for cover of Men Calendar (he’s sitting with legs open, while two voluptuous women are tearing apart his T-shirt). In order to optimize the selection process, we set up a jury composed of Jordan Hodges (e)JORDNH, Fee Easton (e)BOOTCOOT, Chris Latko (e)CLATKO, Jitesh Panchal (e)UNS33N and Brian Smith (e)COMEDY.

Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL was the first of participants to write his biography. He set the standards high! Completing all the biographies took quite a bit of time, spending numerous hours communicating with participants and editing biographies. While participants were asked to write in English, I decided to compose a completely different version in French. I met three of the participants in person last October in Edmonton (Jordan Hodges (e)JORDNH, Tim Conrad (e)TIMCON and Adriel Hampton (e)ADRIEL). But for the remaining ten ones, I had to get really well acquinted with them, in order to be able to synthesize in a few sentences the essence of who they are.

A big thank you to Greg Scratchley (e)ITCH for his attention, dedication and his aesthetic sense (Greg is in charge of the graphic design of the calendars). Visual communication uses visual cues in order to exchange with others. By visually enhancing our Empire Avenue environment, Greg allows recognition of projects by a larger set of members.

The gentlemen profiled in the calendar are: (e)ADRIEL, (e)JORDNH, (e)UNS33N, (e)BLIND, (e)SILGOV, (e)YASH, (e)TIMCON, (e)CLATKO, (e)COMEDY, (e)DRAG0N, (e)ITCH, (e)CJUNKY, (e)MRWORK

What is your favorite ‘month’ and why?
I often say that everyone is unique, like a flower; we each have a special beauty. I don’t have a favorite month just as I do not have a favorite member; they are all fantastic. I like to encourage people to see the best in others; encourage them to do the best they can do to make themselves a better person. I am always working to do the same. That is how our society will change. I believe that every act has a universal dimension.

Egotistical materialist society is running rampant through the world at the moment. Change can only occur when the “influential” members of the society really want to change themselves and influence others to value and recognize that we are useful and involved in something bigger. Within any community, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which, if used in creative ways, can be channelled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.

Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am a creator and analyst with 12 years of experience in managing Web projects. I possess an ability to synthesize all without losing the thread, to see pieces of the whole. I led marketing and community development projects – from conception and organization of contests, community involvement, content partnerships – for the family and childhood vertical portal, I founded and edited, for three years, the international bilingual forum, which focused on the role of social media in pandemic preparedness. Unfortunately, the Quebec government rejected social media, and categorically refused to collaborate with the online Flublogian community of practice of Zonegrippeaviaire. For this reason, I ended the project in January 2010. I worked as a pandemic preparedness analyst for a consulting firm, Web Escape Agents, based in Versailles, France, where I analyzed policies of industrialized countries and UN, and helped businesses to plan and implement preparedness.

I also worked as a director of communications for fundraising campaigns, where I learned how to communicate on a large scale with 30,000 graduates. I led government relations (lobbying) for several years where I succeeded in changing provincial and municipal laws, and influenced decisions of elected leaders. Now, I’m passionate about Government 2.0, and I would like to work in this area. “Government 2.0″ is the integration of the new generation of digital media to the structure and functioning of an Administration. It is about transparency, data access, participation, collaboration and citizen engagement. The key to success? The message must be contagious and reach people on an emotional level. I have a tremendous amount of passion, an iconoclast way of thinking, analytical abilities, and moreover, I speak French: I can be a good voice for government 2.0.

In late October, I took over leadership of Phoenix’s Nest – currently the third Top Personal/ Private community of Empire Avenue – when Dragon_flaming deleted her account. Phoenix’s Nest’s mission is to develop strong networking links in social media and convey warmth in relationships. At Phoenix’s Nest, we appreciate, respect and support each other. Members feel that they are part of an active and thriving community that is there for them. Empathy and a playful attitudes are encouraged.

What’s next for you and your team?
FOR ME – I want to find a job! I would like my dreams of becoming a Government 2.0 implementater to come true. The current Quebecois political situation is not conducive to this – our Premier Jean Charest’s nickname is ‘The Godfather’ – so I hope that someone, somewhere, will see me, and integrate me into an international (or foreign) government 2.0 team, or hire me as a community manager.

FOR PHOENIX’S NEST TEAM – We have two ongoing projects to complete before jumping into next year’s planning: Women Calendar 2011 and Positive Attitude Award of the Year. The Positive Attitude Award of the Year is an award given to Empire Avenue users by members of Phoenix’s Nest, which aims to the use of social media in positive ways. This collective exercise will ultimately list the different winning strategies of using social media, and will indicate why some users are more succesful, and what is their secret. We’re stretching the Award project by adding a digital art component: computer-generated images, using nominees’ faces and turning them into rock stars. Nominees will be announced in Grammy-Awards-style.

Our 2011’s planning includes several projects. In February, we will unveil ‘The Mysterious Lips’ project. In March, we thought of something that will highlight interesting information about our members. We are also planning another competition in the Spring. In the Summer, we will share our ‘Cool flip-flops’. And we are thinking about redoing the calendars at the end of the year, but we would like to add a bolder much better prepared fundraising campaign. We have also recently associated ourselves with Avenue Influence (e)AVEINFLUENCE, an online community where Empire Avenue users can come to discuss Empire Avenue, share guides, blog posts, and other general information to benefit fellow users. Avenue Influence will contribute to creating opportunities for Phoenix’s Nest to learn new skills and, by enabling members to act together.

So there you have it. The Men of Empire Avenue 2011 calendar is now available, and it looks like things are on track for the much anticipated Women’s calendar shortly. Stay tuned!

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