Friday, January 4, 2013

First 5 Rally STL ideas go to budgeting [and the crowd said sports!]

Rally Saint Louis has announced the first set of crowd-voted ideas to move on to the budgeting stage. The 5 ideas to move forward were the ones to receive the most votes on the Rally website over the past month. The Rally team will now look at the logistics and potential or necessary partners for the top vote getters, set budgets, then put them back out to the public for funding. Ideas that did not make it into the top 5 will remain on the site and continue to accumulate votes.

Some of the reaction has been, well, typical St. Louis reaction. Actually, let's reframe this: typical human reaction. "Those ideas are too unwieldy" "who's gonna run them when they are done?" and, my favorite, "three out of 5 of these ideas are sports related - really? we need more sports?"

No, literally, I laughed out loud about that as I typed that. Here is why:

1. This is a sports town. So, given that this was an open, institutionally funded initiative, promoted through traditional channels and open to public vote, this should not be surprising. What should be surprising, perhaps, is that there was nothing to do with the Cardinals in the top 5. The people told us what we already knew.

2. This was never put forth as a platform for solving St. Louis's problems. This platform is called "Rally" St. Louis, not "fix" St. Louis. So maybe we do not need more sports, but that was not the point of this. Actually, I think when you look closely at the details of the sports related ideas, they contain elements that will address issues facing St. Louis.

3. This is my favorite. The top vote getter, a good 500+ votes ahead of the closest idea, is for organic urban farming. Hello. This flies in the face of every sweeping generalization you hear about St. Louis. It is the opposite of the Cardinals. This is what everyone should be talking about. The general traditionally reached public in St. Louis gave the most votes to a progressive, urban-centric sustainability initiative. That speaks volumes.

So let's reframe this, y'all. Because, really, the mere fact that such an idea was the top vote-getter in this specific process tells me that St. Louis has moved far beyond step 1 of becoming a city of the future. Let's get our self image caught up.

Related: A look at St. Louis-based crowd funding initiatives.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Opt-in is not just for email [Yes and also yes]

If you've ever been in a room with me when direct email is discussed (which, shockingly, is actually not a small number of people), you have likely heard my opinion on one-to-one email: Opt-in, opt-in, opt-in. Give me one person who asked me to send them something over one person unsubscribing, reporting me as spam, or emailing me directly to manually deal with their confusion. Bottom line and resource suck of dealing with confused frustrated people and/or, g-d forbid, getting your domain blocked aside, an opt-ed in connection, over time, has a much higher probability of converting. Yes, I could spray and pray, but I could also take the same resources and focus on people who've actually asked to talk to me.

Lately I've been thinking about how the opt-in concept translates to, well, everything else. How much more can we get done if we're at the table with people who've genuinely chosen to be there? How likely is it for one of my sons to do something I need him to do if I can find a way for him to opt-in to it? How much better is my energy spent sharing ideas with people who say "yes and also yes" as opposed to "that will never happen?"

I've been trying to use the flip side of that as a gauge. In any situation, has everyone opted into the same thing? Can I tease it out enough to get everyone opted in to the same thing? If not, where is my energy best spent?

Because, really, getting spam is annoying. If I can realizing when I'm spamming others, everyone wins.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Clean slate [This just in: Every day is a new day]

I am as appreciative as the next person for the huge collective and symbolic turning-of-the-page available to one and all with the ringing in of a new year. There's nothing more concrete than throwing away a calendar chock full of the past 12 months and putting up something fresh, new and ready for anything. I get it.

The past year for me - or, for a ton of people, if my Facebook feed is any indication - has been about working to take ownership of my world. Or maybe more accurately, take responsibility for how I choose to react to all the things in the world over which I have no control. And put out as much functional and positive energy as I can muster. And take advantage of every opportunity for growth that comes my way. So as we participate in the ritual of a new year, I find myself thinking about why we need such a large collective symbol in order to express this much enthusiasm for a new day.

Because, really, shouldn't every day be greeting with such promise?