Video | Giving back to his community

Nigel Okunubi grew up in affordable housing in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. At his housing project, there was a youth center that was responsible for a lot of Nigel’s important milestones as a kid. So when he found out that it was closing, he decided to do something.

Nigel spearheaded an effort to create a new youth organization to fill the gap that was left by the closing. As founder and executive director of the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, he’s in a leadership role in his old neighborhood, and helping kids he can relate to.

This video was created in support of Public Allies’ year-end fund-raising campaign. We thought the folks who follow this blog would like to see it, too.

:: To learn more about the Adams Morgan Youth Leadership Academy, click here.
:: To learn more about our year-end fundraising campaign, click here.

Video | Welcome … and get ready!

This video has been making the rounds of the Public Allies network, and we thought we should share it with our Allies2010 friends. In it, Public Allies CEO Paul Schmitz delivers a welcome to the new class of Allies. Depending on which of the 21 cities the Allies serve in, they start their core training any time between late August and mid October.

This was filmed on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which is our Operating Partner in Milwaukee. Paul was conducting a Friday training for the Milwaukee Allies, and he decided it would be a nice opportunity to enlist some help for a rousing cheer. The video includes excerpts from his training session, which is a terrific primer about the Public Allies leadership philosophy.

Enjoy! And maybe you’ll be getting a welcome of your own one day.

Videos | The super-hero series continues

Here you go: Two more installments in our June video series, “The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes.” In Episode 5, you get a 78-second recap of our story so far. Just three more epsiodes to go.

See the first installment of video postings here and the second one here.

(In case you’re wondering, here’s a list of people making appearances as over-actors. In Episode 4: Merilou Gonzales, Melinda Rodriguez, Michelle Dobbs, Tom Hosch, Tim Dropik, Cris Ros-Dukler. In Episode 5: All of the above plus Michael Allen, Amelia Pena, David Todd, Diane Bacha, David McKinney and Paul Schmitz.)

Video | The latest Super-Adventures!

Last week I updated you about a wacky series of videos the Public Allies National Office is putting together in support of a Causes.com campaign this month. Here are the two latest.

One of our goals with these videos is to communicate what we’re all about. If you’re not familiar with trends in leadership education, national service and those sorts of things, it can start sounding a little wonky. So the idea of super-heroes came to our rescue, so to speak.

We created characters that correspond with Public Allies’ five core values. Our CEO Paul Schmitz is doing continuous learning proud as The Professor, dapper in his cape and bow tie — that’s him featured in the first video here.  The value collaboration is represented with swashbuckling finesse by Captain Collaboration — also known as David R. Todd, sponsorship director for Milwaukee and Chicago. David McKinney, our VP of Programs, is wowing ’em as Integrity Man, representing of course the value of integrity. And diversity/inclusion are co-represented by Alumni Relations Director Merilou Gonzales and Executive Assistant Melinda Rodriguez.

And since every Super-Hero needs a good Evil Villain, we recruited  Program Consultant Michael Allen to be Dr. Apathy.

Asset-focused principles will be represented by my fellow Allies2010 blogger MacArthur Antigua. We haven’t settled on a Super-Hero name for him yet. MacAsset? Leave a comment if you have a better idea and if we pick yours there will be a super-prize in it for ya!

Snapshot | Dainty … or determined?

This snapshot of Nikki, an Ally in San Francisco, was taken by Christophe Gonzales during a service day project. The “caption” below was written by Lauren LePage, a San Francisco Ally.

In her mid-year presentation of learning, Nikki performed spoken word, sharing with us a poem she’d written about feeling pressed on all sides. And when the pressure built up, she stopped trying; to be mediocre was easier.

But she wanted to press back. 

As her fellow Ally, I’ve watched Nikki press back, press back, and press on through. She is nothing short of fierce. In this photo, Nikki’s wearing a mask and gloves not because she’s dainty or nervous about paint smudges; she’s protecting herself from paint fumes. Because even though she was pregnant, she was determined to take part in our Cesar Chavez Service Day, determined to help create the mural at Anne Darling Elementary School, just as she was determined to fully commit to her placement, her Team Service Project (of which I’m proud to be a part), and her Critical Reflection project.

She pressed, she pressed, she pressed on back. And that’s not all she pressed on through…

Meet baby Kaya Seletute Arenal, born May 21, 2010, at 3:09 a.m. We like to refer to her as the Team HIP baby.

♦ ♦ ♦

Editor’s Note #1: You can see more photos from this service day at http://christophephotography.blogspot.com/

Editor’s Note #2: Congratulations Nikki! Kaya is beautiful.

Video | Fun with Super-Heroes

My fellow blogger Mac and I have been a little off schedule with our postings the last two weeks. The holiday, application deadlines, and vacation days have all had something to do with it, but one of us has also been busy with a June Facebook Causes campaign. (You may remember a mysterious posting about this two weeks ago.)

Captain Collaboration

We’ve chosen a super-heroes theme for the campaign, in part because the super/action hero thing is kind of a hot right now (Iron Man 2Prince of Persia and, yes, I’d even count MacGruber). It’s also really easy to spoof the genre and you can put together a pretty good super-hero costume on the cheap.

We also liked the idea of underscoring Public Allies’ five core values by creating a super-hero around each one. So expect to meet masked men and women who represent the “super-powers” of  collaboration, continuous learning, diversity/inclusion, focus on assets, and integrity. We’ve been having fun camping it up. Here are episodes 1 and 2. Unless the reviews by our Allies2010 readers demand otherwise, we’ll keep posting each episode for your fun and amusement.

The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes, Episode 1 (introducing Captain Collaboration)

The Adventures of Public Allies Super-Heroes, Episode 2 (introducing Integrity Man)

Staff Q&A | Meet the people who read your applications

Nicole Thomas

Nikki Thomas

Who she is: Director of Ally Recruitment & Alumni Relations and Program Manager, Public Allies Milwaukee, and a Chicago Ally in 2007 and 2008

Originally from: “I grew up as a Military child (moving every three to five years) and thus have lived in California, Florida, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Japan, Korea, etc. After all of that I consider California to be home because I was born there and ended up graduating from high school there. However, my family roots are in Chicago and the surrounding area.”

Her Ally experience: “I was an Ally for two consecutive years with Public Allies Chicago. My first year (class of 2007) I was placed with a scholarship foundation as an Educational Coordinator, and my second year (class of 2008) I was placed in the P.A. Chicago office as their Alumni Engagement Coordinator.”

Before Public Allies  “I was finishing up my undergraduate degree in Biology while being a pharmacy technician ad working on campus as a student worker.”

What’s it like at your workplace right now? “Times are busy around our office; we are currently wrapping up an Ally Class while simultaneously recruiting for Ally applicants and Partner Organizations. Since our Ally application deadline just passed, my personal goal is to have over 200 applications reviewed by staff within two weeks, coordinate, communicate, and schedule at least 100 interviews with applicants and engage our PA MKE Network (Alumni, Board Members, Partners, etc) to assist with interviews, while ensuring that all of our fellows meet all requirements to graduate from our program.”

What made you interested in becoming part of Public Allies? “I can honestly say that all of the Core Values caught my attention, but Asset-Based Community Development drew me in as a new way to look at a community and be able to advocate in a more effective way for my own communities. What kept me involved was the experience of what diversity truly is; Public Allies’ version of diversity pushes beyond usual expectations. There is more to the meaning of diversity. Or participants come from different backgrounds, experiences, education levels, ages, abilities, political interests, ethnicities, ideology, sexual orientation, geographical locations, income levels, gender identities, religions, etc. (the list could go on). The beauty of it all is that everyone wants to learn and is willing to step out of their ‘Comfort Zone’ to do so. Every year, it never fails, I see that learning take place within myself and others.”

Bob Marley

On your desk: “Every time I feel defeated I look to this poster for inspiration. It reminds me that nothing comes easy and it’s worth it. It’s especially important because I received this as a gift from one of my fellow Allies during my first-year experience.”

Complete the following sentence: If you become an Ally, be ready to. . .  “grow personally and professionally through being accountable for your actions within your placement, Team Service Project, training and your fellow Allies.”

In 21 words or less: What are the three most essential ingredients for a successful Ally experience?

“Time management of  program and personal life.

“Networking with your class and partner organization.

“Push for growth and learn by sharing experiences.”

Video | What are Allies getting done?

Earlier this year, 10 of the Public Allies communities took part in a “Fill-a-Flip Blitz.” Each used a company-issued Flip camera to videotape stories about what was going on around Ally Nation.

We’ve receieved Flip material from six of the 10 participating communities so far. It has been my job to log all the material and turn it into edited videos, and I gotta say it’s easy to feel like an underachiever as I listen to these interviews — with Allies, Alumni, staff, and the people who are working with Allies in their placements. There are so many passionate, capable people doing and supporting Public Allies work.

Anyhoo, some of the videos you have seen and will see on this blog come from the Fill-a-Flip project, and here’s one more. I spliced together snippets of interviews with 16 Allies as they described the work they are doing in their placements. The interviews come from Arizona, Chicago, Maryland, New York and North Carolina and were conducted in April. The Allies you’ll meet here are at or near the end of their placements now, and getting ready for Presentations of Learning (PublicAllySpeak for year-end reports) and graduation. Give ’em props for all they’ve accomplished! Their names, in order of appearance, with their Ally communities …

Ashley Brown, North Carolina; George Morse, North Carolina; Ben Garcia-Spitz, Chicago; Megan Anderson, Chicago (you may recall her from an earlier post); Ella Nguyen, North Carolina; Brandon Johnson, Arizona; Yasmeen Nanwalala, Chicago; Eduardo Cordon, Chicago; Tarnasia Lundy, New York; Kelsey Addy, Maryland; Robert Wheatfall, Chicago; Robbie Flick, Maryland (with his boss); Bola Odejayi, Maryland; Akil Meade, Maryland; Raquel Rodriguez, Maryland (with one of her mentees); and John “JD” VanSlyke, Chicago.

Guest blogger | The Short Straw

Erin Deters

Today we have a guest blogger, Erin Deters. We asked Erin to tell us about an exhibition she curated on a topic that has a lot of resonance for us all. 

Hello, my name is Erin and I am a Public Ally working in Cincinnati, Ohio, placed at Clifton Cultural Arts Center. When I began my placement at CCAC and learned that I would have a chance to create a personal project, I immediately knew I wanted to find a way to explore people’s personal struggles in this economy. I created Short Straw, an exhibit featuring artists reflecting on the emotional and professional impact the recession has had on their lives.  

 

The show featured 15 local and national artists, and was on display in CCAC’s gallery for the whole month of April. Curating Short Straw allowed me to dive into the Cincinnati arts community and has been an amazing journey.  

I was shocked and spurred to action when I discovered an article in the Wall Street Journal by Sara Murray  titled “The Curse of the Class of 2009,”  which discussed research showing that entering the job market in a poor economy impacts your career advancement and wages for a decade or more. The title of the show reflects artists’ alarm at having drawn the short straw for opportunities. 

As I engaged artists around this theme, I began to learn more about their struggles to pursue art as a career and lifestyle and not just a hobby. The show includes a Master of Fine Arts diploma transformed into a paper airplane, a series of intimate illustrations inspired by weekly trips to sell plasma, and a triptych depicting three figures interacting with life-sized slot machines/booby-traps. These works reveal the how the artists in Short Straw are combating frustration and despair with playfulness and inventive thinking. 

When I began this project I had just moved back to Cincinnati – my home town – to reevaluate my career options after a frustrating and fruitless job search in New York. Short Straw helped me explore and overcome these feelings of frustration, and also turn them on their heads by finding whimsy, delight and inventiveness instead of challenges and closed doors.  

                                                            -Erin Deters, Short Straw Curator, CCAC Program Coordinator & Public Ally Cincinnati 2010 

Promotional postcard from the show.

 

Read the CityBeat story about Erin’s show.

Staff Q&A | Meet the people who read your applications

Jennie Yeow

Who she is: Program Manager, Public Allies Delaware and a Delaware Ally in 2005 and 2006

Originally from: The Cool Spring neighborhood on the Westside of Wilmington, Del. “I am currently renting and renovating the house I grew up in.”

While an Ally: In her first year, she was an assistant teacher at a child care center. As a second-year Ally she worked in-house with Public Allies Delaware.

Before Public Allies: “I was in high school!”

Why Public Allies? “I wanted to surround myself with a group of people who were passionate about social issues with the desire to do something with that passion. I felt like I had won the lottery when I found out about Public Allies!”

What’s it like at your workplace right now? “Crazy! My goal is to balance all things end-of-the-year — 360’s, gift seat, interviews, the matching process, presentations of learning, three-way meetings, retreat, and graduation.”

Most common question you’re hearing right now? “I’m getting a lot of questions (with a nervous quality to them) about presentations of learning. It’s also that time of the year for resumes, cover letters, and recommendations.”

How have the Allies on your team made an impact in your community? “Like all Program Managers, I think my Allies are rock stars! Since mapping a couple of neighborhoods on the west side of Wilmington, my team has been working diligently to facilitate the community’s creation of a recreational baseball league for their youth, centered on an underutilized baseball field at their neighborhood park, Judy Johnson Park. Their underlying hope is that this project will serve as a common goal around which west side neighbors can work in partnership to foster a more vibrant, engaged, and united community.”

Complete the following sentence: If you become an Ally, be ready … “for anything. You will be forced to stretch and grow in ways you could never have imagined. It’s never exactly what you think it’s going to be!”

In 21 words or less: What are the three most essential ingredients for a successful Ally experience?

“1. A willingness to listen and learn from others.

“2. Trust in the process!!

“3. Passion for what you are doing. You won’t make it 10 months without it.

“(I tried to stay under seven words per ingredient, but it didn’t work out.)”

On your desk: “It was tempting to pick the kitten-a-day calendar that my partner gave me for Christmas. It definitely helps when I need a distraction! On a more serious note: On my bulletin board I keep cards, notes, e-mails, etc. that Allies have written to me. When I’m feeling discouraged, they remind me of the awesome work that we’re doing at Public Allies.”

Jennie's kitten-a-day calendar

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