Strengthening Community Relationships in Hard Times

Community relationships pose challenges at even the best of times. I was excited to read recently that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared California’s drought state over for now. Within days of reading that article, I read that Central Florida’s wildfires are being exacerbated by dry conditions. While Florida’s situation is different from California’s, it still occurred to me that the “for now” part of California’s governor’s declaration is something we should all remember. Crises can occur at any time, and as we learned in Tallahassee last year during Hurricane Hermine, community relationships do better in crisis with a plan.

I am re-sharing a post I wrote in 2015, inspired by my horror at the #DroughtShaming I learned about among California neighbors. It’s an important reminder that community relationships are fragile and it is in our ability to nurture them.

Community Relationships

PR Lessons from DroughtShaming

I have a confession to make.

I used to be an anonymous “PoorlyProofed” contributor on Twitter.

Eventually, I started feeling guilty for anonymously calling people out.

I hate typos as much as the next person, but I started to feel that the negativity behind my tweets was weighing me down.

(It doesn’t stop at PoorlyProofed, admittedly. I even blogged about someone who misspelled “angel” on a luminaria MEMORIALIZING THEIR LOVED ONE WHO DIED OF CANCER.)

But it’s a new day, a new year, and perhaps I have evolved.

I have evolved to the point that I have reached a critical mass in my tolerance for anonymous finger-pointing on Twitter.

DroughtShaming

When I was listening to a recent radio story about DroughtShaming, I couldn’t help but feel that this effort was not going to end well.

The drought conditions in California, and the civic actions that have been taken to try to mitigate the effects of the drought, have resulted in the birth of the DroughtShaming hashtag (#droughtshaming).

There’s even an app.

The citizen reporter stands at the offending area, and GPS knows where they are, so the report already includes the address along with the alleged infraction.

Most people will agree that measures need to be taken to deal with the drought conditions in California.

When I see the glee with which some people use DroughtShaming, though, I have to wonder if their motives are altruistic.

I mean, what are the homeowners’ association meetings going to be like for these neighbors in the future?

Distrust Does Not Build Community Relationships

My husband and I were on the receiving end of a summons three years ago for “high grass.”

We deserved the summons. I won’t argue that. 

Our lawnmower had broken, my husband was out of a job, and we did not have the money to fix the lawnmower.

Because the report was made anonymously, there was no way of knowing who had filed it.

I kept wishing whoever had filed the report had offered to let us use their lawnmower instead.

It wasn’t that we WANTED our yard to be an eyesore.

Admittedly, my feelings probably would have been hurt if I had been approached directly by a neighbor, even if they were offering a lawnmower, but after the summons incident, I have always been asking myself  “was it YOU?” when interacting with my neighbors.

Distrust among neighbors does not build a caring community.

Positively Solve Problems

As communicators, we can play a role in more positively solving problems such as the drought-measure compliance.

  1. Connecting: One of the first pieces of strategy has to be to foster a “we’re all in this together” vibe. California is not going to be in drought conditions forever. The day will come when it will not be news that someone is watering their lawn. We need to help people realize a mutual goal of creating a pleasant community is bigger than the issue of sprinklers.
  2. Acknowledge the Issue: I don’t mean to flit around rejoicing that drought is front and center as a problem. Some events are inevitable in the life of a community. If it wasn’t drought, maybe it would be a proliferation of invasive plants, too much rain, or a strike by municipal workers such as the waste management staff. Be clear that drought is a true issue. Don’t gloss over it.
  3. Encouraging Constructive Action: Getting your neighbors fined or using civic resources to write up tickets has little probability of bringing rain down from the sky or of preserving what little water you do have. As a community, you may be at half time of your water management game, but you can still win if you have the right plays.

How can we, as communicators, help keep the civility reservoir full rather than drain it dry?

This blog post was originally published at Spin Sucks as PR Lessons from DroughtShaming.

Community Relationships

I Won’t Give Up (On Finding the Perfect Playlist)

I have been meaning to write about my running playlist for a while. I finally found the impetus to do it when Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of our Tallahassee Democrat, runner, and Move Tallahassee enthusiast, blogged about his list and asked, “So what’s on your playlist to keep you moving?”

Music ImageMy list is not static.  Songs that make me feel incredibly pumped up and motivated for weeks suddenly grow stale and find themselves replaced. But for that period that they’re “in,” they have a combination of great beat, musical novelty, and contagiousness that gets me through many miles and various workouts from my coach that have me running all kinds of combinations of heart rate zones and distances.

The WarmUp Song

I am pretty sure Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys will always be my warm-up song. Its beat is “medium” enough for a warmup and each time I play it, it’s a little tiny homage to my favorite place. Ironically, I miss my favorite place so much right now that I can’t bear to listen to the song so I’ve been going straight to the fast stuff.

Tunes I Love

Shake Señora by Pitbull featuring T-Pain and Sean Paul

Jump by FloRida (The Chocolate Puma full vocal mix)

Scream & Shout by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears

Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

Magic by B.o.B. (featuring Rivers Cuomo)

Universal Mind Control by Common

Till The World Ends by Britney Spears (The Bloody Beatroots Extended Remix)

Run by Flo Rida (featuring RedFoo – Bonus Track)

Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

Be Good To Yourself by Journey

Timebomb by Kylie Minogue (Extended Version)

Turn Up the Radio by Madonna (Offer Nissim Remix)

Include Me Out by Robbyn

T.H.E. Hardest Ever by will.i.am (featuring Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez)

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Electricity by Ashley Jana

What I’ve Done by Linkin Park

For Cool Downs

Just Give Me A Reason by Pink featuring Nate Ruess

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

But Wait!! There’s More!!

When I got back into running (in 2008) and started searching for music, I relied quite heavily for a while on “beats per minute” mixes. Now, I primarily use those when I am doing speedwork at the track or when I particularly want to focus on form and consistency. The ones I have used and recommend include:

Beats Per Minute Music

Podrunner Podrunner is the first “beats per minute” podcast service I subscribed to. DJ Steve Boyett (who is also an author!) works hard to create this free podcast (there are technical considerations, music licensing negotiations, and a whole host of things besides slapping together catchy tunes).

Motiontraxx Motiontraxx has added a lot of options since I began downloading their podcast a few years ago. There are now apps for iPhone and Android, and there are mixes/coaching cues for HIIT workouts and other activities besides running.

BeatRunning I don’t have as much of a “relationship” with BeatRunning as I feel like I do with Podrunner and Motiontraxx; I just bought some of their mixes off of iTunes. They’re the ones I happen to use most frequently now — a solid 180 bpm of something that I can try to attach my cadence to.

Audiobooks

I love audiobooks. I go through them rapidly. If I have a long Zone 2 (conversational pace) run planned, I will frequently listen to an audiobook. The miles can go back a lot more painlessly if you’re wrapped up in a biography or great fiction story.

Podcasts

There are so many fantastic podcasts out there. It was through podcasts that I have ended up with some of my favorite running connections.  The first running podcast I ever listened to was Chris Russell’s RunRunLive (fortunately I wasn’t too thrown off by the first five minutes being about mountain goat hygiene services (Chris has a quirky sense of humor). I was introduced to it by Ann Brennan of Ann’s Running Commentary. She now has her own running podcast at Ann’s Running Commentary. Both of these podcasts have my highest recommendation.

Nothing

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a bit of credit to running without earbuds, without someone else talking or singing into your ear. And of course this doesn’t actually mean you’re listening to “nothing.” If you are working on your running form, you have a chance to listen to your “light fast feet” (or the fact that they’re not as light and fast as you thought!). Birds, traffic, animals, other people, the thoughts bumping around in your head. Sometimes it’s best to leave all the music/talk at home and just run.

A Note About Safety

While I love running with the various songs, books, and podcasts mentioned above, I want to remind you (assuming teacher/mom/coach voice here) that safety is key. This article has a few tips about running safely with headphones (some of which I defy on a daily basis but they’re good food for thought).

But Enough About Me

What are your faves? Let me know in the comments!