Archive for November, 2012

To Blog, or Not to Blog. Is that a question?

November 29, 2012

I’ve written this blog for a specific purpose. That’s not true of all of them, of course!

Very shortly, I will be helping to run the first training course about social media that those lovely people at the award-winning Voluntary Action Within Kent have laid on. The audience will be drawn from several local voluntary organisation. This blog is one of my visual aids.

We’re taking a simple approach in this introduction. It isn’t a social media surgery; we’ve no time and not got the facilities for that. No, it’s a basic introduction to what social media is, and how it can be used in the voluntary sector.

Basically, we’re breaking the whole social media world down into four blocks:

Social networking
Media sharing
Blogging
Fundraising

Yes, I know there are things that sit outside these categories, and several which occupy a place in more than one category, but we have a little over half a day for the session!

I’m going to use this blog as a visual aid in the session about blogging. No surprise there. I want to use it also to advertise a very useful piece of work that’s recently been published by Honey Lucas on her The Very Tiger’s web site.

This is an online training course for the voluntary sector about why charities etc should be blogging, and how they can go about it.. You can find out more about it here.

It’s great that there are resources like this around. We could probably have run the whole training session around online resources other people and organisations have posted on the web!

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Late November

November 22, 2012

No blogged a sporting blog for a bit. There’s a reason for that. I’ve been putting off putting some difficult thoughts down in writing.

To be very honest, my injured left foot is not really getting better. It’s nearly six months now since I started getting significant pain in the ball of my foot and my first two toes. This was traced to a failure of my medial arch. Kinesio taping provided temporary relief, and insoles with a high arch provide relative comfort when standing and walking. I survived six weeks walking in the Alps, during which time the pain didn’t increase, but didn’t go away, either.

I made a tentative resumption of training a couple of weeks after returning from the Alps. I saw this as “training for training”, and began quite gently. However, running still hurt. I worked around this, doing some good aerobic work on a static bike, and beginning some promising weights sessions. But what good is it if a sprinter can’t run?

It’s also reached that time when I need to set my strategic targets for 2013. That tends to be dictated by the need to arrange flights and accommodation for any major international events in the year. For 2013 these are the European Masters in San Sebastian, in Spain, in March, and the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy, in August. My problem is that I simply cannot envisage me being at either event.

I mean that literally. Part of the preparation is being able to “see” the event in the mind’s eye, and then to work towards it. I can’t. The image won’t come. Bottom line is that I’m just lacking the confidence or the drive to mortgage money and time on another event I fail to get to. That’s “another” on top of the World Masters Indoors in Finland last Easter and the European Masters outdoors in Germany in August. Failure to turn up is becoming a habit.

My priority, of course, is to repair my foot. Nothing happens anyway unless that happens. I get more advice on this shortly. Finding that where it hurts is probably not where the problem resides has made me very cautious about jumping to remedial conclusions.

I’ve already begun thinking in terms of a 2013 season built around just local competition. Possibly not even national championships. On one level, it makes sense. Masters athletics is based on five year age bands. I will be in the top year of my current age group in 2013. That will make it tough to do well, in terms of positions and wins. That’s not a disincentive as such, but objectively makes it a good year to step back from things, perhaps.

And that’s as far as I’ve reached at the moment. No decisions, no solutions, though I am acutely aware that if I just sit on my hands, the passage of time will rob me of some of my options. And writing it down is maybe a way of me coming to terms with the inevitable.

Tom

(ps: The title is that of a haunting Sandy Denny song)

What could a National Park Warden do with Social Media?

November 14, 2012

My pal Dan Slee (@danslee) today posted that question on Twitter today.

I was, frankly, a bit amazed at the thought that our National Parks and/or their staff weren’t already exploiting social media. A quick search on Google revealed that there were some National Park Chief Executives or “admins” blogging and doing other things on line. But not Wardens. It’s clearly been thought about. These were sad finds, for example:

http://www.breconbeacons.org/environment/helens-new-folder/wardens-blog
and
http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/index/looking-after/rangers.htm

A thousand and one thoughts started racing through my mind, which I’ve distilled down to this short list of possible uses. I hope these might set further thoughts running in the minds of others. I offer it simply to get a discussion going and other ideas to be put forward. It seems to me most of it would apply to local authority country parks as much as to National Parks.

1) Every Warden to have a smartphone and a Twitter account of their own, and be encouraged to tweet about everything they do. (I do realize I am taking mobile phone reception for granted here, which it might not be throughout some of our National Parks). The opportunity for tweeting weather conditions, traffic and parking problems, photos of work they are doing, safety issues, appeals for help, and so on. Real time news is a reality via Twitter. There are some really good examples of people tweeting really interesting stuff about the job they do.

2) Every Park to have a Facebook page and to encourage visitors to use this for comments, photos, discussions, etc, etc. The National Park authority to play an active part in turning these things into discussions, to encourage visitors, responsible behavior, environmental awareness, and so on.

3) National Park Wardens should be blogging! Regular pieces, with photos, from Wardens, would be a fabulous way to share the important work they do. Hats off to the voluntary wardens in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for this, as an example.

I’d love to read a regular blog from a Warden working in any of our National Parks. Just think of the wealth of information they could share as the year goes round, even blogging, say, once a month?

4) Photo and media sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube are social media. National Park Authority web sites should have online photo and video galleries, and be encouraging Wardens and visitors to be feeding material to these.

I have no link with any UK National Park, though I’ve visited them all, some many, many times. I hope someone find this helpful.