Resolutions: checking in and checking out (reprisal)
Here’s how this went last year.
And now, checking in on those resolutions made for 2012:
Do awesome photo projects
Started the Brooklyn Bathroom Blog and have been going on fun photo outings. Also bartered grantwriting help with a photography lesson. Definitely giving space for photography exploration, though I’d like to enjoy what I do in physical form instead of just digital, too.
Maintain strong connections with important friends and family
Very much so! I was proud of doing a better job than ever making space for people I wanted to spend more time with and spending that time in what I felt were meaningful ways. CARRY FORWARD the goal to continue this!
Continue to explore professional and personal growth opportunities
Did a lot of informational interviewing (aka chatting with people who do cool things about what they do), so that was exciting. Big victory too was developing and teaching four courses at the Brooklyn Brainery that have been successful as professional classes and also for me personally. I went to a few workshops and conferences to build professional skill sets, and jumped on various consulting opportunities that came my way. Oh, and I think getting a blogger profile with Huffington Post is a positive thing!
Function better in unplanned, last-minute scenarios or blips in plans
Yes. I like that this was a goal, and I think I overall executed. I got a bit less crazy when people were late, and went with the flow more in general. Accountability buddy Sam was a key part of this, and I hope to keep that partnership in place in the coming year.
Make this blog or another writing venture something more public, as long as I keep enjoy doing it
See two bullets up. Also, I think more people read this blog than I think, because people randomly mention a post that stood out to them in conversations. Also, on the point of “as long as I keep enjoy doing it,” I am 1) aware that this was not an example of good editing and 2) still very much enjoying writing, and have realized that I love it because I can write in the exact style I’d like and about the exact content that strikes me. For now at least, this is the primary type of writing that excites me. I will CARRY FORWARD a more polished version of this goal!
Wear makeup a little bit more, but never spend more than 120 seconds on it.
Fail. And fine with it. Though I have taken more time to put together ‘a look’, which accomplishes a similar thing.
Take more improv classes, and continue to formulate what I want to do with it as it relates to longterm goals
I took Level 3 at Magnet and was also on a team this Fall. I continued to guest on PreRecorded.com as it worked with my schedule. I think the aspects of improv that are most appealing to me are groupwork, listening skills, creativity, and sincere fun. I’d love to integrate improv that truly embodies each of those elements into my life this year. Also, I took a storytelling class this year, which was profoundly impactful both because of the people I met and the power of the craft. I want to grow stronger roots in that this year.
Become a member of a nonprofit board
Sadly, no. Silver lining #1: wouldn’t have had the fair amount of energy to give to it this year. I’m currently on my last planned year of co-chairing Young Friends of Tufts Advancement, which will hopefully free up some time for board membership. Silver lining #2: I spent a lot of time thinking about what my ideal role on a board would be, and what sort of organization that would work best at. CARRY FORWARD!
Cook more in cost effective, healthy, and fun ways
Embarrassed to say no. I think I didn’t accomplish it because I had no real driver and truly didn’t make the time for it. Chalk it up to city living?
Work on building a sustainable skillshare of some sort among friends
Didn’t end up doing, but mostly because of the wonderful community I found at the Brainery.
Get Anderson Cooper to come for dinner
Let’s just leave this one alone.
- Maintain strong connections with important friends and family
- Explore and activate professional and personal growth opportunities
- Continue writing, publicly and privately, with enjoyment and while pushing limits of what I think I can do
- Be more vulnerable
- Seek out improv and storytelling opportunities that capitalize on personal creativity and fun, or that allow for meaningful group work
- Send more snail mail to friends
- Become a member of a nonprofit board
- Travel at least once for me (and not just for four incredible weddings)
- Read books in time that is otherwise wasted online
- Exercise regularly while pushing myself a little bit harder
- Learn to fix a bike if something simple goes wrong
Cheers! Happy New Year!
How to Be a Connector
Nine months ago, I shared an article called Forget Networking. How to Be a Connector. Since then, I have developed and offered a class on just that. It’s been a popular class - surprisingly so - and I’ve learned a lot through teaching it. For instance:
- People have a hard time realizing their existing network.
- There’s genuine interest in developing stronger connections with people, but fear of going about it the ‘wrong’ way.
- It’s a tough sell on why you’d want to go out of your way to connect two people with each other, because people want to unveil the hidden agenda.
I’ve also fine-tuned my definition of a Connector, which I think was a huge self-learning for me in 2012. I didn’t previously parse out what exactly makes me a Connector, nor did I think about why it is an asset that I can leverage in my career or otherwise. Here’s how I define it:
A Connector is a person who…
- has lots of great people in their network
- naturally introduces members of their network to one another
- is socially fluent
- is known and respected in their communities
…and who uses that power to bring individuals in their network together constructively and with overall success.
This year, I have embraced this personality trait and run with it, and I’m proud to have connected people over ideas, shared interests, collaborative potential, accountability, research, and resources. I enjoy connecting good people, and am fortunate to have (or to create) many opportunities for doing so. It’s a science, an art, and an energizing delight.
Most exciting to me is that connecting people unleashes unlimited potential. I can’t wait to see what partnerships, conversation, and social change are sparked through catalytic connection; the power never stops!
It’s official: my staycation through the end ofthe year has begun! I’m hoping to use this as a sort of Jen Bokoff company retreat, where I look at what’s been accomplished this year and determine a strategy for the future across all aspects of my life. It’s a one-person entity, but as you know, I thrive off of the energy of the people around me and recognize that I operate in a much larger ecosystem. So, I always welcome your feedback and thoughts on, well, me. Constructive comments about stuff you know about - maybe my blog, my career path, my productivity/organization, my personal strengths and weaknesses, my ‘extracurriculars’ - are all really great for me to hear and build off of. So, email me or call me or track me down in Brooklyn. Thanks! I’ll now commence my retreat with an icebreaker…
Interview: Oriana Leckert, Creator and Author of Brooklyn Spaces
The only thing I love more than people who are passionate about a thing and then do something with that thing is when I am crazy about that thing, too. Oriana Leckert does exactly that with her online compendium of culture and creativity in Brooklyn, Brooklyn Spaces. As the creator and author, Oriana does an incredible job pulling together a lot of fun and extraordinary people, projects, and spaces. I interviewed her over email to learn more.
Jen Bokoff: Where did the idea for Brooklyn Spaces come from, and how’d you implement the idea?
Oriana Leckert: The idea came from a sort of horror, as I watched several spaces I’d adored disappear, that there wasn’t going to be a good record made of all the totally amazing things happening in Brooklyn these days. It’s kind of corny, but I feel like we’re living through one of those delirious moments of intense creativity, and that in five or ten or twenty years, people will want to know what it was like. I kept saying to people, “Why is no one taking pictures and writing this shit down?” And people kept saying, “Well, why don’t you do it?” So I reached out to a few friends who run spaces and asked if I could interview them. I was really nervous, because I’m not any kind of trained journalist. But I realized very quickly that if you take a person who spends a huge amount of energy and time doing something, even a somewhat vapid question like “So why do you do this?” will unleash a torrential response. It’s easy to keep people talking about the things they love.
JB: What are some of your favorite interviews or venues that you have profiled?
OL: One of the amazing things about this project has been that even the spaces I’ve felt lukewarm about covering have turned out to be just incredible. Everyone is so passionate and driven; it’s just endlessly inspiring. My favorite spaces, the ones I keep going back to, are the over-the-top ones, those that are really unusual or really immersive or really really creative. The Gowanus Ballroom, Red Lotus Room, Flux Factory, Rubulad, and House of Yes are all outrageous spaces run by incredible people. Books Through Bars, Bushwick City Farms, Film Biz Recycling, and Boswyck Farms are really inspiring projects. The Brooklyn Brainery is one of the Brooklyn-est things I can imagine. [Editor’s Note: Oriana and I met at the Brainery in my How to Be a Connector class!] The Lost Horizon Night Market and the Idiotarod are the kind of ridiculous spectacles that make living here the best best best. All the spaces I’ve profiled are wonderful, as are the zillions I haven’t covered yet.
JB: What have you discovered about Brooklyn that you still don’t quite believe?
OL: What an interesting question. It’s not an original discovery, but I am consistently stunned at how much focus and dedication people have for their projects. Brooklyn is just teeming with people who spend all their time creating communities and environments and beautiful things, often for, seemingly, no goddamn reason at all.
JB: How do you find the time to stay current on all of the latest happenings throughout the borough?
OL: Well I don’t sleep very much, and I read an insane amount of emails. I’m subscribed to every mailing list it’s possible to be on. And by now all my friends know that if they hear about something weird, they’d better make sure to tell me about it.
JB: If you could pick a dream space in which any activity could happen, where would it be and what cultural/creative thing would be going on?
OL: I tried to answer this question several different ways, and I realize that each one became impossible almost immediately. Honestly, my dream space is here, now, being in Brooklyn where all these things are happening around us, and we can all take advantage of as much of it as we can handle. On any given day you can go to a quirky class or an outrageous party or a reading or a performance or a film or a concert or an art exhibit, sometimes several in one evening. You can move in and out of different communities, volunteer for different causes, create an avant family for yourself of dreamers and revelers and coconspirators. There’s really nothing you could want that you can’t find here if you look hard enough, except maybe a super cheap place to live. It’s the most inspiring place I can imagine.
Tune in to the latest info from Brooklyn Spaces by checking out the website (on which you can sign up to be emailed about updates), using the calendar to plan your week (my personal favorite), or on social media (of course! Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest). Oriana is also speaking this evening about Brooklyn Spaces at Animamus Art Salon; go see her!
Photos by Maximus Comissar
A most sincere thank you.
Recently, I’ve gotten a few lovely out-of-the-blue emails from people who read this blog. I’m humbled and want to thank everyone for listening to my miscellaneous thoughts and reflections, and together exploring my passions, questions, and ideas. It’s fun for me to write, and it pushes me to think bigger and have conversations I wouldn’t otherwise have. I hope that the occasional post does that for you, too.
I suppose I could queue this post up for Thanksgiving, but why wait, right? THANK YOU for reading, commenting, reflecting, sharing, and using the blog to spark new conversations.
Someone asked me recently where I get all of the content and ideas for posts. Here’s the answer: through all of you. Almost everything comes directly or indirectly from what people in my network share via conversation, email, facebook, twitter, gchat status, or blogs. I’m constantly amazed by the scope of knowledge and information out there, and I’m lucky to have my ear to the ground in so many different places so that I can grab hold of those topics that are particularly interesting. I’m constantly learning from you, so thank you for that, too.
I’ve blogged for well over 2 years now.
It is my hope that you read the blog for one reason or another and you leave the page having learned or thought about something you weren’t expecting to.
Co-Editing Prospect Heights Neighborhoodr
I’m now one of several editors of the Prospect Heights Neighborhoodr blog thanks to Alisha. Basically, this means I can post content and finalize submissions. I would love to help continue making it relevant and fun, so give us a follow and let me know if you have any ideas, tips, or good vibes to share!
I will try not to cross post so as not to bore non-Brooklynites, but there may be the occasional reblog, which I hope you’ll read with all of the same wonderful enthusiasm.
Interview with Jordie Poncy about his Life in MS Paint
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jordie Poncy, a friend of a friend who is very, very funny and earnest. He writes a blog called Life in MS Paint, through which he tells well-crafted stories using Microsoft Paint as his tool. I’ve never seen anything like it; he’s truly a master of his craft.
Jen Bokoff: Your blog is amazing. I love how simply enjoyable and fun and witty it is. Where’d the idea come from?
Jordie Poncy: Thank you! The blog kind of evolved to its current format. After college, my friends and I used to draw ridiculous pictures and email them to one another as a way to stay in touch (instead of working hard to build up a professional reputation in the workplace). For example, when our friend Jess got an internship at the National Institutes of Health, my friend sent around this picture of her accidentally pricking herself with a syringe of wolf DNA and turning into a werewolf:
(Jess had a blond ponytail in real life if you couldn’t tell from the drawing.) I started posting some of my funny pictures on a blog. I really like comedic writing, so at some point, I decided to start using these pictures as a way to illustrate some funny stories from my life. The blog got a lot better when I started adding the writing. (You can see how bad the early stuff was on the blog.) I have always found MS Paint pictures pretty hilarious because they usually look kinda bad.
JB: On a scale of totally made up to totally true, where do your stories and drawings fall? And do you and your friends actually resemble what we see in the drawings?
JP: Believe it or not, the stories are actually frighteningly true. A lot of my comedy stems from having a sense of humor about the stuff happening around me. I like the idea that your average trip to the store can be filled with hilarious things if you’re just open to seeing stuff that way. I do usually add a few small details to punch the stories up a bit, especially if I think of a good joke I can’t resist including. As for the accuracy of the drawings, I’d say it really depends on the person. My mom looks EXACTLY like the drawings. Conversely, I can’t draw my dad at all. He always ends up looking all wrong. I’ll let you be the judge of how I draw my best friend, John:
[Editor’s Note: WELL DONE!]
JB: You seem to really like the Pea Patch Jig. Explain?
JP: Ahhh, the Pea Patch Jig. What could be better than a kids book about a bunch of mice who throw a huge party in a garden despite a lurking murderous farmer? They jam to some bluegrass music and dance a jig while leaving their baby unattended. It’s a good thing too because the baby ends up firing a pea at a predatory fox using a straw as a blow-gun and saving the whole irresponsible family. Also, here’s a gem I found when I googled The Pea Patch Jig.
JB: What’s one of your favorite story and illustration combos, and what was your process for creating it?
JP: I was really pleased with The Trouble with Pets is that They’re Always All Dead and Stuff. I love that it highlights some of the funny things about my family, and there are some pretty ridiculous images in it. When I create any post, I always write it in an email first. I write as if I were sending it to some of my funniest friends. By pretending that I’m emailing them, I can get into a really goofy frame of mind. Once I have written the story, I go back and create all the illustrations. Then I edit it after pasting it into the blog. Finally, I get mad at my friends for emailing me their reactions instead of commenting directly on the blog!
JB: Do you have any tips for someone who is new to MS Paint and wants to use it like a pro?
JP: No……………Just kidding. First, I would suggest investing in a good mouse (I can’t believe I just said that). Second, keep in mind that it’s easier to draw lines in the downward direction than upward. Third, I’d recommend just going for it. In MS Paint, the pictures aren’t supposed to be perfect. In fact, it’s usually the case that the worse the drawings are, the funnier. This is a case in which being a horrible artist can be a major advantage. Have fun!
Make sure to check out Jordie’s fantastic storytelling at Life in MS Paint, and if you really like it, leave him an awesome comment. Bloggers get a kick out of those. [Editor’s Note: Trust me.] Also, enjoy his tags with each post; they are the most random I’ve ever seen.
[Editor’s Note: A few hours after a posted this interview, I was brought to tears by laughter. This is why.]
The Anti-Defamation League has a new blog dedicated to providing inside access to their work and perspective on some of critical issues our country faces including extremism, anti-Semitism, and racism. Their posts are thoroughly researched and linked, and provides a helpful lens to recognize and understand the bigotry that is unfortunately still very present in America and globally. Add it to your RSS reader, folks.
If you’re not familiar with the ADL, they’ve been combating anti-Semitism, bigotry, and extremism for 99 years through extensive research, advocacy, and education. They value safety and respect, and raise their voice against those who threaten those virtues.
Six Great Philanthropy Blogs
I really enjoy all of these for their thoughtfulness and relevance. If you’re interested in philanthropy and my content isn’t quite enough, well worth reading any or all of these.
White Courtesy Telephone:Posts include perspectives on learning,education and training in the field of philanthropy.
Philantopic: A blog of Opinion and Commentary from The Philanthropy News Digest
Philanthropy 2173:The Business of Giving - Lucy Bernholz shares her opinions about the long-term vision of philanthropy.
Tactical Philanthropy - Sean Stannard-Stockton’s organizational blog.
The Center for Effective Philanthropy Blog - better data,better decisions,better philanthropy.
Beth’s Blog : How Networked Nonprofits Are Using Social Media to Power Change –by Beth Kanter
Spam can be fun
My friend Kent who I met at the library just began a blog in which he reposts noteworthy spam. I am very much a fan already, as his first post truly captures the beauty of a well-written spam email. A blog like this can transfer the frustration and eye-rolls expressed upon receipt of spam to wonderful laughter and celebration of this crazy world in which we live.
In this new light, I revisited my Spam mailbox. My favorite that was caught in its web was just brilliant:
Good day my dear Friend,
How are you doing together with your entire family, I hope all swell am contacting you for a confidential business proposal and please care full reading understand my reason of contacting you through email. My Name is MR.Rifat Muhammad. The Director of Foreign Remittance Unit via Bank Groups OF African Development (BOA). West Africa
Here. I am contacting you because of an abandoned fund which was deposited by ablate customer of this bank called Mr. Rafik Bahamas Edine Hariri.
My stand to contact you now is that, a foreign has the legal right to put claim to such deposit followed by you will proof your claim with the bank. There fore, I want you to apply as his business partner.
And all the information and data’s you will need to make successful claim of this fund in the bank here are fully ready with me here.
Note Well: Please urgently confirm your willingness and interest to assist me by filling and sending back to me the needed information below. 1. Your full name; 2. Your phone Telephone and fax numbers; 3.Your age; 4.Yoursex; 5.Your occupation; 6.Yourcountry and city.
Thanks and best regards.
MR.Rifat Muhammad. M.sc (ECONS
Inviting Submissions for New Blog Title!
If I ever want to blog to scale (which surprise! I do.), I need to shape up. I don’t want to change my content (at least on this blog) because I like the mix of NYC, philanthropy, taxes, humor, snippets of thought, sociology, DIY tips, and photography, but “my masterpiece, v1.0” doesn’t sound as good as it once did.
I’m looking for ideas, loyal readers, so please share! You can comment via Tumblr, Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Ask, fax, or whatever else suits your fancy.
As added incentive, if you rename my blog, I’ll send you something fun!
I don’t know much about Disqus
but I think I installed it, and I think that means that non-Tumblr people can comment on posts.
Lovely readers - please try it, especially if you have really nice things to say.
Tech people - how do I made this look more obvious / correct, and am I using it correctly?
Social media is a crazy thing.