Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rollins College Philanthropic Center Membership Appreciation night (Feb 22)

Being new to volunteering with Simple Living Institute this was my first networking event and I had no idea what to expect.
As I put veggies on my plate during the meet and greet portion, I wondered where it came from. I decided if I thought about it too hard I would likely be disappointed, but noted someone from the local community could be doing this with quality and flair.

The amount of people participating was a bit surprising, but I supposed it was a good opportunity to spread their word and perhaps make connections they might not normally encounter. For example; the only person that I really exchanged ideas with was a very nice woman from Ten Thousand Villages in Winter Park. I realize belatedly, that I didn’t get her card, but believe it was noteworthy non-the-less.

She mentioned that she had read that the spice community was concerned by the “eat local” and “Native plants” movements and how would our organization respond? My comment; “Well I can’t speak for Simple Living, but first of all Native when? As North America has had much of their beloved plant material brought from over seas at some point. Additionally, the idea is to bring to the community what you CAN bring from nearby to help promote the actual community, the diversity in each community itself and its natural surroundings. That said; if we don’t also reach beyond our communities into other pools of diversity we isolate not only ourselves but in essence stagnate those same communities we are promoting”.

This Ten Thousand Villages representative mentioned she was a transplant from the North but had lived in Orlando many years, and had watched it transform into what it is today. She loves to garden but commented “it is hard to grow here, fruit for instance”. I’ve heard this so often and find the comment astounding, as I came from up North myself which has a severely limited growing season thanks to Mother Nature. I thought back to my reading about Sepp Holzer, a farmer growing fruit on the mountainside in Austria and told her about him. She said, “But he’s only one man”.  I replied; “yes, but it only takes one to prove it can be done. A little ingenuity and a true desire can create something wonderful”!

Thinking back this whole exchange reminded why I was standing there representing Simple Living. Everyone, no matter what stage of life they are in, can learn from what Simple Living Institute has to offer and that is worth spreading.

Well on to the main event; we were greeted by the Dean of Crummer Graduate School and several others representing Rollins who spoke about having Philanthropy jobs posted on their website and the numerous classes they offer to us as members. The guest speaker, Mark Russell, Editor of the Orlando Sentinel has an easy manner of speaking I am familiar with and I appreciated his straightforward and witty approach. As someone who believes “tempered technology” can be beneficial to many, particularly spreading our message to an increasingly tech savvy audience, the most important part of Mark’s talk was that the Orlando Sentinel has embraced the idea of tech savvy readers. The Sentinel has grown to incorporate that into their daily coverage of the local news and watchdog stories. They have on average 250,000 visits to their website a day with over 1.5 million page views. Mark also compared covering the Daytona 500 a decade ago to now. The most recent event had “live photo galleries” and a full bodied coverage, from food available to background stories on the participants. My favorite part was hearing the Sentinel recently released an iPhone application in November 2010, which has had over 19 thousand downloads and already has a sponsor. The Droid application was released just a few weeks ago and has 3,700 downloads. They will also be releasing an application geared towards the iPad soon.  As of now they make approximately $1 for online subscription compared to $10 for a printed edition. In my opinion, that will swing the opposite direction in the not too distant future. How does this relate to Simple Living? Well for one, I reiterate what I said at the Visionary Meeting. We need folks, volunteers, to write about their experiences and we need to connect with the local papers to include them routinely. Secondly, it is a reminder that life is fluid and we must identify and put our resources to targeting these areas to truly reach the most people who are out their seeking answers and connections with people just like us.

Inclosing; We come together for many different reasons, but we are connected by Simple Living Institute and I, for one, am extremely grateful.

Ann S.
Volunteer and Member
Simple Living Institute

Ten Thousand Villages is a global network of social entrepreneurs working to empower and provide economic opportunities to artisans in developing countries.

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