Saturday, September 4, 2010

Swimming With My Eyes Open

I guess I'm still finding my way in this life after paper newspaper journalism.

There's much to appreciate about canvassing for an environmental organization. The people I work with are great -- creative and intelligent and unflappable. The cause is extremely worthy and I feel good when I go to bed every night knowing I've done my part to protect our state's magnificent natural heritage.

My gear isn't the best. I'll need better shoes as the weather gets colder. I'll need to plan better and dress in layers. I'm definitely up for doing this work for awhile longer. But I also find myself ruminating about what life after canvassing might be like for me. As a former journalist with a blog there's a certain part of me who wants to stick with it until Jan. 1 and report to my 131 Poor Journalist Gets To Business and 81 Refrigerator Door fans about canvassing in the dark and cold. I've done a bit of it but I've always managed to find another gig for winter. There are people who do this work year after year in snowstorms and in thunderstorms. Some of them are not young. They are passionate about what they do and, in most cases, probably just wouldn't fit in very well in a typical office setting. They're quite a bit better educated than the average secretary and a little bit snarky. There's a part of me who wants to stay on the Clean Water Action beat through the holiday season and report to you what it's like.

I admire the people who do this work. It's so important to democracy -- and so undervalued by society in general.

Thursday I didn't work and I went to a 12-Step food fellowship meeting since I had the time. It's a meeting I would be going to every week if I wasn't working on Thursday Nights. Several of the women were absolutely atrocious. I more-or-less ran out of the meeting. One woman was not atrocious. She had been leading the meeting and had given the qualifying talk. She's been reading my blog and enjoying the canvassing stories. I appreciated that. Some of the other women were just obnoxious. I find this fairly often in the fellowship of overeaters. If we ran our demographics in the 12-step eating communities, I think we would find that most people are married or have close family members who help support them financially. I'm not saying they have no financial worries -- but they don't relate very well at all to what I've gone through since losing my job at the newspaper. Sometimes it bothers me more than other times. Thursday it sort of bothered me. These women were swarmed around me like hens commenting loudly about my mosquito bites and whether or not I had decent shoes and if I was going to work in the dark and what about the weather.

I just wanted to scream! Of course I don't like getting bitten by mosquito's or stuck in tornadoes. Of course I don't like it when people close their doors in my face. But there are really, really nice people out in the neighborhoods, too. They give money to protect our lakes. They invite me in and give me warm or cold beverages depending upon the weather. They tell me they're happy I'm doing what I'm doing. They often hug me. They say, "Thank you so much for doing this. Keep up the good work."

You know? It always feels worth it at the end of the night. There are supporters and fans of Clean Water Action in every neighborhood in our state of Michigan. We get about 250,000 supporters for our campaigns every year.

So anyway, I've been thinking about life after canvassing.

This morning I mulled over three ideas:

-- Getting certified to teach English at a public school (it would take about three years! My major is journalism, not English).
-- Development or Fundraising for a university, college or charitable organization.
-- Getting an 18-credit hour certificate in Web Technology from Washtenaw Community College.

For as much as I complain about technology and the direction we are headed in society, I have to admit I have a knack for it. I mean I didn't even read instructions when I started my blogs and fan groups. I've got quite a few fans for as little marketing as I've done. And people read this thing. Seriously, they stop me all the time and tell me about various stories they've read. I like it.

So, here's what I'm thinking. I'll keep canvassing at Clean Water Action and start looking for a job in Development and/or Fundraising for a school or charitable organization. Also, I'll plan on enrolling in January in the classes to get certified in Web Technology at Washtenaw Community College. I've been ambling around here in cyberspace. I've been pretty lucky. I've done some neat stuff. But I'd like to actually know what I'm doing.

Geesh. Imagine what I might accomplish if I was approaching technology with some knowledge -- not swimming with my eyes closed as I have been up to this point.

So, if anybody hears of a job opportunity in development or fundraising, please let me know. I have a real gift for flat out asking people for money for a good cause.

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