On this Labor Day, I give reflection to the twenty plus years since my college graduation. It has been a long journey, although the years seem to pass by at record speed.
Sometimes it is an unexpected moment, a news story, a photo or scenery out my car window that triggers my memories of projects or clients that have made our Greater Cincinnati community a better, stronger place to be. I am reminded of passionate people I have had the fortune of working beside and supporting, whose life work is about making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. And reminded of outcomes that give me cause for a smile to think about my role as part of the team.
My very first project as a freelance communications contractor in Cincinnati was developing a public relations plan to transform the image of what was at the time seen as a dilapidated, uninhabitable area so that the first city-owned townhouse development would sell. That neighborhood was the Betts-Longworth Historic District and that development was Longworth Square. Its success became the driving impetus for continuous expanding growth in our region’s Over-the-Rhine.
Over the years, I have worked to raise awareness and build relationships on behalf of so many wonderful causes and events. Among the highlights – inspiring a community to believe in the power of inclusion through my messaging for the Inclusion Network, creating a school supply campaign that in just two years was generating enough to assist over 700 children, conceptualizing and implementing a recognition event to not just honor young volunteers but also to encourage lifelong stewardship for them, creating a Downtown Hoedown competition in the hub of Cincinnati to spread the word of the Appalachian Festival, and developing a public relations campaign for the Hidden Treasures CD tribute to legendary King Records and its belief in the power of inclusion.
And, on the side, I have used my studies on positive psychology and behavior science to not only enhance my own relationships with people and my pets – but also to educate others to do the same. That passion has evolved into this Good Things Going Around blog project – and a side pet training business I call So Much PETential.
It most certainly has not been a smooth journey the whole way through. As is the nature of doing contract work, there are lulls and those lulls can be downright scary. I won’t lie. Last year was one of those times. But, then, it is so magical when an even better opportunity comes along that allows me to use my strengths and I am reminded it all has a purpose. These are the lessons in the big classroom we call life. If it were not for my hardship, I would never have attended the Association for Professional Dog Trainers Conference, met encouraging friends and my mentor, and ultimately pursuing pet training on the side. Something that has been a huge impact.
And I would never have found my most recent better opportunity.
What is that opportunity?
Ironically it is returning to work with someone for whom I did some of my most fulfilling work in the past. About 10 years ago, I worked side-by-side of Breta Cooper with the Mayerson Foundation in creating and implementing a PR plan to promote the Hidden Treasures CD, a tribute project to Cincinnati’s King Records with a very important message. From internationally renowned, to national touring, to local favorites, some of the most respected musicians and/or groups with roots in Cincinnati were part of that unique CD featuring new, never-before-heard versions of songs, originally recorded on King Records. However, that project wasn’t just about promoting King Records. It was about raising awareness of the fact that by bringing diverse people together for a common goal, that the result is even greater strength.
I also worked with Breta during my eight year relationship with the Inclusion Network. For seven years, I was one of the producers in charge of the messaging for what was one of our region’s most inspiring events drawing over 900 people – the Inclusion Leadership Awards Event. In just 2 ½ hours, our goal was to teach attendees a lesson that would somehow change the world as they know it. They heard stories of organizations that instinctively know how to uncover talent, and of people, whose abilities are no longer obscurities. Acceptance was no longer an abstract. Inclusion, they learned, was not about “them”, but about “me”.
So now, for the past three months, I have been working with Breta (and Kelly Aluise) to help convey the message of the nonprofit VIA Institute on Character doing social media messaging including building and managing a brand new blog – www.VIAcharacterblog.com. VIA has a global scope of empowering people through the advancement of the science and practice of character strengths. Their aim is to fill the world with greater virtue.
And that is my aim too.