Volunteer me

Here’s a bit of a “found post” (in other words, a lazy way to post something in the summer downtime). Last year, when I was their volunteer web editor, I was named volunteer of the year by my professional association. So recently, when promoting the nominations for this year’s awards and introducing me as a new board member, they did a Q&A with me for their members-only publication. They’d actually done one before the awards, too, and the questions were nearly identical, so I tried to answer differently this time while still in the realm of truth. Anyway, here’s the interview, with a few boring, identifying details cut out to preserve my illusion of privacy:

During work time what do you do?
I sit at a computer an awful lot, managing the employee newsletter and the website among other things.

In your spare time, what’s your claim to fame?
I created a website called TV, Eh? What’s Up in Canadian Television to promote homegrown programs, which has led to some great experiences, including meeting some people in the industry virtually and in person, being interviewed for my thoughts on the state of Canadian TV, and, a Canadian TV geek’s biggest thrill, having the site mentioned in John Doyle’s column in the Globe and Mail.

Why do you choose to volunteer your time?
I think it’s important to have a broad variety of activities in life to keep things interesting, so I always try to have a volunteer activity on the go. This is a great way to use my professional skills while working with a fun group of people.

Any funny stories to share from your volunteer experience?
Nothing outrageously funny – mostly I sit by myself at a computer so there’s not a lot of scope for comedy – but recently I was editing the website and ran into a technological glitch that caused all the navigation on the site to disappear: no menus at all, no easy way to get from one page to another. That’s not generally considered a good thing. I had to send a frantic e-mail to our web sponsors saying “Help! What did I do?” Turns out it wasn’t my fault (really) but I had several hours of thinking I broke the Internet.

I guess that’s not funny so much as sad.

Volunteer wisdom to live by:
I think the most important thing for me is to have fun with volunteering but take it seriously, too.

Inspirational book/movie/song:
I recently read Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign by Pico Iyer and found it inspiring, though that’s likely partly because I have serious travel lust right now. I love what he says about forcing ourselves to look outside of our own perspective: “The physical aspect of travel is, for me, the least interesting; what really draws me is the prospect of stepping out of the daylight of everything I know, into the shadows of what I don’t know, and may never know.”

Who is your mentor/hero:
I shy away from thinking of people as mentors and heroes, but I admire a lot of web geeks talking about things relevant to communications, people such as Steve Rubel, Robert Scoble, Jeff Jarvis, Shel Holtz, Mark Cuban.

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