In December 2012, I was privileged and honored to run my friend Kenn Chaplin's World AIDS Day roundup, which he had originated in 2010. I called the incarnation "Kenn's Project," and accepted submissions all the way up to 10 p.m. EST on December 1. I received written submissions from many of my amazing friends, including Edward, Emerald (she of the Awake and Alive Project), and Kenn himself. As World AIDS Day approached, I expanded the loose guidelines to include photos, and on World AIDS Day, I received one that I was already familiar with.
"Cut red ribbon 6" in length, then fold at the top into an inverted 'V' shape, use safety pin to attach to clothing." -- early Visual AIDS handout
On Friday, Sept. 21, my friend, fellow admin assistant and teammate, Sandie, walked in the door to our department, past my cubicle, and the first thing I said to her was, "We're awesome."
She's known me about a year, and is well aware of my abiding love of sarcasm and penchant for jokes, especially on Fridays, so she hesitated a moment before tentatively replying "... how awesome?"
My answer? "$1,994 of awesome." That's right, as of 8:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 21, with two days to go until the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life, we had exceeded our goal, and probably our expectations too, by $494.
I am so sorry it's taken me so long to write. September is fondly remembered as the month in which I got nothing done ... well, except for what I get paid to get done, and, of course, fundraising.
As I begin this, only a few hours have passed since I was sitting at a table for two at Ristorante a Mano, with a margherita pizza with artichokes, and across from Edward -- who, quick refresher, I've known for nearly 15 years, meeting in grade 6 in the course of my very first AIDS project. Edward is a wonderful storyteller and for much of the time I was regaled with travel stories about a European city he travelled to last year, that I now feel I know so well, and is so intricately drawn in my mind, I could easily go and explore right now. Alas, I am still in li'l old Nova Scotia. One day, though!
I met Allison, the summer student at the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, the other day when she delivered Save the Date cards for the Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life to my house. This is my second year fundraising for the event, and will be my first year participating. I am blessed to be walking with a team of at least 4 women, who along with being wonderful and amazing, are committed to raising $1,500.
If you're anything like me, there are probably dozens, if not more, pages you've liked on Facebook. In my case, 550, and a good chunk of that number -- probably more than 200 -- is HIV/AIDS-related; many of them are ASO's from all over the world.
When I started writing about social media and the role I felt it could play in helping AIDS Service Organizations connect with people who may not otherwise be involved in HIV/AIDS activism, not to mention stay current and relevant, I was adamant that I also make some of the changes I was suggesting ASOs make.
I've been spending a lot of time lately discussing ways for people to get involved in HIV/AIDS activism and ways for ASOs to tap into this reserve of "slacktivists" who are not lax by choice, but because of pre-existing time and distance constraints. I truly believe that there is absolutely no reason why someone who wants to be involved, should not be involved in some way. Likewise, I believe that there is absolutely no reason for ASOs to not be present and accounted for on social media. I also believe that ASOs can and should have control over their own web presence and content. Why? Because it is just so darn easy.
In my recent piece, "Notes for a Young Activist," I outlined ways for activists to get involved using social media and the internet. It occurred to me recently that AIDS Service Organizations, especially in Canada and smaller U.S. cities could maybe use a crash course too. Confession time: Not all those who are or seem inactive are by choice. Some of us work or live too far away from our local organization to volunteer so we do the next best thing: Write blog posts, tweet, share important articles via Facebook, sign petitions. But, the thing is, we should be able to be more involved.