Friday, August 24, 2007

Do Good Blogging: A Free, Fun Way to Change the World

If you want to use writing for change, why start a blog?

Blogs Can Educate and Raise Awareness

In a world where mainstream media tends to focus on celebrities and sensationalism, important problems and possible solutions are often overlooked. Blogs provide a much needed venue for sharing innovative thinking.

The 100 Mile Diet book (Plenty is the US title) started out as a blog by Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon in Spring 2005 when they used it as a platform to record their 100 Mile Diet experiment. For one year, they decided to buy or gather their food within 100 miles of their home in Vancouver, British Columbia. Their entries quickly gathered momentum over the Internet and inspired others to launch their own 100 Mile Diets.

Carmen Van Kerckhove's blogs Racialicious and Race in the Workplace raises readers' awareness about racism, like her post, "How to Respond to a Racist Joke."

Treehugger rose quickly in popularity because it became a resource for concerned consumers to learn about, "everything that has a modern aesthetic yet is environmentally responsible."

Blogs Can Mobilize People to Action

Blogs are an organizers dream. Not only can building a base of regular readers create a group of potential activists, blogs' linking and cross-posting culture spreads information quickly, and can have an added level of trust, if the reader already knows the source.

During the Starbucks Challenge, Green LA Girl motivated readers to push Starbucks to keep their promise that they would make a French-pressed cup of fair trade coffee for any customer who asked for it. When they didn't receive the coffee, readers either blogged about it on their own blogs, or left comments on Green LA Girl's blog.

Blogs like Drilling Santa Fe act as an organizing tool around a community issue. They provide a platform to spread calls to action, post event announcements, gather petition signatures, and generate discussion.

Fundraising initiatives like Beth Kanter's widget fundraising campaigns, Chez Pim's annual Menu for Hope virtual auction, Problogger's Blogging for Chickens, and Blogathon involve readers and bloggers in creative, personal philanthropic campaigns that can quickly raise thousands of dollars.

Blogs Can Be Used to Market

These days, published authors have to do a lot of their own promotion. Blogs can be a place for writers to try out ideas and build a readership, even before a book is conceived. They can also be a platform for promotion and communication with readers and fans after a book is published.

Books like Plenty, WorldChanging, and Wake Up and Smell the Planet were blogs first, and then used new and existing content to create books.

Blogs like Katya Andresen's Nonprofit Marketing Blog, Anna Lappe's Getcha Grub On and Gayle Brandeis' Fruitful, were created around the publication of their books: Andresen's Robin Hood Marketing, Lappe's Grub, and Brandeis' The Book of Dead Birds (which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of Literature of Social Change).

For myself, I started a blog in the hope that something I post might inspire a reader to create positive change.

In her book, Writing to Change the World, Mary Pipher says, "Writing and therapy are both about creating the conditions that allow us to take people to the mountain. When people's breathing changes and their eyes fill with wonder, they will walk down that mountain ready to perform miracles."



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