I expected to write my thoughts immediately following the final day of Penny PushUps, September 30. This proved to be wishful thinking mainly because of my responsibilities to the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind as its Convention Coordinator.
Following the final day of the 2013 Convention & Conference on October 6, I was able to reserve some gray matter to thinking about lessons learned during Penny PushUps. I can sum these up as follows:
When I first thought about this fundraising and awareness campaign, I envisioned a straight forward video with little in production and editing. While I didn’t want it to appear as an off the cuff presentation, I didn’t want to follow a full script. This was more about reducing the time and effort that goes into production. For several reasons including access to notes, the fluctuations in my voice after the third set of pushups and the extended length of the videos, it made sense to add production and reduce the video size.
I originally expected the video to have a different tone with very specific content, but for various reasons this did not pan out. When it came down to it, the best videos in my opinion as far as content is concerned are those told from my own experience. These were the videos receiving the most positive feedback. It just proves that sharing what we know, ourselves, is the most genuine and therefore probably more compelling to the listener.
Take It To the People
I could have easily titled this, People Are Lazy, but I’m trying to be positive. I initially thought I would be able to simply post videos to YouTube and share the links on the other social media platforms. I was a little upset by the low number of views videos received. Realizing that my personal network was mainly on Face book and these were the folks most likely to sponsor the effort, I decided to start uploading the videos to Face Book directly. Apparently, initiating a YouTube link in Face Book is either time or resource consuming. On the contrary, videos residing in Face Book got a lot more views. Well, no reason to argue or analyze, it was just up to me now to bring the show to the people. This produced more shares and eventually more donors.
Ten Years Makes A Difference…
I can’t help but reflect back just under 10 years ago after losing my sight when I received my NLS Talking Book Cassette player. As I sat on the couch with the player, commercials for the iPod were on every television station. I felt as though technically, I was going backwards. I began learning Jaws only to find out that it wouldn’t give me access to the specific software I would need to continue my job as a developer. Searching the web was more frustrating than productive. Getting instant access to information like the rest of the world seemed impossible.
Today I can honestly say I feel as though the gap is closing as it relates to access. Did we reach the final goal; full access on par with those who are sighted? No, of course not, but we are getting closer. Today rather than receiving that NLS player as I did almost 10 years ago, I would be told I can get the same smart phone many of my peers are using and have access to books via multiple methods including the NLS, Audible.com and Amazon Kindle.
If you would have told me ten years ago as I sat on that couch that I would be able to successfully edit video, upload to YouTube and face Book, use a online crowd funding application to receive and track donations, post messages to social networks and to my own blog, well I wouldn’t believe you. Yet, I did, and man it felt great!
We always have a choice; we can concentrate on the problem and think about what we don’t have or focus on what is possible. I’m choosing to do the latter because there’s a chance I can do something I never imagined. Thinking only of the problem, well the outcome is pretty definite.
I struggle with the final lesson I gained from Penny PushUps. The entire process was done from my home, the Reid Compound. I call it the Compound for several reasons. The specific definition I am referring to is “An enclosed area used for confining prisoners of war.” I know, pretty dramatic, but honestly I felt like this in the early days of blindness. I don’t mean that metaphorically either, I felt confined because I didn’t have the ability to come and go at will. I still feel like this to some degree. In every aspect of my life, I have to ask how will I get there. The idea that I can still be productive with the physical boundaries is truly inspiring, but I’m always fearful of settling into those restrictions and feeling them even if they no longer exist.
I guess it is true that it doesn’t really matter where a seed is planted; it can still grow with the right nutrients.