Having a life and being an activist / organizer


I was going to take a class from Exco on how to have a life and be an organiser. Unfortunately, it was cancelled before I could go to a class.  This morning I had coffee with the teacher and kind of got the cliff notes version, now I'm mulling over some options.

I guess it was kind of silly to think that I could take a class and learn how to be an activist without going totally crazy with it.  I don't know why, but somehow it kind of terrifies me to try and get involved with anything.  I don't know where to draw the lines, how much effort to put into things, how invested I can become before it starts to interfere with 'real life' so to speak.

So how do I figure out what to do?  What do I want to do?  How do I want for things to look?  I don't really have all that many answers right now, but I think some ideas are starting to come together.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about it lately, trying to put together a road map to the future. 

I've been thinking about it a lot lately too because of the new 5.5 version of concrete 5 that's coming out.  There's a new package out in the marketplace called Sample Content Generator that allows you to define a starting point for new websites.  So in the context of what I wanted to build for bikelove.org, it's now a freely available package that I could use, no development time needed.  I could simply go through and design out a few different styles of site, and then when I set up the install script for new websites on the bikelove.org servers I just have to link up the styles of site.  Starting off I think there would be one for "City or Town," one for "Non-Profit," one for "Bicycle Friendly Business," one for "Bike Shop" etc.  There's also an add on in marketplace review right now that allows anyone to register and log in with multiple different authentication providers suck as twitter, facebook, google, etc.  There's a developer in the IRC that has working code for sub-domain based servers on the same domain to share a user database.

So the pieces are starting to come together.  If I wanted to get back into programming the site again.

That's the thing.  Do I go back to the bikelove idea, or do I look for something else to do instead?  I've been trying to figure out how to plug in with the Occupy movement but I feel pretty different from them, and I don't know how effective I'll be at helping them out or doing anything.  I'm not sure how effective they will be either, I think it could go either way.  It seems from the emails that I've been reading that trying to get consensus on anything is pretty difficult for them, I've never been a good person for arguing and it seems like there's a lot of arguing.  I don't want that.  I want to do something that creates good and change right now, and I want to see it happen regardless of what is going on in politics and on wall street.  In my mind politics and wall street is all so corrupt and evil that it should just be excised and done away with and we should rebuild on a different foundation.  But I have no idea what that foundation would be so I don't know what to do.  So instead I focus on what I can do, what I know works.

That's what talking with Betsy made me realize.  I know something that works.  I know something that can totally change the way our nation looks.

And I'm not doing anything about it.

I don't know why.  The type of change that a bikelove forum can bring about in a person's life is astounding, how positive reinforcement and a central place to discuss issues related to cycling can lead to a lot of other changes.  You look at your world differently when you start to think of it with a bicycle as the center piece that makes everything 'work.'  You want things smaller.  You want things more local.  You want things more unique.  Maybe this is over generalizing, but I saw a lot people that would just get the bug and completely transform their life due to the positive influence from liberal hippie bikers.  It's probably not something we should admit to because people say that bicycling has no agenda, anyone can do it but I think that it does tend to lend people towards a more natural and 'in tune' lifestyle.  I don't know why, but it does.

So anyway, knowing that I have this method of using software to create change, what am I doing?  Pretty much nothing.  Waiting, I guess.  I was waiting for some sign that I was 'ready' or 'stable' enough to go back to working on it.  Bikedate I was figuring that most of the code I could use on it, the RSVP software is pretty nice and I've used that on other sites already.  The rapid ajax paging I think was really nice but I haven't gotten to use that on anything.  The profile pages I think I might package up into something for the marketplace, if I can get it formatted nicely enough without a 960 grid.  I don't know, code wise I'm pretty much ready to start on it.  I haven't drawn anything out on it, no mind-maps or wire frames.  But it's all there in my head and the code exists in different places.  It just needs to be written down.

I'm not really ready to go after the organizing end of it though. 

So really, what do I do?  I guess one thing I could do is just put together a simple blogging theme and start blogging about what I want to build and starting to wireframe things up.  Make a kickstarter page, or simply set up a script for making paypal donations that keeps a running total and displays it on the site, put that money away towards actually creating the company and the non profit and starting to go live with stuff.  Start looking for grant money that I could use.  Look for people that can help me with the book keeping end of things.

I don't know, all I have are ideas right now.  Or really, I still have the same idea, I just have a lot better tools for doing what I want to do now.  I know how to use git, I've got video conferencing capabilities so that I can meet with people across the nation.  I've collaborated with lots of people on lots of different stuff remotely.  That should help a lot.

But the first thing is to actually make a blog template for bikelove.org I guess.  Putting together a github repo for the source code.  Going back to some of the original code and re-working it for 5.5.  I do think my blueprint css framework was a good idea for theme development and should allow the sub-sites to do almost anything they want as far as themes.  Plus then updates to the core theme elements can be managed by package updates.

I'm using up vacation time today and I'm supposed to be working on getting more freelance work, and I really should be doing that instead of posting here.  I did get a lead on a designer that wants to release some themes to the marketplace that I think will work out OK.  I don't know much about her stuff, she had two designs that looked ok, a lot flatter and louder than I typically go with my designs.  Anyway, that could be good for some extra income too.  Other than that I'm first off working on the portfolio for this site, seems like I should have that ready to go before doing too much trying to contact people that might need concrete 5 developers. I'm not really sure where to go looking for shops that use concrete 5 - how do you know which shops use it or don't use it?  There don't seem to be a lot of shops here in Minneapolis but I could be wrong.  I don't feel plugged in at all, we haven't done a meetup in months and months.  I keep asking in the IRC but they want to have it somewhere that sells beer and can do a full several hours with presentations and everything and that seems excessive.  I'd rather just have a few people meet up and talk, network.  Anyway.

I updated the slider for the portfolio over the weekend.  That's getting a lot closer to ready for the marketplace, too.  I renamed it from caroufredsel_image_slider to attributes_slider.  I think that makes a lot more sense, especially if I find a better script to use for the front end.  Or maybe I could do more than one script for the front end and load up the required ones based on the theme being viewed.  I tried to get around a pretty nasty little bug that I've found but I couldn't.  I went back to the slideshow block as a basis for making the block, and I still got issues when you would upload images.  Basically if you browse for an image, then upload an image using the upload single or upload multiple tool the 'choose' action no longer works.  Sometimes it does nothing at all, sometimes it closes the window but no row shows up.  I think this is because ccm_chooseAsset is overridden when the form reloads with the new image but I'm not entirely sure.  I know it's nothing to do with my code and other people were not able to reproduce the bug so I may just live with it and maybe make a note in the 'support' area that you should upload all your images and THEN add your slider to the page.