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Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

LUM Achieve Students “March on Washington”

In Education, History, Lafayette Indiana, Leadership, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, social media, Uncategorized on August 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

PCPopSocialMediaLogoAs a part of PC Pop Social Media, I was asked to travel to Washington DC with a youth group to participate in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

The students on the LUM Youth Trip to Washington are enrolled at an academic enrichment program at the Lafayette Urban Ministry (Indiana) called Achieve! Stay-in-School Program. Achieve recruits middle school students who are at-risk academically and qualify for the 21st Century Scholars program, which entitled them to free tuition in any Indiana state university, if they continue to meet certain award criteria. These student committed in writing to a rigorous learning enrichment program meant to ensure that they succeed. LUM decided that these students would get a tremendous experience by traveling to Washington and experiencing first hand a significant part of our nation’s history.

My role in this trip was to document the students’ experience. I jumped at the chance to travel with these students to Washington for two reasons: first – I personally wanted to “March on Washington” for the 50th; second – I was excited about the opportunity to see it through the eyes of these young Americans. I took hundreds of photos, interviewed the students with each conversation, observed their actions and reactions, coached them on visiting a major event in a big US city, and wrote about their collective journey. I was posting and blogging as it was happening — trying to capture the excitement, the awe, the history and the transformation of each participant in our group.

Although it was only a three day trip — it changed my life. It is a trip I will remember fondly the rest of my life. I believe it had the same, if not greater, impact on the seven LUM-Achieve students who were brave enough and wise enough to take advantage of this once in a lifetime experience. I have a dream that I will travel back to DC for the 100th anniversary with this very same group of students in 2063!

Enjoy this travel blog — and let me know what you think.

Lafayette Urban Ministry

youth trip to washington dc



Travel Blog — LUM Youth Trip to Washington


Friday, August 23, 2013


7 a.m.


Anthony, Lourdes, Makaylah, TK, Cassandra, Noah and Fatima arrived — excited — for the bus ride to Washington DC. They loaded the bus quickly; they were loud for a bit; then, they were all asleep shortly there after.


2013-08-22 LUM Youth Trip to Washington 001 (2)


Left to Right:
(Front Row) Sandra Dunn-El, Makaylah Douglas (Jefferson High School), Fatima Sanchez (Jefferson High School), Lourdes Sanchez (Jefferson High School);
(Back Row) – Joe Tylenda, Joe Micon, TK Young (Jefferson High School), Anthony Hicks (West Lafayette High School), Noah Ortiz (Wea Ridge Middle School), Cassandra Ortiz (McCutcheon High School)


NOON


Their first stop was a quick potty-break at a rest stop off the highway in Ohio.

The next stop was McDonald’s in Licking, Ohio near Buckeye Lake. Quick lunch — recharge devices — and then back on the road.


2013-08-22 LUM Youth Trip to Washington 005 (2)


2013-08-22 LUM Youth Trip to Washington 004 (2)


2013-08-22 LUM Youth Trip to Washington 003 (2)


The road trip east to Washington DC…

View original post 1,503 more words

PC Pop Social Media – Update and Company Launch

In Malavenda, marketing, social media on March 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

PC Pop Social Media

PCPopSocialMediaLogoYou may be wondering why you haven’t seen a PC Pop blog post lately. Well…I haven’t had a chance to write for myself in awhile because — good news — I’ve been hired to write for four other companies/organizations.

Although I have been consulting and creating marketing campaign using Social Media for over eight years, I have formally launched a Social Media and Marketing business – PC Pop Social Media. PC Pop Social Media offers solutions to businesses wanting to use social media to engage their clients, shareholders, colleagues, stakeholders, and employees. My specialty is working with Nonprofit Agencies to market their services and programs while cultivating a relationship with their friends, supporters, donors and volunteers. I also work successfully with educational institutions, churches, government agencies, and small businesses.

In addition to my experience with social media, I have been developing successful branding and marketing strategies for over 25 years. As a teenager I was an apprentice to a graphic designer and printer — and have had a passion for promotional design ever since.

If you’re interested in checking out my recent writing, go to this Nonprofit’s blog…

I also produce all of this Nonprofit’s eNewsletters which may be found HERE.

My specialty is working with the agency or company to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that is align with their strategic plan and incorporates both traditional and social media marketing. In addition to E-mail newsletters and blog posts, you may check out LUM’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and  Linked In accounts too. The links are as follows:


      


Thanks for your support from the beginning and let others know about my new company — PC Pop Social Media.

How to Say NO to Facebook – Advice for Families and Educators

In Education, Facebook, Family, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, parenting, social media, Uncategorized on October 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm


Facebook – Advice for Families and Educators

Each day in the life of a parent of a teenager or tween invites challenges. Parenting today’s youth contains so many contradictions and conflicts. We want our kids to respect us — and like us. Kids need and are begging for boundaries — but we don’t know how to say “No.” We want to protect our kids from worshiping material things but we want them to have better stuff than their friends. We hope our kids will follow the rules but we teach them how to break them every day. Some decisions are easy – say No to drugs, don’t steal, don’t cheat. Others are not so simple, like when it is OK to date, go to an R rated movie, or get on Facebook.

This post can’t possible cover all of those issues adequately – so, let’s focus on one – how to deal with that inevitable question about Facebook. My first reaction to parents and educators is that it is simple – follow the rules and agreement. Most people “agree” and “accept” agreements with online sites and software without ever reading a word. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll…click the “I accept” box and submit. So it is no surprise that very few know Facebook has an age minimum. Here is an excerpt from the Facebook Agreement you accepted (but most likely did not read) under the Safety Section, specifically “Registration and Account Security.”


Facebook – Statement of Rights and Responsibilities

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

    • You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
    • You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.

Facebook and many other online sites like Twitter, Instagram, and all Google products including Gmail and YouTube has age restrictions to show good faith to the US Federal government. These social networking sites have adopted these policies based on their interpretation of the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 also known as COPPA.


Here are some COPPA facts:

  • COPPA is a Federal Law
  • COPPA was Enacted on October 21, 1998
  • COPPA became Effective on April 21, 2000
  • COPPA applies to the “online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age.”
  • It details what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children’s privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13.
  • While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents’ permission, many websites altogether disallow underage children from using their services due to the amount of paperwork involved.

This doesn’t stop kids under 13 from getting Facebook profiles on their own or asking their parents to give their blessing for a Facebook profile. Facebook doesn’t do too much to prevent kids from creating a profile. Facebook screens out kids by requiring new members to submit their birth month, birth day, and birth year. If the birth year reveals that the person registering is over 13 years old – they make it past the one and only hurdle imposed by Facebook. Most kids savvy enough to know about Facebook are savvy enough to fudge their birth year to get approved for a profile. The only other ways a minor may lose their Facebook account is if another user reports them as being under age or they change their birth date information too often. Otherwise, once a minor gets in they are set.

After surveying the parents of the kids who were already using Facebook, many of these parents admitted to helping their children falsify their information to get a Facebook account — creating what is known as a “Virtual Fake ID.” Parents who actually help their kids commit fraud when registering with Facebook concern me for a couple of reasons. These parents either don’t completely understand the dangers of kids using Facebook, or they know the risk and don’t really care. Most of these parents find it very difficult to deny their kids anything. So when the kids ask for access to Facebook stating that all of their friends are on Facebook, the parents concede. These parents don’t want their kids to have less than other kids, and they really want their kids to like them and think they’re the cool parents. So these parents teach their kids to cheat, lie and commit fraud to get that much desired Facebook account. With these families, saying NO to Facebook is not their real issue. The good news is most parents know that there are risks and know they should say NO but just need some advice on “how to say NO” and information that supports the claim of risk and danger.



As parents, that day arrived for us when our kids were in fifth and fourth grades. My son came home and told us that many of his friends had Facebook profiles and he was wondering if he should get one too. We sat down with both of our kids and told them that Facebook did not allow kids under 13 years old to register – and kids between the ages of 13 and 17 needed their parents’ permission and the parents’ commitment to monitor their activity. We continued the discussion with our two kids about our concerns and about the risks and dangers of the internet. The topics or discussion points we used in our conversation with our two kids are as following:


  • Purpose of Facebook — The original purpose of Facebook which was to assist college students in connecting online – and now any adult. Due to the amount of college students and young adults using Facebook — inappropriate content and language is freely shared, used, and available. Just like we wouldn’t allow them to wander around a university campus at their age, they shouldn’t be allowed to wander around Facebook at their age. Quite simply, Facebook was not designed for kids.
  • Why an Age Restriction – First it is part of a Federal Law and written into the Facebook agreement. We as a family follow rules and obey laws. A lot of research and discussion was involved in passing the law and creating the rule; therefore we will comply.
  • You Don’t Need It – When kids get older and go to college, Facebook is a useful tool to keep in touch with your high school friends and family.  Once you graduate college and/or get a job in the real world, your network of friends, family and colleagues will most likely extend across the country and perhaps will be global. Facebook will then be a useful tool to keep in touch, share information, and develop relationships that may assist you in life and your career development. But until you can show your parents that you need Facebook to communicate or stay connected to your friends – you should not be on Facebook. Go to school and talk to your friends instead.
  • Too Public, Too Many Strangers. Due to the amount of users (more than 1 billion to date), there is a great potential for predators to hurt them, harass them or just pick on them and make them feel bad. Bullying is a real issue, and cyber-bullying is even easier and potentially more damaging. Even though kids are using the internet and Facebook in the safety of their own home – it is a very public place. Kids are just not developmentally ready to be on their own in such a public place with potentially a billion strangers watching them.
  • Waste of Time – Addictive. How it can become addictive and a waste of valuable time – taking away from the true priorities of doing well in school, having friends, and participating in other activities like sports, band and student council. Online addiction is a real issue especially with kids who are easily distracted, seeking attention or validation, or avoiding work. This by the way describes most children, tweens and young teens.
  • But Others Kids are Doing It. Why other kids are doing it and we can’t. In our family, we have already established with our kids through various conversations that other families may make different decisions than us. We are not going to judge other families but typically what other parents do will not have an impact on us. Only we know what is right and good for our family.

That being said, it is great when the parents of your kids’ friends have similar rules about Facebook. It is the Tooth Fairy Syndrome – when you discovered that one kid in your kids’ circle of friends has received $10 for just one tooth from the Tooth Fairy. Those parents ruined it for the rest of us parents whose kids only got 50¢ to a dollar per tooth from the Tooth Fairy. For this reason it is worth having a discussion with other parents, your kids’ teachers, and other family members to see if you can establish some consistency in the messages your kids are getting about social media and social networking. Most parents when they are educated about the dangers and risks of kids using Facebook will also restrict their kids’ usage. Also, most of our parent-friends were clueless that the age restriction was tied to Federal Law and explicitly stated in the Facebook user agreement. If you can’t find common ground though, don’t back down and don’t compromise. After all it is the safety of your kids that is at stake.


So, now that we have this Facebook dilemma figured out – whose going to help me figure out how to talk to my kids about “you know what,” when they could start dating, and when they can go see an “R” rated movie without me tagging along. Somebody Help Me. Please.


Nobody said it was easy — No one ever said it would be so hard.


Read more about Social Media on PC Pop with Pablo:


References & Resources for Parents, Teachers, and Families:


NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.


OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with several other federal agencies. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.


Kids Using Social Media – A Guide for Families and Educators

In Children, Education, Facebook, Family, Malavenda, marketing, parenting, social media, Uncategorized on September 18, 2012 at 8:41 pm


Since the launch of Facebook in 2004, I have been studying the impact of individuals’ Social Media choices on their lives. I have seen time and time again individuals who insist on posting inappropriate content online using Facebook and other social networks. These choices cause problems, anxiety and often severe and irreversible consequences.

In 2005, my focus was on educating college students and college administrators. Facebook was such a new and mysterious internet phenomenon, I was kept very busy working with student athletes, coaches, campus officials in the dean’s office, top administrators, campus police, media relations staff as well as religious leaders and student leaders.

In 2010, there was a shocking increase in the number of middle school and elementary school students joining Facebook despite the age restriction. (Facebook requires that members be at least 13 years old to register.) My kids were in elementary school at the time, and I went on a crusade to get the word out to teachers and parents. As I started to give Social Media lectures and workshops I realized how ignorant most parents and teachers were to the potential dangers and pitfalls of social media and networking.

Today, the problem still exists only the technology is getting more and more advanced, parents and getting worn down, teachers are getting desperate, and the kids are getting more persistent and savvier. So, I am taking my crusade to the place where everyone is and wants to be – the internet.


Families & Parents

Many parents in this generation are intimately involved in all aspects of their kids’ lives and want them to have everything – including the latest cellphone, unlimited texting, and a Facebook profile. A majority of the kids who were altering the “birth year” to gain a Facebook profile had their parents’ consent and in many cases had their parents’ help with the registration process. Parents want the latest gadget for their kids but don’t even know it’s bad. And the pressure is on to equip your kids as well as your neighbor’s kids. Yes, peer pressure exists among parents too. Families must become engaged in social media in order to understand and to help their kids to avoid the pitfalls and navigate the dangers.



Teachers

Teachers on the other hand know the potential dangers when kids use Facebook but most teachers simply don’t know enough about technology to assist the kids or the parents. Teachers have a great deal of training and experience in how to deal with bad behavior but no one prepared them for this. Technology has added a new troubling dimension to student behavior issues. Every issue teachers have been dealing with for decades are still prevalent but with a new twist. Teachers know it’s bad – but get stuck there. Teachers must focus not on where the behavior is occurring but rather on the behavior itself. Whether the incident happens on the playground or on Facebook, the approach should be the same and the discipline, if necessary, should be consistent. Educators will then realize that they already know how to handle this online behavior and already have the resources to combat it. Educators should trust their instincts and rely on their training and experience to proactively work on educating kids on the pitfalls and giving parents the tools to do the same. But they must also be prepared to react swiftly, fairly and firmly, when needed.



Kids

The kids are going to take what they can from their parents – who want to give them everything. Kids will do their best to be safe but will eventually make a mistake. Let’s hope the consequences aren’t too damaging. There’s a reason they don’t have middle school dances at night – and they don’t have them at all in elementary school. Tweens do not have the skills to deal with complex relationships. Elementary school kids aren’t even ready for simple relationships let alone complex ones. Children are just not ready – developmentally – for the skills needed to use Facebook and other social media without getting hurt in some way.  Through my experience I know that social networking environments like Facebook are difficult for adult and college-age students; therefore, it will be impossible for teens, tweens and juveniles to avoid trouble. This new technology has far worse consequences though.  The danger is real, the harm is severe and the results can be permanent and irreversible.



Educating Kids

First, parents and teachers must partner together. The solution is not to ban young adults from using the internet but to make choices as a family – as a community.  For instance, like with PG-13 and R-rated movies we must have conversations with our kids about what’s appropriate, what the boundaries will be and why. Once kids are old enough they must be educated, trained and coached. Parents and teachers must expect mistakes and be supportive and understanding while correcting behavior immediately, equitably, and consistently. Social media is not going away. The best gift we may give our kids is the street-smarts to navigate this new medium successfully.



I plan on posting a series of blogs discussing the issues with kids using social media. My goal is to educate families, school personnel and students on some of the pitfalls. For now I will offer a short list of some of the potential issues with using Social Media for young adults and children. Ponder these and stayed tuned for more.



Now – if you choose to and allow your kids to go online – enter at your own risk – Godspeed.



Glossary of Internet Acronyms:

  • ASL = Age, Sex, Location?
  • BRB = Be Right Back
  • G2G = Got To Go
  • MIRL = (Let’s) Meet in Real Life
  • OMG = Oh My God/Gosh
  • POS = Parent Over Shoulder
  • P911 = Parent Alert
  • TMI = Too Much Information

A complete list of Top 50 Internet Acronyms Parents Need to Know


Read more about Social Media on PC Pop with Pablo:


References & Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Families:


NetSmartz Workshop is an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, activity cards, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.


OnGuardOnline.gov is the federal government’s website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online. The Federal Trade Commission manages OnGuardOnline.gov, in partnership with several other federal agencies. OnGuardOnline.gov is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.


Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development. As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.


NPO Social Media and Marketing – Unique Culture of Non Profits

In Leadership, Malavenda, marketing, Pablo Malavenda, social media, Uncategorized on September 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm


I have recently become the first ever Director of Social Media and Marketing at a very well respected Non-Profit Organization in our region – which is an exciting new opportunity for me that taps into decades of experience. But how different is the world of NPO’s versus the corporate and education environments? Quick answer – Very; long answer – it’s exactly the same only really different.

As a higher education professional with an interest in technology I was one of few social networking “experts” among my peers. Since 2004, I have presented dozens of workshops and keynotes on Facebook, Twitter, Web 2.0 and social media in general mostly to educators, education administrators, coaches, and students. As an officer of an NPO, I soon began consulting with many agencies in our city, region and state.

This new Social Media position combines my experiences with nonprofits, my many years of marketing and promoting events and services within higher education, and my knowledge and experiences with social media. In many ways this position is perfect for me. My first task, even before starting the job officially, was to plan my first 5 steps in achieving the marketing goals of the nonprofit. I pulled out my Social Media Marketing Plan and was tempted to jump right in with stage one – Awareness. But upon further reflection, I decided in order to succeed I needed to remember that although the work would be familiar, the rules of working within an NPO would be very different. I also needed to know a lot more about the culture of this particular NPO.

So before jumping in the social media pool feet first, I needed a reality check. One of the most important differences with NPO’s is the organizational structure. Who has the authority? What’s the responsibility of the Board? What’s the responsibility of the executive director? What is the actual chain of command? This is important because as a marketing professional you must build Awareness first and then Educate next – but in this case the Board (not you) is the authority on WHAT you are going to promote. This chain of command giving the Board supreme control over the purpose, scope, and mission of the NPO are dictated for the most part by the IRS who grants their tax-exempt, nonprofit status. Another important responsibility of the Board is the hiring and oversight of the Executive Director. That being said, the Board should NOT get involved in the hiring and supervision of the rest of the staff and the day to day execution of the NPO’s services, programs and general operation.  The rest of the staff reports to and is the responsibility of the Executive Director. As the Social Media specialist it is critical to your success to know how you fit in and accept the role of the Board and the Executive Director.

This structure may sound very restrictive but in practice it is quite dynamic. The structure of the Board is such that you will see great passion and commitment in the long term success of the NPO. The Board and the executive director typically communicate regularly and establish an ambitious vision – which always includes marketing and outreach. The great news is if they have the insight to create YOUR position focusing on social media, you can be certain that they will support you and your ideas. They realize that the ways NPO’s have been using to communicate need to evolve with technology. Soon you will be breaking new ground for your NPO using social media to build Awareness about your agency, to Educate your community on the program and services and eventually to Engage your community until individuals become compelled to take Action by volunteering and giving of their time, treasure and talent.

Now take the plunge.


Read other PC Pop blog posts about Social Media & Marketing:


Flashback to the Eighties – Social Media and a Spontaneous College Reunion

In College Students, Family, Malavenda, Pablo Malavenda, social media, Summer for Renewal, UConn, Uncategorized on August 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Long Live Watson Beach at UConn

U Conn Husky, symbol of might to the foe.
Fight, fight Connecticut, it’s victr’y, Let’s go
Connecticut U Conn Husky, victr’y again for the White and Blue
So go, go, go Connecticut, Connecticut U. Fight!
C-O-N-N-E-C-T-I C-U-T. Connecticut,
Connecticut Husky,
Connecticut Husky, Connecticut C-O-N-N-U. Fight! (repeat)

{NOTE: In recent times, the original word “Hi!” has been replaced with “Fight!”}


In preparation for a visit home to Connecticut prior to leaving Indiana I took the first step in what became a viral invitation to a spontaneous UConn Watson Beach alumni reunion thanks to Social Media. The result was a serendipitously perfect day.

Initially I reached out to just three UConn Watson Beach alums with whom I still engage on Facebook. Once we were able to nail down a date for a mini-reunion, the three of us invited other UConn Watson Beach alums to join us through Facebook. Everyone was encouraged to spread the word, and it became viral in a tiny way. After a week or so, we compared lists and identified individuals who had not been contacted yet. We pooled our resources and used ever means necessary to track people down. LinkedIn became another powerful means to locate and connect because of their internal messaging system as well as the availability of email addresses.  More and more, individuals are hiding their email addresses on Facebook and other social media sites but since LinkedIn is about professional networking, we found a few more missing alums through there.

Now we had to plan our day. It became apparent that many wanted to see the Storrs campus — so, our meeting place would be the UConn campus. One fellow alum who lives about 5 miles from campus then offered her home for a pool party following a morning visit to our old stomping grounds.  Since I not only graduated from UConn twice (almost thrice) and worked there for over 10 years, I contacted a friend/alumna/colleague to see if we could actually get in to see our beloved Watson. This friend/alumna/colleague coincidentally was our “staff resident” back when we were students and still works at UConn in residential life. During my time at UConn she became a great colleague and was a next-door neighbor — and continues to be a Facebook friend and conference buddy. She readily agreed to meet us at Watson on that Saturday morning and let us in to see our college home. Things were really coming together.

I attended the UConn Hartford Campus for two years prior to “branchfering” to the main campus and moving into Watson Hall in the Fall of 1981. Watson Hall was my home from Fall 1981 through Spring 1984. Most of my close friends from the UConn Hartford campus as well as other Hartford “branchfers” were also residents of the third floor of Watson. When I arrived within a week of moving in the president of the Watson Hall council resigned. I ran for the mid-term position and won.  I was the president for the next three years and worked with a dedicated and talented team to resurrect the image and programming of our beloved Watson Hall. For a variety of reasons, we called our front lawn “Watson Beach.” So when we became one of the best councils on campus — we officially changed our constitution to reflect our new image and new name — the Watson Beach Council.  This was the beginning of creating one of those special affinity groups within the UConn alumni community; one that has a very strong bond with hundreds of UConn alums.

The summer of 2012 has been designated (by me) as My Summer for Renewal. Why? Because last summer I made a mistake — I put work ahead of family and friends. That was wrong and I promised my family, friends…and myself, that my priorities would change in 2012. My priorities are once again focused on making sure that I am physically and psychologically healthy; so that I am able to build and maintain positive relationships with my family and friends. When planning our summer, we made sure that we were able to take at least two weeks off for a trip to Connecticut so we may reconnect with as many friends and family as possible.  {NOTE: We accomplished a lot in two weeks but we still did not connect with everyone and had to make some tough decisions. For instance we met with UConn college friends but could not possible connect with former colleauges at UConn. Next time — for sure!} The UConn Watson Beach Reunion was a priority for the 2012 Summer for Renewal.

The morning of this Saturday reunion arrived and my wife, kids and I started our journey to Storrs, Connecticut, home of the UConn Huskies. Our reminiscing started as soon as we hit the road because the route we traveled was one we did hundreds of times in the past. My wife and I traveled this road for over a decade each Sunday to my family homestead for Sunday dinner. This trip was also special because we were sharing our excitement, pride, and stories with our two children who have grown up loving UConn. The excitement was building and our anticipation grew. We arrived on campus early and good thing because the first change we encountered from the “old days” was the new road sytem on campus — roads eliminated in the center of campus and more one-way streets. We finally found our way around campus to our designated meeting spot — Watson Hall. We parked our car and the magic began. Our posse of Watson Beach alums weren’t the only ones on campus but we found each other quickly — emerging from every parking lot and loading dock in the vacinity. It was as if we never left campus — as if it were once again the fall of 1982. After a flurry of hugs and kisses, we picked up right where we left off. We were so happy, so comfortable, so loud and so much in love — with UConn, with Watson (Hall) Beach, with each other. Some I had seen as recently as January 2011 but others I had not seen for 20-30 years.

Soon our former staff resident arrived with the keys to Watson Hall and our day began officially. It did take a while to get everyone’s attention and to move us all into the building though. When we approached the building as a group, our rowdy group of friends were a bit quieter, more focused and more serious. It has been so long for all of us — but everything came back — immediately. Watson Hall has not changed much since the mid-80’s. This probably frustrates the current residential life staff at UConn but we were thrilled. And like a parent waiting for their kids to get home from a long night out — Elmer Watson (the portrait, that is) was waiting for us in the main lobby with the same warm eyes and loving smile making us feel welcome and safe. I was afraid that the portrait of Elmer Watson, fellow alumnus and namesake of our college home, would be gone; but Elmer was still there covered in protective fiberglass with scratches that I would put money on were there when we were there back in the ’80’s. The old place looked great. New furniture, new carpet but it felt the same — we were home. We all did laps around the lounge reliving all of the many happy and crazy memories of our college days. And yes — alcohol was involved. Back then, the drinking age in Connecticut was 18 years old and kegs were allowed  at residence hall council lounge parties.  Thanks to President Reagan (I say bitterly), the drinking age rose to 21 in 1984 — so, these memories are truly unique and in contrast with today’s residential life experience at UConn. We survived. No, we have thrived.

Our once motley crew now includes nothing short of great success in raising families, developing their careers and impacting a number of different communities. Our cohort includes a wide variety of professionals — engineers, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, college deans, pharmacists, educators, and marketing executives. We traveled from Indiana and others from Manhattan, Boston, and every corner of Connecticut. But on this day nothing matters except that we all bleed Blue and White. We even burst into the UConn Fight Song once or twice throughout the day. We all love UConn; we all love Watson Beach; and we all fondly remember our college experience. UConn gave us opportunities to grow up, to develop strong relationships, to dream, to be leaders and to serve each other and our communities. UConn brought us together, and we remain friends for life.

Our plan was to see the campus and go to the “pool party” around noon. After exploring Watson Beach, sharing stories, and taking a lot of pictures we moved on — reluctantly but excited to see our campus.  We could have spent the entire day at Watson but we had to stay on schedule; so, we set off, on foot, of course.  Just the walk from Watson to the center of campus brought back many memories but so much of the campus has changed that it was difficult to absorb it all. Additionally, there was construction in and around over three major buildings in our short 2-3 block walk. Our “must-see” list included Gampel Pavilion, the Memorial Football Stadium, the Student Union, WHUS Radio Studios, the UConn Coop (bookstore) and the Dairy Bar. The UConn Coop is brand new and sits on what was once a parking lot. The Memorial Football Stadium has recently been demolished because since they became a division one team they have been playing at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. The grassy field known back in our day as the “Grad Field” we crossed many times a day as students is the new location of the Business School.

Even the Student Union is different.  The front facade hasn’t changed since 1952 but the back has been expanded and is unrecognizable. I just had to see the radio station and the Doug Bernstein Game Room. Doug lived in Watson, on my floor, and is a Watson Beach alumnus. Unfortunately Doug was not able to join us on this day but some of us couldn’t resist going to see the Student Union game room named in his honor.  Doug has done well enough that he has been able to give back and one of his gifts was this game room. To our surprise the plaque included a letter in which he is found guilty of taking a Space Invaders Machine from the Watson Hall Rec Room. The letter was signed by Lorraine Gervais our head resident.  Doug “borrowed” the full size video game machine because he needed it to host a tournament in his room on the 3rd floor of Watson. Needless to say, we remember that tournament as if it were yesterday (and not 31 years ago) and remember how much Doug enjoyed torturing Lorraine. Lorraine was a “by the book” residence hall staff member, and of course, she charged him, held a formal hearing, found him guilty and sanctioned him. Ah, the memories. Also on our visit to the Student Union is the WHUS Radio studio. WHUS is where I had a weekly radio morning show for close to eight years but it is now in a brand new location in the newly renovated part of the Student Union. I am happy that my alma mater is growing but I miss the old Student Union, I miss my old WHUS studio, and I miss all of the green space between the Union and Watson Hall.

Lucky for us, Gampel Pavilion was open that morning with kids and families registering for UConn annual summer soccer camp. Although Gampel was not around when we were students most of us have been to games and events there since. It brought back lots of great memories of some high energy basketball games, Homecoming events, concerts, and March Madness pep-rallies. While working at UConn in the 90’s, I rarely missed a home game and often sat (or should I say stood) in the student section — and was one of the behind the scenes coordinators of most of the concerts and special events including the Indigo Girls, Spin Doctors, Leaders of the New School (featuring Busta Rhymes), Bob Dylan, Public Enemy, and Anthrax (to name a few). The difference is that UConn has been able to hang quite a few more championship banners since then. This of course make us even prouder alums.

Like many alums, one of the highlights of our visit was the campus bookstore — the UConn Coop. The energy level of our group increased tremendously as we rushed through an entire store with endless items celebrating and honoring our beloved alma mater — and some textbooks. We all stocked up on our UConn gear as if it was an end of the world moving sale. For us out of state UConn alums, it is exciting not only to browse the UConn Coop but also to see UConn stuff everywhere in the entire state including all over every shopping mall, in grocery stores, drug stores, gas stations, and even in discount stores like Old Navy. We all had UConn fever and were loving it. We finished our tour of campus in our own time. We took a few last pictures with the Husky Dog statue and we wound down our visit to campus and moseyed over to our cars.

Next on the agenda was the Watson Beach Alumni Pool Party. The party was such a welcome retreat from campus because the focus was now on us and our conversations. We were once again loud — laughing and sharing. There was no tension, no drama, no need to pretend — we were transformed back in time and we had a lot of catching up to do. The food was simple but fabulous; the pool was inviting and refreshing; and there were plenty of spaces to visit and talk.  They even had a cabana with a TV to get updates on the Yankee game. At one point we looked over and noticed that our kids had found each other and we were hitting it off even though they had only met that morning. One friend brought her Watson Beach T-shirt to show off and share; and yet another brought a stack of photo albums which were a big hit especially with the kids — as you can imagine. No one wanted the day to end, but all wonderful celebrations must. One of our friends brought a tradition from her home to our reunion. She walked everyone to their cars as they needed to leave and waved farewell to them and didn’t stop until they were completely out of sight. A few of us joined her for this touching ritual.

We finally departed around 3:45 p.m. to meet with some family in this part of the state. For the record we did double back to campus after our family visit to get UConn’s own ice cream at the UConn Dairy Bar. And yes, even the Dairy Bar has been renovated; and yes, I miss the old Dairy Bar with its old fashion, horseshoe shaped counter. But the ice cream has not changed — and it is to die for — Huskies Supreme for me! And like a perfect ice cream sundae — this was the cherry on top.

And to think, without Facebook, Email, LinkedIn, Google it wouldn’t have happened. It was spontaneous and a bit viral. It was in many ways serendipitous. It certainly was a perfect “Summer for Renewal” event. We were reassured by the friends with whom we don’t keep in touch that we’re still important to each other; and we were blessed to see in person those with whom we do connect with through Facebook and bi-annual visits.  You learn a lot from exchanging Christmas/Hannukah cards each winter but nothing can compare to the richness and deep connections that were made at this simple reunion.  The UConn Watson Beach Reunion was filled with hugs and laughter — and we created a whole bunch of NEW memories — and shared promises to “do this again” soon. And forever the words of our Alma Mater ring true — Old Connecticut – When times, shall have severed us far, and the years their changes bring, the thought of the college we love in our memories will cling. For friendships that ever remain.


Old Connecticut
Once more, as we gather today,
To sing our Alma Mater’s praise,
And join in the fellowship strong,
Which inspires our college days.
We’re backing our teams in the strife
Cheering them to victory!
And Pledge anew to old Connecticut,
Our steadfast spirit of loyalty.
(Chorus) Connecticut, Connecticut,
Thy sons and daughters true
Unite to honor thy name,
Our fairest White and Blue.
When times, shall have severed us far,
and the years their changes bring,
the thought of the college we love
in our memories will cling.
For friendships that ever remain,
and association’s dear,
We’ll raise a song, to
old Connecticut, and join our voices in our long cheer


This PC Pop Blog post is a part of a series called the Summer for Renewal. Read the other Summer for Renewal posts too.  They are as follows:

 


Read more stories about growing up in my family and our traditions, check out these PC Pop posts:


Pinterest, I’m Outnumbered

In Books, Lists, Malavenda, marketing, Men, Pablo Malavenda, Pinterest, social media, Survivor, Uncategorized on April 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

Pinterest


Recently I raised my bushy man eyebrows at the latest news about Pinterest.  The media has reported that 90% of the Pinterest users are women – and then there’s me.  On Pinterest, I’m Outnumbered! Personally I feel like the luckiest guy on the inter-webs because the odds are in my favor (JK).  For me though it is just one more time where I find myself surrounded by women and quite OK with it.  When I was growing up, the men in my family were the ones in the kitchen.  Not that the women in my family didn’t cook but the men felt just as comfortable in the kitchen cooking the Sunday family feast as did the women.  In high school, when given a choice of elective classes, I wanted to be with the women so I chose “sewing” and “cooking” classes over shop and wood-working. In college after a failed attempt at chemistry I ended up in psychology with a majority of women.  And today, you can find me in the kitchen, doing the weekly grocery shopping, and more likely to bake cookies for the softball team than coaching the team (which my wife does willingly and well).  So it was not much of a surprise to me that I am outnumbered 9 to 1 on Pinterest — and surrounded by women.

I do quite a bit of consulting on social media, communications and marketing; and therefore, explore most of the new emerging sites push pinlike Pinterest. Similar to Twitter (and years ago with MySpace), I did not really see the value in Pinterest at first. The main reason I was drawn to Pinterest was to cross-market my content on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WordPress. I soon realized that it is quite addictive. I am intrigued and slightly obsessed with Lists.  Pinterest is an ideal platform for list-o-maniacs.  Within a short time, I created boards based on lists like: My Favorite Books, Celebrities I’ve Met, People I Admire, Favorite Places in NYC, Cars I’ve Owned, etc.  In some cases I created the lists from PC Pop blog posts of mine.  This is a great way to get started on Pinterest with minimal effort.

What I have found from my limited use of Pinterest is that it is useful for collectors (and hoarders).  If you have a number of recipes that you refer to often online, Pinterest gives you a place to collect them, store them, share them, and easily retrieve them whenever you need them.  My favorite guacamole is Alton Brown’s recipe which is posted somewhere on the Food Network website.  Each time I need it, I have to do a Google search and hopefully find it.  Well, now, Pinterest allows me to create a “recipe” board and pin Alton’s guacamole recipe – very convenient.  Pinterest has also become my “go to” web-place to search for recipes.  If you search Pinterest, you get quite a few hits and the results have photos and reviews right there at your finger-tips.

I have noticed though that there are a gazillion blogs about food, and these bloggers repost other people’s recipes.  They credit the original chef and link to the original post of the recipe but it is bit annoying.  It’s annoying because you may have to click through a Pixar's Cars 2 - Mater Sandwichcouple of blog posts before you find the original recipe.  The other thing I have noticed is there are a lot of very ambitious DIY bloggers who share their latest theme-related, holiday craft project to do with your kids.  These craft projects are beautiful and inspiring but how in the world would anyone (especially a parent) find the time to do all of these things with your kids.  Personally I struggle getting the Pumpkins carved by Halloween, Easter eggs colored before Easter Sunday, getting the Christmas tree up soon after Thanksgiving (and putting it all away before Valentine’s Day), and getting food on the table for dinner every night.  Making my sandwiches look like Mater from Pixar’s Cars is not a top priority for me most nights.  You have to be careful to not let Pinterest make you feel like a neglectful, under-achieving parent. That being said, our new favorite potato dish, baked ham glaze, and Irish soda bread came from Pinterest.

Similar to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and my blog, Pinterest gives you great joy when someone follows your boards or “repins” one of your pins. I recently pinned a recipe for cinnamon sweet potatoes and was on cloud 9 because it got close to 100 repins.  Sounds silly but you know you’ve been there.  But seriously, like any social media and marketing site, it only has an impact if it is engaging, people are following you, you’re getting comments on your pins and most importantly with Pinterest, your pins are getting “repinned.”  To make this happen you have to explore other people’s boards, follow others, comment on pins, and repin other’s posts.  You also need to add pins regularly.

Pinterest logo labelLastly, Pinterest is a great place to practice cross-marketing.  If you have a collection of videos on your YouTube channel and several posts on your blog, Pinterest boards give you a place to market and share them.  Create a board on Pinterest with a theme and pin your videos and blog posts.  When your Pinterest followers click on your pin it takes them directly to your blog post.  With videos, it plays the video on Pinterest and allows you to click through to YouTube and watch it there as well.  Another way to increase traffic back to Pinterest is to create a hyperlink within your photos on your blog to a board on Pinterest.  If you click on the photos in my blogs about Survivor Leadership, you will be directed to a board on my Pinterest site called Survivor Leadership.  This board contains all of the photos from all of my blogs post about Survivor.  The pins on this board then link my Pinterest followers to my blog posts.  Cross-marketing is the best way to increase traffic across all of the platforms you’re using.

More and more people are finding Pinterest and joining the fun.  Pinterest’s numbers have exploded in early 2012.  Pinterest is nowhere near the world domination status of Facebook or Twitter. But another measure of success is the amount of media attention a site is getting – and in this category Pinterest is winning the race.  Pinterest is dominating the media lately.  I hope I have given you some ideas in this post on how you can join the party and use Pinterest to increase your presence online.  You will be sucked in initially and spend hours exploring, creating boards and pinning.  (At one point, I thought I needed a Pintervention.) Each day there are more and more companies, politicians and universities jumping on board but for now it is just me and all of these women.  And just like high school cooking class, I’m enjoying being outnumbered and part of the 10%.  Check out my boards, repin my pins and follow me.



Read other PC Pop blog posts about Social Media & Marketing:


Read other PC Pop blog posts about my issues with being a man (and a feminist):