This post is part of The Edmonton Do Gooder Project, a series of profiles on Edmonton folks doing good in creative ways.
1. What is the good result you are hoping to create?
To make charity and philanthropic work hot – fashionable. I’m trying to get people to decide what’s important to them, and get them to take action.
2. What is your approach for making this happen?
I write things that are controversial, deliberately pushing people’s buttons. It gets ‘em fighting. It gets ‘em involved. When people get angry, they do something about it. I’m selling the causes, as opposed to shoving any particular action down peoples’ throats.
To make something a trend, you’ve got to make it controversial, get people mad. I’m inflammatory on purpose, because being extreme gets a reaction. I want people to care too much. As Tina Fey says, it takes a bitch to get stuff done.
Online is the new medium. It isn’t the newspaper anymore. I spend an average of 8-9 hours a day online. I treat it as a work day, as a job. I have a website that’s an online magazine (KikkiPlanet.com). I profile local businesses and individuals who are giving back to the community. I also live-tweet events that tie in to that.
Based on a recommendation from someone I respect, I’ve recently switched some kinds of conversations to Facebook instead of Twitter. I found that it works better to keep Twitter content a bit lighter, and have more substantive conversations on Facebook.
I’m leveraging the online world to get people to engage.
I haven’t monetized any of it, though. I’ve had offers from advertisers, but I’ve turned them down. I want to maintain my objectivity. My husband and I are lucky – we can afford to do that.
3. What makes this issue/area the best fit for you personally?
I once heard the author Toni Morrison say that in her life she knew she had to love her children and write. I know I have to love my children and make a difference for the better. I have a passion for this.
I’m good at it because I have no filter and I don’t care what people think of me. Some people choose to work quietly, but I’m just not a quiet person. I am loud. I have a voice. I am far better at pulling together an army of people to effect change.
My dad never stood for injustice. He was a simple, rural, salt of the earth type of person, but he always stood up for what’s right, with no hesitation. He was a peacekeeper for the CAF; an officer and a gentleman. He taught me to be proud to be a loud and opinionated woman. That means a lot to me.
I love computers and online life. I was on the internet in 1992, when there barely was an internet. I was in the original chat rooms. That makes me unusual amongst my peers. Most women my age don’t get what I see in it all.
I’m also a north end girl. My mother was a teenage runaway. I spent most of my life in poverty. The money I have doesn’t mean much unless it’s making somebody’s life better. For my husband and I, if we have it – we’re sharing it.
4. How will you know if you’re making progress?
When people react, I know I’m making progress.
For example: A year and a half ago, the City wanted to charge SlutWalk organizers $2,500. I protested. It was against the Charter of Rights. It was wrong. Well, people who never cared about the walk before showed up to march. That’s impact.
The number of people who come to events I organize is another indication of success. Also, website traffic. We launched KikkiPlanet.com on September 30 and have had 175,000 hits in less than a year.
Social media engagement is another measurement – Twitter followers and interactions, Facebook comments, etc.
I also just love it when people tell me I’m wrong and prove it. I love a good debate. The more of that is happening, the better.
5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?
I’ve raised $20,000 in the past year for various charities. Am I proud of that? Hell, yeah, I’m pretty proud of that.
The provincial election was another win. After writing my posts, I started to see women speak up. I consider myself a feminist. Women died so we could have the right to vote – that means a lot to me. Women need to speak up as intellectuals, not as emotional females. We can’t make it all personal – our speech has to be informed speech. We’ve become a society of people who are who they last voted for – unquestioningly loyal. What we need to be first and foremost is watchdogs for our own party.
One of my first blog posts was picked up by my idol, Paula Simons. That was the moment I knew I could do this.
I’m inspired by the amazing under-35 crowd in this city – people like Adam Rozenhart, Scott C. Bourgeois, Mack Male, Brittney Le Blanc, Seth Glick, Ryan Jespersen and Kari Skelton…
But I’ve learned to do my due diligence before signing on to anything. I once helped raise $15,000 thinking it was for charity and it ended up just disappearing. Now, I know I’ve really got to do my homework.
I struggle with the fact that with profile comes attention and then everyone wants you to promote their thing, come to their event. It got to the point where I was doing 7-8 events a week. My family life was suffering. I actually ended up in the hospital at one point. Now, I’m more discriminating. I often feel bad about it, but I say “no” a lot more.
This is something I learned from Ryan and Kari. They believe in focusing on fewer things, and being minimally involved in the rest.
It’s so hard to say “no”. There can be backlash. Some people claim I talk a good game but don’t put my money where my mouth is.
But I have a responsibility to my followers to investigate things. I can’t just retweet or post everything I’m asked to. I can’t be tweeting anything that turns out to be scam. I have to be discerning. In the end, you have to think about where your money’s going.