The Making of a Place

Just returned from the Urban Affairs Association conference in Pittsburgh where there were a number of papers delivered about the role of media, art, and culture in the life of the city.  Placemaking and the role of authentic experiences were front and center and the ways in which liveable and sustainable cities provide opportunities for their residents to interact in meaningful ways with each other and the space around them.

Reminded me of this piece in the Boston Globe a week and half ago written by local artist Donna Dodson – as well as the piece in Slate a couple of days ago about walkability  –  Lowell is highlighted in both.

Making me wonder what are the other experiences and interactions that make Lowell a place?  Also, I have had the feeling over the last couple of months that there is a swelling of engagement and activity happening especially with a group of younger leaders being visible — it is as though we are on the verge of a tipping point.’s ROI on Social Networks

Wonder if you should spend your time campaigning in social networks?

You can use this tool to calculate an estimate of cost and return on investment for the recruitment and fundraising efforts of your staff in social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. It works sort of like an online mortgage calculator. Just enter the starting assumptions in the yellow boxes below and the tool calculates results automatically.

Need some metrics guidelines? You might check out some of the online advocacy and fundraising benchmark studies. If you don’t measure results strictly by fundraising — maybe your results are based on advocacy or branding only — you can just look at the “cost per friend” or “cost per email name” to compare with the costs of recruiting people elsewhere. You can also see how that translates into cost per action or email viewed (opened).

If you would like to see the assumptions and equations behind the magical calculations, they are available on the original Excel spreadsheet. Email Justin Perkins to request a copy or to send feedback, and feel free to comment below.

Footprints Project

I’m working as a research assistant for Michael Johnson who has just transplanted himself from Carnegie Mellon.  One of the project he is collaborating on is “Footprints” which looks at how to use a co2 personal consumption / emission widget to enliven person change.  There seems to be some useful links and concepts on the site and certainly a project I’m interested in exploring more about: