Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Support the Independents, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I
urged you to consider occasionally taking your book-buying business to a local indy bookstore, rather than giving it all to the big, bad chains or to Amazon. There was one major indy store in these parts I didn't mention, however, the Blue Heron in Peninsula (I'm quite sure the store is more appealing than their website). Some bibliophile pals have since been inundating me with information about that shop, which is relatively new, and which I plan on visiting this weekend for the first time ever. And sure enough, as if on cue, the store got a mention last week in USA Today, in one of those ubiquitous pieces about the Harry Potter release parties. Just one more reason to head out to Peninsula, I'd say.

A Local Micropersuader Joins the Conversation. For many months, perhaps a year even, whenever the subject of the public relations/marketing industry learning to better leverage the web would arise, I would point people to a guy I consider the smartest thinker in that area, Steve Rubel. The prolific New York ad man has quickly become an A-list blogger through his smarts and his stamina (I often wonder how he manages to get a moment of client work in). His site,
Micropersuasion, recently revamped on its first anniversary, is a giant gateway to following a thousand related trends at the intersection of p.r. and citizens media. Now, it would seem we have a local equivalent, a bright guy at the powerhouse p.r. firm of Dix & Eaton, who is publicly grappling with these same issues. His name is Kevin Poor, and he's a Weatherhead grad, who also put in some time at, in Portland, Oregon. My old friend Chas Withers, his colleague, has been singing his praises for some time. But I only recently stumbled across Kevin's blog. As he put it so well in one of his first entries, back in May:

I've felt for a while that one of the most effective ways companies can use blogs is for internal knowledge sharing and employee communications. I also think that for clients that are relatively unfamiliar with blogs, and are not quite ready to incorporate them into their marketing mix, that internal blogs represent a way for them to start using the medium and satisfy a pressing need.
Welcome to the conversation, Kevin.

Fellow Scribbler Watch. Finally, we bring you word of a couple of fellow scribes who have done some truly remarkable work recently. Actually, as I began thinking about that category, my head filled with a couple dozen names, the names of special people who deserve serious attention for their recent operatic exploits with the pen. But I'm going to limit my gaze today to just these two. The others will simply have to wait their turn. Wendy Hoke has been writing for a number of years, having long since earned a reputation as a powerful pen. But I'm not the only one to have noticed that she has been really hitting her stride in recent months, as she peels away the layers of her emotional onion ever further, poetically revealing and putting language to some feelings that have no doubt surprised even her. In the process, she has found her voice, which seems ready for Carnegie Hall. And yet none of that could have prepared me for the singularly powerful experience of reading
this piece, on the late spiritual titan Thomas Merton. Okay, I'm biased on this subject. Merton's masterful words have had an almost hypnotic effect on my spiritual life for years. But this piece about him is so accomplished, so poetically compact, so full of mature insights and smart observations that it takes your breath away. I think it's not merely the best thing Wendy has ever written--it's simply in another class altogether. And the best part of all: she's just beginning to scratch the surface of her talents.

On the other side of town, my friend Jeff Hagan, a denizen of North Collinwood, continues to do his part in helping solve the poverty riddle, as a communications maven at the Case Mandel School's Poverty Center. Meanwhile, he continues to squeeze in the hours for some private writing amid his overscheduled days as a conscientious parent, husband, employee and sibling to hundreds of Irish-Italian brothers and sisters. We spent a rare, precious hour a couple of weeks ago on a glorious summer day, chatting at an outdoor coffeeshop. He caught me up on the many things that move and puzzle him, the myriad people who intrigue him. Like a hungry editor or agent, I made a mental note of the many articles I'd love to see him produce on any number of the topics we covered that day. But finding the hours are the trick. Anyway, he didn't alert me to it, but last Friday I noticed
this wonderful little jewel of a story in the Plain Dealer's Friday section. For hardened Hagan afficianados, there are some signature touches. But my favorite is this gleaming bit of inspired wordcraft. The words he intended for these special musicians could be directed right back at their author:

A new crop of kids music has come along in the last decade that recognizes that children have a few things adults have: a brain, for instance; soul; a sense of rhythm; a genuine sense of humor. The new material is delivered with high standards by actual human beings with musical pedigrees, not stuffed animals or puppets or cartoons, and the musicians employ an eclectic range of styles, from calypso to punk, bluegrass to new wave.


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