Experimenting with Social Media

I decided to experiment with the format I’m using on Instagram.

And what experiment would be complete without questions?

Will I receive any responses?

Will it drive traffic to the right places? Where am I trying to drive traffic, and why?

Will this experiment help me with my web design/development project?

And since I’m asking so many questions, let me add some that a deep thinker and general curious cat pondered, based on the design/development question:

  • How might we use the design to drive the development, or the development to drive the design?
  • What if development was capable of anything, who would that change the design?
  • How do design and development work together, and how do design and development limit each other?
  • Development and design: friend or foe?




When it comes to work, I wish I could say that I’m 100% accountable 100% of the time. I feel I’ve worked with a few people who are. I recall that during my undergraduate years, I was flying at 95%.

I realize that as I become overwhelmed my accountability starts to take a nose dive. And why do I become overwhelmed? It’s due to many different things. Three of the biggest I can think of are:

  • I like a challenge. Anytime I see a new one that is interesting to me I want to take it on.
  • In work I’ve heard that if you turn things down people will stop seeking you out to take on new projects.
  • If I say no, you might not like me anymore.

Recently I learned the hard price I pay for not being accountable. Last weekend I committed to work on a project for a client. During an email I set what I considered to be an arbitrary, keep moving, milestone. As my client had mentioned that she was not planning to work much during the weekend, I decided to spend more time with family. I didn’t feel apprehensive about this knowing I would still meet her final milestone. However, she changed her schedule to accommodate my milestone.

I felt rotten about this. I have even tried to justify and rationalize that I did not know she was changing her schedule. However the fact of the matter is I put in writing I would complete something by a certain time and did not.

I learned a few things from this lesson:

  1. Accountability is huge in my realm of work. (This is really a no brainer.)
  2. If you don’t want someone to hold your feet to the fire, don’t give them your arbitrary milestones – or as my client stated “under commit and over deliver.” I’d prefer to commit to what I can realistically deliver.
  3. Working with people who are direct is awesome. I appreciate the immediate feedback.

Learnings from a Large Group Facilitation

As my two year graduate program in Organization Development wraps up, I thought I would start sharing some of my learnings past and present. This first entry is for a professional practice (aka internship) close out. Following are my learnings from “moderating” a meeting for a local community organization.


I reached out to the organization on Wednesday, they followed up with me on Thursday. We contracted for an hour and a half meeting the following Monday. Yes, it was a four day turn around, which included contracting with the client, designing the meeting, and facilitating the meeting.

The client was looking to avoid a big hullabaloo at future planning meeting where a major decision was being made. In order to avoid this, they wanted to provide a space where those who felt they had a stake in the conversation had an opportunity to speak their minds. The client also hoped that some new ideas would be generated to solve some of the issues facing the community. However, they concluded that if they could have only one thing, it would be creating a space where the stakeholders felt heard.

My Meeting Design:

I spent Friday and Saturday designing the meeting. With the goal that everyone would be heard on the top of my mind, I first designed an activity that would break the large group of 25 to 30 into five smaller groups. The design:

Activity One: Small Group Discussion followed by Large Group Debrief

  1. Each person in the small group would have three minutes to state:
    a. Why they were attending the meeting
    b. Why they felt passionate about the issue
  2. After which, the small groups would discuss:
    a. common themes
    b. conflicting themes
    c. divergent themes
  3. Finally we would close with a large group discussion, sharing the groups learnings, which I would record these and give them to the client at the end.

After a large group discussion we would move into the second part of the meeting, the brainstorm activity. For this activity, the community members would remain in their same small groups and complete a nominal brainstorm.

Activity 2: Nominal Brainstorm

  1. Each community member is given a stack of 6 to 7 post-it notes.
  2. On the top post-it they would write either an idea or a question regarding the issues that had been discussed.
  3. After writing this down, the community member would pass their stack of post-its to the person to their left.
  4. With the new post-it stack the community member reads the idea written on the post-it above the blank post-it.
  5. On the blank post-it, the community member either
    a. adds to the idea or question, or
    b. they come up with a new one.
  6. Once the post-its had traveled around the group the group then sorts the post-its into themes.
  7.  After 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the activity of the small groups, the groups are called back into a large group report out.

The purpose of this meeting design, with it’s two activities, was to 1) ensure the group felt heard and 2) give them the opportunity to generate some ideas, or further questions to take back to those would work with them.

To gage my meeting design, I met with a colleague and explained my design to her. She agreed that the design would serve the group. I felt proud of my design and was excited to share it with the client.

The Actual Meeting:

In my learnings below, I write about contracting. In my program, we learn how vital good contracting is. Also we learn how important it is to make sure everything is spelled out and all expectations are brought to light. With a turn around of four days, in my opinion, “good contracting” is impossible.

When I explained my meeting design to the client, it was instantly rejected as “too much like school.” I realize this was a bias on the part of the client. If I had more time to work with him, I may have been able to explain how my design might help his cause. However, with an hour until the meeting started, I realized this would not be the time for my meeting design to shine. I agreed to “moderate” the large group meeting.

While some portions of the meeting went well, others fell short. A few of the wins of the evening included my assertive facilitation style, being able to keep the meeting on time and on track, and providing a space for the group to speak their minds. One of my major challenges was not being able to include a brainstorm session. It was one objective I was not able to meet.

However, in the end, the client was happy with my approach and my work. And as one of my instructors says, “The group will move you where they need to go.” And so will the client.


  1. I enjoy meeting design. This one seemed like a puzzle to me, and I really enjoyed figuring out how to meet the clients expectations, make the meeting interactive so that members would remain engaged, and try to help build a piece of action planning into the process.
  2. If you haven’t contracted for meeting design with the client in advance, it may end up seeming like wasted effort. There was such a tight turnaround with this engagement that I didn’t have time to delve deeper into contracting. He wanted someone to moderate the meeting, I wanted to actively facilitate the meeting. In this case, there was no time for renegotiation, and I ended up moderating the meeting.
  3. Playing moderator is different than the facilitating a meeting the way I have practiced. I find moderating a meeting much easier than active facilitation (as I’m calling it). I also find moderating a meeting a tad boring. A friend compared it to being a traffic cop.
  4. Talking about money is difficult. They were willing to pay me and I refused the money. I imagine this is related to my confidence level. However, after designing the meeting and moderating it, I realize that I was quite capable and should have negotiated a fee.
  5. I enjoy working solo. While I appreciate the collaborative process, I feel that I can express myself in a different way when working solo. I do not have the fear that others will reject my ideas.
  6. While I enjoy working solo, it was difficult to know whether an idea was feasible without having someone to bounce it off. I feel fortunate that a friend allowed me to share my meeting design with them. I feel let down I didn’t get to try it with the large group. It’s impossible for me to know if the meeting I designed had legs without being able to try it out.
  7. When there is more than one community group involved it’s important to make sure all parties are on the same page. It was challenging to negotiate the somewhat competing needs of those who the meeting was being held to serve and those who called me to facilitate. In the end, I feel that I was able to meet both of their needs, hence I became more of a moderator.
  8. A four day turnaround is not enough time. While I enjoyed the rush of the quick turnaround, it did not allow for ample time to contract. Remember it all comes down to contracting, contracting, contracting. And getting to know the client group.

Letting Go

I’ve been aware of my control issues for some time. I thought I had them fairly well under control. Enter two boys under the age of six.

Did you know they have minds of their own? And that they want to do what they want to do?

This has led to more than a handful of power struggles. Yes, I am fighting for power with a three year old. This strikes me as odd. Why do I need this power? Why do I need the absolute control?

Fortunately, I’ve decided I can stop struggling with this illusion of control and power. It’s not easy… it’s entrenched in our culture. Parents are the authority, and should be followed, very few to no questions asked.

However, I don’t believe this. I’ve had my own battles with authority. I would prefer that the boys I’m raising have a voice, feel heard and respected.

About two weeks ago, Jan and I decided that we were going to work to change our parenting style. I’m working with compassionate parenting, and looking into Love and Logic. It’s difficult, sometimes, to think of natural consequences, instead of punishments (one of the tenets of compassionate parenting). We’re doing our best, sometimes stumbling, but continuing to pick ourselves back up.

I believe we’re starting to see a decrease in the stress level in our house. I want to post a sign that states: X number of days without yelling.

Yelling makes me feel like an ogre. I don’t want to live my life as an ogre. I would prefer that every day be a day at the beach.


Day at the Beach


Rocket Power Jet-Pack – I Can Do That

I have loved Pinterest for a long time. I see all types of post that I think, “I can do that,” and attempt it. I’ve had my failures; and I’ve had my successes.

Recently, I completed this rocket power jet-pack for Lil’ D. When he first came to live with us, he was obsessed with robots, being an astronaut and rocket ships.

Pretend play is always more fun with props.

Thank you, Uncle Jan, for drinking all that Cherry Coke… we know it was a struggle.







The Hard One: CalFresh

True confession: I watch bad teen drama… *gasp* horror and appal.

During the short stint I watched the Carrie Diaries, she shared this advice with her diary, “the hardest stories to write are the ones that need to be told.”  Thank you, Carrie Bradshaw, I shall follow your advice and try and write one.

The last six months has been more than an adjustment period. We’ve done our best to stay on top of what we can. Blending a family is difficult at times and joyous at others. And of course everything in between.

One way that the scale has tipped into the difficult is money. We feel the greatest pinch because of the increase in our food budget. Adding two more stomachs is significantly noticeable. After three months we realized that it isn’t possible to keep up with everything, without assistance.

We dragged our feet for quite some time… I really had to come to terms with how I felt about applying for aid. Not going further in debt to feed, our newly blended, family won out. I usually think of Maslow’s Hierarchy, now.

I feel guilty about it at the appropriate times, when I’m looking at my smart phone. (I would have to buy out my contract to get rid of the phone… I don’t want to even begin to compute how much that would cost.) Also when I’m focusing on myself in the mirror- taking pride in myself.

Yes, I’ve internalized the messages: You accept assistance from the government. You should not have anything (especially if it’s useful) and you should not not take pride in yourself.

Yet, I’m not ashamed that we are utilizing the help available to us to care for the two newest members or our family. Their security, stability and safety are in our hands. It’s a large task, and I admit we need help with some of  it.


Just something I found interesting about EBT payments. This was found on the Sonoma CalFresh FAQ page.

Q. Can a retailer charge me a fee for making a purchase with my EBT food benefits?

A. No. Federal regulations prohibit any retailer from charging you a fee for using your CalFresh benefits.

But BANKS can charge you a transaction fee when withdrawing cash aid… things that make you go  hmmmm.

Also, don’t forget that tax breaks are assistance from the government. I wonder if this is why the wealthy seem to gobble things up? Which came first: the tax break or the gobbling?





Stacey WilkBrooks


Sometimes I’m moving so fast, I forget to notice what’s right in front of me. Feeling nostalgic for the stretch of coast between Santa Cruz and San Francisco.

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