Carlinton – Recommendations For LiveHealthyColumbus

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Tomorrow, during my final meeting with the LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC) administrator, I intend to make a few recommendations. Chief among my recommendations will be the suggestion that LHC develops forms a more permanent relationship with CSU’s communication department. One the most significant problems faced by LHC is the fact it does not effectively or consistently leverage the power of traditional and social medias outlets. As a result, I will recommend that LHC develop an understanding with Dr. Gibson (Chair of COMM Dept) to have an intern work with the organization on a consistent basis. A student who has honed his/her skills in the NPACE center would be of tremendous value to LHC. In my view, given the limited resources of LHC, they must make it a priority to multiply the reach of all their events by leveraging the power of all forms of media. Again, a CSU communications student could easily assume responsibility for, and successfully fulfill this priority.

Carlinton – COMM DEPT impact on LiveHealthyColumbus

In the past year, I’ve had to opportunity to work with the nonprofit LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC) on a variety of projects. As I sit and reflect on the impact I and the other communications students have made on LiveHealthyColumbus, I’m left with a couple of 64389_330089430370204_1600538933_athoughts. First, we were able to significantly increase the number of projects and publicity events, completed by the LHC. Given that one individual staffs LHC, CSU students working with the organization resulted in (on average) a 600% increase within the organization’s staff. In fact, during our last project with LHC, we had 12 students working on projects for LHC, resulting in a 1200% increase in staff. Second, I believe our work with LHC, resulted in a tremendous increase in the organizations effectiveness and efficiency. For instance, a CSU student project lead to the creation of a website dedicated to the community gardens built by LHC. Another project, brought community awareness to books donated by LHC to the Columbus Public Library. CSU students also completed work coordinating the planting of the Wilson Community Gardens, and create a survey to gauge the gardens effectiveness. In my view, the successful completion of these projects allowed the lone LHC administrator to focus on other priorities. 277070_242426295802324_7706089_nMany of the projects that we completed for the organization now operate independently of the LHC administrator. For example, the Library Event (mentioned in previous post) allowed us to bring public awareness to a generous donation by LHC. However, more importantly the public is now aware of resource they can use whenever they choose. The LHC administrator does not need to organize future events or supervise the public’s interaction with the books.

Carlinton – Library Event

0-1Recently, the nonprofit LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC) donated 150 books to the Columbus Public Library. The books covered a variety of health related subjects concerning children and health.  During a meeting with the administrator of the LHC, she asked if I could organize an event to bring community awareness to the donation. Following a consultation with Dr. Gibson the idea was approved to become a group project in my Group Communication class.  I along with three other classmates took on the project to bring the books to light. We eventually named our project the Library Event. We ultimately decided to organize an event at the library and invited the public, and media to attend. The event involved parents and children taking part in an arts and craft session, followed by a story-time reading from one of the donated books.

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The event culminated with a healthy snack for the children and a discussion of the impact LHC is having in the Columbus community. I was also able to discuss with and encourage the parents to participate in future LHC events. Our only regret was the fact we received modest attendance from the public. However, the presence of WTVM lowered in impact of the modest public attendance. The fact WTVM was able to record the event and broadcast it on the local news, allowed my group to reach our target audience, the larger Columbus community.

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Carlinton – The value of Face-to-Face communication

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Continuing my reflection on the many lessons learned this semester, during my work with the nonprofit LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC), I reminded of the importance of face-to-face communications. During my time working with LHC one of the most troublesome challenges I faced was the ineffectiveness of communicating by email, phone, social network, and instant messages. While working with LHC I had to conduct coordinations with organizations such as Home Depot, Columbus Parks and Recreations, Columbus Public Library, WTVM, and the Boys and Girls club, to name a few. While interacting with these organizations, I eventually realized that I tend to get the information and behavior I desired when I communicated face-to-face. In my profession as a Soldier, face-to-face communications is very important and often the preferred means of communication. However, I’ve always taken this to mean that the military is behind the civilian sector in terms of computer-mediated communications (CMC). I now see that face-to-face communications is extremely valuable across many professions. Interestingly, of all the organizations that I interacted with, while working with LHC, the Columbus Public Library responded best to CMC. I’ve heard Dr. Gibson and Dr. Abbey commented that more and more organizations are expending considerable resources to communicate face-to-face. My experience working with LHC, allowed me see confirmation their comments.

Carlinton – Expectation management with Nonprofits -Live Healthy Columbus

277070_242426295802324_7706089_nOne fact, which has been apparent throughout my time working with the nonprofit LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC), is the severe limitations faced by organizations like LHC. Typically these organizations are severely understaffed, and in the case of LHC one individual staffed the organization. As a result, receiving timely response to requests for information, from the organization, were seldom. However, I do not believe this was due to any incompetence on the part of the lone administrator. Rather it was due to the fact, she was responsible for a tremendous amount of work, thus requests from a CSU intern/volunteer, were not a priority. Also, while working with LHC, I was responsible for coordinating a variety of events to bring attention to the organization. I believe many of these events could’ve been even more successful, if the organization had funds to support them. However, LHC is not only an understaffed organization, it is also underfunded, in my view.

Thus, it is critical that communications students who work with organizations like LHC, in the future, carefully mange their expectations of these nonprofits.  Future students should be prepared to do a lot footwork to stay in contact with these organizations. These students/groups must be self-motivated and goal oriented. It is also important these students do not view the limited resources of these organizations as obstacles. Rather, they should view the limitations as an opportunity to establish their own goals for the nonprofits, author their own projects, and to be creative with the limited resources of these nonprofits.

Carlinton – Small Groups, Big Lessons!

One of the things that I have always enjoyed about my Communication classes is the opportunity, or rather the requirement that we work in small groups. I am what Columbus State University calls a non-traditional student. When I first began my education here at CSU, I was 34 years old and had recently completed my 16th year in the US Army. As a result of my years in the military, I had worked in every conceivable form of small group. However, unlike in my Communication classes, the groups that I’ve worked with in the Army always had a clear leadership structure. There was never any doubt concerning the identity of the individual who had the authority to end all discussions, and implement the decision he/she deemed appropriate. Thus, adjusting to the way business was conducted in a Communications class small group environment, in impose to the Army, took some effort (to say the least). Unlike with the Army, leaders were often identified after work began, based on the strengths and weakness of group members. Also, unlike in the Army, where I would dictate (or be dictated to) the next step in a project/mission; the communications classes required that I gain the support of my fellow group members prior to any final decisions. While I believe the US Army is the greatest leadership school on earth, unfortunately it does not often allow one to practice the decision making process in a democratic and collaborative manner. I believe the leadership lessons I have learned working in the small groups at CSU, are as important as the lessons I have learned leading troops in combat. Therefore, I would encourage my fellow students to embrace the small group-teaching format, which is often offered within the Communication department. While I’m sure we have all had those nightmarish experiences working in small groups. The small group format inevitably offers experiences and lessons that are invaluable to students who enter the workforce following graduation.

Carlinton – LiveHealthyColumbus – “Tangible Results”

The community gardens at the Luther Wilson Homes housing site is one of the projects I had the opportunity to work on during my recent internship with the organization LiveHealthyColumbus (LHC). As a result, I was so excited to find out that I will have the opportunity go back and work on this project again. The group communication class, which I am taking this semester, will provide me the opportunity to work with LHC a second time. During a recent meeting with the administrator of LHC, she requested that my group conduct a follow-up on the community gardens. In preparation for this blog and my work with LHC, I went to the gardens and took a few photos. Based on what I saw, it appears that some of the gardens are producing crops and doing well. While others seem to be dying and in need of attention. Nonetheless, I already have a sense of satisfaction to see that some of the gardens are doing so well. It is one thing to sit in a classroom and study theories and other concepts. It is quite another to see the tangible ‘fruits’ that come from the application of the theories and other concepts that are learned in a classroom. It is for this reason that I believe the NPACE center is such an exciting development for our department. As a result of working in the NPACE center, communication students will be able to see the real-world application of what is learned in the classroom. In my view, there is no difference between my community garden project and the products that are created in the NPACE center. Thus, I have no doubt, the students working in the center will develop the same sense of satisfaction that I have working with the gardens.