Monthly Archives: July 2011

Loyalty Through the Lens of the Congress Hotel

Although it is not the first word that I would use to describe myself, “loyal” would be in the top 5 options. What does loyalty look like for me? Well, I still choose to listen to music from the 90’s every time I get in my car, not because I don’t like new music, but because I don’t want to just toss out what I grew to love; my parents still buy me oreo cookies every time I visit them in St.Louis because they were my childhood favorite; and even if my candidate/team/performer sucks on a certain day, I never move to the opposite side of the bleachers.
Basically, in my opinion being loyal is about weathering the storm and remaining engaged with a choice you once made.

While on twitter, one of my followers mentioned the Congress hotel strike and how long it has been active.

Sparking my interest, I did some brief research on The Congress Hotel strike. It is the longest strike in the United States, and has been going on for 8 years. The strike surrounds the low working wages offered by the hotel, a little more than $8 an hour compared to other hotels pay of $15 on average, for their non-management positions.

Although the hotel is unlikely to shift its wages, The Congress Hotel strike is one of the most clear examples of contemporary loyalty to not only a cause, but to (almost) a decade of individuals and families that have remained committed to each other.

The level of planning, mental, emotional, and financial support needed to keep the strike going lands an award for loyalty in my book. I now ask myself, why have I not shown the Congress Hotel Strike loyalty to things that I claim truly affect me, my family, friends, and unborn children. Where did that “strike” spirit go?

I must admit, that my up close and personal dealings with politics has proven that many people down talk and belittle the “strikers loyalty”. The individuals/groups that are loyal to their cause are often disregarded as losers or encouraged to take the more common route; sadly, I wonder when did it become so unrespectable to stand 8 times after you fall 7.

Loyalty does not fade with the trends, it continues when the trend comes full circle; loyalty breeds perfection, eventually you figure out how to right what you were doing wrong.

What does loyalty look like for you?

Below is a link that details more about the Congress Hotel strike and the strikers.


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Pushing Through the Rough Patch: I Tried Fasting

Composed the night of 7/26/2011

I just completed my first fast in hopes of gaining clarity on some opportunities that have been presented to me.
Not eating was not as challenging as I thought it would be because I was very busy the entire day; what was challenging during this busy day, was finding the time to pray and remain focused on why I was fasting.

Throughout the day I was in a long meetings that involved my direct participation. I would sneak in
a few moments of focused prayer by excusing myself to the bathroom, or when the other party would do the same. One other activity that helped me stay focused on my fasting wishes during the meetings was writing keywords of the 3 items that led me to fast on my notes.

After my meetings were complete, I headed home. On the way home, I became aware of all the emails, text messages, and phone calls that I missed. Of course I was tempted to return the calls on the commute home, but after the third failed attempt, I accepted that this time was another opportunity to engage in my fasting prayers.

Once I arrived at home, I called a friend and asked a general question regarding fasting (I was advised to not announce or share with others that I am fasting, especially because it was for a specific purpose). My question went something like this:

Me: Suppose I was fasting in the summertime from sun up to sun down and realized that…..the sun doesn’t go down for an extremely long time? Can I just change the time that I end my fast?

Friend: No. But, if you do need to eat, you can-lol. Sometimes when I am hungry at the end of my fast, I take a nap to push through.

Me: Thanks.

Needless to say, I took a nap….the sun is almost in my rearview…..Later my friend informed me that I could have been upfont with my question; I was just not tp publicize my fasting throughout the day.

How do you get the most of your fast and/or spiritual activities?

Below is a link that explains more about fasting.


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Community Asset: The Café

One of the ongoing challenges I have faced as a poet involve landing performance opportunities. Although I have performed at a number of open mics and several variety shows, I am always searching for a platform to display my talent for more than 3-5 minutes at a time. Unfortunately, I have attended a few disappointing open mics in Chicago, that more times than not, turned out to be a rap fest, where the singers and poets performed last. This is never a fun experience!

Recently I came across the website of The Café, a uniquely styled bar that hosts a weekly open-mic on Tuesdays, located at 5115 N. Lincoln in Chicago. While looking on the website I noticed that The Café had open slots for featured readings/ poets. Feature poets can read/ perform 20 minutes of their poetry on one of the open Tuesdays. This was great news for me because I desperately desire to build my performance stamina, introduce a crowd to my poetic story, and capture some great recordings of my talent.

That very day I contacted Janet Kuypers, the coordinator of the poetry readings at The Café. Janet was extremely responsive, and after viewing a few of my recordings on Facebook, she told me to a pick an open slot of my choice. After solidifying my date of August 9, 2011, I knew I needed to check out the venue and crowd. After rescheduling 3 times, I was finally able to attend one of the open mic sessions.

It was the day after Chicago’s horrible rain storms when I visited The Café. I walked into the bar and was surprised to spot 3 distinct sections, separated by furniture, each space with its personal touches. Walking to the back room, I finally met the spirited, Janet Kuypers. Happy to meet me, she explained that this day would not include a feature, but instead a series of 10 minute mini-features. SCORE!  The Café presented a win-win situation for every poet in attendance.

As an added bonus Janet video records first time performers and posts to YouTube; she also sends each performer a copy of the link! I am so glad that I stumbled upon this local platform. I believe it is important to create the platforms you seek, but I also like to support those that are already in progress. The Café and it’s loyal following, are truly a Community Asset for local poets and creative artists to display their talent in front of a welcoming audience.

For more information, visit


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Success Formula: Jeff Baker

How do you respond when the torch is passed to you? That is what I ask myself when I think of Jeff Baker, a diligent, low-key, enthusiastic, Chicago activist. I first met Jeff while assisting with the mayoral campaign of William Dock Walls III during the 2011 Chicago elections. Although our candidate of choice did not win the election, Jeff and I continued discussions on local issues while focusing our talks on long-term solutions.

Shortly after the election, Jeff was nominated and elected as the new president of Committee for a Better Chicago (CFABC). The mission of CFABC is “To provide clear and factual information about political & social justice issues, affecting the Chicagoland area.” As president, Jeff is responsible for shaping and re-shaping the organizational structure of CFABC, as well as growing the momentum of the members and their purposeful service.

Jeff believes that community development is “strategic education, marketing, and networking….community development is about meeting people where they are.” Through CFABC, Jeff aims to effectively deliver information to those that have fallen between the cracks. CFABC will “simplify public information [of local
orgs] so that community messages are more easily digested. CFABC will then strategically disseminate the information using social media, text, email, word of mouth, and contest with cash prizes.” Jeff supports the idea of providing incentives for children and young adults to be awarded for learning and engaging in the civic education and enhancement of Chicago. “There are monetary incentives for us as adults to find answers, and better ourselves; we should present the same opportunities for our children and those that have fallen between the cracks,” says Jeff.

During our interview, Jeff shared one of CFABCs upcoming supporting collaborations, which I consider to be brilliant and critical for the Chicagoland area- Neighborhood mentoring through the restoration of Block Clubs. Syron Smith spearheaded this initiative, and CFABC will help accomplish the goals of this timely endeavor within the Chicago vicinity.

A part of restoring block clubs and re-building villages/ neighborhoods, includes bartering with local businesses. Jeff struggles with bartering because he feels “that people should be paid for their services and that is one of the challenges I have had adjusting to the community service/ social activist scene. We (CFABC) have had to approach local business owners with the only hope of compensation being the residual effects of CFABCs social action”, to change the course of social ills rampant in each community.

Jeff Baker sets high goals and revises as needed. “While working on the campaign for Dock Walls, I began to share in Docks goals to market and reach over 300,000 Chicago residents and help educate them about issues affecting the city, while providing solutions as well….Because my goals are so large/ high, I often fall short,  but i regroup, strategize and keep moving toward the goal” stated Jeff.

Jeff may fall short of his lofty goals, but there is still much success in what he does accomplish. In order to achieve his goals, Jeff carries a notepad with him, taking notes that lead to action plans.  Reviewing these notes daily, along with his calendar, Jeff studies his notepad. “I feel that these [studying notepad and creating action plans] things on a daily basis are prayer, as I ask for guidance and realign my connection to the source/ God and my God given purpose!”

When I asked Jeff how does he put himself first in a healthy manner, his answer further revealed the depth of his insight and commitment to Chicago. Jeff puts himself first by focusing on his family first. Jeff stated, “I watch members of my family successfully take on certain roles and responsibilities…And I realize that my family is a team, a small business, and although my personal needs may sometimes be put on the back-burner, putting my family needs first is part of putting myself first. With that, I also see my block, community, etc as an extension of family. As I move in a different level/rank in my family, my role evolves.” Rarely has someone been able to articulate the correlation between self, family, and community so selflessly.

In his roles as a family and community servant, I can only imagine that Jeff has had to sever a few ties in both his personal, professional, and community intersections, so I sought his wisdom about letting go of stale relationships. His method: straight forward communication, one more chance, and then if the same problems continue, cease all communication cold turkey! Jeff asserts “…I am always straightforward so that I do not doubt whether my message was clear.”

Jeff truly believes that his work with CFABC is his God-given purpose, designed to serve his family (and community family) as well. His ego is low and his goals are high. Jeff Baker embodies the characteristics needed to achieve lasting social change.

Jeff Baker’s Success Formula = Messaging to the masses + Above the bar goal setting  + Family and community deference + Straight forward communication

More  on Jeff Baker

As  you are growing and exploring new opportunities in the city of Chicago, have you thought about your ideal position or ideal job description?

“I am still bouncing it around, but the more I work toward it, it is becoming clear to me. I believe that I am to be a communication liasion between the higher educated and the lesser educated (no less intelligent). I believe the position I am in now, with CFABC, I can do this for the rest of my life and achieve many of my SMART goals.”

S.M.A.R.T. goal(s)

To have 50 members of CFABC inside of 50 different orgs in the Chicagoland area by 2013

And the way we will achieve this is by recruiting 2 new members in 2 new orgs per month- 2013 to reach the target number

Contact Info




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Purposeful Interaction & Time Management on Social Media

Image from Quba Blog

I was a social media late-bloomer. I joined my first social media site after my graduate school roommate painstakingly created my Facebook account. I sat on the couch whining during the entire process! She even created the password (that I only changed after 4 years because I was supposedly hacked). At that time, I dreaded the idea of having another email account or way for people to reach me when I did not want to be reached. I remained hesitant even once the account was up and running but eventually I began to fool around with the system. Facebook grew on me, and shortly after, I paced myself on the social media bandwagon.

Currently I have a variety of social media accounts with big name tools and a few not-so-big name sites. The big accounts I am referring to are: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. My smaller accounts are stepping-stones specifically for my fields of interest and they even include discussion boards and yahoo groups, to be more concise.

If you are managing a full-time job, multiple part-time jobs, family and friends, kids and relationships…. just about anything, it is important that you learn to manage social media so that it does not manage you. Be clear about your purpose. So many times I see people write about personal “drama” (and I do not mean acting), refer to people as “hoes and bitches”, and even quote well-known risqué music lyrics on their social site. These are not necessarily bad things if it aligns with the person you want to be known for. But, when it does not……..When you want to be known and respected as a professional manager or pre-school teacher, it is not in your best interest to have the majority of your statements on social media sound as if you ghost write for Eminem or The Game.

Make new friends and talk to them.  It is great to connect with old friends, stay up to date with current ones, and get others excited about your new projects. But social media is most effectively used when you engage with new individuals. New connections allow you to spread your message and purpose AND more importantly learn about new opportunities. In my experience, Facebook has been a better tool (than LinkedIn or Twitter) for building meaningful relationships with new people on ideas, news, and events.Twitter has allowed me to learn about new tools and resources at a rapid speed, but lacks personal and deep connections.  I have received referrals for SydneyMalcome, been exposed to more information than I could have thought to research on my
own, and found inspiration where least expected by opening the door to communicate with internet “strangers” on topics that are important to me. NEW is a great mindset to adapt while managing your social media.

Spend time on all of your social networks each day. You do not have to spend hours and hours reporting your whereabouts to the world or sharing what you plan to eat for lunch. Spending a minimum of 5-10 minutes daily, on each of your social media sources can help keep you breast of trends in your field, world events, and local opportunities. Making a few comments on each of your social media outlets also allows your friends/ followers/ connections to be happy for you and support what you have going on. If you never take a few minutes to say “congrats” and “hello” to others, you cannot expect others to do the same to you.

Look for something while being intentional. The stream of information all too accessible on social media and can be overwhelming and faulty . Specifically on LinkedIn, it is helpful to join various groups that support or relate to your areas of interest. It is beneficial to look at the happenings on LinkedIn so that you can stay up to date on best-practices, professional networking events, and even alumni events for your University. Again, you are able to be specific about what you are looking for and avoid being innundated by information that does not pertain to you.

Overall, social media can truly enhance your life, be drama free, and fun. Below is a link to an article that discusses how companies effectively use social media. If you are like me, you whole heartedly believe that YOU are an operation/ business and the information included will still apply to you.


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Success Formulas: What I Have Learned Part 2

What I love most about the Success Formulas series is learning the thought processes and actions of individuals that are actively pursuing their goals.

This round of questions for Success Formulas revolved around budgeting resources, overcoming fears, community development, S.M.A.R.T. goals, and productive spaces.

Living a more intentional life, I have created the following statements/ affirmations in which I am sure will take me further than I imagine.

I seek out and embrace the platform(s) for my success

My success begins and ends with my courage

I am the active example of my purpose

I treasure my target audience

Below are previous affirmations that I created and embraced.

I accept accountability for my responsibilities

I believe in God as a guiding power for my achievements

I cherish and nurture relationships with like-minded people

I value detailed work ethic

It is with these daily affirmations and positive thoughts that I will breathe air into my Life Plan and S.M.A.R.T. goals.

How have your applied lessons from the Success Formulas series to your life?

Below is a link to a blog entry that has some great affirmations that can be used while working out.

Update 7.11.11- From Percy Ollie Jr.

  1. I’m delayed on my SMART goal of completing my bible in 365 day. I am currently only on day 7 so, I’m about 2-3 weeks behind. The good news I’ve done the hardest part of getting started and I plan on picking up momentum to get caught up. Additionally, I’ve began 2 other devotionals that are assisting with my understanding.
  2. Still in search of additional photographer
  3. I have 1 intern secured and in the process of allocating responsibilities
    Additionally, I have 2 other potential candidates
  4. I last worked on the content for my new webpage about 2 weeks ago so, I haven’t been as progressive as I would like to be in order to reach my goal. This week I will be creating a new plan to track my progress so, that I’m able to stay ahead of schedule.

Update 7.12.11- From Titi Lo’Kei

  1. I still attend church every Sunday and I am also reading the bible more everyday.
  2. I pray all day everyday but i am still forming a habit of reading the bible every morning and evening. I have picked up on reading the bible but I am not yet at the point where I want to be. But as long as i am making progress I am happy.
  3. The one thing I keep going back to is budget. I remember saying I never set budgets because music expenses can be so random and unpredicted but that answer actually bothered me. Since then I have been studying ways to budget and save money in order to plan for unexpected expenses. I have also been finding ways to make extra money and seek out investors that are interested in sponsoring my music career. I often times live too much in the present instead of thinking long-term when it comes to money, but all of that is slowly changing for the better.

Update 7.21.2011- From Chanel Ballard 

The Rise2Power Project is still an inspirational vehicle to watch. We continue to build our inspiration fan club and encourage youth and young adults to be active participants in their destiny. I’m confident that we’ll have a soft launch for The Rise2Power Project August 15th.


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