Category Archives: Internet

A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: NONPROFITS & CREATIVE MATTERS


By Ryan Naghi
workingtogether Since I started working here at Creative Matters, I’ve heard many people tell me that despite our cutting-edge work, we are at an inherent disadvantage as a nonprofit ad agency. There’s a reason why no place like us exists—nonprofit and ad agency just don’t go together. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are we surviving; we’re thriving. While bigger for profit companies like Fatburger and Wells Fargo are starting to put their brands in our hands, our work remains centered around other nonprofits. But why?

To understand this, I’ll put myself in the shoes of people who fund nonprofits, because they ultimately decide which missions to power. What do they want? They want to do as much good as efficiently as possible. And what does one nonprofit working with another such as ourselves do; more good per dollar spent. If a need is present, why not purchase it through another nonprofit’s earned income service? They will get the service they want, while allowing another organization to do what they specialize in, and the payments will go towards helping another cause. Working together gets better results, and makes both more worthy of support. As long as people know the extra good they are doing, funding will likely increase. But how you inform a support base is an art in itself, and smart non-profits hire outside support to maximize their impact.

That’s why Creative Matters makes the perfect fit. We are a nonprofit who provides marketing services to raise money for our mission. Since we are both the noteworthy partner and the marketers, our clients fully capitalize on the benefits of collaboration. Letting us manage their brand boosts their nonprofit’s credibility and appeal, because hiring us proves their commitment to bettering society. The beauty of this relationship is elegantly simple. They are more marketable by the very act of purchasing our marketing services, part of which goes towards promoting this new aspect of their brand to the public; it’s a perfect match!

And who exactly are they helping by hiring us? The same people designing the product, because our creative work not only funds our mission, it is our mission. Participating in the creative work itself helps people like me get the job skills, mentorship, and experience that make life exciting again, while making drugs now seem unappealing. Our innovative way of fighting addiction is proven to be 15 times more effective in maintaining sobriety than the dominant form of treatment. Our cause therefore, is one that spells out efficiency and societal impact as well as any, one that donors are more than happy to know they are supporting through our clients’ marketing needs.

Being a nonprofit gives us another advantage. It allows us to better understand their needs, goals, and values, giving the quality of our work a unique boost. For profit companies may still hold some advantages, but they can’t offer the symbiotic relationship that creates this kind of virtuous cycle we share with our clients.

So, here lies my answer to the people with doubts. We fill a tough niche, no doubt about that. It takes a lot for a place like this to exist. It takes persistence and outside support to start up, creativity and ingenuity to grow, and an intrinsic drive for meaning and purpose to manage. Above all else, it takes an understanding of the system at large and how we fit into it. That’s the reason we’re one of a kind. Since these things have all come together, our previous handicaps have transformed into competitive advantages that only we possess. The next step is to continue pointing this out to other nonprofits. It will take some great marketing on our part, but then again, great marketing is what we do.

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Does Facebook Reflect Your True Self?


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Special Thanks to Susan B Krevoy Eating Disorder Program Blog for providing us with this material.

By Eliot Godwin

The Internet is not real. In real life, much less choice is involved in how we present ourselves. We are who we are, and even if we try to hide our secrets, they have a way of surfacing in subtle ways. Online, we can pick and choose exactly what we present to our ‘friends’ and how we present it. Our online selves are mostly trim and tidy, we allow sloppiness if it’s tasteful and mildly self-deprecating. Even the most blithe Facebook user has removed an unflattering tag or two.

But for young people who’ve never known a world without Facebook, the Internet is very real. A recent study conducted by Florida State University found a correlation between time spent on Facebook and eating disorders. Facebook combines peer influence with popular media, both of which are tied to self-worth. Instead of seeing only models in magazines and on television, now women can see their skinnier peers in swimsuits on their Facebook pages.

“Your friends are posting carefully curated photos of themselves on their Facebook page that you’re being exposed to constantly. It represents a very unique merging of two things that we already knew could increase risk for eating disorders,” Dr. Pamela K. Keel explains. Dr. Keel and other psychologists at Florida State studied 960 college women in their study and outlined their findings in a paper, “Do You ‘Like’ My Photo? Facebook Use Maintains Eating Disorder Risk”.

Just as Facebook and other forms of social media have contributed to increased and more tortuous bullying of adolescents, this study shows that it clearly contributes to what the National Eating Disorder Association calls “unprecedented growth of eating disorders in the past two decades.”

The problem is that we see our Facebook pages as parts of ourselves instead of what they are: pictures. Facebook is a brilliant concept, executed with precision and clean simplicity. But it’s not an accurate representation of who we are. For young people whose identities are often inextricably tied to Facebook, it’s hard to take a step back and see the chasm that exists between who they really are and their Facebook page. Dr. Keel reminds us to “consider what you are pursuing when you post on Facebook. You are a whole person and not an object, so don’t display yourself as a commodity that then can be approved or not approved.”

How we’re perceived, especially as it pertains to images of ourselves posted on the Internet, is not who we are. Feeling secure has to do with actions, deeds and life. Not pictures. It’s shallow and destructive to tie our self-worth to photographs. My Facebook page shows some pictures of me and that I ‘like’ broccoli, The Wire and Daft Punk. Is that who I am? Broccoli and Daft Punk? More revealing than my ‘likes’ is that I chose to post them on Facebook. I am the choices I make, not what I choose to reveal on a website. Are the choices you’ve made lately posted on your Facebook page? Is it a detailed representation of who you are, or an e-scrapbook with comments?

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Digital Drugs: Cyberhigh


By Stephanie Lager and Matthew Greenwald

There is a current trend permeating today’s youth culture. It is alarming to some, and ridiculous to others. It’s not quite a drug epidemic, but it might be the next addictive, mind altering component on the minds of curious teenagers. But you can’t get it from a drug dealer; it’s digital. In a nutshell, digital drugs are 10-30 minute tracks of sound, music and white noise, which claim to be designed to induce states of altered consciousness, mirroring those of drugs such as Psychedelics, Ambien, Marijuana and others. For a fee (usually $10-20, but “the first one’s free”) tracks are available on sites such as I-doser. Unsurprisingly, the whole “first one’s free” marketing ploy effectively mirrors how kids experiment with drugs in the first place, with the unable to turn down offer of “just try it—it’s free!”

shutterstock_118236262 We decided to give these “digital drugs” a try and see what all the buzz, or lack there of, is about. We didn’t listen to a complete track, and this type of “high” may only be effective if listened to in its entirety, but all in all, we didn’t quite get it.

In some circles, however, it’s being taken as a potentially serious problem. “Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places,” Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs spokesman Mark Woodward said according to Wired on-line. Oklahoma’s Mustang Public School district isn’t taking the threat lightly; they sent out a letter to parents warning them of the new craze. The educators have gone so far as to ban iPods at school, in hopes of preventing honor students from becoming cyber-drug fiends.

Whether digital drugs is a mere consequence of the placebo effect, or actually capable of concrete changes in the human body, is hard to prove or disprove. What is possible though is the extensive power of the mind in conjunction with the often-underestimated power that music can produce, at producing altered mental states.

Most people can attest to the insane power of music—feeling transported, riding on a roller-coaster of emotions, or inspiring a piece of art. But can music also produce harmful consequences? Is it akin to a drug, and if used dangerously, might it lead to disastrous results? Clearly, that is an overreaching claim, but it’s important to remember that these digital drugs might not fit into the traditional “music” categorization. Digital drugs are more of a compilation of sounds, with no harmony, rhythm, musical instruments, or vocals. What digital drugs seem most effective at doing is capturing a part of the sensation one might feel on drugs. For example, the LSD soundtrack featured a ringing in your ear sensation, which parallels one of the sensations one might experience on psychedelics.

In our opinion, you don’t have to fear any real results. Yet, there is something to be said about our digital obsessed social world. If you over use anything, it can morph into an addiction and take over your entire life, effectively making it just as destructive as a real substance addiction. So, proceed with caution. See for yourself. Do you think digital drugs will rise as the new substance addiction plaguing our youth?

 

 

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Beit T’Shuvah’s Got Talent!!!


 

By Jaron Zanerhaft

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Get ready.  Beit T’Shuvah is hosting its annual Talent Show with Havdalah this weekend, December 10 at 7p.m.! The buzz is getting louder each day, and anticipation is flowing through the halls, as the acts rehearse for the big night.  This year’s show promises to provide a Saturday night you won’t forget.

Last year, many great acts graced the bima as Beit T’Shuvah’s sanctuary was transformed into a performing arts theatre.  Curtains, lights, sparkling decorations, and the soulful sonic mixes of our resident sound team from BTS Productions draped Beit T’Shuvah’s most talented with an atmosphere of class and stardom.  Who could forget Nancy’s stirring rendition of Blondie’s One way or another?  “When she sang, ‘I’m gonna getcha,’” remarked BTS counselor Kelly, “I believed her!”  Talon gave a surprisingly poignant and profound rap, backed by a remix of John Lennon’s Imagine, and Sam (a.k.a. “Coke”) performed a set of originals full of ancient wisdom.  If last year was a taste of what’s to come, don’t be shocked if a few record deals are drawn up this weekend.

 

While Beit T’shuvah’s Music Department was solidly represented last year, talent also arose from well-hidden sources.  Diana, who fronts a Fleetwood Mac cover band, shared her voice, and even some of the counselors joined in, such as Jen who sang beautifully. In between musical numbers, a variety of skits speckled with impersonators and cross dressers kept the crowd amused and engaged.  The two MCs of the evening, Michael and Aaron, had the audience roaring with laughter even before the first act went on.  Throughout the night, Michael showed nearly inappropriate affection for some of the female performers, and Aaron played his famed “I like Cheese” song.

This year, young Joshua will weave his way amongst the talent to MC us through the show.  Josh was only too happy to talk to the press.  “I’m suuuper excited!! It’s gonna be a great night!!!” he says, with arms flailing through the air.  “I’m gonna wear a bowtie!”  The glint in his eye says everything.  The Beit T’Shuvah 2011 Talent Show will be one for the books. Don’t miss it!  This Saturday.  December 10th. 7 p.m.  Be there.

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This Is Aronofsky’s Brain Against Drugs


Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan, and The Wrestler, recently hit the small screen, releasing four commercials as part of the nationwide Meth Project.  The Project’s goal is to curb use of methamphetamines throughout the country—as proof of its success, the project cites ABC’s study showing that “meth use has declined by 65% in Arizona, 63% in Montana, and 52% in Idaho since the 2006 commencement of its campaign.”

Aronofsky departs from the “this is your brain on drugs” movement of the 1990’s and the “just say no” crusade of the 1980’s.  He instead stays true to his directorial style, depicting intensely graphic, seemingly exaggerated realities.

Watching the commercials left me with the same feeling as Black Swan, a queasy stomach, like I had just watched a video that I had no right to see. I was a fly on the wall, viewing the precise moments that mother, daughter, son, and brother would never want exposed.

A hospitalized teenager in the throes of a meth-induced psychosis. A mother hysterically clutching her daughter over a blood-red sink.  A young boy cowering in the corner of his bedroom while his older brother tears through the room looking for money.  A teenager in a dark motel room, selling his body for meth. 

Aronofsky’s commercials all answer one question: What can methamphetamine do?

Meth can bring you to a place where you steal from your family, sell your body, attempt suicide, and/or end up in a mental hospital.  These scenes are real.   They happen.  I just don’t know if his scare tactics will work—they wouldn’t have worked for me.  Will they work for you?

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A Message on Chai


By Jaron Zanerhaft

In the Jewish tradition, the number 18 is said to bring luck, happiness, and health through its mysterious, divine powers. In Gematria, the Jewish numerology, each letter of the Torah and Hebrew alphabet is given a numerical value. With the right combination of letters, any number can be calculated. This means that not just every letter, but every word as well has a number that corresponds to it. Many of these numbers are believed to have mystical powers contained within. Of these, the most well known and most powerful is the number 18, which corresponds with the Hebrew word Chai. Chai, which translates in English to Life, is spelled with two Hebrew letters— Chet and Yud. In Gematria, Chet = 8 and Yud = 10. Therefore, Chai = 18.

Chai Five!

Judaism holds life in the highest regard. Though we believe in an afterlife, we are taught to focus our efforts on improving our situation here on Earth. We believe that life on Earth is what we were created for, and therefore is the most important and noblest cause. The number 18 reminds us to be present for our lives and not to just watch them as if they were playing out on screens. Chai embodies fervor and awareness, letting us know that we can control our lives, we can determine our own directions, and we can improve the physical world around us. It is why, when Jews make a toast, they toast ‘To Life.’ So let’s raise our sparkling apple juices and make a toast to making this life on earth, the only one we’ve got, count. “L’Chaim!”

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TGIF? Maybe We Should Thank God on Mondays as Well as Fridays


TGIM: Thank God It’s Monday!

By M. Alexander

Growing up, I hated Mondays.  I hated school. I hated the days I had to go to school, come home and do homework, go to bed early so that I could wake up the next morning for a new day of monotony.  All week, I looked forward to the weekend—a time with no responsibility, a time to watch television, a time to do nothing.

Later in life, when I was using heroin, all days were the same.  It did not matter whether it was Saturday or Monday.  If I had dope, it was a good day.  If I didn’t, it was a bad day.

My perception of each day’s merits changed yet again when I first got to Beit T’Shuvah. I began to dread the weekend.  Nobody was here.  They were with their girlfriends and boyfriends, husbands and wives, at the beach or in the mountains.  Monday would come and I would again be occupied by groups and comforted by friends.

Now that I have a job and a girlfriend, I again look forward to the weekend.  I get to unwind from my job. I get to read. I get to watch movies. I get to relax.

There is nothing wrong with looking forward to the weekend.  But why do I now dread Mondays and dislike Tuesdays?  Why am I annoyed by Wednesdays and frustrated by Thursdays? Monday never did anything to me. Tuesday never stabbed me in the back.  Wednesday never talked trash to me.  Thursday never slept with my wife.

In order to live a happy, healthy, and productive life, I need to learn to look forward to each day, to find the unique quality present in each hour.  I need to stop escaping to a specific time frame—thinking it will all be better in a few days.   Today is a good day if I make it a good day.

Monday morning, I need to shift my perception, looking forward to the new week as an opportunity for growth, as a chance to add motivation to my purpose and invigorate my passion with a newfound vitality.  Tuesday, I will do the work.  Wednesday, I will make sure that my work is fresh and exciting.  Thursday, I will help another person with something they are struggling with, something that I am in a unique position to help them with.  Friday, I will look at what I’ve done, finish what needs to be finished, and I will TGIF, making sure that three days later, I don’t forget to TGIM.

So I challenge you: How do you make today special?  How do you look forward to the present?

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