Invincible Summer

It’s the start of the summer holidays in the UK, and the children have just broken-up from school.

Trying to practice what I preach about simpler-happier lifestyles, I’ll be posting less frequently, and also try out some shorter posts over the next six weeks. I’ll make sure there’s still plenty of interesting stuff here though, so keep dropping in.

If you’re not too busy trying to ‘save the world’ over the summer, you could always check out a couple of my recommended blogs:

The New Economics Foundation is a think tank that aims to promote innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environmental and social issues.

Solutions is a peer reviewed print and online magazine that aims to showcase bold and innovative ideas to solve the world’s economic, social and ecological problems.

Of course if you feel inspired you can always drop me a line with a guest post idea. I’d love to hear from you !

I’m off to sort out the BBQ and blow-up the inflatable garden play pool :)

The Sun is Shining

I’m taking a weeks holiday from updating Next Starfish – to catch-up with a huge pile of ‘other stuff’ I need to be getting on with, and to spend a couple of days in the sunshine with the family – I’m trying to practice what I preach regarding simpler and happier lifestyles.

I’ll be back next week  - in the meantime you might want to do something ‘out in the real world’, or for you die hard screen addicts you might want to take a look at a couple of my recommended blogs: such as Make Wealth History, Grist, or Zen Habits.

I’ve several articles planned for July including Saving Lives, The Greenest Car in the World, Scrape Your Plate, The View from My Desk, Meet Shane Claiborne and The Elephant in the Room. I’ve also got a number of great guest posts lined-up including Where Should We Breathe ?, and a follow-up on Oxfam’s GROW campaign.

Look forward to seeing you back here soon.

Next Starfish – One Month Update

Next Starfish was one month old on the 5th June ! Hip Hip !

I’m very pleased with how the first month went – everything on the site seems to be working, I found time to write regular posts, and (most amazingly) people seem to be visiting.

One of the things I wanted to do when I was planning Next Starfish, was to give occasional updates about how the site was performing and share some of the nuts-and-bolts details of running a blog that most bloggers don’t generally discuss. The theory being that behind-the-scenes info on site design and marketing etc. might be of particular interest to other bloggers and would-be bloggers.

During May Next Starfish had 1,170 unique visitors, which I’m pretty pleased with for a first month. I’m expecting visitor numbers to probably dip a little, for a month or two, before (hopefully) starting to rise again. My 12 month target is to achieve 10,000 unique visitors a month, which is ambitious, but should be do’able – I’ll keep you posted.

Next Starfish’s Facebook site had 73 site ‘likes’ by the end of May and 107 followers on Twitter, which is fantastic. The numbers for both have continued to grow well moving into June, and over the coming months I plan to further develop both the content on both platforms to include a wider range of material  - such as links to news items and other articles etc. A few posts received comments, and ‘likes’ in May, and I’m very pleased this seems to be improving more in June. Ultimately the site will live-or-die based on feedback from users, so please don’t be shy in sharing your thoughts and views.

I’ve not really done anything to highlight the Amazon backed bookstore, and unsurprisingly have yet to make a sale as a result :(  I’ll work more on this shortly. The site obviously isn’t meant to be a big money-making venture, but any income is welcome (of course). A quarter of all income will be donated directly to Oxfam and Water Aid, with the remaining 75% divided between all contributing authors.

The Next Starfish YouTube channel had over 150 visits during May, which isn’t bad, but again I probably need to improve the promotion of this section of the site.

If anyone is interested in the more techie aspects – the site is written in WordPress using the excellent Prose Theme from Studiopress, and I’m using Google Analytics to monitor traffic.

Although I run a couple of other websites, this is my first blog, and I must admit I’m currently loving the whole ‘being a blogger’ thing. Once you get over the initial nerves of writing something for the whole world to see, it’s actually quite enjoyable. I’ve no shortage of topics and issues I want to blog about, but I am finding it a challenge to find the time to write articles, manage and promote the site, along with my family life, my day job, sleep, and the zillion other things I should be doing . . . I know I’m not the only person struggling to balance competing time demands, and this is probably a topic I’ll write more about in the future. Something else I’ve noticed is that I’m too frequently thinking about the blog, or planning articles in my mind – probably not too healthy on a long term basis, so I’ll have to set some boundaries up to control that.

I hope you find these occasional updates of interest. Over time I’ll go on to talk about networking, marketing, guest-blogging and all the other aspects of running a blog.

In the meantime I hope you continue to find the site’s content interesting and inspiring – and if you’re supportive of what I’m trying to do with Next Starfish I’d like to ask two things of you – first please share your comments on the articles, or via Twitter or Facebook – all feedback is welcome, and second and most importantly, be sure to let your friends and contacts know we’re here.

The ultimate aim of Next Starfish is to challenge apathy and indifference and promote and encourage action to create positive change in the world, so the more people that wander in off the cyber street the better :)

Finally if they’re are any keen writers out there with a cracking idea for a guest post – drop me a line.

Does the World Really Need Another Blog ?

There are more than 160 million blogs on the internet. Another 50,000 new blogs begin every day.

Does the world really need another one ?

What more can there possibly be to say ?

Something to ponder when starting a new blog, but I finally decided on the ‘build it and they will come’ approach. There are over two billion people connected to the internet after all, with another quarter of a million joining daily. That’s a lot of people wanting something to read – so long as it’s relevant, interesting and different !

This is a blog about changing the world.

We live in a time of staggering contrast between the worlds’s rich and poor. According to UNICEF 22,000 children die every day due to poverty. There is sufficient wealth in the world to change this, but 75% of the world’s income goes to the 20% of the global population who are already the richest. If like me you live in the Western world then that probably includes you.

We are also living unsustainably. Our rising appetite for energy, water, food and raw materials is already causing problems and risks outstripping our current supply. If we want to lift billions of people out of poverty across the world we will need to use even more. Yet we are already struggling with environmental damage, climate change and conflict.

Is this ‘just the way things are’ ?

How much should we care about people we don’t know, who live far away ?

What changes should we make in our own life for the benefit of the wider environment ?

I am personally challenged by these questions. My motivation for this blog is to encourage a shift of our attention, away from the seemingly impossible scale of these problems, and away from what we’re all not doing, and focus instead on what we can do.

It’s not about ‘saving the world’; it’s about doing things differently.

It’s not about guilt or fear; it’s about optimism and enjoyment.

I personally think many environmental and social justice messages are more than a little ‘preachy’, and sometimes lacking perspective, or don’t seem sufficiently grounded in reality. I hope this blog will be different. That’s not to deny the significance and urgency of the issues, the 22,000 children who will die from poverty today are not faceless, nameless abstracts, but real children who will leave grieving families behind, but I don’t believe we can change things just by adopting an attitude of guilt and personal sacrifice. That’s not how we motivate ourselves, either as individuals or societies, we need something else.

I believe we need to feel positive and enthusiastic if we’re going to make permanent significant changes in our lives, and make a meaningful contribution to the issues we care about.

Hope you keep reading.


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