Some of you may have noticed the funny bluish logo that popped up over there on the right, just underneath my “Useful Links”, recently. Yes, I am a proud participant in the Word Count 2010 Blogathon.
What the heck is a blogathon and why should you care? I’ll answer the second question first. What it means for YOU, loyal readers, is that I’ll be posting not just once, not twice or even three times a week, but EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So beginning today you can expect a month’s worth of news, career advice and resources for ex-offenders and people interested in the challenges of reentry. That’s 31 days. Count ‘em. Hold me to ‘em. That’s part of the fun. Plus you can look forward to guest posters, a round-up of my favorite justice-related blogs, and perhaps even win a personalized resume and interview consultation….
This particular blogathon — which already has more than 100 writers participating — is the brainchild of Michelle Rafter, author of Word Count, an excellent and well-regarded blog for freelancers. Michelle and I were colleagues at a newspaper in Southern California, back in the day. She’s a fabulous journalist and a leader in digital media, as well as one of the most organized and productive writer/editors I know.
And yes, I’m hoping a little of that may rub off on me. I’m always looking for ways to make this blog more timely, relevant and useful. So if I can also find a way to streamline the process by taking part in a collective effort of like-minded writers, well ….once again YOU will be the biggest beneficiaries.
Which reminds me….I write a lot about the difficulties that technological advances have brought to the lives of former felons. It’s now easier for employers to do background checks on credit and criminal records. The challenge of more jobs requiring online applications is often a shock and a difficult hurdle for many returning citizens. Even the computer savvy have to be on guard. What you say about yourself on Facebook, My Space and Twitter can and will be held against you by employers, who now routinely check out prospective hires on Google.
Still, technology also has been a boon for ex-offenders in one very significant way. Social media. Great sites like Prison Talk and Indeed.com and the proliferation of blogs like this one have created a virtual community of people who know where you’re coming from and can take away some of the isolation the newly released often feel. They can also be a source of advice and inspiration. (No, I’m not a Pollyanna. There’s some garbage there too, but then that’s true of most public forums, and one of the challenges is to learn to see past that and take away what’s useful).
So just as we writers no longer need to toil alone, neither do ex-offenders. I won’t ask you to commit to 31 days, but if you haven’t already tried out some of the links or resources here, why not give at least one or two a shot. It’s worth seeing how you might be able to help them and what they may offer you.
Good luck! And let me know how it goes. Or if you’ve already found success or support through social media, I’d love to hear your stories and learn what sites or other connections have been helpful to you.