Contemporary Expression

What’s Your Strategy?
January 13, 2010, 9:23 pm
Filed under: branding, community building, social media

Read more about how to build community for your business, nonprofit or organization on my SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY PAGE


The Non Profit Facebook Panic of 2010
December 16, 2009, 11:22 am
Filed under: arts funding, change, community building, marketing, social media

Wow – you would think that Facebook had announced that all Fan Pages were being removed.  The  panic being  invoked by Non Profit Tech 2.0 and Wild Apricot and The Chronicle of Philanthrophy and others, is really premature.

Yes – there are changes coming, there will always be changes coming. The problem is, too many non-profits are still treating their social media tools like bull-horns.  The answer to all change will be strategy. Facebook and Twitter are viable tools for non-profits only if the  friends, volunteers, loyal volunteers and advocates  of that organization are telling their own social networks about the work and progress of the organization(s) they support.

Don’t forget that Facebook generates revenue from all that direct advertising and it may be time for non-profits to stop free-loading and  put a little investment dollars in providing the tools to your supporters to build that network.  Its time to stop using social media because it’s free. Use these wonderful tools because it is part of your strategy.

Are you ready for change?

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Voices Are Symphonic
December 13, 2009, 1:34 pm
Filed under: community building, Equality, flip camera, Immigration, social media

When Sam Davidson, co-founder of Cool People Care, asked me if I was willing to present a workshop a the 7th Annual TIRRC Annual Convention I was eager to be helpful.

The coalition is the only statewide entity in Tennessee working to create a voice in the public area that is truly representative of the interests of the “newest Tennesseans.”  They help by creating unifying support to organizations that are services based, the empower the grassroot leaders to effectively advocate for policy changes at the local, state and federal levels.  They guard the freedoms of Tennessee immigrants and refugees by educating individuals about ther rights and organizing communities to address alleged cvil liberties/civil rights abuses.

The workshop:

We Want You! (Online) – How to Recruit and Retain Volunteers and Activists Using Social Media

o In this interactive workshop, participants will learn about the latest trends when it comes to nonprofits using social media, particularly when it comes to using these free tools to find new volunteers and activists. Whether you’re curious about getting your organization on Facebook or ready to maximize Twitter to reach a new generation, you’ll leave this workshop with ideas and a strategy to begin to recruit people for your cause.

There was valuable discussion about how individual activists have a responsibility to organize themselves and have a strategic plan before they take on the responsibility of leading others.  The entire conference was rewarding.  It was like a small UN of cross cultural unity building.  I heard four languages spoken while I was there and there was a Spanish interpretation of my workshop.

The TIRRC Convention was like a symphony of ideas and passion and organization, each instrument building and bring new texture to the progressive goals. It was a pleasure to participate and I hope to continue to be helpful.

Action Plan:

The Dream Act (H.R. 1751) The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced in March of 2009. The bill would provide qualified undocumented immigrant students access to higher education and the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.  Yearly about 65,000 Us-raised students who call the United States their home face barriers to higher education, can not work legally in the U.S. and fear being sent back to a county they no longer call home.  It’s time we gave all our children a chance to succeed by providing a path to legalization for undocumented children who had no choice in coming to this country.

Contact your U.S. Representative Today and ask for them to support H.R. 1751

In Nashville?  TIRRC will be delivering a symbolic holiday tree to Rep. Jim Cooper  to ask again for his support of The Cream Act.  Thursday afternoon December 17, 2009  For more information, please contact (615) 294-2203

Get back to the music

Watercolor by Nancy VanReece - "Creative Direction"

Over the course of the last 28 years, my work has been all about advocating creative opportunities for my community to achieve it’s potential.

25 of those years 1982-2007 I worked in the music business – all of it: Marketing, Promoting, Managing, Advocating, Soliciting, Encouraging, Guiding, Buying and Selling, Licensing and Negotiating.

When I jumped off into the non-profit sector it worked out well.  I was able to take my understanding as a painter and my experience working with musicians and lawyers into a new sector.  Bringing creative and practical business practice to a non-profit organization was a good thing.  As a business person, I could speak “the language” of the potential donor easily.

I learned quite a bit the last three years.  I learned that “development” means “fundraising” and that customers were not always the folks that paid for the product. It was, and remains, a fascinating sector of our commerce.

I also learned a lot about social media strategy and community building and the new, always evolving, 21st century tools of marketing, communication and sales. A lot of these things are excellent resources to lead me into the next adventure.

I may remain in the non-profit sector. I might go back to the music business. I may be painting and  putting together marketing and social media consulting work for a season.

One thing I know; I will always be looking at art and listening to music for divine creative direction.

“I’m saving all my lovin’ for someone who’s lovin’ me…” Gloria Gaynor

“There’s a cry asking why, I pray the answer is up ahead , ’cause I know where I’ve been… there is a promise we must make, worth the risk and the chances we take. There is a a dream in the future..’Cause just to sit still would be a sin.” .. Hairspray Soundtrack

Bus Stop Ahead

We aren’t sure when — but soon the bus will stop here at Contemporary Expression for a guest blog from Matt Cheuvront on LIVING AN ARTFUL LIFE

I believe in the creative process of living life to its fullest .  Julie Cameron has a book called The Artist’s Way that many people in the creative class have found helpful.

The concept of Living An Artful Life from Contemporary Expression is this:

each person is a creative person that needs to embrace their ‘artist within’ to live life to its fullest.

Kindness Will Bring Prosperity

iPhone photo by Nancy VanReece

  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.  ~Mark Twain
  • Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.  ~Seneca

As I prepare to enter my tenth week of unemployment I am overwhelmed by the kindness of others.  Joan and I have been able to survive these last nine weeks only because of the  generosity of family and friends.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics ; ….  employers initiated 1,776 mass layoff events in the third quarter of 2009 that resulted in the separation of 277,924 workers from their jobs …

I have read several stories on the internet about dealing with job loss and how to job searching and the importance of networking and blah blah blah ….

I am convinced that the real stories of survival are found in the gut wrenching phone calls asking for help from aging parents to cover health insurance payments and in the long  stays at coffee-house tables long after the management  has seen you at the register.  Kindness is found in the generosity of  like-minded sojourners with mission-driven hearts and minds.

My faith in the kindness of others and the helpful hand of strangers has been renewed these past nine weeks and the lessons I have learned will go with me into whatever is in store for the future. Prosperity is sure to follow.

Missing Bodies
October 27, 2009, 6:52 pm
Filed under: artwork, Books, community building, Equality


I’ve just complete a cerebral journey.  I read the Monica Casper and Lisa Jean Moore’s  masterpiece,  Missing Bodies, The Politics of Visibility.

The exploration of  surveillance, manipulations, erasures and recognition of the body in the 21st century is  so  intriguing that it may have changed my perspective permanently.   I am not one to just pick up such an intellectual study.  I know one of the authors.  Monica Casper likes my art work, she used to live here in Nashville and we lost herlast year to a move to Arizona last year.

I walk away from this study thinking about the missing people in my lavender community.  The importance of coming out of the closet is important to my city’s growth and vibrancy. I think about the missing people who work every day without labor representation that are exploited for the bottom line. I think about the missing bodies of tireless non-profit worker and volunteer who without recognition and reward may be jeopardized.

This book may have been about the sociology of the body but it made me rethink about the blind way that I walk through life without really seeing those around me.

Thank you for opening my eyes again Monica. 


Author Monica Casper signs my book on a recent Nashville visit. My painting "Jenny and Shirley" is in the background