Meet The MySpace Journal 2010 Winner (Me)!

(This blog was originally posted on the MySpace Journal blog on 1/20/10)

Meet the MySpace Journal 2010 Winner January 20, 2010

To attend the World Economic Forum in Davos is truly the opportunity of a lifetime. I would like to thank MySpace, the Wall St. Journal and the World Economic Forum for offering me this opportunity. I’d like to thank the judges, especially the 6th judge - YOU. So many amazing people in my online network voted for me and I wouldn’t have this opportunity without your support. Thank you.

As I talked about in my video entry for this contest, my life has changed dramatically this past year. I went from working in a technology startup in Los Angeles to traveling the world as a global volunteer, discovering my own online voice on my blog, The Causemopolitan and eventually, at the end of my travels, relocating to New Orleans to be part of a vibrant social entrepreneurship community and continuing movement to rebuild one of America’s greatest cities.

All of this has happened because I believe in humanity and I believe that we all have the power to make the world a better place. There is a mantra I have, “Every day inspire others and be inspired.” For each person who reaches out to me to say that they’ve been motivated to create change in the world, so too do I reach out to be mentored, inspired simply better overall each and every day.

It’s something I call “the cause-filled life.” Which means that everything I do, I work to incorporate cause. Whoa. I know that can seem like a huge step for most people who don’t know where to get started. So you know what I say? Start small, start anywhere, get involved with a cause or nonprofit and let it grow organically from there. Someone who is out of shape can’t go out and run a marathon without easing their way into it. And that starts with putting on walking shoes and walking out the door, down the driveway and to the end of the block. Cause is like that too. Make a $10 donation to support a friend’s fundraiser, volunteer one Saturday with your family. Time waits for no one. I believe people, for the most part and with the best intentions, talk themselves out of getting involved because they feel like they don’t have enough time or money to really make a difference. I make it my goal to be the voice that says; “Do it! Try it on for size and see where it goes!”

People ask how I could travel last year without making money. I say it’s not about what you make but what you spend. By cutting down on everyday costs and giving up the big things like a permanent address, I was free to volunteer and travel. It’s not for everyone. A year as a nomad was not an easy journey. As the year progressed, I realized there was so much to share and wanted to let people feel like they were volunteering with me in the Philippines, or canyoneering in Ecuador, or visiting temples in Burma, so I used social media tools to share my stories, and the stories of people I met to get the word out.

It’s not about being an expert in social media. It’s about understanding how online tools can bring people together and being willing to pick up and try new technologies. It’s finding the conversations happening online connecting with people on a personal level. It’s actively cultivating my networks and connecting others.

I wish I spoke a second language fluently. The superhero power I always say I would want is the ability to have a conversation with anyone in any language. Since I don’t have that skill, when people ask me how I managed to travel alone without incident, I simply say, “I speak people.” I believe that conversations are 80% tone and 20% language. If I can infer the tone and body language of someone, I’m doing ok and I can play it by ear from there.

To be a great citizen journalist, it’s not about being an expert or having the best equipment, and it’s not about being in the right place at the right time though both of those things help. Capturing stories is about humanity. Being a humanitarian used to sound like a big scary goal, then one day I realized that a humanitarian is someone who brings back humanity to people. That, I decided, was something I could do and so I try to write, take pictures and shoot videos that compliment that ethos. Partnering those intentions with story telling is what I think makes a good citizen journalist.

It’s important to be open to the experience. Coming from a place of “yes” can get you a lot further in life than being skeptical. It takes a certain amount of quantity to get to the quality and so not every experience is going to be great nor is every person. You have to take a little bit of both to get to the sweet spot. Once you realize that’s what life is really about it’s a lot sweeter.

In the past year I was a Kiva Fellow in the Philippines for 3 months, launched a campaign called Cause It’s My Birthday to celebrate birthdays as a chance to give instead of get and raise close to $20,000 for malaria nets in Ghana, and moved to a city I that I fell head over heels in love for, New Orleans. I launched a weekly newsletter (with two fellow former digital nomads) to help keep New Orleans fresh called NOLAlicious and am co-organizing a Crisis Camp New Orleans for this Saturday to help with the technological response to the devastating Earthquake that struck Haiti. I’m very involved in community organizing because I believe community is like family and I want to do right by my family and stick up for them and have them be willing to go to bat for me.

I believe actions speak louder than words. In all that I do, I think about action.

I am honored to go to Davos as an unofficial Ambassador for New Orleans have the opportunity to continue sharing my experiences. I’m deeply passionate about how economic development policies shape both the developing and the developed world combined to break the poverty cycle. I want to take the pulse of global leaders on how they feel about the future of the world economy after such a tough 2009. I’d like to hear more about how new technologies, like mobile, have the ability to change the way we do commerce and drive opportunity to build a more vibrant global middle class. I’m there to listen and to share as much information as I can with you so that from wherever you are, you feel like you’re there too and learning and coming on the journey with me.

What do you want to know? Who would you like to meet? Let me help make your dreams come true. Leave a comment in the forum here, connect with me on twitter at @sloane and tell me what you would be most excited about if you could attend Davos.

There is much more to come. I hope you’ll check back and stay tuned in for all the latest developments from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 27-31, 2010.

Virtually yours, Sloane

Related posts: I’m the new MySpace Wall Street Journal Citizen Journalist for Davos! I Need Your Vote! MySpace Journal Finalist For Davos! TGIF Video: Challenge. Create. Change.

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