Pivot, Parasites, Packing and Pipi – oh my!

by beckystraw on August 31, 2011

I’ve officially failed as a professional blogger. Unless professional bloggers win sponsorship deals for their clean and post-free content, then I’m afraid that dream will have to wait.

This summer I thought I’d become a blogging manic, like, I don’t know, Jody “blogging only takes five minutes” Landers. She told me that in the back of a van in Uganda. As she was blogging from her iPhone App. “See, I just posted it,” she said.

Blarg.

Regardless, I’ll justify my absence as being on a summer sabbatical. A time for meditation. Or… I am just really good at doing things and then NOT blogging about them.

I can blame it on The Adventure Project. We’ve been busy pivoting. Anyone who has ever “pivoted” before knows what a train wreck it feels like. Suddenly, you realize what isn’t working, and you need to change tracks before you go over a fallen bridge. It can best be visualized by this scene Jody emailed me, as we both worked a late night in front of our mutually falling apart MacBooks. Guess who is Ross and who’s Rachel?

The good news is start-ups that pivot a few times, generally raise 2.5x more money. That’s what I keep reminding myself as I occasionally slam my head on my desk. Or as count out my nickels to buy a diet coke.

I have also been busy this summer thinking I have parasites. Despite my three failed attempts to tell apathetic doctors, “I got sick in AFRICA (sometimes I say it slowly, so they will listen). Or rural India… or maybe Haiti. Probably eating something weird…” I am still undiagnosed.

But thank you free health clinic, for testing me for every STD imaginable. Shocker – all results were negative. I told you really lame 30-year-old single women do exist in this city! Really appreciate my request for a malaria blood test, to find you tested for syphilis instead.

I am feeling much better, so you can all hang out with me again…I guess now, especially men. Making note to add test results to my match.com profile.

I have also just finished packing and moving out of Brooklyn. In true fashion, I have moved, again. Except this time it’s nowhere. Well, to be technical, it’s my friend, Stacy’s, couch. With my travel schedule, it makes more sense to crash there, than pay rent for a place when I’m never home. That’s a more political way of saying, “I’m still not taking income for our start-up yet, so I’m broke.” (Did you hear how high-pitched my voice got as you read that last sentence)?

But at least I am actually traveling. I just got back from Sweden, where I was at the Stockholm World Water Week conference. It was a fun experience, mainly because I joined the US Board of Akvo.org.

www.akvo.org

Akvo is a Dutch tech non-profit adding transparency to the humanitarian sector (the nerd in me trembles at the excitement of it all)! In essence, they’ve built platforms enabling organizations to connect donors to projects. For example, a water organization in Africa can send a text and photo from their phone saying, “We drilled 20 meters today, check it out” and the message will travel to all donors who contributed to that project. Rad, right? Great way to keep donors engaged, keep things transparent and “visualize the data.” (that’s a key phrase now, right)?

Akvo’s now expanding to the US, and that’s where I come in. The software is open-sourced, because they want to share it (hoorah for Europeans and their socialist-share-everything values)! It can also be used for other non-profit sectors too, such as building hospitals or schools. Email me if you want in.

At the conference, I was thrilled to connect with WaterAid to get an update on the fantastic well mechanics program underway in India. Update for that coming soon. Also excited to connect with two women – April Rinne and Kate Harawa. I love women who work in water, especially since it is the who ladies spend 200 million hours every day collecting it. April (@aprilrinne) is the Microcredit Director at Water.org and Kate is the Country Director of Malawi for Water for People.  They’re both featured on page four of this press article.

In between meetings I spent the week falling in love with ikea, coveting natural blondes, and reconnecting with my homeland (since I’m 1/8th Swedish, it kind of counts, right)? I also ate a ton of cheese, which helped me get over my self-diagnosed dairy intolerance (from my fake parasites).

We all worked out of Thomas and Anke’s beautiful house. It was incredibly cool to have a strategy session with people who traveled in from all over the world. Everyone was very technie and very smart. Between my jetlag and the 20 hours of sunshine, I spent most of my time just trying not to look confused.

I also spent as much time as possible trying to clean dishes, so I wouldn’t be asked to cook. Technically, each of us were responsible for one night cooking dinner. Apparently Anke had not heard about my skills at reheating burritos. I finally had to explain that the only thing my mom taught me how to cook, was actually Swedish meatballs. But my family recipe involved a Knorr Swedish Meatball Seasoning packet, mixed with some milk, and poured over a ton of meatballs. We also ate it with a side of rice. Though I’m still trying to understand how rice is Swedish.

Anyways, photos from my Pipi Longstocking adventure are below.

stockholm

If you’re bored, here’s a 4 min video Mark Charmer shot of Mark Nitzberg and I, the two “Akvo US reps.” Two bits of info if you watch it, #1. I was eating a granola bar and unprepared at the beginning. 2. Mark is probably tired of reliving the memory of being the 44th employee at Microsoft, who also made the “interesting” choice not to buy stock at the time…I’m sure he never dwells on it. Oh, and #3 – Do you think I have Canadian accent? What the heck is it?

 

 

 

  • Courtney Orrange

    I’d love to learn more about Akvo. I am way at the beginning stages of something but thinking through the ways this could play in. Email me when you can !

  • Pingback: Some Adventure Things.

  • http://www.bridgettegilchrist.blogspot.com Bridgette

    You do have an accent..though not Canadian…maybe you’ve picked up a slight British accent from Africa..hmmm..yeah…I think that is what it is.. Makes you sound very important. ; )
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the connection using technology to inform and thus pull on the heartstrings of the donors. I’ve always felt emotion is KEY to successful fundraising. If there is no heart connection with your donors and the project they are giving to, fundraising will fail. Go bigger on the emotional piece. This video in itself allows people to know you in a more real way, and like you and want to help you. Now you need a video of interviews with the people you are helping. It will blow things out of the water for you..(that’s my opinion of course! You know more than me.) It is very exciting to see this technology! Great blog Becky!!

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