a ToASt to Stacey Monk @ EpicChange.org

There's a new kid on the block in my virtual wwworld who is making me smile.

I first noticed Stacey Monk when she started following me on twitter. Curious, I went to her site and was startled to find a former version of myself, all decked out with web 2.0 tools. Pangs of jealousy tinged my memories of starting to write online 10 years ago, sharing stories about the world around me in Uganda, and the impact that I was able to make by getting my wwworld involved in lending to the cause. Oh how I would have been lucky to have the amazing community building tools that Stacey has!

In the days when my "Letters from Uganda" were filled with Stacey's kind of ardorous passion, there were no blogs. Email lists, discussions and website forums were the interactive tools available, and on my Ugandan connectivity it was slow going to keep up. There were many days I spent 15+ hours online. But somehow, even though she has all these amazing web 2.0 tools available to make reaching thousands of people easier, I've no doubt in my mind that Stacey is working just as hard as I did in those days. She's putting all she's got to give into Epic Change, and it really shows.

To you Stacey, hats off for a job well done! You should feel very proud of your first year accomplishments online and in Tanzania, and I wish you all the best in achieving the more complex steps ahead, along the way to scaling your lending concept for African communities. I feel the emotional rollercoaster this journey is taking you on, from the exhileration of unanticipated successes to the "sometimes overwhelming self-doubt." Never doubt that what you have already given of yourself and achieved is far more than what most people expect from themselves or from you. You are WOWing us!

I find myself brimming with ideas whenever I visit the Epic Change website, so I hope you don't mind if I share them here unsolicited.
  • I'd love to see you think about getting the Tanzanian community involved in creating content about their culture. Well presented content about African fashion, recipes and proverbs will bring in a lot of additional search engine traffic to your site. That kind of cultural info at an earlier version of lifeinafrica.com also put us on the online syllabus of many a geography and african studies teachers - students and teachers would be a wonderful segment for you to reach with the news of what you are doing.

  • if you haven't already, connect with my good friend Mark Grimes from ned.com about monetizing your webspace through the BetterWorldMediaNetwork he's soon launching. It sounds like your website traffic is high enough to make what you can earn for the cause through advertising meaningful.

  • use your blog to write some "pillar articles" that are targetted at an audience beyond your socially motivated readers. An article on your traffic building strategies, for example, would offer an interesting case study for bloggers in the online traffic building industry to share with their readers. You can google for places to submit articles like that online to publishers who are looking for blog content. That could open up a whole new neighborhood of the web for you to draw from in motivating people to get behind Epic Change.
The part that always challenged me most with Life in Africa was helping the Ugandan commnities I was working with understand the value of their participation in the wwworld I was creating online. As you move forward with bulding connections between your readers and the community in Tanzania, I hope you will succeed in finding ways to make the connections mutually meaningful. If there's ever a way that my experience can be of help to you in achieving your dreams, Stacey, just holler.

Meanwhile, thank you for everything you have given to achieve so much in Tanzania and online in such an amazingly short time, and for inspiring so many to understand, hope and believe that "epic change" at the magnitude you're dreaming it can be possible in this lifetime.

Stacey Monk of Epic Change, a heartfelt ToASt to you.

You go girl!

related posts:

Let's ToASt to hope for turbulent times