Since I’ve been doing this blogging thing, I’ve run into some pretty cool people, in my neck of the woods and hither and yon. I interviewed Jude Stringfellow from Gainesville, Texas who trained Faith the biped dog to walk on her two hind legs, human style. I talked to local Twitter-ati Michael Samuelson, who explained the Twitter phenomenon from twit to tweet.
Now, I’d like to introduce you to Alison Lukan. Lukan sent me a congrats on my “First, the good news” blog and told me a little about her blog, “365 — Searching and documenting 365 amazing people in the world, one day at a time.
How could I resist? I contacted Lukan and requested an interview. Lucky for me — and for you, dear readers — Lukan obliged. Here is the Q & A, done the modern way, via e-mail. Hat’s off to you, Alison Lukan, an inspiration of good news for all!
Jeanne Huff: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Alison Lukan: I’m 35, living in Dublin, Ohio with my beloved husband and dog. I graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Leadership Studies. I spent almost a decade running the rat race as a Management/ Strategy Consultant based out of Richmond, and then D.C., while traveling for work all over the country. Family ties brought me “home” to Ohio in 2002 where I now work for myself doing management consulting with a much heavier focus on “working to live” not “living to work.”
I’ve lost my grandmother and too many friends to breast cancer and my mother is also an 11-year survivor so I am passionately committed to that cause. I recently finished a volunteer term of three years leading the Columbus Race for the Cure for Susan G. Komen for the Cure (which, under my leadership grew from 27K to 40K participants and almost $2.5MM raised) and I am now also working with the Young Survival Coalition on some of their projects, as well as with Komen to build the first official “race for the Cure” in Zurich Switzerland. My interests include running, knitting, technology, travel, and enjoying great food. I’ve always been an optimist by nature, and I try every day to find the good.
JH: Why and how did you come up with the idea for your blog?
AL: In the late Summer of 2008, I finally came upon some more free time in my schedule and really stopped to take stock of my life and how I was living it. Around the same time, a prominent local figure here in the community had passed away and the news outlets were filled with tributes etc. I had always found funerals/memorials to be a frustrating experience and had heard the colloquialism “funerals are for the living not the dead” and, in response, I repeated what had become a personal frustration of “why do we wait till someone dies to say nice things about them?”
For some reason, this all finally clicked and I realized there were so many people that I already knew personally who needed to know that they were doing good things — no matter how big or small. This, coupled with the fact that I was feeling far too much cynicism in my life, gave birth to my little blog. I had always found 365 Projects compelling and this was my little spin on the concept.
JH: How do you choose your subjects?
AL: The only rule I have for picking someone is that there is no rule. I write about people I know, people I have met just once, and sometimes people I simply observe. I have acknowledged a few famous people, but when I do, I try to find an angle that isn’t obvious. I also try my best to pick people who are alive — since that was my whole point initially — but I have broken that rule a few times.
I really try to be organic — not looking for one specific person but see what each day brings; however, I do have a “back up” list of people who I know will be on the blog eventually. Often, these are people who I hold most dear for a variety of reasons…and they are the posts I spend the most time on.
The one thing that is most important to me is to always do my best to close the feedback loop. Every post has with it a way in which I try and let the subject know about their post. A dear friend and advocate of my blog even suggested I create “business cards” to give to those who I may not be able to get in touch with. I do this now: I have a simple card that says “You Have Been Blogged” and the URL as well as the comment to check the blog within the next two to three days to see how they have made a difference in the world.
JH: Will you continue after the 365 days?
AL: I want the concept to continue, though I believe it will evolve into something different. My blog, technically, is still very simple and I would like to strengthen that aspect of things. Also, I realized recently that due to travel (and) the fact that I use Sundays for a “reflections” post, it’s going to take longer than one calendar year. My first goal will be to have 365 distinct people documented.
JH: Will you be compiling all this into a book?
AL: Honestly, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind until a few readers suggested it to me. I think that a book would be amazing and such a cool thing to do; but, I haven’t the slightest idea how to do it as of yet and I am still rather incredulous to think that this could become a book — that it could generate that much interest. I would officially chalk the idea of making this a book under “DREAM I HOPE TO REALIZE.”
JH: What has been the reaction to your blog so far?
AL: I am humbled every day when I see the stats for my Web site or get a comment. Most every individual who has been blogged has written me tremendous responses that are the greatest gifts I could have received.
I am thrilled that I’ve now gotten hits from all over the world and it seems that people come, stay a while and are interested in the little acts of kindness others are doing. What I love most is that people have told me they go back and read the posts about themselves again and again, particularly if they need a pick-me-up. I love that. Others have shared that these posts have inspired them to notice little things as well.
JH: What are some of the most interesting comments or funny or touching stories?
AL: I have been surprised at how sparse the actual comments are versus the traffic I get. I do end up getting a lot of emails directly to me. I am also surprised that those who comment are often people who aren’t associated to the subject of any given posts.
The most amazing thing that happened was two of my friends who had been blog subjects contacted a bunch of people who had been on the blog as well as other friends and had each of them, in turn, write a post about me for my birthday, which was turned into a blog and given to me for my birthday in February. That was amazing…
As for touching stories, I think that the most touching story I know is about one of my “postees” who, although I didn’t know it, was going through a really rough time. Reading my post really affected her and to hear her tell me that, and tell me the meaning that it had for her still brings me to tears.
I’ve also had some people find their post before I had even had a chance to tell them about it…one friend even posted her entry on Facebook as I was drafting the email to tell her it was up. That made me laugh…it’s crazy how many folks have found this blog and are following along.
Probably the most amazing response was from the author Paulo Coehlo. He is someone I have admired for almost 20 years and when I blogged about him I sent him a Twitter never dreaming he’d actually go and read his post. He did, and he commented. I was blown away.
JH: What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with your blog?
AL: My initial intent was just to put some good energy out into the world and refocus myself on thinking positively. Now, I also am involving some significant self-reflection and personal growth. I have started to see the reactions my honorees have and I am taking every post so much more seriously. Not only to do the person justice, but also to really examine what this says about me and what I value and think of the world.
The largest scale wish I have, is that others will read my simple posts and hopefully be compelled to also acknowledge another’s goodness in the world — even if it’s just saying “thank you.” I think that we are surrounded by too much negativity — we are bombarded with bad news and sarcasm, I want to start putting out only positive thinking and hopefully watch it catch on.
JH: Anything else you’d like to share?
AL: I really thought this blog would be easy — and it is, in some ways. As I change my head around, finding good things to write about becomes easier and easier.
I’ve also been a little surprised that some people think they can manipulate my blog — many people want things/ people posted and others have either been offended that they haven’t been blogged in a certain order or view getting on the blog as a competition. That’s disappointing.
What’s surprising, and hard, is actually putting posts out there. I always get nervous right after I hit the send on the email or Tweet telling someone they have been blogged. I want to do the person justice. I want them to feel loved. I also find myself wanting to write about certain people over and over again and I don’t know yet, how to deal with that… there are a very few people who have been posted numerous times.