The deeper I tumble down the rabbit hole of community development, the less I care about the social media marketing crowd, and the more interested I am in people who just do it without realizing how or why.

I’d like you to meet Whitney Moses, if you haven’t already.  (Chances are you have.)

Whitney Moses

Whitney is a massage therapist with a social life.

The social media numbers?  It’s unfair to talk about them since she could care less, but I’m going to anyway. She has over 1600 friends on Facebook, and is actually friends with every single one of them.  She keeps a close written account of her life for her inner circle of friends (400+ people) on Livejournal. And being still kinda new to Twitter, she’s rallied about 630 followers from her universe on there.  (It’s also worth adding that she and Amanda Palmer go way back.)

The only internet stats she does care about are her business reviews, since they’re critical to her livelihood.  Having changed office spaces several times in the last few years, she’s at the mercy of her clients to rebuild that pile from scratch every time.  The last move was a few months ago, and she’s up to 30 reviews on Yelp and a 5-star rating.

Whitney is active, both physically and socially.  She sings and dances regularly in the San Francisco club scene, and she monkeys around at the rock climbing gym whenever she has the chance.  She’s obsessed with the human body, and is usually enrolled in extra courses to expand her massage therapy offerings, even though she already has plenty of certifications.  Online, she reads as much as she can about what her friends are up to, comments on their stuff religiously, and sends them personal notes whenever she’s thinking of them.

People love her.  She’s smart, generous, compassionate, aware, engaged, fair, accessible, and joyful about life.   Whenever a friend needs something, she finds a way to make it happen for them.  Whenever she needs something, people run toward her in mobs, holding as much of it as they can carry.

When I started the Deviants Online series in the winter, Whitney was one of the first people I invited to speak at the workshop.  But when I asked her, she looked at me like I had three heads.  “Social Media Marketing” isn’t her subject.  She wouldn’t even consider herself a great example of how to “be awesome on the Internet.” That’s for other people to be experts on. She’s just being herself.

Exactly the point.

I’m still working on her, and will hopefully get her to start articulating her methods and philosophies soon.  But that’s not what’s going on right now.

Right now, she has a broken leg. Well… worse. A knee full of ripped ligaments. As of last Saturday, she’s injured and not allowed to walk, dance, or work for six months.  Our Whitney, the center of a massive community, is down. And without insurance.

I saw her last night.  She was laughing about it, but also clearly frustrated, and worried about how this is all going to play out.

I managed to wait until I left before I burst into tears.  I crumbled into an incoherent, snot-dripping wreck, mumbling onto the shoulder of another friend, “No.  We NEED her OUT there!”

It’s just six months. She’ll get through it. But the shock still has me dizzy: Whitney’s been a lighthouse of passion, activity, health, and engagement in my life for years.  I don’t think about it — I just stand up stronger because I know she’s there, and living with the grace and force and connection that I pretend I’ll someday attain. Seeing that threatened hit me like a fist to the gut.

No. We need her out there.

Fortunately, the whole “without insurance” thing is only a half-truth.  It’s true she’s probably facing $30,000 in medical bills and 6 months worth of lost wages, but there are also hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who are committed to helping her out.  The crowds are already organizing a central calendar to plan visits, transportation, and meals for her, and schemes for several fundraisers are already in the works.

She doesn’t have that kind of safety net because she’s a nice person.

She has that safety net because she has spent her entire life listening to and supporting the people around her, pursuing her dreams as honestly as possible, and including as many people as she can in them.

UPDATE!  Stuff You Can Do…

Quick Backstory:
This is a finicky evaluation of online project management systems, taken slightly out of context. I originally published it a few weeks ago via “Dopp Brain“, my email newsletter, which I’m writing for more often than I’m blogging right now. If you miss hearing from me, go sign up for that. I’m working on some infant/sensitive projects right now, and am preferring to talk about everything just a little less publicly for a bit.

But somebody just asked me about this overview, so I’m making it public now.

~~~~~

When we last heard from our hero, she was neck deep in trial accounts for online project management software…

Man, that was not a fun game.  But it was absolutely worth the digging.  Here’s what I learned (besides the fact that I am the Donald Trump of Project Management System Evaluators):

FIRED

Basecamp: It’s everybody’s golden child, but damnit, I can’t stand it.  Something about how the information is laid out just doesn’t fit how my brain works.  The Writeboards, which should be a centerpiece, are so far out of the way and take extra time to load that they feel like a disconnected afterthought.  The dashboard and calendar views are unreadably cluttered, and the task lists are clunky.  Fired.

Wrike: Oh, this one had so much potential, it broke my heart.  Completely fresh layout — they organize everything by Folders and Subfolders rather than Projects and Clients, so you can decide how your own work needs to be structured.  They also allow you to record the same task in multiple folders, so it’s cross-referenced against what it needs to do.  The only downside? It’s all about tasks.  And it takes a few too many clicks to enter a task to warrant that single focus.  There is a space for notes and discussions, but those are hidden away and hard to find — which is bizarre and completely unecessary.  I thought i was going to strangle it for that, so… Fired.

DeskAway: This one and I almost got married.  I had loaded up all my projects and we were halfway to the chapel (my tux looked great) when I realized that its Dashboard view of the All Tasks Due Today doesn’t let me mark tasks as done.  SERIOUSLY!  It’s just a summary — you have to click through to each task in this weird convoluted way to mark a task as done — so there’s no homebase area that you can hang out in and just be productive.  The other thing that bugged me was that the list of “Overdue” tasks included Today’s tasks.  You don’t get to tell me that something due today is overdue. And by the way, I lied, I don’t really like Bob Dylan and I don’t want to live in your stupid house with the stupid white picket fence and look at your stupid face all day long and this engagement is OVER. Fired.

Pelotonics: By this point, I was jaded.  I knew my standards were too high, and I was a little too familiar with the ejection button.  There was no passion here.  Just a bland dinner, a glimmer of hope (integrating with Evernote? Sweet…), and a quick dismissal based on a flat excuse.  I can’t add a new task from the Dashboard view. There. I said it. None of the other systems would let me do that either, but it seemed as good enough an excuse as any to end that date before we got any further.  It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s just be friends.  Trust me. You don’t want to get involved with me anyway. I’m bad news. I kill systems.  Just ask the others. Go. Now. Before we do something we’ll regret. You’re fired.

After I drowned my system incompatibility sorrows in several regrettable rounds of Chat Roulette, I got back on the horse.  I’m a reasonably attractive, successful consultant — I have a good personality, damnit!  There are plenty of fish in the sea!  Maybe I’m just using the wrong pickup line. Should I change my soap?

To cut to the chase, I put on my best “fine, i’ll be more agreeable this time” face and put together a hybrid solution:

HIRED

Remember the Milk for task tracking.  But not all tasks.  Just the tasks that aren’t part of any scheduled projects and still need to get done by a certain day.  I added the widget to my Gmail sidebar and configured it to only display tasks that are due today or are overdue.  I can check things off as I go, and I can add new things super-quickly when they come up. It works fabulously.

PBWorks Business Edition for project notes and collaboration.  It’s a wiki built for project management, and it’s yummy. I can have a different wiki for each project, and pull in guest collaborators for specific spaces only.  Bonus features: it has task lists (though they’re not any better than all the other system tasks lists I fired), and I’m using those to keep track of project requirements.  It also has this really sexy conference call feature, where it will call as many people as I want to have a meeting with on their telephones and bring them into a zero-hassle conference call.  And the best part about a wiki is that it has all the content I need, and none of the content I don’t need.  Win.

Google Calendar for scheduling work sessions. I’m blocking out time on my schedule for working on different projects. Old school, I know, but it works.

Emma, aka “Girl Friday,” aka “Queen of the Wikis” for tying it all together. (*joyful choirs erupt in praise*)  Emma’s a kick-ass project organizing consultant who is keeping the wiki and calendar updated, and making sense of new projects as they come in. You might also know her from KinkOnTap, the weekly webcast about culture, sexuality, and politics that she co-hosts and organizes.  She’s an awesome one, she is.

And there we have it.  That, plus some Gmail and Freshbooks is the organizational ground I’m standing on.  So far so good.