ESSAY #2 September – November: Processing Growth

My experience starting a blog this fall has been both harder than I expected and more interesting than I expected. Street Stories allowed me to meet and speak with staff at NightShift who inspired me with their stories and vision behind the organization. It also allowed me to share coffee with street friends and have a window into what their daily lives are like. Alternatively, Street Stories created space for me to get frustrated with my inability to figure out WordPress, and exposed my visually uncreative side. Yet, throughout all of the ups and downs, I am proud of Street Stories and I hope to continue it.

Street Stories houses stories from Whalley, the city centre of Surrey, and NightShift, an organization that serves vulnerable people residing in this area. Throughout the blog, I mainly talk about my experience of becoming a volunteer with NightShift, my experience interviewing a few of their staff members, and an experience I had one time walking around Whalley and talking to some people on the street. My imagined audience for this blog is young adults from 18-30 who are looking for a way to give back to the community. I also hope Street Stories would be shared with people who typically hold a negative view of the homeless population in Surrey. I realize the importance of understanding the values of my intended audience and their attitude towards the vulnerable population in Surrey (Hassan, 2011). Considering I am a young adult, and I am constantly around young adults, I know that we are a group of people who are in love with being “too busy.” In light of this, there are many people who feel passionately about helping others in their city, but feel “too busy” to make steps towards putting that passion in action. Street Stories aims to confront young adults in this reality, letting people know that there is a possibility for a change in priorities to impact the greater good of their city.

Through content, I address these audiences by sharing the stories of what NightShift is doing on my blog. Through design, I address this audience by creating Street Stories to be minimalistic and easy to navigate. I also try my best to use photos that connect with the stories that I’m telling, because I feel that young adults connect with visual pieces. Lastly, I have displayed my Instagram to show more of who I am, in hopes of connecting with young adults who come across my blog.

The value provided by Street Stories is not tangible. I relate to Debbie Chachra when she states “I am not a maker,” (2015). She emphasizes how history has set up people who physically make things to be seen as superior to those who are caregivers, or those who teach (Chachra, 2015). Like Chachra, I push against this notion. Although Street Stories does not add any physical value to those who engage with it, it offers people the wonder of a human story. Also, it offers a platform for vulnerable people’s stories to be told. Awareness of the daily lives of those living on the streets and the amazing work that NightShift does is what people will receive when visiting Street Stories.

Using Google Analytics has not informed me of my audience and their behaviour because I do not have enough traffic coming through my site. However, I am thankful to have learned the basics of how to analyze the behaviour of my audience and create goals for my site. I hope to use this knowledge in the continuation of my blog.

Looking back to the first weeks of sunny September, the design of my blog has changed drastically but my core content has stayed the same. I changed my theme about half way through the semester because it was not allowing me to express my content effectively. My new theme shows more pictures, which allows me to communicate my content in an impactful way. As W. Gardner Campbell said, when one is intentional with building their personal cyberinfrastructure, they has the potential to create space for one to express their passions and aspirations (2009). Although my personal cyberinfrastructure still has a long way to go, I believe that it has come very far in the past four months.

All in all, I am grateful for all of the blogging experience I have gained this fall. Starting with a passion for the vulnerable people living within Surrey, navigating my way through design and themes, and learning to find my voice through it all has been a journey that I hope to continue. As I have just finished the volunteer training for NightShift, Street Stories will continue with stories from the people I meet through my weekly volunteer experience. Through this, I plan to connect my imagined audience with impactful stories that too often go untold.

Campbell, W. G. (September 4, 2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review. Retrieved from

https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Chachra, D. (January 23, 2015). Why I am not a maker. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/01/why-i-am-not-a-maker/384767/

Hassan, M. (March 1, 2011). Developing an audience profile. Communications Today. Retrieved from http://communicationandtechnology2011.blogspot.com/2011/03/developing-audience-profile.html

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