Dictionary.com defines a community as a "social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually prec. by the): the business community; the community of scholars."
In today's Web 2.0 context, we hear the word community often. When me and Timothy set out to create Nuffnang, the word was in my conciousness, and I thought to myself, "Why can't a blog advertising network be a community as well?"
In terms of the commercial aspects, we knew how to differentiate ourselves. The key was, being local. It was about serving local ads to local blogs, paying in local dollars, and having local understanding to deal with local needs. This was all fine and dandy, but besides being local, what other edge would Nuffnang have over potential competitors?
That answer is the community. It should be clear to anyone that Nuffnang being such a young company has not turned the corner monetarily. We are progressing better than expected, and our financial position is strong, but this is more a matter of what we have put INTO the company, rather than what we have gotten out of it as yet.
Let's discuss what I feel are the 3 core aspects of Nuffnang's community drive. These come in no particular order of importance.
NO 1: HAVING FUN
A community in my mind is all about relationships. Its about meeting new people, meeting old friends and having fun together.
We're really into that at Nuffnang. Both Singapore and Malaysia have hosted a number of events to this aim.
In Malaysia, 250 Nuffnangers caught Pirates of the Caribbean 3 on the 24th of May.
You can find the best account of that event on Jolene's blog, HERE.
Singapore held its own movie screening, Rush Hour 3 for similar numbers on National day on the 9th of August National Day. An event that I very much enjoyed hosting, and organizing.
Malaysia has also seen several Food Outings, like the one to Food loft in Penang Kenny made the news in that one, and he very graciously gave some of his body hair to be auctioned off for charity.
Even when we're not organizing the events ourselves, we have added value to Nuffnanger's lives. 75 Lucky Malaysian Nuffnangers got a chance to catch Ratatouille for free. Here. Recently Fridays even bought 50 Nuffnangers dinner!
I believe very strongly that the community initiatives we have organised in this way, have helped bring people together. But it is key to note, that the constituents of the community have got to be proactive. We are merely facilitators and our events merely platforms to forge new bonds. The door is open, and you must walk through it yourself.
NO 2: EDUCATION AND SELF IMPROVEMENT
One of our aims has always been to add to the phenomenon of blogging. Workshops, talks, blogging seminars, we support such initiatives because we believe it adds to Nuffnanger's lives.
With this in mind, and the brilliant TDM team behind the event, we sponsored Blog Out. This was in my mind a brilliant event (with a brilliant host ;-)), which explored real issues that were and is confronting the blogosphere.
I also got an opportunity to host a mini community initiative recently. 8 Nuffnangers (If you count myself and Huiwen) attended. Myself, Huiwen, Estee, Jayden, Ylva, Kexin, Immelia, and of course Nadnut! It was a talk cum workshop entitled "To Blog or Not to Blog" organized as part of the Singapore Sun Festival.
They all wrote brilliant entries about the event, so go read their blogs.
Our group was the most tech saavy, and way ahead of the pack when it came to techniques and technologies of blogging (Nuffnangers WOOT!), but Jacque, gave some fabulous insight into creative writing and actually improving the literary content of a blog.
The best pictures though (Photoshop mah), came from Jayden, hence I'm lifting it off his site. I had a real fun time hosting this event and I've set myself a target of having 5-6 mini community initiatives a year at least. A smaller and more intimate setting helps with the forging of relationships too.
NO 3: Giving back
A community isn't just about having fun and enjoying privileges, with power comes great responsibility. A community of 10,000 opinion makers and influential professionals in their own right can make a huge difference to the less fortunate.
Malaysia has been running charity ads for SPCA and Eden Charity home for a while now. They are looking to add to that list.
In Singapore, we are also in the final stages of negotiation, and hope to give bloggers options to serve charity ads as well. Remember, the difference is relevancy. Charity begins at home, and Nuffnang hopes to use its influence to help LOCAL charities.
We are happy to have done our part in the recent Ieat charity dinner hosted by Singapore's preeminent food blogger, Dr Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost.blogspot.com . Leslie and I are working together to arrange visits and volunteering sessions to AG Home. Stay tuned for that!
So these are the 3 areas of focus the Nuffnang community program has. We are common, in that we call ourselves Nuffnangers, we are bloggers, we have fun together, we embrace one another, we learn together, and we give back together.
These are my hopes for the fledging community. We're not there yet, but we're taking positive steps in that direction, so keep it up! YATTAAA!
Every Tuesday nights (Or at least the times when I'm not cooped up at work with proposals), I head down to Block 18, Toa Payoh East for the weekly meet the people's session.
In case you're wondering what this is. Its an opportunity for the constituents of a community to meet their political representative/member of parliament. In this case, the constituency I am serving is represented by Mdm Josephine Teo.
This is she. It is quite an honour to be serving under her. Firstly she is one of the P65 MPs, and has already attained an admirable level of success being 39 years old. Most importantly, she comes across and genuine, sincere and caring. No people, she does not read my blog, and no I've not been planted by the PAP or her to say this.
She keeps a blog here along with the other P65 MPs, although she hasn't updated it in a while.
Anyway, what do we do at MPS? Well, MPS is basically a forum of feedback and an avenue to get government assistance in any matter at all. It ranges from the mundane like parking summons to more serious issues like financial assistance issues, and elderly neglect.
My role at MPS every Tuesday is to interview and write letters to assist the residents. They sit down, tell me their problem, and I devise the best strategy to help them solve it. After I've written the letter, the MP then interviews the resident, makes the necessary corrections and it gets sent off to the relevant ministry, board, or company.
I help out at MPS for one main reason. Even though the majority of singaporeans, myself included enjoy the most comfortable of lives, a number of Singaporeans live on the opposite side of the spectrum. When I got back from London, noise of how the income gap was widening, the lowest income groups were languishing and the elderly were being neglected, reverberated through the media channels.
I wanted to find out for myself, how serious this problem is. And more importantly, I wanted to see how I could help this group of people. I think the main problem with alot of people is that they are NATO. No Action Talk Only. Lots of people out there criticising the way things are being down, citing this figure or that. Where are these people on the ground? Do they hide behind computer screens, and expect that their words to somehow miraculously make these people's lives better? Or perhaps they expect it will spur somebody else on to do the job they're too lazy to do themselves?
I've gone down there, helped out not only at MPS, but at other voluntary organisations such as initiatives by The Rotary Club of Singapore, and I have to say, we're doing OK. Sure, there is always room for improvment, but have you ever thought that if you want to make a change, you've got to start with yourself?
It was this thought that led me to my first MPS session. And I havn't looked back since. It is a wonderful feeling everytime you come out feeling like you have made a difference and helped somebody get by. I only recently recieved my first personal letter of thanks. A young couple who had issues getting a loan from the HDB, sent me an email thanking me for my help and the success of their appeal.
In any case, it is not for glory or for gratitude that I go there. I am pleased to say that financial hardship cases whilst a reality, are pretty rare. The initiatives to help, such as Comcare funds, job matching services, and so on, are largely effective with arresting these issues. We are in the best of positions, but I think more can still be done. And perhaps that job will fall to our generation. To us.
Besides MPS, I also get to attend policy forums, where I get an insight into the thoughts of our leaders.
It was a privilege to attend the recent national day rally for example.
Me and darren were seated in the upper stratosphere of the University Cultural Hall, but we didn't mind that much. It was an experience for sure, and an honour.
In that occassion, I did not have the opportunity to query our Prime Minister. But at a recent dialogue, I did.
I asked him about the workfare initiative and if we would see more direct initiatives to help the lower income groups.I won't go into details of his reply here, but I was sufficiently if not overwhelmingly convinced by his answer. Overall, from both my encounters with the Prime Minister, I have a clear sense that he is a very intelligent man, who has the right ideas, and his communication has improved significantly.
Unlike the firebrand his father was, or the liberal charmer SM Goh was, PM Lee represents a balance between the two. Given the position of Singapore in the global geoplitical and economic cycle, he is certainly a good leader to see our contry through.
Again, I'm not being paid or coerced to say this. These are strictly my personal thoughts that have been borne out of my personal experiences. Whilst I am stronly supportive of the PAP, its policies and its people, I am not blind to our weaknesses, and will certainly relish election time, when I will have an opportunity to hear what the opposition have to say or offer.
I for one, do not believe they are a credible force. But they do represent the other side of the coin, and we must explore it to see what are the good points we can take away from those lessons.
"If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day."
Right about now, a good friend of mine, is at Changi Airport leaving for Shanghai! He's going there to work, abandoning his eating and hiking kaki ... WHOOOO WILL WALK WITH ME UP BUKIT TIMAH HILLLLL!!!??? WHOOOO!!!????
To tell you the truth, I have not known Darren for a long time.
We met slightly over a year ago. I was back in London for my convocation and meeting with a friend of mine, Michelle See. This is she (A malaysian in Singapore colours waving the Singaporean flag! TRAVESTYYYY!!! MWAHHAHAHA, I LIKE!).
Anyway, the 3 of us proceeded down to Mayflower chinese restaurant in London in the weeee hours of the morning. I'd never been there in my 3 years in London, although darren and michelle swore by the place. I dare say they swore by it! Because Darren walloped 2 whole crabs by himself, and michelle an entire lobster!
It was the care with which Darren carefully disected each piece of crabmeat that struck me. He savoured every piece slowly and purposefully. I thought to myself, "This guy likes his food!".
I did not have anything to eat that night, but I love my food, and many a good friend of mine has been made over the hawker or restaurant table.
When I got back to Singapore in the summer, I made the effort to give him a call to go out and makan! The rest is culinary history.
So much food has gone down our gullet, I'm not even sure where to start.
Look at those succulent prawns at one of our favourite KL haunts. Soo Kee Brother. It is scrumptous! This is the beautiful HOkkien mee in Chinatown KL. Damn yum man. Damn oily. Damn sinful, but hey, who gives a shit Hahhaahaa, Darren did. The next morning, after sending me off to the Bus stop, PIAK PIAK PIAK PIAK PIAKKKKKK!!!!
What I've really enjoyed about our friendship though, is that like me, Darren is always up for something new. To discover new places, or activities.
Like how one Friday night, Stanley asked me to go clubbing (An activity I'm not particularly fond of), and I said, "I'm going off to the fish market". It took him a while to understand that I was visiting the wholesale fish market! After which he replied curtly, "SIAO!"
I'm glad to report it was a real fun experience, and I'd like to go back there sometime soon.
It was also Darren who introduced me to Prawn fishing. We've had many successes at the prawn pond. MANY MANY! We are pro prawn fishers! Anybody who wants tips can come to us! Right mr chin! Remember our catch at Marina South Pond! Wah something to be proud of man! Anyway, thanks for hooking up my worms when I didn't have the balls to. *I can't kill live animals. I like to eat dead and cooked ones though.*
We don't just do unhealthy things too. We've gone hiking a number of times. I think that is what I'll miss most. Not many other hiking kakis, although I'm trying to get a certain beautiful girlfriend to go with me. Estee dear *wink wink*.
This is when WE conquered the treetop walk in KL. Damn scary k. But I walked the whole thing, yes i did! CONQUERED MY FEARS I DID.
And then there were the day trips. Like to Meleka and Desaru (I swear there is a waterfall there!)
Its always been about food with my FAT friend darren (This is payback for the facebook wall post).
But its all good, and its probably the one thing that keeps our friendship going strong.
Two nights ago, me, leonard, estee trooped off to his house at 11pm, where he cooked some yummy foie gras for us.
From the butchers. To the car. To the pan. To our plates. To our hips. YUMMMMM.
Its so true that line, and it was quite a poignant blog entry that ended with a cutesy photo of her and her sister.
I am fortunate to have had a wonderful childhood myself. Carefree days in which all you think about is what fun thing to do next!
Come to think about it, I didn't even have to think about that. I would just start doing something else as soon I stopped the first thing I was doing.
How many of you were like that too?
I've been an ACS boy for 10 years of my life. I attended ACJS, at Peck Hay Road. I've driven by that place several times. It looks exactly the same as it did over 12 years ago now.
This is me, off to school, with my teenage mutant ninja turtle lunch box. My mum would dutifully pack it everyday with egg or ham or cheese sandwich which I would unceremoniously dump, before going for my favourite Wanton mee in the canteen.
Hehe, you get away with all sorts of things when you are a kid.
Birthday parties at MacDonalds was always the cool thing. I wonder where all these friends have gone! Hahaha, look at us!
The most important part of anybody's childhood is family. And I had a great mum and dad. I knew it then, and I know it now.
My dad would always make time for the family. I remember doing so much shit with him, its not even funny really. Cycling, going to Istana, going to empress place, going on holidays. Its amazing how he found the time, but he did.
I lurpe my dad for that. But I'm sorry, what was he thinking with those pair of green shorts!!!
I never say it to my mum either, but she's the other hero in my life. Besides being amazingly beautiful (A fact I'm terribly proud of), she's an amazing woman. A homemaker, she has always cooked us the most wonderful meals, and yet found time to beautify the home, herself, and help my dad's businesses out.
I'd like to continue reminiscing, but I've got a date with a piece of Foie Gras, going over to Darren Chin's to cook someeee wooo hooooooo! Yes it is 11pm! 7 minutes on the lips, 7 inches on the hip! WOOTTT
Try to remember the kind of september when you were a tender and callow fellow.