Monday, June 12, 2006

A Beg and a Bribe

First, the bribe ..... courtesy of Julie D.

Well, for some reason (stupid Blogger!) the cute little stick figure picture won't load (Update ... got it!), but click "Watch this Movie" next to the little stick figure guy for a short film about life on a desk(top) (you might need to right-click & "play" once you're in the flash).
Animator versus Animation

And now the beg. I mentioned in a previous post about needing to do some youth web work. Below, in the "Continue Reading" section, is the e-mail that I sent various youth ministry folk requesting assistance. If anyone has some helpful contributions to offer (that would be ALL of you -- remember, I've got connections with the Dude of Bigness!), please read it and comment. I'm in major need of help. On this project, I mean. You meanies!!

My monastery has a Kid's Corner and an (alleged) Teen Page as part of the website. Both were in some respects the pet projects (ideas, anyway) of a vocation director who has since left the community. Kid's Corner has at least a little bit of content, but, if you clicked through, you'll see why I used the word "allegedly" in front of Teen Page.

My assignment?
To give us a REAL Teen Page. Our whole website is actually in the process of a major overhaul, and we're hoping to have it up for beta-testing mid-July and up & ready for a late-August launch date. The ideal would be to have a more-than-new-and-improved Teen Page to unveil at the same time. Kid's Corner could also use some help, but the real focus right now is the Teen Page.

The goal?
Some form of faith/spirituality/something for youth. We don't want it to be something just for prospective members, so we want it slightly broader than "just" a vocations thing for girls. (We have a SpiritQuest section on our site that we're also developing further as well, so there might be some piggie-backing with that.)

What are we thinking of?
We have no idea. Clean slate, wide open.
Theology more along the lines of BustedHalo and DisciplesNow than PhatMass .... you all know me at least somewhat, so you can figure that if I'm the one spearheading this project -- piety may not be its strong suit! :-)

Format possibilities?
Our latest talk has perhaps been kind of a blog-type format --- we like the "one person's view" approach that blogs provide, especially considering that it'll be one person providing it! I like DisciplesNow (especially considering fondness for all the cool Balmer folk who are involved), so I'm not really wanting to compete with them; plus, just the sheer volume of work that goes into DN would definitely NOT work as a sideline to teaching.

Possible content ideas?
Blog format makes it a bit more fuzzy than a straight-shot website, but here are some off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts:
  • Day in the Life of a Sister of Saint Benedict (obviously!)
  • Comments on world events, pulling in Catholic Social Teaching
  • Sharing positive news tidbits
  • Reflections on the scriptures
  • TV/movies/culture commentary
  • Bible snippets of "What would YOU do .... if you were there by the charcoal fire on Holy Thursday?"
  • Questions to ponder about life/world/whatever (sometimes fun, sometimes deep)
  • Seasonal stuff as it comes up (Lent, feasts, etc.)
Big question with blog-format?
Comments and questions. Part of the appeal with blogs is the interaction with and among the readers. How do we balance privacy of youth with allowing their contributions? One thought was to simply have moderated commenting, wherein the kids would know that anything identifiable (or inappropriate) would be edited out or deleted. But at the same time I'm one to trust kids that they live up to the respect they're given ..... they're used to making up fake names and there'd not be much context for other identifiables if they're responding to a post. The interaction is key, though .... allowing them the space to raise questions or throw their own thoughts on the topic out there.

What am I requesting?
Your thoughts on the overall. You all are the "experts" --- some are in youth ministry, some are teachers, some are kids themselves. What do you think of the idea? The format? Content possibilities? Any "mistakes" from which I could learn? Suggestions? Anything you can offer? Like I said, this is wide open (although it's gotten more concrete as I've typed this up!).

Other plea for help?
A name. Actually, right now, more of a domain-name. Changing the name will be just a bit of HTML, but we need to get the set up with the server and that'll have to be pretty well set. Ideally, the two would match, but the text with which they'd match is a toughie. We don't want it to sound too nunny & drive away the guys, we don't want to sound too churchy and drive away all the "cool kids" .... something with The Dome could be cool, but don't want to get too close to the nun-factor there. Word play is always good --- I like the BustedHalo concept. But there are NO thoughts yet on this one.

So that's where I'm at --- the Research & Development stage. Any wisdom you have to offer would be more than greatly appreciated. After all, why reinvent the wheel if you can swipe the blueprints from someone else! :-)

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Blogger Lorem ipsum said...

Not to make more work for you, BUT...

Definitely have a Q&A section to show that sisters aren't the mysterious figures they were a generation or three ago. Yes you can take vacations, go to movies, use the internet, drive cars, have a favorite sports team and have a drink from time to time. I also like the explanation that you aren't committed to another person like many laity are because that way you are free to love everyone.

The 'day in the life' is also good - but emphasize that not everyone's day is the same. Some sisters teach, others work in the garden, some volunteer at the hospital.

Besides the vocation weekends, how about a list of books or activities for young people who aren't sure? Also a page with stories of (ahem) reluctant sisters in the community who made the leap of faith. Even a glamorous former Elvis co-star did it!

Also note that vocations come in many flavors; a young woman may become a sister but in a different community, or may decide to stay single and not join one at all. (But becoming a SOSB is a very special vocation!)

I think that's it for now... no bribe needed. Can't think of a clever name right now.

6/13/2006 8:15 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Steph, as you know me, I'd be more likely to send people to Phatmass and Lifeteen stuff than to BustedHalo. But we have a big Church and she can tolerate more than just little tiny me.

But here's my little thought. I know you'd like to have a teen site. Does your community really need one? If BustedHalo and other online communities exist, is there a need for a teen site from the Sisters at Ferdinand. Maybe there could be a page with links to several good sites that you and your sisters think are cool, and then, and this, I think, is the best part of my idea:

Why not have Sister Steph sweet talk her way onto the editorial board of some other site so that she can add content that will be shared with the larger and broader audience already being drawn to established sites. Every article would end with "Sister Steph is a Benedictine Sister of Ferdinand Monastery in Indiana, where, when she's not writing great stuff for our site, she enjoys praying, blogging and dispelling myths about nunhood." With appropriate links to your community's site and to your blog.

6/17/2006 10:20 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

And I do like some of the vocational/promotional ideas lorem had. You guys really need a kickass vocations section. Every group needs one, and so few groups have them. I know you're not really inclined toward the life of the women in Nashville (you know who I mean), but they really have a good vocations section on their website. Also, a similar group in Ann Arbor (Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist), has a very good vocations section. Again, I know their sense of nunhood and yours are different, but their websites are really put together well.

6/17/2006 10:24 AM  

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