Zip Lookup: Sexy Visual Data for Social Workers

I love data displayed in powerful ways that tell a story. Infographics go viral for good reason: they are easy to process and understand. Most of us value good research, yet don’t know how to read it or use it to our advantage. For example, it is important to know the sample size and if it can be generalized for that population or group.

ZIP Lookup

Insert ZIP Lookup.

Looking to own or rent a home? Move to a new apartment? Get a feel of your new work neighborhood? Writing a report?

Before fall semester for the USC for the Master of Social Work program, we were required to do “community immersion.” We spent 5 days in a particular neighborhood. We contacted and interviewed locals, looked up crime rates, wrote about the residents… and we ultimately presented on our neighborhoods in one of our classes. Why? Cultural competence is a huge component of social work. We need to understand the person before us, yet also all of the systems that impact that person. Are they in a food desert? Can they easily commute to work? Parks and green space? All of this information can help us put together the bigger picture of what may be helping or hindering the person to thrive. If the nearest hospital is hours away and there is no bus route, it may be cause for concern.

That’s why I geek out over this – I love technology and how it can help us be more informed or automate processes that can take us far too long on our own.

Enter a zip code and learn about the top three groups in that area. New families? College town? Culturally diverse? Even some of their habits are generalized, such as how they may use the Internet, what they might watch, and how they relax. Some of these are creepily spot on, yet they are generalizations. Totally could have used this while in school, yet glad I know about it now.

 

LGBTQ: Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities

Dear Dad,

We had a complicated relationship while you were here. I didn’t think that I would be sitting here in my own apartment on what would’ve been your next birthday… writing you a letter on my website. Yet, here I am. We’ve had lots of plot twists over the course of our time together, haven’t we?

I’ve come out many times under the LGBTQ umbrella. That could not have been easy on you. There were a lot of things you didn’t understand. And just when you thought you had it down, I found new language I resonated with. I get it now. How could you keep up? You didn’t have the resources, whereas I did and do.

However, somehow you always knew to call me “Chris” and “Kiddo.” You probably knew more than you gave yourself credit for. Pretty sure I’ve never told you this, yet thank you for letting me play with the toys I gravitated toward and wear whatever the hell I wanted. And thank you for the times you stood up to grandma when she would challenge it. She was just scared, too.

Oddly enough, one of the biggest things I’m proud of is forgiving you. You were a young parent and you did the best you could. Most of all, that I could forgive you while you were still here and have that closure with you.

Thank you for coming to that scholarship ceremony. Thank you for being proud of me. And thank you for leaving me ways to connect with you and honor you, even though you are no longer here.

Love,

Kiddo

PS – Hope you like the video. It’s my birthday present to you.

How Snap Judgement Saved my Commute

How Snap Judgement Saved my Commute

I’ve been commuting for years now. Ever since I moved from Woodland Hills to pursue higher education, I’m used to trekking all over the place. When I lived in Altadena, I commuted to both Calfornia State University, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. Internships, social activities, and classes always felt so far away because of the traffic. Even 15 miles easily meant 45+ minutes of traffic. As long as I carved out the time to download new music, I was set. Except for when I wasn’t in the mood for new music, yet I was tired of what I already had. There were only so many times I could call my mom to distract me (sorry/not sorry). She probably thought I was really sweet…!

Graduate school was challenging. A professor who encouraged me to apply in the first place explained it was a process of always running after a train that has already left the station. So, I set my priorities and stuck to them to keep my sanity. I put myself care first and my education second. Anything else – even family and relationships, came after. Sometimes when I got home, I had already “adulted” enough that day and could not bring myself to find new music. I found myself snapping in my car. So many BMWs and Priuses cutting me off, people making a lane out of the emergency parking, and swervers on the phone… enough is enough!

Now a year out of school and working “over the hill,” I’m still in traffic. My work is only about 14 miles, yet easily takes up to an hour if not longer until I’m in the actual parking lot, not just the one that develops along any of the routes over. Sometimes Waze sends me on canyon adventures and I’m pretty sure I’ve shaved at least 5 years off of my lifespan as a result from the difficult turns and stunts. It’s safe to say I have a love/hate relationship with Waze.

It wasn’t until a conversation a few weeks ago with a dear friend that I finally found the light: podcasts. It took me until two days ago to finally download some episodes of Snap Judgement, which came highly recommended, and all was right in the world. Over the course of just these past two days, I sat in so much traffic I managed to listen to 6 episodes!

Snap Judgement

All of these years I was so worried about listening to podcasts and that it would distract me from the road, yet it keeps me more present. I learn so much and I’m home before I know it. The stories are fascinating and if I imagine them as books on shelves in various sections of a bookstore, I probably would not have given them the time of day. Though I do not think I could listen to books on tape, this has opened a new world for me and I look forward to finding more podcasts.

Best of all? There’s so many different kinds! New music, stories, news, and learning a new skill. Check out Podcast Directory to find one that interests you! But, you don’t have to take it from me; just another Angeleno fighting road rage.

Fight Back – Pomplamoose

Because… happy dance!

Let Google Alerts Work for You

One of my favorite tools to use is Google Alerts. Let’s say you work for a nonprofit and want to monitor what people share about your organization. All you have to do is set up an alert – so any time Google crawls the web and someone has written about you, you’ll be notified via email.