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Introducing…..the Chat Charm

I’ll be the first to admit that are many subjects about which I have little or no knowledge, though with any conversation of length, you’d find that I am a premier bullshitter of the highest calibre (I wanted to use the British spelling so you’d know just how cool I am, even at the expense of the little red line telling me I misspelled it). Even though I know which side the shrimp fork is on, I’m not what you’d call “cultured” nor do I run in the upper echelon.  But one thing I do know is that if you want to “get things done,”  you either have to “know the right people” or you have to be willing to make sacrifices.  Since I do not know those people, I would consider this harangue the sacrifice.  Because even though I know this has the potential to make a great deal of money, the potential positive social effect means more to me.  And if someone smarter and more “in the know” than I can bring it to fruition, then it will all be worth it.

About ten years ago, I was sitting on the BART train going into the city during peak commute time and (of course) the train was packed, shoulder to shoulder, with people, serious looks on their faces, mindlessly staring down at their phones so as to avoid even the hint of eye contact.  Being a student of body language and human behavior, I would, on occasion, look up and scan the car just to see “what’s going on.”  The real reason I was doing it was because I was hoping that someone….anyone…..might look up and make eye contact, giving even the slightest indication that they were thinking or feeling the same way I was at that very moment.

No such luck.

But then it occurred to me, what were people seeing when they looked at me?  Were they seeing a callous and jaded individual shaped by years of trauma, guarding himself against being hurt again and covering it up with a scowl that would scare away a blind person?  

Maybe

Or maybe were they looking through glasses blurred by their own trauma, incapable of seeing even the most overt kindness.  God forbid it was both.

But then I had an epiphany.  What if we had an excuse to wear our hearts on our sleeve?  What if our insides were on our outsides?  No mask we could wear would scare someone away.  Because we’d be wearing the truth.  And after a LOT of rumination, I came up with the Chat Charm (full credit goes to my little buckaroo for coming up with the name)

Inside this overly bulbous noggin of mine, I pictured a miniature “Funko pop” style figure (that are maybe 1”-1.5” tall) that come four to a sleeve, each one representing a potentially different “subject” (like sports, movies, TV, current events, etc.  I’m spitballing here).  Each one of these figures would have on it a fiber optic light (imagine a Christmas tree light) that can change colors, the activation of which would/could represent the wearer’s “mood” or “position” on the subject in question (or willingness to talk about the aforementioned subject if the light is on or off).  The figure(s) could be worn on a standard or custom made lanyard and would be available in various levels of “collectability” (again, spitballing, but imagine the “standard” level which is mass produced, as well as bronze [#’d to 1000] / silver [#’d to 500] / gold [#’d to 100] / platinum [#’d to 10] versions that are increasingly more expensive).  The initial “models” would be basic (something along the lines of a basketball/football/baseball/hockey puck for sports and a movie slate/a reel/popcorn tub/soda cup as examples) and then with a buildup of capital, potential purchasing of licensing rights for sports teams and movie characters (one of the first figures I imagined was an Iron Man figure where the fiber optic light was either in the chest or hand).  There are more possibilities than I can list here but you get the idea.  You have to understand that my brain is thinking about this from two distinctive areas:  the social implications and the business possibilities.  From the business perspective, I think they would be inexpensive and easy to manufacture and the profit margin would be significant.  As far as the social implications go, well, the guy on the BART train sure would have liked to have had tangible proof there was someone else out there that wanted to talk as much as he did, even if it didn’t look like it from the outside. 

And would I like to be the CEO of Chat Charm, Inc with the high falutin’ job and the big corner office with the assistant?  Sure, why not.  But if I have to choose, I’d rather be the guy that turns on the news and sees that the world is finally getting along a little better because we all learned to have a real conversation with each other.  So I’m leaving it in the hands of some “angel” with more brains and money than I have who can develop what I see as both a potential moneymaker and a social movement (perhaps with an accompanying app where you create a profile that morphs into a community that fundraises for various charities when that’s a thing again?  See the Chive as a template for that function.  And maybe the app can show you where other charmers are so you can connect with those who want to chat, ultimately identifiable by the one they are wearing?).  I’ve got a gut feeling it will work.  Now that you know what to do, get to work…..:) 

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Meet your Poster Donn Bradley

When you figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.  I was put on this planet to help people, though you might not be able to glean that from the story.  Born in the Northwest but steeped a country boy, my journey hasn't just been geographical.  I have been on a quest to redefine what it means to be a man.  I'm a former police officer turned therapist who believes that if you have the capability, you have the responsibility.  When I knew...really KNEW, what I was put on this planet to do, it lit a fire stoked every day with every experience (positive and negative).  This may sound like fertilizer, but I'm going to change the world.  Not for some egotistical drive to become famous, but because I have to.....WE have to.  It's a world that needs changing and the only way it's going to is if we believe we should and we believe we can.
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Meet your Sharer Denise Doe

Dear Reader: I am extremely passionate about: family and the importance of letting family members know that they are loved, cherished, and can achieve whatever they dream regardless of their gender; ecological and sustainable, community-based rough diamond mining and gold mining in the Republic of Liberia, West Africa; health and wellness as it relates to strengthening the immunity and helping women and men cope with the swings in weight gain and weight loss due to flawed diet systems; and helping people work from anywhere in 100% legitimate online work-from-home opportunities within the ever-growing gig economy.   Let's start with what may be a screaming question in the minds of some of my readers: How did I get into mining? The short answer is, by default. You see, my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were all rough diamond miners in the same region and town I seasonally mine in today in Liberia. Sounds glamorous, but you would not believe the heartache and struggle these women endured!   I started my work life when I was a 12-year-old in Liberia. My jobs were doing the filing and office work for my dad part-time and working the cash register in the small cosmetics department of my aunt's supermarket the rest of the time during summer holidays.   There were no child labor laws in Liberia at the time. Even though they exist on paper today, Liberia, much like many Third World countries, does painfully little to enforce the rights of children, women, land occupiers and owners, the underserved, and the socially abandoned. No one can draw attention to and right these wrongs but us!   For example, when I was a 5 or 6-year-old, I told my dad that I wanted to be an "international business woman." Yes, it was quite an announcement! I remember thinking obsessively about it before I finally plucked up the courage to make my very important announcement.   The reason for even thinking about international business at that tender age was because my dad sold hard woods from the forests of Liberia to buyers in far regions of the globe. I must admit, I had a privileged and idyllic childhood.   In my young, newly-formed mind, it seemed perfectly natural to want to be just like my father. However, I soon learned that I was a girl and then I learned what it meant to be a girl. This cruel new revelation absolutely crushed my dreams. When I was told that because I was a girl, I was not allowed to travel with my dad up-country to his logging site, I felt like some mysterious  villain had just let the air out of my beloved balloon before my very eyes.   I wish it ended there! It didn't. Next, I was told that only my (obviously disinterested) older brother was allowed to go with my dad to the bush. Make no mistake, it took a little time for me to suck in some air after this sudden shock. Amazingly, I never let this nor many other ensuing injustices keep me down for long. By eight, I had a t-shirt to prove it that said, "I can beat any boy on the block!"   For various and similar reasons, working in corporate America reminded me of being a "girl" in Liberia. Except this time, I was a "black woman." I'll elaborate more in a later blog. For now, let's just say that I didn't get to fast-track my way through college in Ohio like my parents and some teachers planned.   Once again, fate had other plans for yours truly. As a 20-year-old first semester senior, the bloodiest civil war in the history of Liberia was well under way. What's more, the repercussions of the war would not end for me for another 22 years, as this was when I finally got to go back to my beloved Liberia.   During the gruesome war, my father was put under house arrest and his business was destroyed, albeit no less than the entire nation. To my naïve surprise, my college tuition was back-burnered indefinitely. Warring Liberia did not care that I had a 3.67 GPA; proofread college papers for many of my friends (who did end up graduating); and was on track to graduate that year with double Bachelors of Arts in English and Fine Arts.   Undaunted in 2011, after years of working in corporate America, I finally walked the stage with a Bachelor of Science in Business. A few years later in 2013 and after years of insisting that I come back to Liberia by my mother, I went back to Liberia for a second time.   The bloody coup and later civil war (a timeframe from 1980 to 1997 with a few breaks in between) were finally over. Mom wanted help mining and needed my continuing financial support, which began in 1995 when she was in exile as a refugee in the Ivory Coast. Tragically, cancer claimed her life just six months later on June 21, 2014 at 5:55 PM.   Crucially, my mother was always encouraging me to follow my dreams. She was not rich in finances, but she was a billionaire in support and belief in me. Her blinding light of absolute love for my brother and I has never been absent in our entire lives.   A few months later, the 2014 Ebola crisis began waging its own war on the lives of Liberians. I remained in Liberia throughout the crisis and volunteered my time to help create awareness about the virus. I actively participated in the effort of government leaders and officials to craft many simple direct messaging public awareness campaigns. The diverse and underserved populations received these messages by radio, billboards, television, and word-of-mouth. The messages were in their various dialects, so they could quickly understand Ebola and how they could implement measures to save their lives.   Locally, in our mining community, I held meetings with local leaders and influencers to make sure that every man, woman, and child understood how the virus was transmitted. I used the network of the government's regional and local mining agents to spread the message to the underserved local migrant and permanent mine workers about: hand sanitation and hygiene; vigilance about strangers entering towns and villages who also had to wash their hands and receive temperature checks for signs of fever; social distancing; and how to recognize Ebola virus symptoms.   My efforts in the interior occurred over a month before the national government could send tracers and trainers out to villages. As a U.S. citizen and active member of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/step.html), I received Ebola alerts over a month before any word got out to the cities and the bush.   As a result of this and the efforts of many brave and persistent Liberians throughout the nation--some of whom lost their lives to the virus--our local mining community and the county as a whole recorded zero cases from the transmission of the Ebola virus during the crisis. The few "suspect cases" were caught at checkpoints and reported to the heathcare tracers as infected people migrating to less populated areas from the capital of Monrovia or elsewhere within nation.   Fast-forward to today and the #SARSCoV2 global landscape that's forever changing our world and planet in ways we cannot yet comprehend fully. Immunity, community, support, work-from-home jobs, trust, and caring are the urgent themes in our new normal. I want to make a lasting difference that I can be proud of and can share with everyone who wants to listen.   Let's make a lasting difference together by supporting the abused, the poor, the homeless, the essential, and non-essential workers with everything we have to offer.   Thank you for reading my bio, #staysafe and #stayathome.   Sincerely, Denise Doe

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