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The Kansas State Fair: Raving Bulls – and Fans

Finally feel like I have time to catch my breath after 10 exhausting-but-exhilarating days on the Kansas State Fairgrounds. While most of Greteman Group’s 21 team members touch the fair, those of us who provide on-the-ground support during the actual event – the state’s largest – get an up-close-and-personal view.

Sheep Thrills Indeed

Here’s what we saw. Kansans having big fun. Trying out the newest food on a stick, singing along with a grandstand act, screaming on the wild midway rides. We also witnessed lots of learning. People of all ages interacting with animals and each other. School kids discovering where their breakfast toast and milk come from. Youth showcasing projects in agriculture, geology and photography. City slickers marveling over bountiful veggies that would tip even Fred Flintstone’s truck.

For me, being on the grounds is an invigorating and inspiring experience. Taking in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that only the fair can offer. Our seventh, and possibly most successful, year of supporting the Kansas State Fair leaves us standing tall and proud to live in such a great state.

Raving Bull, Sheep Thrills
Raving Bull, Sheep Thrills

The Wichita Eagle, Opinion Line, 15A, Sept. 18, 2010 The State Fair promotional campaign of the past few years has been exceptional with “It’s a Wild Ride, Baby!” conveying a hip cultural event, fresh from the farm. The artful and amusing posters are collectible. Finally, something to remind us that Kansas is, in fact, in the 21st century.

Marc’s Picks for Final Friday September 2010

Substance of Medium at Tangent Lab

This group show makes a point of presenting a variety of media by some really talented folks. It will feature Adam Achéy (drawing), Phillip Baumer (sculpture), Lorrie Reynolds (assemblage/collage), Linda Robinson (photography), Lee Shiney (painting), Tanya Tandoc (ceramics) and Ericka Walker (printmaking). There will be a gallery talk at 10 p.m.

Tangent Lab, 143 N. Rock Island, 3rd Floor, 7-11 p.m.

Painting by Lee Shiney
Painting by Lee Shiney

Jo Quillin Tomson at Seasonal Decorating And because Halloween is just around the corner, Jo Quillin Tomson brings us “The Heebie Jeebies,” a new collection of her fun and fanciful collage paintings with a spooky twist. Seasonal Decorating, 2828 W. 13th Street, 6-8 p.m.

We Love 89.1

Some may remember in April of this year hearing about Greteman Group’s 21st birthday on KMUW. “Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway.” Many of us at GG are KMUW listeners, and I count myself among the most avid. I’ve been listening to KMUW daily since high school and even streamed it online when I lived in Boston to stay current on my hometown news.

Recently, KMUW hosted an open house, where I got to meet all my favorite local personalities, including Jedd Beaudoin, host of Strange Currency, weeknights at 10pm and Saturdays at 8pm. (My only wish is that KMUW would play Beaudoin’s flavor of local and national alternative music earlier and more often.) I also got to see how the voices of KMUW record and mix their own interviews, promos and news pieces. Perhaps the best part of the tour, though, was ending up in a small tour group of people, all of whom had some connection to Greteman Group and/or my family. Indeed, the Wichita community becomes more intimately beautiful among KMUW listeners.

The Power of Connections

All summer, the dark clouds of cancer have been hanging over the family and friends of Tim Bennett. This week, we had a bit of a break in those clouds – and thanks to the enormous and often surprising power of connectivity, we were able to celebrate with Tim.

Tim, who has been fighting tumors for a couple of months now, is a connector of sorts himself. He’s one of those rare folks who brings together people of all ages and backgrounds and turns them into instant friends. Tim’s year has long revolved around the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, like thousands of others who love bluegrass and other handmade roots music. They come from across the country and around the world to camp elbow-to-fiddle bow for a week just for the privilege of playing and hearing acoustic music.

Tim on Skype
Tim on Skype

Pickin’ and Campin’

The festival is loosely organized around self-aggregating camps with colorful names such as the Neon Guitar (my camp) and Carp Camp. For years Bennett Camp has been one of the best-known for consistently high-quality jams. All the best pickers at Winfield make it to Bennett Camp at some point during the week.

Folks were heartbroken that Tim wouldn’t be there to participate in and lead those jams this year. So there were a lot of guit-pickin’ grins when Tim’s niece brought out a laptop with Tim connected via Skype. They quickly circled ’round the computer and belted out a couple of Tim’s favorites.

By the way, Tim and his family got some great news this week – he’s responding extremely well to treatment. We know he’s not out of the woods yet, but we hope the power of positive thinking and our little show of support helped speed his recovery. We know it made all of us feel pretty darn good.

Should You Care About the New Twitter Update?

It looks that way with Twitter’s plan to rollout an enhanced user interface over the next few weeks. Personally, I don’t understand why anybody would be excited about features that have been integral to Facebook for years.

Here’s the Deal

In the past, twitterers had to link to a third-party site to share videos, photos and other rich media. Twitter now embeds media directly into a slide-out panel that emerges from the right sidebar. This is a definite improvement, but it’s a far cry from innovation.

The New Twitter Interface (cred. Mashable)
The New Twitter Interface (cred. Mashable)

What Businesses Need To Know

The most immediate impact to Twitter traffic will be better user retention, making it possible for Twitter to serve more ad impressions. Also, the slide-out panel will give users a quick snapshot at the tweeter’s profile, including the people they follow, increasing the volume of connections.

But, when it comes to marketing with the platform, it’s business as usual. It’s still necessary to use third-party sites to upload media and cross fingers when casting your tweets into the noisy Twitter stream. Not to mention, for a service that had serious uptime issues when serving basic text, I’m curious to see how Twitter will perform pulling rich web content into the mix.

If I had to find something useful to the marketer in this update, it might be that instead of your media links sending your followers all over kingdom come, now they just might stay put on your Twitter stream for an extra tweet or two.

Young Aviator in the Air Capital

I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing young man last evening – Jonathan Strickland. He plans on flying a Learjet around the world in 2013 right after he turns 21. Jonathan’s passion for aviation started when he was a toddler. Like ground breaking aviators before him, his life revolves around flight. When he was 14, he set the record for youngest to solo both an aircraft and a helicopter. Jonathan is now a flight instructor and a student at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

Following in the footsteps of Bill Lear, he is an aviator, trailblazer, record setter and pioneer. You can learn more about Jonathan, his accomplishments and goals by checking out the website we developed for him with the support of Bombardier Learjet.

Are You Ready to Come and Give It?

Did you know Kansas is #8 in volunteerism in the United States? That’s pretty impressive, but one organization won’t rest until Kansas is #1. That’s the vision of Volunteer Kansas. Its newly launched website offers a means to get there.

How do we drive Kansans to the site?

We tell them to Come & Give It, of course! Volunteer Kansas approached us to create a campaign with the same energy and impact as Do the Deed. And with Come & Give It, we believe we did. The campaign inspires Kansans to roll up their sleeves and make a difference. Improving the lives of their neighbors. And their communities.

The campaign kicked off with an event at Exploration Place on September 9 attended by 300+ giving-minded folks. A ceremonial chair washing demonstrated that many hands make light work. Kansas First Lady Stacy Parkinson, who shared her and the Governor’s thoughts on helping others, was one of the first to pick up a rag.

Check out our video animation to learn all the ways you can participate in this new initiative. And then decide how you’re going to Come & Give It!

Volunteer Kansas leader and energizer bunny Nola Brown

The New Ties that Bind

Monica Taylor
Singer-songwriter Monica Taylor

Social Media Are Really All About Age-Old Motives

To me, social media is much more about making and maintaining connections than it is about telling the world what I’m up to this second. And that’s why it’s here to stay – we all want and need to keep a link to the relationships we’ve built. Here’s a small example, one that wouldn’t have happened just a couple of years ago.

Long-Distance Organizing

Tonight (Sept. 9), a group of folks will gather in a comfy living room in Portland, Oregon, for a house concert by an extraordinary Oklahoma singer-songwriter, Monica Taylor. This gathering is happening thanks to the connections of an exceptionally friendly fellow in Wichita, Kansas.

OK, the friendly fellow is me. Last year, I received a Facebook note asking what I was up to these days. I must confess, it seemed at first like a random mistake until a couple of rusty synapses fired and I realized the note came from an old college friend. I hadn’t seen or heard from Marlene since college, which was – well, never mind how long ago.

Friends of Friends

She found me because she’d heard Taylor perform in Portland and, checking out her website, saw my name on a few of the photos. We corresponded a bit, caught up with each others’ lives, and have stayed in infrequent touch. This summer, Taylor headed back to the Pacific Northwest and, at my urging, Marlene went up to chat between sets. One thing led to another. Marlene offered to host the house concert.

Another old friend of mine lives in Portland, too. I forwarded the notice to him and now he and his wife plan to attend the concert. I wish I could go – if only to prevent all of these friends from comparing too many notes about yours truly.