Just another Alan Graham story from another Alan Graham fan

I’m telling you, someday someone is going to write a book about Alan Graham, founder of Mobile Loaves and Fishes. No, a book isn’t right. Too flat.

They’re going to make a movie about him. He’s just that charismatic of a guy. But it’s beyond charisma; it’s the way he uses his brain.

Alan Graham has the rare ability to find the shortest path from problem to solution. You won’t spend 10 minutes talking with the man before he says something so fresh and so startling that the only possible reaction you could have to what he just said is, “Duh.”

Not in an “Everybody knows that,” way but rather in a “Well, shit, why didn’t anybody else think of that?” way.

For example, a couple years ago a short-lived ice storm hit downtown, closing office buildings and reducing traffic to almost nothing. The shelters and soup kitchens were closed, but people still needed food that day, probably that day more than others. Alan Graham got a phone call. Could he bring a truck down?

No, he couldn’t bring a truck down. But he could send some pizzas. How many pizzas did they need?

He called pizza delivery, made them a deal, and had several dozen pizzas delivered downtown. Couple hundred bucks. Lots of people fed.

Maybe that sounds obvious now, but who else thinks to deliver pizza to homeless people during an ice storm, when no one else can come up with a way to help them? Duh.

How to get more freelance work

I presented to the Freelance Austin group today. Good times. I never feel like I’ve prepared enough when I’ve been asked to speak, but then I remember that 15 years of freelancing and hiring freelancers might just be enough preparation.

The attendees seemed to tolerate me. It surprised me that most of them were already plugged into social media, especially blogs. This is good news for writers, especially, because I believe blogging can demonstrate your ability to write, your passion and knowledge for a subject, and your traction with readers.

The gist of my message can be boiled down to a few things.

1. Build your brand with social media. Don’t be scared to get a little personal but be sneaky strategic about it.

2. Pitch yourself, not your story idea. Chances are editors have lots of story ideas; what they need are professionals to write about it.

3. Go beyond magazines you can get on a newsstand. There are millions of magazines out there for every niche you can think of. Seek out custom publishers, especially. They have clients with nice budgets and lots of content needs.

That’s just my two cents. I also had to bring up my pet peeves – call the editorial office with questions, don’t just wonder…. read the magazine to see what they usually write about…. don’t take rejections personally; editors are busy people. Hopefully this inspired some of the Freelance Austin members to go out there and get some new work.

I hope to be hiring soon, so if you’re an Austin freelance writer/illustrator/photographer/designer, please make sure I know about you.

What’s the #1 reason why Central Texas women are dying of breast cancer?

Today the Austin Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure revealed some alarming breast cancer statistics for Central Texas.

The stats are the results of the 2009 Community Profile report, comprised of breast cancer data and survey information compiled over a two year period from Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. Komen conducts the study every two years, but has never really publicizes the results, and instead uses them mostly to build its strategy for services. (Download the entire report here.)

The results, however, are disturbing:

1. African-American women have the highest breast cancer mortality rate in Austin’s five-county region.

2. Hispanic women lag behind other ethnic groups in seeking mammogram screenings.

3. A greater percentage of women living in rural areas are diagnosed with breast cancer because of late diagnosis in part due to higher poverty rates, lack of access to healthcare and no health insurance coverage.

4. According to the Texas Cancer Registry, approximately 900 women in the five county region will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and of those women, an estimated 159 may lose their battle with the disease

The point is that these are not women with incurable breast cancer, rather these are women (and it’s mostly women) who are being diagnosed at such a late stage that it leaves them few options. They are being diagnosed at such a late stage because they don’t have access to mammograms.

This from the 2009 CommunityProfile:

The challenges facing the Austin Affiliate are simply that demand has outstripped services.  The current economic times resulted in less money for grantees during the 2009/2010 cycle and as a result, several services were cut back:  the mobile mammography unit had to cut over 20 locations out of its schedule; more and more women are calling the office needing free screenings; many have lost their insurance and are in treatment. Everyday expenses have become more difficult for many, but especially for women battling breast cancer.  Many of the Affiliate grantees have been advised to start looking for additional funding for their programs as economic times remain unpredictable at best.  Williamson County is faced with a shortage of surgeons willing to see uninsured patients and the list grows as that population grows.  

The good news is, you can help.

Did you know that 75% of your donation to the Austin Komen affiliate stays in Central Texas and goes directly to pay for education, support and free or affordable mammograms in these five counties?

If you’d like to have an impact on whether your neighbors are being diagnosed early enough, make a donation to Komen Austin here. And/or enter this year’s Race for the Cure, Sunday, November 1 at the Domain.

Information about free and affordable mammograms in Central Texas.