Thursday, March 27, 2014

Create. Set. Go - Social Media Innovation by a Dunwoody Mom

Dunwoody is a city of entrepreneurs.   You can't walk around a corner without running into a home or strip-mall office with a locally grown business born from a Dunwoody resident's idea.  Kristalyn Mumaw is a Dunwoody mom like others who invented the next big idea to bring together other like-minded entrepreneurs and inventors to make the most of their concepts.

Kristalyn   and I kicked around this idea over coffee at Crema and I offered some technical tidbits and SEO pointers.  I couldn't be more proud of my friend, colleague and most of all - fellow Dunwoody Mom launching her enterprise on the world.

Social Sharing Site Create.Set.Go Launches with Unique Focus

Niche-Focused Website Catering to People with Ideas Delivers Focused Discussions

Atlanta, GA (March 27, 2014) – ---Former Silicon Valley marketing strategist, Kristalyn Mumaw, today unveiled, a collaborative community and discussion website. Create.Set.Go, a single-purpose social network, enables users to freely interact with each other to share, discover and engage in unique conversations around new ideas and areas of common interest.

Create.Set.Go’s topic-focused format provides unique opportunities for one-on-one and group discussions, feedback, and collaboration, as well as encouragement for users to broaden their collaborative circles, instead of relying on existing social circles or on geographic proximity. Initial topic categories include: Technology, Fitness, Apps, Music, Sports, Baby/Kids, Pets, Apparel/Accessories, Environmental, Entertainment, Art, Community Movement and much more.

“For example, say I thought it would be a great idea to make a dog collar that contains cooling gel to help keep dogs comfortable in hot weather. I can post my idea within Create.Set.Go’s pet topic section and open the discussion to others who share an interest in pet care. The richness of Create.Set.Go is the ability to discuss one’s idea with anyone from another pet owner, to a pet care specialist or even specialty product designers on the other side of the country.”

“We want to help people with ideas engage with each other around shared-interest discussions,” said Mumaw, Founder and Community Innovator. “By bringing people together, Create.Set.Go provides a social platform to bring new ideas to life, broaden relationships, and foster a culture of innovation.”

Unlike other social networking sites that serve up an array of disconnected content, Create.Set.Go’s topic-based format allows users to maximize their online productivity without disruptive off-topic commentary or intrusive advertising.

“One of the founding principles of Create.Set.Go was to create a community with a conscience,” states Garland Duvall, Co-Founder & Luminary. “Community users will find a reward indicator next to the comments section in the site. This feature will be active soon, allowing an idea poster to reward an idea commentator points for useful or productive feedback. These accumulated reward points can be converted to real-value rewards in the Create.Set.Go reward store in a future release.”

“We hope the reward system serves as a catalyst to creating a community focused on usefulness in their interactions,” continues Mr. Duvall. “As well, it is in place to establish Create.Set.Go as a community specifically designed to reward helpfulness and minimize bullying, an issue that plagues so many social sharing sites and apps these days.”

Create.Set.Go is the brain-child of Kristalyn Mumaw, Founder & Community Innovator. Joined by technical gurus, Garland Duvall, Co-Founder & Luminary and Tim Morris, Senior Luminary, the Atlanta-based team enjoys a shared mission of providing a focus to social sharing, facilitating interest-based collaboration and promoting responsible social networking.

“Seeing double-digit growth in the use of social networks during 2013 and similar growth projected for 2014, we strongly believe people with ideas need the creative and collaborative focus and options provided by Create.Set.Go,” says Ms. Mumaw.

Visit to start getting social around your ideas and interests. Registration is free.



For additional info, including interview requests and images, direct enquiries to:
Contact:           Kristalyn L Mumaw
Phone:             (678) 310-4522

Twitter:           @StrategyPeach

Sunday, March 23, 2014

So You Want to Go Back to Egypt....

From the AJC - New debate over Dunwoody cityhood

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it's warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it's getting so hard.
Are you sorry you're out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?

Eating leeks and onions by the Nile.
Ooh what breath, but dining out in style.
Ooh, my life's on the skids.
Give me the pyramids.

Well there's nothing to do but travel, and we sure travel a lot.
'Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving when the sand gets so hot.
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes. We snack on manna all day.
And they sure had a winner last night for dinner, flaming manna soufflé.

Well we once complained for something new to munch.
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch.
Ooh, such fire and smoke.
Can't God even take a joke…Huh?….(NO!)

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where old friends wait for you.
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang, that what they said was all
And this Moses acts like a big-shot, who does he think he is.
It's true that God works lots of miracles, but Moses thinks they're all his.

Well I'm having so much trouble even now.
Why'd he get so mad about that cow, that golden cow.
Moses,he seems rather idle, he just sits around.
He just sits around and writes the Bible.

Oh, Moses, put down your pen.
What…Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles….
Manna burgers...
Manna bagels...
Fillet of manna...
Bamanna bread!

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
All kidding aside, gang...

Here are the key reasons for all of the conflicts exploding in Dunwoody

1)  Bad advice in the form of "when you make your decision about what should be in the zoning code, think about what you would want to live next to."  I blogged on this one some months ago during the Zoning Rewrite.   Dunwoody is not now and has never been one big homogenous group of people who all think the same things about all issues.  There has always been a broad diversity of thought that wasn't obvious when we were all huddled together in the same foxhole, fighting DeKalb County.  All of the organized groups and professional complainers are what you get when you encourage the populace to judge what's best for all of the city based on individual preferences.  How's that working out for you, Denny?  Not so great anymore, huh?

2)  There is no attempt at coexistence between any of these factions represented in the opinions flying around.  Further, city council from Day One has chosen to lead by deciding which "quality of life" standard is acceptable and which is not by personal fiat from their chairs.  Now you have widespread civil disobedience in addition to open warfare in council chambers.  If the populace is encouraged to think "I want the city to legislate my personal choice of life in my home and to hell with everyone else - they should be banned," what else do you expect to get but endless infighting.  In the future, I will be looking for leadership that encourages tolerance and coexistence between different lifestyles, even if they disagree with some personally.

There's always going to be someone looking for a reason to be unhappy.  You won't get 100% buy-in.  But you can reduce the conflict with good leadership.  Will we get a council that can, collectively, take this leap?  Time will tell.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Community: Life or Death

Food for thought for your Friday.

Back in 2002, I attended the annual convention of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals in Toronto.   Lots of keynote sessions and seminars and roundtables about the laws governing and best practices of carrying out research in human patients.

The one standout session was an address by Dr. Jerri Nielsen.  Dr. Nielsen gained notoriety in 1999 for treating her own breast cancer while stationed at a South Pole research outpost - during the Antarctic winter.

While a researcher herself, her talk wasn't about research.  Her talk was about life in some of the most extreme conditions ever experienced by people.

The research station buildings were all covered by an environmental dome as added protection from the elements.  Unlike most of the world that can travel almost on demand, travel is restricted for half the year at the South Pole.  You can't leave during the winter.  Aircraft can provide dropped supplies in an emergency but there are no landings.  Or takeoffs.  There's nowhere to go.  If anyone tries to travel outside the dome after the sun goes down, they're dead.  

Not uncomfortable.  Not inconvenienced.  Dead.

And their body won't be recovered until sunrise, if at all.

That means that the 40-odd people of all shapes and sizes have to get along with each other.  Conflicts ranging from the self-centered snit to the all-encompassing blowout had to be resolved to everyone's mutual satisfaction or they weren't going to survive.  You can't have "I win, I get my way, so you lose" as the standard for your conclusion.  You have to build true peace in the community even as there's disagreement or disapproval over the problem du jour.

Dr. Nielsen had lots of anecdotes about how to adapt.  Basically, she had to learn that the environment was going to change her life, no matter what man-made constructions had in mind.  She'd put some gear down in a particular place and, because of the snow underneath the building constantly compacting and shifting, the gear would end up sliding over to a wall.  After moving it around a few times with the same result, she decided to let the gear store itself where it landed because it wouldn't move any further.

Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole - how it looked when Dr. Nielsen was stationed with its crew.  A new station was completed in 2010 and the dome removed that same year.
  There were stress-relieving traditions that awakened with the polar sunrise.  The most daring souls joined the "200 Degree Club" when the outside temperature rose (!!!) to -100 degrees Farenheit.  It involved running  from a +100 degree room inside the complex, out the dome, a couple of laps around the ceremonial South Pole marker and back inside wearing only heavy boots and (for men) a blue baggie that comes with a bottle of Crown Royal.

A key element of the 200 Degree initiation.  The dome mentioned above is in the background.
It had to be pretty tense in there for anyone to think that was a good idea.  Dr. Nielsen shared that she was a proud 200 Degree member and did it without the Crown Royal baggie.

But the true test of the community's character came when Dr. Nielsen realized she had cancer and couldn't hide it from her crewmates.  It was winter and night - all six months of it.  The other crew members needed to help but none of them were oncologists or surgeons - how could they help?  Nielsen was the only doctor and was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the crew were the "wrong" people for a cancer patient.

Or were they?

First step was to communicate the medical emergency to McMurdo Station on the coast.  Messages were relayed up to the USA.  Medical supplies including IV kits, surgical kits and chemotherapy agents were airlifted.  (Remember, no landings for six months....)  Medical personnel were not part of the airlift; a communications relay was set up to talk the crew through the procedures Nielsen needed, from excising lymph nodes to hooking up an IV and hep-lock to mixing a chemo dose and adding it to the bag.

Step two:  decide who would perform the biopsy.  Of all of the PhDs and other advance-degreed personnel, which of them would perform the most difficult part of the treatment.  None of them.  Because in their minds, the PhDs weren't qualified.  The minor surgical procedures attempted were performed by a welder from the machine shop.  Said Dr. Nielsen, "A welder knew best how to take a material apart and put it back together again."  They could follow verbal technical directions and pick up new hands-on techniques on the fly.  It's so simple that it's not obvious to anyone who isn't living under life-and-death conditions.

Nielsen wasn't passive in all of this.  She was the team's doctor.  Her morale, her choices in how she mentally dealt with the situation had downstream effects on the psyche of every other member of the team.  She described her self as "introverted", shy, even "mousy".  She had to dig down deep and find some guts she didn't know she had not just for her survival but everyone's well being.  The members of the community were all that deeply connected at the station.  They had no choice other than dying out.

The instant the sun rose and the iced runway was safe to use, a flight landed at the Pole with a replacement physician and Nielsen was on her way back to the US to complete treatment she started herself.

The take home lesson Dr Nielsen wanted the audience to have was the lesson she herself learned at the station:

In any community, all members are needed, no matter who they are, or what they do.  It's important to accept people as they are.  You never know when someone's greatest weakness will become their greatest strength.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The SLUP process has always been wrong for regulating home occupations

Karma is a b***h.

Less than five months after Heneghan, Deutsch, Bonser, and Shortal gutted the carefully-crafted permitting process for home occupations (with attention to every detail to avoid blatant nuisances while making the law internally consistent) a SLUP application has shed light on their hasty decision and the problems created in its wake.

First some background.

In spite of the widespread practice of home occupations in Dunwoody with very few confirmed complaints, Dunwoody leadership has broken away from other cities and imposed a grueling public process.  The first time a SLUP for a home occupation with customers was pursued, it was a disaster, both for the applicant and the membership numbers of the HOA involved.  City government didn't come out of it looking too good, either.

Next came the zoning rewrite.  Home occupation regulations were on the agenda because those trying to drum up opposition to them made it a "hot button'.  It really isn't a hot button, but Heneghan and Deutsch and their friends insisted on beating the drum.
During the zoning rewrite, the sounding board realized that the purpose of a SLUP (Special  LAND Use Permit) could be misused for home occupations.  SLUPs were intended to change the development character of a lot.  Home Occupations, in the original zoning rewrite, are only intended to allow business activities by the full-time occupant of the property as long as they do NOT change the character of the neighborhood, or generate activity beyond what is considered normal in that area.   Totally different things. So the consultants developed a permitting process that would have made it simpler for home business owners to comply, without the public dog-and-pony show that leads to the histrionics and slander that the first applicant endured.  The added benefit of the permitting process is that it could be modified to include whatever limitations you wanted:  time limits, public notifications, periodic reporting - anything!  Plus the public was still to be notified within a certain radius, comments both pro and con could be submitted and considered, anonymous complaints could be filed to Code Enforcement, the whole nine yards.  All the while, the same stringent standards of home occupation regulations were in effect:  certain occupations were banned outright, noise and smoke and the like were banned - nothing on that end was loosened, in fact, they were more clearly defined for better regulation.

The new code was passed unopposed by Community Council and Planning Commmission.  There wasn't even any discussion on the matter.

But at City Council itself, the political machine was grinding away.  Everyone expects Shortal to try to ban acknowledgement of home businesses outright, he's the only one whose ideas of a "neighborhood" are consistent, even if they are outdated.  Heneghan and Deutsch knee-jerked to that one element:  they didn't bother to acknowledge that the type and operations of home businesses were still very strict.  They objected only to the permitting process.  They demanded that the dog-and-pony SLUP for home businesses be maintained with absolutely no changes at all.    I'm not convinced they even read it.  Further, these same council members demanded that city staff research the home business regulations of other cities to see how Dunwoody matches up.  That research showed that most other major cities that permit home occupations (some comprising as much as 50% of the commercial base) had far fewer regulations in place with no degradation of "community quality.)  The "research" was discarded as it did not support the foregone conclusion.

 On top of that, a member of Community Council deliberately misrepresented the content and intent of the code to smear home business owners and inflate opposition.

To add to the irony, these are the same people who think back yards should house farm animals without the homeowner having to submit a single piece of paper and that complaints about animal nuisances should require several signed statements from neighbors, instead of anonymous reporting for other code enforcement problems.  That's what we call a "double standard".

Upon this action, I had a conversation with a couple dozen fellow home business owners about the outcome.  (Only a small fraction of the several hundred in operation but it was the best one person could do, informally.)  All of them were disappointed that even though they get on with their neighbors, they are considered "nuisances" by definition.  They all decided that they would simply carry on with business as usual and refuse to comply - employees, contractors, customers, or whatever.  None of them have had a complaint lodged against them.

That brings us to the present day.  A potential home business owner has filed a SLUP to operate a very small scale home daycare center to supplement her income while being a full time parent and to serve her local community.  I find it miraculous that anyone would voluntarily enter this process considering its history.

So what's the problem?  The process so far has not seen too many of the mistakes that were made the first time around.  (I've been withholding commentary on the process as I am not living in the neighborhood and therefore not impacted by it and I wanted to see what would happen before analyzing it here.)

The problem is that the Planning Commission (the first official committee to publicly review the application) asked the applicant to accept a 10-year limit on the permit.  She readily agreed, as well as answering all concerns that were brought to the meeting by nearby homeowners.  According to city legal counsel, SLUPs can't be time-limited.  And wouldn't you know it, Heneghan is all freaked out because his ASSumptions about being able to limit the time frame of SLUPs isn't legal.

This is what happens when certain council members do not consider the outcomes of their decisions before implementing them.  This is what happens when you  make assumptions about the future without talking to your lawyers.  This is what happens when you discuss or enact legislation that you haven't read, or are trying to manipulate by talking out of both sides of your mouth.

John - this snafu is your fault.  You were so eager to keep home occupation SLUPs in place that you didn't stop to consider that they regulate property use the wrong way - SLUPs regulate the land, not the full-time occupant.  The Zoning Sounding Board and Community Development tried to circumvent that problem while "preserving neighborhoods" and you totally blew them off.   You threw some of your "friends" under the bus and for what?  Your decision wasn't legally sound or even consistent with your previous actions or other legislations you want to see enacted.  A true epic fail.  I hope the first comment you make on March 24 is that you own up to your mistake and revisit the administrative permitting process that was recommended in the initial rewrite.  

Try to make a decision that mitigates the impact of a use, and doesn't pass personal judgement on the alleged intention of a homeowner.  Try really, really hard.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Dunwoody's Teachers of the Year

The Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce celebrated its area teachers by naming a Teacher of the Year from each of the Dunwoody feeder cluster schools.

Most of Dunwoody's elected officials and the Chamber's board members have children in area public schools.  Ensuring quality education and supporting our teachers is not just a political issue.  It's personal.

View the list of winners with their school and grade/subject.

Candle in the Rain

Congrats to Stan Jester, running unopposed for DeKalb County School System's District 1.

You know that the Central Office is nervous about this outcome when one of their lackeys posts to DeKalb School Watch 2 expressing hope that Stan "understands his role".

If you're on the straight-and-narrow, "Fred", you have nothing to worry about.

Don't forget to Vote Jester for GA State Superintendent of Schools

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dunwoody Building Code Point & Counterpoint

The next City Council meeting on March 10 will include discussion on building ordinance changes.

Let's see if the link to SIRE on the city's website works.

Bottom line, the proposal on the table is to guarantee that any building over 3 stories tall must be built with fireproof materials (concrete, steel, etc).  Anyone who has seen a news report with an apartment fire in DeKalb County can see the logic here.  This type of construction is supposed to slow the decline in value that apartments always seem to face.

Counterpoint:  the construction industry is not too happy with this.
In a recent Constant Contact mail, the Council for Quality Growth spelled out their opposition to this requirement.  Essentially it would make construction of apartments and similar sites prohibitively expensive to build.

The incentive for this amendment came out of the plans for the "senior living" apartments presented to the DHA on Sunday.  The representatives stated outright that their complex is to be "stick built" - that is with wood, rather than concrete/steel.

Some random thoughts:

Check out the comments in the link to the DHA meeting above.  Interesting point that "Dunwoody doesn't want apartments - unless it's built for seniors, then that's OK."  Not the first time we've seen plans edited because "Well, we want plans that accommodate my lifestyle and choices, but not for anyone else."  Don't get me started down that road.  Any council member who talks out of both sides of their mouth on any part of the municipal code is playing with fire come election time.

To the Council for Quality Growth and its friends:  Dunwoody incorporated because so many apartments were being thrown up (so to speak) and the homeowners felt their quality of life threatened.  Many long time Dunwoodians don't want to see more apartments built in this city.  Take. The. Hint.

I've been hearing about the "high demand" for these types of developments from different directions.   Does anyone have any numbers to back that up?

Now you know the issues and the players.  If you have something to say, you know where to be on March 10.