Wood Turner is editor and communications director for GoodThings.com, a Seattle media company focused on positive and constructive stories from nonprofits, companies, and communities.

Monday, 25 Jun 2001

SEATTLE, Wash.

Hi, I’m Wood Turner. As editor/publisher/researcher/communications director/web producer for an online magazine, I have a pretty serious relationship with my computer. So that’s where I’ll be this week, posting my diary entries from my trusty Dell in a fairly nondescript office building in downtown Seattle that happens to have a pretty astounding view of the Olympic Mountains. Around here at GoodThings.com, that view is by far one of our favorite “goodthings.” That view — and the vast and diverse ecology it contains — also reminds us everyday that refreshing, hopeful stories about often surprising, often uncommon constructive action on environmental issues are among the many “goodthings” our company is working to promote.

What exactly is a “goodthing”? That’s a question we never stop asking ourselves at GoodThings. It’s probably easiest to define by what it is not. It is not the result of a moral judgment. When we decide to write a story about something extraordinary that’s happening at a nonprofit or company somewhere in the world, we aren’t suggesting that one organization is exclusively a “goodthing” based on rigorous, objective criteria, while another, which may be doing something very similar or perhaps even more effectively, is not. We are on a continual quest to learn about innovative and constructive efforts going on in a number of different areas — the environment, volunteerism, human rights, international aid, diversity, community. The more “goodthings” we learn about, either through our own research or directly from the growing community of people worldwide who subscribe to our weekly e-zine, the GoodLetter, and visit our website, the better. Our goal has always been to define “goodthings” as inclusively as possible without compromising the values of our small, dedicated team. To us, calling something a “goodthing” by profiling it in a GoodThings story is not to say, “My goodthing is better than your goodthing,” or “If X is a goodthing, then Y must be a bad thing.” Quite the contrary. “GoodThings” is simply a name. It is by no means a prescription that dwells in the realm of absolutes.

I’m sure that, over the course of the week, I’ll continue to hammer this idea home, but it’s important to me that it be out in the open so that it’s clear to people where we’re coming from. We’re a positive company, even an optimistic company in a lot of ways, and in building what we call “a virtual front porch for people wanting to get together to share positive, constructive, creative ideas,” we are striving to connect people around the idea of making a difference without suggesting that “the sky is falling.” Sure, the world is a crazy, difficult, often ugly place in many, many ways, but it’s also made up of amazing, committed people doing remarkable things. It’s because of the presence of those real people that we don’t advocate a “corporations are evil” stance, or that a commitment to progressive ideals requires purity.

That’s why we’ll do a story on the efforts of employees at the headquarters of a multinational corporation to join together to provide nesting and breeding habitat for the endangered peregrine falcon. That’s why we’ll do a story on an unlikely environmentalist who — although he proudly rides a Harley-Davidson — has become profoundly dedicated to green building principles. We consider our brand of activism unique because we are attempting to communicate commonsense environmental information to an audience that may normally tune out typical “green” stories. It’s central to our philosophy that sustained change will require devising creative, compelling ways to communicate technical, progressive issues to the mainstream.

I think I’ll stop there today. It’s still early on Monday morning, and having an opportunity to put some of these thoughts down in writing helps me start the week with a little perspective. Publishing a weekly magazine creates a frenetic pace around here. This week, I’m working on a story about an incredible energy-related program being implemented by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a groundbreaking nonprofit with roots in Chicago. Stay tuned! It’ll be the central story in the GoodLetter this Thursday night. That’s all for now.