I Got Furlough Fever, and the Only Prescription is….

More cowbell !!

No, not really. Look, there’s a lot of emotion in the Federal employee community right now. We want to protest (WP: Fed workers protest shutdown). We have a million questions (GovLoop: Ask About the Shutdown). We want to get practical (GovLoop: Preshutdown Top 10 ToDo List).  We’re thinking ahead (GovLoop: What Should We Do if the Federal Government Shuts Down? – to which one of my favorite answers is provided by Shutdown Startup).

And here’s where it gets interesting. If you look closely, you’ll also see a hint of pride peaking out like spring flowers in March (Maybe there’s a bright side to a possible (or actual) shutdown? or I’m Proud to be a Civil Servant (even with a looming shutdown)!).

I’ve got an idea.

Why don’t we take this energy and organize to tell our stories? Rather than let our collective talent and expertise hang out and twitch nervously over Blackberry withdrawal, let’s put it to good use! It’s cathardic to reaffirm our belief in what we do. We clearly need to reconnect with the American public we love and serve. It’s easy to dismiss groups in political discourse, but it’s really difficult to dismiss individuals. And I know so many interesting and compelling individual public service stories that need telling.

And….we have an timely vehicle. The Partnership for Public Service is sponsoring a video challenge for Public Service Recognition week, which starts Sunday May 1. Videos are due April 17.

The thing about stories and videos…yes, YouTube shows us that anyone can do it. But to make your story compelling, to make a quality video, well – let’s just say those of us used to speaking in acronyms probably could use a little help.

Take me. While I’ve got the storytelling angle covered. But I’m not so good at the video production and technicalities. I know of several templates that work well for the story.

If we ‘re furloughed, let’s spend some of our time in a collective creative boot camp, finding, honing, producing our stories for the video challenge. Instead of a “build-a-bear” studio, it’s a public service “build-a-story” impromptu studio.

  • If you’re a creative genius, a storyteller teacher, an old hand theater buff, a videographer, a social media tinker-er, we could use your creative inspiration. How should we start? “Tell us your proudest moment in public service?” “I am public service?” “Why I serve?”
  • If you’ve got space and equipment, we could use that!
  • If you’re a legal or public affairs expert – we could use that expertise! Are we telling the best side of our agencies? Are we abiding by Privacy Act laws? Could anything we’re contributing be considered against furlough rules? (hey, I’m a public servant – just trying to do it right, what can I say…?)
  • Everyone else – we just need your stories!

If we can make this happen, we could inspire groups to follow-up the Public Service “Build Your Story” workshop, by helping out with Shutdown Startup and get your public service groove back on.

So what do you think? This is just a nugget of an idea – how can we flesh it out and make it happen?

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Patrick Rafferty

This sounds like a great idea. You should set up your own YouTube Channel and push it out so others can upload their videos to your own “Proud To Be A Public Servant” YouTube Channel. Keep the videos short (no more than two minutes) and have all the people answer the same two to three questions. I wouldn’t worry too much about video production quality — its the message that matters on this one.

Thanks for your service.

Avatar photo Bill Brantley

Have AV equipment. Will Travel.

I have an HD camcorder and Flip-style camcorder with wireless mics and a conference mic. Also, basic experience with video editing.

I was thinking of entering the essay contest on “what Charlie Sheen means to me” but this sounds much more fun.

Tchad Moore

A very timely idea, indeed! I have access to a studio (@ little or no cost); however, I’d personally prefer to take advantage of the nicer weather and pending lighter traffic to shoot in and around the DC area with all of the blossoms and landmarks.

Kerry Ann O'Connor

Thanks, Tchad!

A colleague of mine wrote this on his FB status update:

“At the White House this afternoon President Obama pushed us all to LISTEN to the American people and draw thinking and ideas from outside of Washington.”

It would be powerful if we could demonstrate how we listen to the American people in our stories.

Should we start setting up an RSVP mechanism for people who want help with their video stories?

Kerry Ann O'Connor

WooHoo – shutdown avoided!

Does anyone want to collaborate to craft their stories on a day next week after work?