Archive for the ‘picnetters’ Category

PICnet turns 10!

Co-founder Grey Frandsen during the early days of PICnet
PICnet co-founder Grey Frandsen during the early days of PICnet

It seems like only yesterday that Grey Frandsen and I were sitting in BJ’s Pizza near UCLA in Westwood, California, talking about a concept we believed could provide the world with insight into local politics from around the globe.  It was March 20, 2000, and the concept was called the Political Information Center Network.

Being an efficiency snob, I thought we needed a shorter name.  Grey, with loads of experience from the NGO world and a taste of government experience, thought the acronym “PICnet” might be fitting, because, as I can clearly remember after a long debate on the matter on the steps of my apartment building in Westwood, “it’s the one the sounds most similar to ‘picnic’, and I like food…so I vote for ‘PICnet’.”

The rest, they say, is history.  Well, you can actually see a little bit of history of PICnet courtesy of the Wayback Machine’s image of our early test site on May 11, 2000!

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Got some bread? Sow an Appleseed this week

One of the best aspects of working at PICnet is the talented, passionate people it attracts as fellow PICnetters. I’m energized each day by my colleagues and their commitment to improving the public good in meaningful, tangible ways.

Those meaningful and tangible ways often take other forms than just their workaday lives at PICnet. We were excited for Michael Chisari, PICnet Developer, when the project he’s been passionately building in his off-hours scored some free pub on TechCrunch recently.

All the hubbub is about Appleseed, an open source, fully decentralized social networking software suite to rival Facebook and its closed system. Michael’s innovative work on the cutting edge of an emerging movement is inspiring to see and helps to inform the work he does at PICnet while we look to innovate and anticipate the needs of our clients and the nonprofit sector as a whole.

Interested in learning about the open source movement that is seeking to bring about the next wave of social networking? Check out Appleseed‘s site.

Better yet, kick in some cash to help Appleseed meet its fundraising goal this week. Hey! Why not even a whole mess of cash and maybe Justin Timberlake will play YOU in the inevitable Hollywood smash: “The Social Network: The Rise of Appleseed”.


Soapbox site launch: Every Child Matters

It brings me great pleasure to announce the launch of a site that is near and dear to my heart:!


Every Child Matters (ECM) is a national children’s advocacy non-profit whose goal is to make children a political priority. Additionally, ECM was the little organization I called home before moving into my position here at PICnet. It was at ECM that I first clicked the ‘show html’ button in our Joomla 1.0 site to see what was happening behind the editor, and where I first realized that I had a passion for leveraging technology to help organizations that are trying to make a difference in the world. My experience working at ECM led me to where I am today, and I am very grateful for it.

This is why I was so pleased to be able to bring ECM to PICnet as a new client. Not long after I left, their old Joomla 1.0 site experienced some security issues (totally not my fault, I swear!) and left my former coworker, John, in a bit over his head trying to clean things up. It was at that time that I realized ECM could really benefit from moving their site into a managed platform like our Nonprofit Soapbox, which would allow John to focus his energy on getting his next e-blast out, or organizing ECM’s next event, instead of digging through database tables looking for the malicious code that brought the site down. Throw in an upgraded design, and the switch to our Soapbox platform was a no-brainer.

Once this project got started, we were off to the races. With ECM’s busiest time of the year coming up in October, we needed to really fly through things over the summer to get the site up and running in time for the pre-election season. I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to reach our goals, but the team at ECM really pulled through to get all of their content up on the site. Keep in mind, this site has over 300 pages of content!  For us to be able to get through our initial discovery discussions, custom design, development, and content upload in just over two months was really quite an accomplishment.

So here’s to ECM and their beautiful, new Soapbox site! Congrats to them for all their hard work, just in time for “Step Up for Kids 2010!”


Relaunching my past: A personal reflection with Morgan Freeman’s help

There’s a great scene from Shawshank Redemption, a great movie filled with great scenes, which has been on my mind recently.  It’s where Red, played by Morgan Freeman, comes up for his parole hearing and, rather than give the same canned answer he thinks the parole board wants to hear, he drops on them the honest truth about how he feels, fully believing that it will do no good because he’s destined to stay locked up forever.


The truth of what he feels is that he wants to go back into the past and lay some wisdom on his earlier self:

“I want to talk to him.  I want to try and talk some sense to him.  Tell him the way things are.”

It’s a moving scene: bare honesty from a man whose life has been defined by a single act that landed him in jail.  It’s moving because it touches on a powerful and uniquely human wish: to relive our earlier lives with the benefit of wisdom we gain later in life.

Quite frankly, it’s a wish that brought me to PICnet.  I spent more than a decade in the nonprofit world with much of that time as accidental techie, struggling to do more with less, cobbling together ad hoc knowledge and tools to maximum effect.  I’m proud of the work I did.  I made a strong, honest effort and did some real good for the organizations I worked for.  But I felt like a man on an deserted island setting up a lean to and calling it home.

What brought me to PICnet several years ago was the desire to help nonprofits do more than just cobble together solutions.  Nonprofits have missions worthy of more than just makeshift solutions.  They deserve to house their efforts in something better than a lean to.  I wanted to lend a hand in providing informed and elegant strategies and tools that addressed their technology needs so they could spend time focusing on their mission and less time reinventing the wheel with spare parts.

That’s why it gives me such satisfaction to have launched the new Port Jobs website.  Port Jobs is a fantastic organization increasing access to living wage jobs in Seattle and King County.  It also happens to be a place I worked for several years as Web Manager / Bookkeeper / Database Administrator / Communications Manager / Whatever-else-needed-doing-that-day Guy.

I had a long business card.

Congrats to the good folks at Port Jobs! May your website treat you well and give you great delight in the ease and efficiency with which you can update it so you can focus on the great work you’re doing!


Wanted: Stellar Project Manager in Bay Area

At PICnet, we provide a unique environment for non-profits to build their online presence. Our high-touch, high-quality service is what separates from the crowd and keeps our client list expanding.

Interested in joining our team as a Project Manager in our San Francisco office? Read on!

Read more »


Julie Does Joomla!

Last week, I attended a beginner Joomla! training. As someone who doesn’t deal with Joomla! or Soapbox or much of the other projects that my colleagues do on a daily basis, this was a new experience for me.

I learned how to add articles online, connect websites (such as Google and YouTube) to the training website using Joomla’s wrapper feature, and was even able to start the design of my own site online!

I may not be a Joomla! wizard just yet, but I thought it was a great introduction to some of the cool stuff our PICnet team works on, and the information is invaluable to me better understanding Joomla and Soapbox.

Thanks to PICnet and the NOVA JUG for making this happen!


All I Want for Next Year Is…to Meet All the Other PICnetters

As the newest PICnetter, I am so grateful to be finishing this year working at a company that helps promote non-profits through technology. I have truly enjoyed working with everyone thus far and seeing how our team work really paid off.

However, one of the things I’m most looking forward to next year is actually meeting the other PICnetters! Because we have two branches (one in DC and one in San Francisco) as well as employees in Rhode Island and Chicago, I  have spoken many times with my fellow co-workers and seen pictures of them, but I have yet to meet them in person.

Our annual retreat, to be held sometime next spring, should take care of this problem! Each year, our team gets together from our various cross-country destinations to discuss goals within PICnet, chat about life, and have some sightseeing fun in DC. I’m looking forward to helping plan and attend next year’s retreat to learn more about these PICnetters I’ve only heard via the phone or written via email. Perhaps that sounds dorky, but what can I say? I just love meeting people – especially people I feel I already know so well:)


Tis the season…to give back

So many of our clients give back to their communities year-round, which we love. And we’ve shared some stories with you this year of our PICnetters giving back through service over the last few months, so it’s only fitting to give a little update on how our team is spreading the holiday spirit.

  • Julie is continuing to mentor an 8th grade girl. For their December outing, they went to see The Fantasticks at the Lincoln Theatre. Julie’s mentee was really excited, especially because she recently got a part in her 8th grade musical.
  • Julie also purchased toys for Toys for Tots and clothing for a mom at Bethany House, a shelter for battered women and their children.
  • Over the break, Melanie is volunteering at her mom’s Bay Area nonprofit: Hoofprints on the Heart Adaptive Riding Center, helping to prepare for winter rainy season. She’ll also be starting a new pro-bono website project for the SAVE Travel Alliance (a nonprofit dedicated to Scientific Academic Volunteer and Educational travel).
  • Pradeep wanted to ensure that children whose parents were in prison still understood that there are people who can be physically present to care for them. Volunteers from Pradeep’s church, United Methodist Church on Capitol Hill, arranged for Christmas gifts to be shared with these children, including some of his own contributions – particularly a big red talking Elmo!

Although PICnet doesn’t have a direct role in giving back to the community, all of our employees feel a strong sense of sharing what we have with others who are less fortunate.


We’re hiring a Project Manager

At PICnet, we’re always looking for new talent, and right now we’re on a mission: adding another stellar Project Manager to our team to help deliver the high-quality service our non-profit, association, and congressional clients expect.

We’re specifically looking for fun individuals from our non-profit sector with experience in the Web development process (Joomla experience is a huge plus).

Our Non-Profit Soapbox platform is a Joomla-based content management system used by non-profits and socially responsible businesses to easily manage their Web communications. We’re looking to keep up with demand by adding the right project management talent to our team.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Read on… Read more »


Come hang out with us on Soapbox Tuesdays!

If your holiday calendar isn’t full yet, we’ve got something to fill it with – PICnet is reinstating Soapbox Tuesdays, a monthly forum held at our offices  for Joomla and Soapbox users. We’ll discuss the up and coming, answer your questions, brainstorm, and give feedback where needed.

We’re excited to create a space where people can bring their lunch and their questions to chat about how technology is changing the non-profit world. As the year wraps up, it’s time to gear up for last minute changes to your Non-Profit Soapbox and Joomla Web sites. What better way to do this than by sharing some lessons learned with your fellow Non-Profit Soapbox and Joomla! users at PICnet!

When: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 Time: 12:30 pm – 1:30pm ET Where: PICnet’s DC Office – 1605 Connecticut Ave. 3rd Floor, Washington, DC (across the street from the Dupont Circle Metro station’s north exit, next door to Subway)

We hope to see you there! Click here for more details.