Giving Back to WordPress

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbI want 2015 to be the year I begin really contributing to the WordPress community, not just hovering around the edges. After all, I’ve been using it for more than six years now and I’ve certainly benefited from it, both personally and professionally.

I took my first baby steps a little over a year ago when I started attending the NYC WordPress Meet Up. I’ve met a few people—not many, because I feel uncharacteristically shy at meetings—and I’m beginning to understand who’s who in the local community. I’ve learned a lot and hearing from local experts has expanded my thinking about what WP is and what it can do. At one of our meetings we heard from Matt Mullenweg himself, in person, which was hugely informative and personally inspiring. (He’s a Texan, you know.)

After doing a lot of reading and clicking, I’m also finally beginning to understand the structure of the groups that work together to make WordPress. For awhile I just couldn’t grasp what was going on. I think I fit best in the docs group, so last fall I began making my first tentative contributions to the codex. Since then I’ve been making minor changes to pages that are tagged for editing. I have experience editing Wikipedia and it is similar. My changes haven’t been challenged, so I’m gaining confidence.

I tried to get used to attending office hours and chats using IRC, but it was hard to do without carrying my laptop around all the time. The move from IRC to Slack has made it a lot easier to keep up with the ongoing docs conversation. I’ve even chimed in a few times! I’m excited about the new helphub project and I’ve signed up as a writer. I hope my WP knowledge will serve the community well in that role.

And along those lines, I’ve been using that knowledge to help people in two places: the forums and on Facebook. I’ve been answering beginner questions in the troubleshooting and miscellaneous forum folders and in four different FB groups. I’ve been able to help a few people solve their problems, which is confidence building. I would hate to steer anyone in the wrong direction. (I’ve been a lurker in /r/wordpress for a long time, but I’m not actually helping anyone there just yet. I’m still thinking about it.)

All together, I think I can be a productive member of the WP community and it seems welcoming. I really want to be a giver and not just a taker!

No-Gift Christmas (Sort Of)

In the spirit of giving and not receiving–sort of–the husband and I decided this year we would not spent the money buying gifts for ourselves, each other, or nearly anyone else.


  1. The holiday shopping season is out of control.  We want no part of it.
  2. We all have way too much.  We are blessed, certainly, but still have too much.
  3. A lack of appreciation for past gifts.

Instead, we continued our holiday tradition of buying gifts for children in need.  In the past, we have selected children from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  This year, we had two children selected for us as part of the Winter Wishes program organized by New York Cares.  Two-year-old Chrystal asked for books; eight-year-old Destiny asked for a Baby Alive doll.  They both got their wishes and a little more, too.   And because there was a deadline for mailing, our Christmas shopping for these girls was finished by December 1.

We also felt humbled to be able to send money to Ghana for the second year in a row, where a little boy named Emmanuel will receive a Christmas gift he otherwise wouldn’t get.

I don’t miss the hustle and bustle or the frenzied shopping or the dwindling bank account of years past.  It’s so nice to know that our holiday will be merry without all of that.  Happy holidays!


I had an amazing and humbling opportunity recently to interview Toby Tanser. Runners will recognize the name, but if you aren’t a runner perhaps you haven’t heard of him. Toby is a former elite runner (sub 2:20 marathoner) who has competed all over the world. Currently, he is on the board of directors of the New York Road Runners (my running club) and Achilles International; he is head coach of the New York Flyers; running coach at the Fashion Institute of Technology; the author of three books: Train Hard Win Easy the Kenyan Way, The Essential Guide to Running the NYC Marathon and More Fire: How to Run the Kenyan Way. But that’s not all! Toby won a humanitarian award in 2008 for his efforts to bring shoes, health and peace to Africa.

Toby is the founder of Shoe4Africa, which has provided tens of thousands of shoes to children and adults in Kenya. Shoes are important because they keep the feet healthy–they prevent cuts, infections and hookworms from invading the body. How Shoe4Africa works is that runners (or anyone else) send their used running shoes to Kenya. Toby organizes races in Kenya and participants earn a pair of shoes by racing. In addition to providing shoes, Toby has worked tirelessly to promote HIV testing, the empowerment of women, and peace among the tribes in Kenya. He is now embarking on his biggest project ever and you can help!

Toby is raising $15 million to build the largest children’s hospital in Africa in Eldoret, Kenya. Every bit helps, even a $10 donation is appreciated! As you’re making your end-of-year donations and thinking of ways to give to others, consider making a donation to Shoe4Africa. In a country ravaged by violence and lack of healthcare, you could literally help save the life of a child.

Shoe4Africa Website

Shoe4Africa Facebook Group

Runner’s World Article about Toby’s Humanitarian Award

Kiva Microlending

It’s the first day of the month and I have just made my monthly loan to an entrepreneur at I have eight loans in repayment at the moment; in the past year I have loaned money to people in Nigeria, Togo, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Peru, Uganda, Dominican Republic and Kenya. This is a way of helping people in developing countries expand their businesses–and sometimes their homes–and improve their lives. It’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.

How it works:

  1. entrepreneurs seeking loans are featured at
  2. each entrepreneur works with a field partner, which disburses the loan and provides updates to lenders; field partners also handle payment collecting and may offer training to entrepreneurs
  3. all loans are given in $25 increments; your money is pooled with that of other lenders from all over the world to help entrepreneurs
  4. each month, your portion of a loan is credited to your account when the entrepreneur makes a payment
  5. Kiva never collects any payment information from you; all payment and repayment is handled through PayPal

I would like to encourage everyone to consider lending through Kiva. It’s so easy to help someone have a better life!

Here is my lender profile: