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Non-profit employs at-risk-youth and veterans to transform prisons into sustainable farms

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Restorative justice can be a hard concept to understand. To see it working in real life, look no further than Growing Change in Scotland County, NC.

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Throughout the summer, we’ve been having honest and urgent discussions about systemic disenfranchisement, policing, and punishment in our society. These issues affect nearly everybody and everything, even down to what we eat. Grocery stores, for example, are a rarity in lots of impoverished or densely urban areas. Places like this, without accessible sources of affordable and nutritious food, are called “food deserts”.

Multiple studies have indicated that without proper nutrition, children have more difficulty in school. Poor performance in school, in turn, is widely considered by juvenile courts to be a predictor of future criminal behavior, which influences the severity of the punishments that are handed down to young offenders. In other words, statistically speaking, growing up in a food desert may have a negative impact on the rest of a child’s life.

Since these problems are fundamentally related, the solutions could be tied together, too. That’s one of the ideas behind Growing Change, a non-profit farm and educational center located in Scotland County, North Carolina. Scotland is one of North Carolina’s poorest counties, with the highest rates of unemployment and food insecurity in the state.

Growing Change simultaneously addresses these problems and more, targeting food injustice in the Scotland County area while educating at-risk youth about sustainable farming practices, and connecting them with mentorship from wounded veterans returning from deployment. Their goal is to “flip” abandoned prisons across the state, turning Brownfield sites into clean, green farms while providing entrepreneurial opportunities for youth and vets.

In a statement from 2015, they explain that “North Carolina is one of the last two states in which youth are adjudicated as adults for all charges at age 16. By the time some 16 year-olds arrive in the courts they are permanently limited in their employment due to their ‘adult’ criminal record. We will help break this cycle by offering the courts, schools and communities ways of diverting youth from the criminal justice system.”

And they get results, too: Their unique Clinical Pilot Program in 2011 showed 92% efficacy in preventing recidivism among participants.

Skill building and personal development is instrumental, not just for teens and young adults, but for anyone to avoid or remove themselves from the dire life circumstances that drive crime rates. I have personally witnessed the power of this model – my former employer, YR Media, teaches classes in multimedia literacy and production skills to achieve the same ends in Oakland, California. When we help people to grow outside of negative roles and situations, more often than not, they happily do.

Growing Change began just under ten years ago, yet their mission is especially relevant now. The pandemic has only amplified the systemic injustices our country has been facing, long before George Floyd’s death transformed the world.

Effective solutions become almost an afterthought in debates about over imprisonment in the US, even though global statistics speak for themselves: The United States accounts for only 4% of the global population, yet is responsible for roughly 20% of the world’s prisoners.

Restorative justice can be a hard concept to understand due to our cultural notions about crime, and it’s impossible to have a full understanding without concrete examples of how these concepts work in real life. This non-profit is demonstrating a clear, creative vision for how we might build connections that nourish us all, from the ground up.

Desmond Meagley is an award-winning writer, graphic artist and cultural commentator in D.C. A proud YR Media alumn, Desmond's writing and illustrations have been featured in the SF Chronicle, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, The Daily Cal, and NPR among others. In their spare time, Desmond enjoys vegetarian cooking and vigorous bike rides.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. dick choad

    August 22, 2020 at 7:34 am

    This is genius to transform prisons into plantations, what better way to employ the underclass

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Real Estate Marketing

Why you should quit using ‘no-reply’ emails immediately

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply email face

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a real estate practitioner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Real Estate Marketing

This AI tool turns your powerpoint into a narrated presentation

(MARKETING) Narakeet is a new software presentation tool that uses AI to simplify adding narration, subtitles, and more in your presentations.

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Narakeet, an AI presentation making tool

Good narration helps give presentations that extra oomph. It takes plain text and gives it life. It turns a dry presentation slide into an enjoyable one. But when it comes to narrating something, I know I’m not the narrator most people would be looking for. I speak too softly and laugh too much. I’ve had to record and re-record myself more times than I can count. This isn’t much fun, and it eats up a lot of your time. So, if you’re like me, there might be a solution for you.

Formerly named Video Puppet, Narakeet is an online service that helps people easily make narrated videos without all the headaches. Founded by Gojko Adzic, this time-saving software tool uses artificial intelligence to create life-like narration from speaker notes in a presentation. Currently, the tool supports PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, and OpenOffice files.

To create your presentation, you simply upload your PowerPoint or other presentation file to Narakeet. Presentation settings can be customized by video size, volume, music, subtitles, voice, and language. Right now, the platform supports 20 languages, but more languages will be added in the future.

From your file, the tool will create life-like narration using the “latest neural text-to-speech systems.” It will synchronize pictures with sound and resize the images and video clips to fit the format you selected.

If you opted for subtitles, they will automatically be generated for you; say goodbye to hours of transcribing! And, at least for me, I won’t have to worry about people suffering through my terrible narration.

“Narakeet takes care of all the boring and time-consuming tasks of video editing, and lets authors focus on creating good content,” Gojko said.

According to their video, anyone can “edit videos as easily as editing text.” If you made a mistake or want to tweak anything, all you have to do is change the script. By clicking the “Improve” button, you can upload the updated file. Then, Narakeet will take care of the rest.

For some, an AI-generated voice might not be your cup of tea. As a developing software, it can still sound a little too parrot-like. Or maybe your beautiful and pleasant voice needs no alteration. If you fit either of those two, there is an alternative!

The tool lets you replace the narration with your own audio. Depending on your presentation, Narakeet “will automatically speed up or slow down video clips to make sure that each scene is perfectly aligned with your voice.”

For trainers, educators, and marketers, this tool allows you to create videos without having to use traditional editing tools. For teachers, especially, this is a great tool to create virtual lessons. According to Narakeet, they “will create the video so you can publish and impress.”

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Real Estate Marketing

Top reasons people unsubscribe from emails

(MARKETING NEWS) Sometimes promotional emails can cause us to purge our inboxes due to over-inundation. New data examines specific reasons customers unsubscribe from mailing listings.

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mailblast email marketing unsubscribe

I recently registered my work email with a company that shall not be named in an effort to receive a 20% off coupon. While I received the coupon, I also found myself receiving somewhere around 10 emails per week from this company. But after a few weeks, I had no choice but to unsubscribe from this email listing. Though it did give me the option to minimize email settings, the overwhelming amount I already received was such a turn off that I unsubscribed completely.

This has happened time and again with countless other mail listings, and I know that I’m not the only one burdened with email after email. Apparently this is such a common occurrence that eMarketer was able to conduct a survey that complied the top reasons why people tend to unsubscribe from email lists.

The major reasons were broken down into 13 categories.

The additional reasons were as follows: 21% report that the emails were not relevant to them; 19% received too many emails from a specific company; 19% complained that the emails were always trying to sell something; 17%t stated the content of the emails were boring, repetitive, and not interesting to them.

Additionally, 16% unsubscribed because they do not have the time to read the emails; 13% stated they receive the same ads and promotions in the email that they receive in print mail (through direct mail, print magazines, newspapers, etc.)

Furthermore, 11% stated that some emails can be too focused on the company’s needs and not enough on the customer’s needs; 10% felt that certain emails seemed geared towards other people’s needs and not their own. Another 10% did not like the appearance of certain emails, stating that they were too cluttered and sloppy.

An additional 10% didn’t trust the email to provide all of the information necessary to make purchasing decisions. Finally, 1% claimed “other” reasoning as the main cause.

Fully 7.0% unsubscribed from certain email listings because they said emails did not look good on their smartphones. This is important for marketers to keep in the back of their minds.

Assess your email marketing strategy to ensure you’re fitting the needs of consumers, not just your own personal preferences. Data doesn’t lie.

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