We don’t do this very often — it’s a big deal
Regular Eclectablog readers will know that (a) I’ve only brought on a new writer one other time (LOLGOP) and (b) lately Amy Lynn Smith has been guest-posting some dynamite content at Eclectablog. Today I’m extremely pleased to announce that we have brought Amy on as a regular contributor to Eclectablog. This means she will share in blog revenues with me, Anne, and LOLGOP and, more importantly, you’ll get to enjoy her excellent writing on a regular basis.
Amy and I have followed each other on Twitter for quite awhile. However, our mutual friend and organizer extraordinaire, Sarah Burris sent me an email last February saying, “If you ever need someone who is very very well versed in health care policy to write something for the blog [Amy would] be a genius at it. I think she should start blogging in more high profile places. She’s brilliant!”
Sarah was, of course, 100% correct and I’m extremely glad I took her advice to heart.
This connection led to Amy guest posting a few pieces, much of which was about Medicaid expansion in Michigan, something near and very dear to my heart. Amy’s style fits in perfectly at Eclectablog. She brings a unique voice while at the same time fitting into our overall vibe absolutely perfectly.
I’m thrilled to have Amy on the team and I know that you’ll all enjoy her creative content as well. In addition to her writing here, you can learn more about Amy’s professional writing by visiting her website ALSwrite.com and following @alswrite on Twitter.
I asked Amy some questions about herself and her writing. Here’s our interview:
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you’re from, what you do to make a living, names of your pets, stuff like that.
I’m a true blue Michigander and have spent most of my life in Metro Detroit. As a kid, I wanted to be an actress/singer and performed entire Broadway musicals, playing all the parts myself. I’ve written music, played keyboards and sang in a band called Mary’s Birthday (anyone remember us?), and performed in and directed live theatre. But writing was always woven into the mix and every endeavor ultimately came down to storytelling, no matter the medium. Today, I’m an independent writer and strategist whose primary focus is healthcare, and I use storytelling to help businesses, organizations and individuals connect with their audience. I also handle media and communications for causes, groups and elected officials on a consulting basis. When I’m not working, you can usually find me laughing with friends or absorbing news, arts and pop culture in giant gulps. Or catching up on my sleep.
It’s not easy blogging with a typewriter. You have no idea.
You were involved on the communications team for Obama for America in 2012. What was your position there, what types of work did you do and what was that experience like?
I’m incredibly grateful to have been part of OFA Michigan. As Deputy Digital Director, I was largely a content specialist, reporting on stories of supporters and volunteers at events and field offices all over Metro Detroit. Telling the stories of people who worked so hard to re-elect the President — or who appreciated how much better their lives were because of his policies — inspired me every single day. I’d post those stories to the blog or social media channels, either by live tweeting or sharing photos and quotes. It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done and I learned an enormous amount from the brilliant people I served alongside.
What issues rev your writing and activist engines the most?
Writing is my activism — using my communication and storytelling skills to educate and motivate people. I wish there were enough hours in the day to champion every cause I care about deeply, but healthcare is at the top of my list right now. The Affordable Care Act is a giant leap forward in improving our country’s healthcare system, not just by providing healthcare to more people but by providing better care that can create healthier communities, physically and economically. Ongoing education and advocacy are essential. The other issues that fuel my passion most are women’s health — especially protecting our freedom to make our own care decisions — and equal rights. I want everyone to have access to the same opportunities, including being able to marry who they love. I want our public education system to be the best in the world, and I want our country be a place where the right to live safely is given the same priority as the right to bear arms. I want “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to be an achievable dream for every American.
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
I want to keep telling stories about the issues and causes I care most about, working in issue advocacy or politics in a way that can change our country for the better. The big dream would be working as a communications director for an organization or elected official I wholeheartedly respect. I want to use my skills in every medium — writing, social media, video, theatre, music — to bring stories to life in ways that fuel positive results for everyone.
Who are your heroes and role models and why?
My parents, because they taught me you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. They showed me how to be tough, how to be kind and how to be a critical thinker. Brian Eno, because he’s always evolving and innovating. Aaron Sorkin, because I want to write like he does. Louisa May Alcott, because Little Women taught me a lifetime of lessons and she blazed trails as a feminist and abolitionist. Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, for the quiet strength of their convictions and their visionary leadership. And Gabby Giffords, an inspiration in everything she does, but whose shooting was the catalyst for my hands-on activism. It showed me what it means to be unafraid in the face of extremism, and motivated me to be part of making sure our country will always be a place where angry, hateful voices don’t drown out reasonable, peaceful ones.
Why does being part of Team Eclectablog interest you? What new things do you hope to bring to the blog?
I’ve long admired the excellence of Team Eclectablog. You’re all making a difference by using your voices — words and images — to tell the true story of what’s happening in Michigan and across the country. You exemplify everything that’s noble about independent citizen journalism. You’re like superheroes fighting the good fight, and being part of Team Eclectablog gives me superpowers, too, in the form of a larger audience to hear things I believe are important to say. Every day I find new stories to tell about Michigan — not only its politics but its people, especially those who are working hard to make our state a better place. Everyone has their own unique voice, and I’m proud to add mine to the team. Plus, I’ve always wanted to be a superhero.
What question should I have asked and what is your answer to it?
Q. What’s your personal motto?
A. I don’t believe in everything. I just believe that everything is possible.
[The first two photos are by LAF Lines Photography. The photographer for the Big Bird photo is a mystery. We all love mysteries, right?]