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New Year, New Goal – Branding and Branching Out

10 Feb

After a long period of indecisiveness and making excuses, I have finally made an investment in myself and my “brand” by launching veleisapatton.com. There I will continue to post about random musings, what I’m reading and the like, with a larger dose of personal insight on marketing and public relations strategy and tactics. The goal of the new website is to get more information about my communication services (copy writing, branding, public relations) out into the world, rather than keep my ambitions inside my head.

If you happen to be in need of these kinds of services, leave a comment with your information or email me directly at veleisa.patton@gmail.com. Let’s schedule a consultation to speak about your needs and how I can help.

I’ll still cross-post on here, of course, but I’d love to see you all at veleisapatton.com. Thank you for your reads, clicks, comments and support (all eight of you, including my mom and sister). If you have your own website or blog that you want me to visit, leave a link in the comments.

See you over at Veleisa Patton (the brand website)!

Day 23 – I did not see my family much today, but I did see this on instagram…

9 Feb

Beautiful photography, making me even more excited for the book!

somewhere between a handshake and two kisses

The first sighting of the Afro-Vegan cookbook I worked on with Bryant Terry last summer…

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Aside from the photos I print for my own family and friends, I rarely see photographs I have taken in print form. So to see photos I took printed in an actual book that other people intend to purchase is still mind-blowing.

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I am grateful to all the people who have pushed me in to this field of photography that I never imagined myself in.

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While I still can’t bring myself to call myself a “food photographer,” because that title puts me with a very intimidating group of extremely talented photographers…

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Seeing as this is book number 4 that contains only photos of food (that I took)… the idea is becoming a little easier to swallow.

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Huge thanks to the wonderfully talented Afro-Vegan Dream Team: Bryant Terry, Amanda Yee, Toni Tajima, Melissa…

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What is your fingerprint?

21 Jan
flickr user yoghaert

flickr user yoghaert – license

Oprah Winfrey and emotional connectivity. Steve Jobs and technological design, both the aesthetic and the functional. Salman Khan and education accessibility. All of these people have an identity for which they are known and celebrated and personalities that carried over into their business dealings.

The title of this post – “What is your fingerprint?” – was a question asked of a business group to which I belong. Immediately, the above people sprung to mind. What I couldn’t think of was my own fingerprint. My background has been in a range of communication: media relations, content development, writing for online, social media management. Now, as I consider expanding my career into actively seeking opportunities to provide freelance services, I have to consider if I am a jack-of-all-trades or if I should narrow down my offerings to a top-three. One piece of advice that most business people would give entrepreneurs is to know what you do and do it well over trying to be everything for everyone.

For months I’ve been working on my nervousness about putting myself out for public consideration, and if a potential client will find me lacking. It’s as though seven years of work experience and two degrees fly out the window. My heart is in my throat and I retreat. And then I got the question: “What is your fingerprint?” How do I want to be known, considered, evaluated and judged as a professional? Ultimately, it’s my responsibility to shape that image, and I must stop fearing it.

How do you shape your “fingerprint”? What did you do to take the reins on your image?

Getting To The Why of Reading

29 Oct

If you ever want to know why a person whose face is always in a book does that, think of this quote:

“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”

Taken from “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Another favorite excerpt, from a very personal perspective:

“I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.”

 

My Thoughts: “The State of Women of Color in the U.S.” Education and Entrepreneurship

29 Oct

When I saw on my timeline earlier that American Progress released a report entitled “The State of Women of Color in the United States,” I knew automatically that I would have to read, analyze and process the data and provide my thoughts on here. Not only because my education makes me interested in all forms of research (What was the methodology? What questions did they ask? Was it survey, interview?), but also because the lived situation of people of color is an area of interest for me. In my classes, I’ve done papers on the online natural hair community and ideas of beauty and I’ve wanted to explore the conceptualization of the “marriage issue” and Black women for some time. So when I see research like this, I jump on it.

I specifically looked at the sections for education and entrepreneurship because these areas have the most impact on my life right now. Having just finished the first of three comprehensive exams for grad school and talking with my significant other about his aspirations for graduate-level education, it’s all the more clear to me that education has shaped my life and those around me in significant ways. The cohort group to which I belong is increasingly seeking post-graduate degrees at high rates. However, this is not reflected in the data of the report, which found that Asians and Latinas are increasing graduation rates for first-time postsecondary education in cohort groups between 1996 and 2004 at 117 and 121.6 percent, respectively. For African Americans, the numbers have stagnated. This is disheartening news, though not surprising. Many news reports have shown the statistics on the lack of preparedness for students of color entering postsecondary education. According to the research report, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of jobs between 2010 and 2020 will require some kind of postsecondary education; the question becomes what are we (we the people of government and we the people of the community) truly doing to prepare the future generation?

There was encouraging news in the Entrepreneurship section, as the report indicated that the fastest-growing majority women-owned businesses are owned by African American, starting up at six times the national average. In working with the local Black chamber, there are some very driven women who are at the helm of multi-million dollar companies and corporations. This extends down also to my generation of young women who are starting a side hustle and making extra while maintaining a secure position with the goal of eventually converting to full-time entrepreneur.

I’m a fan of delving deeper than statistics, so I would love to see American Progress follow up this report with more in-depth interviews and focus groups to parse out the everyday experiences of women on color in the areas of the report.  Fingers crossed for that future report. For now, I suggest you download the report for yourself. What are your thoughts on the results?

The End Is Near

7 Sep

It’s been a long time, shouldn’t have left you without a…well, you know the rest if you’re a hip-hop fan. I’ve had fifty-eleven post ideas run through my head. Really, how couldn’t I be inspired by the cultural appropriation of Miley Cyrus at the MTV VMA Awards, the news about Netflix for Emmy Awards, usually the accolade reserved for television-based entertainment, my recent cable upgrade that gives me access to new movie channels (winning!) and various other topics of interest. So I do apologize to my (few) readers and to myself for the slackery.

Today, the topic is the end. The end of a life-defining journey. The end…of graduate school. This is my last semester, and it has me feeling some kind of way. I’ve formed such good relationships with my classmates, and in the course of our two years of knowing each other we have seen folks get married, have kids and supported each other through tragic events. Already we’ve had some graduations, and though we keep in touch in our Facebook group, it’s not the same as giving knowing looks at each other across FA 414 as we wait for the clock to tick down to 8:49:59 and we can calmly start gathering our books, notes and run toward the door. Okay, it’s not that bad but after nearly three hours, you’re ready to stop listening to words.

I will admit, a part of me is not ready for the idea of not having the kinds of discussions that are the staple of graduate school. It’s the entire reason I have devoted at least one night a week to talking theory, subjectivity and objectivity, 20-page research reports and current trends. When I began college, I thought I was going to be a math major…but then I really looked at the work expected of me and took a left turn. I knew I didn’t want to do English, mostly because I had no desire to read the “classics” and parse them for years to come. Though I came out of school right before the economic crash, I was wise enough to know that an English degree wasn’t going to put a lot of food on the table, whether it was feast or famine season in the economy. My initial reaction to the Intro to Communication class was “Oh, wow, so this is how the sausage is made?” My studies and career in communication has made me more selective of my media and more analytical of what I read and believe in the newspaper.

My final class is a bit of a hodgepodge but it combines all of the topics I love: language, culture and communication. In one class, we talked about accent tag videos (seriously, I can’t stop watching them), neologisms and the power it takes to create a new word, language versus speech, individual versus social functions of language and all the topics that make me go back and read and reread sentences. Although we’re focusing on the language of the States, I’d love to study the patois of the Caribbean Islands, especially considering there is such a diversity of language based on the various countries that colonized the region and the influence of indigenous mother tongue.

This week we get into language and gender, and my reading is from Judith Butler, whose name I remember from undergraduate studies. I’ll let that reading, and the other 80-odd pages be my inspiration for writing. Then, before I know it, it’ll be over.

On Dealing with Grief

30 Jul

Walking down the hallway, looking sidelong into passing doorways, I saw a head bent and titled at an angle that was achingly familiar. For a second, I expected her head to pop up, the mile-wide grin and lit-up eyes accompanying a squeal that could be recognized across campus. But I wasn’t at SMU anymore, I’ve long since graduated and I’m walking down the hallways of my graduate university. And the capped head didn’t belong to my best friend, because she’s been gone for more than four years.

My grief is a topic that I keep to myself. It doesn’t crop up regularly, on the first and the fifteenth to accompany my paycheck. It is subtle, hidden in cues like inflections of the voice and the long-legged gait of strangers who bring to mind all the ways I remember her. It doesn’t feel like a tidal wave of sadness but more like a trickle of pain. I consider where she would have been in life, her career, her love life and the next generation she would have showered in her affections. As more of our cohorts pledge lifelong bonds through engagements, marriages and the production of tiny versions of themselves, I struggle to reconcile how excited I am with the fact that someone who always celebrated with me isn’t part of this journey.

One memory that carries me through is the grace of her family, their heads held high through the injustice of it all. Perhaps they kept it bottled in to release it in their prayers, or during a run  or with a counselor. All I know is what I see, which is almost otherworldly in presence and love. It inspires me, and I’m convinced it’s her spirit being channeled back to the Earth, to give us comfort. And it brings me peace.

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