How green is your work place?

Green Workplace screenshotThese days businesses not only have to provide needed services and solutions, they need to do it in an appealing matter. For most of us this “appealing matter” will include sustainable, viable, green solutions. Since 2001, Green Workplace has been working with organizations to track their resource consumption and reduce it. They’ve also implemented easy-to-use energy efficiency campaigns and delivered environmental skills training and education.

Located right here in Vancouver, BC, they are a great resource for small and large companies looking for solutions towards greener business.

Introducing Notch Hill Educational Products

Have you been searching for a way to help your child learn while playing a fun interactive game? Now you can, simply by spending just 15 minutes with Notch Hill Educational Products. These products are a great way to help your child build a strong educational foundation.

The products consist of a GamePak “The Nogs of Notch Hill” which is a learning program containing everything you need to help your child learn to read, write and sound the lower case letters of the alphabet and “Pam’s Patterns” which helps your child develop pre-alphabet learning skills, using simple pegboards.

Developed by Joan Thornton, these products were derived from a notion that children learn best whilst playing. While taking children for extra reading practice, Joan discovered patterns in the behaviours of the students who were struggling. She created games that practiced the skills the children were missing and began playing them with the children. The children loved the games, and began to learn fast in her care. Over the years she has given hundreds of children the gift of a solid academic foundation.

With the help of her daughter, Nicola Lott, the first Educational GamePak and a fun, informative website were recently released and plans are underway to create 8 more GamePaks taking children to a Grade three level in reading, writing and maths skills. Working with Nicola was very interesting and we wish them great success in their new business venture.

Bluelime Media in 2009

I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolution. Personally I don’t see the point. Every year I notice the same thing at my yoga studio. The classes are just packed with people for the first two – three weeks and then it’s back to normal class size. I’m sure that gyms have seen an increase in attendance in these past few weeks and slim fast an increase in sales.

Although I never make resolutions, over the holidays, I do think about the year and how I can improve things at Bluelime Media and every year, I do the same thing. I think about it and then do nothing…. So this year I thought I would put it up in writing and make myself accountable.

Keeping it small

When I first started web design, I normally thought that I would create a company, get office space, hire a few employees and increase to a half dozen people over the years. At least that’s what BNI and business coaches were envisioning for me. I realise now that that dream isn’t mine. I have no desire to grow and manage staff. I enjoying working by myself and like Dave Shae, happy to be the little guy. So I’ve removed my careers page and updated my about section to reflect this new direction. At least in writing it’s a new direction.. it’s always been like that in my heart.

Embracing WordPress

For the past 2 years, I’ve been building more and more WordPress sites and have come to the conclusion that it’s the best solution for me and for my clients. I’ve updated my home page to reflect this change and in the next week or so I’ll be updating the service section to inform potential clients, that this is what I offer. Not to worry though, I know people who can use Drupal, Joomla and flash, so if that’s your flavour, I will gladly refer you.

Work Less

This is the reason I never make resolutions… Ever year, I look back and think that I’ve worked much too hard… but when you decide to work on your own and refuse to delegate or resist offers of helps… then you end up with a lot of work. So I only have myself to blame. In the past, I’ve taken weeks off here and there and enjoyed the breaks where phone and Internet access is limited. This has worked very well for me in the past and I will keep doing this, starting this month. At the end of January, I’m heading out to India for a yoga trip with Christina Sell and Genevieve Gilbreath. I’ll take lots of pictures while I’m there, but won’t be putting them online until I get back. Doing so, would require finding an Internet cafe which could lead to peaking in my inbox.

Happy New Year to all of you and best of luck with your goals for 2009.

Help for Youth in BC

Bluelime has helped The Crisis Centre with their websites for years, including maintaining the Youth in BC site. Until recently the latter was easier said than done because the site was, well, a bit of a tangled mess under the hood. Little changes took longer than you might expect because of old-style coding. To the viewers eyes, it was visually overwhelming and not very user friendly. Given the number of resources offered on the site, and especially the potential state of crisis that viewers may be experiencing, ease of finding information and ease of maintenance are crucial.

Recently we designed a new site incorporating Youth in BC’s new branding and built it with WordPress so that staff can do most of the maintenance themselves. They’ve been receiving positive feedback from their audience, including:

The site is way better than the old one. Lots more info on so many things now.

…Which was music to my ears. It’s actually the same information, just easier to find. Mission accomplished :-)

Twenty Something Theatre presents SubUrbia

If you were one of the lucky ones who saw the highly acclaimed play “The Fever” earlier this year at the Beaumont  you’ll be happy to hear that another Twenty Something Theatre production is now coming to theatres. SubUrbia by Eric Bogosian, produced and directed by Sabrina Evertt, is the story of a group of suburban twenty-year olds who gather outside their local convenience store to welcome home an old friend who is returning after a successful national tour with his rock band. His arrival in a limousine with entourage in tow precipitates an all night whirlwind of drinking, sex & violence.

This new production also comes with a new website for the Theatre company. Working with Andrew Lewis, a very clean, elegant design was put together and built using WordPress allowing Sabrina to make changes and updates as needed.

If theatre is of interest to you, be sure to catch Suburbia from August 19 – August 31, 2008 at the Playwrights Theatre Centre on Granville Island.

Tickets are available at the door, at Ticket Tonight or by calling 604-684-2787.

Apologies to Pacey + Pacey…. oops!

Pacey + PaceyA few months ago we updated our portfolio with our latest project, UBC Vault. This website was a collaborative effort and we mistakenly credited the logo design to Johnny Kuan, when in fact the creative team at Pacey + Pacey Design were responsible for the UBC Library’s branding.

So apologies are in order!

And just to recap, here are the names of everyone involved in this project:

Pacey + Pacey – Branding/log
Johnny Kuan – Web Design
Christine Rondeau (me) – HTML/CSS
Joseph Lo and Ben Keen – PHP Programming
Miin Lim and Angelia Darnbrough – Consultation

And of course the team at UBC were extensively involved in testing, copywriting, etc….

Acheiving Work Life Balance

When I first started my business 5 years ago, I was always surprised to hear myself say “not at all, I’m a workaholic” when asked if I found it distracting to work at home. I always considered myself to be very lucky and grateful that I could stay focused and motivated even though, cooking, TV and laundry were there to tempt me. And I guess that’s what allowed me to build a successful business. By “not being distracted” and thus remaining focused, I managed to work hard, do lots of business development, networked and gained a good number of clients.

This year has been fantastic so far, but I’m finding myself in a conundrum; I’m friggin exhausted! I’ve been working so hard, I’ve forgotten to take the time to cook, watch TV and do the laundry… Ok, watching TV is not that big of a deal, considering the rubbish that’s on, but on average, I’m working between 55 to 70 hours a week and I’m burning out.

Read more…

It’s time to get active

Active CommunitiesI’ve been swamped lately and frantically trying to stay afloat. As a result blog postings have been few and far between and I apologize. I’m still working like a fiend trying to catch up, but I think that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As our company grows we’ve managed to secure bigger and bigger clients. Earlier this year, we’ve not only signed on to work on a government project, but four. It’s been very exciting to work on large scale projects that require much more planning and strategizing.

Read more…

Karma yoga at Bluelime Media

ChakravibeOne of my New Year’s resolution this year was to deepen my yoga practice and integrate yoga philosophy in my daily activities. I was already practicing 5 times a week, so I’ve now increased to 6 and sometimes 7, I attend workshops whenever I can with visiting teachers and went to my first yoga retreat a few weeks ago. I feel better than ever, but I still haven’t found an way to involve yoga in my Web work.

Ideally my goal would be to develop and create sites dedicated to yoga. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Barbara from Bluecitrus for many years now. When I first met her, she had just launched Chakravibe, an e-commerce website selling yoga jewelery based on the chakra colours. Built using OS-Commerce platform, the website functioned very well, but was difficult to update and maintain and the code was a complete nightmare to decipher. When Barbara approached me earlier this year and asked me to help her move the static pages to WordPress, I decided that if I wanted to get involved in the yoga community, this was a great first move.

Om Power NecklaceJoseph and Ben took responsibility of the OS-Commerce component and moved everything to a sub-folder. I took care of re-creating the design using up-to-date HTML/CSS and removed all of the tables and set up the WordPress templates. I doubt that many people have noticed that the website has changed. Except for a few pixel adjustments here and there and the changes in url, the website is identical. We’ve also added a blog allowing Barbara and Teresa, to write posts and tell us what’s new. So far the results have been very positive. Barbara is very pleased that she can update the content and post new images and Teresa has been writing great posts.

Northern Voice is a wrap

This year’s Northern Voice was my second. I thoroughly enjoyed both events and look forward to next year. I suspect that 2010 will prove to be a bit problematic due to another event happening at that time of year but, hey, that’s still a long way away.

Following last year’s conference I told all of my clients who were blogging that they needed to go next year. So as soon as NV08 was announced, I sent them all an email and encouraged them to register. I think that I sent the email to about a dozen or so of my clients. Only one came, Heidi, which is a shame, but a start. I got the chance to speak to her about the event and I think that she enjoyed it thoroughly and, like me, left the event with lots of ideas. 

Every year the organizers try to do something different and this year the Internet Bootcamp was on offer during the first day. I think that of all the talks that were given, this session was the most valuable for bloggers who are just dipping their toes in the blogosphere. As an educator Heidi is using the Web and social media to reach out to kids and teachers and help create a better educational systems. Heidi is already pretty tech savvy and has been blogging for a while, but these sessions were hopefully able to answers some of her questions.

I do hope that this session will return next year and encourage would-be bloggers to attend NV09.

See you next year.