You got to serve somebody.

January 7, 2009

Om thinks Renkoo is rebooting, and we’ll be the first ones to admit that 36 million Booze Mail users on Facebook platform isn’t worth a whole lot, even as Facebook passes 150 million users. As Andy Grove put it, “You can’t build an empire out of this kind of concoction.”

But Om, we’re not bored at Renkoo. And we’re still building Facebook and MySpace applications. So what has changed?

We believe an important mission has found us. And we believe we’re just getting started.

We believe the first four years of Renkoo were our boot camp, where we learned all of the skills we can now employ to help people serve.

We believe that Monday, January 19 — MLK Day — is an opportunity for everyone to find an opportunity to serve.

We believe that Craig Newmark was onto something big when he explored the metaphor of a Craigslist for service.

We believe that a lot of other people also believe that 2009 is the year of service. This is going to be big — and millions of Americans are going to participate. And corporations too.

We believe, like Arianna Huffington, that Obama isn’t the only one being inaugurated on January 20th. We are all stakeholders.

We especially feel this way after noticing that today the Presidential Inauguration Committee launched USA Service dot org. This is one step closer to Obama’s service agenda becoming real. Next up: passing the bipartisan Serve America Act into law.

So Om, stop being so cynical, and Sign Service Nation’s Declaration of Service. America has a lot of work to do in 2009, and we all have an opportunity to serve. Om, we invite you to be part of the solution.

And Om, there’s more to life than a business model.

Goodness begins in small steps.

John F. Kennedy famously said on January 20, 1961,

And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

The world has changed a lot in the last 48 years, but his words are more relevant today.

We can all do something to make our country — and our world — a better place.

It’s 2009. The time for service is now. The place for service is here.

It is with that in mind that Renkoo is drafting its new mission. A mission of helping people help other people.

We are inspired by the words of Craig Newmark,

I feel that we’re entering a new time of civic engagement, where people can help others out in small or big ways. Let’s get going.

We are currently working on a brand new application that employs everything we’ve learned for the last four years — and enables a suite of voluntary actions that everyone can do in the United States and around the world.

Together we can make the world a better place, and our application has wonderful ramifications both for volunteers and for careers.

We are very excited about the launch of this new application very soon.

For now, we work around the clock to build it. There’s nothing more energizing than a worthy mission.

Renkoo was founded on March 1, 2005, with the belief that we could build a great application that employs the Internet to bring people together.

Version 1 of Renkoo lasted about two years. We built a website — Renkoo.com — that helped people decide when and where together with real-life friends. We learned a lot about building social applications and helped pioneer Dojo Toolkit in the process.

Version 2 of Renkoo also lasted about two years. We decided it was better to take your applications where people are — the social networks — and as a result we learned how to build an entirely different type of social application. We built a half dozen popular applications on Facebook and MySpace that got used by more than 36 million people over a half billion times. These applications were not fulfilling to us because although they were entertaining, they did not help people help other people.

Version 3 of Renkoo is about to begin. We will apply everything we’ve learned — from cutting-edge JavaScript and CSS technology, to our understanding of how applications spread on social networks — to a new domain that we find very fulfilling.

From this point forward, we will serve the mission of helping people help other people.

We are inspired and encouraged by the story of Families First:

It really started by raising a question of what would happen if people made a resolution, in addition to ones for their own lives, to help the lives of others.

We think it’s time to apply Renkoo’s skills to helping people help other people.

More on that topic soon.

Wednesday is the new Thursday

Fun things to make plans to do this week…

Renkoo Tip of the Week

Just because Wednesday is the New Thursday is going to the archives now, doesn’t mean you should quit looking for fun things to do five days a week. We usually start with Upcoming and then we check out Time Out New York and Chicago, Go City Kids (which isn’t just for kids!) and the calendar sections of all the major U.S. papers. That’s just for starters! So keep on keeping the fun in your life.

I would like to thank everyone who read this newsletter for the past 75+ issues! My name is Jessica and you can always email me at jnichols621@gmail.com. Ciao tutti!

Wednesday


The Troubadour Theater Company has a mission to entertain always, educate sometimes and never take itself seriously. To that end, they bring you Alice in One-Hit Wonderland 2 at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank. This is a musical parody of Lewis Carroll’s famed story set to the “greatest one-hit-wonders of all time.” Hurry for tickets, the show ends in four days.

Thursday


San Francisco hosts a grand celebration of the armed forces in its annual Fleet Week. The weekend will be chock-full of exciting events and demonstrations from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. This is fun for the whole family and your humble author will even be there on Sunday with her five-year-old son getting splashed and awed by the Blue Angels.

Friday


We’re heading to the Northwest’s Long Beach peninsula today for the Wild Mushroom Celebration which starts today and runs through November 15th. There will be tastings, dinners and discussions featuring the local varieties including the Prince and the Puffball. With names like those, how could this not be worth your time?

Saturday


Let’s go hang out with Things To Do D.C. again. This time, they’re hosting a Secret Agent Day. They say the event is a day-long race for young professionals that is unique, athletic and fun but we are secretly hoping they will teach us to reach across the aisle without catching any germs as we head into the election, err, we mean cold & flu season. Okay all kidding aside, there will actually be teams formed to catch a spy on the loose and there will be clues, checkpoints and scavenging for items.

Sunday


Our very last event takes us to North Carolina for the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. This party has been going on since Thursday and features more than 40 bands and performers. It is family friendly and they ask that you keep your booze in a cup or coozie so as not to set a bad example for the young ones. Camping is encouraged and there is a biodiesel shuttle to bring you to and from the event.

Renkoo helps you make plans with your friends.

Wednesday is the new Thursday

Fun things to make plans to do this week…

Renkoo Tip of the Week

Life is short and can be full of worries. WITNT is aware of the gloomy headlines lately and would like to take this opportunity to remind you of Corrie Ten Boom’s wise advice: “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.” So try to stop worrying about the economy for a few days and have some fun with us. If you can’t let it go completely, worry for part of the day, and have fun for the rest.

Wednesday


When you think of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), you might think of it as a fun and educational place to spend a day with children. But OMSI encourages you to bring your inner kid to its OMSI After Dark event. This is your chance to enjoy the museum in the evening with other 21+ folks, have a glass of wine and shoot off water rockets!

Thursday


Today you do want to be with the kiddos, so those of us in or near Chicago can head to the Chicago Botanic Garden to play in the garden as part of their Little Diggers program. It can be hard to find things to do with the toddler-set, and this is geared towards two- and three-year-olds. This week is “Fruits & Veggies” involving planting lettuce to bring home, digging for vegetables and pumpkin walking.

Friday


Are you tired of hearing about the Big Earthquake that is going to hit California and force it to sink into the Pacific? No worries this time because we’re talking about Litquake instead which opens today and runs through the 11th of October. This literary festival in San Francisco really got going in 2002 and brings together more than 300 authors and fans for readings, panel discussions and performances. To encourage attendance “from children to seniors,” more than 80% of the events are free. Don’t miss the three-hour Lit Crawl through the Mission District.

Saturday


Philadelphia is hosting the Big Bang Film Festival this weekend. This is the celebration of a devotion to all films action, adventure and suspense, fictional or documentaries. Grab your BFF and head to the BBFF (got that?) for the world premiere of Jim Ford’s “Wiffle Ball” about the “beauty and beast of competition and how some people take some things waaay too seriously.” Seriously, how can you think of skipping out?

Sunday


Since we’re on the east coast, let’s scoot over to Brooklyn for some grub today at the Atlantic Attic Street Festival. This festival is ten blocks of yummy foods from around the world including baklava, funnel cakes, grilled sardines, pulled pork sandwiches, fried mozzarella (that’s what we’re talkin’ about!) and fresh lemonade to wash it all down. There is so much food, they’ve made you a handy Food Map. Lest you get bored stuffing your face, there will be music on ten stages. That’s one stage per block, impressive.

Renkoo helps you make plans with your friends.

Wednesday is the new Thursday

Fun things to make plans to do this week…

Renkoo Tip of the Week

Answer: “All good things must come to an end.” That’s right, you guessed the proverb but did you know it dates back to 1374? The newsletter dates back awhile with this, our 74th issue, but we’re not going to compete with that kind of longevity. And while Renkoo is still going to be there for you to plan fun things to do with your friends, your humble newsletter author will be moving on to write Hey It’s Monday, Have Some Coffee! Just kidding. Stay tuned for the last two issues because this cute little box here will have another big announcement for you.

Wednesday


At the end of a long day, we like to unwind by moonlight with a glass of….canoe. That’s right, instead of zoning out on the couch with the tv tonight, how about unwinding with a paddle and some quiet water? Portland’s Environmental Services are hosting an evening tour of the Columbia Slough. No cash needed, just bring your own gear (including watercraft) and find your worries slipping away into the wetlands.

Thursday


The Idea Festival kicks off today in Louisville, where “if it can possibly go together, it comes together here.” LOU-a-vull (remember “Elizabethtown”?) is the physical home to the three-day meeting that only happens every two years. However, the IF is all over the place online: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and the list goes on. At IF, it seems great minds think different, not alike, and strong support from sponsors makes the event affordable and accessible thereby increasing the pool of thinkers.

Friday


Seattle and grunge, scratch that, Seattle and electronic music go hand-in-hand at the fifth annual Decibel Festival. Organizers have gone all out this year booking 120 acts representing 12 different countries assembled within 25 showcases at 11 venues around the Capitol HIll district. Phew, got all that? But wait, there’s more than music. You also get a two-day conference, a BBQ, a park event, a dinner theater, visual art AND new media! We’re wondering why we made any other plans this weekend actually when we could just stay busy and entertained in Seattle.

Saturday


Icanhascheezburger.com and lulzftw.com are going photowalking at the San Francisco Zoo today. If you are already a LOLcat fan and are around town, you’re probably charging your camera battery already and have joined the Flickr group. New to the world of LOLcats? Bone up here so you’ll know how to speak Conversational LolKitteh. Then put on your walking shoes, and enjoy a day with the animals, writing inspired captions and sharing them with the interwebs.

Sunday


Get Halloween costume ideas at Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park today during their Medieval Festival. The park is a natural choice for this festival as it is home to the Cloisters, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum housing thousands of medieval works in a reconstructed medieval monastery. Mostly go for the marketplace, crafts and the knights, jugglers and jesters bounding here and there and everywhere. The big event of the day comes at the end: a joust between four knights on horseback even. These people are out on horses! with swords! not falling on their heads! and here we’ve been spending all our time on Facebook.

Renkoo helps you make plans with your friends.