A new ad-free social network offers a different approach to social media

A new ad-free social network offers a different approach to social media

A new social media platform, Ello, is taking a new approach to social media — one quite the opposite of Facebook.

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers,” their website reads. The website also states that there are no third-parties purchasing users’ personal information.

The network originally began as a private social network, but as their name became known, more people wanted to join, so they decided to make it open to the public. Although it is open to anyone, one cannot join without first being invited.

Ello’s website provides a manifesto that stresses social networks should not be used to manipulate people through advertising — treating people as products. “We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment,” the website reads. “Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.”

The company recently converted to a Public Benefit Corporation status, which ensures they will always remain ad-free.

Some were vocally hesitant of the new social network, discrediting its design. Others questioned the company receiving $450,000 from a venture capital firm in Vermont. Paul Budnitz, the network’s co-founder, did not shy away from responding to the criticism.

“Ello is doing some disruptive, anti-authoritarian social media giant slamming,” according to Converge Magazine, “but [people] need some time to see how the company chooses to use the attention and influence it’s receiving.”

Ottawa shooting: hope amid tragedy

Ottawa shooting: hope amid tragedy

OPINION – The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the publication’s standing

OTTAWA, Ontario,–

Tragedy struck Wednesday morning on Parliament Hill in the Canadian Capital.

Two gunmen, suspected to be acting in conspiracy, opened fire on government officials. The first stood in front of the Canadian war memorial and fatally shot the guard standing there. The second opened fire minutes later in Parliament, targeting government officials.

CNN reported that the two were linked to radical Islam, commenting that “troubled young men” are often drawn into such extremism.

As the Canadian and U.S. governments search for ties with terrorist organizations, the rest of us are left wondering how a young life can take such a tragic turn. How can young people with such apparent talent and intelligence use those skills to inflict pain when they could use them to love their community?

Young people have incredible opportunities to make a difference for good, yet we often pass them by. However, our culture often underestimates the potential of youth.

What comes to mind when we hear the words “troubled young man”? For that matter, what do we think when we hear “young person?” Most likely whatever it is that we are thinking of right now has some sort of negative connotation. Why is this?

As a student and young professional, I cope every day with the question of what a person can do in their early years to make a difference.

A few years ago, Gresham, Oregon natives Alex and Brett Harris

National War Memorial, Elgin St, Ottawa

National War Memorial, Elgin St, Ottawa

wrote a book entitled Do Hard Things.  This book was a call to action for youth, a call to live our lives sold out to God.  Along with this book, they hosted numerous conferences all across the country spreading the same call. And the results have been incredible. They have reached tens if not hundreds of thousands of people. In 2008 they reached over 16,000 people through the conferences alone.

More importantly, their efforts have encouraged a movement of youth to live a life of passion and purpose.

The best thing that anyone can do is to encourage the young people in their lives to live with a purpose and find fulfillment in helping people around them. The troubled young men of today are often little more than young people who lacked a purpose yesterday.

When a life seems devoid of meaning, human nature demands that we find something, anything, to fill the vacuum. For some, that means acting out for attention, abusing alcohol, drugs, sex, or addiction. For a few, it means turning to violence. This is the tragedy that we can all avoid if we invest in the lives of those around us.

The satisfaction of doing good while leading a responsible life is the best safeguard against turning to destructive outlets later in life. When young people see the incredible joy that comes from meeting the needs of others, they will be far better equipped to meet needs for themselves.

We all know young people who could use inspiration to move beyond the cultural quagmire that so many are stuck in. You can probably even think of a few specific people right now that need this message.

Young people need someone to challenge them, and adults hold enormous sway over the decisions that youth make. You, as a parent or an adult, can make a significant impact in the lives of young people you know.

This can be done in many ways, an accountability time, a Bible study, or some other venue.  It is often as simple as a word of encouragement or an invitation to help make a difference.

Facts are still coming out about the suspects in Ottawa. Like so many young terrorists, they are searching desperately for purpose to fill the void of a troubled life. Imagine what might have been if someone had encouraged them early on. Imagine what their talents and gifts could accomplish used for good instead of evil.

What comes to mind when we hear the words “troubled young person?” A problem, or an opportunity?

One in three homeless living with a mental disability in Marion, Polk

One in three homeless living with a mental disability in Marion, Polk


More than one in three homeless adults in Marion and Polk counties is living with a mental health disability, according to the 2014 Homeless Count Report.

That figure is nine times higher than that of the general population, according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health

“As many as 341 adults in Marion and Polk counties reported a mental health disability during the one-day homeless count last January, which was about 36 percent of adults counted,” according to The Statesman Journal

The statistics are alarming, but there is good news — many in Marion and Polk counties are serving those in need.

Kyle Dickinson, vice president of advancement at Union Gospel Mission (UGM), said he wants the public to know that UGM is not only a resource to serve the mentally ill, but also a resource to inform and help the community to serve alongside them.

“The question that we ask at UGM is, ‘What does sustainable compassion look like?’” Dickinson said. “What sustainable compassion looks likes for us [at UGM] is giving anyone who comes to us the most appropriate and life changing care that we can offer.”

UGM has one of the largest networks of shelters in the Marion and Polk counties, according to The Statesman Journal, and they work closely with many of the homeless living with a mental illness.

Aaron Eggers, vice president of ministries at UGM told The Statesman Journal that if trauma-related disorders are included, the number of mental disabilities is closer to 55 to 60 percent.

Eggers developed a program to help those with severe physical and mental disabilities get incomes and permanent housing. He believes that a large shelter is not ideal for those with severe mental disorders, due to the large crowds and loud noises, but UGM works hard to keep them safe.

“In a perfect world,” Eggers said, “Salem would have a shelter and day room for those with mental illness and space for on-site coordination between agencies so clients can be served where they’re staying.”

Although it is impossible for a system to be perfect, Dickinson said UGM “can help people understand the issue and provide helpful tips and tools to do what they can to help.”

He also said the community’s support is what keeps UGM going, and emphasized the difference the community can make through simple acts.

“I think acts of compassion can look like a lot of things,” Dickinson said. “It can look like serving a meal, praying for someone, or just listening to someone’s story.”