Blogger spotlight – Sustainable Rhythms

24th February

In this new series, I’m thrilled to interview some of my Three Thought Bubbles, blog students. They have kindly agreed to tell their story, share their experience and inspire others to start writing a blog. If you want to learn something new, it helps to talk to someone who has been there before you. I’m really grateful to each of them for baring their souls; I’m very proud of them too!

Derek Bell is a man of many skills and passions. Aside from working for Millward Brown Ireland, he has an understanding and passionate interest in urban ecology and urban sustainability. Derek is definitely a doer. As well as having aspirational goals, he wants to bring about change and get Irish people thinking and acting differently. What I think is brilliant about Derek’s blog is that he has found a niche market; urban dwellers (like himself) who live in Ireland and who would like to live a more sustainable life. Here he is to tell us about his blog Sustainable Rhythms and how it reflects his lifestyle and values.

derek bell sustainable rhythms

What made you want to start writing a blog? Tell us about where your skills and passions collide!

The funny thing is that my original intention wasn’t to blog, but to just feature some side research projects. Until very recently, the thought of blogging had never even crossed my mind. But then I tried it a few times and started getting into it more and more. I started to realise that blogging would allow me to express myself creatively, while also hopefully allowing others to do the same thing in the process by commenting on the blog posts. My hope now is that the comments made on Sustainable Rhythms blog posts will provide topics for future posts, and that it will also bring in others within the industry to offer their insight on various topics. I guess I wanted a blog that feeds off of the ideas, insights, and different perspectives of the participants, as opposed to me just spitting out facts and giving my own opinion.

Who do you want to inspire to think, feel, or act differently?

Great question. I think there are a lot of people out there – the majority of the Irish population – who are working really hard every day in order to just break even. And they may think they don’t have the time or energy to adopt more sustainable living habits, but still feel the need to do something. And to be honest – that hits pretty close to home for me. So I’m hoping to reach people who feel that way and give them a platform and voice to communicate and figure out ways to realistically live more sustainably.

What reservations did you have before you started?

Lots of reservations – definitely. I’m not even much of a Facebook user, so the thought of putting up my writing and making it so easily accessible online certainly made me think twice about it. But really – and this is a big one – the main reservation I had was that sustainable living isn’t the dominant socioeconomic rhythm in Ireland, and I know it’s a tough sell at the moment. It just doesn’t have a hugely popular image at present. We still live in a culture of consumption where, at first glance, there still seem to be unlimited resources. So the idea of me – an American no less – living in Ireland and talking about sustainable living was something I wasn’t sure would sell. And who knows, maybe it won’t. But I figured I had to try something.

How did you talk yourself out of these and press the publish button?

That’s a tough one – I guess I just convinced myself that people aren’t looking for perfection. There’s not a college prof grading your blog post who’s going to flunk you. So I just had to let go a little and just put myself out there.

It’s early days yet but what are your initial reactions to ‘putting yourself out into the world’?!

To be perfectly honest, I’m enjoying it a whole lot more than I ever thought I would. I thought it would be a chore, but I now find myself looking forward to the next post and interacting with people in the forums. I’m sure there will be some bumps along the way, but overall so far I must say I’m really getting into it.

What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

It’s kind of a mix. Some of the responses have included references to other blogs with a focus on the sustainability industry, but I’ve also had comments referring to how people had never heard of these concepts and that the posts have helped them to consider things in ways they really never had before.

What were the key takeaways from your Three Thought Bubbles class?

Your feedback about the importance of my About page was invaluable Aisling. After the class, I remember looking at my About page and just thinking “Man, my original page looks so boring – I myself wouldn’t even want to read it.” And I just hadn’t considered anything different like what you suggested. Now – I’m not saying it’s the best About page now, but it’s probably a hundred times better than it was before.

Do you have a structured way of writing or planning your content? Or what’s working for you now?

I have a list of topics that I am constantly adding to. But really, so far, I try to start drafting something a few days before I post so that I get a fresh look at it a few times before I put it up online. And then once I post it up, I try to avoid going back and doing further editing.

Would you like to share a blog (or post) that you enjoy reading and tell us what you like about it?

Probably the Community Supported Brewing post. There’s something intriguing to me about a community deciding that they’re going to control their own beer production. The concept is just so, so different. It excites me to think that this can be done in ANY town if coordinated properly. Not gonna lie – I’d jump at the opportunity to be involved in planning something like that. And so as you can probably tell, it’s something I’m passionate about and tended to enjoy writing about more.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone considering starting a blog?

Pick something you love – and write about it. Don’t write about something you’re not passionate about, or else it will just seem like work.

What does a ‘successful’ blog mean to you?

I definitely am a long ways off from that, but I think that if Sustainable Rhythms (not me) motivates even one person to live a more sustainable lifestyle, then the blog will have been successful. And if there were to be more than one, I would call that a huge success.

Derek, I thoroughly enjoyed helping you focus on your blogging goals. Your passion is clear and you have a great story to tell. In return you have got me thinking about greener living and discovering more bite-sized ways to live sustainably in my city!


Visit Derek’s website Sustainable Rhythms or follow him on Facebook.

Are you ‘almost‘ ready to start a blog?! I teach one to one classes and small workshops on how to write a business blog with heart. I can customise a class to suit your level. What do you need help with right now? Let’s have a chat.

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