This blog turns three today. Time for a recap of the last year in blogging:
I woke up on January first to find that Beautify CNMI was named the 2006 Saipan Tribune Person of the Year. That was only the tip of the iceberg. 2007 was one for the history books, quite possibly the best year of my life.
We started the year off with some pretty ambitious goals. Beautify CNMI wanted every single person in the Marianas to volunteer at least one day to our campaign and Walt and I were determined to create a Saipan Blogosphere with the We Love Saipan Network.
I also started my job as the new and first Executive Director of MINA in January. I signed a contract to work part-time, 20 hours per week. I spent the weekends volunteering for Beautify CNMI events and playing soccer on Sunday afternoons in a men's league.
In February I decided to go out for the CNMI soccer team. I had low expectations and an overdeveloped beer belly. I told myself that I'd be happy if I just made the team as a substitute player. We practiced 6 days per week for the next two months. I stopped drinking about two weeks in and eventually dropped about 20 pounds.
I still managed to coordinate Beautify CNMI through all this. I would send out an event calendar on Fridays and then update everyone with the activities results the following Monday. Our blogger network continued to grow, too. The Saipan Blog also started popping up on the first page of a google search for "Saipan" in February.
Some part of my body ached every single day in March. I also contracted the Yosh Gabaldon Plague after drinking from the team cup. That put me out of commission for about two weeks.
Soccer pretty much consumed my life all month, but I still had time to begin my official courtship of Ms. EJ Lee.
At the end of the month I started in the first CNMI vs. Guam soccer game. We lost 3-2, but the show of support from our local fans made the two months of push ups and wind sprints worth it.
Beautify CNMI also started hitting its stride. By mid-March there were usually 2-5 events per weekend. We couldn't make it to all of them, but the movement kept growing. People start to plan their own cleanups and call them Beautify CNMI cleanups.
The first weekend in April I traveled to Guam with the soccer team to play in our second game against Guam. We ended of losing 9-0, but it was one hell of an experience. I just wish I had been able to play in that game.
April should have been called Beautify CNMI month. We were awarded with a 2007 Environmental Award from the EPA, Friends of the Mariana Islands earned a 2006 Earth Team Award, and we had our one year Anniversary dinner at Aqua Resort Club. A bunch of us also spent an entire weekend at the Flame Tree Arts Festival promoting MINA and Beautify CNMI.
I made it over to Tinian for only the second time since I've been on Saipan in April. I won about $50 playing crappes and went cliff jumping at Taga Beach.
In May we officially received our EPA Award. May was a typical month on Saipan, with Beautify CNMI and sports on the weekend.
The first week of June I attended an environmental conference in Majuro, Marshall Islands. It was my first time visiting islands in Micronesia outside of the Marianas.
In June we started planting Flame Trees and other tree species again. We also put on our summer camp.
The Saipan blogs really took off with our Best Saipan Blog Contest in July. We also start playing coed soccer. Our team, Taya Talent, doesn't win a game the entire season...and I'm OK with it.
I think the blogger trolls started coming out around this time, too. I think it had something to do with the impending federal takeover and the upcoming election...and the fact that there are a lot of crazy people out there.
August is more of the same. Marianas Dive gets going thanks to Harry and Mike. I'm still doing a boatload of MINA and Beautify CNMI work during the week and doing cleanups and playing sports on the weekends.
In September the blogger trolls got ridiculous. A pair of blogs are created for the sole purpose of hounding Jeff, Bruce and me.
As for Beautify CNMI activities, e managed to paint the lighthouse and started our first Parks & Trails activities.
In October I was traveling throughout Southeast Asia. I visited Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
I was still in Thailand in early November. When I got back we had a strategic planning session for MINA.
By the time December rolled around we were still doing Beautify CNMI activities on the weekends. We've been going strong for almost two years.
We Love Saipan is now consistently showing up on the first page of a google search for "Saipan." There are over 100 bloggers on Saipan, with about 25 publishing regularly with a good number of readers.
It was a very succesful year. If you want to know more, scroll back through the archives.
2008 looks very promising. I already have a trip to Pohnpei and a trip to Guam scheduled. I'd love to play soccer again for the CNMI, but I think I have to be put back on the email list in order for that to happen. For some reason I've been blacklisted. I want to get up to South Korea some time next year to visit someone who I know is moving there. I'd also really like to get back to Florida some time next year. I haven't seen the family in over two years. Before I know it, it will be three.
Oh well, Happy New Year everybody!
And Happy 3rd Birthday Saipan Blog.