Shawn Nesaw

Like others, we’re ready to pack up for the beach, fire up the grill and break out the Frisbee for this Memorial Day weekend.
For most Americans, the holiday unofficially kicks off our summer season. To many of us, summer means adventure. In our rush to fun and adventure, however, we also intend to take a moment to remember the reason for the holiday.

Often confused with Veterans Day, Memorial Day honors those who died in the nation’s defense, who gave, as President Lincoln so eloquently described, “the last full measure of devotion.” Lincoln spoke those words, part of the Gettysburg Address, at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery in Pennsylvania. In 1868, the tradition then known as Decoration Day began with Union veterans and the families of the honored dead paying their respects at cemeteries.

No one understands Memorial Day better than our active military. Our clients at Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground will hold their Memorial Day ceremonies with an understanding of the long line of sacrifices that stretches back throughout our nation’s history.

Aberdeen Proving Ground will dedicate a new memorial monument on May 31 at Festival Park in Aberdeen. The monument’s dedication reads, “This monument stands as a tribute to the Department of Defense civilians, military service members and support contractors of Aberdeen Proving Ground and the former Edgewood Arsenal … we honor their lives and their contributions to our national defense. Each gave the last full measure of devotion while performing their duties.”

At Memorial Day ceremonies, it is traditional for a moment of silence to remember the dead. That silence speaks volumes.

During World War II, newspaper columnist Ernie Pyle painted pictures with his words of life on the ground with the infantry. His most famous column, however, chronicled the death of Captain Waskow and the heartbreak soldiers experienced when faced with the deaths of their comrades and the power of silent tributes.

Pyle described how during a hard stretch of fighting in the Italian mountains the Army hired Italian muleskinners to carry the bodies of fallen Americans down the mountainside to a collection point at the bottom where Pyle waited with other soldiers.
Friends of the deceased took an opportunity during a break in the fighting to see their fallen comrades.

“Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand [of Captain Waskow], and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there. And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain’s shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.”
We live in peace, free of fascism because soldiers like Captain Waskow went to war and did their duty. They fought knowing they faced death, and they carried out their job. Imagine going to work at your office and the person in the cubicle next to you was killed, and you must carry on. Then the next day, you lose three more friends down the hall from you, and the replacement in the cubicle next to you who you just met. And you must still carry on.

We cannot truly honor those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country because their actions honored them far beyond what we are capable. We can only pay our respects for what they gave to our nation.
We can and should enjoy our Memorial Day weekend. We should live our lives happily and fully because Captain Waskow and many others died to assure us our freedom to do so. We should also give pause to remember and thank them for that sacrifice.

Anita Brightman

“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” – Arthur Ashe
Since opening our doors 20 years ago, A. Bright Idea’s philosophy remains rooted in the idea that a group of people with boundless creativity and unwavering passion can change the world, or at least our own corner of it.
As communicators, we understand the power of telling the right story to the right people, in ways that create a positive impact. Often, our choice to work with organizations reflects our own desire to give back and create positive change in our community and our nation by supporting the great work of our clients. These organizations, both at the government and non-profit level, inspire us through the dedication to their mission and we quickly engage as an extension of their teams to reach a common goal.
Our team draws excitement and energy from causes improving the lives of others. We can think of no greater joy than the ability to effectively shine a light on an issue, service or idea to make the world a better place. This philosophy carried us through nearly two decades in an uncertain market. For me, proof that when you put your heart where you work, great things happen.
Whether it’s in the lives of children, the health of our nation’s communities or the richness of cultural fabric and preservation of history, we are passionate about supporting change and making a difference.
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On a local level, this means supporting future generations through initiatives to improve the lives of children. Working with the Boys & Girls Club of Harford County, as well as Teen Services Sonoma, Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, the John Carroll School and United Way of Central Maryland, offers us the opportunity to help build awareness in their missions, highlight their commitment to the betterment of children and drive community support on their behalf and for increased services for youth.

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October Take Back Day commercial shoot in Chicago with Mike Ditka.

Our dedication to community health issues remains equally as strong, from both a local and national perspective. Whether increasing access to affordable health care, educating the public on how to safely dispose unused prescription drugs to help reduce addiction and overdoses or bringing awareness and calls for action to combat the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction in our country, we are proud to be an integral part of the fight. Our community health work with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) showcases where we have long provided media buying and creative services for the successful National Prescription Drug Take-Back Initiative, which takes hundreds of tons of unused prescription medication off the streets each year – 6.5 million tons to date.
In addition, we currently provide the DEA with branding, strategic communication, advertising development and media buying services in support of the DEA 360 Strategy, a new initiative to combat the nation’s heroin and prescription opioid abuse crisis with a direct grassroots/community approach.
Commercial shoot with Boomer Esiason in New York City for Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that an agency full of creative professionals would be passionate about preserving and promoting arts and culture. The work we do on behalf of numerous cultural institutions and organizations spans both coasts. We are proud to play a role in highlighting the amazing artifacts and innovations at the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Libraries. On the local level, we support history and the arts through sponsorship support of the Napa Valley Museum and the Aberdeen Proving Ground Centennial Celebration Association.
Even as we bring our passion for making a difference to our work each day, we live it out in our personal lives too. Many of our employees continue their involvement in meaningful causes outside of work. Whether it’s through a commitment to personal artistic and musical endeavors, through volunteer work with our local schools or through fundraising efforts to fight childhood cancer and other serious diseases, our passion for making a difference always shines through.
We all want to help – solving problems, being part of solutions, building awareness and creating change. Coming together to be part of something bigger is weaved into our cultural fabric. Looking at the 20th year of A. Bright Idea and moving forward, we continue to look for ways to promote the good, building on the foundational values of our firm. One person can make a difference, but a team of like-minded, creative professionals with an unwavering commitment to truly making an impact, can create change. I’m proud of our team, as this is not something that can be taught. It’s instilled. We make a living and we make a difference every day through our creative talents and our commitment to raising each other and our clients up in all we do.
If you have something to add to this story, share it in the comment section below!

Shawn Nesaw

Social Media Today

I remember wondering early in my career, as blogs emerged, how many people would really undertake the responsibility of writing and maintaining a website devoted to their own musings or watchdog tactics, and how many blogs would keep readers’ interest. Of course, anonymity was a plus, but could bloggers really develop a loyal following?
More than 12 years after the introduction of the blogosphere, blogs are alive and well as bloggers create niches and everyone from corporate executives to mom and pop at the shop on Main Street begin to grasp the value of starting a dialogue and engaging multiple viewpoints.
Technorati tracked more than 112 million blogs in 2008, which provides a pretty succinct answer to my one-time question about who would carry the blog flame throughout cyberspace. And of course, blogs have loyal followers as evidenced by commenters and repeat commenters. It’s still difficult to track the exact demographic of loyal blog readers, yet highly targeted topics and analytic software can track hits and impressions.
Now, other technology makes it increasingly easy for us to share blogs that we read regularly and even those that we stumble upon and want to share. Sure, we can subscribe to a blog’s RSS feed to catch up on our RSS Reader or sign up for email notifications when a new post is made. But with the integration of more than one million websites on the Facebook Platform – including two-thirds of comScore’s U.S. Top 100 websites and half of comScore’s Global Top 100 websites according to Facebook – receiving updates on new blog posts as part of your news feed or sharing via the Like button nails the “touch it once” rule suitable for both organizing your desk and managing a busy social media network.
Around the agency, we value blogs on industry news and cutting-edge trends. We’re inspired by art techniques and the clever integration of the verbal and visual because it’s what we do! We also appreciate the quirky and downright creative. Enjoy a few of our favorites and look forward to exploring a few of yours.
Social Media
Useful nuggets of info on social media that we can implement immediately plus valuable resources too
Message With A
A freelance writer turned stay-at-home dad armed with a pen, post-it notes and hysterical observations about “the kid.”
Beast Pieces, Blog of Studio on Fire –
Hybrid design and letterpress concepts from the Studio on Fire workspace in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dralin Design Co. –
Satirical approach to the daily life of designers who love what they do
Stuff No-One Told Me –
Comic strip-style blog with new lesson or saying for each day
Compilation of bloggers on business intelligence, small business, finance, operations, sales and technology
“A look into the exciting lives of the people who live in your catalogs.”
Commentary on graphic design pieces from industry expert, Steven Heller
A blog about anything and everything design
Woot! The Blog –
Information on technology and technology based products
Design inspiration and resources for industry professionals
Designer blog with freebies, resources and inspiration
The Daily
A veteran blog, giving advice for how to live well in uncertain times
Felt &
Impressions from the paper-obsessed
Better living through technology
A List
Critical thinking, industry trends and fantastic tutorials for designing on the web
DC Radio and
Information/gossip on the media scene
Food blog for easy meals–beautiful pics too!

Shawn Nesaw
Sarah West
Sarah West serves as A. Bright Idea’s Government Public Affairs Specialist.

As a military brat in the mid 90’s, the word “BRAC” was scary. It meant we might have to move again and it clearly amped up the stress level in my house. We survived the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, round and moved on to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida where I happily adjusted to weekends at the beach.
Now that I am on “the other side,” as a contractor, supporting a government client onsite at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), BRAC has taken on a different meaning for me. I am excited to watch outstanding science and technology Army missions relocate to APG, but tinged with concern when I sit in the new bumper-to-bumper traffic traveling off post at the end of each day. “This is just the beginning,” I’ve grumbled to myself lately.
Although BRAC is strictly a business decision, aimed at improving the efficiency of our national security structure, it is laced with great emotion – on both sides. I have seen the great communication and marketing efforts aimed at those coming to Maryland, focusing on our state’s appeal, but what does “Jane,” who lived in Harford County her whole life, think about BRAC impacts? Does she know what is going on and does she even care?
Sure, I might have to sit in traffic a few more minutes than I did last year, but because I attend many of the BRAC network meetings I know that APG turning into one of the nation’s most important science and security headquarters will bring a meaningful economic boom to our county and ultimately our state. Does Jane know that? Or does Jane just think BRAC means more traffic, an overpopulated classroom at her child’s school and a longer wait at the ER?
I challenge the military and the Harford County government to engage the current residents and businesses of the county.  Share BRAC news frequently—in the Aegis, on radio, billboards, blogs, tweets and events.  Let’s see BRAC information at the 4th of July parade, BBQ bash, the Farm Fair and even Harford Mall.  We need to make sure that our neighbors perceive BRAC as a positive economic AND lifestyle gain.  A robust community offers potential for better infrastructure, job opportunities, choices in our children’s education and excellent medical care.  Let’s motivate our cheerleaders before its too late and they put their pom poms down.