RIP: Steph Clarke and a good lesson to pass on


All people called Steph are amazing. This is the law. But Steph Clarke was particularly amazing. 

Nobody I know quite had the same wit, charm, determination, digital skills, willingness to share and sheer JFDI. What is JFDI? Just flipping do it.

Normally, I will blog about comms, pr or digital things here but excuse me for this post if I take a moment.

Stunning news

Steph died unexpectedly this week. The news shared on Facebook by her husband James who had shared so much of her work. They worked on the wv11 blog in Wednesfield. But offline was where they thrived too. They volunteering and helped build the community hub in Wednesfield.

There must be hundreds of people who knew Steph better than me. My heart goes out to them and to her family, husband James, son Jordan and to Nick Booth who worked with her at Podnosh.

Always able to help 

In reflecting at the news and Steph’s life, I looked back at things I’ve done and I realised that Steph had played a small encouraging part in all of them. She was generous with her time and sharing her knowledge.

All this started six or seven years ago when I was at Walsall Council and trying to make sense of the social web. Steph who was @essitam on Twitter was one of the first hyperlocal bloggers I came across. She encouraged my hesitant steps to talk as @walsallcouncil to people in a human voice about council matters.

When the Black Country social media cafe started I went along and Steph was there.

When we started brewcamp Steph came along. She gave a great talk about how social media was a lifeline in Christchurch, New Zealand after the earthquake. She has relatives there.

When we ran the first hyperwm unconference she came. I’m smiling as I think of the Press officer v hyperlocal blogger punch-up session that did so much to map out our thinking. Steph contributed.

When we started building bridges with the online she came up with a work around that persuaded the museum to open up its stores and Leather Museum to a Flickr meet.

In the last year or so it was good to bump into her every week or so at Impact Hub Birmingham. She hadn’t changed.

Life lessons

What does Steph’s life teach? So many things. For me, who knew her a bit, it taught that the web is just a way of finding people to meet in real life. The picture for this blog has Steph pictured in the centre. By the looks of it she is training  the two other people in the shot. Chances are she may have never met them before that day but their smiles and her are real. That would be typical.

It is also showed that it’s not about the me. It’s about the we.

What can we do better?

Well, let’s just do it then.

This is a good lesson to pass on.

Picture credit: Nick Booth / Flickr

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