New from HarpWorks: Case Studies

As a business owner or the director of a not-for-profit, you constantly must decide how your organization will benefit from any purchase you consider making. If you sell a product or service, you need to tell potential customers how you can help them. A Case Study does just that.

An extended testimonial that is structured like a news article, a Case Study answers the Why and How of the classic Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions. Why should a customer purchase what you offer? How have previous customers benefited from it?

Learn more about Case Studies, how they can help your business, and read a sample HERE.


Look for HarpWorks Writing Services on Facebook and Twitter.

HarpWorks Writing Services  P.O. Box 173   Bangor, ME  04402-0173

© 2013 HarpWorks Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

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Featured Client: Women, Work, and Community

Building Bridges – and Lives

When Women, Work, and Community talks to teenage girls about building bridges, they mean that literally. Totally Trades is a free, one-day, hands-on conference held throughout Maine, for girls in 8th-12th grades, to encourage female students to consider careers in fields traditionally dominated by men, including highway construction, bridge building, working with wood, building construction, cable technician, electrical, plumbing and heating and alternative energy. Each year more than 500 girls participate.

Totally Trades is just a small part of what the Maine Centers for Women, Work, and Community do to help Maine women and men achieve economic independence through focusing on their interests, skills, and experience; discovering new job possibilities; developing career plans; and furthering their education and skills training. Founded by state legislation in 1978, Women, Work, and Community (WWC) is the only statewide women’s economic development organization in Maine. WWC is organized into six regions and serves all 16 Maine counties from nine Centers and nine outreach sites. Business development programs include New Ventures entrepreneurship training, The Basics of Starting a Business and Introduction to Self-Employment. WWC also offers classes in Career Planning, Creating Your Future, Beyond Start Up and My Money Works. All classes are free to participants.

Every other week, a Women, Work, and Community trainer or graduate writes “Women @ Work” for the Bangor Daily News, featuring business successes and tips based on WWC’s three decades of experience helping businesses and individuals. See an archives of columns here.

Bangor Area Ambassadors Stephanie Harp, Renee Hudgens, Lisa Giulianelli, Trease Hodge, and Nedra Foster

When HarpWorks was in start-up phase, and just when I realized I needed a business plan, I heard about New Ventures and signed up. The class proved even more useful that I had imagined. I was so enthusiastic about what Women, Work, and Community offers that I agreed to become an Ambassador, and now am on the statewide Advisory Council as well. Read about my WWC experience here.

On December 4th and 11th, the Bangor Center will offer The Basics of Starting a Business from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., taught by WWC Regional Manager Jane Searles. And in January 2013, she will teach Beyond Start Up: Moving Your Business Forward, a 15-hour class for owners of existing businesses. Beyond Start Up covers money management and financial decision-making; marketing strategies and strategic planning; and the role of business financing. Both courses are free, but preregistration is required. To register and for more information, contact Jane Searles at 207/262-7843 or 800/442-2092;

“Shared leadership, Community, Integrity, Resiliency, Optimism, Openness, Fairness” – these are the values that direct Women, Work, and Community. With these guiding principles, doing the right thing to help others is easy. Contact them and see for yourself.

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Harp Notes, Early Fall Edition

The latest HarpWorks newsletter, Harp Notes, is now online. The “It’s Fall! 2012” edition features HarpWorks client the Kishintaikan Dojo, the oldest continuously operating martial arts academy in Bangor. Harp Notes also announces Fall into Financial Fitness, a free, half-day money management conference on September 22, hosted by Women, Work, and Community.

See both the first and second editions of Harp Notes here, and subscribe for your own copy, delivered by email.

HarpWorks Writing Services  P.O. Box 173   Bangor, ME  04402-0173

(c) 2012 HarpWorks Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

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Featured Client: Kishintaikan Dojo

More Than Just for Kicks

At the Kishintaikan Dojo, the oldest, continuously operating martial arts academy in Bangor, they know self-defense and they know how to teach it. For nearly 30 years, the Kishintaikan Dojo (pronounced key-shin-tie-khan doe-joe), has taught Okinawan Karate-do Goju-Ryu, a classical style of karate that originated on the island of Okinawa. Under the leadership of Kancho Sensei Stephen A. Boardway, head of Kishintaikan International, the Dojo – a HarpWorks client – also offers Kobudo (weapons art), Kiko (energy work), martial fitness, and yoga, taught by Sensei Boardway. Capoeira (cap-oh-ware-ah), the Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance, is taught by Garrett Boardway.

For anyone who thinks Karate is just about kicks, punches, and breaking boards, think again. Adults and children, women and men all come to the Dojo (martial arts school) to learn self defense, and also to improve their physical, mental, and emotional fitness.

“When we teach a class,” says Sensei Boardway, “the students learn more just than the physical aspects of martial arts. We work on self awareness, self confidence, and developing a positive attitude.” Karate, Capoeira, and the other martial arts taught at the Kishintaikan Dojo all foster greater awareness of the world outside the Dojo’s four walls.

As the first martial arts school in Maine dedicated to experience-based leadership development through martial arts training, the Kishintaikan Dojo has taught thousands of adults and children since it opened in 1983. Sensei Boardway holds black belts in five different martial arts. He welcomes all ages to his classes, beginning with pre-Karate classes for children as young as three years old, and Capoeira classes beginning at age five. Students in the day and evening adult classes range from teens to those near – or even past – retirement age.

The Kishintaikan Dojo likes to say they teach Ancient Ways for the Modern Day. It’s never too late to start learning and trusting an art that’s been changing lives for hundreds of years. Learn more about the Kishintaikan Dojo on their website and on Facebook pages for the Dojo and for Bangor Capoeira Group.

HarpWorks Writing Services  P.O. Box 173   Bangor, ME  04402-0173

(c) 2012 HarpWorks Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

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Featured Client: ArtVan

When the colorfully painted ArtVan rolls into a neighborhood, honking its horn and gathering attention, children and teens run after it to greet the staff and to help unload art supplies for the day’s adventures. ArtVan, a HarpWorks client based in Bath, Maine, has been conducting afterschool arts programs for kids since 2004. As an art therapist, founder/director Jamie Silvestri knows certain mediums can elicit certain emotions, which she brings into project planning. Art is one means to transform imagination and emotion – through the creative process – into action. Silvestri believes we all are creative thinkers and doers: “If I were a musician, it would be a MusicVan; if I were a cook, it would be a CookVan.” ArtVan gives youth permission to open their minds to make positive changes, regardless of where their talents lie.

Every week, Jamie and her staff of professional visual artists take the ArtVan to subsidized housing neighborhoods in Bath, Biddeford, Brunswick and Lewiston-Auburn. They also work in partnership with group homes, shelters, support programs and schools on one-time hired bases or in ongoing collaborations. Local businesses, individuals, not-for-profit organizations and grant-making foundations all recognize the value of ArtVan’s work. Without ArtVan, these youth and adults might have no access to the arts or to the personal benefits of both enjoying and creating art. ArtVan participants also make art items that are sold to raise money to further the program. The artwork is exhibited and sold in galleries, art fairs and art walks, and through area retail establishments.

For youth who are particularly talented and interested in pursuing visual arts, Jamie and her staff have created ArtVan Artists Xtraordinaire (AVAX). These kids receive individual instruction and encouragement from ArtVan’s professional artists, go on tours to local artists’ studios, and help staff ArtVan booths and events. When ArtVan staff wrote a letter of recommendation for a youth artist to attend an arts program, the girl put a copy of the letter on her bedroom wall. “No one ever said such nice things about me before,” she said.

ArtVan should be on the radar of anyone interested in the arts, self expression, social services and Maine children and teens. The ArtVan model could be widely used as a means of reaching and making a difference in the lives of youth. ArtVan is on the web and on Facebook.

Update, 8/1/2012: Congratulations to Jamie and ArtVan on receiving news of a grant from the Quimby Foundation. And congratulations to the Quimby Foundation for making such an excellent choice.

 HarpWorks Writing Services  P.O. Box 173   Bangor, ME  04402-0173

(c) 2012 HarpWorks Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

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Here are some good tips about a common grammar problem.  I’ve borrowed, in its entirety, from WordPress’s Daily Post blog.  It’s called “They” by Daryl L.L. Houston.


Consider the following sentence:

A person who does not read this blog regularly may find that ____ grammar suffers.

Now fill in the blank with the appropriate pronoun. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll unflinchingly fill the blank with “his.” If you lean leftish sociopolitically, you’re more likely to provide “her” (or to alternate between “his” and “her” when using such sentences). If the thought of filling in that blank fills you with uncertainty or even dread, maybe you’d supply “their,” which makes the grammar nerds squirm.

The dilemma here is that English does not have a widely accepted gender-neutral pronoun. Historically, we’ve defaulted to the masculine pronouns, but that’s become politically incorrect; on the other hand, defaulting always to the feminine pronoun can be patronizing. I suppose we could use the gender-neutral “its,” but that leads to ambiguity (in the sentence above, would the “its” refer to the person or the blog?) and is awfully dehumanizing. I want to be ok with allowing “they” and “their” to serve as gender-neutral third-person pronouns (I believe this is how some other languages do it), but I have trouble putting aside my grammar alarm and doing it in practice.

Bryan A. Garner, whom I’ll keep citing post after post, suggests that you can often write around the problem by rephrasing things (see the entry on “sexism” if you’re following along in A Dictionary of Modern American Usage). He proposes the following fixes (most of this is direct quotation):

  • Delete the pronoun reference altogether. E.g. “Every manager should read memoranda as soon as they are delivered to him by a mail clerk.” Just strike out “to him” in this case.
  • Change the pronoun to an article. E.g.: “An author may adopt any of the following dictionaries in preparing his manuscript.” Replace “his” with  ”a.”
  • Pluralize, so that “he” becomes “they.” E.g.: “A student should avoid engaging in any activities that might bring discredit to his school.” Rewrite as follows: “Students should avoid engaging in any activities that might bring discredit to their school.”
  • Use the relative pronoun “who,” especially when the generic “he” follows an “if.” E.g.: “If a student cannot use standard English, he cannot be expected to master the nuances of the literature assigned in this course.” Rewrite as follows: “A student who cannot use standard English cannot be expected to master the nuances of the literature assigned in this course.”

So there you have it, a few tricks a person may use for getting around the issue if he/she/it/they is/are so inclined.

Thanks to author Daryl L.L. Houston for these good tips, and to The Daily Post at WordPress for making it available to all of us.

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A Reference Shelf for Good Writing

Once upon a time, every writer had a shelf of favorite reference books. These days, the “shelf”‘ may well be an online one, and books on your shelf may have online versions. But whether you reach for a volume or click on a link, these are some reliable favorites:


Webster’s New World College Dictionary: the dictionary traditionally used by journalists.

The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale: a very easy-to-use thesaurus, arranged like a dictionary.

The Chicago Manual of Style: a comprehensive reference for writing of all kinds.

The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual: Frequently updated, this “journalist’s bible” is the classic stylebook for news releases, articles, guest editorials, and anything else intended for the news media.

The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White: the slim granddaddy of writing books and the go-to source for answers to such perennial questions as whether to use “lie,” “lay,” or “lain”; “that” or “which”; and other such writing challenges.


Wikipedia: Recent controversies notwithstanding, Wikipedia is a good first reference for general overviews.  Always search your topic on other sites, too, for corroboration and further information. a good, general online dictionary.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary: a dictionary and thesaurus, all in one place, run by Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Oxford English Dictionary: These are the folks who literally wrote the book on dictionaries. Once a gigantic, twenty-volume classic available in smaller, home editions and CD-ROM, its latest permutation is The OED Online. Individual access is pricey but many libraries subscribe, which gives patrons free access to this ultra-comprehensive reference.

Libraries:  Library of Congress, New York Public Library, university and local libraries. My local resources are the University of Maineand Bangor Public Library.  Library websites are great starting points for online catalogs, databases, and links to other resources.

 HarpWorks Writing Services  P.O. Box 173   Bangor, ME  04402-0173

(c) 2012 HarpWorks Writing Services.  All rights reserved.

Posted in Tips for Good Writing | 2 Comments

Summer Reading

Have you made your summer reading list yet?  Very soon the Bangor Book Festival will announce the authors and illustrators invited to the Fifth Annual Festival on Friday, September 30, and Saturday, October 1, in Downtown Bangor.   As soon as the announcement goes out, look for the Book Fest website and Facebook feed (@Bangor Book Festival) to be updated with the amazing list of this year’s guest speakers and their award-winning, best-selling books.


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Stay Tuned!

HarpWorks Writing Services’ website is under construction.  We’re building pages, and adding information and writing samples.  If you’re looking for something specific, check back soon or just ask:

  • Leave a comment with your contact information, or
  • Email HarpWorks directly at

Thank you for your interest.

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