A Hopeful Sign – A Blog About Hope

Penticton man aims to spread hope globally


Gary Doi, former superintendent for the Okanagan Skaha School District, is the editor of A Hopeful Sign, an online publication bringing together a variety of writers.

When you talk about publishing, many jump to the concept of a book, a magazine, perhaps a newspaper.

But when Gary Doi set out to create A Hopeful Sign, none of the traditional methods seemed appropriate for his goals. So Doi started an online blog to bring together writers, photographers and artists to share inspirational stories and artworks, all with the goal of spreading hope.

And he kept doing it. Seven months after he started in May 2011, Doi’s online publication still has generated more than 20,000 visits to the site and is rising high in search engine rankings.

“The reason I chose this venue and media is because it appeared to be the fastest way to gain access to a lot of people,” said Doi. “We created, if you like, a real magazine, that not only looked like a magazine, but it is a site that could be sustained, so every day there is new content.”

Doi, who retired as superintendent of the Okanagan Skaha School District in 2009, said the inspiration came to him after spending eight months writing a memoir.

“Every memoir is intended to be a reflective piece … after that I was still in that reflective mood and I started thinking about how I might be able to create something else that went beyond this,” said Doi, who had begun thinking about how he could bring together his ideas and background in education, writing, photography and media and try to spread hope globally.

“I believe that the fundamental role of educators is to spread hope,” said Doi, who has four decades as an educator and a provincially respected reputation as an education consultant.

“Teachers, in various ways, try to improve the life chances of young people. To me that has always been the essence of teaching,” said Doi. “So I started thinking of ideas of how we could do that but go well beyond local communities and well beyond a particular age group, to affect people of all ages and people around the world in some way.

“I was trying to inspire and energize and motivate, in some way, people to live, learn and lead.”

The biggest challenge Doi faced was trying to recruit authors and other creators from around the world to contribute to the site, which is an all volunteer site, or as he describes it, a labour of love.

“I had to try to get contributors without anything tangible and most of these people didn’t know me,” Doi said. “It was really based on trust, I suppose, and that this idea had merit and they were willing to spend their time or share their talent in some way.”

Doi managed to gather an eclectic range of contributors, including teachers, artists, parents and photographers. But for it all to come together and work, Doi explained, he had to be sure of engaging the visitors to A Hopeful Sign.

“I wanted to make sure the content was of a quality and standard that people could come to it and feel they were getting something that maybe isn’t out there in this form,” said Doi.

“You can take any form of media, you could have a quality story, a well-crafted book, a wonderful movie, but unless you can create a form in which you can get that out there, get the exposure, it won’t be deemed to be a success.”

A Hopeful Sign can be found online at ahopefulsign.com or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/LivingLearningLeading.

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