National Day of Listening

Join StoryCorps in the National Day of ListeningThis Friday, when you're gathered with friends and family trying to figure out what to do with yourselves after that meal, consider participating in the National Day of Listening.  It's an opportunity to hear and record the stories that we all have to share about our lives, our greatest and hardest moments, and the lessons we've learned.  (And as some have noted recently in Richmond, the local community could benefit from having a better sense of our own narrative.)

All it takes is some kind of simple audio recording device, a good list of questions to get you started, and some time.  And it's a part of the larger oral history project that is StoryCorps, so there are some neat opportunities to share what you capture with a wider audience, if you want.

If you're in the Richmond area and want to send me some of what you record, I'll consider putting it together into an episode of the Richmond News Review podcast.

Staff evaluations: giving feedback, building strong teams

A lot of my time in the last few weeks has been consumed by working on staff evaluations at Summersault. It's at times tedious and exhausting, but really rewarding in the end, I think. I just posted some more about how we do it on the Summersault Blog:

"If you read my previous post about 10 Reasons to Work at Summersault, you may have noted Reason #5: In-depth performance reviews provide you with concrete professional goals and feedback on your successes. As we wrap up our Fall review cycle for staff here, I thought I’d say a little more about just what that process involves."

Continue reading Staff evaluations: giving feedback, building strong teams.

Is eating locally produced food a bad idea?

Green Tomatoes 2In yesterday's Palladium-Item, editorial board member and local blogger Matthew Hisrich proposed that eating locally, and other kinds of localized consumption behaviors, might be ineffective, or even bad for us:

[W]here does this drive for relocalizing come from? Perhaps it has to do with a vague sense of ethical rightness more than anything scientifically verifiable. University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt classifies such efforts as attempts to attain (and potentially guilt others into) a sense of moral purity. "Food," he says, "is becoming extremely moralized these days."

The problem, of course, is that purity is hard to come by in a world as complex as ours, and simplistic answers often have consequences that their proponents do not intend. Consumers should think twice before jumping on the localvore bandwagon.

I'm all for thinking twice before jumping on any sort of wagon, but I think Mr. Hisrich's logic is flawed in a number of places. Read on for my point-by-point analysis of his column: Continue reading Is eating locally produced food a bad idea?

4 reasons to start using Gravatars right now

I've said before that to truly participate in public life, we must do so as ourselves, with our identities revealed.  Online discussions are now a part of the public sphere, and when used well, can bring people together in ways that complement and enhance real-world community.

A related trend I'm appreciating is the increasing number of tools available to help make online conversations more personalized.  A particular tool I'd like to encourage you to start using right now is that of a Gravatar - a "globally recognized avatar" - which displays an image of your choosing (sometimes a photo of you) next to your contributions to online conversations.

Here are 4 reasons why you should: Continue reading 4 reasons to start using Gravatars right now

Can the President of the U.S. use e-mail?

The Times has a nice little article today about why Barack Obama will probably have to give up the use of his Blackberry - and e-mail altogether - when he becomes President:

As his team prepares a final judgment on whether he can keep using e-mail, perhaps even in a read-only fashion, several authorities in presidential communication said they believed it was highly unlikely that he would be able to do so.

Diana Owen, who leads the American Studies program at Georgetown University, said presidents were not advised to use e-mail because of security risks and fear that messages could be intercepted.

“They could come up with some bulletproof way of protecting his e-mail and digital correspondence, but anything can be hacked,” said Ms. Owen, who has studied how presidents communicate in the Internet era. “The nature of the president’s job is that others can use e-mail for him.”

Surely there's some middle ground to keep a President as tech-savvy as Barack Obama from being forced off of e-mail altogether? I mean, this is the guy who announced his VP pick by SMS text message, for crying out loud.

Here are some scenarios to explore: Continue reading Can the President of the U.S. use e-mail?

Links, and what I'm thinking about

I haven't had the chance to blog lately, but here are some bits and pieces to chew on. First, some links:

Some topics I'm thinking about, and may eventually blog about:
Continue reading Links, and what I'm thinking about

The Most Important Part

The most important words spoken last night, I think:

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Congratulations to President-elect Obama, and to all of the people who put themselves into the political spotlight during this campaign to seek change in their communities at all levels. May the integrity and dreams of a better world that got you this far continue to ground you in the years to come.