Richmond, Home of The Most Racist Laundromat in America

Lost Clothes SignI've been thinking for far too long about how to do something about the U-Washee laundromat on NW 5th Street here in Richmond, Indiana.  I say "far too long" because I've known about its existence for years, and have only thought and talked with others about it, instead of taking action.  I've been trying to figure out how to convert its overt displays of racism into a useful and transformative conversation in the community.  Why does this place exist in the first place?  Who patronizes it and what do they see and think about its imagery and stereotypes?  How does our Asian population feel about it?  Why isn't there more conversation happening already about U-Washee?

It was simultaneously a good and bad thing today to see that there are plenty of people talking about U-Washee outside of Richmond.  A little more than a month ago, The Bilerico Project put up a great commentary with photos and really calls Richmond out for not taking action on this, but also ties it to larger trends of racism in the Midwest:

Continue reading Richmond, Home of The Most Racist Laundromat in America

Remember that one time?

CanopyOne of the trends that disturbs me about social networking sites and perhaps even online conversations in general is that the experience of interacting in those virtual spaces is seen by some as a substitute for real world experiences and interactions.  Or put another way, it's like we spend more of our time talking about how interesting and good we are at talking to each other, instead of actually talking about something.  I don't say this to discount those who have meaningful online exchanges or who find authentic joy in their online relationships, but I wonder what kind of meaningful definition of humanity we're creating for future generations, when what it has historically meant to "experience the world together" is being replaced with "experiencing Facebook together."

Continue reading Remember that one time?

On the Phantoscope Film Festival in Richmond

I'm retroactively (for 2009) and proactively (for 2010) spreading the word about the Phantoscope Film Festival that just concluded its third year here in Richmond at the Art Museum.  It's an event that is just absolutely phenomenal to be happening right here in town, but that is sadly under-promoted and under-appreciated locally.

Every year, high school students around Indiana are encouraged to submit their films for judging and showing at the festival.  The top ten or so films are selected by a panel of judges, and then shown at the screening night (which was tonight).  Before the screening is a panel discussion with professional filmmakers and those involved in the film industry.

Continue reading On the Phantoscope Film Festival in Richmond

Reviews: The Reader, Then She Found Me, At World's End

This is a triple header movie review post, hold on tight.  No overt spoilers, but if you like going into movies without any preconceived notions, I hope you'll stop now and come back later when you've seen them for yourself.

The Reader is one of those films that haunts my thoughts and dreams for some time after I've seen it - in part because of the subject matter, and in part because of how beautifully and authentically it was rendered.  Director Stephen Daldry rightly relied heavily on the amazing ability of his cast to communicate so much through the slightest changes in expression or well-timed pauses, and the cinematography only complemented this by just getting out of their way.

Continue reading Reviews: The Reader, Then She Found Me, At World's End

5 Business Values I Learned Via Earlham College

Today I'm sitting on a panel at Earlham College where we'll talk some about the world of business and money-making in the context of an Earlham education.  As a part of preparing for it, I was thinking about how my time at Earlham, and my relationship with the College since, has informed my experience in the business world.

Here's a list of 5 business values that I think I learned via Earlham College:

  1. You can do good and still do well. While it hasn't been as black and white as Mark and I may have thought it would be when we started Summersault, we have found that it is generally possible to make ethical decisions and still make money.  When you do make ethical decisions and still make money as a result, it tends to feel better than other approaches.
    Continue reading 5 Business Values I Learned Via Earlham College

Brainstorming Richmond community improvement ideas

Every time I go on vacation or get a little bit of time to step back and think, I end up making long "to do" lists for myself.  The lists are about projects I want to start, books to read, things to learn about, people to get in touch with.  It's common for some significant chunk of those lists to be related to how to make my home, Richmond Indiana, a better place to live, work and play.

At the same time, I recognize that other people are out there coming up with their own ideas about how to make Richmond better.  I hear those ideas mentioned at meetings, in casual conversations, in planning documents, and all over.  Sometimes I hear people talk about idea overlap - how something they thought was a new idea was something someone else had worked on in the past.  And then I start to worry that we might not be fully honoring the collective brain power we devote to improving Richmond, and I wanted to create a resource that would allow for some consolidated storage of all of those great ideas.

Thus was created the concept for a new website I launched this week, Richmond Brainstorm.com.  It's a place where people can submit their ideas for how to make Richmond better, and discuss the ideas already on the site.

Continue reading Brainstorming Richmond community improvement ideas

AIG: Too Important to Fail

At some point, you've probably heard some version of the axiom that it's better to fail quickly and often, because then you learn a lot - about what not to do, and about what does work.  One thing I appreciate about working in the world of technology is that there are lots of opportunities to fail, and there's very little room culturally to keep failing in the same way multiple times.  You either learn your lesson and find ways to do it better the next time, or you're left behind.

I can't help but contrast this to today's news that AIG (American International Group), a for-profit corporation that is not doing well, will be given $30 billion in taxpayer dollars, after the $150 billion in taxpayer dollars they got last year apparently didn't do the trick.

Continue reading AIG: Too Important to Fail