The closing of Really Cool Foods

Groundbreaking for Really Cool FoodsIn 2007, organic prepared food producer Really Cool Foods announced that it would be building a multi-plant production complex in Cambridge City, Indiana and investing over $100 million in the area.  The announcement was met with great joy and significant incentives from state and local governments:

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Really Cool Foods up to $3.05 million in performance-based tax credits, up to $165,000 in training grants and will provide Cambridge City officials with a $200,000 grant to assist in off-site infrastructure improvements needed for the project. Wayne County officials offered the company 50 acres of land, $165,000 in grants and a 10-year property tax abatement.

The facility opened in October of 2008 with 250 of the projected 1,000 jobs to start, and over the last few years the company has had numerous challenges reaching initially estimated milestones of investment and jobs created.

Today, the company told workers who showed up for their morning shift that the facility was closing, and in a press release sent after 9 AM, announced the company is shutting down.

A couple of initial thoughts and questions about this unfortunate announcement:

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Review of CrashPlan for computer backups

I've been using the CrashPlan automatic backup system for my home computing devices for almost a year now, and I offer up this review.

Prior to using CrashPlan, I have to admit that my backup strategy for home computers left much to be desired.  Over the years I had tried various combinations of home-grown scripts and syncing tools that broke too easily or didn't offer enough flexibility in recovery, crusty third-party software that seemed to take hours to configure and then never quite did what I expected or didn't work with all the different devices I used, and even elegant tools like Apple's Time Machine backup system that still didn't offer me the off-site redundancy I wanted in case of physical catastrophe.

The end result was that my backups were happening infrequently, and in ways that did not necessarily guarantee the ability to restore what I would need in the event of a system failure or worse.  For someone who preaches the importance of backups to my friends, family and clients all day long, this was an embarrassing state of affairs. Then, one day a friend's laptop was stolen from his house, and as I listened to the stories of what was lost because of an incomplete backup and imagined what I would possibly lose if the same happened to me, I knew I needed to look for a better system.

That's when I found CrashPlan.

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ChrisHardie.com on Facebook

Such a good girrrrrrrlIf you're like many people, you've renounced the joys and complexities of face to face socialization in favor of robotic and impersonal displays of feigned consideration on Facebook.

Wait, that didn't come out quite right.

If you're like many people, Facebook plays some part in your daily engagement with friends, family, coworkers and/or your surrounding community.

That's a little better.

Well, this website now has a public Facebook presence that you can add to that engagement.

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What would make YOU protest in the streets?

The Occupy movement comes to RichmondA lot has already been said about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I have little new commentary to offer on its origins, tactics or potential impact that hasn't already been said.

The important question the movement raises, one that I hope we all take a moment to consider is, "what would it take to make us take to the streets in protest?"

I've written here before about our cultural disdain for those who take direct and public action to live out their personal values, whether it's through making statements that confront some untruth or injustice, being a community organizer, or holding up a sign in the rain on a street corner.

Practicing what we preach is hard, and fear of change is sometimes paralyzing, so it's no wonder that we can become confused, resentful or even outraged when someone does stand up for what they believe in, especially if what they believe in is different from our own views and beliefs.  It's vulnerable, difficult and even embarrassing to put ourselves out there in front of complete strangers, let alone to do so for hours, days, weeks and months at a time; no wonder we sometimes look at the OWS folks like they're a little crazy.  "There are civilized ways one is supposed to handle these things," we say.  "Standing in the street can't accomplish anything."

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Bike racks in Richmond are here!

In August I posted about efforts to bring bike racks to downtown Richmond.

As of today, the first two sets of bike racks are here!  Here's the view on North side of the 700 block:

Bike racks, installed

Thanks to the Urban Enterprise Association and Whitewater Construction for making this a reality.  Thanks to Mark Stosberg at Summersault for driving the process forward and presenting such specific, compelling plans and rationale for the racks.  Thanks to everyone who voiced your support for the racks or offered to contribute financially.  And thanks to everyone who carefully considers their choice of transportation and its impact on quality of life in our community and beyond.

Now, get downtown and park your bike here!

Review of Zack Parker's Scalene

I recently received my DVD copy of local filmmaker Zack Parker's latest film, Scalene.  This is my review (partly of the film and partly of the making of the film), which doesn't contain any plot spoilers but may still affect your own viewing experience if you read it first.

Scalene is a dark thriller that tells a story of a mother, her son, and the son's caretaker as they interact around some events that change their lives significantly.  The film shows the perspectives of each of the three characters using a combination of linear (forward and reverse) and non-linear story-telling, a technique that certainly keeps things interesting and always a bit unsettling.

The movie was filmed in Richmond, and so as a resident it was also "fun" to try to pick out the locations and backdrops along the way - various scenes in the City building, various restaurants, Glen Miller Park, etc.  I've even been pulled over by one of the Richmond Police Department officers who makes an appearance in the film, but I don't think that qualifies me for an on-screen credit.

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Quantitative easing and structural unemployment

Globalization // Coming 2 a mystical cliffside near u - v.2That title really roped you in, huh?  Allow me to explain.

Earlier today I attended the Indiana University 2012 Business Outlook Panel in its visit to Richmond.  It's a group that "has presented national, state, and local economic forecasts for the coming year to business, political, and community leaders of Indiana" for the last 38 years.  I attended the same gathering back in 2005 and I have to say that today's commentary wasn't much different from what it was six years ago: "things are not great with the economy, but there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic."

As I noted in my reflections from the 2005 event, there were a couple of troubling ideas that permeated the remarks, especially from the panelists looking at global and national trends.

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