I recently met with a local organization involved in environmental education efforts to talk about the status of sustainability education in Richmond and Wayne County. In preparing for that conversation, I put together a list of what I see as some of the challenges our community faces when it comes to becoming more sustainable and self-reliant: Continue reading "Sustainability challenges in Richmond"
I have a few upcoming speaking events that you might be interested in:
- Capitalism vs. The Environment: A small business perspective on doing well AND doing good. This coming Thursday September 24th at 4 PM at Indiana University East in Whitewater Hall Room 132 the Community Room, free and open to the public, no registration required. I'll be talking about our experiences at Summersault as we've tried to do the "right thing" when it comes to the environment and nurturing sustainable lifestyles, and examine whether it's even possible to pursue a for-profit technology venture and not be in a harmful relationship with the land and life around us.
- Get Techie, Get Social! A workshop to help non-technical people learn more about technical topics, especially social media like Facebook and Twitter. Monday September 28th from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM at Morrisson-Reeves Library, free and open to the public, no registration required. If you're at all intimidated by some of those "newfangled Internet trends" or the Internet in general, I hope you'll bring your questions and frustrations so we can work them out together. There's a PDF flyer for the event.
- TCP/IP topics in Introduction to Computers and Computing. I'll be speaking at this IU East class on Monday October 12th about things like DNS/Bind, network topologies and routing, e-mail technologies, and web technologies. This particular class isn't open to the public, but if you have folks interested in discussing these topics in technical detail, let me know and I'd love to speak with your group.
- Communicating Through Technology. Friday October 23rd at 9 AM at a conference for women hosted by the Wayne County Foundation. I'll be speaking along with co-worker Jane Holman about social media and general technology topics. You can view the conference brochure in PDF, and registration is required.
I hope you can join me for one of these events!
At a recent training I attended, some foofaraw was made about the fact that the facilitators had come all the way from Boulder, Colorado to Indiana to share their knowledge and expertise with us. Those facilitators in turn made some note of the fact that their knowledge and expertise was derived from their own trip to meet with others at a training in the UK, and from some other journeys that they'd taken involving significant travel.
Around the same time I noted a historical reference to a 1959 headline in the Earlhamite, "Southern religious leader visits Earlham." It was about a then only mildly well known Martin Luther King, Jr. visiting the College and speaking at the Meetinghouse there. Being a religious leader from the South surely had different connotations then than it does now, but I was still struck by the headline's focus on the origin and destination of the speaker, less on his message or credentials.
Ever since, I've been thinking about the role that travel plays in establishing credibility and expertise for someone when they come to speak or teach on a given topic.
Continue reading "The role of travel in establishing expertise"
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:
- 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"
Lest we not forget the times when using expensive proprietary hardware and software without exploring more open alternatives comes back around to bite us in the rear, I thought I'd highlight two issues currently being mentioned in the local press.
1) The Pal-Item reports on a meeting happening today about technology in schools:
Continue reading "Local opportunities to benefit from technology alternatives"
Despite things being fairly quiet with my original podcasting project (the Richmond News Review), I am still working on a few audio production projects. One is a new podcast which I'll be ready to announce in the coming weeks, but the other is a great new oral history project that's moving forward quickly here in Richmond. If you're familiar with StoryCorps, the NPR-affiliated project that gathers compelling personal interviews (mentioned here previously), you know how powerful some of those audio segments can be as they capture the stories of our lives. Fortunately, Girls Inc of Wayne County applied for and received a generous grant from the Wayne County Foundation to bring the StoryCorps folks to Richmond and record some of our stories here.
This is just the first phase of what we hope to be a broader oral history project in the area. You can read all about it on the new project website, WhatIsYourStory.org. If you're a podcast listener or producer, a fan of StoryCorps or oral history projects, want to be trained on interviewing and audio production, or just someone who wants to be involved in this effort, please contact us! We'll find a way to put your talents to work as we try to honor and appreciate those who live in our community, through listening.
A few upcoming speaking events to note:
- Rising Above the Noise: Online Strategies & Tools for Success: we'll take on blogging, RSS, micro-blogging, social networking, widgets, photo sharing, and more, and talk about how these tools can help businesses and other organizations get their message out there further. See also the article in today's Pal-Item. Thursday September 25th 8-9 AM at the Uptown Innovation Center in Richmond. Free, contact Main Street to register.
- The Internet as a Political Tool: this is a repeat of the presentation I did in May, but now with more flavor! I'll talk about how the Internet is changing the world of politics, and what it means for local citizens (especially right before the November election). It's a part of the Technology Series at Morrisson-Reeves Library (see the PDF brochure) that is bringing together local experts to talk about various technology issues. Thursday, October 9th 6:30-8 PM in the Bard Room at MRL in Richmond. Free, contact MRL for details or just show up.
- General Talk about the Technologies of the Internet: I'll be speaking to a group of freelance artists, web developers and consultants in Cincinnati about how to best use the technologies of the Internet to serve their clients. Friday, October 24th. If you're in the Cincinnati area and are interested in joining the group, contact Katie McGuire.
If you're interested in having me speak to your business or organization, learn more about how to get in touch to make a request.
I think one of the more dangerous ideas prevalent in our culture is that "you can't do it yourself, so you always need to buy something or pay someone to do it for you." As our society becomes more and more dependent on complex machines, systems and skill-sets that fewer and fewer people understand, individuals become less and less equipped to have any real control over their livelihood. When those who do have the control and power aren't available or have different priorities or cost too much...well, things can get bad.
I had a moment of awakening about this a number of years ago when I was sitting in a local hair stylist's chair having my hair cut. On my recent visits I had been observing the process more closely than prior haircuts in my life, and partly out of resentment for the $15 I was paying per 10-minute haircut, partly out of an engineer's curiosity, I starting asking questions about where her equipment came from. Together we concluded that she was using a trimmer I could get at a local store for about $20, and therefore that the main value she brought to the process was the ability to see the whole of my head to trim it when I could not. Ah-ha.
Continue reading "On Doing It Myself"
Today marked the last day of the 2008 Earlham College Senior Disorientation event, which helps soon-to-graduate college seniors to transition to the "real world" more smoothly. I've been participating in the event as a speaker/workshop facilitator since it began, and it's always an interesting experience to interact with "the Earlham kids" with an ever-increasing temporal distance between my era at the school and theirs. On one hand, I envy them for the newness and possibility that life holds at this particular time, but on the other, I find myself cringing at how seemingly unaware they are of just how many choices they get to make, and how important those choices are. And then I find myself thinking those thoughts and suddenly feel quite old. And then I tell the Earlham administrators who put on the program that it makes me feel old, and then I realize that I've just essentially called them ancient, and I feel them glaring at me a bit. And then I digress in a blog entry about it.
But what I really meant to say was that I appreciate very much that Earlham puts this event on - I imagine that I would have found it incredibly useful and impressive during my last semester there, and part of the reason I participate year after year is to try to make up for that sense of lost time that I experienced learning some of these things (from how to eat properly at a nice restaurant to how to be a young leader in your post-grad destination community) on my own. And of course, I also carry out my super-secret secondary agenda of showing at least some of the students that there are scenarios in which one can graduate from Earlham, stay in Richmond, make a living here, and really love it.
This rant may eventually turn into a podcast segment, but I haven't had time for that and I can't wait any longer. The news has been all the buzz lately: Only 54% of Richmond Community Schools students graduated in 2006, putting us in the bottom 7% of Indiana high schools. There's the commentary on the school system's reaction, great thoughts on what to do and how the community can be more involved. And I'm sure some good things will come out of all of the discussion that is being generated.
But the bottom line for me is that that our system of education in the US is almost entirely broken, ill-conceived in the first place, and that calls to make incremental improvements to a broken system feel largely like a waste of time.
Old minds think "how do we stop these bad things from happening?" New minds think "how do we make things the way we want them to be?" If education in the city of Richmond, the state of Indiana, and the U.S. is to be improved or fixed, it will be with new minds, not new programs put in place by old minds.