Tuesday, January 17, 2017

We The People

Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, as seen by Lincoln.
(via shorty.com)

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Day. Every year the remembrance of MLK Jr as a day of service grows for me. This year felt exceptionally poignant.

My favorite King quotes for a post 2016 America:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." 

"The time is always right to do what is right."

This MLK day has got me thinking... Have you seen Shepard Fairey's inauguration protest posters?

Check out the Kickstarter to get involved and support We The People. We decided to get started a little early:

We The People
Are Greater Than Fear

Happy Martin Luther King day! 
I hope your day was inspiring.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

rise up

For a book club, I read The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I began reading it after the results of the November 8th Presidential election.  This work of historical fiction was just what I needed. The themes of women's rights, immigration, equality, politics and race were just the tonic I needed.

The Gilded Hour takes place in 1883 New York City. The primary protagonist is Dr. Anna Savard, a female surgeon. Dr. Savard is dedicated to women's health and women's rights at a time when contraception and abortion are illegal. Anna's cousin, Sophie Savard, is also a female OB/GYN - but as a "free woman of color" is confined not only by her gender but also by her race.

This is a long book - over 700 pages - but I learned so much history. An interesting part of the book is the Author's Notes at the end. In the Notes, the author tells us:
To really understand Manhattan in 1883 you have to forget the Manhattan you think you know. In 1883 there was no Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty, Flatiron Building, Times Square, or New York Public Library, to name just a few landmarks. 
The Comstock Act is not fiction. All of the incidents mentioned in the story - including Anthony Comstock's antics in and out of the courtroom - are based on the historical record, in particular on newspaper accounts. 

But what struck me the most was: 
Young people today (finally, I'm old enough to use that cliché) seem to have no real concept of how bad things were for women and, more importantly, could be again.

As I was reading this book, I would stop to ask questions and read portions aloud to my teenage children. 

"Did you know that in 1883 you could be imprisoned for buying birth control?" 

Or, listen to this:
"I'm on the side of women," she said, her voice hoarse. "Those individuals who actually bear and raise children. The human beings whom Malthusians and priests see as no more than mindless breeding stock."

In him Anna saw a man who was controlled by the most basic and childish of impulses, a man who had convinced himself that dealing out pain and humiliation was a sacred mission granted to him by a loving and discriminating God. Because he had earned that right. Most of all, Comstock was a man who would not forget or forgive. He would vent his anger on Clara if he could, and if not, on someone like her.

If you can, read this book with your teenagers. Remind young people how bad things were and how bad they could become again if we don't stand up for our rights and the rights of others.

Think of Steinbeck's quote from 1941:

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.” 

This book has me looking into becoming a Planned Parenthood escort. I keep thinking about what steps I can take to ensure that women in my community have access to affordable birth control and the ability to plan and control their lives.

To quote Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards: 
"If women lose our rights to our bodies and to make our own decisions about pregnancy, that's just the beginning. We will lose our rights to everything else in America."

Monday, January 2, 2017

born a crime

One of my favorite books in 2016 was Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. I picked up a copy of the book after watching my favorite US Senator, Cory Booker, interview Trevor Noah on Politics and Prose.

I hadn't realized how little I knew about Apartheid. 
Be sure to read this book!

“I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in life, any choice that I’ve made. But I’m consumed with regret for the things I didn’t do, the choices I didn’t make, the things I didn’t say. We spend so much time being afraid of failure, afraid of rejection. But regret is the thing we should fear most. Failure is an answer. Rejection is an answer. Regret is an eternal question you will never have the answer to. “What if…” “If only…” “I wonder what would have…” You will never, never know, and it will haunt you for the rest of your days.” ― Trevor NoahBorn a Crime

“I was blessed with another trait I inherited from my mother, her ability to forget the pain in life. I remember the thing that caused the trauma, but I don't hold onto the trauma. I never let the memory of something painful prevent me from trying something new. If you think too much about the ass kicking your mom gave you or the ass kicking that life gave you, you’ll stop pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules. It’s better to take it, spend some time crying, then wake up the next day and move on. You’ll have a few bruises and they’ll remind you of what happened and that’s ok. But after a while, the bruises fade and they fade for a reason. Because now, it’s time to get up to some shit again.” ― Trevor NoahBorn a Crime

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

bolstered by facts

Have you been following Teen Vogue on twitter? I started following their twitter feed in October for the amazing coverage of the Dakota Access Pipeline. But, since Saturday's op-ed by Lauren Duca titled “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America” Teen Vogue has been making news and jumping onto everyone's radar.

29-year-old Elaine Welteroth became Teen Vogue's first black editor in chief in May of 2016. Since her arrival, Teen Vogue has been covering politics, feminism, identity, and activism.

For example:
Teen Vogue’s recent September issue, typically the month in which fashion magazines focus on upcoming trends, was noteworthy for its politically oriented content. It featured a personal essay by the presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a conversation between the actor Amandla Stenberg with the feminist Gloria Steinem, and an interview with the U.S. attorney general Loretta Lynch, conducted by the black-ish star Yara Shahidi. The issue also introduced “21 Under 21,” the magazine’s “official guide to the girls and femmes changing the world.” The list of young activists, artists, and advocates featured few household names, but a notable majority of young people of color.

In the Lauren Duca interview on Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, when asked "What do you hope that teen girls will take from your op-ed?" Duca replied, "I want teen girls to feel empowered to form opinions about current events, to express them in a way that is bolstered by facts, and to never ever worry about seeming rude."

SG: What do you hope that teen girls will take from your op-ed?

LD: I want teen girls to feel empowered to form opinions about current events, to express them in a way that is bolstered by facts, and to never ever worry about seeming rude. In this fraught moment, young women are often silenced or treated as something silly and other, despite having an equal investment in the political future.

So I made some post-its with that quote and left them around town. I can't think of a more empowering wish for young women.

If you are looking for a holiday gift for the young women in your life, consider a subscription to Teen Vogue. Thoughtful, empathetic, fact based journalism will thank you for it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Love conquers Hate

This morning I saw news that a racial slur was sketched in the snow at the Idaho Black History Museum.

“Hating people because of their color is wrong. 
And it doesn't matter which color does the hating. 
It's just plain wrong.” 

I didn't know what to do. I am so angry and exhausted by hate. But, the 'better angels of our nature' got to me and I remembered that Love conquers Hate.

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." 
- Abraham Lincoln inaugural-address

So I brought that message of Love to the Museum:

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


“Don't accept the world as it is. Dream of what the world could be - and then help make it happen.” - Peter Tatchell

November 8th, standing on a busy street corner, encouraging my fellow citizens to vote... and being flipped off by passing drivers.

It has been three weeks since the 2016 presidential election, and I'm still moving through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I am currently standing on that "and" caught between acceptance and depression.

I know there is no such thing as innocent bystanding; and I need to move on past acceptance and into action. It feels too  hard to do. But, I can do hard things.

Here are some Articles, Podcasts and Videos that I have found helpful...  that have moved me along:

And this just makes me so hopeful even when I feel things are hopeless...

Be kind to one another. 

I am especially grateful for all of you who are taking action for equality, empathy, inclusion, compassion, and justice for all.

Friday, October 7, 2016

build your way forward

Have you ever asked yourself... 

Why am I here?

What am I doing?

Why does it matter?

What is my purpose?

What's the point of it all?

By training yourself to think like a designer, you'll be able to figure out the answers.

This week I read the book Designing Your Life: How To Build A Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I highly recommend this book as the Holiday Gift you can give to everyone and anyone.

Start investigating design thinking by watching the video above and listening to Bill and Dave on the Diane Rehm Show.

My favorite parts of the book:

I loved all the reframes! For example:

Dysfunctional Belief: To be happy, I have to make the right choice.  Reframe: There is not right choice - only good choosing. 
Dysfunctional Belief: I need to figure out my best possible life, make a plan, and then execute it.  Reframe: There are multiple great lives (and plans) within me, and I get to choose which one to build my way forward. 
Dysfunctional Belief: I should know where I'm going!  Reframe: I won't always know where I'm going - but I can always know whether I'm going in the right direction. 
Dysfunctional Belief: Life is a finite game, with winners and losers.  Reframe: Life is an infinite game, with no winners or losers.

I loved the idea of Wayfinding.
Wayfinding is the ancient art of figuring out where you are going when you don't actually know your destination. For wayfinding, you need a compass and you need a direction. Not a map - a direction.

In this book you will be introduced to five things you need to do - the five mind-sets you will need to move forward:

  1. be curious (curiosity)
  2. try stuff (bias to action)
  3. reframe problems (reframing)
  4. know it's a process (awareness)
  5. ask for help (radical collaboration)

You'll be so glad you read this book. Check out the NewYorkTimes article on thinking like a designer. Then, head over to the Design Your Life website. Watch this vimeo and this vimeo.

Start design thinking, and build your way forward.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The theme of the 2016 Boise TEDx is Reframing Radical

What a great theme! 

The TEDx Boise event organizers have assembled a diverse and inspiring group of speakers under the theme of ‘Reframing Radical.’ 

Speakers include:

Amy Pence-Brown 
Belma Sadikovic
Canwen Xu
Erin Guerricabeitia
Refik Sadikovic 
Marianna Budnikova
Justin Richie
Kenton Lee
Stephen Miller 
Nicole LeFavour
Jessica Holmes 
Esther Emery 
Jason Morales 
Eric Walton

Tickets for TEDxBoise 2016: Reframing Radical are available for sale for $93 at tedxboise.org

It got me thinking of my favorite radical reframing... Hamilton, the hip-hop, rap musical about Alexander Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He completely and radically reframed the founding fathers and American history. Miranda's linguistic dexterity turned Hamilton's immigrant story into a phenomenon. Anyone who can make the Federalist Papers and America's treasury system exciting is an expert at radical reframing!

What other Reframing Radical examples can you think of?

While we await hearing from these great speakers in Boise, how can you radically reframe an idea you are working on?

I went through this blog and found a few of my favorites:

Friday, March 4, 2016

I am not throwing away my shot

"That only which we have within, can we see without. If we meet no gods, it is because we harbor none. If there is grandeur in you, you will find grandeur in porters and sweeps." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last week I read Cory Booker's new book, United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good.

Today, I read the New York Times Sunday Book Review dated Feb. 4, Cory Booker: By the Book. In the article Cory Booker is asked, "Which writers - novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets - working today do you admire most?"  And Senator Booker answers:
Let’s see. Playwright, I’d say Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Hamilton” is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on a stage, and for a guy who loves American history, hip-hop and theater, it was pure bliss. Journalists? The person that comes to mind right now is Ta-Nehisi Coates. His articles — and especially his book “Between the World and Me” — have been incredibly important to me this year, as I have been thinking and writing a lot about race and the promise of America. I admire and respect him, even though (or because) I find myself disagreeing with some of what he writes and some of the conclusions he draws.

It was a funny coincidence that as I was reading the Times article, I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. And, in my mind, all three works: United, Hamilton, Between The World And Me... started to debate the ideas of American history and race and opportunity and oppression.

From Hamilton, My Shot...
Scratch that
This is not a moment, it’s the movement
Where all the hungriest brothers with
Something to prove went?
Foes oppose us, we take an honest stand
We roll like Moses, claimin’ our promised land
And? If we win our independence?
Is that a guarantee of freedom for our descendants?
Or will the blood we shed begin an endless
Cycle of vengeance and death with no defendants?
I know the action in the street is excitin’
But Jesus, between all the bleedin’ ‘n fightin’
I’ve been readin’ ‘n writin’
We need to handle our financial situation
Are we a nation of states? What’s the state of our nation?
I’m past patiently waitin’. I’m passionately
Smashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation!
I’m laughin’ in the face of casualties and sorrow
For the first time, I’m thinkin’ past tomorrow
And I am not throwing away my shot  I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot

It is impossible to think of the founding fathers merely as dead white males once you see and hear them embodied by young black and brown men rapping America's narrative.

And then there's Between The World And Me and Coates' message that America is structurally and irredeemably racist.
“It does not matter that the ‘intentions’ of individual educators were noble. Forget about intentions. What any institution, or its agents, ‘intend’ for you is secondary.  No one directly proclaimed that schools were designed to sanctify failure and destruction. But a great number of educators spoke of ‘personal responsibility’ in a country authored and sustained by a criminal irresponsibility. The point of this language of ‘intention’ and ‘personal responsibility’ is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. ‘Good intention’ is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.”
Is the American Dream a lie or does it belong all who are young, scrappy, and hungry?

In United, Cory Booker says...
"Tolerance is becoming accustomed to injustice; love is becoming disturbed and activated by another's adverse condition. Tolerance crosses the street; love confronts. Tolerance builds fences; love opens doors. Tolerance breeds indifference; love demands engagement. Tolerance couldn't care less; love always cares more."
"The destiny of our country will surely depend on how many of us choose to join forces and fight the battles of our time, side by side. Cynicism about America's current state of affairs is ultimately a form of surrender; a toxic state of mind that perpetuates the notion that we don't have the power to make a difference, that things will never change. This idea is not only wrong, it is dangerous."

Perhaps a diverse nation like America will always be more interdependent than we realize. Our national narrative is both cynical and hopeful, compassionate and indifferent, both a calculated symphony and a beautiful rap.