Thursday, March 21, 2013


You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

International Day of Happiness

The United Nations has declared March 20, 2013 to be the first International Day of Happiness

More and more, people are asking what is the definition of human "progress," and recognizing that it must include happiness and well-being, not just bottom line economic growth.

How will you celebrate?
“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.” 
― Mary Oliver 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

welcome to the 21st century

This weekend I am reading a great book, The Leader's Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts by Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill. It's a book that every school & district should read.

A question the book poses on page one is:

"How is your district/school preparing its children for the demands of the 21st century?"

What are these demands?
Students today need to be ready for:

  • 10 to 15 jobs in their lifetime.
  • Complex problems that require complex and creative problem solving.
  • A highly networked world that requires complex and interactive communications skills.
  • Massive amounts of information that require the ability to analyze, synthesize, leverage, and create new and old information.
  • A society in constant flux that requires the need to continuously improve.

The book has broken down how to do this in 7 steps:

  1. Adopt Your Vision
  2. Create a Community Consensus
  3. Align Your System
  4. Build Professional Capacity
  5. Focus Your Curriculum and Assessment
  6. Support Your Teachers
  7. Improve and Innovate
My favorite chapter is chapter 7, Improve and Innovate... because in the 21st century, your work is never done. The final step is simply an opportunity to reflect, revise, and improve. This is a work in progress. We are preparing young people for a world of continuous change and improvement... and those same young people should see that culture modeled for them within their own school.

My favorite quote from The Leader's Guide to 21st Century Education:

"Become a Step 7 organization. Don't be a school or district that is satisfied with teachers and administrators who say, "We do that already." Become a school or district that embraces the question, "How can we do that better?"

Here's a good reality check:

Are you happy to be at Step 7 because you are almost done and can check the 'completed' box? Or are you happy to be at Step 7 because you can now go back and start to refine the other steps - in effect, start all over again?

If you simply want to check the box and complete the project, you're still stuck in the 20th century.

social media

Welcome to the Social Media Revolution!

Friday, March 15, 2013

the soul of money

The very first paragraph of the book, The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, pretty much sums up the content:

The heart of the book, for me, were chapters 3 & 4. 

Chapter 3, Scarcity: The Great Lie. The myth of scarcity has three parts: there's not enough; more is better; that's just the way it is.

Chapter 4, Sufficiency: The Surprising Truth. The three truths of sufficiency: money is like water; what you appreciate appreciates; collaboration creates prosperity.

This book asked wonderful questions - Is money "a conduit, a way to express your highest ideals"? Is money a "currency of love"? Is money "a commitment, expressing the best of who you are"?  Or, is money a "currency of consumption driven by emptiness and lack and the allure of external messages"? 

What role do you want money to play in your life?

Monday, March 11, 2013

scaled generosity

Chris Guillebeau is conducting a Social Experiment

How can you help someone for free?

From The Art of Non-Conformity:
This Week’s Experiment
So here’s how it works. Figure out something you’d like to give away for free. Do you have a skill you’d like to offer—something you can help someone with?
Is there something of value that you no longer want, but someone else could put it to good use?
Is there something you sell that you can give away to a few people, or to everyone on a certain day?
If you sometimes charge money for this free thing, that’s OK—nothing wrong with making money! Many people in our community are self-employed. I’m gearing up for my own overdue product launch in a couple of weeks.
But this is all about helping someone for free. So for this experiment, make sure you really offer it with no strings attached.
You can share your offer by:
a) Writing a blog post that links to this one. Our system will automagically see it and add it to the trackbacks on this page.
b) Posting a comment that explains what you are offering for free. It can be anything you’d like, and if there’s a website related to your free offer, include it in the URL field (not the comments field itself).
On Monday, March 18th (one week from today) I’ll share an upcoming roundup post with a summary of many of the links, offers, and stories. Cool?
There aren’t really any other parameters. If you read AONC you’re a smart person, so I bet you can figure something out. And I bet you’re a generous person too.

I'd like to help by giving away 5 copies of the book WONDER by R.J.Palacio... because who doesn't love a social experiment that asks us to be Kinder than Necessary.

change how you think & change the world

An amazing, mind changing talk by Dan Pallotta that revisits, revises, and reinvents the way we think about charity.

Five Areas of Economic Discrimination in the Nonprofit Sector:

1. Compensation

We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people. Interestingly, we don't have a visceral reaction to people making a lot of money not helping other people. You want to make 50 million dollars making violent video games for kids? Go for it! We'll put your picture on the cover of Wired Magazine... but you want to make half a million dollars trying to cure kids with malaria and you're considered a parasite yourself.

You shouldn't have to choose between doing good for yourself and your family, and choosing to do good for the world.

2. Advertising and Marketing

Money spent on advertising could bring in larger sums of money to help the needy.

3. The Taking of Risk on New Revenue Ideas

When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation.

4. Time

Using time to build scale in the social sector results in ... crucifixion.

5. Profit to Attract Risk Capital

The nonprofit sector is starved for growth and risk and idea capital.

The two big problems with the dangerous question: "What percentage of my donation goes to the cause as opposed to overhead?"

1.  Makes us think "overhead" is not part of "the cause".

"Overhead" is not a negative. "Overhead" is part of 'the cause'.

2. Forces charities to forego what they need to grow.

Don't confuse Morality with Frugality

Our generation does not want its epitaph to read: We Kept Charity Overhead Low
We want it to read that We Changed the World and part of the way we did that was changing the way we think about these things!

So the next time you're looking at a charity, don't ask about the rate of their overhead. Ask about the scale of their dreams... how do they measure their progress toward those dreams... and what resources they need to make those dreams come true.

If we are able to say that we took responsibility for the thinking that had been handed down to us... that we revisited it, we revised it, and we reinvented the whole way humanity thinks about changing things forever and for everyone... Well, that would be a real social innovation!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

One nation underfed

1 out of every 2 kids in the United States will, at some point, be on food assistance.

The average food stamp allowance is about $3.00 per day.

As many as 50,000,000 Americans rely on charitable food programs.

"People say 'how can this be happening in our community' with total disbelief, absolute amazement that there are those kinds of needs here, and that this is going on everywhere." ~ Bob Wilson 

Disturbing Food facts:

• 1 in 6 Americans, 50 million, is food insecure, which means uncertain of having, or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all household members.

• 1 in 4 American children, 17 million, is food insecure*.

• 85 percent of families that are food insecure have at least one working adult it the household.

• 44 million Americans are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. To qualify, the income for a family of 4 cannot exceed $29,000 per year. One out of every 2 kids in The United States at some point in their childhood will be on food assistance.

• The average food stamp benefit is under $5 a day.

• In 1980, there were 200 food banks in the United States. Today, there are over 40,000 food banks, soup kitchens and pantries.

• 50 million Americans rely on charitable food programs.
(Source: "A Place at the Table")

Check out Take Part if you feel compelled to do something or learn more.

Text "food" to 77177 to receive messages and updates about hunger in your area.

As the film notes, the state of Mississippi has both the highest rate of obesity and the highest rate of something called “food insecurity.” That’s not the chronic, abject starvation that a lot of us think of when we think of hunger, but rather a situation in which the source of one’s next meal is uncertain. 

Be sure to check out Michael O'Sullivan's article in the Washington Post.

Or, Michael Shank's guest post  article in The Nation for a great summary of this moving documentary.

A Place at the Table was simultaneously released in theaters, iTunes and On Demand. It is well worth the $6.99 rental fee from iTunes. I suggest watching it with the whole family.

* The 2010 results in Idaho were not promising, with 15.8 percent of the population ranked as food insecure, representing a $105.8 million food needs gap between the haves and the have-nots. Only 50% of those who qualify for Food Stamps are using them in Idaho.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

today is a good day for Mindfulness

Today I listened to an excellent podcast from On Being where Jon Kabut-Zinn talks about the benefits of mindfulness.

Check out the On Being web site.

Then, I watched this video posted on Upworthy from HBO's Enlightened :


Here's the poem by Derek Walcott:

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

the beauty in this world

After his TED talk, spoken word poet, Shane Koyczan tweeted:
"TED was not a career highlight. TED was a life highlight." 

He said he wanted to be a writer. And he was told: “Choose something realistic.” He said he wanted to be a professional wrestler. “They said, don’t be stupid. They asked me what I wanted to be, then told me what not to be. I wondered what made my dreams so easy to dismiss.”


To This Day by Shane Koyczan

To This Day
When I was a kid
I used to think that pork chops and karate chops
were the same thing
I thought they were both pork chops
and because my grandmother thought it was cute
and because they were my favourite
she let me keep doing it
not really a big deal
one day
before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees
I fell out of a tree
and bruised the right side of my body
I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it
because I was afraid I’d get in trouble
for playing somewhere that I shouldn’t have been
a few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise
and I got sent to the principal’s office
from there I was sent to another small room
with a really nice lady
who asked me all kinds of questions
about my life at home
I saw no reason to lie
as far as I was concerned
life was pretty good
I told her “whenever I’m sad
my grandmother gives me karate chops”
this led to a full scale investigation
and I was removed from the house for three days
until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises
news of this silly little story quickly spread through the school
and I earned my first nickname
pork chop
to this day
I hate pork chops
I’m not the only kid
who grew up this way
surrounded by people who used to say
that rhyme about sticks and stones
as if broken bones
hurt more than the names we got called
and we got called them all
so we grew up believing no one
would ever fall in love with us
that we’d be lonely forever
that we’d never meet someone
to make us feel like the sun
was something they built for us
in their tool shed
so broken heart strings bled the blues
as we tried to empty ourselves
so we would feel nothing
don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone
that an ingrown life
is something surgeons can cut away
that there’s no way for it to metastasize
it does
she was eight years old
our first day of grade three
when she got called ugly
we both got moved to the back of the class
so we would stop get bombarded by spit balls
but the school halls were a battleground
where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day
we used to stay inside for recess
because outside was worse
outside we’d have to rehearse running away
or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there
in grade five they taped a sign to her desk
that read beware of dog
to this day
despite a loving husband
she doesn’t think she’s beautiful
because of a birthmark
that takes up a little less than half of her face
kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer
that someone tried to erase
but couldn’t quite get the job done
and they’ll never understand
that she’s raising two kids
whose definition of beauty
begins with the word mom
because they see her heart
before they see her skin
that she’s only ever always been amazing
was a broken branch
grafted onto a different family tree
but not because his parents opted for a different destiny
he was three when he became a mixed drink
of one part left alone
and two parts tragedy
started therapy in 8th grade
had a personality made up of tests and pills
lived like the uphills were mountains
and the downhills were cliffs
four fifths suicidal
a tidal wave of anti depressants
and an adolescence of being called popper
one part because of the pills
and ninety nine parts because of the cruelty
he tried to kill himself in grade ten
when a kid who still had his mom and dad
had the audacity to tell him “get over it” as if depression
is something that can be remedied
by any of the contents found in a first aid kit
to this day
he is a stick of TNT lit from both ends
could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends
in the moments before it’s about to fall
and despite an army of friends
who all call him an inspiration
he remains a conversation piece between people
who can’t understand
sometimes becoming drug free
has less to do with addiction
and more to do with sanity
we weren’t the only kids who grew up this way
to this day
kids are still being called names
the classics were
hey stupid
hey spaz
seems like each school has an arsenal of names
getting updated every year
and if a kid breaks in a school
and no one around chooses to hear
do they make a sound?
are they just the background noise
of a soundtrack stuck on repeat
when people say things like
kids can be cruel?
every school was a big top circus tent
and the pecking order went
from acrobats to lion tamers
from clowns to carnies
all of these were miles ahead of who we were
we were freaks
lobster claw boys and bearded ladies
juggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottle
trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal
but at night
while the others slept
we kept walking the tightrope
it was practice
and yeah
some of us fell
but I want to tell them
that all of this shit
is just debris
leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
we used to be
and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
get a better mirror
look a little closer
stare a little longer
because there’s something inside you
that made you keep trying
despite everyone who told you to quit
you built a cast around your broken heart
and signed it yourself
you signed it
“they were wrong”
because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a click
maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything
maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
to show and tell but never told
because how can you hold your ground
if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it
you have to believe that they were wrong
they have to be wrong
why else would we still be here?
we grew up learning to cheer on the underdog
because we see ourselves in them
we stem from a root planted in the belief
that we are not what we were called we are not abandoned cars stalled out and sitting empty on a highway
and if in some way we are
don’t worry
we only got out to walk and get gas
we are graduating members from the class of
fuck off we made it
not the faded echoes of voices crying out
names will never hurt me
of course
they did
but our lives will only ever always
continue to be
a balancing act
that has less to do with pain
and more to do with beauty.

on empathy

"Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?" 
-Henry David Thoreau

If you could stand in someone else's shoes... Hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

Thursday, March 7, 2013


At 99,999 miles we hold hands, blast Melissa Etheridge, and sing Lucky at the top of our lungs...