Archive for the ‘News and politics’ Category

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Struggles

October 23, 2005

I sit on the board of a wonderful not-for-profit theatre in my community, Second Story Repertory. The company produces amazingly diverse works for both adults and children, with the productions involving professional actors and a dedicated professional crew. All of this is done on a very small budget (not really that different than the budget for my own home) in a small space.

None of it is easy.

The arts suffer in our community from both a lack of support and a lack of real interest. They suffer in many communities because of this. Many people just think that because they pay the price of a ticket that everything will be okay. Yes, ticket sales contribute to the overall revenue, but much less than people might imagine. The cost of rent alone each month can be greater than ticket sales.

Second Story is not unique in its struggles. Many such organizations in small cities suffer the same. When a community like my own, Redmond WA, is an outlier to a large city, Seattle, there is a constant “war” for the dollars of the community. Everyone is given a plethora of choices in the arts, and each of those organizations rely on funding from grants and individuals.

I sometimes ask myself why I sit on the board (and even allowed myself to be elected President). I know that I do it for my daughter. I want her to grow up in a community with a rich set of artistic choices and culture. I do it for all the sons and daughters. I do it for myself. No ethical citizen can really ignore the obligations to return something to their society; this is one of my ways of meeting that obligation. I do it for the actors and crew. They often work on wages that are eclipsed by a good barista at Starbucks. I do it for my pleasant little city.

I do it for many reasons, as do my fellow board members and all our contributors. They are all generous of spirit, time and money. But that is not often enough.

I saw some demographic information about my community recently. Median household income was bout $144K. Yes, that is a pretty large number. It is an affluent community, with Microsoft and Boeing employees forming a generous chunk among a diverse group of professional and blue-collar families. There are a lot of kids in Redmond. Yet our arts organization, like so many others in the community, struggles to stay afloat. One of our sister organizations recently had to fold, leaving many kids without the arts training they had come to love and depend upon.

I know that in this year of great tragedies and a conservative Christian political regime we are all on the precipice of how to spend our ethical and moral capital. Should I fund abortion rights today (YES) or help the victims of the Pakistan earthquake (YES) or the fight against AIDS (YES). Some people spend their capital on their church or their chosen political campaign. We all get the freedom to decide and I cherish that. I might not agree with the choices of others, but I defend their right to make those choices.

The point here, however, is that in a climate of major challenges, the little organizations that keep the engine of our society going can be overlooked. The small not-for-profits that operate day to day need a little of our support as well. We sometimes have board discussions about the concept of “donor burnout”. It is difficult to give and keep on giving because the requests seem never ending. They will always be never ending. Perhaps we live in an age of great tragedy and a tragic downturn in the foundation and future of society. Perhaps it is just a bad year. In either case, need never ceases.

I can’t tell anyone how to spend their social capital, nor would I dare to do so. I can ask, politely, that you look at the full landscape of need when apportioning those dollars.

I also welcome you to our upcoming presentation of Man of La Mancha or your small gift of support. I am not above asking for help. No one else should be above asking for help for their own passions or their own need.

I am far from noble and far from saintly (trust me, very very far), but I care about something. I care about the future.

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The simple truth

September 9, 2005

I am not known for being overly optimistic. I am also well known for being a bit obsessive.

Taking that into consideration, I am really torn up about the whole Katrina disaster. It is devastating to us as a nation and beyond devastating to the individuals who have lost lives, homes, and all means of support. It is a political nightmare, for both good and bad reasons, and will likely do far more damage than simply sully the already dirty record of a lame duck President. It is a sign of hope in the outpouring of donations from citizens, companies, and other countries. The amount of space left in the American heart to help with tragedy is truly amazing. Our brothers and sisters should always come first.

But, we can not turn our backs on nature forever. It sometimes feels as if the entire civilization we have constructed is a gossamer layer of illusion stretched across the trees. New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen, and we all know that. Every time we build and put up the walls and dams and levees we are claiming sovereign rights over something we can not really control. Yet, we build our fortresses because it is easier to construct a wall than to move a mile left or right.

I was in New Orleans back in 1994 or ’95 for a conference. During the first day there is started to rain. By the time we all left dinner that night, the city was filled with water above my knees. Walking from the restaurant to our hotel was an exercise in fear, with the possibility of being swept down an open drain a genuine reality. People were scared.

The next day the convention center roof was leaking and everyone was going home. It was a scramble to get out of the hotel and to the airport. It felt as if I was no longer in control of my fate.

This was a mere inconvenience, although one that could have turned to tragedy quickly. The harsh reality for the citizens of New Orleans and Biloxi and other cities is far worse. It is a tragedy. It is also a tragedy that we never seem to realize that nature always wins.

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Watch me

September 8, 2005

GREEN DAY’S WAKE ME UP WHEN SEPTEMBER ENDS VIDEO

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I can hardly bear the pain, can hardly believe this is our country

September 2, 2005

Cries for help

Where is our President now? Perhaps his priorities are finally coming to light.

Give your support: American Red Cross

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The world is flat

August 31, 2005

I had the good fortune this morning of hearing Thomas L. Friedman speak about his new book, The World is Flat. This was a real treat, as his book provides some very incisive commentary on where we are and where we are going in the era beyond mere Globalization.

I strongly recommend you read the book, as well as his earlier works.

Friedman was very energetic and interesting speaker, a treat in the era of authors who really can’t seem to communicate beyond the page. Although his presentation was clearly “scripted”, he delivered it with genuine enthusiasm and interest. It was clear that he feels passionately about the subject and expects the audience to do so as well.

His audience was probably a lot further along the “gee, Globalization has happened and technology has changed everything and the best is yet to come” scale than typical. One thousand Microsoft employees in a room is likely to make anyone rethink any premise. The people are smart enough to be able to pick apart any argument, even the most rock solid. In this case, however, the audience was gracious and the questions very on point.

It is useful to remind myself how far along the curve my little universe is when it comes to the reality of leading the 21st century instead of being stuck in the 20th. If only someone like me was President.

Go read the book and enjoy the coming changes. You will only get a few warnings.

I think it is time to teach the little one Chinese.

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I continued to be dismayed over this topic. I resp…

August 19, 2005

I continued to be dismayed over this topic. I respect the beliefs of others, but I expect my educational system to teach things that have some basis in reality and fact. No serious scientist on the planet buys into “intelligent design”.

Religion belongs in the church and in the home. It does not belong in our schools. There is a very good reason for that.

Frist voices support for ‘intelligent design’ – Politics – MSNBC.com

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Something strange happened in blogspace and my blo…

May 6, 2005

Something strange happened in blogspace and my blog seemed to have disappeared for a few days. Add that to the fact that I have been to darn busy to update it and many people think I have left the planet (not yet), lost my mind (already accomplished), or gotten tired of the conversation (how could I?).

So, the blog seems to be working again and I am nearing the end game for a lot of projects at work. That means soon I can spend some quality time spinning tales of marketing, technology, and anything else that pops into my head.

I think it is interesting how the blog creates a connection with readers that is unique from other connections, even when those people are friends and family. I talk with some of my friends on a regular basis, but those are some of the same people who wonder what happened to me when I am not blogging. It is as if there are two of me — the blogger and the everything else.

Now that there are two of me, I can accomplish more. I can send email to friends and simply refer them to my blog to find out what is going on. In fact, I can just do an update here every day and not have to talk to my friends about myself at all; we can just focus on them and their needs.

Perhaps I am being too sardonic here. Could that be the case?

My lovely daughter, who turned 2 last week, pretty much repeats every word she hears from her parents at this point. It is time for us to start censoring our language a little bit so she does not get bad ideas at this point. Not sure which words and phrases to eliminate though. It is actually a pretty tough call — would I rather she learn some things from me or from the kids at daycare?

I will be sure not to use the phrase “intelligent design” around her, for fear she might think it a construct that holds any water at all.

Likewise, make sure she understands that Roe v. Wade is the law.

And, of course, ensure that she knows that she understands that “democracy” and “capitalism” are both important words, but not necessarily interchangeable.

Plus, ensure she knows how to say “Burger King” but does not realize that it a real place, not just her father’s commercial obsession. My goal is to not have her enter a fast food restaurant (also known as QSR) until she is at least 18.

Now, off to lunch for me. Whopper today?

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