Jan 27, 2017

Community Involvement Part 2

I've been thinking a bunch about what the average person can do to participate in creating a more perfect community. In my Daily Questions, I ask myself a yes/no question about whether I contributed to my community, but it occurs to me that more information about what I count as a yes might be helpful to inform myself and others about ways we all might contribute more easily.  I have a pretty low bar on a daily basis, but am optimistic that over time these micro actions make a difference. 

Marched in the Jan 21 Women's March in DC. I didn't do it as an anti-Trump statement. I did it as a pro-equality statement. (1/21/17)

Asked friends with chess sets to let 826DC borrow them for a workshop. (1/23/17)

Volunteered to serve on the Atlas Corps Selection Board, which means I'll get to interview incoming Atlas Corps Fellows. (1/23/17)

Asked that my neighborhood commission meetings host a conference call line so constituents can listen when they can't attend in person. (1/23/17)

Took the WMATA budget survey. (1/25/17)

Offered feedback to a group optimizing a voter information tool. (1/26/17)

Offered input on priorities for Chesapeake Bay Foundation (1/27/17)


Previous Community Involvement posts
Part 1







Jan 26, 2017

Enjoyments

Things I found laying around the internet that brought me joy. 

An [incomplete] map of marches that have happened in DC. I love a map.

Georgia Tech has a class exploring the politics of social justice via trap music.

Eager Eyes posts a state of the info viz for 2017.

They were collaborators. These women practiced for the Women's March online.

Scientific American looks at the personality traits that predict wellbeing.

Lessons Learned Part 4

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. In 2017, I'm keeping track of these tiny lessons and adaptations in my life. 

Be Brave in Your Beliefs
I went to the Women's March in DC. I am proud that I hopped over my dislike of tight crowds and stood smack in the center of one of the thickest crowds ever, because it was for a great reason. I worry our current administration wants to stoke the fires of division and we did a good job of getting that going on Saturday, but you can always find a reason not to stand up for something. I marched because I believe in alleviating poverty, in equality for everyone, and that we ought to reject the idea that there are limited opportunities for prosperity and equality. We don't need to ruin the earth in order for people to have jobs and if it seems that way, we need to work harder to see the possibilities.

Do Your Research
I got to evaluate the chance of installing solar power in my home this week and there was discussion in my community about the pros and cons. I had to do the research on my own to figure out whether there's more or less for me. Still undecided on the investment, but it felt good to find my own viewpoint.

Find the Opportunity
It's been a potentially dire week at my job. We don't know if we will be able to hire the next round of Fellows because of the hiring freeze. Rather than dwell on this unknown, though, the 13 of us who are current Fellows got together and talked about what we could do together to help the country. Our meeting was such a bright spot and so uplifting and it could have definitely gone the other way with less optimistic people.

Teamwork is Always Better
I have a teammate now, and two heads are always better than one. This job just got much more fun.

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1


Jan 22, 2017

Enjoyments

Things I found laying around the internet that brought me joy. 

How Louis C.K. tells a joke and here's a breakdown of the precision he uses to do it.

I love you and I don't know what to say is a trio of talent (Ryan Adams, Chris Thile, and Kacey Musgrave) sharing the stage at A Prairie Home Companion.

DIY street signs are delighters.

Artists collaborating for the win.

Jan 20, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 3

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. This is my selfish account of what I learned and where the kernels of adaptation come from in my life. 

Twirling is the most fun
An emerging consortium of people who worked on digital initiatives and technology modernization efforts during President Obama's administration are organizing a group called Digital44. They threw a big party to kickoff this week. At this party my colleague Olivier Kamanda generously took my hand and twirled me around the dance floor for a few songs. I forgot how fun it is to dance like this! He brought me so much joy in those moments.

Fear isn't all bad
I've been going through the background checks, home inspections, and training required to become a foster parent (or resource parent as they're now called) since the summer of 2015. Now, the placement team has started calling. My instinct is to throw the ringing phone away from me because it's so scary to imagine how I'll shape myself around the best interests of a kid I don't know today. But, I keep answering the phone instead of throwing it. I haven't accepted a placement yet, but it's only a matter of time now.

Optimism is the way to go
It's up to us to establish equality and justice and because that is so, we are required to have the optimism that we can do it. This seems to be Obama's main parting message, and I dig it.

Speak Up
I don't like to indulge in personal attack politics but am avid about my knowledge of policy making. I will say as a woman it's been refreshing to work for a feminist, and I do believe in the idea that we all must continue the trajectory of equality for women (among many others). And so in spite of my dislike for crowds, I have made a poster and I will participate in the protest march this Saturday.

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 2
Part 1

Jan 18, 2017

Community Involvement Part 1

I've been thinking a bunch about what the average person can do to participate in creating a more perfect community. In my Daily Questions, I ask myself a yes/no question about whether I contributed to my community, but it occurs to me that more information about what I count as a yes might be helpful to inform myself and others about ways we all might contribute more easily.  I have a pretty low bar on a daily basis, but am optimistic that over time these small actions make a difference. 

Signed up to be a mentor to a Northeastern University co-op student.

Engaged in the neighborhood listserv conversation to advocate for a dog park.

Made recommendations to fellow NTEN Membership committee regarding branding, subscription services, member recognition.

Brought my neighbor who just started chemo a little treat.

Asked  city council member Brandon Todd and ANC Commissioner Scot Knickerbocker to be part of a task force evaluating whether/how to bring public wifi to Ward 4 in DC.

Became a "patron" of one of my favorite artists by pledging to send him $2/month.


Jan 13, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 2

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. This is my selfish account of what I learned and where the kernels of adaptation come from in my life. 

Get your stuff together
This week I went from 30k+ emails in my inbox to about 5. I realized I am constantly spending time on CVS and Ann Taylor and losing valuable time and a potentially valuable inbox to consumerism bots. All that stops after this week, and I can pay more attention to the real emails from real humans and have room in my inbox and brain to create more and have more real interactions. A small but important step in my media diet.

Pause and give yourself time to think when you have to make a choice
Knowing I had an oil leak in my car took me to a dealer service shop this week. The mechanic found about $2k worth of things to fix while poking around in there. Because I don't understand my car or anything mechanics say, I would normally just suck up the painful expenditure and get it over with. This time, I took a pause amid the dealer's pressure to commit to the repairs on the spot, and said I'd need to evaluate whether it made sense to do this or to buy a new car, since my car's trade in value sits somewhere around $5k. I asked trusted "car guy" friends and read lots of reviews, and ended up taking my vehicle to a well-respected mechanic who told me I didn't need one of the fixes the dealer suggested, and was able to do all of the other work for $400. I can now enjoy this car (and a $0 car payment) for another couple of years without a huge investment. It felt like growth to not just cave in but to do my own homework this time. Thanks to my brother Rick for his advice.

The team is the most important thing
This one I learn over and over again, but have been reflecting this week as we bid farewell to the Obama administration. Politics aside, he built a team with diversity of experiences, ideas, ethnicities, cultures, and viewpoints and it all mashed together to make urgent progress attainable and desirable. The positive yes we can energy when you walked into any space occupied by members of this administration was palpable. The science of building a team is a fascinating area to me. How you push reset on dysfunctional teams with decades of animosity for one another is, too.

Put yourself out there
I broke my hand in September 2016, and while I think I handled it pretty well, it caused me to retreat and just survive for a little while. I didn't proactively reach out to friends as much, make plans as much. I just got through the days. I am still in a considerable amount of pain and have limited motion, but am mostly back to functioning and made a conscious decision this week to start being more proactive about life again.

Previous Lessons Learned
Part 1

Jan 6, 2017

Lessons Learned Part 1

We learn and adapt our behavior in the small things we do and notice every day. This is my selfish account of what I learned and where the kernels of adaptation come from in my life. 

Notice the Helpers
There's an automatic door opener button in the ladies' room at National Cancer Institute. On the morning of January 3, I watched a woman just ahead of me in the bathroom wash her hands and then elbow that button to exit the bathroom germ-free. A revelation. I hadn't noticed it before. Wish I had because my hand was super broken in the fall of 2016 and it was HARD for me to get out of that bathroom. Still, I will gladly use this helper from now on.

Figure Out How to Unlock New Skills and Understanding
I climbed right inside a metaphor when I installed a smart lock, requiring me to take apart my dead bolt and understand its inner workings, and then to attach a new mechanical and digital device to it. I found it rewarding to figure out how a lock works and to install a newfangled technology to make it even better. I found it equally rewarding to lean on my brother for help via video chat when all that figuring by myself didn't quite work.

Prep Makes the Changes Possible
I have thought to myself, "You should just get up and exercise in the morning," but every morning seems to come and go and I haven't done it. This week I did because I spent time in the evening to pack my bag. It's not the exercising that stops me but the carrying of the shower supplies. I don't know if it will become a habit but now I know it's a doable possibility.

Always Push Yourself to Seek Alternative Solutions
After seeing Hidden Figures and watching the Medium business model pivot this week, I am reminded to "look beyond" "remember your mission" and mostly to be brave enough to try to collaboratively pave a better way that hasn't been tried yet.