Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Clean Slate - Not my 3 words for the year

Geometric chalk art

My friend Chris came up with the idea of using three words to guide your year. It's good. Lots of people like it.

I like how he builds flexibility into the words. They can mean multiple things, have multiple layers of meaning.

I've never done it. But I have this phrase rolling around in my head lately, and I think I should share it. I repeat it in my head several times a day for different things.

Clean slate.

Each day, I start with a clean slate nutritionally. No matter what I ate yesterday, today I can choose to stick with my personal guidelines.

Each day, I start with a clean slate of work. When I pick my 6 Most Important Things to work on tomorrow, I can choose what really is most important.

Clean slate.

So it's not really a 3 words thing, but it's what's going on in my head as we start a new year.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Annual Review in November

I know it's November, and not time for annual reviews, but I just did one.

I used an outline I got from my friend Jon Swanson a couple of years ago.

Take an hour and a chair and a cup of coffee and something to write with. Take a planner from the year or a journal or a Facebook stream. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What did I like about this year?
  • What didn’t I like?
  • What don’t I understand?
  • What did I learn about God?
  • What did I learn about people?
  • What am I going to do next year with what I learned?

I found this to be good at refining the experiences of a year into some clear intentions for my next actions.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What Detroit and small towns have in common

I was in Detroit a few years back, and I saw a small sampling of the challenges. They reminded me of small town challenges with empty buildings, declining population, and turning to entrepreneurs for the future.

The people of Detroit reminded me of small town people. They were friendly, and looked me in the eye. It was a funny pattern. They'd say, "Don't believe everything you hear about Detroit." They wanted me to know it's not as awful as people say, that good people live there. It felt like a small town, hoping you don't all think they're hicks.

So I keep reading articles about Detroit, and the people working there. Outside experts keep telling them it can't be done, that the problems are too big. And people come in from outside, to save them. 

Whether it's Detroit or a small town, I hate that outlook, "we're going to save them." People, stop looking down on us. Help us do what needs done or get out of our way.

One of those articles, Saving Detroit, spurred some small town thoughts.

  • "A successful small business person can make a difference." In a small town, it takes less success or wealth to make a bigger difference. 
  • "A vibrant city needs a vibrant center. Suburbs cannot fill that need." Most small towns are pretty compact, and not very suburb-y.
  • Like Detroit, a small town does attract "the poorest, least educated and most unskilled – because it’s such a cheap place to live." But many small towns have shrunk, and face the same challenges of having more space than they need for their current people.
  • "If Detroit manages to revive its downtown, like Chicago's Loop, it will take a long time to stretch that prosperity outside of the core, like Chicago faces today." For a small town, is it any easier to spread the prosperity around? Is it possible that prosperity is harder to concentrate in the first place? 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

The link between community and innovation

Connecting people with each other is the essence of both community and innovation. I wrote that, and I'm still thinking through the implications of how those two interact.

My friend Renina added healing to the list. Worth thinking on as well.

Becky McCray, Raul Colon, Jasmine Zhou, Ric Dragon and Shashi Bellamkonda at the Genius Shared event in Chicago

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Urbansplaining the election

I've been hearing a lot of urbansplaining about rural since the election. 

Even though the sharp urban/rural voting divide has been evident on election maps for decades, it's only now that it has captured much attention because the rural vote certainly seemed to affect the outcome this time. Stories and essays about rural voters are popping up.

I've been seeing a lot of rural childhood reminiscences of now-urban commentators that try to explain what rural people are really like. My overall reaction is skeptical. Just because you grew up in a rural area before moving to a big city doesn't mean you're qualified to speak for that specific rural place today or for all rural areas across the US. 

Neither do the 30 second sound bites from "typical rural voters" that got interviewed on television add much to a richer understanding. The 3-minute news packages have given all the usual stereotypes of dying small towns a good airing. If all small towns were half as dead as media pieces depict them, there wouldn't have been enough rural vote to influence anything. 

I'm regularly in touch with thousands of diverse rural people from across the USA, so I understand that we're not all alike, and we're not one-dimensional people. I wouldn't dream of speaking for all of rural America, and I wouldn't recommend that you let the results of this election speak for us all either. 

It seems necessary that I add a disclaimer. You may think my purpose is supporting the outcome of the election, or that I'm condoning racism, hate or violence. I'm not. 

Trying to use these election results to illustrate the entire rural population is by definition going to draw a poorly nuanced picture. If you're interested in a deeper understanding of rural, I invite you to the conversation.