Entries for April 2006

outcomes of the Global Night Commute

There was an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Friday about plans for the Saturday night event. Similarly, in California, KGET reported on plans in Bakersfield and 10news reported on plans in San Diego. In Seattle, over 1000 people were expected to participate.

News is also beginning to come in about attendance at the events around the world. In Rochester, NY, there is already a report from WROC, a local television station, saying that 200 people in that city participated in the night commute last night. In Augusta, GA, more than 25 people participated in the march, and in Aiken County, GA, participants numbered over 200 (story here, login required or use bugmenot.com). In Austin, TX, the Austin American Statesman reported that hundreds of college students walked from the clock tower at the UT campus to the grounds of the state capitol to participate in the night commute. There are also photos of this event available at Flickr already, and here's a story from an Austin TV station. In San Francisco, over 500 people gathered, according to the local CBS news station. In Chicago, over 2000 people gathered in Grant Park, including one teenager from Uganda who now attends a private school in the US thanks to the folks at Invisible Children. And here's a personal account of the San Diego event, which was huge -- 5000 people in Balboa park! Participants in other cities have been checking in on MySpace with updates about what the Global Night Commute was like for them. The pictures are really inspiring!

Unfortunately, I can't find any information from anyone who was at the Free Stamp last night. If you were there, would you please leave a comment and let me know what it was like?

tonight, far away...

... children will walk to the center of a city in fear, seeking security amidst war.

Tonight, in downtown Cleveland at the Free Stamp, an estimated 250 people will gather to draw attention to the injustice of a war in Africa and to ask the world's superpower to take an active role in peacemaking.

I will not be able to participate in the Global Night Commute to recognize the Invisible Children of Uganda, at least not by staying the whole night. I cannot bring myself to tell this story to my 5-year-old daughter, and I want to spend the night with her. She would not understand why I want to go camping without her. I hope that someone who reads this message will be inspired to attend in my place.

Here's the story:

An estimated 20,000-50,000 children in Northern Uganda have been abducted and forced into service as child soldiers.

1.7 million people have been forcibly displaced.

Americans tonight will band together to demand that our government do its part to put an end to the longest-running war in Africa, and one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today.

No child should be forced to hide in the center of a city at night to avoid kidnapping and forced conscription.

I heard about this from one of my former students, who is now living in Taiwan. Around the world, over 50,000 people are signed up to recognize the children of Uganda tonight. If you read about this event in the paper on Sunday, please remember that you heard about it here first... and if you *don't* read about it in the paper on Sunday, ask your editor why not!

farewell, MGMT 251 students

Yesterday was the last class of the semester for both sections of MGMT 251 students. As is our tradition, the teaching team spent most of the class session listening to students give "one minute speeches" in which they identify highlights of the course experience, and recognize classmates who contributed to their learning.

For many of the students, their team project performing an analysis of a local company as a potential employer was a highlight. Some students noted how much hope they felt about learning that the Cleveland area is still home to so many different types of employers that appeal to their desires for career opportunities and positive workplace cultures. The companies that were profiled included...

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reinventing jobs, careers, and the w

"Reinventing Jobs, Careers, and the World of Work"

It's a good sign when three posts emerge in the same morning of blog reading, all ready to be packaged up in a theme. It probably indicates that all the cultivation I have been doing of online relationships -- reading blogs, adding some to my Bloglines so I can read them again later, commenting, making my own posts -- is starting to yield fruit for intellectual enjoyment.

Click through to read on if you'd like to learn more about Diane at Zaadz, Miriam Peskowitz, and David Pollard, and how the different social movemnts they help to advance are converging.

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developing a career, growing a family...

How can one develop a career and grow a family at the same time? Especially in academia, this is a sticky question. The Tomorrow's Professor blog recently explored the question of whether there is a global warming trend toward women in academia, but concludes that in many traditionally male disciplines, the climate for women is still chilly. And in all this focus on women, the broader point about how men in two-career marriages can play more egalitarian roles in their growing families while moving into academic careers sometimes gets lost. (This is a more specific version of the broader question which I addressed yesterday in my post on what fathers want.)

I was particularly struck by this series of posts at Mommy Ph.D....

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what fathers want: how workplaces can support families

I was inspecting my stats recently, and was intrigued to discover that someone had found their way to my blog after googling "fathers unsupportive breastfeeding". I googled the same phrase and discovered that the link to my dads can bond easily with breastfed babies, even if they are not using any bottles.

Then I looked down the list, and found some other really interesting links, including this one, to the results of a survey of over 1200 working fathers by the Equal Opportunity Trust in New Zealand. It includes a list of suggested work-life initiatives for employers to consider, tips on how to research what fathers in your workplace would find most beneficial, and even a sample survey and a checklist to use if focus groups or informal conversations are a better approach in your workplace than a formal survey.

This is a type of work that I would really enjoy -- working with employers to make their workplaces more flexible and more supportive of employees who wish to make space in their lives for important unpaid roles, alongside their fulfillment of professional responsibilities. I am planning to develop an open enrollment workshop through our executive education program at Dively, sometime in 2007, on the topic of retaining employees who value both family time and workplace productivity. If anyone has suggestions about local employers who are doing a good job at this, please let me know -- I would love to be able to benchmark some local best practices.

I also want to thank the dads and granddads who attended our latest NEOBEAN organizing dinner on Saturday night. Their quiet support for breastfeeding mothers, and their willingness to wrangle the kids while the moms talked about what needs to be done to get NEOBEAN off the ground as a nonprofit, was most appreciated. We will have a paypal button on the NEOBEAN website soon, and we hope to complete the process of registering as a 501c3 so that we can begin accepting proper charitable donations within the next month!

framing your inquiry

My colleague Ron Fry has a new book out, coauthored with Frank Barrett (an alumnus of our Ph.D. program, now on the faculty at the Monterrey Naval Academy).

The press release aboout the book, in the link above, describes the approach that Ron Fry takes to combining problem solving and appreciative inquiry: "I don't try to avoid ever focusing on the problem, deficit or the negative. I just try to live more often in conversations that are unbalanced in terms of having more attention, questions and imagery that relate to possibilities, hope and the positive."

I think that is really a key element of understanding the role of positively framing an organizational change intervention. A positive frame is chosen because of the momentum and energy it can unleash, not because there is any desire to avoid a problem-focused frame.

This is a subtlety that I am still learning, in the context of my work with NEOBEAN, as is evidenced in my earlier entry about when to trust a consultant.

responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another

Did you know that Ohio is home to a Center for Employee Owned Corporations? Are you planning to attend their conference today in Akron?

Companies with ESOPs suggest a more socially responsible variant of capitalism, where the interests of the stockholders and of the employees need not be divergent. When employees have a stake in the corporation, the long-term interests of investing in a particular region can be taken more seriously when members are elected to the board of directors, and when decisions about relocating facilities or changing working conditions for employees are considered.

Want to learn more?

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managing impressions online

There's a recent thread in the Case Forums protesting the actions of a university staff member who has apparently used photos posted on Facebook as evidence in writing up a student for underage drinking. Case is by no means the first organization to use Facebook material as evidence... see this Wikipedia entry. It just brings home to me again how important it will be for us to make sure that future students understand the need to present themselves professionally when online.

hold them in your thoughts

I just learned that an MBA and PhD alumna, Jaye Goosby Smith, has been widowed. Her husband, Tony, died in a car accident in California. Jaye and Tony are parents to an adorable little girl, and I'm sure that Jaye's high-school age son is feeling the loss as well. I hope they find comfort in a circle of friends, near and far, who are holding them in their thoughts at this difficult time.

can you ever trust a consultant?

I came across a great excerpt from a speech by Bob Sutton recently, at the AlwaysOn Network: it's called "Use Common Sense, Not Crystal Balls". In it Professor Sutton (a U of M alum like me) provides four questions for managers to ask themselves when thinking about whether to take the advice offered by consultants. First, is the practice that is being advised time-tested? Second, who benefits? Third, what are the risks? And fourth, what evidence is there that this practice is connected with effectiveness?

I would argue that a consultant who can engage in an honest dialogue with a manager about these questions is a consultant who can be trusted. The rest --

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inspiring meeting yesterday -- building a regional coalition

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My NEOBEAN colleagues and I met with Eric Brewer, the mayor of East Cleveland, and he was very supportive and willing to work with us in getting breastfeeding education materials to his city's residents. He and Norm Roulet (who is working on lead abatement in the region) further challenged us to draw together a team of people to get involved in a health fair in the city next month, and to figure out how to reach out to and offer prenatal care, easier access to WIC and other government services, and make sure that all pregnant women are educated about the potential dangers of lead contamination in their living quarters.

I hope that we can draw in some student volunteers to help us with the outreach and health promotion aspects of the initiative. It would be great if we could find a way to offer health promotion curriculum in middle schools and high schools.

Anne Lamott at Amasa Stone at Case -- part 2

If you missed Anne Lamott's visit to the Case campus last Friday, I have written a little bit about it already... but part 1 was more about me than about her. In part 2, I want to try to remember what she said, which is tricky, because I did not take many notes.

John Ettorre called Anne Lamott "a poet and a mystic and a prophet and a patriot and the most honest, most moving, most luminous, soul-stirring Christian writing today, perhaps in the entire English language. And all from lefty Marin County, across the bridge from San Fran."

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how do you track your progress toward your goals?

No time for part 2 of the Anne Lamott blog today -- sorry. Things are humming in my life, but I'm hoping to find time tomorrow to write up my thoughts, before the vividness of the experience fades!

In the meantime, let me briefly mention that I have been experimenting lately (as you can see from the righthand column of my blog) with an online service called 43 things. On Thursday I will introduce it to my students in class, as a way of helping them to make sense of why the plans they set up for themselves last December may not have worked as intended -- and of helping them to stay focused on their goals, keep track of their progress, and give themselves credit for their accomplishments.

I really like the 43things system, even though it's less structured than a Getting Things Done approach or a Covey Seven Habits approach. For students who are online all the time, often from different computers, I think that using this kind of organizing might work even better than keeping a paper planner.

I'd be curious to learn how my readers track progress toward their goals.

  • Do you use a paper planner?
  • Do you keep your calendar on your computer?
  • Is it online so that you can access it from several different computers?
  • Or do you sync your computer with a Palm or other handheld, or with a cellphone or something?
  • How do you schedule things into your planner in a way that allows you to give priority to important but not always urgent tasks?
  • When you feel yourself getting into a cycle of fighting fires, how do you choose to respond so that you retain a sense of efficacy?

A spiritual experience in Amasa Stone Chapel - part 1

The first thing I did after dropping my daughter off at preschool on Friday morning was to drive to Borders to pick up copies of the books by Anne Lamott, which I hoped to have her sign after her keynote appearance at the end of Case's Humanities Week. All day I was giddy with anticipation.

I walked over to the chapel just before 3:30, and as a Case community member I was allowed to enter. I was chagrined to discover that they had books for sale in the vestibule, and had worked with Joseph-Beth to arrange these sales. I knew that I was going to need to do penance for spending money on Anne's books at a "non-independent" bookstore... and sure enough, during her conversation with Tim Beal, Anne reminded us more than once to go look someone up at Amazon, but buy our books from an independent bookstore. In penance, I'm posting a link to this about.com listing of independent bookstores in Cleveland, which includes my favorites, Appletree books and Mac's Backs. I promise to buy all the books that Anne recommended during her visit, and to buy them from one of these stores.

(click through to read more)

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more musings on role models, in fiction and in history

The twelfth Carnival of the Feminists is up at Ragnells (ah, I mean, Star Sapphire's) blog, called Written World. It includes a link to my earlier post on Kim Possible and Wonder Woman (and ElastiGirl), along with several other posts on the same theme...

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is MacDonalds socially responsible, or is it marketing greenwash?

The Carnival of the Capitalists is up for the week, and one of the highlighted posts is about MacDonalds. Steven Silvers offers mocking commentary on the blog that MacDonalds makes available to consumers with the tag line "Open for Discussion". His teaser summary asserts that "If McDonald's thinks selling salads constitutes social responsibility, they must figure clean bathrooms deserve the Nobel Prize."

The potential that companies might just appear to change their behavior, when in fact all they are doing is disguising themselves as socially responsible, is what makes me skeptical about buying products marketed as supporting particular values, like the Reebok breast cancer eradication sneakers that I wrote about last week when I asked how company values affect consumer behavior. It is why I think new portals like Alonovo which empower consumers with a deeper analysis about whether companies are walking their talk are going to be forces to reckon with in the future.

What do you think about the MacDonald's blog? Is MacDonald's a company you admire? Or do you boycott it on principle?

campus event 4/11: regional coalitions as a way to address inequalities

Did anyone get to attend this? I couldn't (a last-minute conflict arose) but I would love to read a blog entry by someone who did... or even just hear an informal update!

Margaret Weir, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Sociology, University of California at Berkeley
will present an NSF-ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture on

Challenging Metropolitan Inequalities: Coalition Building for Inclusive Growth

April 11, 2006, Clark Hall 309 - 4:00-5:30 pm

Many discussions of how to address the Cleveland area's economic and social challenges include proposals for some sort of "regionalization." Yet the obstacles to any shared efforts across government boundaries remain substantial. Join us for a talk and conversation about the prospects for policies that seek growth with equity for Cleveland and other metropolitan regions.

Professor Margaret Weir received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 1986. Her research and teaching fields include political sociology, American political development, urban politics and policy, and comparative studies of the welfare state. She has written extensively on issues of regional coalition-building, metropolitan government, and the political and economic isolation of central cities. Professor Weir is also coauthor, with Benjamin Ginsberg and Theodore J. Lowi, of We the People (5th ed.), a major textbook on American government.

One of her recent chapters on coalitiion building and regionalism is available online here (essay 5).

Sponsored by ACES and the Office of the President and The Provost, in conjunction with the Department of Political Science.

a song for a hopeful spring Sunday

Today at the UUSC, we sang this beautiful lyric by Lloyd Stone (1934) to the melody of "Finlandia" which was originally written by Jean Sibelius in 1899:

This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

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female role models, then and now

When I think back to the influences that made me into a feminist, one of my first memories is of watching Wonder Woman with my younger sister. (We never read the comic strip series but watched the tv series which starred Lynda Carter. In case you want to estimate my age, let me out myself -- I was ten when this show finished production.) I still remember running around the backyard pretending that I had bullet-deflecting armbands and could protect the world from bad guys. All too quickly, though, I learned that not even quick wits and a sharp tongue could always protect us from the painful criticisms that teenagers can inflict on one another.

Now, my daughter watches Kim Possible, and I've noticed that the message being sent about what it takes to be a "super woman" has not changed that much over the years.

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