It is my last week as a 25 year old. This seems to be a prime occasion to mourn the passing of my youth. 26 says, Welcome to adulthood, officially, inescapably, and finally.
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The past 6 months have been full of adventures. We have dividing our time between our home outside of Vancouver, Guatemala City, and Honduras. My partner and I are part of a Startup Cities project in Honduras (more info: startupcities.org) as well as a software startup. I have also been developing a proposal for a new school, as well as founding my own education software startup. (To be announced!) As if that doesn’t sound busy enough, I also became a landlord for the first time 4 months ago.
I’ll play catch-up a bit now, in order to document a few highlights of the past year.
Last July was the Startup Cities Weekend, at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. It was my own first time in Guatemala city, (Jon had already been working there regularly,) and it was a brilliant occasion for my first introduction to Central America. The weekend conference at UFM brought together a group of movers, thinkers, and shakers on the startup city front lines all over the world.
In a nutshell, startup cities are about spurring social, political, and economic change through new, innovative, and competing jurisdictions. They can be seen as the next generation of the 20th century idea of special economic zones; they are clean slates for experimenting with accessible law, radical government transparency, and new technologies. I have long been an advocate of Land Value Tax, and have been working hard to ensure it will be included in new jurisdictions. Startup cities can and will emerge in host countries all over the world, and the most actively interested in their potential has been Honduras, who passed ZEDE legislation last year to allow for the creation of such regions.
After the weekend, some of our crew went on to Honduras.
Most of my first time in Honduras was for meetings, and we were staying in an apartment in a gated community, (for safety reasons,) where I could take cezar to restaurants, the movie theatre, an amusement park, and a mall. Unfortunately I was not able to explore as much as I would have liked on that trip, but we did get the chance to visit a few small towns and rural areas.
We also spent time later on exploring areas most stricken by poverty and pollution, which really gave me an appreciation for just how important the Honduran ZEDEs are for increasing access to opportunities for those desperately want and need them. I came away with a renewed sense of appreciation, and also excitement to spend more time in Guatemala and Honduras in the year to come.
I have never gotten into the book, The Godfather by Mario Puzo, and have found the movies difficult to relate to. Likely because men are having all the fun, and I’m not a man. Last night I decided to try a different strategy. Gender Reversal. I adapted Chapter 1&2, more to come perhaps, and thought it was both entertaining and thought-provoking:
Behind every great fortune there is a crime – Balzac
Amelia Bonasera sat in New York Criminal Court Number 3 and waited for justice; vengeance on the women who had so cruelly hurt her son, who had tried to dishonor him.
The judge, a formidably heavy-featured woman, rolled up the sleeves of her black robe as if to physically chastise the two young women standing before the bench. Her face was cold with majestic contempt. But there was something false in all this that Amelia Bonasera sensed but did not yet understand.
“You acted like the worst kind of degenerates,” the judge said harshly. Yes, yes, thought Amelia Bonasera. Animals. Animals. The two young women, glossy hair crew cut, scrubbed clean-cut faces composed into humble contrition, bowed their heads in submission.
The judge went on. “You acted like wild beasts in a jungle and you are fortunate you did not sexually molest that poor boy or I’d put you behind bars for twenty years.” The judge paused, her eyes beneath impressively thick brows flickered slyly toward the sallow-faced Amelia Bonasera, then lowered to a stack of probation reports before her. She frowned and shrugged as if convinced against her own natural desire. She spoke again.
“But because of your youth, your clean records, because of your fine families, and because the law in its majesty does not seek vengeance, I hereby sentence you to three years’ confinement to the penitentiary. Sentence to be suspended.”
Only forty years of professional mourning kept the overwhelming frustration and hatred from showing on Amelia Bonasera’s face. Her beautiful young son was still in the hospital with his broken jaw wired together; and now these two animales went free? It had all been a farce. She watched the happy parents cluster around their darling daughters. Oh, they were all happy now, they were smiling now.
The black bile, sourly bitter, rose in Bonasera’s throat, overflowed through tightly clenched teeth. She used her white linen pocket handkerchief and held it against her lips. She was standing so when the two young women strode freely up the aisle, confident and cool-eyed, smiling, not giving her so much as a glance. She let them pass without saying a word, pressing the fresh linen against her mouth.
The parents of the animales were coming by now, two women and two men her age but more American in their dress. They glanced at her, shamefaced, yet in their eyes was an odd, triumphant defiance.
Out of control, Bonasera leaned forward toward the aisle and shouted hoarsely, “You will weep as I have wept– I will make you weep as your children make me weep”– the linen at her eyes now. The defense attorneys bringing up the rear swept their clients forward in a tight little band, enveloping the two young women, who had started back down the aisle as if to protect their parents. A huge bailiff moved quickly to block the row in which Bonasera stood. But it was not necessary.
All her years in America, Amelia Bonasera had trusted in law and order. And she had prospered thereby. Now, though her brain smoked with hatred, though wild visions of buying a gun and killing the two young women jangled the very bones of her skull, Bonasera turned to her still uncomprehending husband and explained to him, “They have made fools of us.” She paused and then made her decision, no longer fearing the cost. “For justice we must go on our knees to Donna Corleone.”
Making casual friends isn’t hard but for some reason forging deeper connections can be.
(I’m going to give you something a little meatier today since the feature of my last post was Ziggy’s deli meats.)
I don’t like shallow friendships, where the only actionable mandate is comparing each other’s lives, collecting gossip fodder, or whatever other narcissistic reason one might have for maintaining loose connections that don’t dare tread deeper waters.
Looking at my own Inner Circle, there have been not just tears and laughter, which are easy even with strangers, but also anger, ranting, the revelation of doubt, and ugliness. Inner Circles shouldn’t be a Circle Jerk (click if you don’t know,) but they should sometimes include humping.
Yes, I’ve humped some of my friends, and now I’ve blogged about it.
Some people you meet and you know right away they have their switch turned ON. Alive, kicking, present, multi-faceted, sensitive, ruthless, and sometimes the Elephants in the Room. My people!
I have been making a conscious effort to nurture more of these relationships. There are so many people that have stood out to me, with whom I intuited a connection with; yet, for whatever reason (age, timing, social convention,) I was too afraid to actually make it with. Or too comfortable with my lot to be the one to make the effort.
And sometimes, the strongest, unspoken connections are also the most volatile.
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This is my first year packing school lunches.
We try to keep grain-free and mostly unprocessed, so that eliminates the easy costco toss-and-go type snack foods.
Protein is a must in every lunch.
Everything gets prepared the night before, since mornings are too hectic. Extras get put in the fridge for easy access for the two-year-old.
Public libraries were once revolutionary. In times of information scarcity, libraries were the original file-sharing networks that gave people access to books without having to buy them. The librarian’s function as facilitator and curator of knowledge is one that remains more relevant than ever, in different capacities.
Faced with the challenge to remain relevant in the post-internet world, many libraries are going digital. In addition to this trend, local and grade school libraries have the opportunity to evolve their role in local communities in order to build skill-sets, encourage local projects and host new learning opportunities for children. Without further ado, here are some things libraries could adopt:
- Provide e-readers and tablets for educational use. Tablets can be stored in protective and durable cases, and can be programmed to only run certain applications. Many children do not have access to expensive devices and applications at home, so libraries are a logical non-profit entity to facilitate the availability of these devices for all.
- New and renovated libraries should include a public Hackerspace. (I was in a hackerspace when I saw their rule was “Be Excellent to each other,” which was when I decided NeoParent’s slogan should be, “Be Excellent to the next generation.”)
- Non-fiction literature should have a strong focus on involving children in their local community. Examples of locally focused learning include: regional geography/gardening, wiki-groups, social issues, clubs, and local governance issues. Lack of accessibility and accountability to the entire community has long been an issue in local-level politics, and libraries have the opportunity to serve as public information access hubs so that people can gather and come up with local solutions.
- Public office space. This one is for adults, but I wanted to include it anyways. For people seeking self-employment online, having a free place to go and work is a huge value if they are either homeless or lack adequate workspace at home. Current public computers often offer extreme time limitations, with no privacy or opportunity to make phone calls. Having a public, work-friendly cubical-style computer lab, with Skype and expensive software access could potentially add a lot of value to the community.
- Operate more like Community Schools. I am on the board for a non-profit community school society, which provides educational activities, events, and classes that the public can register for, usually for free, outside of school hours. All classes have a literacy component, and seek to make learning multi-sensory and enjoyable for kids. For example, a cooking class for kids includes learning proportions and basic math calculations. For older kids there are things like homework clubs and self-esteem workshops. I recently learned that our local library is hosting a baby sign-language course. I envision that school libraries in particular could support before-school breakfast clubs by distributing morning newspapers for discussion. I would also like to see more libraries host public courses for graphic design, robotics (and/or makerspaces), and science, as well as host salons (not the hair kind,) to give platform to social issues.
Libraries have potential to create value as community-learning spaces and continue to provide an important service of curation and literacy support for children. It is my vision to see local and school libraries become innovative hives that support these values and allow more people the opportunity to gain new skills and connect with their community.
What else would you like to see in your library? Are there other ways in which community-based learning could be re-imagined? Leave us a comment here or join the discussion on our Facebook!