Monday, September 29, 2008

e-State Affectionados: Oct. 4 Event for You

UVM's Center for Rural Studies is hosting a one-day conference on Oct. 4 and they've landed a big prize of a keynote speaker... Dan Gillmor.
Dan Gillmor is working to help create a culture of innovation and risk-taking in journalism education, and in the wider media world.
Dan will speak at 5:00 PM.

October Events

There are a few events happening in October that look really exciting.

First, the Rural Telecon '08 Conference at Smugglers' Notch on Oct 5 - 8. If you are interested in what's going on as Vermont becomes an e-State, this line should interest you:

"The conference will showcase innovative approaches to building local capacity to improve the quality of life for people in rural communities."

This is exactly what many of the e-State Action Teams have been discussing. They've got some amazing speakers on the docket and it's not too late to register.

And, the second installment of the wildly successful Creative/Tech Career Jam is being held on October 25 at Champlain College. There are no fewer than 12 different panel discussions planned. Should be quite a gathering!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Democracy & Civic Engagement e-State Action Team

The Democracy & Civic Engagement Action Team had a fine gathering of folks in South Burlington on 9/12, with remote participants in Middlebury and Montpelier. The focus of this group is to think about increasing participatory democracy in Vermont, namely to explore and promote public officials engaging citizens via technology. Check out the online meeting notes.

Here were the ideas for homework prior to the next meeting:

1. Think about priorities and values in these four areas: Access, Content, Culture, Privacy.

2. What are some ways we can measure critical mass and grassroots demand for civics and community development?

3. Look at Front Porch Forum as a model to know more about the ins and outs and what works and what doesn’t. Ask Michael Wood-Lewis how it’s going. What are people happy with? What would it take to be replicated around the state? Ask him about the four areas mentioned above. Talk to people in the coverage area who have and haven’t joined it, and ask them why and why not.

4. What capacities exist now that we could bring together to provide outreach to deal with the issue of education/fear of being technologically un-savvy or incapable?

5. Review the action ideas from the symposium.

For all of the above, talking to people outside the group and reporting back is encouraged.

Interested? More info is available here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Institutions to Individuals

I went to the Northern New England Planning Conference in Woodstock on Friday. One of the workshops I attended featured Lorie Loeb, a Dartmouth College professor. Her students in the computer science department won a prize from Google after they had worked day and night to draw their entire campus in three dimensions using Google Sketchup. 3D Dartmouth is now featured on Google Earth due to their efforts.

Lorie is a engaging speaker. She described the process of recruiting students to work on the incredibly ambitious Google project. Lorie had gotten a little bit of grant money, and decided to use it to buy a refrigerator for the computer lab. Then she’d put some (cold) cash in the fridge for students to use to buy food for themselves. “At least I will feed you!” was her mantra. Lorie also cites good tools (computers, cameras) and good people (students who have that special something) as critical elements in the success of the team. It was obvious from watching her present at this workshop that her contagious enthusiasm and warm personality were an important ingredient as well. Lorie felt that an important outcome of this project was the community-building that occurred between the students and faculty members on the team.

Lorie’s work at Dartmouth also includes a Real Time Energy Display Project, in which dorms and other campus buildings are wired to provide energy use data. An animated polar bear frolics happily on the ice if the energy use is acceptably low; the ice cracks and the bear unhappily falls through if energy use is too high. Students can close a window, adjust thermostats, or take other measures to see if the polar bear will be affected. It’s a wonderful concept! I wasn’t able to find a link because I think it is still in the early stages. Please, readers, let me know if you have more info.

Allison Fine, author of Momentum, was the keynote speaker of the day. She talked about the “shifting of power from institutions to individuals” and the fact that so many young people are exemplary “social citizens” with high volunteer rates and dedication to charitable causes. I knew Allison was delivering a convincing speech when a friend turned to me and asked, “Do you think I am making a mistake to forbid my teenagers from creating their own Facebook pages?” Allison predicts that within 18 months a new tool will have taken the place of Facebook for the college crowd. We thirty and forty-somethings on Facebook will probably stay where we are.

One of Allison’s more important points as far as I was concerned was her advice to organizations and institutions in the age of individual power: Listen. Let the public help guide your work. You might think you don’t have time to process comments, suggestions and feedback from your constituents. But make the time, says Fine, because it is probably a better way to spend part of the day than some of that other stuff on your To Do list.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Workforce and Economic Development Team Meeting September 18th

The Workforce and Economic Development action team will be meeting on September 18th from 2-4 PM at the Snelling Center office at 130 Williard Street. Anyone who is interested in getting involved can attend this meeting.

Monday, September 1, 2008

A person a day

I just read about something called Project 365 on a photography website called Photojojo. Someone decides to photograph a different person in their town each day for a whole year. It's wonderful!

Take a look at this one.

Wouldn't it be fun to do this around here? I would love to try it.