Thursday, February 25, 2010

Positive Posters: Be The Change You Want To See

Founded by graphic designer, Nick Hallam, in February 2009, Positive Posters is an international poster design competition that gives graphic design students/professionals, illustrators and other creatives the opportunity to visually communicate socially positive messages to the world. See the 2009 winning poster and scope the work of the finalists; my personal favorite is Mike Nguyen's "Be The Change You Want To See."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Community: Here, There, Everywhere

I led a Community-Building 101 breakout session after speaking to attendees of Minnesota Campus Compact's Citizen-Scholar Leadership Summit last week. Through a variety of activities, thoughtful questions, and engaging dialogue, we uncovered a number of strategies for building community amongst students, coworkers, and the larger community. Session attendees talked about having a standard space or time in which to reflect on successes or air grievances, the importance of good communication lines and trust, and above all, making sure people have fun together in community.

To make sure we're having fun as we talk about community-building, I wanted to share a few other places, perhaps unconventional, where I find a sense of community. What about you? Do you have strategies or zany places you build community? Please share in the comments and we can do a bit of community-building on this blog!

Blackjack


At a Blackjack table, a community quickly forms amongst strangers. For newbies that step up to try their hand, veterans are generally more forgiving. They offer suggestions when new players frown in worry and cheer for them when they receive an unexpected Blackjack.

Regulars must do their best to study up and learn the basic rules of Blackjack in order to pay due respect to their tablemates. Nothing feels worse than when an unsure player hits on a 16 against a dealer's low card and takes what would inevitably be the bust card for the dealer, rendering any other generally safe hands losses. The unnecessary hit on a 16 when the dealer showed a bust card (one of the basic rules for Blackjack etiquette) earns her the scorn of those around the table.

Though at face value this disappointment arises in response to the loss of money wagered, the contempt others feel can run a bit deeper. Worrying about one's hand is warranted, however, the player must recognize that she is, along with her tablemates, playing against the dealer. As such, her actions must work to ensure her victory as well as to take into account the effect of her decisions on the other players. When viewed in this way, the disdain expressed by the other players arrives as a result of the the player not doing what she knew to be right and thus failing herself and the team. In Blackjack, as in many other places, a single player's actions are bound up in the destiny of the other players at the table. Once our player realizes that, she will be careful to take good care and great pains to trust the rules as well as her intuition about how the others will be affected.

Community

I adore the new NBC comedy, "Community." This show is ingeniously clever, leaving me to replay scenes and jokes in my mind for days after viewing. Its witty writing, deadpan acting, and inventiveness make it well worth the watch. Better yet, though, this show has got heart. I have been brought to tears by the characters and their situations. I laugh at the quirky friendships and alliances formed on the show and hope so much for the characters' well-being and happiness. While becoming friends with television characters isn't a new phenomenon, this show focuses on the potential for friendships across diverse socioeconomic, racial, gender, age, and other differences, depicting a beautiful world that is waiting to happen when we all go to school together and make learning, in every manner, our objective.

M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A


Commentators remarked upon the collapse of the I-35W bridge as a fairly remarkable event. First, as Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar declared, "A bridge should not fall down in the middle of America." Second, despite network news anchors like Katie Couric and Matt Lauer racing to the surely traumatic and despairing disaster scene, they arrived only only to find relative calm and order. The emergency preparedness plan had been executed effectively and Minneapolis police and EMS were supported by collaboration and support offered from neighboring counties and cities.

Whereas other national disasters like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina sent bystanders running for cover, the stories that broke during the evening news in August 2007 reported that Minnesotans instead ran in to the disaster scene to help their fellow neighbors and community members. Even as the dust settled, they raced down the banks of the Mississippi to provide first aid, rescue efforts, and a reassuring hand. Steve Sack, the Minneapolis Star Tribune's editorial cartoonist said it best:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Generation WE

Generation WE's homepage asks you to "Listen Closely. It's the Sound of Your World Changing Forever." Their focus on the arrival of the Millennial generation is a call to action. Authors Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber claim that the huge numbers and progressive attitudes of this rising generation are changing America and the world and go on to detail it in their book, winner of the Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking book of 2009, as well as in the video below. Visit the Generation WE website to download the free book in English (PDF) or to reference their data and action initiatives. And don't forget to listen closely.

Generation WE: The Movement Begins... from Generation We on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Leaders of Today and Tomorrow Annual Conference

This year marks the 15th annual Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (LOTT) Conference. A project of League of Women Voters Minnesota, the event will be held at the University of St. Thomas Law School in downtown Minneapolis on April 9-10, 2010. This year's conference, "Trailblazers: Charting a Course for the Future," will be an inspirational event of speakers, workshops and relationship building. This spectacular event for collegiate women and emerging professionals will feature a broad range of topics spanning personal and professional issues. Read on for details and to register online. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quantum Civics: Introduction to Active Citizenship for Emerging Leaders

Last fall, Brian Bell and I taught the pilot Quantum Civics (TM) course to a particularly thoughtful and committed group of Twin Citizens. For 10 weeks, we engaged in deep dialogue about civic values, solving public problems, and self-leadership, and as a result, produced strong relationships, compelling personal mission statements, and in-depth work plans for creating change in our local communities and institutions. This spring, we'll teach the second round of introductory active citizenship course on Tuesdays, running from March 16th-May 18th, and you're invited to participate!

Quantum Civics: Introduction to Active Citizenship is a 10 week course for emerging leaders where participants develop a deeper understanding of the themes, concepts and skills of active citizenship. Unlike other leadership courses that focus on the need for formal authority or titles in order to make a difference, or that “policy” is only something that happens in government, this program focuses on the opportunities and obligations that all individuals have to make a difference in an organization no matter their formal position or authority. This course is premised on the Citizens League’s belief that there are opportunities to practice active citizenship skills and be a more effective governing member in all types of institutions: work, community, school, government, faith, family.

In addition to learning these values, participants learn civic standards for decision-making and practical skills, e.g. effective listening and holding stakeholder one-on-ones, facilitating meetings, understanding the dynamics of power and problem-solving, and transformational relationship-building.

Participants will walk away with a personal mission statement and an individual work plan to achieve this mission and individual self-interest while serving the common good.

This course supports the Citizens League’s mission of building civic imagination and capacity in all generations of Minnesotans who can have an impact on public policy, connect with other active citizens and civic leaders, and contribute to the relevance and sustainability of the Citizens League.
Outcomes

Connect with other leaders within the Citizens League, and an introduction to the role, mission and practices of the Citizens League.

• Develop a deeper understanding of the themes, concepts and values of active citizenship, and how these concepts are distinguished from other definitions of “citizenship”, democracy, and how individuals can serve the common good.

• Build a personal mission statement that speaks to individual skills and goals while incorporating these values of active citizenship into the places where individuals spend time and can have an impact.

• Learn practical skills in the context of active citizenship values, e.g. effective listening and holding stakeholder one-on-ones, facilitating meetings, understanding the dynamics of power and problem-solving, and transformational relationship-building. How can evaluation using these values help you to improve your institution and its ability to serve the common good?

• Develop an individual work plan based upon specific insights from this analysis and the practice of these skills during the course.

• An opportunity to track into additional leadership training, e.g. “Civic Organizing 101” at the Citizens League, and our on-going policy skill-building activities and internal leadership opportunities.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2010 Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP) Fellowship applications open!

As a member of Cohort 10 of the Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP), I want to devote a blog post to sharing a bit about this fantastic fellowship opportunity and urge eligible students to apply by the March 15, 2010 deadline. This program is powerful because of the strength of its comprehensive programming, the amazing people who are staff and fellows, and the world-changing work it does in cultivating a more thoughtful, talented, and diverse group of U.S. professionals working in international affairs. Read on for more details and see if this might be a fit for you or someone you know!

Beginning in the undergraduate sophomore summer, IIPP programming offers students language and cultural competence training to become leaders in international affairs. The program aims to ensure that United States foreign policy representatives reflect the diversity of the American population and promotes excellence, international service, and awareness in order to enhance U.S. national security and global competitiveness.

IIPP features a sequenced six-component program, which includes:

* Sophomore Summer Policy Institute
* Junior Year Study Abroad
* Junior Summer Policy Institute
* Summer Language Institute
* Internships
* Graduate Degree in International Affairs

Eligibility requirements from undergraduate sophomores include the following:

* Are enrolled full-time at an accredited four–year baccalaureate-granting institution
* Are U.S. Citizens or legal residents (documentary support required)
* Have a minimum 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale)
* Possess excellent critical analysis and leadership skills
* Have a strong demonstrated interest in international affairs, public policy and language training
* Are an underrepresented minority (African American, Hispanic, Asian American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander)
* Plan to seek admission to a two-year master’s degree program in international affairs

Upcoming IIPP Informational Webinars

These webinars are intended to give a broad overview of the Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship Program and details about eligibility, application requirements, and information about each component of the program.

Student Informational Session Thursday, February 18, 2010, 3:00PM EST

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Minnesota is the best state in the country to watch illustrated commentary!"

My favorite book is Voltaire's Candide because, while I'm an optimist and insist that a proactive attitude can lend itself to the belief that we live in "the best of all possible worlds," I find it important to maintain a healthy sense of critical consciousness and accordingly, to regularly poke fun at myself. Since I often (and on this blog) tout Minnesota as ranking high across the board in quality-of-life indicators, David Gilette's illustrated essay, "Life According to Lists," thumbs its nose at me. And I can't resist sharing the fun. See for yourself:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oh yes, it's caucus night. And the feeling's right.

Sure, it's Groundhog Day, but do you know what will determine the next six weeks (and beyond) politically more than whether or not that little critter sees its shadow? You, at your local caucus.

As the Star Tribune notes, the few who show up tonight get the first shot at shaping the issues and races that will define this year - and can help to narrow the governor's race that currently boasts a field of 25. Despite 2010 not being a presidential or senate election year, which helps to draw greater participation, it is still a critical time for Minnesota in determining what comes next - in policy, politics, and the Governor's Mansion.

Want to make your political move? Find out where by using the Precinct Caucus Finder, a tool developed by the Secretary of State’s office with cooperation from Minnesota's political parties, for a one-stop, easy-to-use online search tool. Read the FAQs below to learn more about caucusing or visit the Secretary of State online for more details.

Don't leave your political destiny up to the Groundhog - you can have your say in what these coming weeks and months will bring.
Caucus FAQ

Precinct caucuses are meetings organized by Minnesota’s political parties to begin the process of selecting candidates for the 2010 election and policy positions to shape the party platform. Caucuses are held in locations across Minnesota, are open to the public, and participation is encouraged.

Q: What is a precinct caucus?

A: A caucus is a meeting organized by Minnesota's political parties where citizens can engage each other in a conversation about which candidates to support in the 2010 election and what public policy positions should be adopted as part of the party's platform.

Q: Who can attend a caucus?


A: Precinct caucuses are open to the public and participation is encouraged by the political parties. In order to vote, offer resolutions or become a delegate at a precinct caucus, attendees must be eligible to vote in the 2010 general election, live in the precinct, and be in general agreement with the principles of the political party.

Q: What do caucus attendees do?

A:

• Discuss public policy issues and pass resolutions.

Caucuses provide a forum for citizens to engage their neighbors in conversation on a wide range of public policy and political issues. Attendees may also offer and vote on resolutions to shape the party's platform.

• Vote in a straw poll.

Political parties may conduct a straw poll to gauge caucus attendees' candidate preferences for state or federal elected offices.

• Elect precinct officers.

Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct.

• Elect delegates.

Caucus attendees elect delegates and alternates to represent their precinct at the political party's county or district convention. District convention delegates, in turn, elect delegates to the political party's congressional and state conventions. Delegates influence which candidates and policy positions their party ultimately endorses.

Source: Minnesota Secretary of State

Photo Credit: Knol
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