Apr 10, 2013

Tech Innovation Summit to End Homelessness--Could it Work?

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Featured in Moyers' documentary, this 54-year-old woman is a former microchip engineer who lost her job and now lives under a highway.

Photo credit: Bill Moyers & Company

Yesterday while scanning tech industry headlines, I came across a piece by Colleen Taylor of TechCrunch that gave me serious pause. Titled, The Other Side of Silicon Valley that the Tech Industry is Leaving Behind, the piece referenced a six-minute Bill Moyers documentary on the growing problem of homelessness in the shadow of some of the largest and wealthiest tech companies in the world.

I watched the video at the end of my workday. It was sad to see homeless persons living under highways and surviving on food scraps. One man lived out of a tent. He was a former employee at a Google cafe. What struck me hardest was a statement made in the video by Martha Mendoza, an Associated Press writer:

"Silicon Valley has the brainpower and has the risky personality to do some really innovative things when it comes to poverty," she said. "I think there has been brilliance out of that region that has changed the world, so wouldn't it be something if that area could be the one that sparks the brilliance that starts to solve this really major problem?"

I closed my computer and laced up my running shoes. I needed air. My mind was swirling with ideas. About an hour into my run, it hit me: wouldn't it be great to organize a sit-down between a group of technology entrepreneurs and a group of homeless individuals and representatives from homeless charities? I see this as a two-day sit-down, a summit. The Technology Innovation Summit to End Homelessness.

Here's why I think this could work: Most tech entrepreneurs are visionaries. I know this because I've been interviewing them for years. They are looking to solve massive problems. So why couldn't they lend their brainpower and creativity to solve one of the country's most pressing issues?

Before doing this, I would need to spend time with the homeless community to get a sense of problems and root issues. From there, I would tap into my entrepreneur contacts (and contacts of contacts) to organize a two-day summit. The summit would consist of teams of entrepreneurs, each meeting with homeless persons and reps from homeless charities to discuss major issues. Breakout sessions, rapid writing on white boards and keynote speeches would ensue. At the end of the second day, each team would present their solutions and task forces would be put together to help implement ideas. 

Call me idealistic. Call me a dreamer. I still think it is worth a try.

(Check out Bill Moyers' piece here)

Mar 20, 2013

Introducing Ruff Tails!

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Hello, Readers,

I'm happy to announce that Lucy, my four-legged secretary, has started her own blog. Check it out at Ruff Tails and read about how she dealt with an apartment intruder, her feelings on San Francisco and more!


Mar 8, 2013

My latest for Chevy.com: 4 of the Most Picturesque Urban Ice Skating Rinks

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Hello, Loyal Chevy Culture Readers,

I have a new story up on the site all about pretty urban ice skating rinks. Yes, I know it is already March, but the cold weather in northern parts of the country doesn't seem to be lifting. My Mom (based near Ann Arbor, MI) is a teacher and last week had her fourth snow day--a record.

So strap on your warm clothes and head to your closest urban metro for some wholesome, outdoor fun. My personal favorite: McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Chicago. Skyline views, piped in tunes and a hot dog stand is never more than a block away!


Mar 1, 2013

My Latest for Chevy.com: Dog Sledding: 'Ready, Hike!'

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I have a new story up on chevrolet.com/culture a lifestyle and auto site sponsored by Chevrolet. Click through for the full post, and come back in the next few weeks and months for more.

This story was fun for me to write for two reasons:

1. I became obsessed with dog sledding when I was 13 years old watching Mackenzie Astin in Iron Will (fab 1994 flick about the Iditarod) and have always wanted to try it.

2. The man I interviewed, Paul Schurke, is a BOSS. A legend in the dog sledding world, if you will. This is a guy, who, back in 1986, decided it would be fun to dog sled from his ranch in Northern Minnesota all the way to the North Pole. It took him two months. He was featured on the cover of National Geographic and a television documenary was made chronicling his journey. Pretty major.

I loved chatting with him, not only because it was fun to hear about his achievements, but talking to him felt like taking a hit of Zanax. It was late on a Monday night when I called him up. Some of his first words to me were, "Heeey, you want to know why I love it up here so much? Because all I hear is the gentle falling snow and all I see right now are stars. I'm looking out the window and I see stars and snow and no street lights. I love being in the middle of wilderness. It really helps clear your head."

Ahh. Maybe I should move to Northern Minnesota.

Jan 4, 2013

I have a "friends with benefits" relationship with bad food.

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The calorie train did not come to a halt on Jan. 1, when I thought it would. Instead, I rang in the New Year with a pint of Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie. It was delicious.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. What about my breakup with sugar?

Well, we are still officially broken up, but lets just say that I had a "friends with benefits" moment over the holidays. I went home to Michigan feeling great. I was fitting into my old clothes, even bought myself some new clothes in smaller sizes than what I was wearing four months ago. Tyler and I landed at DTW around 1:30am on a Thursday only to find out that our three checked bags were not in Detroit. They were in Dallas, Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. I had some choice words for American Airlines.

It wasn't until 3am when we finally left the airport, only to be driven home by my poor Dad who had to work 4 hours later. Our bags came the following day, but by then, I was already on a massive carb kick. I'm a textbook emotional eater and when something stressful happens, I reach for food. I've been able to curb that at home in SF somehow, but when out of my element, I revert back to old habits.

But instead of spiraling into a cyle of self-hatred (progress!), I decided to embrace my gluttony and for the next eight days, ate pretty much whatever I wanted. Pizza, brownies (in moderation), chocolate chip pumpkin bread (not in moderation) and lots of wine. I came home feeling weighed down and ready to get back to my healthy routine.

But here I am, on Jan. 4, still not pumped to be healthy again. I struggled through my yoga class last night, almost leaving at one point. I am trying to eat well, but realize that too much of anything isn't the best idea. Even oatmeal and quinoa, in copious amounts can add to your waistline, says my Weight Watchers scale.

I am dealing with a "friends with benefits" (FWB) relationship with sugar and carbs and, well, bad food in general. Just like relationships with exes, a FWB arrangement never works. So I'm forced to bid adieu to sugar once again.

There was a reason we broke up the first time. I need to remember that.


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