Solas Awards in Two Weeks

Solas Awards 2014I am on the board of Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and we are having an event in May called the Solas Awards, which will be a celebration of the work of immigrants in the local economy. 

The event will be at the Westin on Thursday, May 1.  If you’re interested in buying a ticket ($150) or your organization being a sponsor (ads from $200 and up, sponsorships from $1000 and up), let me know and/or go here or here for more info.

I’m looking forward to the event and the networking and celebratory opportunities it will provide.  I hope you will be able to join me and I appreciate any way you can support this great event and this great organization. 


What Am I Working On

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-hlyv1XdQqHA/UKntwFXDYMI/AAAAAAAADLA/dZxq83fsaLU/s1600/ONE-LIGHT-BUILDING.jpgAs has become my custom every three months, here's what I'm working on now at work. I won't repeat anything from last time that I happen to still be working on, and for confidentiality's sake I have to blur some of the details for some of these studies.

Economic impact analyses in support of multiple applicants to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

Feasibility analysis in support of a major anchor institution procurement program.

Fiscal impact analysis of a proposed residential development in central Pennsylvania.

Economic and property value impact study of a charter school expansion.

Demographic analysis in support of a proposed community-serving development.

Parcel-level analysis for a business improvement district.

Unemployment analysis for a proposed school in central Pennsylvania seeking funds from the US  Citizenship and Immigration Services' EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.

Economic impact analysis of a major East Coast health care system.

Financial sustainability plan for a neighborhood-serving not-for-profit organization.


Recommended Reads, 17th in a Quarterly Series

Stuff I've read lately that I'd recommend:

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University (Roose). A secular kid from Brown transfers to Liberty for a semester to see what it's like to live, play, and worship among fundamentalist Christians.  

The End of Food (Roberts).  An expansive look at food systems.  This book has a little bit of everything: science, capitalism, economics, and social justice.

Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business (Lutz). It's pretty clear which one Lutz is (a car guy) and who he despises (the bean counters).

The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years (Shah).  Loved this deep dive into this deadly and intractable disease.  The author is a good reporter.

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It (Royte).  Another "good reporter" author.  I loved her exploration of waste in "Garbageland," and this one, about bottled water, is pretty darn good too.

Mathletics: A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About the World of Sports (Barrow). Sports and science together?  I'm in.


Lazy Linking, 117th in an Occasional Series

Stuff I liked lately on the Internets:

117.1 Race, alphas, & "talking white" on daytime TV es.pn/1jAoTvA @grantland

117.2 Silicon Valley acting too fratty to feel inclusive nyti.ms/1hvzGZw @nytimes

117.3 Yeah, there was a font district in NYC http://bit.ly/1lGbWkF @tobias_fj

117.4 A watch for the blind (or for those who don’t want to have to actually look at their watch to tell time) bbc.in/1kIQOZu @bbc
117.5 The long-beaked echidna reminds us we can't always put a $value on nature econ.st/1gBNRaX @economist


How Open-Minded Are We Really

http://yliapu.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451607369e2017c36d206b2970b-piThis is advice I heartily co-sign on, from Bret Victor:

It's tempting to judge what you read:

I agree with these statements, and I disagree with those.

However, a great thinker who has spent decades on an unusual line of thought cannot induce their context into your head in a few pages. It's almost certainly the case that you don't fully understand their statements.

Instead, you can say:

I have now learned that there exists a worldview in which all of these statements are consistent.

And if it feels worthwhile, you can make a genuine effort to understand that entire worldview. You don't have to adopt it. Just make it available to yourself, so you can make connections to it when it's needed.

We all say we’re open-minded but we’re really not.  I’m not even talking about being willing to fundamentally change your opinion on something.  I'm talking about being willing to get into the perspective of someone else so that we can understand not only what they believe but why.

You're nodding your head and saying, well of course I do that.  But do you?  Think back to an article that you read or a conversation you had, in which you found yourself thinking that the other person was either ignorant (they don't know what they're talking about) or evil (they know exactly what they're talking about and they mean ill of others).  Maybe you've even called - inside your head or to your friends - these other people ignorant or evil.

This happens all the time.  Democrats and Republicans, Christians and non-Christians, Americans and non-Americans, and the list goes on.  If we are of a certain position on tax reform, or abstinence programs, or gay marriage, or school choice, and we hear something that outrages us from the other side, we are quick to tar the other side as ignorant or evil.  Surely they must be one or the other, because surely the right opinion on these subjects is our opinion, and anyone who disagree must either not be as informed or has a malicious motivation. 

Bret Victor says whoa - spend a minute walking in the shoes of the other side.  Understand the internal logic that leads to their conclusion.  You don't have to be persuaded, but you do have to actually get into another perspective besides your own.  Believe it or not, it is possible for someone to arrive at the opposite conclusion as you, without being either ignorant or evil. 

We who claim to be open-minded yet somehow fail to see how this is possible.  Instead, we tsk-tsk to ourselves and to others who share our worldview.  What does that accomplish?  I hear many people complain about how polarized Congress has become.  Well guess what: we've become equally polarized.  We vilify the other side - again, surely they must be either ignorant or evil because there's no other explanation for how they could've come to the opposite conclusion as I - and huddle with others who agree that the other side can't possibly be right.  

Look, I realize that sometimes we believe that what we believe is so right that we shouldn't let others who are wrong get away with their ignorant or evil views.  I'm not saying be silent when justice demands outcry.  But I think that on most issues that we're so sure about our position, there are actually two (or more) sides to that issue.  And maybe we ought to act like the open-minded people we say we are, and actually take a minute to get into the perspective of someone who believes the opposite of us.  

If you think Obama or Corbett or the unions or the Bible belt or the liberals or the capitalists are ignorant or evil, you're entitled to that opinion.  But, if you don't give them (and those who agree with them) a chance in your head, to figure out the internal logic that results in their positions, then you're being far more close-minded than you'd like to admit. 


A Beloved Community

Spruce Hill: Resident Community Organizations Work Together to Help NeighborhoodLast month I was interviewed for and quoted in a Philadelphia Neighborhoods article on Spruce Hill.  My fellow community association board member and City Council candidate Matt Wolfe is also quoted.  I appreciate the spotlight on my lovely neighborhood and hope I adequately portrayed my affection for it.  Enjoy!


Lazy Linking, 116th in an Occasional Series

http://s1.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20131220&t=2&i=822935316&w=580&fh=&fw=&ll=&pl=&r=CBRE9BH1FTI00Stuff I liked lately on the Internets:

116.1 In-state tuition arbitrage, baby! bit.ly/Pubrip @insidehighered

116.2 Charles Murray’s advice for a good life includes “Watch Groundhog Day a lot” on.wsj.com/1dD0p5l @wsj

116.3 DIA can sell “Wedding Dance” for $200M…or charge all who see it $6K per view nyti.ms/1i9j1G0 @nytimes

116.4 Andrew Sullivan cautions against gays acting as intolerant as they feel others have been to them bit.ly/Pu3h9E @sullydish

116.5 $0.02/oz tax soda proposed in SF bit.ly/1dVN1d9 @nextcityorg