Political Bites : Are Rising Tuition Costs Making You Change College Plans?

I Can't Believe It!

Are increasing tuition costs making you rethink college plans for yourself or your children?

The combination of escalating costs and 20th century learning models have begun to make attending post secondary institutions less appealing for most potential students. Students are leaving with higher student loan debt and entering a market that doesn’t value their diploma. It is becoming more difficult to encourage my children to enter the university system, soon even the community college system will be unreasonable. It is time that we confronted a system that is clearly broken.

When It Comes to Community Building, It is the Small Things

drops of spring

I alternate between listening to podcasts and audiobooks on my travels around Arizona in the car (and RV).  I find myself regularly adding new podcasts and removing existing podcasts.  My five favorite current podcasts are HBR Ideacast, Story Tellers AZ, Don’t Sell Me Bro, The ScrumCast and Haste. Three of those five happen to be recorded at Gangplank Studios.  Which reminds me that I am surrounded by really smart people everyday.  That makes me happy.  However, this morning it dawned on me that the intro/outro music for some of those podcasts were done by Hepnova and KrysVS.  Many are produced by the Spellwight the Podcasting Wench.  Just another example of people exchanging talents and raising the boat.  The power of a community studio in effect.  I can’t wait for the music studio. Maybe it’s just me but it’s the little things in the community that make me happy.

It is easy to get depressed about the lack of vibrancy around Arizona.  It can feel hopeless at times.  However, if you look at the little things, the moments of clarity and serendipity.  Notice the people doing awesome around you.  Those struggling, trying and fighting for something better.  It makes it all worth it.

I am reminded today the teachings of Lao-tzu, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.  Arizona we have a long way to go, but we definitely walking towards the goal.

In the words of Gary Smalley, “Arizona you are good enoughsmart enough, and doggone it, people like you!”

 

Unlock Your Inner Creator. Make Something Today.

We are wired to create. It is in our DNA. We have it systematically beaten out of us on a regular basis. We are told we aren’t good enough to try things. We lose our curiousity and our ability experiment with things we don’t understand.

As the new year approaches, consider getting back in touch with your inner creator. Make something in the new year. Try out a new medium. Get uncomfortable.

There are plenty of places in Arizona to get support in your creative endeavors. Stop by The Lab 137, Heatsync Labs, Maker Bench, Gangplank (Chandler, Tucson, Avondale) to be inspired and meet people fighting to let their inner creator out.

Political Bites : Tempe Street Car Proposal

Is Tempe’s modern streetcar the best use of limited transit dollars? Why or why not?

No. We need more regional connectivity. We need to be connecting cities in ways that have fewer stops and run with higher frequency. Bus Rapid Transit is a good start. The Tempe proposal is fixated on area that already has reasonable connectivity let’s move to areas in the Southeast Valley that need to be connected.

http://www.azcentral.com/community/tempe/articles/2011/09/14/20110914tempe-streetcar-plan-on-track.html

Political Bites : Raze Foreclosed Homes

Would razing foreclosed homes or forgiving underwater mortgages help the local housing market?

Razing makes sense if the home has become serious blight. In cases, where the structure is still in tact, but vacant it probably makes sense to repurpose them. Let them be used commercially as boutiques, art galleries, etc. This is a time in which we should be looking at space creatively and trying things that normally would be off limits.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-18/rust-belt-cities-demolish-homes-as-foreclosures-blight-cleveland-detroit.html

Valley Area Libraries Now Support Kindle Book Reader

I love to read.  I love libraries.  I have blogged before about my obsession with books.  I regularly put out book reviews.  I am extremely active on Goodreads.  So today, is a special day for me.  Many of the Metro Phoenix area libraries have started to lend digital books for the Kindle.  Starting with 28,858 titles isn’t too shabby.

Libraries Supporting the Initiative

Apache Junction Public Library
Website | Support

Arizona State Library
Website | Support

Casa Grande Public Library
Website | Support

Chandler Public Library
Website | Support

Glendale Public Library
Website | Support

Maricopa County Library District
Website | Support

Mesa Library
Website | Support

Peoria Public Library
Website | Support

Phoenix Public Library
Website | Support

Scottsdale Public Library System
Website | Support

Tempe Public Library
Website | Support

The Reality of Arizona Startup Community

It is important that we face the brutal facts about Arizona’s startup community.  Before you think I am being negative please read Harsh Reality Needed.

  1. The majority of ideas being presented here are shitty.  There I said it.  I let out the thing investors here are too polite to say.  Stuff doesn’t get funded mostly because it is shit.  Sure you see lots of this everywhere, but we don’t make up for it in volume like San Francisco and New York do.  We solve this by presenting a lot more ideas and being honest with people when the ideas they share suck.  They will either improve the idea or give up.  You need not be “mean” in order to deliver this message.
  2. We lack a strong pool of mentors/business professionals with a track record of bringing product to market.  Let’s face it we don’t have a plethora of successful stories with exits that leave us with trail blazers to help the next generation out.  Most of the money here was made with scams, real estate or in many cases a combination of the two.  We need to see if we can import talent here or use technology to get access to quality people.  This is an uphill battle.
  3. Seed funding is a joke.  We still have the mentality that something shouldn’t get funded until it’s already making money.  The seed money that does get put into a small number of companies is lacking the second stage gateway to turn to these investments into significant success stories.  We solve this by building secondary funding relationships and getting more people to engage in real seed funding.  In other words pray to the God of your choice.
  4. We are technically poor.  The local universities and employers are not challenging young engineers in meaningful ways.  We are not attracting or retaining the brightest engineering talent.  Technically we are rather weak.  To fix this we need to build a place worthy of people staying or moving to and having more employers that push the boundaries of their people’s skill level.
I am sure that many of you blind optimists think that I am being hopeless or am flat out wrong because you can find an exception or two in these examples.  However, I encourage that we have a dialog about how to start fixing these very real problems.  It starts with us.  The beauty of Arizona is that we can be part of shaping it’s future much more so than any other significantly growing area.  

Sunday Book Review : Phoenix Then and Now by Paul Scharbach

Phoenix Then and Now (Then & Now)Phoenix Then and Now by Paul Scharbach

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like history. I admire architecture. I love Phoenix. I enjoy good photography. Roll them all into a single coffee table book and I am in. I loved the size, feel and composition of this book. Giant pictures with just the right amount of history to compliment the photograph.

If you are interested in the history of Phoenix or live in Phoenix and are in need of a great coffee table book this is a must have.

There are a few things that kept this from being a 5 star for me.

1. The angles of then and new photos in some cases were off enough to lose impact. The ones where the angle was identical were much more enjoyable.

2. Other cities were included. At first I thought this was nice, but the depth was so shallow and some cities were not included which made it so not including any of them would have been a better choice.

* disclosure: the Thunder Bay provided me a copy of this book for review

View all my reviews