October 31, 2012

Giants Parade

View of the crowd from my school's window. Still an hour before it reaches Civi Center.

Pro Bono Community = Good Will

I've been thinking about Pro Bono this week after having a conversation with my dad about volunteering your services. As an exercise, I watched how a kind gesture of free services "moved through the pipeline" of my week, like a thread.

On Monday I stopped by my dentist's office because I felt like there was something stuck between my teeth, irritating my gums and I couldn't get it out. I hadn't called to set an appointment, but simply walked in since I was in the neighborhood. They had me wait for five minutes and then snuck me into see the dentist between his appointments. He cheerfully poked around my gums and said, "nothing there, I think you've over flossed, give it a rest." As I walked back to the receptionist I expected her to charge me for the immediate care. No charge at all, just wished me a good day.

From there I went to the shoe cobbler to see how much it would cost me to fix the zipper pull-latch on my boots. "That is $25" he said. To replace the zipper, I asked? No, just the small piece. Seriously, $25 to fix the small piece? Then he looked through his inventory but didn't have a match. I offered $20 for a non-matching zipper replacement and he said, "No, it is $25. You can pay the remainder when you pick it up in eight days." Really? $25 and eight days to fix a zipper? I felt like all the dentist's good will was lost on the shoe cobbler.

The next day I went to get my hair colored and cut from my dear friend Dave. He also bought me two giant bottles of my favorite shampoo and conditioner. When it came time to pay for his services, he gave me a tremendous discount, one that I thought was too generous. So, I gave him more than he had requested and I felt that Pro Bono vibe pumping again.

Immediately after getting my hair styled I went to meet with an artist who attended a Pro Bono workshop I presented the previous Friday for the Foundation Center Library. He needed help with social media strategies and so I agreed to meet him and provide some pointers. I was not sure if I should charge for the meeting. But then I reflected back on the week and recognized how wonderful it was to receive so many good faith Pro Bono services from my community. Turns out that I gained just as much from the consulting session as he did. All the lessons I teach in class came together as he and I discussed the project for which he was fundraising via social media. He too was offering Pro Bono services to benefit the community.

Yes, I realize that Pro Bono services do not pay the bills, but they do fill your heart with good will.

October 21, 2012

October 18, 2012

Binders Full of Women

I had no idea what this meant when a colleague asked me this morning if I had my "bindesr filled with women". She told me to search Amazon.com for binders and check out the comments from October 17.  Here's what I read:

"Upon realizing it was time for a new binder, I factored in my deservedly less than equal salary & headed for the economy section. I found this binder to be an adequate fit for myself & my 2 grown daughters but am afraid it will be a bit snug when I add my 2 granddaughters. In order to afford the Family Expansion Pack binder I will have to get a second job which will not allow me time to cook & clean. On second thought, maybe I'll just squash the young'uns into the ample pockets...that will allow me to continue saving my money for a dancing horse."

I was hooked and brought the topic to my class. We watched the segment from the second Presidential debate, when Romney made his "binders filled with women" comment. Pure gold. Then the students showed me this website: http://bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com/ 


Amazing, the power of the Internet as a conduit for public opinion. I am enthralled, literally, with people using Amazon comments as a new form of social media. Bravo!

October 6, 2012

Wave Your Magic Wand

Sarah Jessica Parker asks Chris Colfer on Glee Season 4, Episode 3 "Makeover", "If you can wave your magic wand, where would you be in four years?" A powerful question. She has warmth, kindness and sincerity in her voice. For some reason her demeanor, and the question, bring tears to my eyes. She is speaking from the heart to an aspiring artist who is on the cusp of pursuing his dreams. SJP is an inspiration and I hope that I can be, and sometimes already am, the same for my students.

The quarter has just started this week and I feel extremely optimistic about my classes and students this Fall. It is the first time that I feel relaxed in the classroom. Perhaps I can now focus more on connecting and listening rather than staying half a step ahead of crashing into the blackboard.

October 1, 2012

Hip Hood

According to Forbes magazine, my neighborhood, or at least 5 blocks from my place, is the number 9 hippest neighborhood in the country.

9. The Uptown, Oakland, CA

Gritty up-and-comer Uptown made this list thanks to its fast-paced growth. New restaurants, bars and coffee shops have been opening weekly, and arguably the some of the best farmers markets in the country take place here. The district was deemed the city's entertainment center in the early 2000s and since then art galleries, an improv theater, and several medical marijuana clubs have sprung up to cater to the growing community.

As a first-time home-owner my first thought is, "I hope this brings up the value of my real estate."