Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The creation of myth

 Last night, on my way home from the office, my brain buzzing from sifting through a regulation on procurement, I saw a backlit advertisement in the DC Metro proclaiming a display of Gaugin’s famous works at the National Gallery of Art. For a fleeting moment, I thought to myself, “…that piece isn’t in the Met’s collection of Gaugin…” until, that is, I realized with a sudden shock that I wasn’t in New York. To purloin a phrase that has been recently circulating the interwebiverse relating to census counts and economic pressures – this was a ‘thud’ moment. But, there were boxes yet unfilled on the crossword, e-mails awaiting responses, media messages to be crafted….

Two weekends ago, my parents arrived in town to pass a few days with me. We saw the Thomas Jefferson building of the Library of Congress which was truly impressive. I will have to create an entirely different post with a series of photos. Much as the opening statement to this entry, I was overwhelmed suddenly with the thought that I was not at home, having personally been inside of literally dozens of venues similarly adorned there, and began to feel on edge. The saving grace of the building’s environs was the fact that I heard every one of the half dozen docents leading tours around the building repeat the same refrain: “…he [Jefferson] wanted the building to be an intersection of art, learning, and culture.” So impressive was the display that I would quite well be inspired to create the same type of surrounding in my own home, once I have one, that is. Of course, I’m not likely to be gifted with several acres of Federal land and monies for the project, but a guy can dream, no?

Interestingly, on the second floor of the library was a Mesoamerican exhibit entitled “Exploring the Americas.” The rooms contained several pieces I’d never been able to see before, an unexpected pleasure. The collection’s variety of books spanned crucial recompilations of original drawings of petroglyphs, interpretations of calendar stones, depictions of Aztec, Inca, and Mayans from the origination of the ethnography field, and chronicles of the Europeans’ initial interactions with the New World.

Jefferson’s personal collection, on display on the opposite side of the library from the Americas exhibit, was a testament to the breadth of knowledge of a president and fellow bibliophile. If nothing else, it helped to embolden my own fascination for books, despite having to divest myself of the several copies I had been warehousing of former teacher’s editions of textbooks, and half dozen repetitions of novels that served little other purpose than to possess extra copies. Once this fellowship is over, and I triumphantly return to New York, I shall endeavor to install myself in a viable location, and further develop my extensive library. One of us must be responsible for the protection of knowledge.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Power

I've listed The New Teacher Project as this blog's out-link for a purpose; It's been roughly two months since I've posted something here, and in that time, the NUF mid-year conference has happened, at which we heard incessantly about leadership, what it means, precise ways for you to foment that within yourself, and what precisely to do with it after you've managed to get ahold of it. Gina Rudan spoke to us about how she helps others find the intersection of their skills and their passions, and that was an interesting conversation. David Mensah spent a great deal of time talking about finding your personal mission, and I realized at that particular point, that I hadn't really nailed down what mine was. All was not lost, however, as I realized shortly after my triumphant return to the Capital region what precisely that was.

One of my closest friends in New York has a brother-in-law that lives in the area, and inevitably, we've also become fast friends. His children likewise think I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. Once I was back there, interacting with youth, it came to me like a Mack truck to the face - the youth, the future of tomorrow. That is my mission: to make sure that they are raised well, that they are shown the proper way to operate in society, that they learn well how to be valuable members of our culture. To that end, I've begun to refocus my post-fellowship job search to ensure that it has to do with Youth Development or a position as Education Director for an institution.

Amusingly, I recently read about a program in Philadelphia that has to do with interpreting in the school system. At the same time, I found myself wondering if there has been sufficient forethought and planning gone into the program for them to select a director. I know that operating simultaneously in two fields that I hold near and dear to my heart would be closely akin to paradise. We shall have to see how close to that I manage to find myself.

I continually refer back to Collins' scale of Level 5 leadership for a reason. Having participated in martial arts, operated in a school system, studied leadership through this fellowship, performed as an interpreter, written as a citizen journalist, and a whole variety of interesting things during my professional life, I believe I have developed a sense of what the term entails. I know for a fact it is horrifically overused. I also know that a majority of people overusing it have generally done so for the purpose of powerful self ascription of importance. My particular issue is education, youth development, and within that language access. So, when I see like posting a list of nearly 5,000 teachers who will find themselves under the ax due to 'budget constraints' and other efforts meant to unwind collective bargaining are solely to the detriment of or nation, and most specifically the more than 1.1 million students in the NYC Department of Education's care, I know 'leadership,' due to its overusage, is losing any semblance of validity. There is a better way, and there are agreements to be made. Students of history remember that the first thing every cult of personality did in order to rise to power was to decimate the teaching force. TNTP has been complicit in producing proposals to that end, and it is apparent that their objectives are in line with the philosophy.

Leadership is not only in the professional field, however, and this is where I find myself in a quandary. Our capstone experience is potentially one of the most intense pieces of the entire fellowship, but having done one or two dedicated research papers while in my initial Master's degree at NYU, and very similar types of brain intensive work as a teacher for 12 years - curriculum writing, and major projects that I developed to be able to utilize in the classroom, - this was perhaps less of a stressful enterprise for me than it likely should have been. I turned in 51 pages (with 52 references) nearly a week before the due date, and dedicated the remaining time to advising and coaching classmates that might be finding themselves in a difficult place. This week, I also received word from one journal that I had pitched an essay to that they are willing to accept my writing. I'm incredibly pleased about this because, not only does it result in a publication credit, it also results in remuneration! This, I believe, is more the type of leadership - thought leadership - for which we should be aiming.

Next weekend, my sister, my parents, my closest friend from high school whom I have not seen in nearly 20 years, and his wife and children descend upon my small hamlet for the weekend. My sister is also participating in a range of events and conferences with the City Council Chairman of her town, meetings with Congresspeople, and so forth as she climbs the political ladder. There is an evening planned for the DC dozen to meet with her, the City Council Chairman, and several other key players in about a week, and it will be the first time I'm in the same room with so many noteables at once. I think this is the point at which I should feel apprehensive. My main preoccupation for the evening is to make sure that I have enough networking cards available to hand out at the encounter. I can almost guarantee that there will be interesting photos from the affair.

Not necessarily as interesting as a Mariachi band headed by Antonio Banderas, but, you get the idea...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

El Distrito de Columbia utiliza sus fondos para fomentar la comunidad de negocios hispanos

La nota que añado abajo la escribí para entregar a Washington Hispanic, uno de los periódicos locales escrito en castellano. Se lo mandé al editorial esta tarde y ojalá que me respondan con el afirmativo. En cambio, por si acaso que no, la tengo aquí desplegado para todo el mundo.

Durante el año fiscal 2010, solo por la agencia pública el Departamento de Servicios para Propiedades (Department of Real Estate Services, o DRES por sus siglas en ingles), el Distrito de Columbia entró en contratos con negocios hispanos como parte de sus esfuerzos de privatización cuyo valor total de más de $92 millones de dólares. La razón por la cual esta única agencia es de tanto interés es porque tiene responsabilidad por más de 95% de los contratos escritos para la comunidad hispana. De modo que es imprescindible seguir fomentando negocios entre el distrito y los latinos, la siguiente información viene a ser de mayor importancia.

Durante los próximos cinco años, el total de dólares que se predice tener el presupuesto del municipio decae por alrededor de $300 Millones, o sea, tres veces el valor total de contratos escritos con la comunidad en total. Estos datos son libremente asequibles entrando en la página del Contable Principal (Chief Financial Officer, o CFO por sus siglas en inglés) y buscando los enlaces del presupuesto. 90% de la cantidad total que DRES utilizó durante el año fiscal 2010 se dedicó a proyectos de construcción. Pero, como antes mencionado, durante los próximos años (comenzando con el año fiscal 2012) los fondos disponibles para tales trabajos se disminuyen hasta la mitad. Ese efecto marca la pauta hasta por lo menos el año 2016, el cual debe ser preocupante para todo quien es dueño de una compañía de construcción.

En realidad, nos quedan bastantes opciones para solucionar este dilema. Para comenzar, los negocios primariamente enfocados en construcción son capaces de crear alianzas estratégicas con otras compañas que trabajan en ámbitos diferentes. Las alianzas más lucrativas estarán en los campos de informática, servicios profesionales, ingeniería, diseño de arquitectura, traducción e interpretación, y en adquisiciones gubernamentales. Lo que ha dicho el presidente Obama repetitivamente con respeto a esto es que los puestos de trabajo laboral se han esfumado a lo largo de los últimos años es una realidad. Lo que necesitamos ahora es dedicarnos a nuestra preparación, nuestra formación en una fuerza laboral más adiestrado. Las compañías americanas buscan empleadas con una amplia variedad de habilidades como los designados arriba, y existen posibilidades de hacerse estudiante de cada campo listado arriba, muchos con la oportunidad de acceder fondos en forma de becas para estudiar. Póngase en contacto con el Departamento de Servicios de Empleo (Department of Employment Services, o DOES por sus siglas en inglés) para comenzar.

Para las compañías interesadas en crear alianzas estratégicas con otras compañías, basta con ponerse en contacto con el Departamento de Desarrollo de Negocios Locales (Department of Small, Local Business Development, o DSLBD por sus siglas en inglés. Allá deben también entregar una solicitud para hacerse un Negocio/Empresa Certificado (CBE por sus siglas en inglés). Eso le proporciona la ventaja de ser incluido en la lista de tales empresas, y considerado para proyectos de cierto tamaño (normalmente de $100,000 o menos) antes de los negocios que no lo son. Lo más ideal para las empresas en la comunidad sería que hicieran una combinación de los anterior: adquirir personal para diferentes destrezas, reentrenar algunos de sus empleados para que dispongan de nuevas capacidades, y desarrollen alianzas estratégicas con otras compañías para poder acceder una variedad más amplia de contratos no solamente con el Distrito de Columbia, sino con el mercado en general.

Seguir ignorando las señales que cada día nos aparecen como bofetadas al cerebro nos llevará a estados infortunios. Comunico mi mensaje para el bien de la comunidad, solo quiero que avancen, y recompongamos esta nación mejor que a nostros se nos entregó.

La reina del Nilo, o la reina del reniego. Cual quieras.