How to contribute to your community during covid-19

We are living through a pandemic. Someday I am going to look back and question if I did enough.

To be clear, no, almost certainly, no I have not and will not do enough. But I did want to push myself to gather what I have done. Perhaps it might be good for each of us to challenge ourselves on what more we could be doing in this strange war-time.

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What I did with my two-year term on Philly Startup Leaders

In late summer 2017, Bob Moore asked if I’d join the board of Philly Startup Leaders. I’d spent most of my early reporting career covering the nonprofit, and my organization Technical.ly had launched not long after that one.

Our organizational histories were quite co-mingled.  I had conditions and requests, all of which were in sync with Bob’s own plans in his new role as board chair. I began participating in an advisory role that fall amid considerable change, and I joined the PSL board formally in January 2018 for a two-year term. I came with my own plan and this month my formal term will conclude.

I’ve always found the organization important, a gathering of founders of companies in a city in need of just that. Here’s a review of how I believe I contributed to this nonprofit in my short tenure.

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I was given the ‘Community Leadership Award’ by the Urban Affairs Coalition

I was given a ‘Community Leadership Award‘ by the Friends of the Coalition, a young leaders group associated with the influential Urban Affairs Coalition.

Knowing UAC’s reputation, I would have already been proud, but I was also surrounded by impressive company. My longtime friend Helen Ubinas, an Inquirer columnist, also received an award. That’s us smiling together in the above photo.

In introducing me, Kevin Harden, Jr. cited my work over the last 10 years in local journalism and community organizing, with a special focus on our adding Generocity.org to our existing Technical.ly work. He thought Generocity’s work was of particular importance.

Thanks also to Brandon Johnson, Felicia Harris and the other Friends of Coalition members, and UAC Executive Director Sharmain Matlock-Turner and the entire UAC team.

Here are the simple remarks I jotted down and shared to a group of 100 or so, at a reception following UAC’s 50th annual breakfast.

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Find the people who give you more energy than take

version of this essay was published as part of my monthly newsletter a couple weeks back. Find other archives and join here to get updates like this first.

I just got back from a week driving around Campania in Southern Italy, including Naples, the Amalfi Coast and the tiny town of Tufo. I was there to eat and drink but, really, I was there to see the remarkable work my best friend Patrick McNeil is doing there. Patrick, whom I’ve known for 15 years, is a homelessness advocate in Philadelphia and a fiction writer. Meanwhile, with his aunts, he is maintaining his grandfather’s childhood home in the rural Province of Avellino, both by hosting guests and, most interestingly, with an artist’s retreat.

I just got back from a week driving around Campania in Southern Italy, including Naples, the Amalfi Coast and the tiny town of Tufo. I was there to eat and drink but, really, I was there to see the remarkable work my best friend Patrick McNeil is doing there. Patrick, whom I’ve known for 15 years, is a homelessness advocate in Philadelphia and a fiction writer. Meanwhile, with his aunts, he is maintaining his grandfather’s childhood home in the rural Province of Avellino, both by hosting guests and, most interestingly, with an artist’s retreat.

Continue reading Find the people who give you more energy than take

Here are a bunch of rules to live by from other people I love

Short, sweet, meaningful rules to live by are a delight.

Last year I shared my own, inspired by the book, and it became a talking point among friends and family for much of the year. I love hearing anyone’s rules; even if I don’t agree with them, they’re telling of that person and a worldview. They make me think.

So, without naming any names, below I share a few sets of rules I heard from others because I just think these are so much fun. I’d love to hear yours too.

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A few things I’ve learned and love about whiskey

Whiskey is my alcohol of choice. That’s a preference founded on years and perfectly-me nerdy intention, as you might have read.

For most of the last decade I’ve casually tried to learn more about the culture, stories and experience. Below I share a few concepts that have stood out to me as most interesting.

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Lifetime Learning: listen to my IT Works commencement address

I was proud and charmed to be asked to address the spring 2019 Delaware graduating class of IT Works, an impactful, if small, workforce development program from nonprofit Tech Impact.

This cohort of 18 was the program’s largest so far, and in showing how powerful it is to give at-risk young people a free certificate program for tech support roles, they attracted enough friends and family that the audience was more than 100. The event was cheery, taking place inside the Wilmington offices of CapitalOne, a funder of the program.

You can read a version of my remarks here, or listen below (or download them here)

Lessons I learned from my mother 

It’s been 10 years since my mother died. I was 23, an adult by many measures but critically in other ways I wasn’t. For one, I was painfully unstable in my early professional steps.

In her final days, I sat with a bulky laptop in a hospital waiting room struggling with the feeling that I had as much control over her health as I did my job prospects. I was sad and frustrated and depressed and feeling very sorry for myself. So it follows that I didn’t take much time then to consider how much she had done for me.

Many years later, I still find it hard. I think of her often. In quiet moments when I’m doing something she loved or that she taught me, I still get the urge to call her. Sometimes, that makes me sad. But other times, as I’ve learned, my continuing on with things I know from her makes me glad. And because of my love of learning, it’s the memories of her teaching me something I love most.

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I moderated the keynote roundtable discussion at Campus Philly’s Annual Meeting

Informed by Campus Philly’s annual report, my own reporting and a smart group of young leaders, I led a conversation on degree-holding retention and economic development. It was quite fun.

Find my recap article here.