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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Klein News Innovation Camp keynote interview with Michael Smerconish

For the 11th annual Klein News Innovation Camp, an unconference on the future of news organized by my company, I interviewed our lunchtime keynote: Michael Smerconish, the radio personality and CNN host, Saturday. (Read coverage from Cover.This)

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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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A few quotes I read recently that are stuck in my mind

I often try to capture ideas from my reading. So I sometimes internalize those ideas by sharing notes here on my takeaways from something I’ve read.

Most usually that’s with nonfiction; though I’ve done it with fiction too when something really connects for me. But other times, I have a habit of squirreling away quotes or shorter notes, more often from fiction, in all sorts of places.

I had a few bundled up and thought I’d just share them here, if only for me to come back to more easily. They aren’t precisely tuned or themed, other than to be about life in some way or another.

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My relationship to alcohol

I hold a memory of being, say, seven years old. My parents were hosting a family party, and I walked into their bedroom — maybe I was playing hide and seek with my cousins.

Something drew me to the sight of a classic red Budweiser can sitting on a TV table. Not only was I seven, but the can was probably room temperature and likely discarded. The taste was so jarring that I spit it out into a nearby plastic cup. That was the memory I had for the drink for years to come.

I didn’t drink at high school parties, or even in my early college career. It wasn’t exactly that I held some moral stance — most of my friends did drink before they turned 21. I had no insightful health or philosophical stance. I just didn’t like the culture that came with it. I felt mostly socially comfortable and came to like being different by not drinking.

Years later I would better understand there were issues of alcoholism in my family. That became a factor in my approaching drinking with a kind of detached anthropological approach. Somewhere in my mind is always the fear of losing control and hurting those around me, as others in my family have.

I recognized the deep and historical culture tied to it all, and I also respected many people who had very informed, robust views of spirits. I wanted to have something resembling that too.

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