How ‘innovation hubs’ are changing communities: My #RAIN14 keynote

These are my prepared remarks for my keynote of the 2014 RAIN (Regional Affinity Incubator Network) conference held at the University City Science Center in July. Throughout the speech, I shared a number of other examples and anecdotes but this is the primary focus.

A coworking movement, a tech boom, a post-recession entrepreneurship frenzy have all conspired to bring all of you to where you are today. That’s seen in the success and growth of this RAIN conference. This is fashionable right now. That is an opportunity to impact our communities but we must also recognize the risk that presents.

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Art with tradition is objective, that without one is subjective

Appreciation for art is meant to be, by today’s focus on accessibility, wholly subjective. Whatever your view of something can be defended as your experience with it.

Over drinks at a Gayborhood bar last month, a primatologist-turned-choreographer shared his view on trying to interject objective reality into art — incorporating technology, data and fact into ‘timed performance art.’ With no art history background or deep cultural experience, I deserve no voice in the conversation, but our chatter did result in me sharing with him something I’ve been mulling since.

My knowledge of the debate on whether art is subjective or objective seems incomplete. As I understand it, there are two very different types of art: that which aims to inspire through an existing tradition and that which aims to explore something new.

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What the social impact of technology should be: my essay in the ‘Asteroid Belt Almanac’

An essay called ‘Share Something Greater’ I wrote on the social impact possibilities of consumer technology was published in the Asteroid Belt Almanac, an anthology from the Head and the Hand Press, a small publisher based in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was fortunate enough to also be included in their Rust Belt Almanac as well.

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How Spring Street could thrive: survival for small towns in a new urban age

Newton is a small town in the northwest corner of New Jersey, where preserved forests, protected open space and state-backed farm land has curtailed suburbanization to maintain the foundation of what could be a thriving community in an urban age. It has a dense Main Street corridor and the anchor institutions of a 250-year-old town, as a gateway to this beautiful rural region. It also happens to be where I grew up.

Elsewhere in Sussex County, there are lake houses and golf courses that attract vacationers and tourists (and reporters) from the New York City market — that’s where my parents and other families came from. Though I believe there are unique assets, I also think this story is one that will relate to communities throughout the country and certainly elsewhere in the U.S. Northeast.

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What if we instituted *maximum* ages for legislative office?

oldpeople

When we’re younger, we’re better at fresh thinking. When we’re older, we’re better at contextual thinking. So why don’t we operate our world like we know that?

A struggling economy-backed entrepreneurship craze and a fast-paced period of consumer technology advancement have conspired to create an age that celebrates youth. But while I find being in my 20s beneficial in fitting into this era, I still find many of my peers struggling to break through what amounts to intern syndrome — being passed over for leadership roles in existing organizations and institutions because they don’t look the part.

Similarly, the stories of people near retirement losing their jobs, sometimes simply because they seem the most expendable are heart-wrenching. It seems we could be a lot savvier about age.

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Radiator Heat: my ‘Rust Belt Rising Almanac’ flash fiction from Head and the Hand Press

The Rust Belt Rising Almanac is a beautiful anthology of narratives from what is new and inspiring in post-industrial American cities from the Head and the Hand Press, a small, craft publisher startup based in Fishtown, Philadelphia.

The anthology was released Friday. I met the Press’s founder Nic Esposito a couple years ago in Center City and have followed him since, moved by his own publishing startup story. He has a space on Frankford Avenue that serves as something of a creative writing coworking space — a monthly fee to be part of the strong community he’s created. When I saw his call for submissions, I knew I wanted to take part and am proud I was selected along with a dozen far more accomplished, talented fiction writers.

The anthology is worth the $17, so you should buy it here. Below I have the first few grafs of my small submission, find the rest in the book itself.

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Ghosts Story Shuffle 15: the wind chimes of Philadelphia

wink

This was my October Story Shuffle contribution. Listen here.

There are ghost books and haunted places in old Philadelphia, but I am not here to tell a fiction. I am here to offer a warning. Scary stories have everything to do with patterns, of what is unfinished: loss, sorrow, missed opportunity and vengeance. It’s not really a haunting. It’s a sinking. Of knowing you do not have control over what is coming, of what is coming for us.

I am not here with a ghost story, but with a warning. Someone in this room is going to die before the month is over, and it’s because of me. I believe the only way to save ourselves is to recognize the patterns, and I have found a pattern. But it could also be our undoing.

Let me explain.

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