Goodbye 12for2012; Hello 12for13

It’s been a fantastic year, as resolutions go. Just 12 months ago, I had no idea I would meet so many great people, have such incredible experiences and grow as much as I did. It seems like just yesterday that I first hopped on a unicycle and I’m already moving on to the next set of challenges.

It’s been quite a journey, but it isn’t over yet. As I write this, my final 12for2012 post, I hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride as I begin 12for13: A Year Without Fear.

Thank You!!!

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GR12: Organ Donor

I went back to United Blood Services again on December 20th, but they sent me away, saying I had to wait until the 27th for the Haitian induced restriction to be lifted. With just 4 days to go before this year and its resolutions expired, I returned to UBS once again. They poked me, took samples, checked my vitals and asked the questions again. I made it past the Haiti question, but this time I was rejected again for a different reason. This time the problem was that I had lived in England for 6 years and this time the ban is for life. According to the rules of the FDA, there is a possibility that I may have come into contact with some mad cow tainted beef and therefore I can never donate blood in the United States. (As an aside, I did ask whether it mattered if I was a vegan and they said, “Hahahaha. No, but nice try.”)

I had been counting on giving blood to satisfy this, my 12th Giving Resolution for 2012. I had no backup plan. I was genuinely worried that I would fall short of my goal. Then, like a sign, I happened to pass the DMV on my way home. Suddenly it hit me. They can reject my blood, my hair and even my sperm while I’m alive, but they won’t reject my organs and tissue when I’m dead. Even if they do, it won’t be as demoralizing because, well, I’ll be dead.

I went to the woman at the “welcome” desk (by the way, she wasn’t very welcoming) and asked if she could check to see whether I had already elected to be an organ donor. “No one has ever asked that before. I’m not sure.” Score! I asked a question that she’d never heard before and I’m sure she’d heard plenty sitting in that seat.

Turns out she could find that information and the answer was, “No”. For $25, I ordered a replacement license that will have a pink dot on it, signifying that when they scrape me up, they should handle with care.

Organ Donor

Organ Donor Facts

  • Most commonly transplanted organs are kidneys, liver, heart and lungs.
  • They’ve even cured diabetes with a pancreas transplant.
  • Tissues transplanted include skin, bone, heart valves, tendons, veins, and corneas.
  • There are 117,059 people in the US waiting for organ transplants.
  • Each day 79 people receive organ transplants and another 18 people die waiting for one.
  • Up to eight lives can be saved through organ donation and 50 improved through tissue donation.
  • Roughly 1/3 of those eligible to be donors have elected to do so.

In light of this information and the fact that these parts will simply turn to dust when I’m done with them anyway, it seems to me, not electing to be an organ donor has to be the most selfish decision anyone could make.

It’s as simple as ticking a box the next time you get your license renewed. California residents can do it online by clicking HERE and all others HERE.

GR11: Book Drop

Book DropFor more than twenty years, my wife and I have been hoarding our favorite books. We never re-read them or use them as reference material, but we just couldn’t let them go. We’ve moved a lot over those years so we have shed quite a few at times, but still about 300 or so managed to make the cut each time. We haven’t added to the physical collection in quite some time, having gone digital with the release of the 1st Kindle back in 2007.

Library DonationWhen we came to grips with the fact that we wouldn’t be adding to the collection, it meant that it had become and would forever be, an incomplete collection. Many of the books were no longer representative of who we are and so we decided to donate them to someone who would make better use of them. We inquired with some of the local charities, but then we thought that the best place to donate them would be the place they were most likely to be used — the local library.

GR10: Stranded Hiker

Cold Spring TrailOn October 8th, I went for what was meant to be a quick hike up the Cold Spring Trail in Santa Barbara. I know the date because earlier that morning I had decided it was time for me to move on from the firm I’d help build. The purpose of the hike was to clear my mind and get to a calm place for the meeting I had called with my partners. I grabbed Stella from home and we headed up past several groups of hikers, including some families with young kids having lunch at the bench and a group of elderly hikers.

On the way back down, all the others were already gone, except for the elderly group. One of the older ladies was having trouble making it down a rocky section with medium sized boulders. In fact, she was stuck. She was afraid to take a step forward and fearful that if she sat down she wouldn’t be able to get back up. Her friends waved us past, but I wanted to make sure they’d be ok. Turns out the woman had injured her knee and any movement at all resulted in a lot pain, but also a lot of fear that she had done some real damage. Luckily it happened with only about a half of a mile left to the trailhead.

I offered to give her a piggy back ride down, but that would require me holding her up by wrapping my arms around her knees. Since that was the source of the pain, it seemed like a bad idea. Instead we opted to have her wrap her arm around my neck and shoulders, allowing me to sort of carry her down in an upright position. It was hard work and I was concerned about being late to such a potentially contentious meeting that I had called, but I didn’t see any other way of getting her down to the road. To be honest, what weighed on me more than anything was the fact that I was soaked with sweat from the hike that preceded this episode and this poor woman was forced to lean on me like that.

Anyway, it was slow going, but we made it to the trailhead where a doctor happened to be jogging by. She put the injured hiker at ease as we slid her into the back seat of her friend’s car. They all wanted her to go to the local emergency room, but she was concerned because she hadn’t any insurance. She asked them to drive her home to her husband, but they insisted that she have her knee looked at by the emergency room doctors.

As I said goodbye, she broke down in tears thanking me for helping her. She asked for my name and number, wanting to repay me in some way, but I refused. I said, “You’ll have paid me back in spades when I see you passing me on this trail again. For now, just listen to your friends and get yourself better.”

GR9: Paid Forward 1x

GR9 moves on from Santa Barbara, CA to Coral Springs, FLStacey paying it forward by donating bloodStacey K held up her end of the deal, paying GR9: Chez Magnifique forward to Matt L by donating blood in South Florida. Thank you, Stacey! Still working to get Samantha’s wish to come true. Also, a couple more Pay It Forward resolutions to fulfill, so open to more ideas.

 

 

 

 

GR9 (PIF3): Chez Magnifique

Giving Resolution #9 is a Pay It Forward that came in from Stacey K. via the request form.

Samantha of Food Hurts“There is a teenage girl named Samantha who suffers from an Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disease (Eosinophilic Esophagitis).  She is allergic to food.  Samantha is fed formula through a tube in her stomach, her only safe food is white potatoes.  Although Samantha can’t eat, her dream is to become a chef.  She loves cooking for others, it helps her feel connected to meals which are such a central part of our lives.  Think of how much of our lives revolve around food – imagine if you or your child was permanently isolated? Samantha had wanted one of the cooking shows like an “Iron Chef” or “Top Chef” to challenge their chefs to prepare food eliminating the Top 8 Allergens.  I think it would be amazing for Samantha to get to see her dream become reality while spreading awareness for EGIDs.  As an orphan illness we receive $0 in government funding unlike other gastrointestinal disorders.  Many children have few if any safe foods and live on formula; no cake at birthdays, no eating in the lunchroom or family meals, repeated doctor visits, tests and hospital stays… it is truly heartbreaking… Samantha wants a cure so she can taste the food she cooks.  I would love to at least see part of her dream come true by one of the cooking shows doing the Top 8 Elimination challenge, but how much greater if she could actually BE there and meet the chefs?!  She is a brave girl who has done numerous YouTube videos to spread awareness, I would love to see her given an opportunity to spread awareness even further.”

WOW!!!! How could I not try to help this courageous and inspirational young lady?

There are a few ways I may be able to help and I will try every one of them.

  1. I have contacted Samantha’s family to let them know her efforts have not gone unnoticed and that people like Stacey and I are working alongside her. (I encourage you to do the same via her Facebook page.)
  2. I will try to promote Samantha’s cause via this blog and all the social media tools I have at my disposal.
  3. I am forwarding her request on to every contact I have in television, particularly those at Bravo, which airs Top Chef.
  4. Posting links to her cause wherever I think it may gain traction.

I have no idea if my efforts will make her dream a reality, but nothing would make me happier than seeing Samantha on TV.

Food HurtsPlease add your name to Samantha’s Change.org petition. It only takes a second.

Make a tribute donation via CaringBridge.

Make a donation to CURED. Get this, 100% of your donation goes into researching a cure. 100%!!!

Visit her Facebook Page.

Watch her videos on YouTube

GR8 (PIF2): Learning Adventures

Pay It Forward #2 was requested by a teacher who has given up the confines of the traditional walled classroom in favor of experiential learning. Her new venture has exposed kids from around California to some of the great wonders of the world, not the least of which are the extraordinary cultures of Southeast Asia, via Friendship Tours.

From the Friendship Tours website…

Educational travel and community service programs for students and teachers. Experiential learning and volunteer projects create diplomacy and mutual prosperity for a more peaceful world.

We invite you to…

  • Transcend ordinary tourism.
  • Experience living history.
  • Join meaningful learning adventures.
  • Support global communities healing from war.

Teachers Travel Free!

Lead students on life-changing discoveries.

Friendship World ToursMy job is to review the educational material she has created to ensure that those joining her tours gain as much perspective and historical knowledge as possible. She wants the kids, and teachers, to maximize the intellectual returns on their investment of time and money. I love it!

There are 5 Units, each one broken down into 5 or so sections, plus quizzes, powerpoint presentations, worksheets and best of all, “Simulated Activities” for me to review. I am to go through it all looking for typos, to make sure lessons are clear, formatting is correct and essentially, that the material fulfills its intended purpose.

I’m looking forward to learning from the material and hoping this resolution will call attention to the great work Friendship is doing. To learn more about the tours, click HERE. If you are a teacher, you should definitely look into this. Teachers travel free!

Considering the work she is doing, asking her to pay this forward almost seems redundant, but she has agreed to do so. I’m hoping this PIF will reach across the globe following her travels.

GR7 (PIF1): Musical Mold

The first Pay It Forward giving resolution, sent to me via FB, is officially set.

“I was trying to think of a way for you to help the music programs here. But I can’t get past the ‘not in a financial way.’ I’ve been trying to come up with another way for you to give to that program. I need a few more weeks. Brain is fried. Maybe that’s what you need to give me–some new brain cells!

Maybe some sort of instrument drive? Or if I had the time and skills to research and apply for grants, that would be great too. Both the middle school and high school my kids are zoned for are Title I schools. There is little money in the county and state for music to begin with. Because we pull from a lower economic bracket, there isn’t much in the way of fund raising and personal donations. Our middle school band director said he wouldn’t recommend any of the school-owned instruments to the kids because they are full of mold. Gross! But for many families, renting a school instrument is the only option.”

So, how can I help the music program without writing a check? Well, if I could find a way to rid the instruments they already have of the mold, that would go a long way toward improving the music program. That way, more kids could play an instrument, the school won’t have to come up with funds and I’m not an enabler of financial waste.

UltrasonicAfter doing some research, I found out that mold in instruments is not a unique problem. The most common and effective way to get rid of the mold is by dipping the instrument into what is essentially a giant ultrasonic vat. There is a company out there that manufactures one big enough to dip an entire tuba. It holds 36 gallons and costs about $3,000. There is an instrument shop called All-County Music in Andrea’s area that has one, but they charge about $150 per instrument for the service.

Then I had an epiphany. I know someone who used to have a large ultrasonic machine in their factory, for a completely unrelated purpose. They’ve since retired, but I thought it worth a call to see if (a) he still has it and (b) it is big enough to fit a musical instrument. The answer to both questions was, “yes!” It’s only a 10 gallon version, so it won’t fit a tuba or trombone, but it will certainly do the job for almost all the other instruments when broken down. To make matters even better, the gentleman offered to deliver it to the school..

Andrea put me in touch with the music director so that I could work out the logistical details, but of course nothing is that easy when a bureaucracy is involved. While he was incredibly grateful for the help, he informed me I would have to seek approval from the county before we could proceed. I have moved it up the chain of command and as of this moment am awaiting a response.

However, as per my definition, even if they refuse my help, I have satisfied my resolution and look forward to seeing how Andrea pays it forward.

GR Resolution 7-11: Pay It Forward – “Success or failure for the GR will be determined solely by what I can control, namely that I carry out a favor, get confirmation that the favor will be paid forward and pass along the information for tracking it.”

GR7-11: Pay It Forward

I’m going to take a slightly different tack with giving resolutions 7-12. For the remaining GR’s I am asking people to tell me how I can help them or someone they know, directly. In return, all I ask is that they pay that favor forward to someone else with the same stipulation. I will select 6 “favors” and we will track each one independently over their life. The hope is that a competition of goodwill will develop, we will see some interesting acts of kindness and meet some fun people along the way.

Success or failure for the GR will be determined solely by what I can control, namely that I carry out a favor, get confirmation that the favor will be paid forward and pass along the information for tracking it.

It all begins with you. Keep in mind how I have defined my Giving Resolutions when submitting your request, for that definition still holds for these.

Do 12 charitable things that don’t involve writing a check. I’m looking to inspire others and myself to be more caring and considerate by gaining a new perspective.

I’m hoping for some outlandish requests that will really make me push my limits physically, mentally or even socially, but I have a feeling it will be the really simple requests that are likely to have the biggest impact on me. If you can’t think of anything please share my request with someone who might.

 

GR6: League of Professional Educators’ “What If” Campaign

Americans tend to be visually stimulated, meaning we tend to respond to images and videos over text and auditory messages. So in order to help people understand what the League of Professional Educators is trying to accomplish, we are creating an image of what the world will look like when our plan is fully implemented. Here are the first three steps in that direction.

What if America's BEST TEACHERS were revered like pop icons?What if America's BEST TEACHERS were paid like corporate titans?What if America properly valued the contribution of its BEST TEACHERS?

LR9: Klout

I was out for dinner the other night with one of my hedge fund’s investors and the topic ofBijaPoo on Klout Klout came up. I’d heard the word mentioned earlier in the week while on a business trip to NYC as well. Two unrelated mentions in one week perked my ears and piqued my interest, so I had to find out more.

First, both conversations focused on the fact that Justin Bieber has the most influence of anyone on the Internet and that companies are actually paying him to essentially do product placements on his Twitter, Facebook, et al accounts. How do they know he’s the most influential person in cyberspace? Well, he’s the only person in the world with a Klout score of 100 out of 100.

According to their website,

The Klout Score measures influence based on your ability to drive action. Every time you create content or engage you influence others.

The Klout Score uses data from social networks in order to measure:

    • True Reach: How many people you influence
    • Amplification: How much you influence them
    • Network Impact: The influence of your network

I’m a pretty heavy user of the Internet, so when I first signed up and received a score of just 13, it was pretty shocking. It made me wonder how low my less Internet friendly friends must be and also what it takes to boost it up. Then I saw a friend who isn’t social media savvy with a score of 17! I had to understand the score better.

Again, according to Klout’s website, “influence is relative so it depends on your goal and peers. The average Klout Score is not 50; instead, it is around 20. The Score becomes exponentially harder to increase as you move up the scale. For instance, it is much harder to move from a 70 to a 75 than from a 20 to a 25.” Wow, 20 is average and I’m a 13?! I wondered what it would take to improve my score to a more respectable level. Klout says, “the best way to increase your Score is to consistently create great content that people want to share and respond to. For the most accurate Score, we also recommend connecting all of your social networks.”

Turns out, it takes a couple of days for your networks to update on Klout. The 13 represented just my Twitter account. Once it added my Facebook page my score jumped to 23. It still hasn’t fully registered all of my networks, like YouTube, Instagram, 12for2012.com, LinkedIn, FourSquare and Blogger, but my score is already a very respectable 51. Pinterest, ravelry and many others are not yet incorporated.

Why should my Klout score matter to me? Power and influence is a good thing to have, whether in the real world or cyberspace. If I am going to be successful at launching LPE, it will certainly come in handy. (LPE’s Klout score is 23, but for some reason it’s only registering the LPE’s Twitter account. Since it’s influence is much greater on Facebook, that score should be much higher when it does register.)

Besides, even as it affects this blog, it’s much more fun writing for an audience.

GR6: Celebrate Our Teachers

According to a recent study, just over 98% of the time “teaching” is mentioned in the news or online, it is with a negative connotation. The League of Professional Educators seeks to turn that around and it begins with campaigns like this one. Please share them via FacebookTwitter and the LPE website to help spark that reversal.

Also, we added another image to the IF campaign.

Click here to share “If community…” on Facebook

If community is your concern, so is education

GR6: LPE’s “IF” Campaign

I met with an amplification consultant, which is essentially a business designed to help get a message out via the full array of social media outlets. Amplification, Inc has come on board to help us do just that. This is an iterative process, that will require us trying things, assessing their success and making adjustments. What I learned from our 1st discussion is that in the world of social media, a picture is worth 1,000 words and video is worth exponentially more, especially short videos. Children and animals are a huge plus. Nothing new in any of this, but if we are going to be successful at getting our message out, it’s important for us to be cognizant of what works. Here are the first 5 images from the new “IF” campaign for the League of Professional Educators. I would greatly appreciate it if you would share them via Facebook and/or Twitter. Every “Share” and “Like” helps get us closer to fixing education.

Click here to share “If children…” on Facebook

If children are your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If poverty…” on Facebook

If poverty is your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If crime…” on Facebook

If crime is your concern, then so is education

Click here to share “If women’s rights…” on Facebook

Women's Rights

Click here to share “If terrorism…” on Facebook

If terrorism is your concern, then so is education.

LR9: Social Media

Featured

Cell PhoneFor a guy almost in his mid-forties, I consider myself to be fairly computer and internet savvy. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. I was one of the first users of yahoo, converted to Apple in the 90’s, had a cell phone as big as a briefcase (and a monthly bill that was just as large), and even left my career in 2000 to launch my own Internet startup (think Facebook meets Match meets Yelp, which was ready for launch just as the Internet bubble popped).

TwitterI have pages on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so many others that have either disappeared or faded into obscurity. The reason I do all this is that I have an insatiable curiousity. I want to experience everything for myself and most of all, I have a deep seeded desire to understand people. That curiosity about the way people (I) think and why they (I) do what they (I) do is so powerful for me. Behavior, including my own, but especially that of the herd, fascinates me. One look at my reading list will serve as testament to that statement.

While my interest in social media began as mere curiosity, it has turned a corner. I’ve gotten a taste of its power as a result of the yarn bomb. I’ve been writing a blog about my resolutions since 2007 but until the yarn bomb, noone ever read them. It never bothered me though, because the point in the blog was really just to keep a formal record, a diary of sorts, of my journey, and a blog is the perfect tool for that.

Then I began blogging on WordPress, which provides tools for analyzing traffic, seeing where people click, where they come from, what search terms they use to find you, etc. It’s all anonymous of course, so don’t worry, I’m not watching you in particular, just the flow of visitors. It peaked my curiousity. I began to wonder, how could I alter that flow with better content, better organization, use of relevant tags and categories, linking Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media tools together to drive traffic, etc. I have no expertise, don’t know anyone with expertise and have no interest in reading books on the topic, but I do love me an iterative process. So I got the bug.

Enter the League of Professional Educators. The LPE is, at its core, an idea that was developed for maximum leverage, so that one man, with limited resources could effect systemic change. It is a grass roots based idea, that will require me to connect with an audience that will itself take the ball and run with it. Yeah, I know, every business has a plan to “go viral”. I don’t know if I can pull it off, but this resolution is simply about learning how social media is used to “amplify” a message and drive traffic, so that I can do some good in this world.

I’ll be posting what I have learned and will learn along the way so that others may benefit from my successes and failures. As always, I’ll keep it short and to the point.

LR 9: Social Media Posts

LR4: Yarn Bomb Epiblogue

TextIt’s been a few weeks since the yarn bomb was packed and shipped off to Warm Up America, but it continues to live on in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed it for themselves. This weekend, Will Wallin, who participated in every aspect of the installation, including mapping the tree, ladder lugging and tear-down, went for a hike to the tree. Along the way, a couple stopped him to tell him about this magical yarn bomb he missed, just weeks earlier. When he informed them that he’d been a part of its installation, the woman surprised him with an impromptu hug and they both thanked him for it.

Yarn Bomb in the Independent

 

Just yesterday, the Santa Barbara Independent included a blurb about it in their print edition, almost a month after it went up. I’ve received lots of pics via email from people who visited it and found many more that have been going viral thanks to being pinned and repinned on Pinterest, posted on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and more.

Between all that and WordPress featuring the LR1: Unicycling post on FreshlyPressed, traffic to 12for2012.com exploded.

 

12for2012I received lots of nice notes via email, most of which came with pics attached, but here are two notes I especially liked reading:

From Sharon… “I am the older Japanese woman you ran into on the trail yesterday (Friday). I was walking down, only having made it to the fire road on my hike to the yarn tree. I didn’t know you were the creator when we briefly spoke. I would have told you that I have been percolating a guerrilla knitting project for a couple years now. I wanted to touch your yarn tree and be there in person. Alas, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it before it disappears. I just want to thank you for your creative spirit, your energy, and your determination to make it happen. The group of kids who were coming down after me were still excited about it as they ran down the hill. (color me and my hiking poles jealous). You’ve done a beautiful thing, along with hundreds of knitting and crocheting fingers across the land and sea. I am happy knowing it is now and sad it won’t be after Sunday. Thank you.”

From a woman named Barbara… “Yesterday, two friends (Carol and Simone), my husband and I hiked up Cold Spring Trail to see your Yarn Bombed Tree. What an experience! I did take some photos which I will share later. I just had to initiate this communication. Your tree and your year of goals is amazing. Thank you for your inspiration, Barbara”

Here are some of the pics I received via email:

Wilderness Youth Project

Thanks for the reason to get up the hill. Wilderness Youth Project had a blast 6/15/12.
Andrew Lindsey (click on the photo for the Wilderness Youth Project’s website)

Galina Brouwer

Yes, we made it up there…grueling, as you described. Just when we thought we were there, the hardest uphill climb was yet to come. We made it back in the pitch dark. Thank God for flashlights.
It was just glorious seeing this work of art. We thank everyone involved.
P.S. The photo shows an “orb”…..My friend swears it’s a spirit of sorts.
Peace, Galina

Shaun Beardsmore

Did a trail run up to the tree this week and snagged a cool shot as the sun set, awesome work. I recently starting making beanies so I’ve been working with Yarn a lot too. Great to see creative projects like this around town and beyond. (Visit Shaun’s website thewavesofnature.com for some more cool pics of the bomb)

Alek and Tyler

Heres a photo, theres more on my camera I’ll edit tonight. If u credit me, can u use my website notestomom on tumblr? My mom was killed by a drunk driver last May and I use the site to write to her and raise funds on behalf of her memory for MADD. We’re close to $3000.
It was nice to meet you today. My stepbrother Alek and I were so inspired by your ideas.
Take care,
Tyler (click on the photo to go to Tyler’s Tumblr tribute to her mother)

Jonah Blossom and Amanda Grandfield

Great to run into you on the trail today! I’ve attached some pictures to this email of the yarn tree from today 6/16/12
Thanks again for making this happen– it was such a delight to visit the tree.
Best, Amanda

Amanda Grandfield

Amanda Grandfield took some photos and offered them for sale at her booth along East Beach the following week. (She gave me this one for free!)

John Wiley

FYI we flew past today, snapped more aerials. Thanks again for the fun you’ve brought to our whole community with all your work on this. 🙂
ciao -j (John Wiley)

Pamela and Craig Penner

Steve, thanks for your creativity. Pamela and Craig

Amanda Bailey

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is inspiring and refreshing to hear. I had a little fun with ColorSplash on the last one. Good luck on your future endeavors. Take care!

We met you on the trail, thanking you for doing this community art. We soooo appreciate the hard work, and enjoyed it tree-mendously!
Thanks again,
Karen and Rick Heimberg

This one was posted on the Multi-Use Trails Coalition’s website (click on the pic to see more there)

Then I discovered pictures posted, pinned, repined and stories being told about the yarn bomb all over the Internet…

A selection of some of the places I found pics, postings and conversations about the yarn bomb:

crochetconcupiscence.com

Imgur

Reddit

EdHat submission by Aquaholic (Fantastic pics!)

Jenn Kennedy wrote about it and posted this video too

CrowdKnitting

Pinterest

Stitches and Purls

Wattlebird

Babukatorium

Elastic Camel Space

Twitter

Alex Moore

365 ThingsJackieMackie

GR6: Thank a Teacher

I was a little late to the party on that Mission: Small Business contest, so I won’t be too hard on my ability to mobilize the troops, but clearly I need to learn how to better utilize social media if I am going to have any success in launching the League of Professional Educators.

My contempt for all these quotes camouflaged as images that go around Facebook, begging people to “share” and “like” is well telegraphed. However, I can’t deny how effective they are for rallying people behind a cause. If you get the right message, they get passed around like a hot potato. So, I’m going to try a few for the LPE, beginning with these and see how it goes.

Click here to share this one with your friends on Facebook if you’re so inclined.

Thank a Teacher Mark

Click here to share this one with your friends on Facebook too.

Thank a Teacher LeBron

If you have any suggestions, please share them with me. If you’d like to make one of your own to help the cause, please send it to me at bijapoo@me.com.

GR6: League of Professional Educators

League of Professional EducatorsIn 2007, I decided I wanted to do more than simply run a successful business and enjoy my life in Santa Barbara. I wanted to see if I could apply what I do for a living, to solve a major social problem. After a year researching everything including poverty, crime, health, the environment rights issues, and so much more, I found that when I drilled deeper and deeper down, at the core of all of these issues, is education. Solve the education problem, and we solve so many other social ills.

I spent three years focused on the task of boiling the issue down to its essence and then developing a solution. The result is the League of Professional Educators (LPE).

Initially, the plan was to launch the LPE as a non-profit, but after fighting with the IRS for 501c3 status for a year, with the only beneficiary being our lawyers, we reorganized as a for-profit. No other aspect of the entity changed. It was always intended to be a commercially viable entity, for I believe that’s the only way you can ensure long term sustainability.

Mission: Small BusinessI will provide far more details as this resolution develops, but step one for GR6 is to ask my followers to vote for the LEAGUE OF PROFESSIONAL EDUCATORS to win a $250,000 grant in Chase’s Mission: Small Business program. Click here, log in via Facebook and enter League of Professional Educators in the box marked “business name”. Then spread the word….PLEASE! With this grant, the LPE can build out the operations necessary for triggering real improvement in America’s education system.

In this video, I describe the key issue facing our education system and how the LPE will solve it.

LPE on FacebookLPE on Twitter

 

 

GR5: Locked and Loaded

400 Square Feet of YarnAfter defusing the yarn bomb, the 400 square feet of knitted pieces were lugged back down the Cold Spring Trail in four large backpacks and shipped off to North Carolina. When the packages arrive, Warm Up America will convert them into blankets and scarves for those in need.

Warm Up America

LR4: The Hurt Locker

Will and PeterJust three people were waiting for Barbara, Jackson and I to help us defuse the yarn bomb yesterday. Dennis Moran joined the crew to see it for himself. Will Wallin and Peter Biava, have been the unsung heroes on this project. As Peter put it, they were the offensive linemen, doing the heavy lifting with little adoration in return. While the others who had lugged the 14′ ladder up were understandably “unavailable” to bring it down, these guys were in it for the long haul. I will forever be grateful for their totally selfless, back-breaking work.

Just three days from Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, the heat made the 2.6 hike up the mountain much harder than usual. What took over 60 man hours to put up, took just 6 to completely remove. It had to be carefully done because all the material would be donated to Warm Up America in North Carolina where it will become blankets and scarves for those in need.

RemovalHurt Locker

With all the material removed, the tree looked like a sepia version of a bright color photo. As we took some final pictures before heading back down, I breathed a sigh of relief. No more worrying that I wouldn’t pull it off. No more pleading for help. No more sleepless nights worrying that my yarn would somehow be the cause of a forest fire. No more pressure to get the word out so that others might experience the whimsy for themselves. No more panic over how I’d get the ladder back down. As much as I loved every stage of the project, I was happy for it to be coming to a successful conclusion. All that’s left now are the friendships I’ve forged, the photos and memories, and the pride that comes with having pulled off what seemed an impossible task just three months ago. No stress in that.My Hurt Locker Crew

The Aftermath

LR4: Yarn Bomb Pics

Yarn BombI hiked to the yarn bomb for the seventh time in 8 days. I spent so much time on this project and in 3 days it will disappear forever. These pictures will be all I have to look back on, so I keep searching for the perfect one that captures it all. The problem is, there are so many facets, so many stories, so many people attached to it, and so many nooks and crannies in the tree, that no single image can possibly capture everything on its own. Between John Wiley’s aerial shots, Kolya Hicker’s artistic interpretations, pics sent to me by visitors and friends plus my own pics and video, hopefully even those who can’t make it out there to see it in person can get a good feel for it. Click on a pic and you can quickly go through all the new ones. I think they give a pretty good feel for what it’s like to be out there on the trail, witnessing it for yourself.

As an aside, each day I have run into people who were shocked as they turned the corner to see this explosion of color suddenly rise up from 2.5 miles of desert scrub, and those who were excitedly anticipating what friends had described to them in texts and emails. Only 2 people had read about it on EdHat or The Independent. Most heard about it via word of mouth. (This is a real source of frustration for me. I just don’t understand why the papers, radio and TV have ignored it. As a hiker and Santa Barbara resident, I’d be pissed if this were up there on the trails and no one brought it to my attention. But I digress.) A couple of them had heard about this guy “Steve” who put it together and when they realized I am Steve, they actually asked to take a picture with me. How cool is that?!?!

The smiles people have when they see it; the anticipatory excitement on their faces and in their voices as they push further on our trails than they’ve ever pushed before; the endless curiosity about who, what, where, when and especially, why; the joy they feel when they hear the stories of Yancey and his knitters in Alabama, Dany & Ivo in London, Marcy, the Crochet Grenade, in San Diego, Michele, the former editor of Crochet Magazine, Lara and her tiny flower, etc, etc, etc, has made this one of the best weeks of my life. It’s so rare to share so many moments with so many strangers filled nothing but pure, unadulterated joy. No ego, no envy, no selfishness, no anger. Just a shared moment of “Wow!”