Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Look Ahead Where You Want to Go

I hate to drive. During the last 14 years that I have lived in the Bay Area, I can count on one hand the number of times I have driven a car, even though I have a license. Consequently, my driving skills are pretty rusty and I am a nervous driver. I have decided that this is the year to get my driving skills up to par so I bought this very helpful and somewhat hilarious book by Norman Klein, Drive Without Fear.

For 36 years, Mr. Klein taught mainly older women, whose husbands had died or become ill, how to drive. He devotes a whole chapter to steering. According to Norman, if you can steer, you can drive (and if you can't, forget it). He talks about students who watch the nose of the car or the emblem on their steering wheel to keep the car straight, and he tells them that the most important thing is to look straight ahead and to, "Look where you want to go."

This seems like such obvious advice, and yet many of his students look everywhere except in front of them. Some stare at stop signs as they approach and veer off towards the side of the road. One woman watches the scenery pass by her side windows. When he asked her why she does this she said, "I thought this car was automatic."

In my individual coaching practice with people going through a career transition, I would say that looking ahead where you want to go is also one of the most important pieces of advice that I can give. When changing careers, it is important to focus your energy on as specific a goal as possible without spending a lot of time getting stuck in the obstacles (stop signs), perpetual introspection (nose of the car) or everything else on your "to do" list (scenery). But like driving, not only do you need to keep your focus on where you want to go, but you also need to move forward by taking action.

A long time ago I thought I wanted to be a massage therapist, until I took a class and realized that I had to massage naked people I didn't know. Yuck! If I hadn't taken action towards that goal, I never would have known that it wasn't right for me.

If you look ahead where you want to go and take action, eventually, you will get there.

Friday, August 26, 2005

People's Grocery

When I met my husband in 1999, he was living in a loft in West Oakland, which I eventually moved into in 2002. It was an amazing space with high ceilings, boldly painted walls and banks of windows from floor to ceiling. We loved living there, except that it wasn't really a safe place to walk around in at night and there weren't any grocery stores nearby.

About a year later, my friend Alli invited me to a fundraiser for a community-based organization that her friend Malaika Edwards was starting, People's Grocery.

People's Grocery's mission is to "find creative solutions to the food, health and economic needs of West Oakland by building a local food system and local economy." West Oakland has 1 grocery store for 30,000 people, but 40 liquor stores.

Some of their programs support micro-enterprise, like their Mobile Market that sells fresh produce and natural food to schools, senior homes and residents from a van that drives around the neighborhood. Other programs provide community education, like their Urban Rootz Food and Justice Camps that teach young people, "where food comes from, how it's produced, who profits from it, and what the impacts of food are on personal, community and environmental health." Finally, they have urban agriculture programs, where they grow vegetables in abandonded lots, many of which are sold from their Mobile Market.

Shortly after the fundraiser, my husband and I volunteered in their garden and I became a table captain for their 2004 fundraiser. They're next Harvesting Justice brunch is September 18th and I am gearing up to be a table captain again. If you are interested in volunteering with People's Grocery, contact Malaika Edwards at

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The New Heroes

PBS showed an incredible series this summer called The New Heroes. Over the course of four episodes, the show explores the lives of 14 social entrepreneurs. The New Heroes site defines a social entrepreneur as someone who "identifies and solves social problems on a large scale." I was only able to Tivo two of the episodes, but they were amazing. 3 or 4 entrepreneurs are profiled in each episode. The two I saw were about education and technology.

One of the most amazing profiles in the "Technology of Freedom" episode was about these two guys, Nick Moon & Martin Fisher, and their project, KickStart. They created this amazing micro-irrigation technology that allows farmers in Africa to water their crops in what would usually take one day, in one hour.

Another stirring and beautifully shot piece in the "Power of Knowledge" episode was about Inderjit Khurana who creates schools on train platforms for children who spend their day begging at the stations rather than going to school. They believe that if children can't go to school, the schools must go to the children.

I highly recommend the series and you can still order it on DVD at the New Heroes Web site.

Or, you can host a New Heroes house party and the Skoll Foundation will send you a free DVD with 4 stories, and will match any donations that you collect. The cool part is that you can give your money directly to one of the people or organizations profiled on the show.

I am thinking about hosting a New Heroes house party/cupcake tasting party. My cupcake tasting party yesterday was so fun it would be nice to combine it with something like supporting amazing folks.

But first I have to get my table together for The People's Grocery fundraising brunch on September 18th.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Service & Cupcakes

Today is my 36th birthday. Inspired by next door neighbor's blog, Pause, and my favorite make you smile blog, Cupcakes Take the Cake, I am starting a blog.

Through my coaching and consulting business, Big Vision Career & Project Consulting, I am always coming across opportunities, resources and articles about visionary thinkers and service opportunities that I want to share. And I also see photos of cupcakes and other whimsical things that I want to pass on.

My hope is to find as many examples as possible of solutions to some of the world's problems that include joy and fun, like my favorite show, The Daily Show, and the arts education nonprofit I will be leaving at the end of the month after working there for 6 years, Streetside Stories.

By my 37th birthday I hope to have compiled, with the help of readers like you, examples of the integration of service and joy.