About Me  

I'm joining Service Space because ... service rocks and space is the final frontier!

A good day to me is when ... it's not raining... or when it is.

My hero in life is ...Harry Potter... I want to grow up to be just like him... Expelliarmus, m*therf*cker!

My favorite book is ...impossible to pin-down... but it is probably drawn from the work of a master-storyteller like Barbara Kingsolver, Mark Halperin, or Michael Ondaajte... or of a pyrotechnician like Stanley Elkin.

One thing I'm grateful for is ... the many things for which I'm grateful... call it 'meta-gratitude'.

How Wealth Reduces Compassion

Oct 18, 2013, 4 smiles Anna-Maria Tremonte does a nice radio interview with Paul Piff, a social psychologist at UC Berkeley, who explains research demonstrating that wealth and empathy are inversely related.  Piff is not not only persuasive in arguing that wealth deadens empathy, he is quite articulate in explaining why this is so.  Here's the teaser: "Common sense would suggest the wealthier a person is -- the easier it would be to be generous. And philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett suggest billionaires are benevolent.  Today, we're looking into new research -- that suggests the opposite is typically true: as wealth accumulates, empathy, compassion and generosity decline.‚Äč"  Worth a listen. 

Here's What "Tape Artist" Sarah DiNardo ...

Jul 22, 2013, 9 smiles Here's what "Tape Artist" Sarah DiNardo had to say when we told her that the video about her work was being featured on KarmaTube: "Well this just made my day! Thank you so much for your interest and support of my work. Not to mention, your observation of myself and my art truly brought a smile to my face. Thank you and be well. Love and Light, sd."  

Silver & Light & Light

Apr 11, 2013, 4 smiles I had the great fortune to do the KarmaTube write-up of Ian Ruhter’s lovely short film, Silver & Light, a couple weeks ago.  It shows Ian in transition from photographer to “alchemist” (as he styles himself), having adapted nineteenth century wet-plate colodian technique to large-format twenty-first century image-making.  The combination of technological innovation and technological anachronism is awesome, the images are breathtaking, watching Ian find his authentic artistic voice is heartwarming, and his bet-the-farm commitment to his life’s passion is inspiring.  If you haven’t already seen Silver & Light on KarmaTube, you should.   But such a short film, touching on so many compelling themes, invariably begs more questions than it answers.   Ian’s blog chronicles his photographic journey through urban and rural North America, telling the stories of the places and the people who inhabit them; but it too is light on meta-narrative. So, as luck would have it... and doesn’t luck always seem ... Read Full Story

Software Approach To Fixing Cities

Mar 07, 2013, 1 comments, 2 smiles This brief and thought provoking article struck me as the kind of thing ServiceSpacers often think about, in only a slightly different context -- The 'Software' Approach for Fixing Cities.  I also found it interesting because it describes much of the work we are either involved in, participate in as users, or otherwise applaud in Vancouver.  "Citizens seem to have an overdeveloped 'quick fix' spirit, a knack for grass-roots organizing, a dose of traditional impatience with public power and processes, not to mention a high density of techies who pioneered the public release of city-owned data. Put all that together and you’ve got yourself a pretty good environment for the development of an urbanism mentality geared towards architectural software upgrades in the form of scalable, technology-driven micro-solutions to urban micro-problems."

It's A Small, Rockin' World. I've ...

Feb 28, 2012, 4 comments, 1 smiles It's a small, rockin' world. I've ben trying to see the quite-fabulous-if-slightly-wavy singer-songwriter Jennifer Berezan perform live for a long, long time -- since before there was even a CF, in fact -- and have never been able to manage it. Friday night she played in Vancouver. Naturally, I missed her; it's what I do. But my friend Rodney was a bit luckier -- and taller, but that's another matter. Moved by the joy of a magical musical evening, Rondney did what any twenty-first century non-sociopath would do: he enthused about the experience on Facebook. For good measure, he posted a link to a video clip from the making of an hour-long folky-chant-jam piece Ms. Berezan produced, called "In Your Arms, A Song for All Beings". I missed that too. I'm a sociopathic non-Facebooker. But Thoroughly Modern yooMilee (think: Korean Julie Andrews) was all over it. And whose shiny pate and adorable mug should she spot singing his heart out amid the all-star choir? None other than our most venerated folkster, The Venerable Heng Sure. KarmaTube material fo' Sure. Check. It. Out.    

How I Use Smile Cards

Dec 29, 2011, 13 comments Folks often use Smile Cards to drop gifts stealthily and anonymously on friends, or on strangers as surprising, random-feeling acts of generosity.  We like to refer to these gifts as "tagging" someone. To be honest, while these lovely shenanigans are great fun, they are not my favorite aspect of Experiments in Anonymous Kindness.  I give-out Smile Cards all the time, but never to anyone I know and almost never in the nature of surprising the person behind me by paying for their toll, coffee, etc.  Those are perfectly okay ways to use the cards; but I don't believe they represent the highest form of the art.  The ultimate value of a Smile Card in the pocket is, to my mind, as a tool of awareness.  When we are looking to give away a smile card -- not as a "secret Santa" (to use a seasonal reference), but as a way of ... Read Full Story

Value Of Gifts Of Service

Dec 21, 2011, 5 smiles Way back in 2005, someone posted blog comment saying that it is better to do something of more "lasting value" than something momentary and fleeting like acts of kindness.  That might seem like a difficult proposition with which to disagree.  And yet, I completely disagree with it – and without a moment’s hesitation.  The important thing about gifts of service is that real people are taking their time and applying their energy to improve a small piece of the world they found before them. It is as much about process as it is about achieving anything important in any single effort.  If one has faith in the process of service, one understands that acts of selflessness cannot help but inspire selflessness in others and that this symbiotic pattern of inspiration and action spreads ever-outward. The always quotable Mother Teresa summarized the spirit behind the gift of service, and the need ... Read Full Story

Tradition Of Community

Dec 16, 2011, 1 comments, 1 smiles Late last night, I was writing introductory copy for a soon-to-be-posted KarmaTube video which offers a contemporary remix of the baker's speech at the conclusion of Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator. In addition to providing a brief summary, we offer three action item suggestions related to the video content, to help the viewer "be the change". One of my recommendations was: "Listen to other great political speeches from decades-gone-by and reflect on the ways that the problems persist, the ideals remain unfulfilled, and the messages remain relevant." Taking my own advice, I looked-up the keynote address of one of my childhood heroes, the brilliant Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, delivered at the 1976 Democratic National Convention in New York City. This was the speech in which she suggested that her presence on the podium "is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred." And yet, she pointed to America's failure to ... Read Full Story

Hype Around Meditation

Nov 28, 2011 A comment I had posted on Rahul's article about the hype around meditation and the iPhone ... "The nice thing about both meditation and the iPhone is that both are genuinely good tools; it’s hard to really criticize either. They generally work as advertised, have real utility, and create a nice user experience. Even with this appreciation, I have never found either to be so compelling as to harbor any desire to incorporate them into my life. Unfortunately, this doesn’t insulate me from having to endure endless proselytizing chatter from fans of both at just about any social occasion. Frankly, it’s getting to the point that I like to imagine a world where neither meditation or iPhones existed. It seems a shame when the excellence and fascination of a thing are overwhelmed by the ubiquity and banality of the hype.In our consumer society, it seems impossible to have a product ... Read Full Story

Hear The Homeless

Jul 31, 2011 Comment I posted on today's DG:  Back in the early days of CharityFocus, we had a non-periodic-but-recurring-every-now-and-then volunteer event which we originally called "Help the Homeless" or "HTH", but eventually remonikered "Hear the Homeless" or "Hear the Hungry".  Grocery stores often gave in-kind contributions that would, in the space of a few morning hours, be transformed into 200-or-so vegetarian sandwiches, a piece of fruit, and a bottled water.  Volunteers would then take the bag-lunches to the streets in teams of three-or-four, covering the San Francisco neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of homeless people.  The idea was not to give the food to someone who was hungry or appreciative of a free meal; it was to sit and eat with them.  Afterward, the volunteer teams would sit for a few hours and share stories of their experiences.  Invariably, the aspect of the encounters most visibly appreciated by the people of the ... Read Full Story