Now, with 50% fewer blog posts

21 Jan

It’s been a long time coming: this purge of posts. I’ve cleaned, sorted, reorganized, tweaked and deleted posts before, but this purge was significant. I deleted over 200 posts. And I know I’ve deleted that many and more over the years. What was my filter for the mass purge? Just like going through one’s closet to see what clothes to keep, I had to ask myself what still “fit.” Did it still represent me? Had it been around too long?

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.19.42 PMOne filter was de-localizing my blog. I started out as a local blogger in Howard County with many a post about this event, or that org; this community issue or that community-related observation. Most of those are gone. Many of them deleted years prior when I decided to be a personal blogger rather than a community blogger. Now, my local focus occurs mostly over on HoCoBlogs’ blog, and I have much more freedom to get hyper-local and specific there.

Then there is the once cutting-edge-now-almost-silly swath of posts on social tools. One of my posts was “Facebook is heating up” and it was written in mid-2007 with the intent of encouraging people of a certain age, businesses and local government to get involved in Facebook. In the post I made the claim that Facebook wasn’t just for kids and that was, instead, a powerful tool for community engagement for companies, organizations and governments. To which you may be saying, “Yeah, of course. Everyone saw that coming.” But not in 2007. And so, easily, a hundred or so posts in that category are gone. They weren’t wrong, but they seem rather antiquated now.

Then there are the rants. I left many of them in, these rants of mine, as blog posts, by nature, are often rants. I also deleted quite a few. I observed what I observed, felt what I felt, said what I said, and now it’s done.

I’ve appreciated blogging these many years, particularly as an unlike-any-other way to express my feelings, my thinking, my observations and my vision. And in this expression, to have it organized, collected, shared and available for others to see … and for me to review over time. It’s quite something that someone who doesn’t blog can’t quite grasp, I imagine.

I’m glad for the change, the cleanse, the purifying. It’s been a long time coming.

How generational archetypes perceive allies and enemies

29 Dec

For GenXers (born 1961-1981), there is an intense need to know personally one’s enemies and allies. The archetype in which GenXers fall is that of Nomad. Think about being nomadic. You need to know your people, your tribes and which other groups your tribe considers friendly and not-friendly. GenXers are more tribal than other generations. Think of all the branded/logo-focused clothing and the rise of that phenomenon during GenXers’ ascent into young adulthood. Tribes, bay-beee, tribes. Also, Nomads’ lasting contributions to society are in the realms of liberty, survival and honor. GenXers in general don’t trust or want much alignment with others, preferring the edges to the center, but when they do connect, it’s tribal. Look for the indications. You’ll see them.

GIs - the Hero generation. What "total war" will today's Millennials fight?

GIs – the Hero generation. What “total war” will today’s Millennials fight?

For Boomers (born 1943-1960), their enemy is found in opposition to their values. Opinions change. Values don’t. Boomers, whose archetype is the Prophet, orient toward their inner spiritual world of values, vision and religion, and it is here where they have the greatest impact on society. Think Red State-Blue State stagnation, and the values wars that started in the Vietnam War era (and have neither been forgotten nor forgiven). Notice how it’s more important for many Boomers to defend values than to move conversations (personal, business, government, community) forward.

For Millennials (born 1982-2004ish), their enemy is The Total Enemy. Millennials are a peer-oriented generation … throughout their entire lives. Generally upbeat, can-do and aligned to the heart-space of their generation’s core, most Millennials are very aligned with Boomers’ moral direction and guided by GenXers’ exquisite capacity to marshal resources and make the impossible possible. But their enemy — and they fight this in their young adult years — is The Total Enemy, and as such, don’t be surprised if in the next 12 years or so, we experience another Total War in which the enemy needs to be utterly and completely vanquished. Millennials’ archetype is the Hero, and as such, they “need” to fight the battle that is the War of the Worlds battle that can be won by their foot soldiers, led by GenXers generals and created by Boomers’ moral compass. This is cyclical path of their Hero archetype, and their cultural contributions are community, affluence and technology.

For the Homeland Gen (born 2005ish – 2025ish) and the Silent Gen (born 1925-1942), their enemy is The Insensitive Majority. Growing up behind the peer-oriented, Common Man, dissent-quelling Millennials/GI Generation/Hero archetype; they grow up to loathe The Insensitive Majority. But being the Artist archetype, they express this loathing through song, art, stories and the culturally current-to-the-times version of “civil rights.” They advocate for the minority voice, the unheard, the under-represented. This archetypes’ cultural contributions are due process, plurality and subject matter expertise.

More information on generational archetypes is found in any of the William Strauss and Neil Howe books, videos, etc.


Culture and acculturation

3 Oct

Culture and acculturation

Burning Man MOOP map, 2006 – 2013

Burning Man is the world’s largest Leave No Trace (LNT) event. Each year, after the attendees depart and go back home, a crew of people scan the entire 5-/6-square mile space, a person’s-length apart from the next, and they pick up all leftover trash … including sequins, feathers and plywood “shards.” It’s amazing. At the end of this process, a MOOP (Matter out of Place) map is created, providing feedback to all who attended. The color coding is pretty obvious given our cultural references for what these colors mean: green, yellow, red; go, caution, stop; good, meh, no way!

It’s not just trash that’s noted and marked (and cleaned up!). Any gray water dumps are a big no-no. Divots from rebar stakes count as negative marks in a Leave No Trace environment. And small dunes and places where the surface is uneven also count against the Cherished Green Star. This year, much of what I did at the close of the event was to walk around a large area where my home village had camped, and, metal rake in hand, I smoothed out uneven playa dust. For hours. And I did so lovingly and out of choice to do my best to restore the land to how I/we had found it.

I find this collection of maps and progression fascinating and uplifting, as the increased mass of green areas shows that the values and culture around LNT is spreading, being adopted and being cherished by the community promulgating the values and principles. Seems it’s possible, indeed, for great change to occur when people care about a place.


Free Food — grape leaves for the taking

4 Jun

I’m a big fan of wild foraging, wild edibles and — especially through the eyes of my mostly suburban existence — free food in my yard and along the pathways where I walk. Wild edible foods provide some  of the most sustainable, biodynamic, healthy, seasonal and inexpensive and enriching ways to supplement my diet. I don’t “forage” all the time or with any particular consistency, but I do turn up my attention in the spring.

Wild grape leaves foraging wild edibles columbia md

Wild grape leaves

Right now, one of the foods that is easily available is wild grape leaves. They are distinct and very easy to spot. I find them along bike/pedestrian paths all throughout Columbia. The grape plant leaves crave the full sun so the leaves are easy to access. Younger, shinier, fresh-looking leaves are the ones to get. While many people make stuffed grape leaves, I just don’t have the patience to make some time-consuming foods. What I do is find a recipe for stuffed grape leaves (dolmas) and then finely chop the grape leaves and saute them in the dish I’m cooking. So instead of the leaf being a wrap, it’s an ingredient.







Thousands of pounds of food … wasted?

17 May

Were people to truly understand that tens if not hundreds or thousands of pounds of food were being wasted each year in communities across the nation, there would probably be some sort of outcry. Indignation at least. Perhaps a call to action, a call to reform.

wild edibles in Howard County, MD - violets

Violets, both the flowers and leaves, are in your yard, delicate and delicious, nutritious and free.

I can tell you this food waste is true, though I doubt such indignation and calls to reform will happen for it is in the eyes of the beholder to see this food and call it such. And such perspective requires a shift in thinking and perspective. Given my own challenges with change and watching/experiencing others deal with paradigm shifts, I’d gander my claims will seem extreme. For now, that is.

I offer that tens/hundreds of thousands of pounds of food are, indeed, being wasted each year simply for the lack of willingness to expand our individual and collective thinking to include wild edibles as food. Particularly now, particularly in the months of spring, the bounty of food that is edible in most people’s lawns, in open fields and along pathways, at the edges of woods, and along highways and roads is robust and plentiful.

In each generational season, attitudes toward pretty much everything make a huge shift. Each “cultural season” is approx 20 years long and the cultural attitude of the times matches what one would associate with a season in nature. We’re in Winter now. A time of making do with what one has. A time of conserving resources. A time of being creative with what’s available and on hand because the nights are long, the days are cold and and it may yet be some time before the ground thaws let alone the plants set fruit and vegetables. And so we make do in Winter. That’s the cultural undertone. We find ways to DIY. (Anyone else notice the profound spike in DIY energy, craft and maker orientation, people’s pride in “I made it myself,” a surge in the desire to can vegetables, homestead, live off the land, garden, make do … ?) That’s the energy of Winter, and it’s appropriate to the season.

So how have I opened my own eyes to see resources where perhaps I hadn’t seen them before? In my own yard and community —

  • violet flowers and leaves are exquisite, delicate and nutritious,
  • redbud flowers are pretty and tasty; they’re kind of nutty flavored,
  • dandelion flowers made in to tea are seasonally appropriate to what our bodies need in spring after a long winter,
  • chicory makes for a great salad leaf, and
  • tender wild grape leaves can be harvested and cooked in many dishes.

These are just a few examples of what is available, free, healthy, local and seasonal. While it may seem extreme today and while many people may say, “I’m not going to eat any weeds!” I offer that local wild edibles is the next big trend in food. And the beauty of it all? You needn’t go to an upscale “health food” store and spend $87 on one bag of groceries to eat this way. The food is all available, around and, literally, there for the taking.

I want to learn more about wild edibles, and I’m interested in connecting with others who are knowledgable and/or curious. I’ve created a Pinterest board of wild edibles in Howard County, Md., and I’m open to having others pin relevant wild edibles.

Bon Appétit

RIP, Dennis

12 May
Dennis Lane, Blogger, Commercial Real Estate Agent

Dennis Lane

I know of no guidebook that prepares one for the death of a friend. In my shock, my disbelief and my grief, I grope in my mind to find words to pay homage to a long-time friend. What I have written about him is long, as though somehow the retelling of my stories and experiences with him will breathe life into his lifeless body. But that is not to be. Perhaps I’ll post what I wrote. Another time. Another day. For now, I am in shock, barely able to comprehend what has happened.

Others have, in their own grief, shock and sadness, poured their feelings, their appreciation for his life and their prayers for him and his family into words. I watched this stream, picked from it, gathered it. Assembled it in a way that would capture the feelings, perhaps giving my own life a window into the immensity of the sadness and loss of a friend, a pillar of the community, a part of my life.

Bless your soul, Dennis. May you rest in peace. Bless your family and all those connected to your life and your death. I know not of how such things work in the after life, but I pray, I beseech you to help those of us still here on Earth to find greater connection to each other and this place you so loved.

God bless, Dennis. God bless!


The day that road salt and stormwater quality are connected

25 Mar

I pine for this day. The day that road salt and stormwater quality are connected in the minds’ of our county’s leaders and those of our citizens.

For now, I live in a world where — at least in the U.S. and in particular, the area by the Chesapeake Bay (once one of the healthiest estuaries in the world) — where governments are at the nascent stages of addressing stormwater run-off and water quality. (Get to know a bit about T-M-D-L, if you’re curious.)

storm water damage road salt snow snow howard county maryland

On Mar 25, when it’s expected to rain later in the day, this couple-few-inch-high pile of road salt was dropped by a salt truck on a cul-de-sac with but 14 houses on it.

Where I live at this time, in Howard County, Md., the county is in the early stages of implementing storm water fees to pay for state-/fed/whatev-mandated storm water and TMDL fixes. This is a not-small problem. Nor is it a not-small-dollars project. It’s big. I went to a stormwater preso at which the HoCoGov’s new stormwater chief and others spoke; the chief said the county was looking at possible stormwater-related expenses over the next decade or so of upwards of $800 million. Say he was off by a hundred mil or two. It’s still a lot of money.

To this stormwater fee and other (probably more extreme) measures in coming years, I say, Amen.

What I don’t get is the apparent disconnect in thinking between how much we salt our roads in recent years and the impact on stormwater. Road salt impacts water quality and plant life (think: health of our ponds, man-made lakes and streams). Road salt impacts bacteria and soil quality, which impacts plants, which impacts their ability to hold soil in heavy rains and to absorb water into the soil … which impacts stormwater run-off. I’d be curious to know how many tons of road salt have been applied this year. In the last five years? In the last decade? That salt went somewhere into our community’s soil, streams and bodies of water. It may dissolve, but it doesn’t “disappear.”

Yes, there are times when we need to salt the roads. Of course. But nearly every time it snows? What has happened to our sense of safety and security that the roads need to be salted so much? Both the volume of road salt and the frequency of salting seems to have increased per inch of snow on the ground. I seem to have noticed in recent years a quicker reflex to salt roads, more salt being used and more disheartening piles of salt dropped by (probably idling) salt trucks. This could be mere perception on my part and factually inaccurate. I don’t know. 

Rain? Temps in the high 30s. Yet our roads are salted. We're going to have to pay for the environmental cost of "generous salting."

Rain? Temps in the high 30s. Yet our roads are salted. We’re going to have to pay for the environmental cost of “generous salting.”

Today, there’s a beautiful snow outside, it’s already melting on the roads, and there are predictions for rain this afternoon. Yet on the cul-de-sac where I live — where a mere 14 houses exist — a salt truck came by. And left this beauty (see the photo). A whopping pile of salt that has one place to go: down the hill, into the soil, into the streams, then our stormwater management ponds and into our lakes. 

Green or Blue?

LEED buildings are great. Solar power is cool. LED light bulbs save money and energy in the long run. And libraries with more natural light are all awesome. Pieces of the puzzle of a “more green” community. But how about being a bit more and  blue (water) focused). Road salt, how we use it, how quick we are to use it and the quality of the equipment that applies it are also a part of the equation of being a green community. 

They deal with it just fine in Mass.

I just came from a few weeks’ stay in Concord, Mass., earlier this month where it snowed eight inches in one day and it stayed cold that day, the next and the next. Melting wasn’t much on the agenda. The town doesn’t salt roads there. They plow and sometimes use gravel. I know and trust that there are many factors involved and decision-making matrices re when to plow, salt, not plow, not salt. And I get that as a citizen I don’t understand what that looks like from a front-row seat.

Without systems thinking, today’s solutions are often tomorrow’s problems

What I do know, is that as a citizen, I’m concerned that today’s “solutions” seem to be co-creating tomorrow’s costly problems, particularly vis-a-vis road salt, soil health, stormwater run-off and that funny abbreviation that fed and state agencies are now taking quite seriously: TMDL.

Seed-saving libraries, my sis and NBC Nightly News

22 Mar
nbc nightly news seed saving rebecca newburn

My sis, on NBC Nightly News, talking about the seed-saving lending library program she created.

My sister, Rebecca Newburn (Becky to those who know her from Thunder Hill Elementary and Oakland Mills Middle and High Schools) has championed seed-saving for years. She’s partnered with her local library to create a seed-saving program. She’s learned through trial and error, by attending many workshops, reading, sharing, connecting and networking. And, the Taurus that she is (think fixed Earth energy), she loves to create foundational information. Her work has paid off, with speaking gigs, dozens of libraries across the nation modeling the program she founded, an article in one of the Martha Stewart mags and now this, a highlight on NBC Nightly News!

My heart swells with love to see her recognized and honored for the wonderful woman and gift to the world she is.

I couldn’t get the vid to embed, but you can watch the segment here –

Columbia, CA, village elections and local leadership

22 Mar

columbia association monthly newsletter, village electionsI have many an opinion about the make-up of the Columbia Association’s board of directors, village leadership and developing local leaders. But that’s another post for another day. For now, I’m going to chronicle what CA did in 2012 to promote and support local leadership. Perhaps this will serve as a guide and path for others to follow. Hope springs eternal.

In 2012, CA —

Created a website focused on local leadership opportunities in the villages and CA;

Ran a full back-page ad in the Columbia Flier encouraging people to vote and get involved in local leadership opportunities;

Screen Shot 2013-03-22 at 10.37.53 PMRan ads in The Business Monthly and other pubs encouraging people to get involved as candidates, volunteers and/or voters;

Ran Facebook ads to the same effect;

Ran a significant campaign across all of its online communication channels — multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts, the monthly TV show shown on Comcast, YouTube videos and Comcast PSAs;

Shared the election-focused PSA with the villages and encouraged them to promote the video, the leadership-focused website and other relevant content;

Ran a year-long “Why I Serve” series of articles in the CA Monthly (that continues to this day, I do believe), in which people serving on village boards, CA committees and the Columbia Council were highlighted;

Embarked on an extensive campaign to increase the press releases, ads, announcements and community outreach to announce various committee and leadership opportunities that don’t require a campaign or election, knowing that many people move up the leadership ladder after starting out in volunteer committees;

Ran several pre-election articles in the CA Monthly (delivered inside the Flier to every residence and business in Columbia) about the elections, getting involved, dates for filing for candidacies and voting locations; followed by post-election articles about the new CA board;

Encouraged village managers to list their board and CCR positions in the Howard County Board Connect site.

columbia association, why i serve, tom coaleShared the leadership-focused communications plan with the village managers and encouraged them to use CA’s materials and “path” as a guide;

Added a two-page spread on leadership opportunities to the CA at a Glance annual mailing.

And held numerous free, well-publicized Lunch & Learn sessions about social media, communications and citizen engagement to which all the village managers, their staff, their volunteers and their boards were invited.

The tools, the ads, the plans, the strategies, the systems and the knowledge for how to rock communications about the village elections, getting involved in local leadership and voting have all been layered into CA and shared with the villages. I’m sure this list can be improved upon in coming years. As I said, hope springs eternal.

Small towns, generations and a housing crisis?

13 Mar

Via Bill Santos, I found this article, “The Great Senior Sell-Off Could Cause the Next Housing Crisis” on The Atlantic Cities’ site. I started writing a comment, which became, by length, a blog post in itself! Here’s what I wrote in response to the author’s piece.


It’s easy to get caught up in the “Baby Boomer as Python” thinking. But it’s not accurate. Baby Boomers are only a large gen vis-a-vis the *prior* gen, which is the Silent Gen, or Depression Era babies (a gen which really extends from 1925 to 1942 for birth years). That was a time of much darkness. Humans naturally have fewer babies when they feel it’s dark/cold/scary/hopeless outside. Baby Boomers were born in society’s “spring,” a time of renewed hope and fecundity.

But the GenX generation is actually larger than the Boomers, by 28%. While the literal birth rate dropped during GenX birth years (1961-1981) , the *immigration* increased during that time, so when one takes the actual 2005 US Census data — using the correct-to-the-archetype birth years, that is — it will be known that to Boomers 64 million, GenXers had 81 million (and Millennials 79 million).

I offer that the major senior sell off is significantly from the Silent Gen, who are a *pioneer* generation. Think log cabins, plains, settlers … and new suburban homesteading (in the ’60s and ’70s). With a sweeping generalization, they tend not to move often after having “pioneered” territory, and much of their staying-around-ness has caused all sorts of housing/school districting problems all over the country as they’ve aged in place in homes designed originally for families.

The other significant factor with housing — I’d add — is that GenXers (born 1961-1981, and currently 32-52) have gone back to the edginess of cities, repopulating them and helping to make them safer for the hoards of early-wave Millennials who will flock to them, needing neither cars nor good schools so much as they are, at the top end, 32 in 2013 with half their generation still in school (at the youngest they are eight!)

But back to the author’s premise: I think she misses the point in falling for the myth that Baby Boomers are a large generation followed by a small generation; the numbers tell the opposite story. The issue has more to do with desires, current “wants,” what is considered preferable housing and environs.

And what will happen come 2020 (more like 2024)? The Millennials will be the gen moving into mid-life and the Homelanders will be the gen moving into young adulthood. It is always the gen in young adulthood that sets the *mood* of the country; and these Homelanders, who are share the same archetype with Silent gen (b 1925 – 1942) will want to “pioneer” something once again. The prediction: small towns with walkable downtown areas.

This will work well for Millennials, who always wish to be among their own. The Millennials, especially the latter half of the gen which spans from birth years 1982 – 2004, will need to find a place to be among their peers and they’re not all going to be either fit into or be able to afford living in world-class cities. In small towns with walkable downtowns, there will most likely be much housing vacancy, dilapidation and a genuine need for their civic/engineering/build/do/external focus. It will work for them because there won’t be many GenXers there and hardly any Boomers by then. And these small towns will work for Homelanders, who in “pioneering” a sector of the market that needs revival, can once again *homestead,* as is their way, and lay claim to land and space where they can begin to carve out their own cultural and power domain.

Local #hashtags: looking at the bigger picture

29 Nov

As if Twitter wasn’t confusing enough for most people! There’s grammar, etiquette and a sophistication that belies the 140 character world of Tweets, RTs, @s, DMs and those prevalent-yet-mysterious hashtags. #Hashtags!  What are they? Why use them?

In short: Hashtags create an organizing system among the 400 million+  tweets sent each day. Think of them as an decentralized and highly useful system in which millions of people can “file” information so that others looking for specific information can find it. Reasonable enough.

community building and local hashtags howard county

So what does this have to do with Howard County, or any community for that matter?

Most people’s “worlds” are very local. Despite interests in myriad hobbies, a fascination with international news or a focus on one’s professions humans live mostly in the world they themselves physically touch. And on another layer, the world that is touched/experienced by their social networks.

While involvement in local organizations, local politics and local affairs varies from person to person, local events are important to everyone at a physical survival level. And this is where Twitter and local hashtags becomes interesting and valuable.

using hashtags for emergency communications and community buildingIn terms of technology, I offer that Twitter provides one of the fastest ways to move specific information inside of loosely defined networks.

Most people living in Columbia, Maryland, when adding the hashtag #Columbia to a tweet, think that’s a local hashtag. Yet Click on #Columbia  in a Twitter search and compare that to #ColumbiaMD. You don’t even have to click: your brain can already see that the words and the search results will be very different when looked at through the stream of global tweets. The same is true for the ever-popular #HoCo hashtag. Around the time of homecoming, click on top images for #HoCo and note that suddenly #HoCo starts to mean homecoming dances and football games to teens throughout the U.S. (And there are a lot of teens on Twitter.)

This may not seem to be a big deal, right? So what if a hashtag we like to use in our community — #HoCo — gets flooded with #HoCo/homecoming-related tweets. Well, on one hand, yeah, so what. Yet what if in that same week there were a natural disaster in our neck of the woods and our community was accustomed to adding #HoCo to a Tweet to indicate Howard County, Maryland. Do you see the problem? We, as a community, would be sending info and tweets out that were meant for a local audience, yet our own messages would be most likely drowned out in a sea of teen’s tweets. And hashtags are all about organizing information inside on an unordered world, so what we do now, layers in and creates a system of intelligence and thoughtfulness that’s in place when we need it.


Think back on Hurricane Sandy. As the storm approached, most everyone was very interested in what was happening right outside their homes and in their communities, regardless of whether they gave a hoot the day prior about the Board of Education or a zoning change in the county. People live locally on a level of physical survival.  As the local Twitter stream and tweets about the hurricane started coming in, people were suddenly looking for immediate and hyper-local information: information more immediate than any newspaper could produce and more local than the TV stations could deliver. Enter, social media, and more specifically Twitter and local hashtags.

community building and local hashtagsBut in those tweets, well-intentioned as they were, the difference between a tweet with the hashtag #Hurricane, or #Sandy, or #MDSandy or #HoCoSandy suddenly made a huge difference as to whether someone’s locally focused tweet was reaching the best possible audience (those for whom the information was relevant). And while many a tweet — mine own among them — are often frivolous, information about a super storm, road closings, facility closings, floods and such have more importance and a wider potential audience tuning in.

If you look at the two screen captures of tweets in this blog post, you’ll see the difference a local hashtag created, shared and used can make. The top image is some results for #HoCoSandy. Here you see tweets from the Columbia Patch, County Executive Ulman, Luke (a reporter at the Columbia Flier) and and other local people. The other screen capture — the one for #HurricaneSandy — has tweets from all over the place; none of them local or locally relevant that I can discern.

A significant challenge with a community’s emergency preparedness (and a government’s and local institutions’) is that the time to prepare for an emergency is before it happens. Nothing new there, right? So how, as a community, do we prepare now to be ready to disseminate information wisely and thoughtfully when the need is more dire? I offer that the answer is found in the developing the discipline (and eventually the habit) of using local hashtags.

Use them for the mundane. For the unimportant. For the fun and engaging. #HoCoSushi, #HoCoMoms, #HoCoFood. But use them. Use them for news, updates and announcements: #HoCoSchools, #HoCoDeals, #HoCoVote. Be playful. Be serious. Be thoughtful. Be wise. But use them.

With the help and input of some friends, bloggers and the Fire Department, I’ve created a first round compilation of local hashtags to use. There are a LOT of them listed here. There’s no requirement to use them, of course. And perhaps (and probably) there are better hashtags to use in many of the cases here. Perhaps the community-wide list someday will be five times larger; perhaps it will be chopped by a third. I don’t know what’s best. I do know that local hashtags are important and will become increasingly important, and the time to figure out how to use them well and wisely is now.

Take a look! And try them out. If you’ve yet to do so, I encourage you to follow @HoCoBlogs on Twitter.

Greens, Eggs, No Ham recipe

17 Nov

This simple meal keeps me sustained. It’s my go-to meal/snack, morning, noon or night when I needed something quick, tasty and nutritious. Here’s the simplest version of what I make, and, as you can probably see, variations abound.

The eggs, like my photo orientation, are scrambled. Ingredients

  • 1 good egg
  • ½ cup of cooked rice
  • 1-2 cups of dark leafy greens
  • Nama Shoyu (the critical “secret” ingredient)
  • Olive oil, good stuff


  • Get your greens ready to go: cleaned, drained, de-stemmed and chopped
  • Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a skillet
  • Partially scramble an egg
  • Add in the rice and cook for a minute
  • Add the greens
  • Add a teaspoon or so of Nama Shoyu and cover the pan for a minute
  • Lightly toss all the ingredients in the pan
  • Serve … or pack for lunch😉
nama shoyu at roots market in clarksville md

Nama Shoyu is available at Roots Market in Clarksville, MD.

Notes and variations

  • Nama Shoyu is not always that easy to find. In Howard County, Maryland, it can be purchased at Roots Market in Clarksville, and it’s a miracle ingredient.
  • It’s best to heat Nama Shoyu as little as possible.
  • Any greens will work: kale, broccoli greens, turnip or beet greens; the bitter of the greens works because it’s balanced by the emami taste of the shoya.
  • Splurge on organic, free range eggs; it’s worth it.
  • Get wild with your rices.
  • Sautee some scallions or hot peppers to change the flavor direction slightly.


Our GenX POTUS, Fiscal Cliffs and how the Boomers will save us all …

9 Nov

I’m not much of one for politics, elections, who-is-our-savior/who-is-the-devil stuff. I’ve tried. It’s just isn’t my thing. What does fascinate me is cycles, generations and cultural movements deep underneath what manifests and is given heed.

Photo from The Left Call

I will offer to anyone who whines about how the economy/ unemployment/ jobs creation/ budget woes etc were terrible under Obama’s administration, get over it. He didn’t create the problems. He can’t fix them back to the level they were at. And no one can. I’m not advocating that he’s been the Best of the Best president, but …

What I do understand is that we are in Society’s Winter (a 20ish-year period starting around 2006ish). We are in a Fourth Turning. I understand that Winter — just like in nature — is the time of contraction; it’s when things not hardy die; when there is less external activity; when there is little to harvest; and when resources and stores of wealth need to be watched and distributed with a different eye and a perspective that stems from the understanding that some seemingly harsh decisions will need to be made so that the majority of the tribe will survive til Spring (starting around 2025ish) when fecundity, new energy, and genuine hope for a bright future will once again uplift Society.

Photo from Web Design Ledger

I do believe that President Obama is the best leader for the times — even in his foibles and stumbles. He’s a GenXer, born in 1961 the first year of the GenX gen (1961-1981). And I believe that both parties, come 2016, better have GenX candidates primed and ready for the campaign. As with all generations and all cycles, each generation in midlife (42-63 years of age) has the understanding of the times and the skill sets to lead in that era.

Unfortunately, President Obama will have a very hard time doing what GenXers do best (getting to the root of the structural problem and fixing it). He needs for the Boomers to move into their rightful and appropriate role as our Society’s elders. And in doing so, for them to have their “Ah-hah” moment, first in small clumpings, then as a national calling and a moral rectitude few in their generation will rally against.

What is this “ah-hah moment” you might wonder?

The Boomer “ah-hah moment” is to recognize that they are now the senior generation. (Yes, there are still millions of Silent Gen living, but it is the Boomers that are redefining what it is to be Society’s Elders.) And in recognizing that they are the senior generation, their mortality and legacy will start to hound them with a piercing that they had not previously understood. In that hounding, they will realize that they are unwilling as a generation to leave to the Millennials (never mind the GenXers; they neither need nor expect governmental help) the burdensome debt of caring for them. Nor will Boomers accept a legacy that provides little economic hope for their beloved Millennials (a gen born 1982-2004ish).

And what will the Boomers do?

They will do what no government can do without their collective permission (nay, leadership!) as a generation. They will begin to redefine what is due to them. They will begin to extoll the virtues of wisdom that can only be imparted by elders and a life lived morally and well. They will begin to decry and call wrong the folly of science and medicine to thwart their Makers’ Will by trying to extend life beyond what is natural and spiritually right. They will redefine what they expect in the form of medical care and Medicaid, transforming the conversation from the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in healthcare to save but a life to a conversation around meditation, reflective prayer, and maybe how organic carrot soup with a wee bit of ginger will help with their bodies’ circulation so that they can better sit in their meditative and prayerful poses.

They will demand the right to a natural death … and government support for their yoga instruction at their holistic retreat centers while they come to terms with their diabetes, their Reiki sessions versus chemotherapy, and acupuncture treatments along with physical therapy and drugs post-stroke. They will demand of their well-to-do generational brethren that they opt out of Social Security and other benefits. And they will do what no politician or political party can do: they will change the conversation around “entitlements” by putting their own needs front and center in the conversation and doing the thing their generation will yet learn how to do: COMPROMISE.  

But they have to get there themselves. As a generation that is now 69 on the top end (born 1943-1960), the Boomers (the Prophet generation in generational theory) don’t know is that their archetype’s greatest contribution to Society comes not in their youth and their Peace, Love and Rock-n-Roll days, but in their elderhood, when they are known in each generational cycle as The Grey Wolves, able to take their role as elder statesmen (and -women) in a time of Crisis.

Calling it: Boomers will move from their current reputation of fueling a Red State/Blue State nation divided over arguments stemming from their young adulthood values wars into a mature generation that will call ONE PATH the right path forward. And that path will have much to do with making sure that Millennials have the chance for a future. While I could be wrong, I would say the area of entitlements is the area where this generation can — and most likely will — leave much of its legacy.

Time will tell.

And, um, there isn’t much time left.

For those who believe history/time/culture change/tech is moving faster than ever …

1 Oct

Is History Moving Faster? Great piece by Neil Howe, generational master in the super-duo Neil and Howe.

Let’s consider, for a moment, the life experiences of the peers of Dwight D. Eisenhower, born 1890.  When he was a child, kings and queens still ruled Europe, you needed to know Morse Code to communicate faster than a horse could run, and (in fact) horses were the only mode of ordinary street transport, even in the largest cities (the removal of manure being a huge municipal challenge); children routinely died from bacterial infections; and Lord Kelvin, one of the greatest scientists of that age, declared that “aeronautical travel” was impossible.  Now let’s fast-forward to Eisenhower at age 69, in 1959, during his second presidential term.  He was inside in a Boeing 707 (the first “Air Force One”) dictating memos on the deployment of hydrogen bombs, sugar-cube vaccines for polio, and plans to put a “man on the moon” (a plan later spelled out by Jack Kennedy and executed on time by LBJ), while flying at 35,000 feet over a nation whose vast, affluent, home-owning, car-driving, union card-holding middle class would have been utterly inconceivable in the presidency of William McKinley (or during the twilight years of Queen Victoria).  Oh, and did I forget to mention that he lived through two world wars and the establishment of two totalitarian states (USSR and PRC), all responsible for the slaughter, deportation, and migration of countless tens of millions—and the rise of a family of liberal and democratic “developed economies” responsible for the affluence of hundreds of millions.

And later …

In the Fourth Turning, we point out that the western world (especially since the Reformation) has adopted a uniquely linear view of history in which practically every generation believes it just happens to be experiencing the apocalyptic inflection point in world history, in which humanity is about to be completely transformed either morally or technologically.  And to buttress such conviction, we try so very hard to persuade ourselves, contrary to fact, that our grandparents and our earlier ancestors have lived through a history in which very little happened.  Let us please rid ourselves of this modernist hubris.


20 Sep

I do believe, that in each of us — and in the human experience — is hardwired the joy of giving. And receiving.

Giving is an interesting thing in that in order for a giver to experience giving, there must be a receiver who experiences receiving. At one end of the spectrum, the giving transaction is specific, known and simultaneous, e.g. I give a friend coming down a ladder a hand to help steady herself. At another end, giving is general, unknown and diffused: I write a blog post, someone looks at a subject from a different angle than they’d previously seen, and their own thinking shifts a fraction of a fraction of a degree. I don’t need to know that such a gift was received. It’s diffused, unknown what I’ve given. There is no knowledge or need that anyone has taken what is offered.

Receiving is also an interesting concept. In order to receive, there must be 1) desire for the thing being offered and 2) capacity to receive it. If someone is offering a tasty cold beverage on a hot and dusty day, and I’m thirsty and have a cup, that’s awesome. If they want to give me 20 ounces but I only want 8, and they insist that I take all 20 in order to get the 8; that’s not so great.

In other words — and obviously — giving requires balance with receiving. Yet it’s not so clean and easy in many situations. There’s expectation, need, want, guilt, manipulation and a host of other less-than-wholesome emotions that attach themselves with ease to many transactions between people. Gifts that aren’t wanted. Receiving that has layers of expectation about what is owed built in. Greater-than-thou-ness around giving, but refusal to receive (as if that is a sin). Folks got all kinds of messed-up-ness around giving and receiving. And I can count myself among the many who’ve had challenges here.

One of the aspects of Burning Man that I ever so enjoy is the principle of gifting. 50,000 people co-creare an environment in which giving and receiving is part and parcel of the day. There are two things for sale at Burning Man: 1) ice and 2) coffee (well, and tea).  Beyond that it’s very much about communal effort, radical self-reliance and gifting: Gifting, as in I give you this thing-service-smile with no strings attached, which is distinctly and specifically different than bartering, as in you and I will find a balance point in which what I give, what I receive, what you give, what you receive will be considered equal and fair by both of us,

Imagine, a week in a city in which all transactions are gifts. And the gifting at Burning Man is extensive, robust, luxurious, kind, useful, functional, abundant, artistic, sweet and loads more. My camp, The More Carrots, gifts a farmers market replete with fresh produce, ready-to-eat wholesome goodness and bicycle-powered smoothies. Others provide live music, art cars, solar power, pickle martinis, foot soaks, tours of well-designed kitchens, movies, shade, bike repair … you name it. Volunteers (people outside our camp of 29) helped with our camp build, at our market, making dinner.

Individually, I was gifted jewelry, happy/relaxing-making things, a shower, lots of food, lotions and massages, an application of lip balm, a fiercely kind guide to get me out of the camp (where I was the leader and asked many a question) so that we could explore art on my birthday, and much more.

I gave, too: moisturizing eye drops to people sitting near me at a bar on a dusty day, fresh cut and cold orange slices, a foot massage, a hug, tissues, counsel, directions to the porta-potties down the way. I set up my “refreshing drink” stand on the dustiest of dusty afternoons and offered — in the company of a dear and engaging friend — a cup of refreshment and a bit of TLC for people to move on to their next adventure or destination.

And, of course, I received that which was offered communally: art projects, live music, respite from the sun in some camp or another’s shade structures, and the specific offerings of the many camps I visited and hung out at: the perfect drink  at Golden Cafe on a hot afternoon, a view of the burn from the top of the French Quarter, a ride on Gon Kirin, There’s a flow and rhythm when giving underlies the experience.

Yet gifting, twisted or misunderstood, can create an expectation in which the unguided believe that need=result or desire=obligation. Boo on that.

I’d like to tell a short story of one experience that jarred me momentarily and reminded me of how important it is with any community to help the newly arrived understand the principles and guiding values that make a place/group of people attractive and desirous to the new-comer in the first place. This story is around the complexity and simplicity of the principle of gifting at Burning Man.

Here goes …

I was out one night at a bar called Wanted. It was a Wild West on the Moon-like sort of place, deeper out and away from “the city” … definitely inside the party scene part of “town.” Waiting for a friend to get us a drink at the bar (yes, of course, it was gifted and free), I was dancing when a young man pointed to my Camelback mouthpiece and then to himself; then he made the universal drinking sign of tipping his head back, hands up to his lips as if holding a cup.

Huuunnnhhh!? If there was a movie soundtrack, that would have been the moment you’d heard the screech of a record needle sliding wildly across a record. I stopped and stared at him.

“You’re a virgin, aren’t you?” I inquired. Knowing the answer.

“Yes,” he responded.

“Where’s your water?” I asked him.

Mind you, this was only about 10 pm in the evening, very early for playa time. We were far, far away from the rest of the city and there was a full-on, night-long, fierce dust storm raging.

“Oh, I left it back at camp,” he said, throwing his head back as if this was funny.

“You need your water,” I stated. “You should go back to camp and get some water.”

“I don’t understand why you can’t give me some of yours,” he pleaded. “You have plenty to share.”

I was not amused. Aghast might be a better word to describe how I was feeling.

“You’re asking me to share my water with you? In a desert?” I said. “… When you didn’t pack any of your own?”

He repeated his point about how he didn’t understand why I wouldn’t share with him when I clearly had what he wanted. I did not feel like lecturing him on the 10 principles. Instead, I poured into the lid of a water bottle (an ounce, two at the most) and gave that to him to sip. I encouraged him to see if he could get ice in his drinks tonight and more specifically, suggested he go back to his camp and get his own water.

His journey, his experience … those are his memories to take or forget. For me, It made me pensive about Burning Man, the magic of gifting and how the “magic” happens when people are also prepared (radical self-reliance). Had my gift that night been water, or perhaps had we spoken for awhile, connected, laughed and then he’d asked, I might have been more generous. But my first interaction with him was Gimme. And Gimme and Gifting, they aren’t in the same ball park.

I do believe that each and all of us, whether it’s with a charity, a homeless person, a friend in need, or a stranger whose path we cross … we all intuitively assess whether the situation is one of gifting and receiving or whether there’s a Gimme underneath.

Giving and receiving, the transaction, is a deeply human experience, one that fills and fulfills both the giver and receiver. Gimme, on the other hand, leaves, I believe, both parties emptier than when they started.

May your cup runneth over … All ways. Always. 

On dust

16 Sep

There is much talk of dust at, about and around Burning Man. As there should be. Burning Man and dust go hand in hand. But note the word; it’s “dust,” not “dirt.” Dust, not sand.

When I was still a virgin and people would speak to me of this dust, I could only think of airborne dirt, fine particles. I had no idea what they meant. I couldn’t. I hadn’t been there. Yet on my first day on the playa, exhausted beyond measure from preparations that taxed me, a night-long drive that stretched me and a full-day of camp build — in a dust storm — that had me pushing beyond limits I didn’t know I had, I sat in my tent for a few minutes, breathed in the air and said to myself and the place, “I get it.”

What I got was the ancient memory associated with a “dust” formed from a dry  seabed. I got the memory of a place and time in which floating in the sea, in some form or another, was my existence … “my,” of course, being a rather difficult word to use as Jessie Newburn, born August 28, 1963, wasn’t there, per se. Yet I was. Some part of some part of me was. And I — along with everyone else who goes to Burning Man — feels it at some level. We give it different words and ascribe it different meanings. We try to wrap our minds around it and explain it someone who hasn’t been there; and our paths and means are as individual as the people who attend. Yet, we all come to a conclusion and greet each other by saying, “Welcome home.” 


In the most alien of places. A place with not a life form on it. Where the alkalinity of the “soil” can burn you. Where the days are hotter than hot; and the nights, colder than cold. Where dust storms transform the landscape and space into an even more alien and inhospitable environment, this place we call home feels more human, more humane, more civil, more natural, more right, balanced, fluid, loving, expansive, accepting, receiving and able than any other place or space I’ve known.

The dust: once sea water; turned to “soil’ (earth), whipped into the air, met by Burners who bring the most exquisite fire art with both metal and wood at its base; we experience the elements in an exotic and alien, yet somehow utterly natural and right way: water, earth, air and fire. Smell triggers memories, and the ancient sea bed, made of countless now-dead sea beings and life, enters our airways through our nose and reminds us of what we already know.

Today, I picked up the boxes I’d shipped out on the DC container to Burning Man. As I approached the container and items being unloaded, I took a deep breath and let my hands lovingly brush across dusty boxes and equipment. The touch, the sensation, the smell! The dust. The dust. The dust. The dust.

One cute kid at a time …

8 Jul

I remember the first time I gave money to a large organization. I was happy I did it. I benefited from their do-gooded-ness, and even though my own finances were rather tight at the time, I’d decided this org was one I wanted to help fund.

I also remember how disheartening it was to get mailing after mailing from them, soliciting more and more money. At one point, I wondered how much of my money went to actual programming and how much was funneled back into the fundraising arm of the org.

I notice that I’m more interested in opportunities where my contribution can be experienced and valued more specifically. As such, it’s been very easy for me to support Tapulanga Foundation, a small school (and community organization) in a rural village in the Philippines. The foundation is also run by a friend, Robin Abello, and his sister Mimic, who is on-site at the school. For those of you who know, Robin is my “co” in this venture.

If this type of donation appeals to you and/or you wish to express your appreciation for hocoblogs and the community created around it, I encourage you to check out how you can support Tapulanga Foundation.

Social media, generations, institutions and power change

18 Apr

An impromptu interview — and how I met @GeoGeller — in 2007 at a diner in Baltimore where Jeff Pulver was hosting a breakfast party. Talking about social media, generations, institutions and power change.

and then a bit here, with @SpiralEyes


Millennials and the Occupy movement

20 Mar

I started off answering a quick Q someone posted on my Facebook page this morning and ended up writing this piece, below, about generational dynamics and the Occupy movement.

The Millennials, born 1982-2004ish and the primary oomph behind the ‘Occupy’ movement, are a “Common Man” gen. Their *civil rights* movement is for the right to have a middle-class existence. The take-to-the-streets thing isn’t really their schtick because they’re not true protestors and they neither hate nor distrust The Man, organizations, or government.


What may help in understanding this phenomenon, is to take the Occupy movement as a statement about the Millennials’ life-long direction and values: in their world view, the needs of the many (“their” many for their generation) outweigh the needs of the few (the environment co-created by GenX orientation to risk, markets and gambling + Boomer ruthlessness and turf battles + Silent Gen glee about market deregulation).

Add it all up and what you have is the widest spread of wealth since the post-War era and a lot of unstability and uncertainty. Millennials are about stepped progression, earned rank and the Average Joe. The Occupy movement, while by no means the exclusion of Millennial interest, was energized by them and by Society’s willingness to consider the future of the gen ascending into young adulthood worthy of attention (not something GenXers experienced at the same age).

The Occupy movement was perceived of as a lot of whining to some GenX, Boomers and Silent gen people, and rightly so, because there was a lot of whining. Millennials have no historical frame of reference to understand that the quality of life they knew as children — parents churning out frequent $20 expenditures on them as though $20 was a quarter or a buck, the massive redirection of govt money for education and children’s programming from which they benefitted, and an overall rise in what was considered standard even for the poorer among us (TVs, computers, cel phones, new clothes each year) — that all of these things they’ve grown up to consider “their right” to have actually came from the environment they now decry and call wrong.

Expect more from Millennials of this orientation toward *The Rights of the Common Man,” as Millennials in their need to create a world that matches their world view do not turn to the streets and sewers to find their path forward (that would be GenX and their Mad-Max-the-world-is-broken view). No, Millennials smile, keep an upbeat attitude and look at adults-institutions-governments with a calm, rightful expectancy of Society’s redirection of money, interest, laws and programs that make their experience of the world match their values.

And it’s all good, for cycles are cycles and corrections need to happen lest a trend become entrenched and Society becomes stuck.

Clean-cut Burners, fuzzy normals and blinkies everywhere

15 Feb

This post will mean little to one who is not a Burner (or raver, per Mona). I’m going to make a claim about something I’ve been seeing trending and how it aligns with generations. I’d guess that in three to five  years, my claims today will seem then like, “duh, yeah, of course … like, everyone could see that coming,” but I’ll say them anyway.

Here goes:

The edge-y, Mad-Max, raver-hippie, sparkle-pony, dust-loving extremeness of the Burning Man community’s dress will chill. And not just chill, but it will become chic to wear in the desert a suit, a cocktail dress, a classic, elegant, even preppy bit of attire. The sparkle ponies will always be cute and sexy. There will always be hippies who appear not to have showered in ages. And Burning Man will always attract artistic, awesome people who live big, create the most awesome costumes, and do what needs to be done to survive and thrive for a week in the moon dessert storms that so define and make Burning Man at Black Rock City, Nev., the place that it is.

But the stuff of which Burning Man fashion has been so quirkily specific — the furry boots, the neon pink furry animal-like hats, the faux fur endlessly covering ones body — this has started to move mainstream, and thus Burners will need to redefine Burner fashion, lest they look like the vacuous 11-year-old I saw the other weekend sporting major Burnerific faux fur fashions. How not hip to be like everyone else.

Oh, (she catches herself as she writes.) Wait, I’m thinking like a GenXer preferring the edge vs the center. Never mind, if Millennials in their same-sameness (which they don’t see  about themselves but which all other generations do) bring the fur en masse, it will be, indeed, en masse, and worn without meaning except to be like their generational brethren. Again, to my point: the fur will lose its meaning at Burning Man. And being preppy and clean cut in the desert will ride on the wings of the younger GenXers wishing to be different (not like the older grungier GenXers) and leaning toward  and meeting the style leaders of the Millennials with their fresh clean-cut, upbeat and redefined metro preppy attire.

And while Burning Man will get a cleaner, sharper look, the suburbs will be filled with pink-faux-fur wearing teens and moms.

Black Rock City, where the Burning Man festival is held, will find its streets lined increasingly each year with more and more clean cut, urban-leaning young folk. Not hipsters: for Millennials are not hipsters; they don’t need to try to BE anything. By virtue of their peer focus, they choose, and choose en masse, making all of them the same at once; distinction by difference is not their game; distinction by earned rank is.

And what of blinkies? These array of lights-lights-lights everywhere on bodies, bikes, art cars and more that are not just found but required at Burning Man lest one be called a “dark tard” and put oneself and others in danger of injury.

Blinkies will be everywhere. The cultural mood will shift, and more swiftly than you can imagine. It is winter, my dears: society’s winter, and a 20-year phase of an 80-(or so)-year cycle. We need lights in winter, as the days are short, the nights are long and our part of the earth is further from the warming sun.

In less than five years, we will see LED lights all over. Nary a bike will be ridden at night without the rider (the person) and the bike (the vehicle) bedecked in LED lights. And each unique. Backpacks for children (and adults) will have built-in LEDs. Clothing will have lights. City-scaping (and even the faux pastural suburban environments) will have streets, parks and public areas lit with colorful LEDs. And it will all seem natural and right, and it will be, for cycles are cycles and they can be ignored, but they cannot be stopped.

It’s already happening in shoes for little ones, these blinkies. Of course, these litte ones are our Homeland gen children, suffocated by the encroaching fear their parents carry to raise their children in Winter. GenX parents were themselves the children of Summer, neglected in an era of adult self-indulgence, so they swing in the other direction as parents, as do all genarations. Our Homelanders will have no choice, for they are the generation that silently receives this suffocating parenting of their stealth-fighter GenX parents. But again, this will be right and timely. As we protect our Homelander children with lights so that they can be watched with fierce diligence by their parents, these same lights will make young Millennials in cities safer, and the street-scaping will make us all want to be out more, close to home and our kin and country people. The lights will call us out, making it safe to leave the McMansions and lonelier days of Bowling Alone.

And so, I believe, it will be: Metro preppy Burners (trust me: the Burners will cry out and call me wrong); Burner-ific faux-fur-covered suburbanites and blinkie LED lights everywhere. I could always be wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. Then again, I could be more right than you could possible even foresee now.

Time will tell.


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