Friday, February 26, 2010

Google is Dead

"Google is dead, long live google."

I am starting a new blog, it is at

There are lots of reasons why, one of them being it is good to maintain a diverse internet eco-system and not have all ones stuff under the google banner (blogspot/blogger is a google brand).

Come check me out over at my new house, which promises to be a proper superset of this blog from now on. Not exactly sure what (or if) i will use this one for.

Oh the theme of the new blog is that your passport to complaining, is your willingness to do something about it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fear and Arrogance

"I think you are trying to gangster in on my community" My stern faced comrade from East Wind was not joking with me. I have been called many things, but not this before.

There are many legitimate concerns. We said we were going to bring 6 people, and 10 arrived - impacting food and social space. We brought the architects into the music room (which is an important social center) in the middle of the day to look topological map on the wall, and people felt run over and intruded on. Some of the personalities that we brought on the trip are a bit tricky and some East Winders bristled at them. We were late in posting the description of the project and the proposed lease. We had not figured out a way to compensate kitchen for our additional meals. And of course the one which was toughest to hear "And you ran over Acorn with this project last year."

Toughest for me to hear, because the stumbled relationship with Acorn was the one thing i was most determined to fix at East Wind. It is why we brought Sara out to live here well before the event to give the community clear signals about what was happening.

And what several people would tell me about my East Wind critic was that they would never trust me because of my arrogance. So i went to the community meeting fearful, this was only one of a number of people who have concerns and there was a small chance that the project would get derailed and a much larger chance that East Wind would be far less generous and careful in ways that decreased the chance of the events success.

Sara and i agreed in advance that i would say as little as i could possibly. It is critical that the community see us as peers, and that some of the prejudices be removed by showing the power balance as it is, rather than what people suspect it might be. I helped create this problem because of my initial funding of the project.

Sara was brilliant. Reflected concerns, was earnest in her willingness to work with everyone, was funny and accessible, was clever in pointing out synergies.

But far more important, the overwhelming response to the project was positive still, even after this suite of small mistakes. No personal attacks on my running over the local culture, no one really even said "we need to reconsider this project". Many powerful voices in the community spoke in favor of the project. Zeke who had been our principal contact, Kara Jo the finance manager, Quinn who has been helping us with the neighbors and community relations (and presented the project proposal he importantly fixed for us), Matthew and Yellow Sun spoke of VIS help forestry, Kris was excited to build the artificial limbs. It was clear East Winders want this to happen.

We are off the ground. There are a million things to do still, but we are flying.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Facebook Greens and Blues

"i love facebook" Feonix is delighted. The cute guy from the previous nights party has accepted her friend request and they are flirting on line and over SMS. "Before facebook i would have had to ask for his number which would have seemed a bit pushy or asked one of his other friends there, where would have felt a little weird. With Facebook i can just go to a mutual friend and find him and ask and he i quite likely to say yes."

My whirlwind visits in Death City, Baltimore and Philadelphia wasw winding up and i needed to get back home. I am often terrible at these types of logistics, leaving them to the last minute. This time i was proud to call the cab company over an hour before i needed to be at the Philly 30th street train station. Only to find that because of the snow, cabs were taking as long as two hours to arrive. i run into the streets of Philly and immediately get turned around and lost and i spring down a dozen blocks to hail a cab who fortunately was an Indy 500 refugee who got me to the station in record time. In Death City i walk to the Greyhound station w/ ticket confirmation number in hand. Only to find out that all the evening buses have been cancelled.

So i go back to Union stations, only to find the next train south is not til the late morning - it is basically 2 AM i have no place to stay and the usual suspects (Beth, Rez and Heather) are all asleep now. So i pull out the new netbook Zappa and fire up Facebook on the AT&T free wifi at the station.

Facebook reveals after some searching that ex-visitor Sarah is in Death City, online and willing to have me sleep on her couch. Turns out she was playing scrabble with a friend in a different time zone. i hail a cab (subways are down and the night buses are rare) and in 15 minutes i am climbing into a couch with a sleeping bag she provided. Far nicer than the sleeping in the station. Sarah is friendly and happy to see me, we have not been in touch for a year.

Winter is the time for dramas in the community. We dont have live television and fairly predictably when we are cooped up inside cold for several month stuff starts to come up. This winter a depressed member admitted that they had considered to hurting themselves when they were in the pit of their depression. The also wrote a bunch of stuff on facebook which was not flattering of their mental state.

We had a sharing circle this evening to talk about members feelings, not to make decisions, just to get hurt, fear, surprise, compassion, confusion out in a public space. Hawina called it and facilitated it. It went really well. At this particular one, the focus person was not present, they will get to hear a (likely less charged) version on Friday. I think the sharing circle went well.

In response to members being worried about his depressed facebook comments, this member decided to delete their facebook account. This will cause it's own problems, one person is already saying "it is deleting evidence." but most Oaks feel like it is theirs to keep or delete as they like.

To paraphrase the man behind me in line at the Indian Consulate (who said this of India).

"You will love facebook, or you will hate it or you will both love it and hate it - no one is ambivalent about facebook."