Refugees: Defining moments

Appreciative of all those posting about refugees over the past few days and particularly those focused on the responsibility of Christianity.

I was moved to tears last April when I heard Patrick Kearon’s speech.

Hearing portions of it again, with the addition of images, music, and stories, brings those feelings back. I agree with his sentiments:

“This moment [of being a refugee] will not define them, but our response will help define us.”

Personal experience with refugees, right off the plane, and with those working to rebuild their lives, having escaped war and the horrors that come with it, has shaped my outlook on life.

There is some Mormon specific terminology in his speech but otherwise, it is simple Christianity. A Christianity I think even an atheist can appreciate.

Tucker: The Prize of DeKalb County

Tucker_GA_CCD_93096

Both the Lakeside City Alliance (LCA) and the Tucker2014 cityhood studies tell us what we already know. Tucker is the place to be.

A one-line synopsis of the LCA study might as well read, “LCA funded Study Indicates Tucker is a Great Place to Live” or “Study Says Lakeside City Viable – If it Includes Tucker.” Remove Tucker from the proposal and it doesn’t work. Without Tucker, the resources the LCA needs to support a city dry up.

The City of Briarcliff Initiative (COBI) relies less on Tucker in their proposal, but in recent weeks they’ve increased their efforts to incorrectly define Tucker as only existing outside I-285, and their characteristic good will seems to be fading.

Some are complaining that Tucker’s advocacy group, Tucker2014, isn’t compromising on boundaries. Whether this is true or not, it’s difficult to call it “compromise” when the only group asked to give anything up is Tucker. Tucker is a physical reality. The communities proposed by the LCA and the COBI only exist on paper.

The message both groups are now sending is that they need Tucker for their plans to work. If Tucker won’t let goSenator Fran Millar and the LCA have proven that they are not ashamed to lay claim to what they want.

Can a City of Tucker thrive without Northlake within its city limits? Possibly. That’s not the question because Northlake – all of Northlake – is already in Tucker.

Asking Tucker to let go of Northlake or Montreal is a bit like asking someone to have his or her arm amputated simply because someone else thinks it’s a nice arm. Can a person live a fulfilling life with only one arm? Yes, but why let someone take an arm without resistance? Claiming that the person has a great arm on the other side of his or her body is not a reasonable argument.

To carry the analogy further, in the case of the LCA, more than the arm is wanted. It doesn’t take a physician to see that the map reaches deep into the heart of Tucker to excise Henderson Park and more.

The recently modified LCA map drops the awkward jog across I-285 encapsulating medical practices in Tucker on Montreal Road. Yet the parasitic hunger continues to lunge forward, this time within 60 feet of Tucker High School.

Something powerful is fueling the desire to cannibalize Tucker and Frankenstein together a new community. If not, why are Senator Millar and the LCA working so hard to take half of it?

What about the $30,000.00 incorporation studies the State required each group to fund? Do the results no longer matter? The studies took months to complete, each determining economic feasibility based on geography, but with Senator Millar’s assistance the LCA presented a different map to the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. A map that was not part of the State approved University of Georgia study and, after a quick bathroom break, senate committee memberMike Crane,Hunter HillChuck Hufstetler, and William T. Ligon, Jr. approved it.

Not a good week for the integrity of the Republican Party in Georgia. The home field advantage should not encourage one to take advantage of his or her neighbor. A friend and Tucker resident said, “This reminds me of Chicago politics. I should move back, at least then I could have good pizza.”

Critics may read this and think, ‘No one is taking anything from Tucker, everything belongs to DeKalb County.’ That would be a fine argument if those same critics proposed keeping everything in the hands of the County, but the majority do not. They want to take it for themselves. If there were a zip code, census county division, expressway exit signs, etc. bearing the name Lakeside for the past 50 years the LCA would be claiming the area belongs to the community of Lakeside. Problem is, there are no such signs and no such community.

It must be irritating to see the name “Tucker” written predominately in so many places at the county, state, and federal level.

This whole endeavor is more than a bit embarrassing to many living in the Lakeside and Druid Hills high school districts and, according to LCA straw polls, it doesn’t reflect the desires of the people inside the Perimeter. Perhaps that is why fears related to “what if” questions about high school feeder districts changing, concerns about crime, and real estate values have held such sway in LCA discussions outside of I-285. Why try and sell a bill of goods in Poland if no one is buying it in the motherland? That the motherland isn’t buying in bulk ought to mean something.

There is something magnetic within Tucker that both groups want, but haven’t created on their own.  From the outside, it must look easier to divide and conquer than to build.

Thankfully, the Legislature is frozen out this week, keeping slippery ideas off the senate floor. Hopefully, this short cooling down period will motivate those in positions of authority to consider the wider consequences of “winning” the prize.

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(Originally posted in the Tucker Patch, February 13, 2014.)

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Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability

 

The need to be both vulnerable and authentic has been on my mind for months. Choosing to experience vulnerability, or having “the courage to be imperfect” as Brené Brown describes, is empowering. It’s a necessity not a flaw.

Resisting vulnerability weakens rather than strengthens. It takes honesty and self-awareness not to recoil in uncomfortable moments.

Brené wisely states that we cannot numb emotion selectively.

It’s not easy but it appears to be essential for personal growth and lasting relationships. We can never truly connect with others without a willingness to be vulnerable. There is more to it than I’ve explained. It takes repeated  experience to ‘get it.’

Brené gets it. Do we get it? More importantly, do I get it? 

 

Thankful for the Everyday

The common comforts of an American life are nearly immeasurable. Gratitude for everyday things means imagining life in their absence. For some it doesn’t take much imagination, only memory of the days before now. Nothing exists without the small, and nothing is too small to appreciate.

“The Official Sponsor of Birthdays”

morebirthdays_blogbadge3The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”  Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.


So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.


Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.


I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world.  We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.


Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).


Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.


Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.


So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.

Presentation Review Form

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In 1996 I attended a training course presented by Franklin Quest (Now FranklinCovey) called “Presentation Advantage.” In addition to the course workbook, the handouts included a Presentation Review form that is no longer available. The form was designed to guide the reviewer in rating the presenter’s over all design and delivery in 20 categories.

With FranklinCovey’s permission I have recreated a modified version of the form, attributed the copyright to Franklin Quest, and made it available for download in two formats. While this version of the form is free, if the current course is anything like the one I attended in 96′, I highly recommend attending.

PDF

Word

 

When using this form both the presenter and reviewer must be committed to accepting the brutal facts. A large portion of the form could be used by music reviewers when rating concerts or by musicians unfamiliar with the importance of on stage delivery. Everyone can improve when they are open to outside feedback.

 

However you choose to use this form, I wish you the best in improving your act.  

The Great Questions We Carry

A defective four leaf clover.

Each year at Christmas my grandfather gives everyone in the family a small hand held puzzle. Often these puzzles are clear cubes containing metal balls and rings that must be aligned to complete a design. Most of the time I can see what I think the outcome should be, yet the challenge is finding the solution before I lose interest.

The wisdom in these little puzzles is clear. They parallel the individual and collective questions we all carry. Some are trivial and amusing, easily put down and picked up again. Others are larger and require more time and effort to solve. After a little fiddling these larger puzzles are often shelved in hopes that “some day” we’ll have time to spread out all the pieces and restore order to the chaos.

We seem to reserve a special place for the truly great questions and we keep them within constant reach. These are the questions of life that won’t let go. They demand our attention.

At times I’ve attempted to force pieces together that don’t belong. Particularly the beautiful pieces that seem so good together. Fabricating solutions in ignorance or accepting answers that are comfortable, but not accurate.

While there are clearly right and wrong choices, there is a wide spectrum of individual solutions within those bounds. Yet the constants, the rules that apply across that spectrum, can be difficult to identify independently. Many of life’s variables are in constant flux. We rarely get a bird’s eye view of the labyrinth, and few of life’s puzzles are cut as evenly as factory made cardboard and plastic.

Fortunately, when we find solutions we share them. Small and simple things can be the greatest gifts. Answers to long sought questions can be the key to gaining mountain top perspective on the dark valley of our lives. Sometimes answers come like a flood and other times in painfully slow drips.

The key is having a desire to search for solutions. To believe the answer exists and to keep working to discover answers that are equal to the questions.

What does this have to do with education and training? Everything.