Changing Demographics

Thinking about the myriad of reasons America chose the hateful, narcissist for our leader, one thing stuck out to me this morning after reading this article in the New York Times: The Two America’s of 2016. I have been thinking about why it is that the urban population, on the whole, voted for our neighbors and in rural America they voted against them. Other than the compression of humanity, access to culture and the other elitist things they tell us is why, I was wondering, why really? … What is it about the experience of a rural American that is so different. There are many things I am sure, but the one that struck me this morning is, we here in the cites are used to having our neighborhoods change constantly and whole new populations come through about every 5-10 years. Our cultural landscape is in constant flux. Beacons of gentrification and the wave of white privilege that follows are often the least welcome.
My mother has lived in the same neighborhood since 1962. In that time there have been waves of new groups who have passed through. When she moved in, the neighborhood was was the Puerto Rican and Cuban neighborhood of West Side Story – That’s right we lived in Shark territory, with it’s coffee shops and bodega’s. Then more Spanish speaking neighbors joined them from South America, Dominican republic and beyond. I remember a Santeria card reader who would sit on the corner and give us candies. As the 70’s marched in a new wave of black working class families started to move in. People from Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad 5218635164_e2d1e7f71etoo. Music poured out on to the streets and ladies wore bright colored outfits. Following them in the 80’s were students of all colors, the first sign of gentrification. They were mostly from NYU and Juilliard; dancers, artists and musicians. The 90’s brought a wave of middle class professional gay families and the YUPIES. On their heels came the wealthy 1%. Now only the Saudi’s an afford an apartment in her neighborhood. The area has traveled through rich cultural influences, restaurants, boutiques, music, styles of hanging out on stoops to a white washed, sterile, amenities-less mall. White privilege is ugly, pretentious, cold and most of all brings NO practical necessities with it. With in a three block radius of my mothers house she has gone from having multiple bodega’s, groceries stores, hardware stores, and pharmacies to now there’s a Papyrus, Kate Spade and Sephora – Yay! The “ism” of the City is Classism .. we dread gentrification more than any population. Hillary’s “level the playing field” message especially resonates here.

port-jefferson-long-island-ny-main-street-business-section-ca-1920s-postcard-badc3e3cfa0e840b68ae2cf8bf9d3bfcBy contrast a close friend of our family lives in rural Long Island, on the outskirts of a small town well past the end of the 495.  When he bought his house in the early 70’s it was a dominantly Polish and Easter European town filled with people who he and his family had known probably for generations. There were black people sure, but they were segregated to their own part of town, and his world rarely if ever crossed theirs. The town had always been this way. Seasonally there would be migrant workers who would pass through, to help with the harvests of potatoes, sod and other agriculture, but they never stayed. Then it happened. These migrant workers started to stay. There was enough work available that they bought houses and started to live all over town. Their children started to go to the local schools and they were in line at the grocery stores. This wave happened to be dominantly Mexican and following them were small waves of other Spanish speaking peoples. Our friend was/is very unhappy about this. While he may not think of himself as a racist, he blames ALL of that areas troubles on these new neighbors. So, when Trump demonized this population, our friend could relate.

There are racists in cities too, don’t get me wrong. There are people who grumble about the changing nature of their neighborhoods. You hear, “This was such a nice place to live before the (fill in the blank) moved in.” The difference is that in cities the “fill in the blank” changes all the time.. it is in constant evolution. In the outer, rural areas everything moves slower, including cultural evolution. The rest of us will need to take notice of this and respect how disorientingly fast the world is moving for these people.

Compassion is what is going to get us through the next four years.

#TeamHumanity

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Building Castles

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Castle in the Clouds by KatieRuckerArtwork

 

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

These are my values. The four pillars that hold everything else up. I assume I get them in part from my parents although they were just among the few who raised me. Countless teamsters, carpenters, wardrobe supervisors, chorus girls, production assistants, Sandra, and Unca Mark make up some of the village that raised me. The patchwork of ethics, values and morals is very … colorful. I certainly learned that people and life are kaleidoscope early.

A friend of mine always jokes that she will never play poker with me, having been taught by a teamster in Boston, it’s probably wise. There was a wealth of perspectives, values and prejudices to choose from to be sure. The 12 step tenant “Take what you like and leave the rest” has definitely been something I used to full effect. Those pillars above are what the spinner of life seems to have left as the remaining absolute truths by which I guide all my actions and build all my castles.

Working hard is what I do. I work on myself, work on my business, work at my relationships and work to try and make this world a better place. I love working hard.. In fact one of my favorite projects was re-landscaping my father’s property and doing 90% of the labor on my own. That was extremely satisfying. My Grandfather blames our work ethic on being Irish. I’m not sure.. although we are Irish. When everything starts to fall apart, my go to self help mantra is “Get back to work”. It always seems to pull me out of whatever tailspin I was starting.

Seth Godin has a good posting about this : “When you find a trick, a shortcut, a hack that gets you from here to there without a lot of sweat or risk, it’s really quite rewarding. So much so that many successful people are hooked on the trick, always looking for the next one. … There’s a meta-trick that’s far more reliable. One that works over time and doesn’t depend on avoiding being out-tricked: Make great stuff. Satisfy needs. Do the hard work that leads to growth which leads to investment on its own merit. It turns out that the trick-free approach is the best trick of all.” @thisissethsblog (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2016/09/looking-for-the-trick.html)

Lucky for me I have built a business doing what I love to do. My dad has often said, “Do what you love and hire others to do the same.” I’ve always liked that quote. Some people love book keeping. I Know right?!? But it’s true, so why take that position away from them? “Work” is not a chore for me. This is where some people get caught up.

Work does not need to be a chore, but work is work and sometimes it is not fun. If what you have is a J-O-B and you are not doing what you love or even like then get out. There are literally thousands of options of what to be and do.. So go find it. Working hard at something you love is a gift.

The other two are the intent by which I enter every interaction. I am a populist at heart and believe deeply we have an obligation to do better in every way than our parents and ancestors. My husband and I tease our son that as long as he is talking about different things than we did in therapy, we did our job right. Everyday building on what came before us and moving toward a better world and culture, with big and small actions, is ultimately why we are all here.

  • Work Hard.
  • Do what you love.
  • Leave every place and person better than when you found them.
  • We are all in this life together, moving toward the same end.

What are your pillars? How do they manifest in your life?

Blended

Lessons from the Edge

So, you’re the new guy to a seasoned team. Your young and ambitious and feeling like you want to make your mark. After all, the big bosses are watching.

Let me suggest not putting the project into the blender and hitting whip. Hang back, make yourself useful, keep asking what you can do to help and try it the tried and true way the team has established first. Keep notes and after the project is completed, in post-mortem, add your suggestions.

Bottom Line: Your new team will not only feel respected, you might learn a thing or two.

Crew Are People Too

 

Lessons from the Edge

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The great Jeff M. and his amazing EMT crew

As a daughter of a union organizer, how my crew and my employees are treated is very important to me. It is not just a moral or integrity issue with me, it is also a quality issue.

A crew that is well paid, fed, had a decent turn around in a habitable hotel and feels they are respected; work harder, give more and are more willing to go that extra bit to make sure your event, project, whatever is perfect. They also are more likely to be loyal.. not just to the person who hired them, but to the brand they are working for. Collaboration and teamwork are what make a great event. All parties working together for the common goal.

In the recent past I worked with a client that insisted on treating all of us like the “hired help”. While some of this was cultural, all of it was unnecessary. This behavior made all our jobs much harder. The effect this had on the morale was palpable and it was difficult getting to the goal line. The event went off smoothly and the client in the end was happy, but at a cost.

For those out there who’s management style looks more like a Feudal System.. a word of warning, your employees, crew or whomever you rely on to keep you at the top, will take their pound and when the invaders come.. you will be standing alone.

Bottom Line: It’s the 21st Century and “Team” is the ruling philosophy.

Is it fun? Duh ..

Lessons from the Edge

One of the things I get asked all the time is, “Why do you do whatever it is that you do?” My answer, “It’s Fun.” Being a business owner, an entrepreneur, a freelancer or a work a day guy is not easy. Work is called work for a reason BUT we spend a majority of our lives at it. Making deadlines, hitting margins and moving your business forward are all better served if you like what you are doing. When you are having fun with what you do, you are more efficient, more pleasant to be around – I know I am –  and generally more successful.

There are bad days and bad moments- sure – but, overall ask yourself – Is what I do fun? Do I like it overall?

If the answer is yes then Congratulations! If the answer is no, then it’s time to start working on a plan for change. There are a lot of free college courses online from some of the best universities now and sites like General Assembly (https://generalassemb.ly/) that can help get you to where you want to go.

Bottom Line: Everyone should be able to answer, “Because it’s Fun.”