Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Start blogging. Again.

A few weeks ago, I picked up my copy of Hugh MacLeod's Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity for some inspiration getting back in the swing of blogging.

Here I am blogging, so of course it worked, just like when I first read the book a few years ago. Here are a couple "keys" that particularly stood out in this re-read, and some thoughts on them:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Best things I read this week, Jan. 18-24

Ya gotta read a lot if you want to write a little. Here are some of the best things I read this past week (not entirely intentionally an Oakland edition): 
"Meet the Radical Brownies - girl scouts for the modern age"
from Fusion (@thisisfusion)

In "The Least Segregated Cities in America," a charts and data show at how diversity and integration match up in America's biggest cities, with Oakland near the top of that list.
from Priceonomics (@priceonomics)

"Hella Oakland Mix: 77 tracks to get your psyched about Oakland Music," which is exactly what it sounds like. 
from Oakland Local (@oaklandlocal)

And for good measure and good fun, "109-Year-Old Woman Says Secret To Long Life Is Avoiding Men."
from Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Real disruption in Silicon Valley

A call-to-action left behind after recent marches in Berkeley
In the start-up and tech community, “disruptive” has been used as a synonym to replace the overused “innovative.” Last June, New York Magazine and others declared “disruptive” just as passe as it’s predecessor.

But Silicon Valley hasn’t stopped using it, which any of us here in the Bay Area are well aware. New start-ups still claim they are “disruptors” in their industries (or the “Uber of _____”), job postings still advertise for “disruptive” applicants.

The idea of disruption in tech is often credited to Clay Christensen 20 years ago in his book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” TechCrunch summarized his definition, saying, “In short, a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served... or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product.”As Harvard Business Review pointed out in 2013, this isn’t exactly how the industry understands the term anymore: “Disruption is a story of rational responses to a changing environment.”

Regardless of whether Silicon Valley is using the term correctly, I offer the following assertion: Silicon Valley, you are paying attention to the wrong disruption.
This Friday, protesters are planning to attempt to shut down BART, the Bay Area’s commuter transit that connects San Francisco to parts of the East Bay and South Bay. This echoes a Black Friday demonstration in which demonstrators shut down transbay BART access for 2 hours via the West Oakland station (the connector between the East Bay and San Francisco) the Friday following Thanksgiving.

Already I’ve seen people informing their social media networks of this planned protest with disclaimers that they don’t support the protests, or my favorite, a tweet to effect of (it appears the tweet has since been deleted, but there are many to this effect) “another BART protest that will affect people who have nothing to do with this, great.”

BART daily ridership approaches 400,000 people. A shut down of one station would certainly impact many of those riders. You could say, in fact, that it would disrupt their lives.

A Facebook event for the demonstration reads, “As long as it remains business as usual to gun down Black women, men and children in the streets of this country, there will be no business as usual anywhere or for anyone.”

True disruption is affecting business as usual. As quoted above, “a disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served.” People of color in America are not being served by the systemic racism, police violence and oppression they face on a daily basis--the first “business as usual” to which this Friday’s protest organizers refer. Affecting the latter “business as usual” for people who don’t live this reality daily or understand it is true disruption, and true activism. These demonstrations and disruptions aren’t just happening this Friday, but in the Bay Area, they have happened on Black Friday, through the Black Brunch movement, with highway shut downs and marches in the streets.

If you think that you are an “innocent victim” of these demonstrations and that they nothing to do with you, you are wrong. If we aren't taking action or speaking out or at the very least showing solidarity for the need of this disruption, we are complacent in the “business of usual” of racism, violence and oppression.

When you say that you don’t support these demonstrations and disruption, you are saying you want or expect people of color to sit quietly and politely ask to be treated respectfully despite that racism, violence and oppression they face. Whether you really believe that will be effective or not, by asking that, you are part of the problem.

If you think the disruption of your being late to work or having to take the bus or ferry instead is a bigger problem than what these demonstrators are speaking out for (that black lives matter) and against (the systemic racism and police violence against and murdering of people of color), you are wrong, naive and probably selfish.

Be prepared for alternative commutes if you need to be, but also please take some time to understand why these demonstrations are important and valid. In full disclosure, I won’t be at the demonstration and if BART is seriously impacted, I’ll be working from home. I recognize the privilege I have to make these choices, especially the choice to avoid a potentially uncomfortable (though unlikely dangerous) situation. That’s a privilege the people I am supporting do not have--the police violence these demonstrators are speaking against means that no black person can even make choices to feel as safe as I do because they have no reason to feel confident that the people hired to “serve and protect” will serve or protect them. This is a reality that needs disrupting.

This is a reality that needs both a change in business as usual to address people who aren’t being served, and (as Harvard Business Review said, though mockingly of the tech community), a rational response to a changing environment. These disruptions do both, these disruptions are important, and, if you truly believe that black lives matter, these disruptions deserve and need your solidarity to truly change what equality looks like in the world.

I doubt the next “Uber of _____” will come close to being as important.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Celebrating National Coming Out Day... for allies

I date and am attracted to people of all gender identities. I am a part of the LGBTQ community.
Sometimes I dress like the bisexual pride flag.

Now that we've got that out of the way--let's talk about National Coming Out Day.

National Coming Out Day was started in 1988 on the anniversary of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights the year before, founded by activists Rob Eichberg and Jean O'Leary. The goal of National Coming Out Day was and is to celebrate and build awareness around the act of coming out, and around out LGBT people (sources 1 2).

I am lucky that coming out for me has been pretty easy, because it's mostly been correcting people's assumptions. I don't have to let people know I am bisexual/pansexual because I "pass" for straight, but I choose to in order to increase awareness and challenge people to practice inclusivity and acceptance day to day, not just say it.

I am lucky. More than 80% of LGBTQ youth will be harassed at school for their identity40% of homeless youth are LGBT, most of whom are homeless because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In 29 states it's legal to file someone for their sexual orientation; for their gender identity in three moreEight trans* women of color have been killed in anti-LGBT violence in the last 4 months in the United StatesIt is illegal to be gay in 81 countries.

All this is to say, coming out is hard, scary and dangerous. So on National Coming Out Day we celebrate those who are able to come out and be out, and we spread awareness for those who are not.

So this year, I want to give a call to action to allies and how they can celebrate National Coming Out Day. Yes, you can come out too, as an ally, and that is a big step. But doing more than just saying you are an ally, be one.

Today, ask yourself, "if someone close to me was coming out, would they feel comfortable telling me? How would I respond to them? How might they think I would respond to them? Have I actively created a safe space? Am I practicing openness and inclusion to the point that someone would know they can safely come out to me?"

You can build trust, understanding and acceptance with all the people close to you, LGBT or not. While you can't (really, please don't try) make anyone come out, You can actively create an environment that makes it a little less scary to come out in by considering the language and actions you use every day, by demonstrating support to people who are different from you, by speaking truth against oppressive power (even/especially when that power doesn't affect you). Read about and learn about the coming out experience and the discrimination those who are out (and those who are outed) face. Understand it's reality and fight back against. Let others see you do this and know that you are an ally and that you are safe.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Monday, May 13, 2013

One year later

The last time I posted was celebrating an anniversary, of quitting my last job and deciding to move back to California.

It seems appropriate that my return to blogging start as I celebrate another anniversary this week, my Bay Area anniversary--one year since I moved to Oakland, one year since I started my job.

I did a lot in the last year. I met people. I made awesome new friends, and connected with awesome old friends. I worked a lot and loved it. I learned how to keep my apartment clean...most of the time. I made a lot of jam. I traveled more than I expected (and made plans for even more upcoming travel). I joined a board of directors. I tried new things. I lost things and found things.

This post is mostly an "oh hey," as I get ready to start blogging again, posting things that are probably more useful and interesting than me waxing un-poetic on the last year. But it's still worth saying it's been a year I am grateful for.

So, hey there.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An anniversary

I'm trying to make more time for writing in my life again. I know it's been a couple months since my last post, and as of earlier this week, three months since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, so I feel I owe an update on my life, as a poor excuse for why I've been missing in action.

Ladybug landed on my foot as I landed in Oakland. Good sign?

But, there are too many highlights of the last three months to call them all out here. It feels like it wouldn't be fair to just focus on some and ignore the others. It is fair to say that I am fortunate. One year ago today I decided to make a huge change in my life, and that change has led me here. I have moments of doubt as to whether it was right, and in many ways I can't know that yet, but I do know that where I am now is so much better than where I was a year ago.

I'm amazed at how comfortable I've become in this new space. I don't walk around San Francisco with the same wonderment and longing as I did on previous visits, but now with a sense of belonging. In some ways, I sometimes forget where I am; unlike in D.C., where I had constant reminders of it's D.C.-ness (I lived walking distance from the White House, has embassies for neighbors, passed Hilary Clinton's and Joe Biden's homes on my way to work), if I'm not looking for it, San Francisco and the East Bay don't jump out at me. I've settled in here. Still, when I slow down and look around, and most of all when I talk to people, I know that I couldn't be anywhere else in the world and feel like this.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life changes, and an explanation

I am sitting in my apartment, in the San Francisco Bay Area, eating a chocolate croissant from a local bakery around the corner, surrounded by half un-packed boxes of books and clothes and knick knacks.

Somethings are too pretty to doodle

I feel like that one (long) sentence says a lot about my blogging absence, but on the likely chance it means far more to me than it does to you, let me elaborate.

Remember all those posts about working with unemployment (er, the series I still haven't finished)? And all those asides about looking for a job? I found one! A pretty great one! In San Francisco!

When I started to lag on posting, I was moving forward in interview processes, and then had about three weeks from being offered the position to move from LA to the SF area. If you've ever had to move to a new city quickly, then you know it isn't easy. If you've never had to do it, I wouldn't wish it upon you. Regardless, so far everything is good, dare I say even great--I was able to find an apartment (a one-bedroom at that; closing the door to go to sleep makes me feel so much more accomplished in life), and I've been working for about three weeks now, and enjoying being back in a city and exploring a new area.

I imagine some introspection on the past few months will be coming soon, but for now, I'll enjoy my chocolate croissant and everything this moment implies.