Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Team Edward

At some point in time I'll make an update on the past two months but not today. Today I want to talk about teeny bopper books. The ones I started picking up in 5th grade and have not yet grown out of. I just finished reading an article in The Atlantic Online about young adult-girls fiction that just blew my mind. The article questions what draws girls into story lines like the one in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series and how that relates to the lives teenage girls live today.

Girls and women alike battle magazine covers and find advice on sex, romance, makeup fashion, and love from women whose lips, hips, eyes, and skin have been perfected by the magic wand of Photoshop. Mixed messages bombard us and adulthood is forced at younger ages every year through a combination of hormone enhanced foods and cosmetically enhanced dolls.
So how to girls cope? Some build up their circles of companions, some brood in their bedrooms, some wear all black and some explore sexuality. Looking back at my teenage years, and the blog posts from then are painful to reminisce upon, I think I had a combination of all of the above, minus wearing all black.
Twilight offers a version of romance that I believe is timeless. From Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennett to Bella and Edward we all want to believe in a brand of love that is full of passion yet pure at heart.

‘One of the signal differences between adolescent girls and boys is that while a boy quickly puts away childish things in his race to initiate a sexual life for himself, a girl will continue to cherish, almost to fetishize, the tokens of her little-girlhood. She wants to be both places at once—in the safety of girl land, with the pandas and jump ropes, and in the arms of a lover, whose sole desire is to take her completely. And most of all, as girls work all of this out with considerable anguish, they want to be in their rooms, with the doors closed and the declarations posted. The biggest problem for parents of teenage girls is that they never know who is going to come barreling out of that sacred space: the adorable little girl who wants to cuddle, or the hard-eyed young woman who has left it all behind. ‘

What Flanagan doesn’t answer in her column is when does that stop, or, if it ever does. What difference is it from being a teenager with childhood toys to being a twenty something with high school snapshots in a frame, or a forty something with her favorite music from her twenties on CD/eight track/record? I don’t think there is one.

Not everyone needs that emotional soft world that lives in Twilight, or Gossip Girl, or ‘insert bopper book of choice,’ but we all need something, and at the end of the day, that’s what makes us real.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Caffeine needed...

I used to think that sleep was completely overrated but after a couple of nights in a row of staying up late reading and a sudden neurotic fear of the street lamp across the street because it looks like its moving (in the morning I did realize that real cause was the tree in front of the lamp) I’ve noticed that maybe sleep would help me function like a contributing member of society.

I’ve been trying to put a power point presentation of the my projects to date together but am struggling to find the key points in the ten minute time limit. Ten whole minutes to sum up my 8 months of service, it’s really quite daunting to think about in this sleep deprived state.

In 2 hours I can take a nap before heading off to the library to hear the ‘Ghost Stories of Indianapolis’. Yup, that’s going to help with the street lamp issue.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Community

Robert Putham wrote book several years ago titled “Bowling Alone” where he examined the deconstruction of society and community as a product of the rise of the digital age. Putham’s analysis looked at the how there has been a decline in attendance at civic events, group outings and the like in recent years which has resulted a loss of social capital. Overall It’s a pretty long and painful read that will most likely make you worry about society and the world we live in but Putham does have a good point. People don’t go bowling every Monday with their co-workers or Euchre on Wednesday with the neighbors. Society has changed, drastically.

I’ve become fascinated with research about social media and social networking and what implications that has on society and community and the world. It is amazing how while people don’t meet for the neighborhood watch they will log into the internet and start and entirely new type of community.

I stumbled across this lecture by Mike Welsh, an anthropology professor at Kansas State University, and was absolutely floored by huge impact that YouTube alone has created of society across the globe. Its 50 minutes long but defiantly worth listening to if you are curious.

One example Welsh gives is the song “Soulja Boy” that hit the top of the billboard last year. Now honestly I really hate Soulja boy, it’s annoying, and the dance is ridiculous, but when you get right to the heart of it, it is kinda catchy.

Soulja boy was created by a 16 YEAR OLD BOY using digital sound looping software and posted on youtube. Following that dozens, hundreds, and thousands of people copied, remade, and satirized the video posting their responses to youtube. Eventually Soulja Boy was picked up by a record label and was nominated last year for a Grammy… How crazy is that.

Youtube is has become an outlet, a ground for discussion, a home for creativity, and a community for those who participate. Just like… myspace, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc…

So really who’s to stay that community is declining, its certainly changing and who knows what it will become.

(P.S. All of the Links go to YouTube)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A great article in TIME

I just finished reading this awesome article in Time Magazine listing 21 ways to serve America ranging from helping out an elderly neighbor to spending a year as a VISTA or NCCC.

What I found most interesting about the article is that on average people spend 23 hours a week watching tv while people who volunteer spend only 15 hours a week watching tv. Wow....

The full article is here if you would like to read it:,28757,1840466,00.html

Tonight is my first volunteer appreciation event flying solo and there are over 20 people RSVP'ed. We are working with Whole Foods to put on a cooking demonstration so it should be healthy and fun! More news (and maybe recipes too) to follow later!

Friday, September 19, 2008

The things people donate

If you have a box of old magazines lying around it seems like a great idea to 'spread the love' by donating them to your local children's serving organization. However, when you do donate these magazines, we have to record them in some way or another financially. The best way to do this is look at the original sale price and calculate the assumed depreciation value. This means that someone has to go through all three boxes and record that the original sale price in 1971 was 35 cents. I think you can do the rest of the math.

Usually magazine donations are tossed into the program room where at a later date they will be cut up and used to show how the media is influencing girls with sterotypes and images.

Thats right ladies... you can now crochet your own undergarments.

Whats hilarious about this box in particular is that due to the age, the stereotypes have changed a bit but they still hilarious. Like this guy... really? Eww... ok maybe hes a stereotype that's still around...

What I really want to know is who was this person who donated these magazines... a body builder/swimmer/mom/crocheter... etc... seriously the most eclectic assortment of magazines I've ever seen.
I really liked all the cigarette ads... from back before we knew that they killed people. These are all in one magazine.

Doesn't asprin cause Reyes Syndrome in children? Guess they didn't know yet.

Lets just say the magazine donation box was a learning experience... entertaining yet traumatic, but I did find a pretty cool hat pattern to crochet...

Monday, September 8, 2008


Each year local artists from throughout Indiana come together to celebrate their art by charging an excessive admission fee and then selling their wares at an equally excessive price. Don't get me wrong, I love art and I understand the cost it take to produce, let alone create a living out of ones passion for.... chopsticks... scarves.... wire birds...

75 dollars for a scarf? I'll make you a scarf for free if you give me the yarn... granted I am not an artist, and it might not look that good and I make no promises that its wont fall apart.

Aside from the prices Penrod was a worthwhile volunteer experience. Plus it took place on the grounds of the Indianapolis Art Museum, one of the most beautiful locations in Indy.

Last weekend before I spent the afternoon walking the IMA grounds, taking pictures, and enjoying the sunlight. I'll post those up in a slideshow when I get them uploaded.

As you all know I'm not in Indiana for the fine arts, although my appreciation has grown. As a VISTA update I have recruited 7 people for the speakers bureau, just over half my goal of 15 total and have the next volunteer appreciation event ready to go. All in all my projects are moving along smoothly and I am preparing them all to transition over when I finish my year.

I can't believe its been 7 months already! It's scary and exhilarating to try and think of what I will be doing a year from now. I have some ideas but nothing for sure and just looking at all of the possibilities is a little daunting.

If all else fails, I'll join the penrod society and make paper cranes. I might have to learn how to make paper cranes first....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Six months

I'm halfway through my year of VISTA service and I can't believe how fast time has passed. It's starting to feel like all of my projects are beginning to take off and that I am building some real capacity at this point.

I had a meeting with the Speakers Lab at Butler University last week to plan out the speakers bureau training and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Right now its look like like the training will be broken into two sessions, morning and afternoon on a weekend and the girls participating will get the chance to have a campus tour and share coffee at the student union with 'real live' college students!

The next volunteer engagement event will take place sometime next month and is looking like it will be an international food demonstration. The first event was really successful and the focus group gave me some great ideas to build the rest of the on program so hopefully I'll be able to nail down a date later this week for the event.

Where did these classy photos come from you ask? Well last week was Girls Inc.'s big event, Touchstone! The theme was woman's right to vote and the summer camp girls rocked it! All the VISTAs got new fun polo's from the state office and we showed our Americorps pride in vibrant Red White and Blue. We even got to take some prom pictures with the balloons.

These were some of the amazing yard sign decorations Ashley designed! I have one in my office now!

Maddy at Check-In. Everyone got to make themselves a "Vote for me!" sticker as their name badge.

I worked voter registration, selling 'ballots' so guests could vote on the Girls Right they felt was most important. The right to have economic literacy won with a overwhelming results.

Summer camp ended on friday and you can already hear the silence echoing throughout the building without the girls. I'm going to miss being called Miss Amis' daughter (I don't know who started that rumour but it stuck), having my fortune told with playing cards, and mancala challenges, but I think I'll miss the hellos and hugs the girls gave once they got to know me most. Yeah for being strong, smart and bold!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Summer Camp

Girls Inc summer camp is well into its 6th week and today the girls at camp learned about economic literacy by opening their own businesses and competing to win the 'girl bucks' we were given to make purchases. The camp staff also had their own booths featuring the stock market (where you could buy stock in Mcdonalds and The Limited Too) and the bank (where interest compounded every 15 minutes).

With my ten 'bucks' I received a hand massage, a chocolate shake, candy, a fantastic pink bracelet, and got my nails painted with blue and with polk dots. Overall it was a great morning of shopping.

Seeing the summer camp girls puts a face on what Girls Inc is all about and I know that I will be sad when camp ends. I've been able to spend time visiting with the summer camp girls and recording their stories, a couple of them even give me hugs when I come down to visit. :) It's great to see how they are all so strong, smart and bold and hear all their opinions on wome'ns rights, school uniforms, the definition of beauty and their excellent marketing tactics.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Its real news

"The man in the iron mask has a counter part, if we may believe a characteristically French story which a Paris letter to the New York Times relates. It is, in brief, that a French Marquis who had an unfaithful wife, punished her by fitting over he head as an old helmet, which is securely held by a secret spring. All efforts to take it off have failed and she is fed with liquids through a tube. The steel of the helmet is so marvelously tempered that it turns the edge of every tool thus tried so far." January 4, 1881, Indy Star

I was looking up women's suffrage and this article was directly below the article I was searching for, yes its real news and in 1881 it was as important as the BrAngela Twins.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"I am respected among my peers"

Tonight I met up with a group of fellow VISTA's and Girls Inc. co-workers to wish Emmeline good luck as she completes her year of VISTA service, which lead to a conversation about what it means to be successful.

Emmeline said that when you know someone is successful when they claim that they are 'respected among their peers'. What exactly does that mean and does someone tap you on the should and tell you 'fyi, your peers respect you today,' therefore you have hit the top and there's no where left for you to go. For that matter who gives anyone the right to state that their peers respect them, shouldn't only your peers make that statement, and probably when you are far out of earshot.

Personally I think that you are successful when you are happy and fulfilled with life. I feel successful after a yoga class where I challenged myself, or when I am reflecting on my VISTA service, or even after cooking a meal that just tastes amazing.

It's been another crazy couple of months preparing for summer camp, focus groups, and the speakers bureau and I can't believe that I am already entering 5 months of my year of service. I have been spending a lot of time researching GII history trying to find a photo that would be good for the current summer girls to pose as in honor of GI's 40th birthday.

I love doing this kind of research, history is so intriguing and its neat to see how things have really changed over the years.

I've also gotten the opportunity to sit in on some of the summer camp programming and hear stories from the girls first hand. Its been awesome to hear their steadfast opinions on school uniforms, fast food lunches, and driving laws and recognizing how well versed and opinionated they all are.

Today the girls participated in a voting activity where they cast their ballots about if schools should require PE or not, the overwhelming response was yes they should because PE helps people become healthy at a young age and combats obesity.

Fourth of July is next week and I can't wait to see how Indy celebrates our Independence!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Post Graduation AkA the Art of Saying Thank You

After a week of Birthdays, Graduations, Graduation, Birthdays I am back in Indy and starting my 4th month of service as a VISTA.

I have a lot to be thankful for, all the family that attended my graduation, the congratulations I received, the education I ‘officially obtained’, and the opportunity to continue to learn everyday as VISTA.

I'm really bad at writing thank you notes that don’t sound generic, boxed, and plain. This is probably because I ‘luv’ cliques.

There really is an art to writing the perfect thank you, and working in development I feel like I write an awful lot of thank you’s so I really hope that I’m improving in some way. I just sent one out to one of the sponsors for the Bill of Rights Celebration; it included pictures of the event and everything. Ooo doesn’t that sound glamorous.

All my grad thank you’s are going out in the mail tomorrow and I truly appreciate everyone who’s supported me through my 3.5 years of college as well as everyone who listens to my experiences in Indianapolis. I wouldn’t be here without you!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Get Service

Today I chopped 8 turkeys, covered 24 serving pans, and wrote out 3 days of community agency order forms. I reek of thanksgiving, and it’s May. Gross.

I do have a warm fuzzy feeling inside that I spent my day in direct service. Today might be the day I start my 29 days of giving challenge (

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things I learned in College

As I prepare for my official college graduation I thought it might be fun to share some of the important knowledge I gained throughout the past 120 credit hours, 40 classes, and 4 years.

  • It's ok to eat McDonald's everyday if you get out of the car to get it.
  • Textbooks bought on Amazon are cheaper but won't arrive till after the first exam.
  • There's no need to spend the whole 300 dollars on an ipod, a 10 dollar pair of apple headphones will suffice.
  • Professors eat, drink, and have children, and sometimes you might run into them with any one of those components, its OK.
  • No matter what class you have in the animal science building you will still smell like cow by the end of it.
  • Extra credit is rarely worth the effort.
  • Never attack Russia during the winter.
  • Watching desperate housewives on previously mentioned ipod does not constitute paying attention in stats class.
  • All reporters are shady, even the good ones.
  • Poetry does not need to rhyme, sound good or make sense.
  • The most interesting information on any given day can be found written in chalk on the ground.
  • Always take clothes with you to the shower, in case of a fire drill.
  • If you lose your keys, don't lose the spare. If its the keys to your dorm room, you are really stupid.
  • It's not possible to become friends with classmates in a political class during a presidential election.
  • People used to live in underwater colonies.
  • Vinegar, honey and tea will cure migraines, tonsillitis, the chicken pox, dehydration, athlete's foot, strep throat, pink eye….
  • If you remove 32 doors, put all the screws in one box.
  • If its 13 degrees outside do not jump in the lake.
  • Save early, save often, save save save.
  • There are few things more important in life then proper comma usage.
  • Four girls need more then three closets.
  • When the final is building a 2 foot tall stage flat there are some very excited puppet theatres nearby.
  • If you watch a movie about a bouncing ping pong ball it will be on the exam.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Americorps Week '08

This week is Americorps week, a week designed to recognize active and alumni Americorps while actively recruiting fresh blood into the service world.

Personally I really like the "Rosie the Riveter" esck style logo.

In celebration of my service today I got a deliciouso chocolate pastry from my supervisor that was absolutely amazing with my morning coffee.

Theres also a group of VISTA's, myself included, who are going to push back from our normal task of capacity building and do some direct service with a poverty serving organization. We are volunteering for a shift at Second Helpings, an organization that accepts extra food from restaurants and turns it into meals for other poverty serving agencies. They also provide free lunches to VISTA's when ever we are in the area and this is our way of giving back to their organization.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Girls Bill of Rights Week!

Here in Indiana its spring time, the trees are in bloom, flowers sprouting, and there’s no warning of an impending blizzard. I was actually told that I can pack up my sweaters and jackets because I won’t need them again until October. Crazy… there are seasons here…

I finished my correspondence course yesterday meaning I officially have a minor in English to go with my two degrees, that is as long as I pass and the credits transfer in time for graduation. I’ll be back in Colorado for graduation weekend and I’m really excited to see my family and to walk after attending the last few graduations as a program distributor.

My most recent Americorps task has been to work on obtaining sponsorships for the Girls Bill of Rights Week Celebration. At the celebration girls are invited to our office to learn about the six rights that we believe are important for all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. So far so good, I had about 3 weeks to obtain 5 thousand dollars in sponsors, and I’m half way there with a week left. I have about a dozen cold calls to follow up on early next week so I think I’ll get there no problem.

We had a staff training a few days ago to discuss the rights and the advocacy statements that Girls Inc national has created over the years and I really enjoyed contrasting the current rights with the original bill of rights created in the 1940’s

Girls Bill of Rights 1945

  • An American Girls has the right to the pursuit of happiness
  • She has the right to wholesome companionship, constructive play, and group competition that she may acquire initiative, self reliance, courage, good sportsmanship and self-control.
  • She has the right to a healthy body and a well adjusted personality.
  • She has the right to know the outdoors.
  • She has the right to become familiarly with good literature, drama and music by direct contact with them.
  • She has the right, as an adolescent, to the companionship of boy her own age, under wholesome conditions.
  • She has the right to train for her future all important job of homemaking and motherhood.
  • She has the right to find somewhere in her community wise and understanding guidance by friendly adults, that she may learn to steer a safe course in a world of changing standards.
  • She has the right to all these things, not merely because she is a human being, but because… as mother of our future citizens… she will someday hold the most important and responsible job in the world.

Funny thing is, for that time period this was progressive…. The current bill of rights is located online. My next task is to start seeking sponsors for the girls science and math summer camp!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Chipping away....

For the last couple of days and the next two weeks my entire focus has flipped to obtaining five-thousand dollars worth of sponsors for an event in two weeks. I have 77 businesses outlined to approach so I think it should all work out, none the less I really really really hate cold calling people.

The weather is starting to get nice here and we've had a couple of amazing days where you could event sit out in the sun and feel warm. I have heard tell that besides the occasional rainstorm the winter is gone from Indy.

Last weekend I went with a group of friends to see a performance of the Earth Harp at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The Earth Harp consists of thick wires that can be strung from any length to use a building as part of the instrument. The way the harp was set up at the performance I attended had 45 feet from floor to ceiling of harp, placing the audience in the body of the instrument. I liked the harp but the performance left something to be desired. It was entitled "Unlocking the Mayan Code" and I think it fulfilled my culture quota for the next year.

There so many quirky things to do in the city here. So far I've been to the IMA and the flower conservatory and the next thing on my too do list is bar Kurt Vonnegut frequented and a tour of the enormous cemetery... maybe I'm morbid, lol.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Its been a long couple of weeks

I've gotten a little behind on my updates after a couple of crazy weeks.

For St. Patrick's Day I celebrated by heading down to the Indianapolis Canal. The canal cuts through the middle of down town, shedding ambiance and elegance on the court building, historical society and several college apartment complexes. Apparently if you wanted to you could walk the 10 miles from down town to my job, as it runs unobstructed through the city. In honor of Indianapolis' Irish roots each year they begin St. Pats by dyeing the canal a translucent shade of green. The ducks don't seem to notice the difference but the green canal is difficult to miss.

I read an article that mentioned that for the first time n many years they cleaned the canal before the dying ceremony and found two bowling balls, 8 cell phones and an engagement bank. I'm surprised the canal wasn't green before the dye went in.

I took pictures that are still on my camera, once I upload them I will send the out.

As a VISTA one of my tasks is to learn about poverty, in essence by experiencing it for a year should help develop ways to combat it as best I can, even if that is simply by keeping an open mind. Because VISTA's receive a small subsistence allowance, we qualify for food stamps and it is recommended we take advantage of that opportunity. Now settled in I decided last week to begin the process.

Online it looks simple enough. You download the application, fill it out, and return it to your local welfare office. In 30 days you should receive a notice in the mail informing you if you qualify or not. I attempted to download the application, which didn't work, and knowing that since a lot of people don't have the ability to print the application anyways I headed off one afternoon to the nearest welfare office.

When entering the building you are directed to a large waiting room, full of uncomfortable plastic chairs. The 'GateKeepers' sit at a desk labeled information, next to another woman with a 'return forms here sign'. When asking the Gatekeepers were I should pick up the needed paperwork they directed me to a neighboring table full of forms for any kind of request. Of course the form I needed didn't happen to be on the table and they called me back after a few moments of confusion to give me the form that they were stapling when I asked for it.

It took about 15 minutes to put all my information in and I got in line at the return forms here table. Oddly enough that woman didn't want my form and I needed to return it to the un-informational information desk. The Gatekeepers asked me if I wanted to schedule an appointment or wait for the next available one. I scanned the room and decided that it might take an hour or so to get through and that was worth the wait.

The clock ticked by slowly as I wanted for my name to be called, sitting in the plastic chairs that after a few moments began to dig into your sides and make your back ache. Mothers with children joined me in the waiting room and the babies did all they could to remain entertained without crying.

Before I knew it over three hours had ticker by and they began calling people up one by one, giving them individual appointments for not the following day, but a week later. Considering that the next available appointment wasn't even that day it seems silly that they would ask you to wait.

My appointment was scheduled for this morning and I returned to the room full of plastic chairs after signing in. Once again those plastic chairs started to suck the life out of me. As the room overturned I noticed I had not been called and it was almost 2 hours past my original appointment time. I returned to the Gatekeepers and asked if they could check to see if my name had been called and I missed it.

She curtly informed me that she didn't know and had no way to check. She sent an email to my caseworker and told me that there was nothing else she could do and I should sit down.

About ten more minutes when by before a very nice woman with a quiet voice called my name from the front door. Oh I thought, that was the problem, I didn't hear her. Once in the elevator I apologized for not hearing her when she originally called me. She corrected me; she had never come down to get me because she was catching up from yesterday. Oh.

The caseworker reviewed my application, including blue booking my car because if it worth a certain amount they expect you to sell it before receiving benefits. After about 20 minutes of her entering information in she apologized and let me know that nearly 8 hours of sitting in a waiting room had qualified me for 5 dollars of assistance each month. Wow that carton of ice cream was gonna taste great.

She then realized that she had another VISTA that she did benefits for and she backtracked, reviewed their application and corrected mine. The second run through spit out a correct about of dollars for each month.

I was directed to another room of plastic chairs, where I waited for about ten minutes before beginning the process over again. The second woman processed my request through the system and explained what I would be receiving; she then took me to a third room on another floor.

An explanation of how benefits would be received was explained by the third woman. She asked if I was a student. "No, I am an Americorps VISTA. I'm volunteering for the year" "

"Oh. Well don't they pay you?"
"Yes, but it's only a small amount and the recommend we apply for assistance so we can understand where the people we serve are coming from"
"Well why don't you get another job?"
"That's not how VISTA works. You aren't allowed to have another job"
"Oh, well here's your card"
"Um ok, thanks…"

She rode the elevator with me to the first floor and I tried to explain to her why the being a VISTA is a good experience and has a lot of opportunities for learning and growth. I don't think she understood.

In reflection I can understand why it is so difficult for people who depend on assistance to go through that process. There were women trying to balance children and a having to take of time from their job to sit and be treated poorly by people who think they must have some power over the people applying. Overall, most everyone is friendly, and wants to help, you just have to get through the hierarchy first.

On the whole the entire experience was draining, but I gained a new perspective on welfare and the people who have to use it. Mostly it helped me to realize how lucky I have been and how thankful I need to be for the opportunities I have been given.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Its Official I'm a Stalker

I discovered today that for the past three weeks I have driven to work behind the same car, almost everyday. It's a little weird considered that I don't leave at the same time everyday, since I now have a McDonalds coffee addiction… (It was announced sometime last week that McDonalds is actually beginning to win stock from Starbucks thanks to their gourmet caffeine delight) It's a blue 4x4 with a window sticker for the Indianapolis children's choir, yesterday the thought occurred to me, so I wrote down their license plate to check today. They probably think I'm stalking them.

Indianapolis is a quirky city, bigger then Denver by definition but much more sprawling. The city is broken up into neighborhoods, (Broad Ripple = Trendy Young Professionals, Speedway = Families and NASCAR Fans, etc.) I live in the Eagle Creek area, just south of the only wilderness in the Circle City, Eagle Creek reservoir, also known as the White Coat Ghetto, because most of the people in the area are medical residents and interns. So far I haven't heard any fun Greys Anatomy stories, just that the nurses torment the interns by making them do ridiculous tasks.

Where some parts of the town are really beautiful, others are showing the signs of age, with dilapidated buildings next door to beautiful turn of the century brownstones. My only compliant is the number of potholes around town; you could literally be swallowed up by one if you aren't paying attention. It doesn't matter how nice the area you are in either, the potholes are just as terrible, well that and the bitter cold, but I was prepared for that.

I had the opportunity last week to meet with a Young Professionals Group in Indy that works to connect all of the YPG's in the area together, as part of my research into engaging young donors. Indianapolis is made up primarily of people who are between the ages of 20-45, funny since most everywhere else has a larger population of boomers then millenials, but go figure.

For the most part it has been shown that people come into Indy to learn (IUPUI, Butler, etc), and start their careers, but they don't necessarily stay once their done. So young professional groups attempt to hold people in the area, giving them roots and a sense of stability. People depend on social capital to survive, have friends to visit with, drink with, or play cards with. People with social capital are happier, volunteer more, attend church more, and are more engaged in their communities. It's an interesting correlation and if you like non-fiction the book Bowling Alone has a really good explanation of social capital and how it effects society.

So in my attempt to build social capital I am going to volunteer at the Indianapolis 500, holding balloons in the parade, in exchange for my time I get a t-shirt and the exciting experience of watching cars go in circles for hours… I probably won't actually watch the race.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jet Engines

The bathroom here sounds like a jet engine. No joke. You flip on the light and you suddenly hear a sound reminiscent of a 747 headed for New York. From what I was told, no one has been sucked up yet....

I recently learned that if you are too busy to walk your taxes into H&R block you can do so virtually, in an online portal called second life. Traditionally second life allows you to create a virtual character that can interact with others in a "face-to-face" manner. So rather then scooping up your papers and heading off to the local supermarket you have the option of still having a tete-a-tete without ever kicking off your bunny slippers, however the amount of effort one must put into creating their virtual mini-me just might not be plausible for many tax payers.

What's interesting about this is that HR block is one of the first companies to really link themselves in with virtual social networking sites, boasting to have outlets on facebook, myspace, second life, twitter, high5 ect. That means that chance are HR block employs 50 or so people who do nothing but respond to 'friend requests' 'pokes' and other forms of virtual entertainment, not to mention the real time person who 'sits' in the second life 'island' answering any form of tax related questions your second life avatar may have.

Before you know it people will stop leaving their homes and create an entire virtual world that they live in. Your second life avatar can be as wild, beautiful, or professional as you want them to be, best of all no one has to know that the person operating the next 'Ms. Second Life' pageant winner avatar hasn't showered in three days and has all their food delivered to their back door from Kroger. (Ring Bell Once for Pizza, Twice for Groceries, Your Tip is Under the Mat) I just hope enough people have read Fahrenheit 495 to recognize what a frightening concept that is.

However, the nice thing is that there are probably no jet plane fans in the bathroom in the virtual world, if there is I would make sure that they actually suck people up.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Welcome to the Labyrinth.

According to Greek Mythology the labyrinth was created by a genius inventor who angered King Minos when he helped the Queen to seduce a bull. After her relationship with the bull the queen gave birth to a half man, half bull beast, the minotaur. King Mino's sentenced the inventor, the queen, and the minotaur to a lifetime of living within the weaving walls of the labyrinth, unable to escape.

Moral of the story is that sometimes there may be a dozen paths to choose from and all of them lead to a dead end or a fire breathing monster.

So far I've been researching young professional groups and how one might utilize those groups to engage young donors. In order to complete some of the research I found myself in need of a library card.

Thinking this would be a simple task I set off to the library, card application in hand, only to discover that there was a minotaur library who denied my application on the basis that I am not a 'resident' of Indianapolis. I live here; I work here, yet since I don't pay utilities I virtually don't exist.

After several phone calls and emails I discovered that to receive a library card I would need to have the Office of Community Service write me a letter confirming my assistance in Indianapolis.

Letter in hand I trucked all the way down town to the main library. The circulation desk informed me that as of last week they would issue library cards to VISTA's regardless of their residency status and that the policy change was in effect for all of the city libraries.

It took me a week to cut through the red tape, but in the end it's the small victories that matter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My First Week as a VISTA

One week into my year as a VISTA and I am starting to feel like I have some stable ground underneath me. For those who don't know what I am doing I am working as a VISTA in an Indianapolis non-profit called Girls Inc.

VISTA is a specific type of Americorps member who serves for one year doing capacity building within an organization. The goal of a VISTA is to create the ground work so that later when the organization does not have a VISTA they will be able to function without that position. VISTA's also work specifically to combat poverty throughout America, therefore all VISTA project sites work towards that goal in one way or another.

Girls Inc. is an organization that works to inspire all Girls to be Strong, Smart and Bold through educational programming at various partners throughout the area.

Specifically I am a fund development specialist, working to develop donor programs for young donors as well as build a functioning speakers bureau.

So far I have discovered that Indiana has ice unlike anything I've ever seen before, to the point where you have to punch you window to break up the ice enough to scrape it off, no joke. I love the architecture around town, and how it varies dependent on the area you are in. The buildings here are mostly older, big brick Victorians with porches on the front.

Primarily I have been doing a lot of research, learning about the organization, the demographic I am aiming at, and the projects I will be working on. I visited with the Indiana office of national and community service and got to chat with other VISTA's about their projects make some contact that I will be able to use throughout my service.

Its bitter cold here, mostly because of the humidity and wind chill and I am slowly adapting. I will be moving in with my new roommate next week, a medical intern so I'm hoping I get to hear all the juicy hospital stories, just like on grey's anatomy… jk. I miss the mountains but I can't wait till I get my life a little more settled so I can explore the town. Indianapolis has a lot going on, museums, theatres, and festivals and I am looking forward to checking it all out when I have the time.