I’m delighted to report that, as of February 1, 2013 I’ll be a full-time staff member of the Kettering Foundation, a research foundation that studies democracy. I have had a relationship with the Foundation since 1998, and have been an Associate of theirs since 2005.
As a consequence of this, I am shutting down my firm, The Mannakee Circle Group. I’ve had wonderful clients over these years since 2003 when I struck out on my own – not only including Kettering but United Way Worldwide, The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, the Case Foundation, the Omidyar Network, Everyday Democracy, the Northwest Area Foundation, the Darden School of Business and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership both at the University of Virginia, and more.
It’s with glad heart yet with a certain amount of wistfulness that I say “farewell” to these close friends.
I will remain an active participant in the dialogue and deliberation community, and I look forward to continuing my relationships with individuals and organizations throughout this field.
Here’s the bio that they are posting at their site (won’t be live until 2/1), which gives a sense of my duties:
Photo by Melinda Gilmore
Brad Rourke is a program officer at the Kettering Foundation. His work includes studies of naming and framing issues in public terms and how people make decisions and work together on shared challenges in communities. Rourke is executive editor of the National Issues Forums issue books as well as other issue books produced for public deliberation.
Rourke has written and cowritten a number of articles and op-ed pieces, appearing in print publications such as The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, Foundation News and Commentary, Campaigns & Elections, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He contributed a chapter on the ethics of citizenship to Shades of Gray (Brookings Institution, 2002). He has spoken at the National Press Club, the Brookings Institution, and the Chautauqua Institution. He is listed in Who’s Who in America.
Rourke has been a Kettering Associate since 2005. Prior to joining the foundation, Rourke was president of the Mannakee Circle Group, a public issues firm with clients from a cross section of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. He was founder and publisher of Rockville Central, a hyperlocal news source he began in June 2007 that became the second most-read local blog in Maryland. He helped design and regularly participated as a lecturer in the bipartisan candidate training program of the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. Rourke was senior project manager and then director of external initiatives at The Harwood Institute for Public Innovation and vice president for public policy at the Institute for Global Ethics. He has served on the staffs of then-controller of California Gray Davis and Congresswoman Jane Harman and as deputy California campaign manager for the National Health Care Campaign.
Rourke received his BA in comparative literature from UC Berkeley.
As many of my friends know, for some years now I have eliminated almost all grains from my life. Save for the occasional cheat, I do not eat wheat or any other grain. I try to avoid added sugar and anything processed. My diet consists of meat (especially grass fed beef and bacon), green vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach), and nuts (almonds). For treats I eat dried fruit like raisins, cranberries, and dates — but I am trying to reduce those.
The result of this way of eating is that your body ceases running primarily on sugar (which the body derives from carbohydrates like wheat) and instead runs on fats. It is important, therefore, to get enough healthy fats.
One way to do this is to eat a lot of grass fed butter. (Cows that are grass fed create food that is good for you and has a healthy balance of things like Omega 3 fats, etc.). David Asprey, who founded the Bulletproof Executive, has developed a great way to have a cup of morning coffee and get lots of the good stuff.
My trainer, Grant Hill, recently turned me on to Asprey’s “Bulletproof Coffee.” I am now a convert. A cup of this will charge up your morning and power you into lunchtime easy. It sounds insane, but it is quite tasty (like a latte) and way easy to make.
I could not find a good tutorial (i.e., one with step by step photos for the simpleminded like me) on how to make Bulletproof Coffee, so I thought I would post one here.
500 ml of GOOD coffee. Organic is best.
up to 80g of grass fed butter, unsalted. Kerrygold, at Trader Joe’s, is good. [UPDATE: Not salted, not grain fed.]
1TB give or take of coconut oil (optional).
First, brew the coffee.
The kettle’s on
Melitta is still the best way to get awesome coffee
Pour the brewed coffee into a blender.
Then get your butter and coconut oil ready:
Kerrygold unsalted butter, use about 2TBs. Coconut oil not pictured.
Toss it all into the blender with the coffee.
Now . . . blend for about 20 seconds:
Blend for 20 seconds, until frothy.
It will look like this when at rest:
Yum! Tastes like a latte. Add stevia for sweetness if desired.
The recent Instagram terms of service controversy has got me thinking.
Instagram Explained – via xkcd
It seems that, inexorably, we have been drawn to social media in deeper and deeper ways over the past three years or so. 2010 was the year Facebook took off and it is now the center of gravity for mainstream social media. Twitter is the second (and, for many, the true center of gravity). Other sharing services — LinkedIn, Instagram, Foursquare, Path, Google+, and more — are not just for tech people but are part of the mainstream.
Our lives, for many of us, have an embedded component of online sharing that simply did not exist a few years ago.
Organizing Your Institution To Engage Through Social Media
All along, when leaders of organizations asked me for advice about how they should handle their interactions with social media, I have given the same advice: Establish a blog and have that be your home base. Share from there. Don’t post directly to Facebook, Twitter, etc., but instead make sure you post an article on your blog and share that. This gives you ultimate control of all content.
Good advice, and I think it is still valid.
However, like many people, I know that I have slipped more and more from that ideal as living completely within the Facebook and (to a lesser extent) Twitter ecosystems becomes easier and easier. I now post lengthy commentaries as “notes” in Facebook whereas I might earlier have written them up as posts at my blog. I post photos directly to Instagram instead of on my Picture Of The Day blog.
Instagram recently reminded the social media world of one small truth: they own their own networks. (For those who don’t know, Instagram established new terms of service that included advertising potentially using user photos; the backlash caused them to back down.) As a heavy user of social services, this does not bother me — I know it and am fine with it. However, in reviewing my own behavior, I note that I have ignored its ramifications more and more. Lots of my content is now not under my control.
So, as the year ends and a new one begins, this is an opportune time to take my own advice and post more to my blog, and then share from there. That way, if the long-feared “now you have to pay for Facebook!” event comes to pass — or, more likely, it becomes irrelevant like MySpace in some years as something new supplants it — I will be prepared.
The horrific events at Sandy Hook Elementary School have set people across the nation on edge. People are shocked, grieving, angry, confused, frightened, and more. People are reaching out to one another. In person (on the street, in coffee houses) and on social media (Facebook, Twitter, blog comment threads) people are conversing.
As a proponent of dialogue throughout my career, in some ways this is heartening. We don’t engage in serious conversation about public issues nearly enough. Still, it is dispiriting to think it takes a national tragedy of such magnitude to get us talking.
Scream and Shout, by Flickr user mdanys
More troubling, though, is to observe how difficult it seems to be for people to be civil to one another. I see thread after thread (especially on Facebook) devolve into name calling. This is not new, of course. It comes with the territory online — people are not really themselves online. Or, rather: they are themselves without the filters we usually have to enable us to operate in polite company. I will say something online that I would not say to your face.
This is a challenge those of us who try to hold open spaces for people to talk about difficult issues often face. Over the past few days, I found myself reliving my time as publisher of the local news site, Rockville Central — which my friend Cynthia Cotte Griffiths and I ran in order to provide a space for dialogue. One of the reasons that we shut it down after a number of successful years was the sheer nervous energy we had to expend maintaining the norms and decorum. On Facebook, I have experienced the same anxiety as I watch personal friends who don’t know one another go at it on threads I established. Then, sometimes, when I ask them to be civil, they attack me in turn.
I like to believe that, as a society, we have not yet adapted to social media as a medium of conversation. We behave in very crude ways to one another because we haven’t collectively figured out what the rules are.
However, I often fear I am wrong — that, in fact, we have figured out what the rules are and, in general, they are anything goes.
Dear entrepreneurs: In case you want to get this set up for the summer, I thought I would let you know what kind of experience I would be willing to pay money for.
I am looking for an Ancestral Fitness Boot Camp. What is this, you may ask? Good question.
In essence, this camp would be a time to reboot and recharge my physical being. It would be at least two weeks in duration. All the food would be Paleo-compliant. There would be two workouts per day, held outdoors, using MovNat and other intense training principles. There would be no clocks to speak of. We would get up and do what we do throughout the day based on our bodies’ timetables. Since I am creating my dream environment, of course there would be a yoga class available every night.
There would be no cell phone or Internet service whatsoever – we would be completely unplugged from the grid.
Furthermore the artificial light used at night would be minimal to nonexistent. Maybe we would even use candles and flames.
The point of all this would be to create the cleanest reboot experience possible for the human organism. By re-creating the conditions – or simulations and approximations of the conditions – that we experienced throughout the majority of our species evolution, I hope that I would in essence be able to culturally detoxify.
I fantasize returning from this experience, which may in fact need to be more like four weeks, refreshed, revitalized, and ready to rock. Oh, and really strong!
My main take-away from yesterday’s sound defeat of MItt Romney and many Republican Senate candidates is that the GOP needs to field a “new Republican” candidate in the same way the Democratic Party fielded Bill Clinton. The demographics of the nation are against the current GOP mindset of “traditional conservative values.”
The Democratic Leadership Council set out as its project to drag the Democratic Party to the right a tad, and it succeeded. Clinton (a DLC leader) was able to reinvigorate the party’s prospects.
The Republican Party could do with a similar, serious movement to drag it a bit left.
The emerging power of the Latino vote is just one area that the GOP could theoretically begin to make inroads, if the party could get behind loosening its hard-line stance on immigration. George W. Bush tried to do this, but was unable to seal the deal. He was ahead of his time in that respect.
[UPDATED: Added "A" in the title to remove confusion, thanks to a friend's advice.]
Landing in Dayton, the pilot told us “temperature is 45°, winds from the southwest at 4 mph, and visibility is excellent.”
This struck me as odd. Usually when landing, pilots tell us the weather beginning with wind. Which rarely seems to me to be very helpful. I’d be willing to bet that most passengers want to know what the temperature is, and whether it is raining. They’re not interested in visibility, except insofar as it lets them know whether it’s raining. Nor are they particular interested in windspeed, except insofar as it impacts their comfort. Yet that is what pilots begin with in their recap of the weather.
Because, I believe, that this is what matters to people who fly for a living. They want to know about the winds, and about how far they can see. Temperature and rain? Less important.
It’s a lesson I often think about when I have to explain something to another person, or deliver a message. Often, the way I want to package the message is not the way I should package it in order for it to be best heard.
This is an important discipline. It is hard to get it right, and I’m always trying to improve. Often, when looking back at earlier communication attempts, it can be disconcerting how far off the mark I was!
Just finished a terrific work out with my trainer, Grant Hill. I have been working with him for a couple of months now, and it has never ceased to be a delight. Each time, we do something very intense, and very different.
Today he had me jumping over hurdles and doing a tuck and roll. He also had me crawling on the ground dragging a 25 pound sandbag. This was just part of a multifaceted workout.
Not because it is election season, I have been thinking about Dante’s Inferno these days.
In case you have not read it, the book is a depiction of Hell. It goes into great detail about the various punishments awaiting those who have sinned while they were alive.
I would not say that I am a believer or deeply religious person, but I have always been fascinated by this work. I am especially fascinated by the fate that befalls those who never make a choice in the world of the living — those who do not commit. They are condemned to chase after banners for eternity, just outside the gates of Hell.
The reason that this has been on my mind is that I have been “rebooting” various practices in my life. Yoga, meditation, working out, prayer, and more. In all these activities, it is very tempting to say, for instance, “I meditate,” and yet, not really actually do any meditation. If I never really do the meditation, if I never commit to the practice, I am condemned always to be chasing after a banner — wanting the benefits, but not receiving them.
My Best Handstand
Over the summer, I decided that I wanted to learn how to do a handstand. I worked at it every day, little by little. Eventually, I was able to do a handstand and stick it for about five seconds. However, I stopped practicing. I can’t really say, anymore, that I can do a handstand. I can get there for a moment, but since I have not been practicing, I cannot stay standing on my hands for any appreciable length of time. It is tempting to say that I am “working on my handstand.” But that is not really the case, I have not been putting in the effort.
I am not steeped in any organized religion, though I do count myself as spiritual. Still, the image sticks with me and I feel in many ways as if I am that person chasing after a banner. In so many areas of my life, my practice has slipped, and I find myself saying that I do more than I really do. I say I meditate when, to be honest, of late I have mostly been intending to meditate. I intend to go practice more yoga than I do. I intend to work out more often. At some point, cognitive dissonance must overcome me, and I must either commit — or not.
Thankfully, there is a way to correct such things. All I have to do is to begin to actually do these practices. So that’s what I’ve done. A reboot, if you will.
[Note: Some friends know that I have become fascinated by dictation of late. The first draft of this post was written entirely using Siri on my iPhone 5 -- dictated into the DayOne journaling app and then ported over to WordPress. I then edited in the standard way.]