Archives for the month of: March, 2011

I am proud to let you know about a new report released today by United Way Worldwide at an important Town Hall event in DC where United Way announced its pledge to generate 1,000,000 new volunteers in mentoring and tutoring for education. (United Way’s pledge is a great example of the level of educational leadership I wish we could see more of now a days.) I was fortunate enough to be asked to write and do the chief research and focus group work for the report.

I’ve posted an announcement of the report at my company’s site, the Mannakee Circle Group.  Here is the piece I posted there:

Soledad O’Brien talks to Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha at the Town Hall

Today at a National Town Hall event at Trinity Washington University moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien and featuring Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Corporation for National and Community Service head Patrick Corvington, and White House Domestic Policy Adviser Melody BarnesUnited Way Worldwide releasedVoices For The Common Good: America Speaks Out On Education.

Mannakee Circle Group president Brad Rourke conducted focus group research, reviewed notes from the field, and did the principal writing for this report. (Available here.)

The national report is the result of extensive work by United Way listening to community members talk about their aspirations and concerns when it comes to their communities and education. It is based on more than 150 community conversations with thousands of participants, held by local United Ways in 17 cities — along with six focus groups in Billings, MT; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles, CA; New York City, NY; and Washington, DC.

Key findings in the report include:

    • When you improve schools, you improve communities — and vice versa
    • People feel disconnected from schools
    • Instilling values is just as important to people as teaching academics
    • We’ve reached a turning point in education
    • People want to work together but aren’t sure what to do

The community conversations were conducted using a framework developed by my friend and colleague Rich Harwood. Special thanks to another good friend and colleague, Mike Wood, vice president of field engagement at United Way, for bringing me in to this project.

For more about the report, visit United Way.

Click for Full Report (pdf)

2011-30-03 issue framing.MP3 Listen on Posterous

I had the good fortune of being asked to share some thoughts at the Kettering Foundation’s annual Multinational Workshop week. In this session, people working in dialogue and participation came together from Jamaica, Brazil, Romania, Ghana, Ireland, Colombia, Hungary, Russia, and many more. I had the presence of mind to record my brief remarks. (Just 16 minutes.)


Posted via Posterous.

To go along with my post yesterday of a new song, here is another one!

This is just a demo so my bandmates can see what the song sounds like . . . which means it sounds quite lo-fi on purpose!

Tomorrow’s Gonna Come
By Brad Rourke

Who knows how I’ll feel when I wake up?
The way it looks now I won’t even nearly have enough
Tonight I’m going to try my best to fly
Rise or fall, no matter, but a man he’s got to try

Tomorrow’s gonna come
And kick in your front door
So stay awake tonight
We’ll get to run some more

Tomorrow’s gonna come

Hey I lost my car and need a ride
I’ll pay you back for gas if I can make my way inside
you know I’ve got some business yet to do
Careful, you don’t know who’d ever want to follow you

Tomorrow’s gonna come
But I can’t wait around
Don’t you follow me
I don’t want to be found

Tomorrow’s gonna come

As many of my colleagues and friends know, I play in a band. One of the things I love about it is that I get the chance to write songs — something I have come to enjoy.

Here’s a new song I have been working on. I typically do a quick video demo of new songs, as that is the easiest way to audition them for the band.

Here you go:

Wouldn’t Have Let You Run
By Brad Rourke

If I were a different man
I would roll all my own smokes
I would only drink blue Johnny
You wouldn’t get the joke
I’d pine for No Depression
I’d love Fortunate Son
No need for the black Mariah
I wouldn’t have let you run

I wouldn’t have let you run
I wouldn’t have let you run
I’d tie you down and keep you here
I wouldn’t have let you run

I lay awake at night
Wonder what to do
How to let you know I’m here
Waiting here for you
Working day to day
I watch you in my mind
The nerve it always fails me
When it’s talking time

No I’ll never change
Or turn the other cheek
Won’t find no Rosetta Stone
For the language that you speak
But if I should find you
My heart will open wide
I’ll confess my darkest fantasies
To keep you at my side

I shouldn’t have let you run
No, I shouldn’t have let you run
I left you all alone one time
I shouldn’t have let you run

My son lately seems to have been bitten by a similar bug that plagues my father and me. It’s the computer virus.

Men in my family seem not to be able to get enough of those shiny gadgets. We are forever tweaking, disassembling, reassembling, reinstalling, uninstalling, recompiling, hacking, and more. I don’t know how many computers are in my dad’s house, but in mine we have ten. Ten.

People ask, “Why do you have so many computers?” I unfortunately find it hard to answer. They just sort of accumulate. In part, it happens because I love to experiment with new operating systems. I’ve got a machine running Windows 7, Mac Snow Leopard, Ubuntu Linux, and ChromeOS. I used to think my computer acquisition problem stemmed from a constant search to find the perfect solution to all my computing needs — the one machine that would be right in any situation. Now I know that in part it stems from my desire to find the right setup for each situation (no one machine can really satisfy all needs).

But I also know that it is just one of my character defects — I just plain love computers.

And now my son is beginning to show signs. If you look in his room, there are spaghetti piles of cords everywhere. Every time I get a new machine, he wants my old one. He has been trying to hack his Xbox setup so he can make it do things in theory it should be able to do but doesn’t quite do out of the box. In short, he is slowly becoming a hacker.

It doesn’t look the same way it looked when I was growing up, when I would send away for materials to get my ham radio license and build the Kim-1 single-board microcomputer with my dad. Things have advanced and it has more to do with fiddling with pre-existing tools: hacking the Xbox, developing new video games, creating YouTube how-tos related to gameplay. But the fundamental aspects are there.

I’m not worried. This kind of undirected inquisitiveness — hacking — is one key basis for innovation today. I have high hopes for that kid.

* (For those who don’t know, Perl is a programming language.)

Comic from xkcd.