Monthly Archives: February 2011

There are more voices to listen to than just Governor Snyder’s

John Austin makes good points in a letter published Sunday in the Detroit Free Press. Click and read more.

‘Evidence is overwhelming that the richest states, with growing per capita income, are the ones that are the best educated. Eight of the 10 highest per capita income states have the highest education attainment rates. 

 Michigan is not one of these states, ranking 37th in per capita income and 34th in education attainment. On balance, “winning states” also invest more in education, infrastructure, research and development, cities and their natural assets’.





Quality Counts!

Hats off to Chad DeKatch and the cast, orchestra and crew of Lansing’s Riverwalk production of Hairspray.  Chad’s ability to select a cast, instill a vision and follow that vision to implementation is evident in this total delight of a show.  There is nothing accidental about quality theater.  Every person involved, on and off stage, can take great pride in this accomplishment. 

Lansing can take pride in the fact that Chad brought together the talents of high school, community college and university students with non-student area talent to give the community a memorable show.  Selling out the theater for repeated shows is driven be quality.

Hats off to Chad DeKatch and everyone involved with Hairspray.  Thank You!!! 



In times of turmoil . . .

How do we:

speak truth to power?

develop resilience?

develop our assertiveness and not our aggression? 

build a brighter future?


How do we get beyond:


wanting others to loose?

an immunity to change?



How do we get good at:


finding common dreams?

respecting each other?

listening to each other?


How do we deploy:


appreciation of alternatives?


effective techniques to inform others?


How do we:

speak truth to power?

develop resilience?

develop our assertiveness and not our aggression? 

build a brighter future?


We show up

We stand tall

We express our point of view

We continue to show up


My thoughts on the day other states are invited to support the Wisconsin workers.






Call me a ‘Cockeyed Optimist’ – if you must! We can’t turn our backs on cities, public employees, school children, and those on pensions


The Detroit metropolitan area is Michigan and Michigan is the Detroit metropolitan area.  We don’t get to, nor should we Michiganians, frame our thoughts about the state without an inclusive understanding that Detroit and all our cities are crucial to our state as a whole.Many of the problems of the Detroit area are also issues throughout the state.

From Grand Rapids to Ypsilanti to Sault Ste Marie to Jackson to Pontiac to Boyne City to Lansing to Alpena to Big Rapids to Muskegon to Wyandotte to Kalamazoo to Detroit – these are all important to Michigan.  Follow this link to see the populations of these and other Michigan cities, villages and townships. This helps to quantify the distribution of Michigan citizens. Michigan is a state with citizens in many very diferent situations.

We need a plan for a better future here in Michigan – not just a plan to constrict even more. As we engage in the debates ahead it is important to connect the actions of today to the possible outcomes for tomorrow.  Many issues are crucial for the state to grow and become resilient. We have rural and urban issues of: poverty, jobs and many years of decline.  So, as we look forward – I think it is imperative that speak up against certain paths which are ‘pitched to us’ as taking us forward but might actually lead us further away from reducing current problems. The poor and even the middle class may be left behind. 

I think we need a vision for Michigan that has all our citizen’s and future citizens experiencing opportunity while enhancing the quality of life in our cities and villages. Call me a ‘Cockeyed Optimist’, if you must – but I would rather be moving toward a positive and productive future than blindly moving closer to a state where some few get richer while more and more struggle and some struggle quite seriously.

We can’t turn our backs on our cities, our public employees, our school children, those of on or soon to be on a pension or on Michigan’s amazing environment.




Teachers as "nation builders." – Some Quotes from President Obama’a State of the Union – January 2011

The following are President Obama’ words from less than a month ago. It is not everything he said about education, but it is enough to remember how valuable teachers and schools are to our country.  I think we (you and I) can benefit from revisiting this message.  The emphasis through font size and boldness are mine.

“Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us – as citizens, and as parents – are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don’t meet this test. 


Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In fact, to every young person listening tonight who’s contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child – become a teacher. Your country needs you.”



See, Feel and Change, as opposed to Analyze, Think and Change

It has been my experience that when someone decides that there is a need for change.  A major kind of change that will disrupt the status quo a person, seeing the need for change, will try to be logical and thoughtful in forming an argument that can’t be refuted because there is no real argument to counter it.  Yet, the weight of the status quo remains powerful – so nothing changes.  All of the analysis and deep thinking to develop a convincing argument is for naught.

Yet, when other concise and tangible messages are given – change occurs. Cases that send a message that can be seen or felt are the ones that are often be successful.  A couple of days ago I made that case with a 1969 video of Mr. Rogers addressing a US Senate subcommittee that was very much ready to ‘dismiss’ him – yet he communicated with them in less than 7 minutes a message that completely changed the minds of the subcommittee.

The Chrysler 200 Super Bowl commercial is another example of a message that helped people to SEE and FEEL the CHANGE that is occurring in Detroit and in Chrysler.

John Kotter, in a recent entry to his blog (which I really recommend) he wrote about the power of helping you point of view to be seen and felt rather than explained in depth even if that depth is logical and well thought out.  If you like his blog you might like some of his books: he is an emeritus professor at Harvard Business School and bestselling author of Leading Change and A Sense of Urgency. His new book, with coauthor Lorne Whitehead, is called Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea From Getting Shot Down.  


Image by ARTS via flicker.