- Being in the Cast of Listen To Your Mother
- Helping your Child Walk or Bike to School
- Cycling Success Stories Mainly About Women
- Introducing the Durable Human Manifesto
- Meet the DC Cast of Listen To Your Mother
- Replant Native Trees that Turbocharge Nature
- A Prospective Author’s Perspective 2013
- How Free Content Can Boost Book Sales
- Tips for Effective Email Marketing
- Give Some Guidance with that Gadget
Connect With Me on Twitter
A good way for kids to be durable in the long run is by learning how to get themselves around. Riding the bus certainly helps them to become more self-reliant, but if they walk or bike they also get a good workout, fresh air and a healthy dose of freedom.
Unlike how it was when you were growing up, only 1 in 10 kids today walk or bike to school. To improve those odds, the national Safe Routes to School program sponsors International Bike to School Day in the spring (this year on May 8) and Walk to School Day in October.
More and more, school systems in the U.S. and around the world are endorsing the Days, as we have recently here in Fairfax County, Virginia. Some of our schools have expanded to Bike and Walk Week and are even challenging each other to friendly competitions. Others schools encourage students to walk or bike on a particular day each week.
If you want your child give it a try, more »
With the arrival of spring, more people are in the mood to give cycling a try. May is packed with bike activities including International Bike to School Day, this year on the 8th. The Safe Routes to School program has a great how-to site for parents who want their kids to be more active, independent and durable in the long run. To that end, I popped some get-started walking and cycling tips over to Activity Rocket, a site which helps parents in the Washington, D.C. area find fun and productive things for their kids to do.
My own love for cycling propelled me to trek to the heart of the city for another May event sponsored by the “Capital Spokeswomen” and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association‘s Women and Bicycles program. “Open Mic Women and Bicycling Night” was described as “your chance to take the stage to share 4 minutes of bike love.” Since cycling is part of my newly-minted Durable Human Manifesto, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. more »
If you’re tired of trying to do it all in this busy digital world and feel distant from what you used to hold dear, this little book helps you to be closer to your loved ones and more in control of your time.
Although The Durable Human Manifesto does contain the word “revolution” (thanks to Foo Fighter Dave Grohl), it comes in peace as a declaration of human awesomeness and sensory celebration of our supremely unique selves.
9 out of 10 people read email, while just 6 in 10 hang out on social media. Chances are 1 in 5 a reader will act on an email message, as opposed to 1 in 100 on Facebook and a scant 0.3% on Twitter.
That’s according to interactive marketing expert Jessica Best. The folks at Digital Book World asked her to speak at their recent conference on discoverability and marketing because, in today’s world, email is needed for both.
Jessica says you can’t just send out “one big email” any more. You need to target like a laser beam, using the recipient’s first name if possible. Also, as she told The Durable Human, a picture is worth a thousand words. more »
You can print one out for free courtesy of the Family Online Safety Institute’s Platform for Good. PfG calls it an “online safety card,” but there’s more to it than that. You can spell out how much time your child can be online, which sites are okay to visit, and how much money (if any) your child can spend on apps, but you also promise to be supportive of your child’s use of the new item and not over-react if he or she stumbles on something you deem offensive. more »
Check out these titles from The Durable Human reading list: more »
In today’s Washington Post I paint a picture of how an edge city near Washington, D.C. can be wired with a system connecting smart phones with self-driving cars, buses and trucks. We hear from robotics expert Robert Finkelstein and consultant Richard Bishop who say we’ll gain productive time if we aren’t driving or caught in traffic. We’ll be safer, too. Smart vehicles have onboard sensors which are being shown to dramatically reduce crashes. Plus they never get tired or distracted. more »
Can one dad who cares about getting kids to ride their bikes to school convince a million kids to do it? Well, Jeff Anderson has had that chance – and why I’m featuring his story on Blog Action Day, whose theme this year is “The Power of We.”
Jeff’s goal is simple. He loved the independence and fun of riding to school and wants today’s kids to be able to do the same. At first, he rode only with his own three kids to their elementary school in a traffic-clogged suburb of Washington, D.C. But soon neighbors began to join in, so Jeff formed a “bike train” of kids, described on The Durable Human two years ago. more »
As some readers of this blog may know, I am also writing a book called The Durable Human. It’s not easy to explain what it means to be “durable.” So I was thunderstruck when I heard Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac read this love poem by Sharon Dunn: more »
Last time, we saw that being able to bicycle has historically given women a special sense of freedom. Well, kids like freedom, too. Not so long ago, lots of them biked or walked to school and very few were driven. Today those numbers have flipped. Now, in part because they’re getting less regular exercise, kids are prone to put on weight and develop health problems previously limited to adults.
But a scrappy federal program called Safe Routes to School is bucking the trend. SRTS offers elementary schools no-strings-attached grants for things like adding sidewalks or educating communities about the lost art of active transportation. Last fall, SRTS gave out “mini-grants” for taking small steps to make big changes in kids’ health and happiness. more »
Riding my bike to a meeting the other day, I suddenly realized how happy I felt. Being so close to nature was wonderful, amid crimson cardinals darting through the underbrush and the sound of rushing creeks, but there was more to it than that. I had an exhilarating sense of freedom.
Apparently, that’s not a new feeling for women who bike. In fact, we have enjoyed that special kind of autonomy since the late 1800s, when the bicycle was introduced in America. As suffragette Susan B. Anthony put it, having the ability to ride away from the protective atmosphere of the home “changed women.” more »
It’s Chris Anderson’s idea. As curator of the TED thought leadership conferences, he gets a torrent of e-mail. Chris pines for the good old days when people didn’t “barge into someone’s house or office and expect, then and there, 20 minutes of thoughtful, focused attention.” more »
Because he likes to cook, 16 year old Daniel Martinez has been appointed “executive chef” at the Farm at Walker Jones. Whenever he volunteers, he whips up dishes in the farm stand with whatever is picked that day. “It’s really neat to see plants and herbs I’d never heard of before like swiss chard – in the middle of D.C.” Daniel walks to the farm from a nearby private high school where he is a sophomore.
The half-acre plot primarily serves students, families and neighbors of a D.C. Public School called the Walker Jones Education Campus. Last year, even though groundbreaking wasn’t until early summer, the farm managed to raise 3,000 pounds of food which went to residents, a retirement community and a kitchen which serves the homeless.
Young hearts and minds are tended just as carefully. As the website says, “It is an outdoor classroom where experiential learning integrated into the school curriculum happens side by side with the social and emotional education required to train the leaders of tomorrow.”
Just like other kids who visit, Daniel has learned a lot. Before he became a volunteer, he “wasn’t big into picking fresh ingredients.” But now he says he appreciates “when one second they’re in the ground and the next second they’re a delicious appetizer.”
Daniel was delighted when a woman from the neighborhood tried one of his signature recipes and gushed, “I don’t usually like zucchini, but I sure like this!”
Anyone is welcome to volunteer at the farm on Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday afternoons. You will receive a selection of the day’s produce, so don’t forget to bring a bag.
This post is brought to you by Blog Action Day 2011. The subject this year is FOOD.
According to a new Pew Internet and American Life Project report, local TV news is still the go-to source for weather, traffic and breaking news. But people are looking elsewhere for other information, often using their phones.
How the Internet has revolutionized the way messages are delivered was the focus of this year’s Activism + Media + Policy, or “AMP” Summit held last month in Washington, D.C.
Andy Eller is the Director of Business Development at place-sharing site, Gowalla. In a panel presentation, he told AMP attendees he gets all his news from Twitter because it’s unfiltered and current. Twitter’s own Adam Sharp then took the opportunity to mention that tweets about an earthquake hit New York before the actual tremors did.
In his AMP remarks, CBS White House reporter Mark Knoller says he likes writing news on Twitter “because it doesn’t have to go through a copy editor.” Twitter, he continued, is like “having my own personal wire service” – on which he has churned out 40,000 tweets in two years.
Yet, despite the growing popularity of micro-blogs, people today rely on many information platforms, some of which aren’t so new. For instance, the Pew report shows that young adults often get their news by word of mouth. Kelly Wallace is Chief Correspondent for iVillage, the largest content-driven community for women on the web. She says iVillagers prefer message boards so they can anonymously share personal information.
Veteran print journalist Howard Fineman gave the AMP sendoff message. A year ago, Fineman leaped from Newsweek to become Editorial Director of Huffington Post Media Group. Although his former and new office buildings are located so close he didn’t have to change Starbucks, Fineman says he did change ”his entire outlook on everything.”
Fineman calls HuffPost “a combination of news site and social networking site,” which he’s convinced is where news is going. These are his reasons why:
- We live in a news community that is omni-directional. Unlike the days of Walter Cronkite, when viewers hung on his every word, communications are no longer one-way. Now anyone can join – and sometimes direct – the news conversation.
- News is no longer a mass discussion. News sources can now speak discretely to individuals. At present, Huffington Post has 30 different vertical content sections. The Politics page often draws more traffic than the site’s front page.
- News today is constant and immediate, not periodic and episodic. There used to be two news cycles. Now there is only one – and it happens 24/7.
- The distinction between global and local has disappeared. The Arab Spring was experienced by people worldwide in present tense. As Fineman says, “We were all there in Tahrir Square.”
- Old-style, long narratives are gone. Shorter and live are what work today, preferably mixed with video and pictures.
- There’s no more pyramid of authority. The days of the hard-bitten, all-controlling executive editor have passed. With little or no editorial oversight, many writers now monitor and judge the content of their own messages.
- The media is more openly ideological. News curators unabashedly admit the biases they bring to the table. Transparency is the new objectivity.
So, it makes sense that the online society is seeking out a variety of news platforms. Many of us likely share Fineman’s final thought: “you shouldn’t assume any one source of authority is the only one to look at.”
If you ever hear or see anything about William Shatner’s Shatner Rules, do not attempt to avoid it. You will be powerless to resist the book’s black-hole-like magnetism and relentless cross-promotion.
Shatner Rules caught me with something called a “Klout Perk”. As someone who spends too much time on Twitter, I received a peppy little email asking if I’d like a free book about the “Shatnerverse.” I bit on the bait, it arrived in the mail, and I was hooked from the first page.
First of all, it’s funny. The Shatnerisms made me laugh out loud, like when he said “Few are worthy enough to call me an egomaniac!” and described his kidney stone as “an onyx of agony.”
Then there’s the Wow Factor. Did you know Bill Shatner is 80? If you did the math, you could figure that out. But you have to be a pretty huge fan to know he has recorded three albums in his lifetime. On his new release, Searching for Major Tom, Bill belts out Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” accompanied by renowned heavy metal guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Since Shatner’s been in show business for 75 years, the book is also about acting. If you thought Captain Kirk was his only real role, prepare to be amazed. He’s appeared in productions from major motion picture Judgment at Nuremberg to the 1960s TV series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Right now, he has not one, but two talk shows including Aftermath where he interviews such notables as Daniel Ellsburg, Bernard Goetz and Lee Boyd Malvo.
Oh, and by the way, Shatner Rules also offers Bill’s heartfelt, upbeat philosophy of life.
All this is wrapped up in a compact 50,000-word hardcover. I wondered why Penguin USA, a foremost publisher of cutting-edge digital products, would send me a little print book. Well, this no-tech tome is a true marvel of multi-platform marketing. Shatner effectively pushes his Facebook page, commercials and shows on YouTube, music on iTunes, and Twitter feed. He and co-writer, former The Daily Show with Jon Stewart comedy scribe Chris Regan, even have a sneaky trick to get you to www.WilliamShatner.com.
Shatner Rules reminded me why print books still work. In this case, the format controls the game through a clever layout which delivers laughs with maximum impact. Punch lines are often perfectly timed with page turns.
For the mere price of one copy plus postage, Dutton Publicity managed not only to get me to read and write about their book, but also to buy more. The sweet thing about paper books is that they are great keepsakes and gifts. As opposed to my somewhat dour gift choice for last Christmas, this year my loved ones will receive Shatner Rules.
All kidding aside, Bill’s an awesome example of how to wring the most out of life, even when you’re 80.
Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large. On sale everywhere October 4.
At least one Washington-area commuter is making her Try Transit week permanent. When a person cancels the contract on a parking spot in her own office building, you know she has to be serious.
My cousin loves her car – a 2009 Infiniti G37 coupe. Color: liquid platinum. But her enthusiasm for driving was significantly curbed in June when she was involved in an accident in heavy rush-hour traffic for the second time in two months. Not only did it give her jitters behind the wheel – her insurance payment doubled.
Knowing what I do about how taking transit saves money, burns calories and frees up time, I gingerly made The Ask. Since I was commuting downtown for the summer, I suggested we take the bus to the Metro from the stop right outside her development in central Tysons Corner. Before the accidents, she may have laughed it off, but instead she said yes.
Here’s how it went that first day in mid-August (the other voice you hear is mine):
Now that my cousin’s been riding a while, I e-mailed her a few questions.
Has switching to Metro saved you money?
The cost of using Metro per month is $196 (bus + train). Parking at the office is $270/month (which I pay for) plus $210/month in gas. So turns out my total monthly savings is $284. Additional pluses are less mileage on the car as well as wear and tear on the tires. Also there is less chance of getting in an accident (my personal favorite).
Cons: I don’t love being stuck at the mercy of the Metro bus and train schedules. Also, driving can take less time. The 11-mile commute by car ranges from 30 minutes on the best day to 90+ on bad days. Plus – I like to have the option to stop on my way home which you cannot do on public transportation.
Pros: It’s less stressful. I used to arrive at work all stressed out from the traffic delays, constant construction and really poor driving going on around me. I can work on my way in as I get service for the BlackBerry on the bus and train.
Buses are really clean with great air conditioning. Bus timetables are pretty accurate. I have two different bus routes 1 block from my home.
The bus dropoff at West Falls Church is covered so you don’t get wet. The bus area has a dedicated, separate entrance to trains. 95% of the time I get a seat both ways. Metro commute is 50 minutes door-to-door coming from my area behind Tysons II.
Using SmartCard, I have a pre-tax benefit through my firm’s WMATA SmartBenefits program.
Was it easier or harder than driving on the earthquake, hurricane and flood days?
In general, easier. While there were time delays, the traffic seemed way worse. On Earthquake day, it took almost twice as long due to lower speed limit on tracks to allow for checking to make sure no structural damage to tracks. On the Thursday Tropical Storm Lee blew through, I waited an hour for the bus – which I expected. But I equated traffic around Tysons to Christmas Eve: gridlock. I was very glad to be on the bus.
What are your words of wisdom to anyone considering a bus/Metro commute?
Hmm, I would say had you not suggested I give this a try and at the same time accompanied me for the first few days, I would not have even considered it. I absolutely love my car and, let’s face it, I am fairly lazy where walking is concerned from growing up in the suburbs where you drove everywhere from the first day you get your license. It’s a way of life/frame of mind. I like to have the option to stop on my way home which you cannot do on public transportation.
Having said that, my advice would be to try it for a week, take the time to do the math and calculate the savings – and have an open mind.
I begrudgingly (still) have to admit I am a public transportation convert. Check back with me in November when the cold and snow has settled in.
And so I will.
Crossposted at Greater Greater Washington
Could it be that it’s easier to forget your child in the car than realize your cellphone is missing? A tragic number is telling.
At last count, 513 American kids have died inside hot, closed cars since record-keeping began in 1998. About half were forgotten by a parent or caregiver.
Because the death toll continues to climb, authorities met in Washington, D.C. this week to propose immediate action. “It’s so urgent that we find effective sets of countermeasures that we all can take right now,” said David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as quoted in the Washington Post.
And what do experts suggest as a top countermeasure? Put your cellphone in the back seat with your child.
The advocacy group Kids and Cars.org has a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God perspective. Says founder Janette Fennel: “People think these people must be terrible parents, they must be monsters, because if we think that, we can’t relate to them. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The truth is that any of us can fall prey to a single act of absent-mindedness which could have horrific results. To avoid that, parents and caregivers must be mindful and informed.
Some life-saving advice from KidsandCars:
- Your child gets hot faster than you do – up to five times faster.
- A closed car can reach a broiling 125 degrees in only minutes.
- Cracking the windows does not slow the heating.
Practice safe habits:
- Don’t leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute.
- Look before you lock. Open the back door and check inside before you walk away.
- Instruct your babysitter or childcare center to call you if your child doesn’t show up when he or she is expected.
And, yes – lest you forget: when you buckle up your child, put your go-to things in the back seat, too – which will surely include a cellphone.
Bike share gives you another way to travel short distances, such as from a Metro station to a nearby restaurant. 110 of the solar-powered bike share stations have sprung up in the busier areas of Washington and Arlington.
Rolling away from the station outside the entrance to the Crystal City Metro, I immediately felt comfortable on my CaBi bike. The weight of the sturdy frame and the three gears kept my progress slow and under control as we negotiated stop-and-go car traffic.
Since I was used to seeing Crystal City from a car window, I thought it wasn’t much more than a drab concrete jungle. But gliding slowly along, I got a closeup view of how much had changed since I moved from the area thirty years ago. Now, beautiful potted plants dot street corners. Graceful shade trees sway in the breeze. Sidewalk cafes beckon.
And bike share stations are located every couple of blocks. That close proximity is what makes the system a viable form of transportation. Our tourguide tells us that lots of people now grab a bike instead of a taxi or bus. They predict that as Metrorail gets more crowded, bike share will become a desired alternative for more people and actually free up spaces on trains.
I liked my bike in D.C. better than the one I rode last summer in Milan. For one thing, a bungy cord secures your stuff in the cargo rack. We were bummed in Italy when our new DSLR camera slid out of the open metal basket and crashed on the sidewalk. Capital Bikeshare maintenance folks report their bikes are much more reliable then the finicky fleet in Paris.
I wore business clothes for the ride and soon realized one’s outfit should rarely be an impediment. Truth be told, if you’re wearing high heels and have to go any distance at all, it’s a lot more comfortable to ride a bike than it is to walk.
Capital Bikeshare is remarkably safe. More than 700,000 rides have been taken on the system since CaBi opened last fall, but there have been very few accidents. In fact, medical assistance has only been necessary in only about a dozen instances. CaBi adds an additional measure of safety by teaming up with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association to offer free classes in negotiating city traffic.
Bike share is a great deal. You’ll need to pay to get into the system. A year-long membership costs $75. It’s $30 for a month and $5 for a day. But having done that, any time you use a bike, the first half hour is free. If you time it right, you could take as many short hops as you want and never pay another dime.
As for tech support, clear instructions and a bike locator map are on the CaBi website. A free smart phone app, www.SpotCycle.net, is an easy way to check as you’re riding whether there is an open spot to return your bike at your destination.
Scores of new bike share stations are planned for new places, including Montgomery County and Alexandria. But there’s no need to wait for a full build-out. If, for instance, you want to go from Capitol Hill to a meeting on K Street, it may be faster and cheaper to check out a CaBi than to wait for a cab and risk getting caught in traffic.
Larry Knighten is dean of students at Joyce Kilmer Middle School, which is located within walking distance of traffic-choked Tysons Corner, Virginia. Recently, Larry noticed a problem. Every day, the single bike rack outside the school was filled to overflowing. Bikes were locked haphazardly to fences and trees.
It all started when the county transportation department built a little bridge over a nearby creek to create a direct connection to the many neighborhoods on the other side. What resulted is that many kids who had never been able to walk and bike to school before decided to give it a go.
But, rather than getting mad at the bicycle mishmash, Larry got creative with a few school system dollars. Not only did he buy more bike racks, he built a beautiful concrete pad to go underneath so the kids and the ground wouldn’t get muddy.
The school is so excited, they held a ribbon-cutting – and even a U.S. congressman dropped in to celebrate.
A couple of student onlookers commented on how they roll.
“I ride to school because it’s faster than walking and, you know, it’s just fun because you get a little bit of exercise in the morning,” said one young man.
Another sees the practical advantages: “The bus is a lot earlier than I’d like to leave and if I leave on my bike I can leave later and it’s not that far. It’s really nice and I just think it’s a good experience to ride your bike to school.”
Sleep. Exercise. Autonomy. Just what pre-teens (and the rest of us) need to be healthy and happy.
Below, Larry talks about the benefits of biking to school, and Virginia Representative Gerry Connolly explains how strategic, small government investments like the Kilmer bridge can lead to less car traffic and a more livable community. .