Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kindergarten

It happened.

Our oldest child started kindergarten today, about 90 minutes ago.

Whoa.

I've been particularly moody and anxious the past few days...seemingly unprovoked. Now I know why. In a conversation today I mentioned that being a parent has made me vulnerable in a way that I'm not sure I've come to terms with. Maybe it's coming home to roost, whether I like it or not.

This is a pretty big transition, maybe bigger for me than it is for him. But, do I really know? Heck, he's 5 right? I can ask him. I'm guessing he'll respond with a little smile and a nuzzle of his lovey called "Puppy", with a casual mention of the people he met at school.

I suppose it's another step in the process of "growing up", whatever that means. Spending structured time with peers in the community's care. Heck, he's been in daycare since he was 3 months old. I still remember my lunchtime daycare check-ins (I was lucky to be able to do that). He'd usually be sleeping, and be fine, great even.

So, I'm thinking these feelings are a reflection of my insecurities with the great big world he's going out in.

Really, though, considering the violence suffered by children the world over, what am I concerned about? Could bad things happen here? Yep. Will worrying about them prevent them?

Not so much.

Onward.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Natural Gas Pipeline in Hinesburg

If you're in Vermont, you've probably heard about the VT Gas pipeline expansion in the news, maybe even the controversy about the planned route passing through Geprag's Park in Hinesburg.

As a member of a renewable energy company here in VT, was I happy about investment in old-tech, fossil fuel infrastructure? No. Was I hopping mad? No. I have to say, my reaction was more like, “seems to be inevitable, right?” Look, I'm not perfect, that's where I was.

Well, we bought a house in Hinesburg, moved in at the end of March. We’re thrilled to be joining this community. New neighbors, meeting new people, visiting schools where our kids will be enrolled, new friends for the kids, grabbing a coffee to and working with other occasional digital nomads at the Bristol Bakery (which hatched an idea...more on that later), and generally being a cheery newbie. Then, I learn about the proposed route of the pipeline, with what appears to be a less than optimal process between the Town and Vermont gas. Here's what happened June 1st.

Well now, that’s a bummer.

Did I mention our house has natural gas service? So, we'll be paying for that pipeline too.

Well, we’re a member of a Community Solar Array (CSA), we're exploring solar on our new home (imagine that), installed a wood stove (I know, they’re not necessarily “sustainable” - it depends) and are investigating the addition of multi-zone cold climate heat pumps, and maybe even a plug-in hybrid. So, are we perfect? No. Are we CO2 neutral? Heck no. Are we seeking to get better and do the right thing? Yup.

While the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change happening right here, it's about more than that. It's about waste, crappy design, and short term thinking. It's even about how we envision the future we'll all be sharing - we build that future with every decision we make. Whether or not one believes in climate change, the waste associated with combusting dead dinosaurs is staggering. Does anyone know how the EROI works out for natural gas heating (LMGTFY)? What about the dollars we pay for that energy? Staying here? Nope. 

When we dig up the earth for hundreds of miles to bury a pipe that'll carry flammable gas through towns, parks, and backyards, what does that say about our values? What happens when those pipes are old and leaky, decades after we've moved past burning fossil fuels? Who owns those stranded assets? Will we be uncovering toxic impacts decades later? Look what's happening in North Bennington with PFOA. Oh wait, in Essex and Colchester too. Good times.  

What's my point? It's easy to sit back and say that this pipeline is "inevitable", that it's progress. It's progress, and not necessarily in the right direction.

We have choices.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Coworking in Hinesburg? Why not?

Wait, what's coworking? From Wikipedia,

"Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation.Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other."

And, surely you can't be serious.

Of course we're serious. It's not just for urban areas. It's for the 'burbs and rural communities too.

Hinesburg and surrounding towns have a healthy dose of solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs, home-based businesses, and free agents that love this little corner of Chittenden County.

The old "commute to the office", while still part of many of our daily lives, is not what it used to be.

Folks like flexibility. They want to work from home BUT the isolation can be deafening. They want short commutes to leave room for fun things in their lives. Yet, working remotely either full-time or part-time can be isolating and downright depressing.

For me, it's about being easily available for activities as my oldest child enters school this fall, and minimizing non-value-added time in my day - like driving. It also means spending more time in the place I live, the place I'm putting down some roots. That has value.

It'll be a place to share professional struggles, find solutions, maybe a new client of business partner. Plans include a partnership with CVU to offer students the chance to work on interesting projects with members, gaining real world experience and strengthening community connections.  

So, a few folks are working on this coworking and networking idea. It's a merger of things that've been percolating here for a while, and informal market research with laptop wielding folks at The Bristol Bakery.

There's a real need to foster community connections between people that work remotely in the same town.  Supporting those networked connections with a physical a community space is part of the puzzle.

We're forming HinesburgHUB believing that work-at-home folks, corporate knowledge workers, cultural creatives, and solo-preneurs value social connections as much as they value their independence. And need personal and professional support from time-to-time to achieve their visions.

Our mission is to connect folks and bring them together in a collaborative, supportive, easily accessible and affordable fusion of virtual and real-world office-place, and community third space.

So, maybe you'll join us?

If you have not already passed along your insights with our short survey, you can do so here.

Join the list and we'll keep you updated on The HUB's progress.

Oh. Visit us on facebook, follow us on twitterinstagram, LinkedIn - and of course, like and share. ;-)

Friday, April 01, 2016

#AprilFools Day 2016 #9to5story

Here resides the entirety of the #9to5story published with twitter April 1, 2016. Tweets appeared every 5 minutes for the #AprilFools workday. Enjoy.
  1. He stamped out his cigarette with contempt.
  2. "I can't tell you what to do with your life," she said.
  3. Silence. The two old friends looked a bit lost.
  4. "Well, then..." he paused, "what can you tell me?"
  5. She looked away, over his shoulder into the distance at nothing in particular.
  6. "You see, this thing we call 'life' is all a big joke."
  7. "Though, it's not funny at all, the joke's on us," she continued.
  8. "Wait," he interrupted, "don't start with the 'all the world's s stage' crap," he waved his hand dismissively.
  9. "Please stop thinking you have all the answers" She said, freezing him with a stare he knew well.
  10. "OK. OK. You're right," he apologized with his eyes, "I'll listen."
  11. "To continue," she paused, "the joke's on us because we take it so seriously." She shifted in her seat.
  12. "Sure, there's serious shit to deal with, violence, hatred, famine, disease, you name it."
  13. She fiddled idly with a napkin, "But, there's nothing that says we're compelled to be miserable about it all..."
  14. "Wait," he interjected, "how, exactly, might one NOT be miserable about that stuff? Ever heard of empathy?"
  15. She sighed, "You're doing it again. I'm not done." A waiter dropped off a glass of water, ice tinkled innocently.
  16. "Yep, misery loves company..." he trailed off and took a sip of the cool water.
  17. "That's one way to look at it. We're better off searching for the joy in it all, as difficult as that may seem."
  18. "Because, it's there. Within all the pain and suffering, it's there. You know why? Because WE bring it."
  19. "How do you mean, exactly?" his brow wrinkled and his head cocked to the side, like a dog.
  20. The bar was busier now. He had a hard time staying focused as sweaty revelers crowded the silent spaces.
  21. She noticed. "Wow, there are a lot more people here now - weird for a Wednesday afternoon."
  22. "Other people like to day drink," he smirked and took a pull from his warmly held pint.
  23. "Point taken. So, as I was saying, we bring the joy to the world, it's a distinctly human creation."
  24. "Like the Christmas song?! Ha!" he threw up his hand in mock celebration.
  25. "No. well, maybe, sure. It's up to us to forge the reality we want." she countered.
  26. "It all seems so insignificant. Why bother?" he asked, taking another long pull from his beer.
  27. "There's a BIG assumption! Why is it so insignificant? What makes you think bringing joy doesn't matter?" She leaned in.
  28. "What if it's hugely significant, like, if Karma's real?" she leaned back again in her seat, almost visibly tired.
  29. "Yeah, right," he said. "That ship has sailed. It's BS, a human construct to help us feel found...at least less lost."
  30. "It guilts people into being nice because something bad might happen to them. End of story." -
  31. "How do you know? And, what if we're nice and help people and Karma does not exist? So what?" she paused.
  32. And continued "Haven't we made the world a better place anyway? That matters."
  33. "I suppose," he snorted. "I should just be nice to everyone like my grandmother." His cynicism hung in the air.
  34. "That depends, assuming she is nice," she added with a touch of her own cynicism.
  35. "The reality is that elders are not always the nicest, they have there own hang-ups" she continued and then paused.
  36. "Thanks for bringing the rain to my already soggy parade," he smirked.
  37. "OK Reset. Let's assume we're all good people. Does that help? Making that leap in character judgment is important."
  38. "Right...#1 assume people are inherently good," he pretended to write it down.
  39. "Good. Good. Your mockery serves to reinforce the idea." She pushed a few cold french fries around her plate with her fork.
  40. Something changed. She looked up and her eyes began to fill with tears.
  41. "Whoa, what's up? What's wrong?" his concern was sincere. "What onion did we cut into?" He touched her hand.
  42. She welcomed it, then pulled it away slowly but deliberately. "Don't," was all she said.
  43. "Okay then," he was annoyed and pulled his hand back quickly.
  44. "It's been far too long to pretend we're connected - like that," she dried her eyes and blinked a few times.
  45. "Get over yourself." he flung it at her, "I've moved on." He warmed, "I just...it pains me to see you that way, as a friend."
  46. "With benefits?" she laughed to shake off the chill that overtook them.
  47. "Umm...no. But, whatever. Can we get back to the 'Meaning of Life?" He didn't laugh.
  48. "Sure. I thought about someone I'd judged severely and then regretted. Rule #1 came a little late."
  49. "A life lesson, eh? Well, you learned from it," he stated it plainly.
  50. "I think so, I mean, Yes. Sometimes. I have my moments." she paused again and looked away.
  51. "We forget about Karma all the time. Or, maybe we intentionally un-remember it." she continued.
  52. "Sure, when we're barraged with stories of suffering, violence, loss," he paused.
  53. "If that's happening to people, they must've been pretty bad to pile up Karma demerits," he said.
  54. "Another reason for avoiding the news, though ignorance is not a great strategy for living."
  55. "Where was I?" she shook her head. "Joy. We're on the hook to bring the Joy with a capital J."
  56. "I guess I struggle with that. I always feel like whatever I'm going to do is not enough," he mused.
  57. He continued, "In the face of so much 'bad', my little gestures just get lost in the cosmic background radiation."
  58. "Jeez. Are we going down that path - we're all made from stardust?" she looked irritated.
  59. "Well, pretty much, depending upon the creation myth you adhere to", he stated this flatly.
  60. "Let's just call that an 'unresolved issue'," she made quotes in the air. "Maybe new evidence will come along."
  61. "How does The Game fit into this?" his tone grew sinister.
  62. She shot him a terrified look. "We're done with that! We agreed."
  63. "Ok, Ok," he leaned back and smiled, "I was just testing. It's been awhile."
  64. "Wait. We're off topic again," he continued and thought about lighting another cigarette.
  65. "The beliefs associated with creation myths matter in this conversation," she was certain.
  66. "Beliefs. Indeed. They define our reality." he nodded agreement.
  67. "Exactly. Back to your Joy comment. If you believe that your actions are inconsequential, they will be," she paused.
  68. "Or, you're missing opportunities to move the positive needle forward," she motioned a needle moving across a gauge.
  69. "Maybe. I suppose if we all stuck to that, it'd be a pretty gloomy place," he allowed that to sink in.
  70. "Right," she smiled. "I bet you remember a small gesture that meant a great deal to you."
  71. "Ya know, that happened recently," he pointed at her, "a stranger bought me a cup of coffee, just because."
  72. "That's all it takes," she folded her arms triumphantly and sat back, sinking a bit into the old booth cushion.
  73. "But, I analyzed the hell out of it and concluded the guy was trying to make up for something," his brow furrowed.
  74. "So what if he was? Balancing the yin and yang. It still matters," she was admonishing him now.
  75. "And," he emphasized, "if it's a punishment for something, then what?" he was serious.
  76. "What, like 'community service', right? Still matters, again my point, whether court ordered or not," she paused.
  77. "OK, I'll take that. It's another way to think about it," he allowed.
  78.  "I've found that looking at things as if I were a child is helpful - NOT looking for motives," she stopped.
  79. "What? That came out of nowhere," he lit that cigarette he'd been thinking about.
  80. "Well, they're pretty much innocent and don't have much baggage," she waved away his second-hand smoke.
  81. "Well said," he took a lazy drag.
  82. "Notice I said 'much' not 'any'? They have some from previous lives," she surprised him.
  83. "Good one," he smiled, "Or, Original Sin - going back to the creation myths," the smoke annoyed him too.
  84. "I guess you must think life's fleeting if you're still smoking those things," she was visibly angry.
  85. "Tell me about it. I guess quitting matters more to those around me than to me," his eyes half-closed.
  86. "And, as we've concluded, that matters," she lectured now.
  87. "My health is important to those around me," he recited with feigned seriousness, like a 5th grader.
  88. "Right you are!", she slapped the table, returning his mock enthusiasm.
  89. "But, you know, I'm kinda tired of the bullshit," he took another drag - purely out of spite.
  90. "Really? You're so good at it," she said.
  91. "That's my point. I'm tired of playing the game that it's all OK," he was getting upset again.
  92. "What do you mean?" She sensed something had changed, something unsettling.
  93. "There's too much smiling and nodding, not having the hard conversations about what we need to fix," he continued.
  94. "Well, are you willing to be the one that raises the discomfort topics?" she asked with a tone of derision.
  95. "About The Game? Yeah right. You know that's not something that anybody's ready for," his tone turned sinister again.
  96. "No!" she hissed and looked about furtively, "That's NOT what we're talking about. We agreed!"
  97. He looked back at her, paused, raised an eyebrow, and before she could reach him,
  98. his thumb found the button in his jacket pocket and pushed it.
  99. Her face went white as the bar started to blur, edges turning fuzzy, sounds were muffled, then she lost contact.