Category: News and politics

Surfrider Platinum Ocean Friendly Restaurant Opens in Newport, Taking Steps to Saving Our Ocean

This week, I am continuing to take a break from my traumatic brain injury series to focus on the environment and what everyday citizens can do to make a difference.  Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an entertaining event put on by the Surfrider Foundation of Newport.  If you aren’t aware of Surfrider Foundation their mission is protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. If you are passionate about our oceans, please join or donate today!

The event was a poetry reading from our new Newport Surfrider Foundation Chair, Scott Rosin, “Tell ‘Em We’re Surfing.”  Before the poetry reading began our local Oregon Field Manager, Bri Goodman talked about the location of our event, Bosque Café. (Bosque is Spanish for forest and Bosque Café is nestled in a forest near Oregon Coast Community College).   I was not aware Newport, Oregon had a restaurant that met the Platinum requirements of the Surfrider Foundation Ocean Friendly Restaurant program and a restaurant that is almost certified as zero-waste!  To be a Platinum Ocean Friendly Restaurant you have to meet the requirements below and Bosque Café goes above and beyond these requirements!

  • No expanded polystyrene use (aka Styrofoam).
  • Proper recycling practices are followed.
  • Only reusable tableware is used for onsite dining, and disposable utensils for takeout food are provided only upon request.
  • No plastic bags offered for takeout or to-go orders.
  • Straws are provided only upon request.
  • No beverages sold in plastic bottles.
  • Discount is offered for customers with reusable cup, mug, bag, etc.
  • Vegetarian/vegan food options are offered on a regular basis
  • All seafood must be a ‘Best Choice’ or ‘Good Alternative’ as defined by Seafood Watch or certified as sustainable.
  • Water conservation efforts, such as low-flow faucets and toilets, are implemented.
  • Energy efficiency efforts such as LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, are in place.

After hearing this, I had to meet the owners and understand why take this huge risk in starting a brand-new business and in such a small community, (there are only 10,000 residents in Newport.)  When I met Ed and Hidi Cortes, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Hidi is Vietnamese and grew up in California in Orange County (just like me) and Ed is Mexican with an IT background (also like me).  I felt I had met my long-lost sister and brother.  They have lived in Newport for thirteen years and explained to me it has always been important to them to live a sustainable life, trying to buy local or grow local vegetables, fruits, meats and fish. Reducing their footprint on this earth and ensuring they had as little waste as possible.

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Cortes Family at the new Bosque Café

Let’s spend a little time understanding why zero waste is so important and how cool it is that Ed and Hidi are trying to execute this concept here in Newport.  According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, households and businesses threw away 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010. A 2014 study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 84.3% of unused food in American restaurants ends up being disposed of; 14.3% is recycled, and only 1.4% is donated.  Landfilled food provides ready fuel for methane gas production — the most environmentally destructive greenhouse gas linked to global warming.  In addition to food wastes, there is plastic and inedible items that don’t biodegrade and wash into our ocean and beach shores.  There has been so much discussion on what do we do about the 1.2 trillion tons of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean and most scientist say the best thing is how do we reduce our dependence on plastic and stop throwing plastics away.

This is what Ed and Hidi are trying to do!  At Bosque there will be the right size of consumable portions, so you don’t have left overs you throw away.  There will not be take away drink or food containers that will be thrown away at home.  They ask you consider bringing your own if you are in a hurry and can’t enjoy their relaxing atmosphere.  In the future they will have reusable non-plastic containers for purchase.

Hidi grew up in a family that owned multiple restaurants, eating eclectic foods and combining different ethnic foods to create a new culinary fare.  For example, blending foods and spices from Mexico and Vietnam like creating an Asian version of the tortilla.   It really resonated with me, as I do this all the time and my husband looks at me with a particular look when he sees Soy Sauce going into the Bolognese Sunday Gravy Sauce.

Hidi loves to cook, has always wanted to open her own restaurant and there are zero Vietnamese Restaurants in Newport.  The Cortes family thought this was the perfect time.  In wanting to be sustainable and fresh, Vietnamese was a perfect choice since it is known for its healthy cuisine and it works well to make vegetarian and vegan options out of traditional Vietnamese favorites.  What is really exciting is Hidi wants to push her culinary creativity so each month you will see specials in other global traditions that may have a little Vietnamese influence.  I’m dying to try her take on curry that she has transformed from all the different countries that create curries, she described to me during our interview.

menu

The yummy menu.

I asked Ed why he chose his location adjacent to Oregon Coast Community College.  A restaurant like this would get a lot more traffic and be more successful in Nye Beach or on the Bay Front.  Ed is an ultra-runner and runs in the woods near Oregon Coast Community College and when he saw the opportunity to launch a restaurant and café in his favorite running area they decided to take the plunge! Also, he wants to help support the students (OCCC students get 10% discount) and bring more options to the growing community in South Beach.  Everyone will be pleasantly surprised on the nice size portions for the price!  They are in process of getting their liquor license so currently you will need to go upstairs to the Wolf Tree Brewery Taproom for those options.

They are excited to open their café and restaurant to organizations for events, like the one we just had with Surfrider.  The space is clean, bright and inviting.  Ed has lots of ideas and plans you will see in the future to bring some exciting local art and technology to the forefront, be sure to keep coming by often!  As I discussed earlier growing their own local vegetables is important to the Cortes Family; therefore, you will see a full hydroponics system in the restaurant in the near future.   They also make their own fresh soy and almond milk.   For those of you in town October 14th at 2pm, is the official Grand Opening, make sure you come by and support an amazing family, restaurant and try the scrumptious Vietnamese food!

Being Good Stewards of Our Ocean

This week I will be taking a break from my blog series on traumatic brain injury to discuss possible climate change effects on our Oregon Coast and the entire West Coast.  I had the opportunity to join my friend, Dr. Lindsay Aylesworth, on a volunteer surveying activity with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Reserves and Oregon State University at Otter Rock Marine Reserve, Oregon.

It was the first time I woke up at 4:55AM in morning in the last four years since my brain injury.  We headed out to the Otter Rock Marine Reserve on a super low negative tide day.  It was amazing, I had never been out that far or in the marine reserve before.

First off, Doctor Sarah Gravem gave an overview of the intertidal area.  Oregon’s intertidal zone hosts 116 species of invertebrates, 71 species of algae, and 3 species of seagrass. She then explained how sea stars are the ‘great white shark’ of the intertidal zone.  They serve as the apex predator helping to maintain a balanced ecosystem.  I couldn’t believe these beautiful calm creatures were veracious eaters.

Sarah then explained the reason we were out surveying was due to a massive virus that almost made the sea stars extinct a couple years ago down the west coast and they are trying to determine how it effects the intertidal zone now.  For example, what happens to the intertidal zone if there are too many mussels because there are fewer sea stars to eat them?

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The team on Otter Rock Marine Reserve surveying intertidal zone.

Not many people realize back in 2013-2014 there was a massive virus epidemic that nearly wiped out the entire sea star population from Baja Mexico to Alaska.  This wasting disease infects the sea star and causes it to develop lesions that dissolve their tissue and spread throughout their bodies.  It often kills the invertebrates within a couple of weeks or even a matter of days. When lesions appear on the sea stars’ rays (the arms of the star fish), a resilient few sea stars may shed the limb before the disease reaches their vital organs and later regrow it, but unfortunately most ended up dying. More often, the sea stars’ extremities become gnarled and deformed as the wasting syndrome takes hold, and the organisms quickly disintegrate into a white mush.

SevereStarFish

Example of sea stars with wasting disease.

No one really knows why the wasting disease occurs but some scientists hypothesize climate change had something to do with it.  From studies done in Oregon, it does not appear that the disease was triggered by climate change since it began when waters were colder than normal. However this is only for Oregon, as for Washington, California, Mexico and Alaska waters were warming. Other scientists still believe that climate change triggered the disease in those places. Additionally, after the outbreak climate change definitely played a role in the severity of the disease in Oregon.  As this warming in our oceans continue to occur we are seeing changes in marine life and their ecosystem.

Additionally, we have the huge blob of trash floating out in the Pacific Ocean that may be wreaking some type of havoc on our marine habitat.  Scientists are studying this to better determine what all this trash means to our marine habitat.  We as citizens need to do a better job of ensuring we keep trash, sewage, chemicals and plastic out of our oceans.

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Haley and Greg counting mussels, snails and starfish.

But I digress, now back to the surveying.  Our goal was to count all the new mussels forming, the various snails and starfish that were in the intertidal zone.  We then spent the next four hours counting, photographing and documenting what we could find in one meter and ½ meter quadrants.

For those of you living near Newport or in any Oregon Coast community you can be part of citizen science.  One of ODFW’s collaborators, MARINe, uses citizen science to report where healthy and afflicted sea stars are being found. Anyone can download their datasheets, collect data, and then submit it online . If this sounds interesting, there are a few things to note before heading out to become doctors of the intertidal zone (check out full methods here).

Species identification is necessary so be familiar with the local species of sea stars. Size needs to be recorded so bring a ruler or something of known length as a reference. Review this post to familiarize with the types of sea star wasting symptoms. If you find there are diseased individuals remember to take a picture and send it to seastarwasting@googlegroups.com.

There is some good news though.  Several baby sea stars have survived the wasting disease and are beginning to reproduce.  Our hope is the population will come back.  Oregon Public Broadcasting published a good story discussing the new baby boom.

We can all be better stewards of the intertidal zone.  First, don’t pick up any creatures-feel free to touch but don’t move or remove. Second, follow the guidelines in the image below. Third, join the Newport Surfrider Chapter that does beach clean-ups, water quality checks and projects to save our ocean.  Lastly, if you want to learn more about sea stars I have listed some great resources below that were shared with me by Taylor Ely a Sea Grant Scholar.

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Out in Tech kicks off in Bend

It is an exciting time to be part of the Technology Community in Central Oregon, especially if you are LGBTQ. Many don’t realize that in the State of Oregon, 5% of the population is LGBTQ which would mean about 4,500 Bendites are LGBTQ! In the state of Oregon, we are also one of 16 states that score high in “policy tally” counts the number of positive laws and policies within the state that help drive equality for LGBT people. The major categories of laws covered by the policy tally include: Marriage and Relationship Recognition, Adoption and Parenting, Non-Discrimination, Safe Schools, Health and Safety, and Ability for Transgender People to Correct the Name and Gender Marker on Identity Documents.
When Executive Director of BendTech, Tim Riefke contacted me on helping with the launch of Out in Tech for Central Oregon. I was excited to be part of the event and the future of the community. As many of you know, I am super passionate about inclusivity in Bend (if you haven’t read our story on the Inclusive Innovation Initiative check it out). We know that more diverse teams bring new perspectives and drive greater innovations! As technology companies across the world focus on diversifying and becoming more inclusive, what a great time to join the industry. When speaking to Tim, he identifies as being Queer and why Out in Tech is so important for Bend. “At BendTech, we want to create an inclusive workplace that all people can feel welcome and find opportunities to connect and collaborate in the burgeoning tech/start-up community,” exclaimed Tim Riefke.
When I look at opportunities for our growing youth population in Bend and people who are under-employed looking for a career switch, I always talk about technology opportunities. I have been lucky to have a 20-year career in the industry that has taken me all over the world, solving amazing challenges to help communities, countries, companies and organizations. What is so exciting for LGBTQ Bendites is our technology industry is young. It is working extremely hard to do it right in the beginning, that is why Technology Association of Oregon in partnership with all the technology companies kicked off the Diversity Leadership Series and COCC SBDC’s free diversity advising the last Thursday of every month to help our companies understand the importance of inclusivity and why every voice matters in our companies.
Looking at our next generation of technology employees and leaders, I was excited to work with Constance and Michael who are interns at BendTech around this event. When asking them why tech and why now, here is what they said, “It’s great that Bend is informal, friendly and people are willing to go out of their way to help you and help you navigate the Bend Tech Scene. It’s a great time to be part of Tech,” replied Michael Tornatta and Constance Smith.
At the event tonight, we kicked off with of course, pizza and beer Bend style with friendly informal networking. We then jumped into a discussion with an amazing panel to discuss LGBTQ opportunities in Bend Tech scene: Julie Harrelson (Cascade Angels Fund Manager), James Nesbitt, PhD (Genetech/Alector Intellectual Property), Eric Norths (First Interstate Bank), Tim Riefke (BendTech), and Beth Hannon (Beth Hannon Marketing). It was exciting to hear all the positive stories and the community coming together to be more inclusive and want to better support the LGBTQ community in Oregon.
One of my favorite quotes of the evening came from Julie Harrelson, when a student asked does it get old to always be tokenized as an LGBTQ leader in the community to the panel and will this ever change? Julie highlighted, “I don’t look at being tokenized or asked to represent as always being a bad thing. It can be the community wanting to better understand your perspective and gives an opportunity to take a leadership role in education and change.”
I love that answer! So many times, I have spoken with fellow leaders in under-represented groups feeling tired, burnt-out and frustrated stating, “does it always have to be my job to teach everyone the perspective of my group.” But instead of getting frustrated, we should feel honored and look at it as a learning opportunity! At least people want your perspective from the community you represent and believe you are the best representative they know to provide it. Things could be worse and people could not care or ask for that perspective at all. It is all of our job for people coming from under-represented groups to be open to share our perspectives and be excited that people want to listen. 
The event closed with some fun activities to get people connected, with Oz Smith meeting the most people and taking home our prized new Out in Tech painting. The unanimous decision for the group is to have our next meeting in September to support LGBTQ mentorship and sponsorship. So keep your eyes out and join us for our next event after your Summer vacations.

A leaders greatest gift is vulnerability

Many times, leaders believe we have to be seen as fearless, strong, and all knowing.  We often think showing any sign of vulnerability indicates weakness.  However, author David Williams points out in his Forbes article that, “In reality, vulnerability is a strength.  Every leader has vulnerability. The greatest leaders have the self-awareness to recognize this fact. They also recognize that showing their vulnerability is a sign of courage and strength.”  In his book, courage is the sixth ‘Non-Negotiable’ that he covers in his book The 7 Non-Negotiables of Winning. 

I find this notion to be true and have included it as one of the themes in my keynote.  I presented this speech at the Bend Chamber 2018 Women of the Year Awards.   Sometimes we need to share stories that we don’t want to admit to help current and future leaders.  So after struggling with traumatic brain injury (TBI) the last five years, I briefly shared my story with the audience of nominees, award winners and Bendites.

 

I have spent my career as a Type A, workaholic, altruistic, high achieving leader trying to solve difficult problems for my industry, company, employees, mentees and colleagues.  I truly believed I could run my body like a machine and travel 3 weeks a month, work 10-18-hour days, survive on 2-4 hours of sleep while doing my day job and volunteering to lead committees for the White House, UN Women, and actively participate on 12 non-profit boards, volunteer for local community activities, be a good friend, and wife.  This all came crashing down in February 2013 when my body forced me to take an unplanned medical leave of absence.  I will go into that story in more detail in my next set of blogs. I want to focus here on the message that leaders need to share that we are not invincible.  We can’t keep driving at a crazy fast speed, with focused accuracy for a long stretch and not result in a disaster.     

In my keynote, I focused on two major areas, my childhood and upbringing that brought me to this intense drive, ambition and desire to make an impact no matter the cost.  Secondly, the need for leaders to say it’s okay to give us some ‘white space’ in our lives and ask for help.  I’ve now launched a new company focused on helping start-ups, small and medium size businesses, organizations and government agencies to harness inclusive innovation for their competitive advantage.  Many times, these groups are lean and may not have the resources to understand how to ensure they are diverse enough to meet the needs of their customers. Also, they must ask themselves if they are running the as efficiently as possible and utilizing all of their employees’ capabilities.   

Most diversity and inclusion consulting is priced out of reach for these organizations even though 80% of our working population in Bend works for these groups.  So creating an affordable, consumable framework has created a ton of interest for Ranemaker Institute in helping Bend aspire to be one of the most inclusive cities in America.  At the same time, I have had to learn to be honest about my current vulnerabilities so I don’t fall ill again.      

I can’t take on every company, organization or governmental agency I want to help.  My TBI has restricted how much time I can spend on a computer, working with large groups of people and the amount of stress I can handle.  I can’t work a normal work week and I still take a 2-3 hour nap daily.   I focus now on asking for help, only having a client a month and my workshop series.  I balance my ego’s need for making an impact and helping businesses in Central Oregon with time outdoors, relaxing, painting, reading and napping.  I think it is important for us to show we can still be successful, make significant impact in our community and have a healthy life balance.  We just need to realize that impact may not be instantaneous but takes a lot more time.  I have learned not to start the race with a sprint but keep a steady may be even slow pace for its entirety as our life is a marathon that we want to enjoy for a long time.  I don’t want to drop out before I’ve lived to a ripe old age.   So next time you feel you are exhausted and just need to finish one more thing, may be you need to take a mental health day instead, a few minutes of meditation and enjoy an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm for a good laugh.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rane Stempson: Helping Central Oregon Startups and More Create Diverse, Inclusive Workplaces

Thank you Kelly Kearsley, reposted from Startupbend Community visit their site.

 

So Teri approached me and asked if I would help develop a equity, diversity and leadership workshop series targeted at startups and small businesses that would offer practical knowledge on these topics at an affordable price? As the former principal research director for Microsoft, I focused on diversity and specifically bring more underrepresented groups into computing, so this was in my wheelhouse. I opened the Ranemaker Institute and began developing the TAO workshop series, researching, and working with the City of Bend and the Bend Chamber on how we could better support our City’s equity needs.

 

As a result, TAO launched the Diversity Leadership Series a few months ago. These workshops, which I lead, are for all industry sectors not just technology and provide hands on learning for our businesses, non-profits and government agencies at an affordable price. The workshops will help employees, managers and senior leaders determine how to deal with unconscious biases, harassment, recruitment, retention and advancement of a diverse workforce, managing across generations and a number of other topics to help businesses better serve their customers and increase employee satisfaction.

 

There’s been other progress as well. The City of Bend passed a unanimous resolution on March 7th to aspire to be the most inclusive city in Oregon and in America. Bend also wants to be proactive in supporting our growing community. Most of our population in Central Oregon works for businesses with less than 100 people. These businesses create goods and services that must meet the needs of a diverse population that either visits the region or is distributed globally. I launched the Inclusive Innovation Initiative to provide a committee to tackle difficult equity and inclusion issues facing our city, the workshop series and free advising.

 

I’ve also been offering advising hours to start-ups and small businesses via the SBDC at COCC. I’ll be advising businesses on issues such as diversity, inclusion and equity. I’ll also provide support for under-represented groups considering starting a new business. You can schedule a meeting today. 

When we suggest we need to expand organizational diversity it doesn’t mean ‘affirmative action’ per se. Instead it often means looking at the broader definition. Asking ourselves, do we have members on our team that are adding value because of their different race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, abilities, age, skill set, knowledge, culture, education, and training? Do these members push us to think, approach problems, and create solutions in different ways.

 

Bend is growing at an exceptionally fast rate, and our region’s diversity is growing. Inclusion helps us recognize that everyone’s voice and opinion matter and there are different strategies we should take to ensure each voice has the same level of importance. In speaking with organizations, I explain that, “Most people have good intentions and with a little education, such as utilizing strategies to better connect, we can work more effectively with each other and remove a lot of misunderstandings.

Especially in the technology community, we have a lot of equity and inclusion issues. And while we are driving so hard to innovate before the next person, we forget the time we need to invest in our innovative teams to ensure they are performing at their best.” We understand the importance of technical training but often forget the soft skills is what is necessary to really drive innovative teams and successful companies utilizing the full potential of all their employees.

Check out the next course in the diversity series workshop. You can also catch me at the next City Club forum on June 21. I’ll be moderating a panel on Gender Partnerships in the Workplace: Where We Have Been, Where We Can Be. You can schedule a meeting today. for free small business advising in diversity.

Time to Require Corporations to be Socially Responsible

Reposted from LinkedIn Article

It is time we make our corporations be more accountable to ethical and social responsibilities. Expectations for reduced expenses, increased profits and higher bonuses to executives and greater returns for stockholders can’t be derived at the detriment of employees and increased burden to taxpayers. I just finished reading Elizabeth Warren’s book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class ,” and it left me feeling an urgent need to do something!

I grew up as a second generation Asian American with a father on social security at an early retirement from civil engineering and military service. This required my stay at home mother to go to work and be a minimum wage housekeeper since she could not read and write English. To my surprise today, with this meager income of less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year, my family was able to support two children, a home mortgage and pay all our bills in a small bedroom community of Portland, Oregon called Vancouver, WA. We were by no means rich but we weren’t super poor either. I enjoyed playing sports, being on student government, singing in choir, having lots of friends in different classes, genders and ethnicities, having great healthcare at Kaiser Permanente and no stigma of being a poor person of color. We were a lower middle-class family. Today, we would be in poverty. We would not own a home but rent, visiting the food bank, struggle with healthcare, be challenged keeping up with bills and probably could only pay for clothing at Goodwill. It is a travesty that someone working a full-time minimum wage job with a spouse that served our country can’t afford to live and make ends meet. We must fix this as Americans!

See the source image

I want to quote a few paragraphs’ from Mrs. Warren’s book, …

“Gina says she feels lucky to have a job, but she is pretty blunt about what it is like to work at Walmart: she hates it. She’s worked at her local Walmart for nine years, spending long hours on her feet waiting on customers and wrestling with heavy merchandise around the store. But that is not the part that galls her.

Last year, management told the employees they would get a significant raise. While driving to work or sorting laundry, Gina thought about how she could spend that extra money. Do repairs around the house. Or set aside a few dollars in case an emergency. Or help her sons, because “that’s what a mom does.”… 

Then the day arrives when she received the letter informing her of the raise: 21 cents an hour. For a grand total of $1.68 a day, $8.40 a week.

Gina described holding the letter and looking at it and feeling like it was “a spit in your face.” As she talked about the minuscule raise, her voice filled with anger. Anger, tinged with fear. Walmart could dump all over her, but she would have to take it. She still needed this job. They could treat her like dirt, and she would still have to show up. And that is exactly what they did.

In 2015, Walmart made $14.69 billion in profits and Walmart’s investors pocketed $10.4 billion from dividends and shareholder repurchases—and Gina got 21 cents an hour more. This isn’t a story of shared sacrifice. It’s not a story about a company that is struggling to keep the doors open in tough times. This isn’t a small business that can’t afford generous raises. Just the opposite: this is a fabulously wealthy company making big bucks off the Ginas of the world. 

There are seven members of the Walton family, Walmart’s major shareholders, on the Forbes list of the country’s four hundred richest people, and together these seven Walton’s have as much wealth as about 130 million Americans… Walmart routinely squeezes its workers, not because it has to, but because it can…

Walmart is the largest employer in the country. More than a million and a half Americans are working to make this corporation among the most profitable in the world. Meanwhile, Gina points out that at her store, “almost all the young people are on food stamps.” And its not just her store. Across the country, Walmart pays such low wages that many of its employees rely on food stamps, rent assistance, Medicaid, and a mix of other government benefits, just to stay out of poverty. 

The next time you drive into a Walmart parking lot, pause a second to note Walmart—like the more than five thousand other Walmarts in the country—costs taxpayers about $1 million in direct subsidies to the employees who don’t earn enough money to pay for an apartment, buy food, or get even the most basic health care for their children. In total, Walmart benefits from more than $7 billion in subsidies each year from taxpayers like you. Those “low, low prices” are made possible by low, low wages—and the taxes you pay to keep those workers alive on their low, low pay…

Walmart isn’t alone. Every year, employers like retailers and fast food outlets pay wages that are so low that the rest of America ponies up a collective $153 billion to subsidize their workers. Anyone want to guess what we could do with that mountain of money? We could pay public college tuition- free and pay for preschool for every child- and still have billions left over. We could almost double the amount we spend on veteran’s services, such as disability, long-term care, and end homelessness. We could double all federal research and development—everything: medical, scientific, engineering, climate science, behavioral heath, chemistry, brain mapping, dug addiction, even defense research. Or we could double federal spending on transportation and water infrastructure…

Gina describes life at Walmart is a constant fight to get enough hours to support her family. Walmart deliberately over hires, which then puts workers in competition for shifts. Even though she has worked at her Walmart for nearly a decade, she doesn’t get her work schedule far enough in advance to plan a trip to the dentist. And she doesn’t know how many hours she will get each week and if she will have enough money to cover the basics…She talks about a friend who is trying to support herself and little boy on a Walmart paycheck. She needs more hours. She was trying to do better, so she was taking classes at the community college at night. Nicole was available every day and five evenings every week, but she needed Tuesday and Thursday nights off, so she could go to class. They wouldn’t give it to her. They use the schedule as punishment… Gina and her friend feels like their positions at the company are always unsteady…”

I hope you are outraged and furious! I understand that there are many people in our great Nation who cannot afford to stop shopping at Walmart, but we can make them hurt. We can show them that they cannot have these practices and still have a loyal customer base. We must force them to act ethically, morally and socially responsible as an American company. The only way they will do this is if their bottom line is affected. MY CALL TO ACTION IS: Tell all your friends, family and acquaintances that the last Friday of the month we all boycott Walmart. That every last Friday of the month, Walmart will be open and not have one customer or sale in the estimated over 5000 stores. This will incur millions of dollars of lost revenues for Walmart and require them to proactively do something! If we hold all minimum wage corporations accountable in the same way, we can begin to see a difference for a large portion of our American middle-class population. No American who is working hard, doing all the right things should live in poverty in this day and age. PLEASE STAND WITH ME IN OUTRAGE, share this story with your friends and please BOYCOTT Walmart the last FRIDAY of every month! Thank you, Elizabeth Warren for getting this information out!

Women Around the World Hack for Good

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I was honored to provide an article to one of the leading Education Technology magazines, EdTech.  To share with them the results of our International Women’s Hackathon.  To read the article visit EdTech.

Inviting Girls Around the World to Dream Big!

On March 8, we celebrated International Women’s Day. Every year on this date, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. Women’s equality has made positive gains, but plenty of inequality still exists. International Women’s Day commemorates the social, political, and economic achievements of women, while focusing world attention on areas requiring further action. “Inspiring Change” was the theme of the 2014 celebration, and the goal was to encourage advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere in every way. Promoting women’s equality requires courageously challenging the status quo and vigilantly inspiring positive change. In conjunction with International Women’s Day, Microsoft profiled the work of five female employees—whose efforts are representative of the work of countless other Microsoft women—in empowering girls’ and women’s involvement in science, research, computing, and engineering.

Big Dream: encouraging girls to pursue a future in science and technology

Just two days after International Women’s Day, the fifty-eighth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) kicked off at United Nations Headquarters in New York. CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is the principal global policymaking body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. This year’s CSW theme was access and participation of women and girls in education, training, science, and technology, including for the promotion of women’s equal access to full employment and decent work. At CSW, I had the privilege of presenting Microsoft’s Big Dream Movement—an exciting new effort to involve more girls in science and technology—on Friday, March 14, during the UN Women Session, “ICT for women’s economic empowerment and poverty alleviation.

The Big Dream Movement connects organizations, academia, and resources to girls around the world to help them pursue a future in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The movement is anchored by Big Dream, a documentary film that follows the stories of seven young women who are breaking barriers and overcoming personal challenges to follow their passions in STEM fields. From small town Iowa to the bustling streets of the Middle East, Big Dream immerses viewers in a world designed by and for the next generation of girls. Our hope is that this inspirational film will excite young women, their families, and friends to the possibilities inherent in science and technology.

Watch the Big Dream trailer

Microsoft is pleased to be underwriting this film and to be partnering with the following organizations to make the Big Dream Movement a reality around the world: UN Women, ITU (the International Telecommunications Union), UNESCO, the European Commission, Zen Digital- DLI, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Girls Collaborative Project, the Girl Scouts, the National Center for Women in Technology, the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), ACM-W, IEEE-Women in Engineering, and Black Girls Code. We are pleased to have the following on our leadership team: Jennifer Breslin UN Women; Gary Fowler, ITU; Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO; Cheryl Miller, Zen Digital- DL and the EU Commission; Lucy Sanders, NCWIT; Telle Whitney, ABI; Kimberly Brant, Black Girls Code; Janice Cuny, the National Science Foundation; Karen Peterson, National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP); Kristen Grennan, Global Girls Scouts; and Valeria Barr, ACM-W.

During the UN Women Session at CSW, on behalf of Microsoft I took part in a wide-ranging discussion of what must be done to attract more women to STEM fields. Session participants agreed that it is time to change the message and help women become producers instead of consumers of technology, and to empower women to help create the solutions for the future. We encouraged the 45 member states elected by ECOSOC to participate in the Big Dream Movement. Throughout the coming year, the movement will publicize the many “best-kept secrets”—those amazing organizations, academic institutions, researchers, professors, and companies that have programs and tools to help expose women to STEM. We will also educate young women about the career possibilities and the impact they can make by pursuing careers in STEM fields.

This summer (northern hemisphere), our website, BigDreamMovement.com, will go live, providing a portal for you to learn about programs and tools that promote computing and STEM. Then, starting in the fall, we plan to show Big Dream at events all over the world. Panel discussions will follow immediately after the screening, during which local students will talk about their experiences in STEM. Local organizations will also be on hand to talk with students and parents about STEM opportunities in the community. And the aforementioned website will include a worldwide registry of organizations that provide STEM opportunities to girls, so that anyone can find local resources and programs. At the end of 2015, we will hand over all of the assets to UN Women, which will connect women around the world and keep the movement thriving through the Knowledge Gateway for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

In the meantime, we encourage you to SKYPE BigDreamMovement and leave a personal video message. If you’re a professional woman or man, describe your Big Dream and offer advice to young women wanting to pursue a future in STEM. If you’re a young woman, tell us what is your Big Dream is and how a future in STEM can help you get there.

Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Education and Scholarly Communication, Microsoft Research Connections

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Growing More Women in Computing in the UK

So I was honored last week to write a guest blog for the UK Software Sustainability Institute.  They are a national organization in the UK that focuses on cultivating world class research with superior software solutions.  They bring the best computer science has to offer to all of the various disciplines in the research world that needs software to empower and accelerate their research.  When speaking to their Deputy Director, Simon Hettrick, he highlighted the importance of having more women in the field and what could their organization do to highlight the challenges and enable a better environment in which women could thrive.  I was so excited to share our thoughts, the data, the research and our work with his organization.  Here is a link to the blog post- check it out.

RaneLadiesGadgeteer

Grants and Scholarships to Assist Growing More Women in Computing

As many of you know—especially if you’ve been reading my blog posts—the participation of women in computer science continues to decline. Last year, women accounted for only 14 percent of computer science college graduates in the United States, according to the Computing Research Association. That’s down from 37 percent in 1985, despite US Department of Labor statistics that show computing to be among the fastest-growing career fields, with a shortage of qualified candidates to fill available openings. In addition, studies reveal that executives value the variety of perspectives that comes with team diversity, yet another reason for needing greater female participation in computing fields.

Innovate to impact the world.

As a technology company and innovation leader, Microsoft is passionate about increasing the participation of women in computing. To do so, we must attract more female students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. To maintain their interest in STEM programs, we can increase young women’s exposure to the myriad opportunities in computer science and provide them with support during their undergraduate and graduate STEM studies. This is why Microsoft Research is proud to support the NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund and to fund the Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship.
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit community of more than 500 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology. NCWIT helps organizations more effectively recruit, retain, and advance girls and women in K-12 through college education, and from academic to corporate and startup careers. The NCWIT Academic Alliance brings together nearly 750 distinguished representatives from academic computing programs at more than 275 colleges and universities across the country—spanning research universities, community colleges, women’s colleges, and minority-serving institutions. In 2007, Microsoft Research initiated the Seed Fund in partnership with NCWIT Academic Alliance. The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund provides US academic institutions with grants (up to US$10,000 per project) to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting and retaining women in computer science and information technology fields of study. Through 2013, the Seed Fund had awarded US$465,450.
In partnership with NCWIT Academic Alliance, we are pleased to announce the 2014 winners:

  • College of St. Scholastica (Jennifer Rosato) Promoting Female and Diverse Student Retention through Faculty Use of a Growth Mindset Approach This project will provide professional development for faculty at The College of St. Scholastica, helping them to instil a growth mindset among women and minority students who are majoring in computer science and associated concentrations, as well as fostering the continued interest of students taking pre-engineering courses.
  • Georgia Gwinnett College (Sonal Dekhane, Kristine Nagel, and Nannette Napier) Georgia Gwinnett College Women in IT Boot Camp A weeklong workshop, the boot camp will give 24 promising female IT sophomores an opportunity to get a head start in programming.
  • South Carolina Technical College System (Stephanie Frazier and Salandra Bowman) SCTCS Triple A Academy The academy will immerse 10 to 14 female students—each of whom is enrolled in a certificate, diploma, or degree IT program—in a one-week program that promotes ability, acuity, and audacity (the triple As) in IT-related fields.
  • Tufts University (Benjamin Shapiro) Engaging Women in Computing through Musical Instrument and Performance This unique project will design a curriculum and an accompanying set of hardware and software tools that teach computational thinking and engineering through the design and construction of tangible, programmable electronic musical instruments that youth can use for live performances.
  • University of Arizona (Gondy Leroy and Paulo Goes) Tomorrow’s Leaders Equipped for Diversity The university’s department of management information systems (MIS) will team with industry to make computer science and MIS students aware of diversity issues, with a special focus on gender, preparing the students to be leaders and managers who are equipped to both counter the problems and leverage the benefits of diversity.

In addition, we know that a woman’s first two years of computer science graduate study are the most critical. During this time, she must determine her area of focus, increase her confidence in the field, enhance her capabilities in publishing and research, and build her network. This is why Microsoft Research created the Graduate Women’s Scholarship, which provides a US$15,000 stipend, plus a US$2,000 travel and conference allowance, to women in their second year of graduate study at a US or Canadian university. The scholarship helps recipients gain visibility in their departments, acquire mentorship, and cover the burgeoning cost of graduate programs.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship:

  • Anne Holladay, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Claire Chow, University of Notre Dame
  • Yunmeng Ban, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Sruthi Polali, Rice University
  • Nan-Chen Chen, University of Washington
  • Ghazal Fazelnia, Columbia University
  • Tesca Fitzgerald, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Angelica Ruszkowski, University of British Columbia
  • Brooke Fugate, University of Pennsylvania
  • Elizabeth Mamantov, University of Michigan

Congratulations to all the winning programs and students. We look forward to great things from 2014’s women in computing.
Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Education and Scholarly Communication, Microsoft Research Connections   Learn more

Preparing for battle- who will win

Well folks its down to the wire now…  And one of my German friends, thanks Werner, shared this with me. I thought it was so funny-I had to share with everyone….  I have to hand one off to the Germans to be so witty!  Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully Tuesday will be President Obama. 
 
Dear Red States…

We’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us.  In case you aren’t aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,  Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

 

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. You get Ken Lay.We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel, Apple and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss. We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.  Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.


Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and antiwar, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs  turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.


With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners), 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech iindustry, most of the US low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools, plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.


With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob  Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.


We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.  Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the death penalty or gun laws,44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.


By the way, we’re taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico .

            Peace out,   Blue States

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