On this Martin Luther King Day 2017, I can do no better than to reprise the remarks I delivered at the University of Michigan MLK Spirit Awards reception in January, 2014. The movement still reverberates, the issues I raised are more relevant than ever, and the future that I outlined draws ever closer. Watch the video…
In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS). It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.
Last Fall, in conjunction with the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the music of Mama Sol, who performed at our Matrix Networking Reception. Now that was a real treat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rap music in general, but there are a few artists whose work transcends the particular genre they happen to operate in. In the rap arena, my favorite example is Public Enemy. In R&B, the quintessential example would be Stevie Wonder. Mama Sol is one of those unique artists who capture and reflect their time and place in this world. She does so in a way that convinces you that she feels her poetry in her bones, in her SOUL. Her poetry can simultaneously convey sweetness, familiarity, anger, and inspiration. The fact that she is of, by, and for Flint, Michigan is really special, but her music is by no means limited or limiting. Last Fall, I called her Flint’s poet laureate, and I was not exaggerating.
If you want to be inspired, check out Mama Sol’s latest, Go O.F.F., or the earlier Inside Out. Let me know what you think.
It’s time to start planning for the 2017 Road Trip. I look forward to seeing more of this country (and a bit of Canada) up close and personal. I really like experiencing new places and meeting interesting people. Probably more than anything, I treasure the opportunity to think and reflect and listen to audiobooks during the hours and hours of windshield time.
More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.
2016: Another Year in the Can
It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.
I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year. I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey. Here we go…
I found out the hard way that EBay is facilitating the theft of items people post for sale on their site.
I just had an experience with EBay that I find extremely discouraging, and the result is that I will no longer be posting any items for sale on EBay. EBay’s “Money Back Guarantee program” protects unscrupulous, scam “buyers” by returning their money even if they falsely claim that they received a damaged item, or even that they didn’t receive the item. The seller is left holding the bag, or in my own case, holding a bogus piece of junk. Something must be done to address this outrageous situation, before many, many more occasional EBay sellers are scammed. In the meantime, my recommendation is that you do not post anything for sale on EBay that you are not willing to give away!
When I was writing my recent article “Flint’s Water Problems are the Symptom, not the Disease” I ran across this LA Times op-ed piece by Andrew Highsmith, a U-M grad who now teaches history at UC Irvine. I found it interesting because Andrew views the Flint crisis from an objective historical perspective, and cites specific government policies that led to the city’s demise. Andrew has also written a book, “Demolition Means Progress,” which details how the urban renewal campaigns carried out in Flint resulted in a more divided and impoverished city.
See the article summary below, and click on the link to view the entire article on the LA Times web site.
In the fall of 1966, African American activists from the impoverished North End of Flint, Michigan, turned out en masse for a series of hearings on racial inequality sponsored by the state’s Civil Rights Commission. One of those who testified, Ailene Butler, drew links between the segregationist policies that had created the North End and the corporate practices that had immiserated its inhabitants.
Article in Belt Magazine – Dispatches from the Rust Belt
These past few months, the news has been full of stories about the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. As a native of the city with family and friends who still live there, this story has been particularly painful. The reality of the situation, however, is that even if Fiji water flowed from Flint faucets, the residents there would still be suffering from decades of neglect and disinvestment. My recent article, published in Belt (as in “Rust Belt”) Magazine, chronicles Flint’s decline in personal terms, and describes what must be done to reestablish Flint to what it once was – a model city.
To read the article in Belt Magazine, click on the link below.
To get a PDF file of the original article text, click here.
2015 was a year of anniversaries – some happy, some sad, some bittersweet. As each anniversary came and went this year, I made a mental note, but didn’t otherwise recognize it. Doing so distracted me from the flow of daily events, and besides that, it made me feel old. However, sitting here on the eve of the eve of a new year, I feel like collecting and recognizing these anniversaries. If you were a part of any of them, you know how special they were. Continue reading