Argh – this new health care bill is driving us crazy!

Keep an eye on the news!  This Sunday could essentially make or break the back of this country’s economy!

Political Pundits – Glenn Beck

OK – Glenn,

I was watching one of your shows recently, and I have to say – the baby, whine has got to go!

I watched you for about fifteen minutes performing a whiny, baby-talk in an attempt to provide a sarcastic comment on some of  the recent democratic and far-leftist political actions.

I had to turn you off – it was excruciating.

Please don’t do that again.

Thanks!

Solutions to the Dilemma of Waterside, Norfolk, VA

Waterside in Norfolk, VA – Economic Bust or Boom?

Waterside is failing (again) as an economic center and tourist and local draw as a tax-based income producer for the city.  What to do, what to do?  It’s simple enough to look at other adaptive reuse projects in other cities what the answer should be.  The Norfolk City Council should adapt the same or similar goals as other similarly situated cities.

The Goals for Waterside should be:

  1. Develop the right mix of cultural facilities to meet the needs of the community and to make Norfolk a destination attraction.
  2. Develop an Art’s Council to promote and support the business of arts, culture, and science.
  3. Build Norfolk’ identity as a cultural center and destination by increasing the visibility of arts, culture, and science activities in Norfolk.
  4. Develop sustainable funding, public and private, to support arts, culture, and science.
  5. Employ arts, culture, and science to improve Norfolk’ quality of life, strengthen the local economy, and increase tourism.
  6. Ensure availability of arts education programming to youth through future community arts centers, collaborations between schools and arts groups, training and resources for teachers, and funding.
  7. Provide an economically sustainable source of tax revenue to the city supporting administration while making use of a formerly and historically failing economic center and city asset.
  8. Support of research and development of new ideas in the field of the arts, culture and development.
  9. Foster the arts and culture as a means to personal and social development.
  10. Promote young and innovative artists and pieces of art.

The businesses surrounding Waterside are already based in most of these goals above.  The Nauticus and Battleship Wisconsin provides a cultural draw for the museum and exhibits as well as for cruise liners who stop here for the tourist trade; Macarthur Mall provides a draw for serious shoppers; and Waterside Park entices locals to visit for the multiple ‘festivals’ and events throughout the year.

All Norfolk needs is the third base for a true economically attractive ‘triangle’ (linked with the park events) to sustain and build a hugely successful new economic tax base that: 1) attracts visitors from far and wide, as well as locals – including schools and primary students from the surrounding six cities, 2) builds up the region’s reputation for arts and culture using the vital, dynamic, and diverse resources of artists already in the immediate area, and 3) creates additional jobs and revenue for tax payers who are supported by this project.

Additionally there are several other venues in the local area, which fight traffic and weather that could be brought under a roof next to rich parking availability to ensure better success for the event – such as the Spring and Fall Stockley Gardens Art Festival in Ghent.

In addition to providing space for culturally related events, there should be enough space in Waterside to provide a ‘free to the public’ meeting events space for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and other related business building events such as a Chamber of Commerce satellite office, Small Business Administration satellite office, and meeting space for Business Networking events for groups that target and work with entrepreneurs to train, network, and interact to build business relationships.

Examples of Successful Art Centers

The Torpedo Factory, Old Town, Alexandria, VA[i]

The Friends of the Torpedo Factory Art Center (Friends) is a nonprofit membership organization presenting a variety of arts-related programs and events in collaboration with the Torpedo Factory Art Center, one of Alexandria’s best resources for the arts.

The Friends’ mission is to promote the Torpedo Factory Art Center as a vital part of the City of Alexandria and of the greater Washington metropolitan area. We fulfill our mission by building connections between the Center, its artists (in partnership with the Torpedo Factory Artists Association, a separate entity) and the community. We are a member-based public charity, meaning that, while we also seek grants and corporate sponsorships, the primary source of our revenues is membership dues that are fully tax-deductible to the members. The West End Business Association provides the City of Alexandria, Virginia’s West End businesses with networking, education and growth opportunities while offering unified advocacy.  For more information go to www.alexandriaWEBA.com .

The Torpedo Factory Art Center is the highlight of Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually. Visit 82 artists’ studios, six galleries, two workshops, and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. Sign up for an art class with The Art League School. Then stroll along the waterfront, shop and sightsee on nearby historic streets, have a picnic on the dock behind the art center, or eat in the area’s many fine restaurants.

The Torpedo Factory Art Center houses more than 165 visual artists who produce artwork in a wide variety of media including painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture. The artists invite visitors to join them in their studios and observe their creative processes. You may ask questions, learn about each of their art forms, and purchase original work.

In addition to 82 working artist studios, you will also find:

Activities and events the Friends sponsor both bring art closer to the community and bring the community closer to art. They include:

  • Our mentorship program, which matches high school art students with Torpedo Factory artists, an extraordinary opportunity which culminates in a student art exhibition in the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Target Gallery;
  • Cosponsoring the annual “Young at Art” show held at the Durant Center along with the Senior Services of Alexandria and Goodwin House;
  • “Art at the Courthouse” showcases art at the City of Alexandria Juvenile Court;
  • The Friends’ Guest Lecture & Performance Series, which brings accomplished speakers to the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Our next program features the Jane Franklin Dance Company, on April 22;
  • The Friends’ Artist of the Year program, in which the community recognizes artistic achievements of the Center’s artists.

History of the Torpedo Factory

No kidding! The Torpedo Factory Art Center was an actual torpedo factory. It’s not just a catchy name for a building bursting with art studios.

It all began the day after Armistice Day, November 12, 1918, which was the anniversary of the official end of World War I. Ironically, on that day the U.S. Navy began construction on the original building, which became the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. When fully operational, it was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of torpedoes for the next five years. Work stopped and the facility served as a munitions storage area until World War II. Production on the Mark XIV, a submarine borne torpedo, and the Mark III aircraft torpedo then resumed at an intense rate; in fact, men and women worked around the clock and were given only two days off a year. Gradually as space was needed, ten additional buildings were added to the complex.

The green torpedo currently displayed in the main hall was actually made here in 1945. This Mark XIV torpedo is painted bright green so that the Navy could find it in the water when it was tested. Its log book, in the exhibit case, tells its history, and lists the submarines on which it traveled. The silver colored torpedo displayed in the back hall is a type which was dropped from airplanes and was not made here at the Torpedo Factory.

When peace was declared in June of 1945, the furious activity at the torpedo factory came to a grinding halt. Eventually, the U.S. government decided to use the buildings for storage space: the Smithsonian stored art objects and valuable dinosaur bones; Congress stored documents; the military kept German war films and records in sealed vaults.

In 1969, the City of Alexandria bought the complex of buildings from the Federal Government. However, it was several years before an acceptable plan for their use was adopted. Marian Van Landingham proposed a project that would renovate the building into working studio spaces for artists. Van Landingham was President of the Art League at the time, as well as Projects and Programs Director of the Alexandria Bicentennial Commission. Her proposal was endorsed by the Commission. With Van Landingham’s experience in the arts, public relations, and politics, she was the perfect choice to become the first city-employed Director of the Art Center and the Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association was born.

Work began on the building in May of 1974, with artist volunteers and City personnel working together to remove the debris of 55 years. Bulldozers and firehoses were initially needed and 40 truckloads of debris were eventually removed. Studio walls were built, electricity and plumbing expanded. The entire exterior was repainted. By July, artists had converted the huge space into a complex of bright and clean studios. Most of the studio spaces had been reserved by that time from a list of juried artists. On September 15, 1974, the Torpedo Factory Art Center opened to the public.

In the 1970s, the artists were so passionate about their studio time they were willing to work in very uncomfortable conditions. Freezing winter temperatures were barely addressed by an ancient boiler which blew a little heat to the first floor and attempted to power furnaces on the upper floor. Shivering artists could only detect heat from those furnaces by leaning on them or touching them directly. They would bundle up in coats, wear gloves with the fingertips cut off, and run coffee pots of boiling water in an attempt to hold off the chill.  With no air conditioning in the summer, the artists would battle the Alexandria heat by working in the constant breeze of a fan. Many would bring frozen bottles of water from home which they would sip as they melted through the afternoon.

From 1982 to 1983, the building underwent a major renovation as part of the City’s waterfront development plan. During that year, all of the artists packed into a much smaller building next door and continued to work. Many artists worked literally elbow to elbow in unimaginably tight quarters. That building still exists as non-affiliated retail and office space.

The Torpedo Factory building was gutted entirely, including all pipes, electrical units, windows, and flooring. A second floor was constructed. A ventilation system and central air and heating were added as well. The artful spiral staircase and main staircase were both added at this time. The artist studios were built to address the specific water, lighting, and electrical needs of each resident artist. A grand reopening celebration was held on May 20, 1983.

Today, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to over 160 professional artists who work, exhibit, and sell their art. Along with over 1,000 cooperative gallery members and some 2,000 art students, the Torpedo Factory Art Center draws artists from across the region and attracts visitors from around the world. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a working example of how the arts can revitalize a community and serves as a prototype for visual arts facilities throughout the world.

The Goggle Factory, Reading, PA

The GoggleWorks Center for the Arts[ii] is a prime example of adaptive reuse in architecture, and derives its name from the original structure from which it evolved. Where there is now a hub of community activity bringing people together in the arts and culture, there once stood a leader in the safety industry whose groundbreaking innovations spanned over a century.

In 1871, during a time when the United States depended solely on Europe for optical lenses, Thomas A. Willson & Co. erected the first factory for the manufacturing of optical glass for lenses and reading glasses at the corner of Washington and 2nd Streets in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Eventually the company changed hands first to Ray-O-Vac Corp. in 1956, and the following year to Electric Storage Battery (ESB) Co., but maintained the Willson Products name through the atomic age and space age, still leading the safety industry in research and development of equipment to meet the needs of a technologically advancing society. By 1981 the company was manufacturing more than 3,000 separate items in protective gear, and at that time became Willson Safety Products.

Willson shifted its focus to the development of new varieties of respirators, gloves and other protective equipment in the 1980s. They stopped manufacturing safety eyewear and began to purchase those products offshore. The company teamed up with Christian Dalloz, a French-based company to create protective eyewear, and Willson became Dalloz’s largest customer. Dalloz bought Willson Products in 1989, and changed the company name to Dalloz Safety in 1997.

Between 200 and 300 people were employed at the Dalloz plant in Reading, but due to outdated equipment and manufacturing processes, layoffs began. By 2001 fifty employees remained, and in May, 2002 the Dalloz Safety plant in Reading closed.

A 130-year history of safety industry innovation and leadership came to an end, and the future of the buildings that had been erected to accommodate the Willson family’s enterprising manufacturing was uncertain. In the midst of hopes and plans for the revitalization of the greater Reading area, the City of Reading recognized the value and the character of these buildings, and their potential to serve the community in a whole new way. Plans to develop a community arts and cultural resource center began, fueled by the proven success of similar adaptive reuse arts center projects. By converting abandoned factories, these community arts centers have revitalized their areas, maintaining local historical and architectural integrity while inspiring a cultural and economic resurgence as the community and visitors come together to create, appreciate, and celebrate the arts.

Boston Massachusett’s Action Agenda to Enhance Revenues and Resources for Massachusetts Cultural Organizations

Considering our highest priorities

It was powerful, and personally gratifying for us to witness this overarching change. But, frankly, much of our work and most of what we heard was more specific and pragmatic. Grounded in the realities of building codes, giving trends, and legislative realities, each of the five committees considered its particular priorities for change, understanding that the Task Force’s final action agenda would grow from these five sets of recommendations.

The work for those assembled at the February 2004 meeting was straightforward: after welcoming remarks from Paul Grogan, Task Force members reviewed five sets of draft recommendations. From there, we hoped that we could reach an understanding of our highest priorities. Throughout, it was the big question—what are the next steps?—that was the group’s overriding concern. The answer would be found in the issues and recommendations that had the greatest traction and the strongest connection to all parts of the sector.

Here is the Cultural Task Force’s action agenda.

1. The highest priority of the Cultural Task Force and, indeed, the entire cultural community, is a significant, sustained state investment in cultural facilities.

The buildings and places in which we work, create and present art and artifacts, and bring the best cultural experiences to a broad and diverse public have a tremendous impact on the cultural sector’s service to its community. A state-supported grants program to provide a portion of the capital funds for maintenance, improvement, and new construction is the greatest need of the cultural community and the highest priority for the Cultural Task Force. Funding, however, is not the whole answer. In addition, the implementation of state and local laws, policies and regulations that support the development of artist spaces, new facilities, the adaptive reuse of historic structures for new cultural purposes, and the maintenance of existing facilities is key to the revitalization of communities and to realizing the benefits of our cultural organizations.

Cultural facilities, including artist spaces, touch all segments of the sector, impacting programs, operations, and budgets to a degree that the general public doesn’t recognize. The audience’s attention is appropriately focused on the stage, the exhibits, the lecturer, while it is left to others to worry about the sagging roof, inadequate rehearsal space, and too small stage. And while only a few among us have the vision to look at an abandoned building and see the economic and social revitalization of an entire community in its rehabilitation, we all yearn for the positive benefits that museums, theaters, and art centers can bring to our neighborhoods.

The Task Force is not alone in calling for a comprehensive solution to the growing crisis in cultural facilities. The 175 people that attended the two Listening Sessions convened in January to gather the concerns of cultural leaders also identified our current ways of dealing with our buildings and artist spaces as a growing problem. This informal consensus is backed by more rigorous studies, among them the survey conducted on behalf of the Task Force that identified over $1.1 billion in repair, expansion and new facility needs and the LINC needs assessment 88 that identified the lack of affordable living, studio, rehearsal and presenting spaces as significant barriers to Boston’s individual artists, their audiences, and our city’s competitiveness.

How can we meet this need for cultural facilities that are safe, affordable, accessible, and adequate to the aspirations of our artists, cultural organizations, and the residents of our Commonwealth?

A significant, sustained state investment in a capital grants program that provides a portion of the funds for planning, repairs, expansion, and new construction is the highest priority of the Cultural Task Force and, indeed, of cultural leaders and audiences across the Commonwealth. State funding will leverage private support and is an investment in jobs, economic growth, and community vitality.

2. The Task Force recognizes the economic potential of cultural tourism and sees its growth and development as a high priority.

When cultural organizations and tourism-related businesses and government agencies work together to increase tourism revenue and improve and maintain our cultural assets by marketing and supporting them, both are better off.

Cultural tourism is a powerful economic force for creating jobs and generating earnings and tax revenues. The successful efforts of Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and other cities across the country showed us how a collaborative, cross-sector approach can benefit the cultural sector, the travel/tourism industry, and the entire economy. We want to unlock the potential synergies of culture and travel.

The deliberations of the travel/tourism committee and of the full Task Force have set the stage for cross sector collaborations that maximize the potential of cultural tourism. The next step is to continue to build relationships of open communication and trust between cultural organizations and travel-related businesses and government agencies.

The course of that dialogue has also been charted. The first step is to develop a joint approach to collecting and sharing actionable data upon which to base decisions about marketing and programming. The hotel/motel industry collects room-night data; theaters collect subscription and ticket sales information; some museums track zip codes while others only guess at where their audience comes from. A shared understanding of their common audience, the cultural tourist, is necessary before the culture and travel sectors can move forward together. Difficult, but achievable. An investment in culture based advertising and marketing that is based in collaborative research and grounded in an understanding of the customer will be returned in economic growth and community vitality.

3.  The Cultural Task Force recommends greater investment in service and advocacy organizations to develop the sector’s cohesion and enhance its ability to meet its collective needs.

The group identified a list of needs—management and fundraising technical assistance for small and mid-sized organizations; board recruitment and training; links with corporations; improved communication about the sector; a forum for ongoing dialogue; sustained, shared leadership—that seemed to cluster, but had no readily identifiable center. Parts of this list are being addressed by the sector’s service organizations, but not with the breadth, depth, or scale that could be gained by greater investment. The group recognized the need for further study, consideration and collaboration, and added this cluster of related issues to the agenda.

Several examples show us what is being accomplished and where there are gaps. Arts Boston, one of the state’s largest service organizations, is focused—quite appropriately—on its 170 member performing arts groups, leaving the visual, media, history, and other cultural organizations to fend for themselves. Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities (MAASH), serving the breadth of the cultural sector as its statewide advocacy group, is growing in strength. But, while MAASH membership is broad, its mission focus on policy and advocacy leaves such needs as technical assistance unaddressed. The Massachusetts Cultural Council, of course, serves the full cultural sector through a range of grants and programs, including technical assistance, but much of the list is beyond its current scope and budget.

Yes, there is a growing understanding that by developing the sector’s cohesion and ability to meet its collective needs, all cultural organizations, regardless of size or mission, can thrive and better serve their constituencies. Two indications of this new awareness are MAASH’s expanding membership list and the increased impact of its legislative advocacy. Likewise, the cultural community knows that if it is to be included in the broader civic conversation, it must begin by reaching out to those with shared interests. Individual organizations and coalitions of groups, along with MAASH, are beginning to take the lead in some of these discussions.

However, there is as yet no common understanding of how the breadth and depth of this multifaceted need—for shared leadership, technical assistance, cross-sector partnerships, advocacy, marketing, a setting for ongoing dialogue, and so on—might be addressed through an organization or set of organizations. United fundraising agencies serve these functions in smaller, more cohesive communities, but not only is united fundraising off the table for the complex cultural community of Greater Boston, but the need encompasses a much broader geography.

Some sectors have one or more well-developed intermediary organizations that mediate between the individual nonprofits and the larger worlds of government, philanthropy, and industry. One example, LISC—Local Initiatives Support Corporation, 89 an intermediary organization serving community development nonprofits—is represented on the Task Force. Is this a good model for the cultural sector? How would we develop and support such an organization? When individual organizations are still keenly competitive over limited funding, is it possible to make the case for sector-wide benefits? While the answers are still unclear, the path forward is very apparent. The question has been defined. Now, the conversation and the shared leadership evident in Task Force meetings, must continue.

What will it take?

The Cultural Task Force has taken the first steps. It has explored many different strategies and recommended those with the greatest potential for impact. It has agreed on its highest priority—cultural facilities—and identified specific action steps for the many different players who will need to be engaged in making significant changes in current policy and practice. Individual Task Force participants have committed themselves to ongoing advocacy, as well as to work in the specific areas, such as facilities or tourism, where they have particular expertise. And, most powerfully, by coming together to set a common agenda, Task Force members have formed a core group of advocates to make the case for change.

MAASH, our statewide advocacy organization is central to this effort. MAASH works to increase awareness among legislators, other government officials and the general public about the cultural sector’s impact on the Massachusetts economy, educational system and quality of life, and to increase state cultural funding, including the Massachusetts Cultural Council appropriation. Membership in MAASH supports this work and connects us to the tools and information we need to be active advocates.

All of us must all carry the message. Broad, grassroots advocacy will be the key. Individually, we work in theaters, museums, and historic houses. We are trustees. We are artists, scientists, historians. Together we are cultural advocates. We are members of the audience. Together we are the cultural leaders who  will show the way to new strategies for supporting our cultural organizations.

Why?

Strong cultural organizations are essential for strong, healthy communities. They are essential to education and public learning. They foster an environment of creativity and innovation that attracts artistic, commercial and hi-tech entrepreneurs to our state. They create jobs and support Massachusetts’ businesses through their spending. They attract tourists and new businesses by creating distinctive institutions that build neighborhoods and create community identity.

We have much to gain by increasing our support for cultural organizations. Conversely, if we persist in starving our cultural institutions of the resources they need to thrive, we will all fail to thrive. We have much to lose if we continue to do business in the same old way. It isn’t working. Other states are reaping the economic benefits of an active cultural tourist industry. Other cities are adding jobs and tax revenues. Other communities are graduating creative thinkers, able to frame old questions in new ways to come up with answers that will change tomorrow.

As we have noted before, we live in an extremely competitive environment. To lead in today’s world, we must leverage all of our Commonwealth’s assets, or lose to cities and states that are investing in an infrastructure to rival ours. The nonprofit cultural sector must be included in policy conversations about economic and community development. We must increase our financial support of cultural organizations. Investment in our cultural sector will lead to significant, measurable results as well as important intangible benefits. Investment in the strength and vitality of our cultural sector is an investment in our communities, our schools, our economy, and our souls. It is an acknowledgement and a celebration of our common wealth.

Footnotes and full article: available at http://www.tbf.org/tbfgen1.asp?id=1779

City of Fort Collins, Colorado

In February 2004, the Fort Collins City Council appointed a group of community representatives to develop a set of recommendations intended to address the economic vitality and sustainability of Fort Collins. Members of the “Economic Vitality and Sustainability Action Group” (EVSAG) were carefully selected to represent a broad and diverse range of community interests and perspectives. The group met continually for four months and created a report and recommendations. Since that time, two additional advisory groups have been formed, EVSAG II and EVSAG III to continue the work and recommendations of the original advisors. The 2004 EVSAG document identifies the need to diversify and broaden our economic sectors and offers as a strategy investing in efforts to highlight our community’s cultural activities and identify Fort Collins as a “Cultural Destination.”

The city also completed a Strategic Employment Opportunities report in 2006 to help craft the region’s economic development strategy by identifying what types of industries to target for growth and retention. The report identified six industry clusters, including “Uniquely Fort Collins” which focuses on businesses whose products and operations contribute to the eclectic, innovative, and high quality of life in Fort Collins, specifically through artistic and cultural entertainment, recreation, and hospitality.

Fort Collins is recognized as the Best City to live in America by Money Magazine in 2006, and claims second in 2008.  The strong history, new initiatives, and changing nature of the region set the stage for the development of a Cultural Plan for the city. The City of Fort Collins Cultural Services Department and Arts Alive laid the ground work and established a vision:

“To identify Fort Collins as a uniquely creative community and a destination for arts, culture, and science that enriches the lives of our citizens and visitors, and serves as an economic engine.”

Through a community cultural survey, cultural assessment and inventory, educators survey, cultural planning forum, and meetings with local arts, culture, and science organizations, leaders, and citizens, the Cultural Plan sets fourth six goals to move towards the vision.

The Fort Collins Cultural Plan is guided by an ambitious and expansive vision for the role of arts, culture, and science in the quality of life of Fort Collins and economic development.

The Vision: To identify Fort Collins as a uniquely creative community and a destination for arts, culture, and science that enriches the lives of our citizens and visitors, and serves as an economic engine.

  • Elected officials and business leaders will elevate awareness and support art, culture and science to a place of prominence.
  • An Arts Council will be named and funded to serve as an umbrella organization to promote and support the business of arts, culture, and science.
  • Fort Collins will be a hub of cultural opportunities supported by cultural facilities that best serve the community and its visitors – from museums and performing venues, to arts education centers and festival grounds.
  • Our nonprofit art, culture, and science organizations will thrive and grow creatively by being financially stable through sustainable funding.
  • Our community will be a destination in the state for those seeking unique and interesting cultural, artistic, scientific, and outdoor experiences.

The Cultural Plan[iii] goals include:

  1. Develop the right mix of cultural facilities to meet the needs of the community and to make Fort Collins a destination attraction.
  2. Develop an Art’s Council to promote and support the business of the arts.
  3. Build Fort Collins’ identity as a cultural center and destination by increasing the visibility of the arts, culture, and science activities in Fort Collins.
  4. Develop sustainable funding, public and private, to support arts, culture, and science programs.
  5. Employ arts, culture, and participatory science to improve Fort Collins’ quality of life, strengthen the local economy, and increase tourism.
  6. Ensure availability of arts education programming to our youth through future community arts centers, collaborations between schools and arts groups, training and resources for teachers, and funding.

PURPOSE AND PLANNING METHODS

The purpose of the planning process is to work together as a community to ensure that arts, culture, and science thrive in our community and provide excellent quality of life, become an integral part of our unique community identity, and help drive the local economy and tourism.

The impetus for a cultural plan evolved from multiple conversations that were taking place around Fort Collins’ arts, culture, and science community.

  • Arts Alive brought together a group of community leaders to begin discussions on developing sustainable funding for the arts and culture in Fort Collins.
  • The City of Fort Collins identified the need to renovate and expand current cultural facilities.
  • The Downtown Strategic Plan was published and noted a new performing arts facility as a strategy.
  • The Economic Vitality and Sustainability Action Group brought forth recommendations and identified several strategies addressing arts and culture and the downtown.
  • The Downtown Development Authority embarked on a visioning process around the Beet Street Chautauqua-like programming for Fort Collins.
  • Americans for the Arts published Arts & Prosperity: Economic Impact of the Arts II and III, in which Fort Collins was a case study.
  • Discovery Science Center began planning for relocation and joined forces with the Fort Collins Museum to realize a new, merged institution.
  • Many other organizations were seeking new or expanded facilities, such as the Rocky Mountain Raptors, Center for Fine Arts Photography, Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, etc.

[i] http://www.torpedofactory.org/

[ii] http://www.goggleworks.org/

[iii] http://www.fcgov.com/cultural/pdf/cultural_plan-report.pdf

Was George Bush as much of an idiot as folks claim?

I have to note, these are not my words, but the message was so powerful, I had to post them (with apologies to the author) – Brilliant analogy:

George Bush was an idiot?

  • If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?
  • If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in New York City, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan’s holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVD’s, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?
  • If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia or the Emperor & Empress of Japan, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent “Austrian language,” would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?
  • If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?
  • If George W. Bush had misspelled the word “advice” would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and “potatoe” as proof of what a dunce he is?
  • If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he’s a hypocrite?
  • If George W. Bush’s administration had okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?
  • If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?
  • If George W. Bush had created the position of 32 Czars who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate on much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?
  • If George W Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?
  • If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?
  • So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive? Can’t think of anything? Don’t worry. He’s done all this in 10 months — so you’ll have three years and two months to come up with an answer!

Why Corporate CEO’s Deserve Their Bonuses…

I recently sent out an email to my friends and close family members with an interesting quote:

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

I received a response from someone that perhaps was a recipient of a ‘forward’ of the e-mail who noted:

“The rich don’t work for their money the same way the poor do. Just because a guy is a CEO of a big company he gets millions of dollars in bonuses. Yet his performance, and therefore his bonus, is built on the backs of the baseline workers. So he is essentially getting money for nothing and other people (again, the baseline workers) are taking care of him.”

How I responded:

I totally disagree with your naive statement that the rich (or corporate CEO’s) don’t work for their money and wealth as hard as the poor.  It was a very stupid, uneducated statement and here are just a few samples of why:

* My husband and I own a carpet cleaning business working 10-12 hours a day, 6-7 days a week, to get where we are today. We bring in over six figures in sales annually, but netted less than $20K last year because of overhead expenses.  We aren’t rich, but we aren’t poor, we pay our taxes on time, and we pay our part-timer workers quite well (15% commission versus minimum wages) – and providing them a source of income during a down economy – when we don’t really need to hire help (we can do all the work ourselves).  If we added up what we paid our workers – they would have a higher income than we end up with as net on our annual tax returns.  We do hope to be millionaires one day – it’ll be years down the road – but it’s not because we ‘walked over our worker’s backs.’

* If you have seen the movie, the movie ‘Pursuit of Happyness’ which Will Smith starred in and was based on a TRUE story, you will see where his character, Chris Gardner, who worked hard and sacrificed, ended up becoming a multi-millionaire on Wall Street, and owning his own business and is CEO of his own stockbrokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Co, based in Chicago, Illinois.  Do you think this person walked on his employees backs to get there – do you think he doesn’t deserve his million dollar bonuses?  I think he deserves every penny he gets!

* Steve Jobs of Apple Computers and Bill Gates of Microsoft both started out working 20-hour days from garage-level type of businesses to get to their wealth today.  Do you not think they worked hard enough to get their bonuses they earn today?  Every dime they owned went into their businesses, and the money they put into the business didn’t go into fancy cars, big houses, etc., when they were just getting started.  Their companies provided JOBS for others and eventually those employees grew in number to thousands based on the hard work and success they worked towards as CEO’s of their own companies.  I think they deserve every penny they get!

* Condolezza Rice and Colin Powell – both very rich – both coming up from rags to riches by getting a good education and getting their butts off the couch and doing something about their career.  After they served their country, they are making hundreds of thousands on speaking engagements.  (Colin Powell charges approximately $10K+ a speech – not a bad fee for a 45-minute message.  And he has it memorized so well – he doesn’t even need notes!)  They are smart enough to have incorporated their names into businesses, with themselves as CEO’s.  Do you not think they deserve the money or bonuses they receive as CEO’s of their own companies?  Whose backs did they walk on to get to their wealth today?

* Shaun Hannity of Fox News – rags to riches, has four children, one with a severe handicap.  Do you not think he earned his wealth? He is CEO of his own company, and works w/ FOX news channel as a contract entity.  Doesn’t he deserve his bonuses when the ratings for his show go up and viewer-ship rises?

* Oprah Winfrey – once of the richest women in the country – rags to riches – if there was a dirt poor origin, I don’t know what other proof to give you…and if your statement was true, she and her company is treating all her workers as inferior and below-pay grade employees, while she ‘walks all over their backs’ while she sits back making her millions – excuse me – Billions!

* Tony Robbins – a motivational speaker – has made millions on his message to get your ‘arse’ moving, do for oneself, and get out there and get it done!  He is CEO of 14 companies – did he walk all over his employee’s backs to get where he is today?  I don’t think he would be able to get away with that, based on his message he provides in his teachings and motivational speeches.

* Most millionaires in the United States today worked their butts off, many after going through years of college, sacrificing their personal time, gambling their homes, sometimes losing their families due to their hard work to get to where they are today.  IF you are insinuating those CEO’s of multi-million dollar companies didn’t earn their salaries after getting their MBA’s, struggling to grow their companies to be top winners and income producers and don’t deserve the big bonus checks – you are dead wrong.

* Lee Iacocca is one of the best samples of a CEO bringing up a company out of the morass of mediocrity to making his car company one of the best in the business.  He even took a one-dollar a year salary for a few years until Chrysler did become profitable again.  You don’t think he didn’t deserve his later millions of dollars a year salary after he turned the company around – CREATING JOBS for more people, which in turn created and sustained business for small companies that did business with the car company and in the communities for which the employees purchased their groceries, their gas, their hardware, and sent their kids to schools in government tax bases public schools and private tuition based parochial schools?

Many of these millionaires provide social responsibility to hundreds and thousands of people across the globe!  In effect, returning their personal, as well a corporate wealth back to the community, as well as in international communities (President Reagan called it the ‘trickle-down theory’ and it WORKED!).

*  Do you recall the show where Oprah Winfrey invited an entire audience of ‘struggling to pay their bills’ folks and gave each and every one of them a car?  Did you know she spent millions to build a school in Africa for girls who would have lived in poverty for the rest of their lives without the education this school provided?  Those are just the tip of the iceberg of where she has funneled millions of her own money into charitable institutions.  Do you not think she deserves her own bonuses?  Those bonuses, coming out of her corporation, are where she gets the funds to pour into those charitable institutions.

*  Did you know Bill and Melinda Gates have given millions of dollars of their personal wealth to kids in school communities across the country, as well as internationally, to provide computers for those who can’t afford them?  Do you believe Bill Gates didn’t deserve his bonus checks?

*  Bill O’Reilly of Fox News – provides hundreds of thousands of dollars from his sales of website books and other items to charity.  Do you believe his hard work and charity work towards the Habitat for Humanity, City Harvest, Operation Shoebox, Wounded Warrior, Families of Military Casualties, Haitian Health Foundation, Ride the Wall, Best Friends, Elevate Hope, the CANDLES Holocaust Museum, Autism, Star Relief, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children, the Fuller Center for Housing, just to name a few, are the results of a Corporate CEO walking on the backs of his workers to gain wealth?  He’s rich enough from his baseline salary that he can afford to sell products on the side and give the proceeds away.  Do you not think he deserves his bonuses when his ratings go up?

And those are just the tip of the iceberg – so again, you claim these corporate millionaires got to where they are on the backs of their workers.  How come you are NOT noting how much those same millionaires have given back to the community of those workers?

What you don’t understand also is CEO’s are in place to take the blame if anything goes wrong, if the profits go down, if there is a huge lawsuit against the company, to name a few negative actions for which they are responsible.  They are there to take the dirt, deal with the crisis, and correct mistakes the ‘worker-bees’ make.  They aren’t just sitting in their ivory towers twiddling their thumbs.  The entire company’s future pivots on decisions they make, business they develop, research and development they sponsor, decisions to provide more benefits for their workers or increase tuition reimbursement expenses, and/or provide company-paid, (reducing profits) money to pay for training to increase the value of the employee’s skill sets as well as provide an avenue for them to grow into promotional opportunities so they too, one day, may have that shot at becoming a CEO, too.    That is a heavy load and responsibility.  And yes – because of this – they deserve their large bonuses.

And – the workers – they weren’t forced to work for those companies.  No one came up to them and shackled them to the factory machinery and threatened their lives if they didn’t work in that company.  Most of those workers came to work for a company because it offered a great paycheck and welfare benefits so they wouldn’t have to worry about their kids getting sick and not being able to pay for the bills.  Those companies offered their employees the opportunity to get into pension plans or 401(k) plans to empower the workers to save for and control their own retirements.  The companies provided training and tuition reimbursement to those willing and wanting to go to school to increase their career and promotional opportunities.  When the local Ford plant here in Norfolk, VA closed down, Ford ensured the workers were either placed in new outside jobs, transferred to car-making plants in other states, or paid them a severance check large enough for those workers to start their own businesses or go back to school to get a degree in a new career.  It sure doesn’t sound like those CEO’s for Ford were “sticking it to the little guy,” to me.

What do you think about them apples?  These are the truths or as close as you can get to the truths for reality of why CEO’s deserve their bonuses and salaries.

Ronald Reagan recognized when the wealthy are left alone and their wealth isn’t taxed to death, they spend more of it, hire more maids, more landscapers, buy more luxury yachts so the boat builders have jobs, and go out to eat at restaurants more often so waitresses and waiters have more tips to take home to feed their families, and the cash registers at Wal-Mart are ringing more so they need more cashiers who now can afford to buy that car or go to school to get their degree to work their way up to being Wall Street analysts because more folks are investing in stocks and bonds of companies who are paying their CEO’s and Board of Directors more money.  Even Clinton recognized that the Welfare system was broken and changed it to provide only for those that were truly needy – those on disability, welfare mothers who couldn’t afford child-care to go to school, and the new welfare system provided the opportunities to get those ‘poor people’ the advantages they needed – but they had to get it done in three years.  If you sat on your arse and didn’t do for yourself, then you were on the street – where you belonged – if you weren’t invested in yourself or providing for your family the responsible way.

Yes, there are a few millionaires who have made it to where they are today without a lot of sweat equity – those who inherited their wealth or hit the lotto – but you can’t focus on them as the primary model from which to prove that all millionaires or corporate CEO’s didn’t deserve their wealth and it should be taken from them.  Yes – Paris Hilton had a rich daddy to start off, but even she works her butt off as the CEO of her company(ies) with her lines of clothing, perfumes, her production of her ‘reality’ shows.  You think she sleeps all day and doesn’t do anything deserving to enjoy that wealth?  I don’t think so. Don’t underestimate her ‘on-screen’ persona as a blonde-bobble-head.   She is the cover of every other tabloid magazine for a reason!  Even bad publicity is good publicity for her marketing brand and products.  She is richer today than she was when she graduated from high school because she used her looks and personality to make money.  Does she deserve her bonus as a CEO of her own company – absolutely!

That’s how capitalism works and the more the rich get richer, the better off the poor people are because they do and will eventually profit from the trickle down of the excess of rich folk’s spending of discretionary income.  The more the wealthy are taxed on their money, the less money there is to go around and to share to those who would normally benefit from the wealthy.

Before you make a broad statement about corporate CEO’s not deserving their wealth or bonuses – visit their company websites or the CEO’s personal website and check out what they are doing with those bonus checks in their or their company’s social responsibility before you accuse them of getting their bonuses and wealth “for doing nothing.”  They may be doing more for their workers, their community, and charitable work for those “Poor People in Need” that you are championing than you think.  And if those CEO’s lose their jobs, and their big bonuses, who do you think are going to suffer the most? Not the CEO, because they’ll find another job quickly elsewhere or simply retire on their current wealth.

The people that are going to be hurting are those who benefit directly from these rich CEO’s wealth and their corporate benevolence = the “poor people.’

POOR PEOPLE.

Let me tell you what I know about poor people.  I have lived amongst them, learned about them, and I HAVE BEEN ONE!   And I have worked side-by-side with them and there are commonalities among them I’ve noted over and over again.  I know about it because I WAS LIVING IN POVERTY for several years of my life (you know how much money it takes to buy just enough tomato soup and crackers for two people to eat for every meal for a week? – $25.00 in 1980).  Let me make a few observations about what I personally have observed about ‘poor people.’

* (Most) Poor people have no desire, no incentive, and no wish to get up off their butts to do something about their lives.  They are content to sit and watch TV every day instead of seeking out role-models, or just getting out of the house and doing something.

* (Most) Poor people have no desire to get an education or training to get ahead – when there are so many “FREE” options for them.  If you are living in, near, or below the poverty level in the United States you can get a FREE education – its called a PELL GRANT that will pay for every penny of expense to achieve an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree from any accredited and/or public college or university.

*  Not all, but I’ve seen my share, of poor people seem to believe they DESERVE something from the rich.  I don’t know why – they didn’t earn it, don’t deserve it, haven’t done anything to get it, so why should they get anything?  AND WHY should those who have worked hard all their lives, kissed butts, stayed late to work evening or weekend hours to get projects finished, taken huge responsibilities onto their shoulders, and those who put years of hard work into their career be responsible for pulling the poor out of their poverty, when the poor don’t want to do anything for themselves?  I don’t get it!

*  (Most) Poor People are poor because they make horrid decisions, don’t know how to make good decisions, and if anything, charity missions or organizations need to teach these types of people how to make GOOD decisions as a primary goal to ending poverty.  Get the boyfriend that beats the crap out of you weekly out of your house and your kid’s lives!  Get rid of that clunker car that costs you $400 a month fixing it, forcing you to use an Advanced Check Cashing service w/ usury rates to borrow the money – and start taking the bus.   Stop cashing your check and spending it at the ABC store and drinking your paycheck down the drain.  Stop buying lottery tickets where the chance of being hit by lightning are higher than winning that hitting a jackpot number.  Stop buying your kid’s name brand clothing plus a fancy new car every year to impress your neighbors when your house is falling around your ears and you can’t pay the water bill.  If you can’t pay your bills with your eight-to-five, Monday through Friday job, then get a Saturday job instead of complaining you need time to socialize with your friends.   Those are the types of stupid decisions I see made over and over again by those who can’t seem to pull themselves up out of poverty or out of debt.

*  I’ve seen some lazy people out there – not only will they not do anything for themselves, they don’t think they should do anything for others either.  If those people are poor – they should be poor and get what they deserve – NOTHING!  Even when I was poor, I still helped my community by getting out to volunteer for events, taking it upon myself to help my neighbors in need, and going out of my way to do for others what I wished others would / could do for me if I ever had a need.

I took advantage of the PELL GRANT, ended up having a business of my own, then eventually got my Masters Degree, which enabled me to support my daughter as a single parent.  And because I was able to use my Master’s Degree to get a great job, I’m now able to start working on my PhD (should graduate this Dec. 2012). THAT’S what is called getting up off your butt and working for what you want and need for yourself and your family!  And, there are thousands of dollars of free scholarships offered annually – many of which go un-rewarded because no one applies for them.  There is free training provided by cities, states, and some colleges and state employment agencies.  Some of these free training opportunities provide free bus passes for the students to get to the class locations!  AND, President Obama has poured money into the economy that directly targets these disadvantaged folks, even providing tax incentives and credits for families with members going full-time to school ($2,500 each student), so even the poor middle-class can take advantage!

So your broad statement about rich CEO’s walking all over the backs of poor people and workers to get that wealth – it’s bunk! It’s garbage!  And you don’t know enough about the economy to know what you are talking about.

You talk about Truth or Consequences – get your information straight….