About This Blog (and me)

Adam Blakester of Starfish Initiatives  notes that there are many more commentators offering opinions than activists willing to commit to a course of action:

“…we need more people to take on active roles/work in leading and/or supporting the great transition. Such roles are far more involved than recycling and going solar, as important as they are. Such roles are about influencing greater changes, creating solutions, new systems and knowledge, building capacity and a zillion more things. In other words, more hands to the tiller and less arm-chair commentators and experts…being a good or better consumer is nowhere near enough.

Exploring Mr. Blakester’s Starfish organization led me to the Great Transition Initiative.  and prompted a GTI summary  –I won’t go into detail about GTI any further here beyond their purpose statement:

The Great Transition Initiative is an online forum of ideas and an international network for the critical exploration of concepts, strategies, and visions for a transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity, and a resilient biosphere. By enhancing scholarly discourse and public awareness of possibilities arising from converging social, economic, and environmental crises, and by fostering a broad network of thinkers and doers, it aims to contribute to a new praxis for global transformation.

Addressing “thing” issues and changing the things we do is critical-we’re at a global environmental tipping point. But “thing changes” are superficial and unsustainable if the underlying attitudes, belief systems, habits and support systems, policies, practices do not change. And not just among a group of wild-eyed, bushy-haired “activists” but among the general population. A tall order that needs more than a deeply committed activist or two.

I have several interests that I tend to wander around among. If you’ve just stumbled in here and are trying to figure out what this blog is all about, so am I. But I am a hard lean toward exploring the human condition.

And I don’t know who I am, but life is for learning.(Woodstock-Joni Mitchell. CSN&Y). Man’s Search For Meaning (Frankl-powerful!) also comes to mind…what and who am I really?

I am passionate about committing to action that makes an impact. While most everyone else seems intent on exploring how to fix “stuff that’s broken”—which there is plenty of—my passion has always been social change. I have this vision of a sustainable social infrastructure that will give humanity a fighting chance to survive and maybe thrive environmentally, economically, socially, emotionally.

I use this blog as a personal thought incubator, and to communicate with a few friends and peers about specific topics and ideas. I’ve never gone out fishing for hits, have never spammed other sites with mildly relevant links to my stuff…grrr…personal gripe with those who do that. If you’re going to use social media to market you or your stuff try to have a conscience, use common sense and just a little restraint. Don’t know about others, but I’m a little stubborn and spiteful…I tend to ignore you.

I do regret keeping this blog under the radar. I miss the interaction, collaborative discussions, expansions of perspectives that comes with a high readership / high participation blog. It’s not my primary goal, but if you’re moved to comment please do—would love to hear from you!

Craig      craig.althof@gmail.com


AUGUST 2018 UPDATE: The Next Evolution—Thanks, LeBron!

LeBron’s James’ sponsorship of the I Promise school in Akron and the “wraparound” approach is a positive development to all-community improvement. But it can go further. The vision is compelling: public education dedicated to a community’s overall well-being. With his commitment, Mr. James has started something that could impact the greater good far beyond one Akron school.

Long before I Promise was announced, I had been conceptualizing a community-driven social change and economic development initiative disguised as education improvement and workforce skills development. Accidentally, the I Promise wraparound concept on steroids. This initiative is not “just” for disadvantaged or at-risk kids in one depressed area. Any community’s stakeholders can tweak the basic model based on their demographics and specific needs. Other enhancements and points of emphasis: priority on social-emotional needs of young people which in turn affects physical well-being; ongoing all-stakeholder direct involvement to shift burden away from education; employer interface for needs identification, material development and delivery by private sector subject matter experts; whole-person, all-person development expanded beyond traditional students; countering the “free college” frenzy and focusing on learning and development that meets specific real-world needs at the right time. End game: social well-being and economic prosperity one community at a time. So the mission is simple: get people thinking and asking “why not here?”

I suppose my first to-do should be initiative identity. What is this big hairy deal called? It’s been “Caring Communities” then “Real-world Prep School” (RWPS), pet names that accidentally came about without any real thought. I won’t be the one making that call anyway, so why sweat it at this point? For now, RWPS.

RWPS is an application-intensive enhancement to existing 5-12 curriculum, balanced between interpersonal / social-emotional development and workplace preparation / hard skills with emphasis on the first. But RWPS Also Nurtures Community Growth. It is the education component of a broad community well-being and economic development movement in disguise…social improvement and global competitiveness starting with developing people. “Whole-person / All-person Development” is the focus and it extends beyond kids and the education system, into the working adult population and community’s families.

“Big” targets are a sub-surface iceberg—and they are the critical issues: bullying, harassment, youth suicide (all ages!); lack of civility, anemic values and ethics, social and political polarization, inability to discuss our differences. Apathy, disengagement, low awareness of civics and issues = no community involvement. We can and must do better.

What’s Really At Stake?

For more on the criticality of social-emotional strength, especially for our kids, I hope you’ll read Searching For Our Mojo This also describes why I am so passionate about social improvement and S-E development. A few excerpts…

(from Kids Bully, Big Kids Harass ) Too many young people suffer irreversible long-term harm, even commit suicide because of pressures they can’t handle. Key triggers: education demands, bullying, growing up in a vacuum. Too many adults are in pain too, suffering from isolation, lack of purpose, workplace pressures, big kid bullying a.k.a harassment.

     Stress, anxiety, formally diagnosed mental / emotional illnesses, self-harm, suicide are increasing across all ages. Hypothesis: we’ve turned our backs on the importance of treating each other like human beings, we have no purpose or meaning in our lives and we’re far too often killing ourselves and each other. We’ve devalued our humanity. Harsh? Reality usually is.

Bullying is a contributing factor to the growing numbers of youth suicides. It’s pointless to argue “how much” of a factor when kids are dying. And bullying morphs into bad behavior in big kids…harassment with much the same attributes.

Society is a mess, there is general disregard for how to treat each other, human life is de-valued and there’s a huge void in ethical leadership to get us out of our funk. Out of control depression, anxiety, stress impacting kids, teens and adults alike. Death by Lifestyle. Killing ourselves and each other, both slowly and traumatically.

On your next trip to the store do a little people-watching. You’ll see too many good people soured on life, hopelessness and pain in their eyes or worse, nothing. Spirit drained, their demeanor screaming “I’m tired of this life!” Forgotten dreams, no community, no purpose, no meaning, no fulfillment? Still, we keep isolating our Selves further from others and from being human, starting with how we raise and “teach” children into adulthood, and  the nature of work, the meaning of “success”. We’re in a constant struggle with our core human values, we’re denying our humanness. We self-inflict pain and do irreversible harm to others too. We floor it, stretching to hit 130mph in a broken down Yugo. And we wonder why we’re stressed out, miserable, killing our Selves physically and emotionally. (Searching For Our Mojo)

Why Not? For Starters, Just Who Do I Think I Am?

This isn’t just social science fiction or opinion. There’s plenty of research and I’ve seen education and the private sector up-close from the inside. But still I’m a non-credentialed nobody in the academic community—an outsider meddling with some very big education issues. I’ve put in over a decade of effort but I realize this will go nowhere without outside intervention.

One man’s vision is a nothing more than delusion. My hope is that if the seeds get planted the right people will take notice and start talking. This has legs, there is a huge need for action and great potential for making things better. What’s needed to jump-start: credibility that comes with a celebrity or high-level, credible champion’s involvement.

So, I’m not a credentialed expert, there are no letters or certifications behind my name. I’m just a trench warrior who is dedicated to strengthening our collective socio-economic strength and impacting our kids’ future through education. Hands-on experience in both education and the private sector are my strengths so I am not targeting scholarly experts. Who would I impress? I feel experts and establishment decision-makers are unintentionally barriers to progress more than anything. Traditional powers are protective; they resist change if it messes with the status quo. And academic systems and structure are not flexible enough to allow rapid, radical change.

I realize this isn’t a Silver Bullet, and that I’m not the one who can make something of this magnitude happen. All I can do is to get this in front of not only the right movers and shakers–visionary champions, but especially regular people. This is a community initiative, so everyday people need to understand the issues and see the possibilities. The grass roots will make it happen. John and Mary Everyman must be the foundation: a broad base of awareness and activism that grows into an all-stakeholder community movement. So….

A little help?


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