Monthly Archives: November 2010

What’s Your HeartSong?

Have you ever thought about how music defines us as humans? If music bubbles up from the very core of us, what tunes would you create: happy, sad, angry, discordant?

This weekend, I watched a History Channel special: “Beatles Go On Record.” As I listened to the progression of music the Beatles made together over the years, I experienced emotional flash-backs to my youth.

Beatles in iTunes

Beatles NOW on iTunes!

My first Beatles’ memory begins with the song “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” when I was in second grade. On one occasion when my relatives came to town for a visit, my cousin and I hid ourselves in my bedroom listening to records. We put on the Beatles and started dancing — think Twist.

The Twist (Dance)Note: To put this story in context, you should know that Baptists aren’t terribly fond of dancing. My grandpa and uncle were Baptist preachers, and my Daddy was a Baptist Minister for Music and Youth. (My youngest uncle Phil, only eight years older than me, is now a Baptist missionary in Zambia.)

Back to the story: While my cousin and I danced and sang in my room, the door burst open. My uncle looked apoplectic as he surveyed the scene before him: my cousin shimmering and shaking to “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Where was I, you may wonder? BeHIND the door…unseen. Needless to say, things didn’t go well for my cousin that night.

Yes, the Beatles framed my experiences growing up. But they aren’t my only musical influences. Home itself was a musical experience. As kids, we wrote and performed musicals for the adults at family gatherings. I always wanted to grow up and become the Von Trapp Family singers. Between all the cousins, we had just enough bodies to perform.

Sound of Music: Von Trapp Family Singers

Sound of Music: Von Trapp Family Singers

When I was in junior high, Daddy created a musical group called Sound 70.  We performed across the state of Texas in churches, festivals, and even on a flatbed trailer-turned-stage with vocal singers, a Jesus Rock Band called Liberation Suite, drama, and bell ringers.

Sound 70: Liberation Suite

Sound 70: Liberation Suite

Rock music defines my generation. Classic Vinyl on XM radio lets me sing along with the Doors, Eric Clapton, The Who, Led Zepplin, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. You name it, they play it. Great for driving in traffic. But Christian Rock/Alternative music is still my preference — SwitchfootSanctus RealRelient K, Hawk Nelson, TobyMac, Remedy Drive, Jars of Clay,  Skillet, Barlow GirlNeedToBreathe, The AftersLifehouse, and more.

Music comes from deep down within the heart and soul.

Bowen's Heart

Sometimes the music flows from pain. I was deeply moved this weekend by the story of Sanctus Real lead singer Matt Hammit and his little son Bowen, who was born with a broken heart — literally.  ABC World News ran the story. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Tiny Bowen was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome 0n September 9.

Matt wrote the song, All of Me, based on his family’s experience.

Little Bowen’s ordeal transformed into an incredibly beautiful song that touches so many lives beyond Matt’s family and friends. Matt tweets and blogs about the experience.

Music flows out of joy and pain, faith and frustration. I’m thankful for artists who share themselves through music, so that I can find myself inside what they create.

When you drill down really deep, what flows out of you?

What is YOUR heartsong?

4 Comments

Filed under artists, culture

LAUNCH: Innovation Matchmaking

Vestergaard Frandsen Lifestraw

Vestergaard Frandsen LifeStraw

On Friday, the New York Times Opinionator blog featured a story about “Green Strategies for the Poorest.” The author, Tina Rosenberg, talks about the carbon credit model used by Vestergaard Frandsen for the LifeStraw products, and how they got the idea from Manna Energy. In the carbon credit market, entities that reduce carbon emissions can receive credits that can be sold as offsets to offending (think polluting) entities.

“Use of carbon markets could be a breakthrough.” Tina Rosenberg

What the Opinionator story failed to point out is HOW Vestergaard Frandsen and Manna Energy connected in the first place — LAUNCH: Water!

Our LAUNCH:Water sustainability forum in March brought together these two great forces for good: Vestergaard Frandsen and Manna Energy. Mikkel Vestergaard served as a LAUNCH Council member and Ron Garan’s Manna Energy was selected as one of the ten LAUNCH innovations. Mikkel liked Manna’s business model and signed them to a contract shortly after the LAUNCH:Water forum.

Ron Garan LAUNCH:Water

I feel like a proud parent. I hope this is one of many success stories that will start bubbling out of the innovation soup pot — LAUNCH.

So what are LAUNCH sustainability forums? What makes them unique?

We think the magic is the process itself.  We created LAUNCH as TED with teeth an innovation mashup.

First, we identify ten innovative, disruptive ideas that show great promise to make tangible progress toward solving sustainability challenges our society faces here on Earth.

The sustainability issues we face on our home planet mirror what we face when we leave the protection of our Earth’s atmosphere. The hostile environment of space forces us to be creative in how we support human life on short and long-duration missions. On Earth, we may take it for granted that our resources will be available when we need them. But can we make that assumption?

We hosted the inaugural LAUNCH:Water in March, and just recently hosted LAUNCH:Health in October. We give each Innovator the opportunity to present a 15 minute overview of their innovation to a diverse group of thought leaders.

LAUNCH Process:

Our LAUNCH team works closely with each innovator prior to the Forum to ensure the presentation tells a compelling story.

LAUNCH team prepping Innovator Dieterich Lawson
LAUNCH team prepping Innovator Dieterich Lawson

We provide each innovator with a slick video to help sell their stories. NIKE brings in a team to film each Innovator’s story, which becomes part of the Innovator’s portfolio, along with the Forum presentation.

NIKE LAUNCH:Health film studio
NIKE LAUNCH:Health film studio

The presentation to LAUNCH Council is U-streamed live so the general public can participate virtually. The U-stream videos are archived on LAUNCH.org.

Innovator David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis
Innovator David Van Sickle, Asthmapolis

Following the presentations, we facilitate small group impact rotations where LAUNCH Council focus on each innovator one-on-one (or ten-on-one, to be more precise).

Impact Rotations where LAUNCH Council delve into Innovations
Impact Rotations where LAUNCH Council delve into Innovations

Streamlined, solution-driven impact rotations are the heart of the problem-solving conversations at LAUNCH.

With five 30-minute impact rotations for each Innovator, our LAUNCH Council give insightful comments and recommendations about where they see each Innovation fitting in the market, and how to best proceed on the path toward success.

LAUNCH:Health Innovator Aydogan Ozcan told me LAUNCH was worth more than a year of technical conferences rolled up in one weekend. He couldn’t believe the thought leaders around the table were willing to focus total attention on him for two+ hours, when he normally had to wait next to an elevator just for the chance to speak to them for a stolen minute at a typical conference.

We’ll keep working hard to improve the process. I look forward to more stories in the news about the difference our innovators are making in the lives of others as the years go by. Through the LAUNCH sustainability forums, I get to be an Innovation Matchmaker. Not a bad title for my business card. Hmmm. Time to reorder….

1 Comment

Filed under Africa, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, LAUNCH, leadership, NASA, poverty, space, technology

Vote: Etsy Space Craft Contest

We do really cool things at NASA. One of them is a creative Space Craft Contest with Etsy, the place for homemade coolness. You can take part by voting for your favorite 3D and 2D entries.NASA/Etsy Space Craft Contest
The public voting period opened on Friday, November 12 and will run through Friday, November 19. You will have to register to vote, but the registration is painless.

To encourage you to go look for yourself, here are a few interesting selections you can vote for. The assortment and creativity is astounding (and quite amusing…see Shuttle hat at the bottom).

Moon Rocket

Barn Rocket Sunbeam

Beadwork Sculpture Rocket Ship

Planet/Wheelthrown Stoneware Textured Sphere

Mars Odyssey inspired pendant in sterling and 18k gold plate

Space Shuttle Dress

Shuttle Beaded Necklace

Original International ROBOT drawing illustration pen and ink Robots From Outer Space With UFO Robot invation

Zeggee's Pops Spacesuit - Awesome Metal Space Framed Print by A.Bamber

Titan Trout 1 Alternative SpaceCraft

Dive Up for NASA by Tiffany Michelle Bohrer

Take Me To Your Leader Robot

Space Shuttle Fleece Hat

Etsy received over a thousand entries. Each is made by hand with tender loving care. Take time to review the entries and send the winner to one of the last Space Shuttle missions.

Time’s running out. You have until Friday to vote for your favorite Space Craft!

Crosspost on OpenNASA.

1 Comment

Filed under artists, Earth, federal government, leadership, NASA, space

World Changers

I’ve been reading “The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World” by Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund. Visionary founder of Manna Energy and Fragile Oasis (and Astronaut) Ron Garan told me about the book.

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater is a heartfelt, heartbreaking story of Jacqueline’s incredible journey to create economic independence for poverty-stricken African women, and her relationships with survivors the Rwandan genocide in the mid-1990’s. I find the story both uplifting and discouraging. Uplifting because of the author’s success in creating innovative investment strategies to help relieve poverty. Discouraging because I don’t feel I’ve done enough in my life to help others.

All my life, I’ve wanted one thing:

To Change The World!

I want to make a difference. To contribute. To make life better for others. Most days, however, I feel lucky just to survive the drama created by others, and smile in the midst of it. I often forget to be thankful for my job, a roof over my head, reliable transportation, running water, electricity, plumbing, and food. Think of all the people around the world who don’t have these basic necessities we take for granted.

Though I always thought I would be a missionary or serve in the Peace Corps or do something noble and extraordinary, I’ve somehow served my entire career as a federal bureaucrat. We bureaucrats take a great deal of abuse in the press, but I see the role differently than most. In my mind, Civil Servant = Missionary for Public Good. No, I’ll never be a Jacqueline Novogratz, but at least I can help create Public Good — even in tiny quantities.

Take our LAUNCH sustainability forums, for instance. We recently hosted the LAUNCH:Health at the Kennedy Space Center.

LAUNCH:Health Group Portrait with Space Shuttle Discovery

LAUNCH:Health Group Portrait with Space Shuttle Discovery

For me, LAUNCH is an opportunity to make this world a better place while demonstrating the relevance between life on Earth and the extreme environment of space.

We created LAUNCH as a problem-solving conversation around disruptive innovations that might make a difference in our world. The LAUNCH forums give thought leaders a venue for evaluating creative ideas among peers and joining in collaborative, solution-driven discussions.

Here are tweets about our LAUNCH:Health Innovators.

LAUNCH Innovator David Van Sickle
LAUNCH Innovator Gijsbert van de Wijdeven
LAUNCH Innovator Erick Toledo
LAUNCH Innovator Ben Reis
LAUNCH Innovator Aydogan Ozcan
LAUNCH Innovator Samuel Sia
LAUNCH Innovator Dieterich Lawson
LAUNCH Innovator Matt Sanders
LAUNCH Innovator Ramesh Raskar
LAUNCH Innovator Jonathan Attwood

One of our LAUNCH Council, Simon Waddington, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Burrill and Company, had this to say of the LAUNCH:Health experience.

“An extraordinarily productive event where innovators have an intense interaction with a diverse, high level mix of companies, entrepreneurs, agencies, marketers to produce high impact feedback at no cost to the innovators.”

Maybe someday we’ll have a Blue Sweater story of our own about the LAUNCH Innovators we’ve helped propel toward success. Maybe someday we’ll see real change in how we live our lives on Earth because of what NASA brings to the problem-solving conversations. Maybe, just maybe.

And in this very tiny way, I get to help change the world – one innovation at a time!

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, astronaut, culture, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, leadership, NASA, poverty, space, technology