Monthly Archives: April 2012

Discovery Rules Galactic Social Media Empire

Discovery Alexandria Flyover @bethbeck

Discovery Alexandria Flyover @bethbeck

On Tuesday, I watched the Space Shuttle Discovery piggyback over Old Town Alexandria with several hundred others who gathered at the waterfront. When Discovery appeared in the sky, I cried. The intensity of emotion that flooded over me took me totally by surprise. I thought I was over it — that I’d moved on after the final Space Shuttle mission. I was wrong. It hit me hard.

Shuttle Discovery over DC. Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn

Shuttle Discovery over DC. Photo: NASA/Chris Gunn

On Thursday, I was scheduled to speak at the first ever #140cuse social media conference at Syracuse University in New York. My topic: Launching a Galactic Social Media Empire. The format for the conference is 10 minute presentations. You can browse the list of speakers on the #140cuse Conference website.

Badge from #140cuse Conference

Badge from #140cuse Conference

“One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” — Sophocles, 400 B.C.

After an emotion-filled experience with Discovery, I changed the focus of my talk from creation of a social media empire to the outcomes from a social space empire – specifically the #SpotTheShuttle campaign. Social media connected us in awe and wonder as we looked up to the skies to witness a seasoned spaceship flying by the power of her Earth-bound transport over the nation’s Capitol on her way to retirement at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy facility.

Discovery RULES the Galactic Social Media Empire!

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ThinkGeek

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LauraBly

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LauraBly

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ebuzzedge

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @ebuzzedge

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @USAgov

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @USAgov

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @KelleyApril

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @KelleyApril

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @kachok

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @kachok

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @DarrenMilligan

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @DarrenMilligan

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @WorldBankPhotos

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @WorldBankPhotos

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LisFace

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @LisFace

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @SenJohnThune

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @SenJohnThune

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @jeff_foust

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @jeff_foust

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @CindyhM1

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @CindyhM1

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @raffg

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @raffg

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @PapaBradstein

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @PapaBradstein

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @almacy

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @almacy

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @brookezigler

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @brookezigler

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @datachick

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @datachick

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @RobertPearlman

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @RobertPearlman

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @charlieowen4

Discovery #SpotTheShuttle @charlieowen4

Discovery: @stevenyoungsfn #SpotTheShuttle
Discovery: @stevenyoungsfn #SpotTheShuttle
Farewell, dear Discovery. You are well-loved.

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Filed under NASA, social media

Dear Discovery…

Space Shuttle Discovery on Launchpad for final launch. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Space Shuttle Discovery on Launchpad for final launch. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Dear Discovery,

You have served us well. You’ve given hope to Earthlings of all shapes and sizes, ages and interests for almost 30 years. You are the third spacecraft to join the Space Shuttle fleet, and the first to be retired. You were born on August 27, 1979 and took four years to roll off the assembly line.

You were named after two exploring ships of old. One of your namesakes carried Henry Hudson to explore the Hudson Bay in the early 1600s, searching for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Your other namesake carried British explorer James Cook on his adventures to the South Pacific in the 1770s. On this voyage, he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.

Discovery, we thank you for taking us back to space after both our Challenger and Columbia tragedies. You were the first US spacecraft to meet up with the Russian Mir orbiting space station, and the first to be flown by a female pilot, Eileen Collins — who later became the first female commander. You returned Astronaut John Glenn to orbit as the oldest human to fly in space.

You traveled 148,221,675 miles in space for a total of 365 days off the planet. You orbited Earth 5,830 times, and gave 242 humans the ride of their lives. I’m sorry I wasn’t one of them, but I was with you in spirit as you soared through the heavens at 17,500 miles per hour.

I look forward to seeing you fly over us today as you piggyback your way to Dulles for your final retirement home at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy facility in Chantilly, Virginia. Look down. I’ll be waving wildly and snapping your photo with my iPhone.

Discovery, we love you. We’ll miss seeing you break the Earth’s gravitational boundaries. But, I know you’ll continue to break hearts (in a good way) as long lines of Earthlings come see you for the first time. Enjoy your retirement. You deserve it.

Final Godspeed to you, old girl!

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Changing “Waste-d” Behavior

Thursday night in class, we discussed the role of government services vs. contracting out, based on Charles T. Goodsell’s article, “Six Normative Principles for the Contracting-Out Debate.” Two of my classmates work for the City of Alexandria. We discussed the decision-making rationale for City services:  refuse collection is conducted by in-house by City employees, and recycling services are contracted out to private industry.

Alexandria City Collection Truck

City of Alexandria Collection Truck

During our class break, a fellow student (who manages the refuse and recycling programs for Alexandria) asked what would happen if the City of Alexandria swapped out my current City-provided garbage container for a smaller one. His point: would I recycle more, if the trash I generate is greater than the container?

Alexandria Recycling Bins

City of Alexandria Recycling Bins

Interesting question. Can the size of the trash container dictate my behavior?

Next question: would I collect food and yard waste IF the City provided a third container. My answer: absoLUTEly! What a great idea! If the City of Alexandria made it easier to collect and reuse waste, I would take the time to fill the containers.

Going with his line of thinking, I asked if the City ever considered providing rain barrels to collect water runoff from neighborhood houses, as well as household compost bins. Our fellow student from the Alexandria Budget Office stepped in and told me I could go out and buy my own rain barrels and compost bins.

But, IF the City wants to change my behavior, they need to make it EASY for me to make the desired choices. Right?

Rain Barrel

Rain Barrel

I love the City of Alexandria for trying out new ways to encourage recycling! Wouldn’t it be cool if a government worker could come out to my house and attach the rain barrel to my downspouts? NOTE: I’ve held off purchasing rain barrels because I’m afraid to disconnect the downspouts from the brick exterior of my house.

I know it sounds ridiculous to send someone out to my house to install a rain barrel. But, think about it — IF they did, the City could save money currently spent in water treatment and flood mitigation from excess run-off. I would use less water provided by public utilities, if I could water my flowers and garden with rain water collected from my very own house.  (I know. I know. Some of you will see that as a waste of tax payer money. But isn’t the government in the business of bringing about the public good? Think of the possibilities, if handled well.) 

This entire conversation applies directly to our LAUNCH: Beyond Waste challenge for ten game changing innovations. Part of what we’re looking for is innovative ways to change behavior so that citizens of planet Earth create less waste, and find ways to reuse the excess capacity we have. A few simple decisions by the City of Alexandria will shape how I sort, collect, and reuse my trash. A few extra steps and they could change how I use water.

LAUNCH: Beyond Waste

LAUNCH: Beyond Waste will be accepting proposals through May 15th. Perhaps we’ll see some intriguing behavior modification innovations, like the concepts the City of Alexandria is considering. (Hopefully, they will add rain barrel to their City-provided assets. Fingers crossed!)

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Filed under innovation, LAUNCH

LAUNCH: Time to Stop Wasting

I’m flying high today. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy website hosted our LAUNCH: Beyond Waste blogpost authored by LAUNCH: Water Innovator and Astronaut Ron Garan: LAUNCHing Ideas for a Waste-less Tomorrow.

We’ve been refining LAUNCH over the last few years. This will be our fourth sustainability innovation forum. We’ve hosted LAUNCH: Water, LAUNCH: Health, and most recently, LAUNCH: Energy — all at the Kennedy Space Center. Now we’re moving from the east coast to the west coast. We’ll gather 35-ish thought leaders to hear and discuss ten game-changing solutions to the problem of waste at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory this July.

Waste is a huge issue for humans living on the planet, as well as those who live beyond the borders of Earth. In the developed world, we live in a throw-away society. We use a product (and sadly people, sometimes) and toss it when the newest model comes along. In the developing world, citizens take discarded objects, and give them new life. My daughter bought this soda can art from a market in South Africa.

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

South African Art: Plane from Recycled Fanta Can

To travel in space long distances, humans must take what they need for the journey. At $10,000/lb, we need to think long and hard about the essentials we send off the planet in our rocket-propelled biospheres.

We need creative minds to help think about designing a future with zero waste, and re-think waste in creative new ways to add redundant value.

LAUNCH: Beyond Waste is accepting proposals until May 15th. Be the change we need for a better tomorrow. Apply now at  http://challenge.launch.org.

Stop wasting time! It’s time to stop wasting.  

Let’s create a future with zero waste. I’ll leave you with a little Steve Miller Band….

Time Keeps on Slipping: Steve Miller Band

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Filed under LAUNCH, NASA, social entrepreneurship, space