Tag Archives: launch.org

Quake Rattle and Roll Week

What a week this has been. It started with an Earthquake DeeCee and ended with Hurricane Irene, which cancelled our girls’ weekend in NYC. Sandwiched in the middle, I began the Planning, Governance and Globalization PhD program at Virginia Tech, my daughter Carol turned 30, both daughters joined Twitter, AND we discovered a HUGE rat in my yard!!

But, let’s talk about Earthquake DeeCee!

Yes, I named her. If hurricanes get names, why not earthquakes?

Here’s my story: My daughter Steph and I were meeting with my LAUNCH.org teammates Diane Powell and Rachel Lawley at a restaurant in DC’s Eastern Market. Steph came to work with me so she could meet with her PhD advisor in DC. Rachel had just flown in from San Francisco. While we were chatting, our bench began to pitch back and forth. I watched Steph bounce about, nearly thrown off a couple of time. At first, I thought a truck hit the building. Then I thought perhaps an explosion rocked us, or that the subway derailed below us. But the movement didn’t stop. We kept rolling. My instinct was to get out of the building, but Rachel calmly told us to stay put. She advised us to take shelter under the table. Yet, we sat — stunned. Still swaying, I tweeted the message below, and looked on Twitter to see if anyone else was talking about our human roller-coaster experience.

Earthquake tweetNote: Please excuse the typo “on” instead of “in” — the ground was still moving while I typed.

What was amazing for me: Twitter confirmed it. Yep. We were in the middle of an earthquake. I was shocked to see tweets from NYC to North Carolina to New Jersey — all experiencing rumbles and rattles. The epicenter of the quake: Mineral, Virginia (or Lake Anna to locals). Only 67 miles from DC.

Quake tweet
Quake tweet
quake tweet

Animated quake-tweet map by Eric Fischer

Quake-tweet map by Eric Fischer

Here’s another animated gif of quake-related tweets, thanks to @brobof.

Much of the rest of the day, Steph and I both experienced “quake-sickness.” I was amazed that 30 seconds or more of quake, rattle, and roll could give me such stubborn motion sickness.

quake tweetWe returned home to find pictures knocked off the walls and things strewn about. The only real damage was one of my pinhole camera images. My cross suffered the most — the glass shattered. (Mother Earth persecuting my faith?) Yet, my faith remains intact. 😉

Hipstamatic image of earthquake damage

Quake damage: shattered glass on my pinhole Cross photo.

Post-quake thoughts:

1. Social media ROCKets! I didn’t have to turn on the radio or watch the news. Post-quake phone lines were snarled. Steph‘s text messages were delayed over an hour. But Twitter worked. My daughter Carol signed up for Twitter the morning of Quake DeeCee. She read my tweets, and knew I was ok.

quake tweet

2. My mother made a comment at the end of the day that put our crazy day in perspective: “We still have beds to sleep in tonight.” She was right. Though the earthquake put some new cracks in my walls and broke things, we are alive and well and have safe shelter.

My mother’s words add context to this thoughtful tweet from Japan — in the aftermath of their 9.0 earthquake:

quake tweetEarthquake DeeCee is a reminder to be thankful. We are richly blessed! 

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little STARDUST caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. — Henry David Thoreau

Before I close this post: Meet my two tweeting  daughters:

My 2 tweeting daughters

Carol @CarolKecil 


Steph @StephCBeck


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Filed under Earth, social media

LAUNCH: We know WHY. Do you?

Last week, we held our West Coast LAUNCHpad Salon with the LAUNCH team to talk lessons learned from two successful events, LAUNCH:Water and LAUNCH:Health; and start planning LAUNCH:Energy. The Cazneau Group, one of our implementation partners, hosted the Salon at their offices in Sausalito, California. Great conversation, great setting, great food. But best of all, great common goal — to bring about positive change to our home planet, one innovation at a time.

LAUNCH: Accelerating Innovation for a Sustainable Future.

NASA, USAID, Department of State, and NIKE joined together to form LAUNCH in an effort to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to sustainability challenges. We’d been working on the LAUNCH concept for six months or so before having a program mature enough to bring in partners in December of 2009. In 2010, we successfully hosted two forums at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Now we look ahead to”what next” — as in LAUNCH:Energy.

Lord of the Rings: One RingDuring our two days together, the LAUNCH team sifted through what makes our LAUNCH brand unique. We’re still working through the process, but what really resonated with me was the concept of LAUNCH as a Fellowship of Innovators. We joked about the ONE RING to RULE them ALL….and who got to wear it, but in essence, that’s what LAUNCH is. We’re an ever-expanding fellowship of cutting-edge thinkers — though not at all in a Sauron kind of way, for all you Lord of the Rings fans.

Each of the LAUNCH team founders is an innovator in his/her field of expertise. We came together to create an innovative program called LAUNCH, which selects ten innovators to interact with 30+ LAUNCH Councilmembers, who are thought leaders in their fields. Together, we’ve become a Fellowship to help propel promising innovations forward to make a difference addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Pretty cool, huh?

After returning to the office, a colleague shared with me a TED presentation by Simon Sinek: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”

Simon says (wink) that others “don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” He talks about why the Wright Brothers were successful. They were driven by a cause, they wanted to “change the course of the world.” And they did! Just like we want to accomplish with LAUNCH — to accelerate innovation for a sustainable future…and change the course of the world.

Wright Brothers Glider

Wright Brothers Glider

In his TED presentation, Simon Sinek also talks about the Law of Diffusion of Innovations, where 2.5% are Innovators, 13.5% are Early Adopters, and 34% are in the Early Majority. He claims that Innovators and Early Adaptors are comfortable making gut decisions driven by what they believe about the world vs. what product is available for their use. The Early Majority won’t try something until someone else tries it first.

Law of Diffusion of Innovation

Law of Diffusion of Innovation

With LAUNCH, we’re in the business of accelerating innovation. We operate right in the middle of the 2.5% zone on the curve. We look for innovations (and their innovators) to nurture, refine, and then showcase to Early Adopters (the LAUNCH Council). We started inside Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and built out. We know WHY we created LAUNCH. Then we figured out HOW to implement the concept, and WHAT the product is.

Simon Sinek: Why

Simon Sinek: Golden Circle

Once you strip away the Innovator selection and presentation prep, the Council selection and event logistics, the Accelerator follow-up post forum, what’s left is the LAUNCH Fellowship of Innovators. We’re creating space at the far left of the Diffusion of Innovation curve where we can live and play. It’s the place where we believe we can make biggest impact on the future of this world. That’s WHY!

Todd: LAUNCH wants YOU!

Todd says, "Innovators, We want YOU!"

Here are a few pics of West Coast LAUNCHpad Salon that I snapped with my iphone. Enjoy! (We certainly did.)


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Crosspost on GovLoop and OpenNASA.


Filed under federal government, humanitarian aid, LAUNCH, leadership, NASA, technology

Is Social Responsibility Innate or Nurtured?

I came from a business lunch today with a NASA colleague and Mikkel Vestergaard of Europe-based Vestergaard Frandsen, a unique company that manufactures disease-control textiles. I met Mikkel at our March LAUNCH: Water forum at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mikkel served as one of our LAUNCH Council members.

Mikkel Vestergaard of Vestergaard Frandsen.

Mikkel Vestergaard

Quick back story for Mikkel. He comes from a textile-manufacturing family in Denmark. At 19, he sought adventure in Africa where he founded a trucking company. Political instability sent him packing back to the family business, but his experience ignited a passion for Africa. In a few years, he turned the company from uniform supplier to humanitarian relief products. Pretty amazing story. WIRED featured his story in April.

Passion Statement from the Vestergaard Frandsen website:

By innovating products and concepts focusing on preventable diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, HIV/AIDS and neglected tropical diseases, we turn our commitment into action. We innovate for the developing world, rather than developing products for wealthier regions, and then trying to adapt to those who actually need them the most.

Mikkel is in town participating in the Women Deliver conference. We were fortunate to catch him on the run between events. We’re busy planning our next LAUNCH sustainability event. Mikkel will be working with us to make it an even greater success than the LAUNCH: Water forum.

I write this today because I’m stirred by his commitment to make the world a better place by focusing his “profit for a purpose” business strategy toward the creation of innovative “life-saving products for the developing world.” He cares about people in need, and he’s poised his company to take swift action in partnership with government, non-profit and profit entities.

Zambian Village

Zambian Village

His heart for Africa touches close to our family. My aunt and uncle serve as missionaries in Zambia, and my youngest daughter, Steph, moves to South Africa in the next few weeks.

Mikkel asked how I feel about Steph’s decision. My answer, as always, “I’m thrilled.”

Steph will spend the next year (or more) working with the Bethany House Trust victim empowerment program.  Bethany House was established in 1998 to provide shelter, primary health services and education to young people in crisis. Steph, who just received her graduate degree in Community Counseling, will counsel kids who have untreated trauma. She specializes in Play Therapy.

Bethany House Trust

Bethany House Trust

So my question: Is social responsibility innate or nurtured?

What makes some of us comfortable with a cosy little routine that never changes? What makes some of us rush out in the world to make change happen?

I’m dying to be one of those out there changing the world. Life placed me here  at home helping others go out into the world. Some work with villagers out in the bush country. Some type on a computer in a government cubby hole. (Yeah, that second description would be my reality.) But, how cool for me to rub shoulders with a cool world-changer like Mikkel, and support my daughter as she reaches out to help those who can’t help themselves.

Bethany House: Toddler Living area.

Bethany House: Toddler Living area.

With our new LAUNCH sustainability forums, I get to help change the world from right here in DC. With our ten disruptive innovations, we hopefully throw a life-line to our planet. One small step…. Oh, I won’t even go there.

Whether or not the desire for social responsibility is born or grown, we should nurture it where we can. Feed it. Water it. Prune it. The needs are too great to be born by the few. Each of us can find small (or HUGE) ways to contribute. Be creative. Make it your own — like Mikkel did with his family’s business.

If you’re out there changing the world already, send me postcards (or twitpics). I’d love to travel along virtually. God speed!

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Filed under Africa, AIDs, Earth, environment, federal government, humanitarian aid, NASA

Hug-a-Blue-Planet Day

Hey, how many blue planets do you know…and love? Today is the day to celebrate Planet Earth — the one with the atmospheric thin blue line that supports life as we know it.

Earth: Thin Blue Line

Earth: Thin Blue Line

Pretty amazing, when you think about it. Of all the stars and all the galaxies out there, our fragile planet Earth is teeming with life — plants, animals, humans. Though, I could do without some of the less loveable lifeforms — like roaches — but that’s another story altogether.

Today we celebrate Earth. Our home planet. Perfectly formed. Amazingly complex. Incredibly beautiful.

Earth: Blue Marble

Earth: Blue Marble

After attending a NASA employee preview of the  IMAX Hubble 3D movie this week, I gained fresh appreciation for our planet Earth. My favorite quote from the movie in reference to the Apollo missions,

“On the way to the Moon, we discovered Earth.”

I’d never really thought about it. We’d never seen our planet (through human eyes) until we left the planet. Astronauts looking back upon the Earth and capturing “vacation” images from the surface of a different orbiting body, gave us a unique perspective on the place we call home.

Now, decades later, it’s really easy to take for granted the unique vantage point space gives us of Earth. How else would you see these clouds from the top down?

Cumulonimbus Clouds Over Africa

Cumulonimbus Clouds Over Africa

Side note: When you were young, did you imagine cloud formations as objects? I still do. This pic reminds me of a one-eyed cloud creature. Or a cloud-brella. Or a cloud ship — to feed imaginations of UFO-watchers. 😉

@astro_soichiHow times have changed from the days of Apollo to today. Astronauts onboard Space Station and Shuttle post real-time pics of Mother Earth from space. We can go along with their journey as they orbit Earth every 90 minutes traveling 17,500 mph. Japanese Expedition 23 crew member @Astro_Soichi Noguchi is prolific in his Twitpic-ing. Here is his Happy Earth Day pic.

@Astro_Soichi: Happy Earth Day to you.

Astronauts celebrate Earth Day every day they spend OFF the planet.

They live the green life we only aspire to here on Earth. Think about it.

  • All the power onboard their spacecraft is generated by the Sun, collected via solar panels, and stored for use. I collect sun in my skin cells to use in Vitamin D, but that’s about it for my solar energy collection here on Earth.
  • Space pioneers collect waste water and urine to recycle into drinking water and other water needs. I recycle the cat bowl water into my plants. Hey, it’s a start, isn’t it?
  • Long-duration space travelers wash clothes in ziplock bags and hang them in zero-g to dry. Nope, I use a washer and dryer. Sorry Earth.
  • Air filtration systems on Space Station scrub and recycle the air they breath. I keep my windows closed during pollen season. Does that count?
Space Station Expedition 19: Toast to fully recycled H2O

Space Station Expedition 19: Toast to fully recycled H2O

How cool to work for an organization (dare I say American icon?) that has changed how humans view and interact with the world. We initiate amazing projects, like LAUNCH:Water, that allow us to help make a difference for the world of tomorrow through disruptive sustainable innovations we put in place today. And we’re busy planning the next LAUNCH.org event. WooHoo! LAUNCH from Geologie on Vimeo.

I’m excited that NASA affords me the opportunity to play even the tiniest role in making this planet a better place to live.

Perhaps we can celebrate best by skipping today’s shower, eating edible flowers from our garden (not that I have any), and unplugging all our phone chargers. Every little bit helps, right?

Happy 40th Earth Day to all fellow Earthlings. Aliens too!

Earth Week flowers at DC Smithsonian Castle

Earth Week flowers at DC Smithsonian Castle

Crosspost on GovLoop.

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Filed under astronaut, Earth, environment, NASA, space