Peace and Possibility Sponsor Power of Your Purse Event

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The future is bright for Utah’s tech sector as job opportunities are rapidly growing across the state. But currently, women hold less than one-fourth of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math. Without more STEM opportunities for women and girls, women will continue to be left behind in technology professions.

Last week, Tami and I attended the United Way of Salt Lake’s annual “Power of Your Purse” Event.  Each year this event hosted by “Women United” raises money to give more Utah teachers access to professional development opportunities so they can teach STEM in their classrooms and create more STEM learning opportunities in local schools.   

Our guest speaker this year was Debbie Sterling, Founder & CEO of GoldieBlox, an award winning company on a mission to “disrupt the pink aisle” with toys, games, and media for girls.  Debbie is a Stanford University graduate, an engineer, an entrepreneur and one of the leaders in the movement toward getting girls interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Ms. Sterling inspired the audience through laughter and personal stories as she described her mission to significantly  increase the number of women who pursue careers in STEM fields. 

I currently sit on the United Way of Salt Lake’s board and executive committee,  and the Peace and Possibility Project was a presenting sponsor of the event held at the Eccles Theater on October 3.  

 

 

 

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Peace and Possibility Project Supporting YWCA for 3rd Year

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For the third year in a row, the Peace and Possibility Project has supported the YWCA’s Utah Women’s Well Being Initiative.

The YWCA of Utah has been a voice for women, a force for change and a place for hope since 1906.  In May 2013 YWCA Utah began the nonpartisan Utah Women’s Well-Being Initiative.  The purpose of the initiative is to strengthen the well-being of Utah women across important dimensions of their lives through research, education, collaboration, and public policy – so that women flourish, their families and communities thrive, and Utah prospers.

In 2018 the YWCA worked to pass 8 bills, hosted staff from five of the six Utah Congressional offices for a tour of campus and informational meeting about the YWCA as part of YWCA USA’s biennial In District Advocacy Day, hosted a sold-out Women’s Policy Conference, and updated the Well Being of Women in Utah Fact Sheet (found here).

Tami and I are proud to support the important work of the Utah Well Being Initiative and the YWCA of Utah.

Equality Utah Allies Dinner 2018 - Ana Navarro

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Last month, Equality Utah announced its’ keynote speakers and Award winners. Tami and I are looking forward to being at Allies Dinner 2018 - Wake the Hive.

Keynote Speaker - Ana Navarro
“I'm not the kind of person that sits around kind of envisioning things.” – Ana Navarro

Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist and commentator, was national Hispanic campaign chairwoman for John McCain in 2008, national Hispanic co-chair for Jon Huntsman's 2012 campaign and is supporting Jeb Bush's candidacy for 2016.

Award Winners

Tan France
Tan France from the smash Netflix series Queer Eye will receive an Impact Award at our upcoming celebration on November 3rd. Though his home is in Salt Lake City, Tan and his cohorts in the Fab 5 have been traveling across Georgia winning hearts and transforming lives.

March for Our Lives - Salt Lake City
The next generation is here to Wake the Hive! Equality Utah will honor the students from March for Our Lives UTAH with an Allies Award. These Utah youth have demonstrated courage, resilience and vision to address gun violence in schools. 

Purchase Tickets Here

Collective Impact and Nour's Story

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Since June of 2018, I’ve been proud to sit on the Board of Director’s for the United Way of Salt Lake (UWSL), but for years, Tami and I have supported their good work.  UWSL has been helping families achieve their potential through education, income stability, and encouraging healthy lifestyle for nearly 100 years.  

The United Way of Salt Lake is changing the way communities approach problem-solving through its innovative “Collective Impact” model. No single department, organization, or program can address the increasingly complex issues facing our communities on their own. Collective impact tackles these problems by facilitating collaborative efforts between the business, non-profit, philanthropic, government, and citizen activist communities. Entities must come together in a cooperative manner to agree on a common agenda, share tracking and measurement data, leverage each organizations' strengths and expertise, and have a strong, independent backbone infrastructure to support ongoing efforts.

The United Way of Salt Lake also offers a mentoring program called Mentor 2.0. Recently a young woman named Nour, recounted her success story. 

After arriving as refugees from Syria, Nour and her family needed help settling in their new city of South Salt Lake.  South Salt Lake, a UWSL promise community. Such communities level the playing field so all residents are given access to opportunities to live their best lives and provide a seamlessly linked pipeline of services, partnerships, and resources related to education, health, and social needs.

Nour enrolled at Cottonwood High School — a UWSL community school — and within an incredibly short time, she was speaking English, on track in school, and working two part-time jobs to help support her family.

Working with a mentor helped build up her confidence, Nour said, which she attributes to her winning first place in a regional debate competition in her first year on Cottonwood High’s debate team. The win afforded her the chance to travel to the national contest in Washington, D.C — an experience she will never forget. 

Since graduating high school in spring of 2018, Nour hasn’t slowed down a bit. She’s still working to save for college, volunteering as a translator, and plans to attend Salt Lake Community College to pursue her associate’s degree before moving onto a four-year university.

Tami and I are proud to continue our support the work of the United Way of Salt Lake and if you’d like to get involved, or donate, please visit http://uw.org   

The New Utah Pride Center

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Since its opening in 1992, the Utah Pride Center has been a staple in Utah’s LGBTQ+ Community.   With a vision of a thriving LGBTQ+ community in Utah, the Utah Pride Center has faced challenges and always come out on the other side stronger.  In May of 2018, UPC opened the doors of its brand new space on 1380 South Main Street and introduced their incoming Executive Director, Rob Moolman.  

Tami and I have been long time supporters of UPC and we were thrilled to visit the new space and meet Rob and catch up with friends. 

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The Center not only provides family, youth and senior programming, but also now has a full mental health facility within the new building.  These services are not only individual, but also groups.  The Survivors of Suicide Attempts group is literally a life-saving program of the center that meets weekly.  The Center continues to provide youth drop-in hours as well as community programming including the Utah Pride Festival.  

To find out more about the work the Utah Pride Center is doing, please visit www.UtahPrideCenter.org

Honoring Those Who Run Toward Fire.

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Last week our house just missed burning to the ground. From a glass half full perspective, last week our house was saved. I feel self-indulgent to even be focusing on it, because as I write this there is a raging fire in Northern California. Thousands and thousands of people have been forced to flee, hundreds of homes have been burned to the ground, people have died. Here in Utah, there are at least six active wildfires burning today. As my wife, Tami, noted this morning on our neighborhood walk in this valley-wide smoky air, “It seems like the earth is smoldering.” Yet in the midst of wildfires and national political chaos (where it seems like our country is divided into two acerbic camps who have no chance of understanding one another), our fire gave us the chance to experience a fabulously functioning local government and the generous and courageous actions of family and friends.

July 24this “Pioneer Day” in Utah. It is a state holiday and people celebrate with parades, picnics and fireworks. Because we live on an open mountain of grass that is always dry and combustible by July, we make a point of being home on July 4thand 24thjust in case someone’s fireworks get out of control. On the afternoon of this July 24th, Tami was home with all three of our grandchildren (ages 16, 14 and 13). They were here to do one of retired English teacher Tami’s summer lessons, this one called “how to write the five-paragraph essay.” They had just started the lesson when Tami noticed smoke coming up the hill. It was a fire that burned about 100 acres, sent many residents fleeing, injured three firefighters, came close to many backyards, and fortunately did not burn down any homes. The fire lit up a blue spruce in our yard like a torch, and while that tree was only four feet from our home, the sparks and ashes were kept at bay by the quick actions of our son, a neighbor and a bevy of Salt Lake City firefighters. We lost some trees and shrubs, had smoke in our house, and damage to our air conditioning and electrical systems — all minor issues in the scheme of what fires can do.

This event was terrifying; yet it also gave us a chance to experience the courage of family, the kindness of friends, and the high degree of skill of our local fire fighters. Here are a few observations on our experience:

-Between the time Tami first spotted the fire and the moment she and the grandkids were forced to flee our home, they had about 15 minutes to load valuables into our cars. The kids were calm, fast acting, and constantly trying to reassure their grandmother that things were going to be all right. When it came time to drive away, the 16-year old and the 14-year old drove the cars up the hill and away from the danger. (who knew the 14-year old could drive, but how he learned is a question we will save for another day….)

-Neighbors came running to our house to help. One helped get a hose on our burning side yard before the firefighters arrived. Another came into the house and helped organize what possessions to try to save.

-Our grandkids called their dads, both of whom came flying from across town. Our son, after running up the mile-long hill to our house because the police weren’t letting anyone drive up into the affected neighborhoods, got to our side yard before the fire crew and got a hose on the blue spruce as it exploded into a fire torch. Our son-in-law got here separately, had to run up that same hill, and helped calm down the family and organized the disaster clean up team once we were allowed back to the house.

-I wasn’t home when the fire started, and by the time I got to the bottom of our hill, the police weren’t even letting anyone walk up the street. I had to wait for two hours, and it was clear from news clips that were coming in that our house was endangered. While waiting there with 40 or so other frantic neighbors who wanted to get to their homes, their pets, their kids, I met many people who offered me water, a shoulder to lean on, a place to stay should we not be able to get back into our home.

-While I was waiting to get back up the hill, and back to my family (who were told to stay put in the cars at the top of the hill), my phone lit up with texts and calls from concerned friends and colleagues. One of my work colleagues, who was on the other side of the country, saw the news alerts and immediately texted me the security code to her home in an adjoining city in case we needed a place to stay.

-Events like these can also come with a sprinkling of humor. For us, the laughter came later that evening when we were allowed back into our home and we unloaded the cars. It was fascinating to see what the kids had saved. Computers, the contents of our safe where we stash some extra cash and our jewelry (who knew they knew the safe code, but again, a question for another day), Bert & Ernie from the toy room, lots of baby pictures, Lucy our dog, decorative Buddha statues, and all of our winter coats.

-We have a new appreciation for the value of local government. The importance of keeping things running gets lost in the 24 hour a day news cycle about all the dysfunction in national politics. However, our city rocks! Within minutes of the fire’s outbreak, fire fighters were on scene. Within an hour, there were probably 60 fire fighters on scene, along with helicopters dropping huge buckets of water from the air on the edges of the fire. That kind of response doesn’t happen without a ton of behind the scenes smart organization of city departments. Our Mayor called that night to see if we were OK. Our City Councilman came to our house the next day to see if we were OK and to inspect the damage. This is what government is all about — proper planning, excellent execution, and being present when your citizens experience problems.

-Over the next few days we cleaned up our house. It will take longer to get over the trauma of coming so close to losing this home we built 16 years ago. We are left with new appreciation for all those people who saw us in trouble and ran toward the fire, and us, to help.

Final glass half full observation: it was actually an anniversary present to us that our home was saved. July 24this not our only anniversary (see Why I’ve Been Married Eight Times ), but it is our first anniversary and the one we celebrate.