Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Folly of Leaders

In case anyone's following this blog, here's a great article about the Washington D.C. public school system's current struggle to improve its station. More to the point, the article deals directly with personality driven reform - a topic I have been wrestling with since I started the H3P.
To sum up, no reform or movement of any value (regardless of arena - politics, education, business, etc.) can survive as a result of an individual's Vision alone.  Successful movements are sustained through the careful (read slow) implementation of systems engineered to uphold the original vision. To succeed, any human effort must be taken from the realm of personality, charisma and heroics and placed squarely and securely in the realm of systems. Systems of course make for boring copy and rarely elicit the passion and ardor of the lone heroic reformer.
To wit - the struggle of Michelle Rhee and the Washington DC Public Schools. As Ms. Rhee struggles to improve her school district, she is perceived as being the lone driver, ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the schools. This is of course a gross oversimplification but, so long as Ms. Rhee is perceived to be the heart and soul of education reform in DC, anyone opposed to the reforms will operate with a clarified objective: remove Michelle Rhee. An objective which once reached will signal the collapse of the movement and an immediate re-trenching of the status quo.
I'm not trying to argue for or against the reforms as presented in DC. Rather, I am utilizing the situation in DC to try and understand the follies of leadership in America. These situations seem to play out quite often in the USA - a strong idea surfaces, one person or group champions the idea and struggles internally with issues of ownership and authority over the idea, the battle becomes political and personal rather than practical and objective, positions are taken, enemies are made and reputations are made and destroyed regardless of the actual idea in play.
I've begun to see it in my experience: hospitals fight for dollars to the detriment of real work, non-profits spend big money on marketing, people jockey for hierarchy...
The situation in DC is unfortunate in that a groundswell of support for reform is becoming apparent, but the inertia of the current system is equally present. Sending up a juggernaut like Rhee in the hope that her velocity will pull us all to the next level is foolish.
An old Turkish saying I learned from an employer who was trying to convince me to work overtime for no pay applies here - "If you make something good throw it into the ocean. If the fish don't understand it, god will."


Sunday, August 08, 2010

Mentor Headlands - Beach

It was windy at the beach that day.
The Mentor Headlands Triathlon went off this AM.
I think this marked the water entry.
Danielle and I are back to normal life after having pretty much been gone for wed for much of the past 6 months it seems like. We had a fantastic time at the wedding - see the pics below - but are happy to be back out exploring our state.
One thing we really miss about the East Coast are the beaches. Singing Beach, Wingaersheek, Plum Island, the Cape, Martha's Vineyard, and on and on.
While we've found some places to jump in the Lake like B&L's Vermilion home and up at the Snake, we hadn't been able to find a good long beach with loads of people and places to explore.
Standing on the jetty defining Fairport Harbor (to our left.)
So, this morning we packed up and took off for Mentor Headlands - about 35 minutes Northeast of our place in Cleveland Heights. Having been to the beach at Edgewater and Huntington in Avon, I expected more of the same, trucked in dirt, 30 yards of beach and a huge parking lot.
But lo and behold we found a real beach! The beach is more than a mile long, the water is perfect temp (around 72 F) and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Will be returning many times with more pics.
In the dunes
D in the waves. The water goes from green to deep blue to grey. Very pretty.

Zoar, Ohio

The hibiscus in Zoar was enormous.

This is Doug Fouts, Revolutionary War re-enactor. We met him in Zoar, a beautiful little town about 1.5 hours south of Cleveland. Zoar survived as a communist village for 100 years. Now it's full of B&B's, antique shops and guys like Doug.

Lincoln Boulevard

This is a view into our neighbors' backyard. That tree (a sour cherry) is one of my favorite things about their backyard - besides the blue kiddie pool and the pink stroller - those are Fiona's things and she is also one of my favorite things about the backyard. The light in the early evenings shines through this tree in the most beautiful way. This view sort of describes my life right now.

Wedding Pics

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Lincoln Blvd. Collage

Our neighbors, Lyman, Shannon & their daughter Fiona made a great graffiti montage on the walkway up to our house. I had to capture it and present it before the rain hit today. I just made it.