Archive for September, 2010



September 27, 2010

This past weekend definitely did its best to dispel any images of tranquil, crisp, colorful autumn days that generally mark the beginning of that time of year that has grown to be my favorite – September to December. Instead, it was tumultuous from start to finish!

The rains of last week wrecked havoc and I watched with horror the footage of the out-of control Zumbro River and impacted communities along its path…from Pine Island to Oronoco, White Bridge, and on towards Zumbro Falls and Hammond…names so familiar to me – not only from memories of my youth, but also because my sister and her husband live on that river at Oronoco– high above the raging current.

Meanwhile, the aftermath of those same storms will impact us locally this week, as the Minnesota River carries the run-off northward to us with crests on the Mississippi that will cancel activities on the river that were planned as part of the “We Are One” Dakota Nationwide Conference with which many members of our “Telling Native Stories “ group have been assisting.

One old friend is dealing with the last days of a dear pet, while for another from those BI days, life’s journey ended in hospice and today we will remember her well.

Meanwhile, I, like the Zumbro River, am raging over the pettiness of a one-time friend and vendor who for the last 7 weeks has done his own raging because he did not get a linen order from me…enough said until some time in the future when I am sure I can speak of it without showing the disdain I feel today for the self-centered, immature campaign he has launched to discredit the event, me, and my team. Who knew a $700 order was so important? Because that is all he could have competitively delivered of that order in the one week timeframe we had to source, rent, ship and deliver within our tight cost and color parameters for an event for 5000 people. And who knew that the Apres-who did get the order along with the order for 225 hi-tops, is no longer considered a local ISES member – at elast in this man’s twisted mind. I am reminded of a favorite quote from my college days – which in this new context, takes on new meaning – “We Are Such Little Men When the Stars Come Out.”

Add to that, the issues of the day from politics, to reform of education in Minnesota, to Target’s incorrect use of the word “grocery”, to learning that old perfume should not be disposed of in the trash or down the drain because it is a hazardous material and should be dropped off at the country household hazardous waste facility, all trumped by the fact that today is a day of celebration known as “Family Day: A Day To Eat Dinner With Your Children”. Who Knew?!!! And what does that say about our world?

Thank Goodness, the weekend ended at the Guthrie with a wonderful performance of “The Master Butchers Singing Club” followed by good conversation and a glass of wine in Sea Change as a friend and I fondly remembered another dear friend, now living in California who had introduced Louise Erdrick and her books to both of us. Thank you, Rhonda Couchigan!

Hopefully, those good feelings at the end of Sunday are what extends into the week before us, as September straightens out and gives us the temperatures, blue skies, colors and glory of a Minnesota Fall that we expect!



September 25, 2010

Last night on Channel 2, I experienced a great test of one’s built in prejudices. Almanac did a short feature to demonstrate that pre-disposition influences how your brain sees and hears input. Blocking all visuals and eliminating identification of who was speaking, they ran a series of quotes made by recent politicians in the Minnesota election races. The audience was asked to identify who made the statement. It was amazing. I found myself agreeing with statements that-had I known who was speaking- I would have found fault with, and likewise, disagreeing with one or two that were quotations from those politicians I favor.

Although the emphasis of the feature was to demonstrate how physical features and mannerisms influence audience objections or acceptance, it also clearly showed that our own political leanings also influence what we hear and how we hear it-and most importantly, what we block – so that we protect our own mindset, rather than open our minds to new and perhaps better, ideas.

I first was awakened to this phenomenon during the 2008 elections, when as a supporter of MinnPost, I attended several group viewings of the presidential debates. As the audience assembled, we were often seated at random in mixed groups – Republican, Democrat, and Undecided. We watched the debate; then held a table and group discussion led by MinnPost personnel about whom we thought “won” the debate, and why. It, too, was an amazing experience and gave me what I needed to make an informed decision. I altered my opinion on some things; I solidified my opinion on others, and all in all, because of that experience, I probably made the most informed and non-emotional decisions I have ever made in a national election.

Unfortunately, it was not permanently embedded in my brain as my primary way of gathering information, and I continually have to remind myself that I need to set aside innate prejudices, listen and absorb a better reality before I make a decision.

This is not an easy task, I understand that. But it is why the Tea Party Movement to remove all incumbents and start over will not yield results – even if they are successful in winning the seats. One needs not get rid of the old; one needs to learn to listen, collaborate, compromise, and use the power of all ideas to come up with the best direction for our nation. Once upon a time, I think we as a country knew that. Today, in spite of a movement in my professional life towards interaction, collaboration and engagement, the political world has moved to that world of isolation where only one’s OWN ideas have merit. What an interesting counter-movement – and topic for yet another blog.

This morning, I just want to share that MinnPost once again has proven their worth. They picked up that Almanac exercise from the show last night which is now posted on YouTube and included it as a feature in the Saturday edition. Check out David Gillette’s article at, watch the No Bias Election Guide and see if it helps you to focus on the issues and not on the personalities or political ideology.



September 12, 2010
    In spite of the glow of success of our recent CRV event this summer, I missed the adrenalin rush of discovery as time constraints of the project meant no available slots in the day for reading, researching, exploring, and discussing new ways to push the envelope. I missed those quiet times of contemplating why…and why not.

    So in between the laborious task of reviewing supplier invoices, generating our own final invoice for CRV, and reconnecting with clients needing assistance with Fall events, I committed to attending EventCamp Twin Cities 2010.

    WOW! I got my fix of Social, Innovation, Experimentation, and Collaboration – just as Sam Smith and Ray Hanson promised I would. I am almost glad I could only make half the sessions as my head is spinning with new approaches, new questions, and discussion after discussion after discussion!

    Yes, guys, I am inspired to try new communication and collaboration techniques at my events;

    Yes, guys, you demonstrated how to harness participant power and transform that energy into new ideas and solutions that change business;

    Yes, guys, this innovation lab allowed us to experiment and push the boundaries!

    And wasn’t it great that one of my favorite blogs – Velvet Chainsaws Midcourse Connections won the Blog Award for “Best Industry Advancement”?

    Congratulations Sam and Ray for the initiative and hard work bringing the EventCamp experience to the Twin Cities. And Congratulations, Jeff Hurt for the blog award!

    And now, I have a new “to-do” list , a new list of books to find and my Personal Introspective Card to keep me focused and moving forward exploring better ways to deliver meetings and events in the 21st century!