The Magic Of Bringing Your Kids To LOCKN’

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first_img“Veteran” festival attendees still feel the magic surrounding festival season. The weeks leading up, the excitement, the planning—it doesn’t get old, you just learn a little more each year and hopefully pass that wisdom on to those coming up behind you. This year at LOCKN’, I decided to bring my six-year-old, Ryder. It was by no means his first show, but it was his first real festival and first time camping. For music-loving parents, bringing kids to their first festival is equivalent to others taking their child to Disney World for the first time. Parents experience the magic of the festival through their children’s eyes, sharing in the innocent and immense enthusiasm of a child.Dad, Please Never Stop Going To Music Festivals: An Open LetterDuring LOCKN’, Ryder couldn’t get enough. He loved every moment and wasn’t fazed by any of the bumps along the way. We drove from Florida to Virginia and made our home in the family camping area. He immediately met our neighbors and played safely under the eyes of multiple parents while I finished setting up camp. For the next four days, Ryder was dirty, stinky, covered in orange clay, and couldn’t have been happier.Ryder was able to experience music in a way that I believe bypasses most adults—he felt it and instantly became part of the community. To him, no one was a stranger. He wanted to hear stories about where people had come from and what bands they wanted to see. He spent a lot of time admiring and falling in love with every piece at Morning Dew Tie-Dye, and the owners were wonderful to him, answering his questions and embracing his curiosity. Later in the weekend, one of the owners (Sam) from Morning Dew Tie-Dyes tapped my shoulder and asked me to give Ryder a beautiful stone shaped like a pyramid, saying “I want him to have it.” Ryder was over the moon with delight, and the gift still sits safely on his dresser.When the tire on his wagon broke, we headed over to the Handlebar Café to see if they could repair it. They could not have been kinder and did everything in their power to fix Ryder’s wagon, letting him help and teaching him the process of what they were doing along the way. They spent almost two hours on his wagon—for free! Plus, someone there told him we had to go to Garcia’s Forest, and it ended up being one of the favorite things he saw at LOCKN’ this year.While all of this was an incredible experience to watch, it was very emotional for me as well because Ryder has special needs. He has global apraxia—a motor planning disorder that makes it difficult for children to use their fine and gross motor skills—and struggles to speak. Everyone took the time to meet him and understand him. Another major obstacle is that Ryder has (SPD) sensory processing disorder. I was internally terrified of how he would respond to the crowd, the music, the lights, the smells, the food—everything! The festival experience is a lot for most adults, to be honest, and I wasn’t sure how it would go. However, when Ryder wanted a smoothie before we headed to the main stage for the night, the staff at The Loving Cup were more than happy to accommodate his dietary restrictions even though they were slammed.10 Positive Benefits Of Listening To Music, According to ScienceSome people believe children don’t belong at shows or that it’s pointless to bring them because they won’t remember. However, even if kids don’t remember all the “ins and outs,” the experience helps shape them. My child who struggles every day to do basic tasks has never felt more loved and included. Complete strangers stopped to give him high-fives and dance with him. He played hopscotch with glow sticks in the dark, dug in the dirt, blew bubbles, and ran freely with new friends. He even traded a light-up balloon for a flashing lantern so that he and his new friends could continue to play once the sun was down. He may not remember every detail of the festival, but he’s already excited about LOCKN’ 2018 and asks me all of the time, “How much longer?”Why We Make More Friends And Feel Less Pain At ConcertsI had a friend question me about taking him out of school to attend a music festival. I explained that, to me, Ryder was in school. Festivals are a school of life and love, aiding in a fundamental part of growth, development, and connection. Ryder’s music teacher happens to play in JJ Grey and Mofro—by pure coincidence, Mofro was Ryder’s first show when he was an infant—and was kind enough to give us passes to watch from backstage on Sunday. My son was so excited to see Mr. Eric at his “real job,” as he calls it. When Mofro finished, Ryder went down and had his picture taken with “Mr.” Eric Brigmond (keyboardist) and Craig Barnette (drummer), who gave him his drumsticks and the set list.I’m sure that Ryder will not understand for quite a while what he was a part of at LOCKN’—seeing Bob Weir and Phil Lesh play Terrapin Station for its 40th anniversary, getting gifted drumsticks and meeting musicians backstage. However, he did understand when a woman gave him a gem and told him it was filled with positive energy for him to share with the world, and he did understand when a golf cart taxi driver wanted him to have an intact geode that he’d dug up in Indiana. All of these events may seem insignificant to cynical adults, but to Ryder, it was pure magic.Watch Phil Lesh & Warren Haynes’ Masterful “New Minglewood Blues” At LOCKN’ [Pro-Shot]I strongly believe in the energy that live music produces—there is an undercurrent that binds the community together. In a world filled with so much tension and negativity, it feels like a gift to be able to share with my son a community that I believe in and love. I hope that Ryder continues to feel the music and spread positive energy, just like he was asked to. At one point during the festival as we walked to the main stage, Ryder asked me, “Can we come back next weekend?” I had to explain that next week, the event would turn into a large empty field. In response, he asked, “Well, where do we find this?” I simply replied, “Tour, baby.”Cheers to you LOCKN’ for putting on one hell of a festival for kids of all ages to love and embrace. We will see you back on The Farm next summer.Michelle M. Leigh is a free-spirited Mother of two who vehemently believes in embracing each day and being the change in the world. She enjoys adventures with her children, husband and traveling to as many shows as she can fit into her schedule. As a self-professed lifelong music junkie, she enjoys a wide variety of music and sharing that passion with others, especially her kids. You can follow her at Grateful Momma Bear on social media.last_img

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Remembering, and returning to, Selma

first_imgHarvard President Drew Faust delivered Morning Prayers on Friday, offering the intimate crowd in Appleton Chapel some deeply personal and pointed reflections on her experience with the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago.“History says, don’t hope on this side of the grave,” said Faust, reading from the poem “The Cure at Troy” by Nobel laureate and Harvard Professor Seamus Heaney. “But then, once in a lifetime the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.”In 1965, Faust was a freshman at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania when grainy, black-and-white images flashed across the TV screen of peaceful protesters being beaten by police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. The marchers were demonstrating for their constitutional right to vote.In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1954 school desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Faust saw in the growing Civil Rights Movement “the compelling nature of what was right,” and its goals “appeared both unquestionable and unavoidable.”When civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. declared: “No American is without responsibility,” and called for another march, Faust said she knew she “had to go” and take part. “It was a moral imperative. I could do more than hope; I could act. I did not have to await a tidal wave; I could be part of it.”So Faust skipped her midterm exams and headed to Selma. The experience offered her a moment of “absolute and powerful moral clarity,” though over time, she added, she has come to realize that “justice requires perennial struggle.”“No victory is absolute; we have to keep our eyes on the prize to hold on — even to the Voting Rights Act itself, which is being threatened and eroded at the same time we are celebrating its passage.”“It was a moral imperative. I could do more than hope; I could act. I did not have to await a tidal wave; I could be part of it,” said Faust, pictured here in Birmingham, Ala., in 1964.In his own brief remarks, Jonathan Walton, Harvard’s Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, echoed Faust’s sentiments. “May we both commemorate the past and be catalyzed to act in the present,” he said, “realizing that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and may we do our small part to enable hope and history to collide.”In a show of remembrance and solidarity with those hard-fought civil rights victories, Faust, along with President Barack Obama and thousands of others, traveled to Selma on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the first march to Montgomery on March 7, 1965.“I will never forget that I was given a moment where I could help make hope and history rhyme,” said Faust, looking ahead to the trip. “And I go to Alabama to remember as well those for whom it was far more than just a moment, or a series of abandoned midterms. I go in honor of Martin Luther King, of Hosea Williams, of James Bevel, of Diane Nash, of Andrew Young, of Jimmie Lee Jackson, of John Lewis, and of so many others who have devoted their lives to the cause of justice and freedom.”“May we both commemorate the past and be catalyzed to act in the present,” said Jonathan Walton, who also offered brief remarks. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“I go to Selma to honor these lives — and all lives and times of such meaning and purpose.”During the brief service, the Choral Fellows of the Harvard University Choir offered a moving musical tribute to King, singing “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” his favorite hymn, as the opening anthem.“Precious Lord, take my hand, bring thy child home at last, where the strife and the pain all are past,” one verse read. “I have dreamed a great dream that thy love shall rule our land: Precious Lord, precious Lord, take my hand.”“Powerful remarks,” said Julian K. Braxton, Ed.M. ’99, a history teacher at the Winsor School in Boston, following the service.Braxton, whose father grew up in Alabama, said he attended Morning Prayers as a way to remember his father and “all the foot soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement.” He praised Faust, saying, “I thought her remarks were quite powerful because it’s about action. The movement was about action, and she, in her own way, created some.”Harvard President Drew Faust — Friday, March 6 | Morning PrayersHarvard President Drew Faust led Morning Prayers on the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march to offer reflections on her trip there as an undergraduate. She decided to answer the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to join protesters from across the country, and now understands her participation as a decisive moment in her life.For the text version of her speech, visit President Faust’s website.last_img

The Dojo Way

first_imgCo-authored by Luke Woydziak and Megan Murawski of Dell EMC’s Cloud Dojo in Cambridge, MA.  Why do some projects result in products customers love while others either fail or are never used? Why do some engineering teams have great quality while others struggle? Why can some teams deliver updates on a daily basis while others take 6-months to a year? These are some of the questions we set out to answer when we first formed the Dojo a few short years ago. The real answer we found comes down to discipline. We searched out the best techniques and practiced them rigorously to do one-thing…deliver better products rapidly. I want to take you on a journey from the inception of one of those products. I’ll give an overview of those techniques and how we apply them.Typically, products we observe start with an idea for a solution. This seems like the right way and we see examples all around us of great luminaries who execute on great ideas and achieve phenomenal success. It’s easy to think of that as the way to develop great products, but we have found that approach to lead more often to disaster than success. Greater than 70% of the time is what venture metrics suggest[1]. So how do we flip the odds? We flip the approach. It all starts with a problem and lots of testing.SynthesisHow do we find valuable problems? We use a process called synthesis. Synthesis entails having structured conversations with people who are all too happy to tell you about their problems…potential customers. These structured conversations lead to valuable insights when aggregated together. We use some simple technology to support this: sticky notes and a blackboard:From this zoomed out view you can see the scattered notes in the middle left. This is the section for the findings. Notice how some of them clump together. On the middle right we have separated some of the general findings. On the far left, we have observations about the person we talked to. And on the far right we have next steps.DiscoveryAs we zoom in on one of the findings, we can see the details.The different colors represent different users. Interestingly, the amount of representative customers necessary to generalize to 85% of the market is surprisingly small – 5[2].Note in this case the prevalence of “IP security”. This was the problem the customers were trying to solve: “How do I connect Cloud Native applications to my Legacy data stored on NFSv3 servers?”FramingNow that we have a problem, who is actually having it is the next important question. We return to the synthesis board and fill out a persona worksheet.The persona allows us to aggregate the common characteristics of our customer. Our product team can then develop a great deal of empathy for this person and step into their shoes. This fills out the picture and allows for the best solution to be imagined.We test both the problem and persona against several other representative customers to dial them in, but for the most part we have found that the original 5 are pretty spot on. At this point we begin to brainstorm solutions. The solutions allow for us to perform a process called scoping, which as its name suggests scopes the effort needed to bring one (or more) of those solutions to life.Inception Often as we found, those solutions require engineering effort. We kick off this effort with a process called inception. The format for the inception is a one-day meeting, where we go through an agenda of:GoalsAnti-goalsRisksMitigationsWork Item (story) creation/prioritizationWe enter these stories into a work tracker in the order we want them completed.DevelopmentThis begins the engineering work. Here too we use rigorous best practices. You may have heard terms like DevOps, Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD). The underpinning for all of this is various forms of automation. We strive to automate as much as possible from developer testing to deployment and operation of changes. We practice Test Driven Development (TDD), meaning that for any development task, we start with a test.TDDThe first test is written at the highest level possible (typically an end-to-end test). It is then automated using a CI server to automatically rerun that test whenever a code change is detected. We then decompose the system elements necessary to solve the test and write a second round of test to drive development of those elements. Finally, we implement the element only so far as to solve the test we have just written.After the test is passing, we will correct any bad design decisions and factor the code in a maintainable way. Finally, we commit the code (and tests) to our source repository and allow our CI server to process it. This involves repeating the elemental (or unit tests) and the entire system/integration level tests we may have written. If all tests are passing, our CI system will package the change and deploy it to our customers.This process is strictly adhered to such that we end up with a full testing suite that can definitively verify and validate any change. Of course human error can still occur, so we use another best practice called pair programming.Pair ProgrammingDuring all development, engineers will work in pairs on a given story. This accomplishes a threefold mission: First, it establishes enforcement of the discipline Second, it ramps up new team members and Third, it surfaces a diverse look at every problem. Finally, we use a product owner to ensure that indeed the requirements of the story have been satisfied and the correct automation is in place to prove it works and prevent future changes from regressing the system.Now we return to the beginning for synthesis and repeat the whole process. Of course some of the work will already be done. In that case, we use and extend upon our knowledge until we need more development work to be done. The approach is iterative and additive over time. Before the second iteration we also verify with a sample customer the implemented solution and reapply the learning. Thus the cycle then begins anew.Feedback and RetrospectivesAs important as feedback and iterative process is to our product development, we also use this as a tool for continuous improvement of the team. When something isn’t working, we take the time on a regular cadence to address the issue and brainstorm a better solution. When something is working, we take the time to acknowledge the success and encourage the team. Actionable change allows us to keep moving forward.A Better Way…the WayAs you can see, there is no real magic here. We practice a rigorous and disciplined process that is wholly repeatable. We have collected the best techniques and continue to search for better ones. We will incorporate better ideas as we are continuously striving to improve. This has lead to a project that in a little under a year has seen adoption of 50+ Enterprise companies. Customers are speaking on our behalf at conferences praising the usability and quality of our solutions. We can deliver updates to those customers daily and maintain a very high level of quality. In addition to product success, we’ve also worked throughout the organization to spread the Dojo Way. By committing to the process and using feedback, we can continually grow and evolve our way of working, translating this into quality products and functional and efficient teams.____________________________________________________________[1] Gage, D. (2012, September 20). The Venture Capital Secret: 3 Out of 4 Start-Ups Fail. Retrieved August 24, 2017, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443720204578004980476429190[2] Hubbard, D. W. (2014). How to measure anything: finding the value of intangibles in business. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.last_img

Instagram Takeover | Robert Stephens

first_imgThis month’s Instagram Takeover features Georgia native and avid hiker Robert Stephens.“Photography is my passion and nature is my refuge,” Robert says. “Combine the two, and that is where I am most at peace.”Robert is a self taught photographer and writer. Over the past seven years he has traveled the Southeast extensively, all the while chronicling his adventures in two self-published books.With the final stages of winter finally here, we asked Robert to submit his favorite winter landscapes, and the results were amazing. See them for yourself below and follow Robert in Instagram here. “An Entrance To Winter” – Rime ice on the Craggy Pinnacle Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville. I believe you’ve shared this one in the past, but it seems every time it gets shared it really catches on. Plus, it’s a finalist in the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition in the Landscape category. “Cascading Winter” –  taken along the Margarette Falls Trail near Greeneville, TN. This was shot after the first big snow of the year back in January.“Icing On Top” – my most recent image, shot Thursday as I hiked the four mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Soco Gap and Waterrock Knob Overlook near Cherokee, NC. Rime ice and snow only covered the very highest elevations, hence the title. This was shot just below the Waterrock Knob Overlook. “Deep Woods Winter” – a very familiar spot on the Appalachian Trail near Carver’s Gap/Roan Mountain, in its winter guise. “Maggie Valley Winter Barn” – this was also taken after that first big snow of the year began clearing out of my area in Maggie Valley, NC. I explored the town by foot and caught this burst of sunlight peeking through the clouds as the snow fell.[divider]Q & A with Robert Stephens[/divider]BRO: How did you cut your teeth in the world of outdoor photography?RS: I have always traveled and hiked, but with the advent of social media in the mid-2000’s I was able to share my journeys with friends, illustrated with photos; first, taken with a primitive camera phone (circa 2005) then, with a point-and-shoot, then finally a digital SLR in 2011. My friends liked the images I shared, so I decided to develop my skills further, and here we are!BRO: Where do you take most of your photos?RS: I take the vast majority of my images in the Appalachian Mountains, though occasionally I’ll make a beach trip to change things up. I hope to expand much further in years to come. So many places to see.BRO: 5 favorite trails in the Blue Ridge?RS: I don’t really consider myself as skilled or avid of a hiker as some, though of course I still enjoy hiking for the joy of it, and to get images. My favorite trails are Craggy Pinnacle Trail, Alum Cave Bluffs, The Roan Mountain stretch of the Appalachian Trail, The Cascades Trail in Virginia, and Waterrock Knob Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway close to home, as it offers some of the most incredible vistas I’ve ever witnessed.BRO: What’s your favorite outdoor activity when you’re not taking photos?RS: I’ve always loved playing golf, and I prefer walking while playing. It’s relaxing, and good exercise too.BRO: Is there one piece of gear, aside from your camera, that you won’t go into the field without?RS: Two pieces actually! Gotta have my tripod and remote shutter! A lot of images I shoot are either high contrast or in low light; so with the smaller apertures and slower shutter speeds necessary to capture what I want I need to keep my camera as still as possible.last_img

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