Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Welcome to the Revolution

Grrrrrrrreat New York Times article today about the purchasing power of women. Stunning statistics and comprehensive coverage of the feminine world of financial acumen.

The reporter buried the most stunning statistic of all (which I heard before, but forgot because it was... well - so STUNNING): According to the National Association of Realtors single women are the fastest growing segment of home buyers purchasing 21 percent of homes, compared with just 9 percent for single men.

Market researchers are now embracing women as much more than domestic divas. They recognize them as buyers with their own careers and fattened pocketbooks, who are finding plenty to do and plenty to buy outside the home.

The article is chock full of other great statistics; the Canadian developer Shane Homes states that women control 80 percent of every consumer dollar spent. They call that the 80 Percent Minority.

Also interesting websites to check out:

www.bostongalsopenwallet.blogspot.com - tracks "Jane Dough's" finances and her financial decision making every month "because speaking publicly about your personal finances was a no-no in my family" says Dough. She feels by blogging about it - she can find enlightenment in managing her $461,435.59 (in October) of assets.

Of course there is BeJane.com the early bird on-line community for women into home improvement.

More companies, in the United States and elsewhere, have realized that they overlook women at their own financial peril. The companies are realigning their marketing and design practices, learning to court an increasingly female-centric consumer base that boasts more financial muscle and purchasing independence than ever before.

“We are perhaps on the first step to a matriarchal society; women will earn more money than men if current trends continue by 2028,” said Michael J. Silverstein of the Boston Consulting Group. “The trend has been escalating in the last 10 years as there has been a gradual, slow erosion of the power balance in the family, a psychic rebalancing.”

Women, Mr. Silverstein added, are “controlling purchases and driving a shift in our economy.”


More Reasons to Love Chicago

Colombia College of Chicago's Frequency TV recently became the first college television station to offer entertainment programming as Podcasts through the iTunes Music Store, says the online edition of the Colombia Chronicle.


Their original sketch comedy program called Out on a Limb has been streaming to more than 1,1oo subscribers from all over the world since October 28th, with 100 t0 200 new subscribers each day. As of Nov. 10, six more shows become available for download. It's free to download - which still begs my nagging, nagging banal question - how do we make money in this new era?! Gosh.

Frequency TV programming can be found on iTunes by searching for ?artist Frequency TV.?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Daniel Johnston is a manic-depressive genius singer/songwriter/artist, revealed in this portrait of madness, creativity and love.The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a stunning portrait of a musical and artistic genius who nearly slipped away.

Director Jeff Feuerzeig exquisitely depicts a perfect example of brilliance and madness going hand in hand with subject Daniel Johnston. As an artist suffering from manic depression with delusions of grandeur, Daniel Johnston's wild fluctuations, numerous downward spirals, and periodic respites are exposed in this deeply moving documentary.



Saturday, October 14, 2006

Proving the Impossible

"He proved the impossible: that the poor were bankable."JONATHAN J. MORDUCH, an economics professor at New York University, on Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering work in giving tiny loans to millions of poor people.

Encouraging news that the 66-year-old Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday for his pioneering work in giving small, even tiny loans to millions of poor people no bank would touch. By empowering destitute widows, abandoned wives, landless laborers and rickshaw drivers, sweepers and beggers, Yunus has made great strides in combating rural poverty in his own country and inspiring similar programs across the developing world.

“Microcredit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions,” the committee said in announcing the prize.

Mr. Yunus has long been an influential champion of the idea that even the most impoverished people have the drive and creativity to build small businesses with loans as small as $12, and Grameen Bank has dedicated itself to helping the poorest of the poor.

Go Mr. Yunus.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wit, Will and Walls in Loudon Times-Mirror

Speaking your mind
By Betsy Allen

Put yourself in Betty Kilby Fisher's place: a teenager living in Virginia 50 years ago -- trying to do well in school, make friends, fit in.

Now, imagine you are thrown into a situation where your mere presence drives students from the school's doors. Picture yourself as a source of turmoil and target for some of the worst kinds of ugliness human beings can conjure.

Could you endure?Tanesia Fisher, 16, a junior at Stone Bridge High School, doesn't think so."I probably wouldn't have been as strong as her. I couldn't have handled it."

Tanesia is the granddaughter of Betty Kilby Fisher. And this was the situation Fisher found herself in during the late 1950s, when she was a 13-year-old living in Warren County.Dismayed by widespread segregation practices, Betty's father, James Kilby, decided to draw the line with his own daughter.

He filed a case in Betty's name to force the integration of Warren County High School. Ordered by federal courts to end segregation, Virginia balked; instead, the governor ordered the closing of that school, along with others in the state, as part of a policy of Massive Resistance.

Eventually, Virginia's Supreme Court ruled that policy unconstitutional and the schools reopened, but the white students stayed away. For months, Betty and a handful of other black teenagers walked the quiet halls at Warren County High School.Over time, white students returned - some with a vengeance. Betty was emotionally, verbally and physically abused, and resulting trauma has stayed with her throughout her life.

People may not "understand the price that we paid to get an education," said Betty, 61, who now lives in Euless, Texas.

"That's the way you take someone's power away," said Paulette Moore, a documentary film director associated with Shenandoah University in Winchester. Moore is producing a film about Betty and the events of 50 years ago.

"[Betty] didn't tell anyone what happened," said Moore. "If young girls told their families, they would have to go and defend their honor. People could get killed."

In 2002, Betty shared her experiences in a book, "Wit, Will and Walls.""When I first wrote my book, I had an image of young people reading the book," said Betty. "There were things I didn't want to put in. But if I cut and pasted pieces, it wouldn't be a real story. I thought, if I am going to touch people, it will be with the raw truth."

Moore found Betty's story deeply compelling, and an ideal subject for a documentary film. When it came to casting the film, Betty felt strongly that her granddaughter Tanesia could play an important role - that of Betty herself.

Tanesia is thoughtful and direct when asked about her grandmother's experiences and her decision to be part of the film.

"I've always been really close to my grandmother. I knew some of the story," said Tanesia. "But I didn't know all the stuff she had to go through. When I read the book, I was surprised. I was kind of hesitant about the whole acting thing ... showing so much emotion, but I didn't want to disappoint my grandmother. It means a lot to her."

A four-day shoot in mid-August took the film production crew and cast to locations around Clarke and Warren counties to re-enact key events in the story. Moore now is seeking additional funding to undertake a second phase of the documentary production. She has a target completion date of 2008, 50 years after the original case was filed.

The director is constructing the historically based film in a way that young people today can relate to, with limited black-and-white footage - "the events took place in vivid color" - and contemporary music instead of gospel or march songs.

She feels there is an important message here.

"You don't have to be Betty Kilby Fisher to make a change. It's not alchemy," said Moore. "It starts with just speaking your mind."

That's something Tanesia does well. She realizes there are people who honor the legacy of her grandmother - and those who don't.

"You can't force people to appreciate it," said Tanesia. "No one changes just because of one decision someone makes. Racism is still everywhere. It's still in school. Most people are in denial." But she adds, "If you reach out to the younger kids, they'll realize that what they have now is something to be grateful for."

What Tanesia has now are some specific goals. She wants to go to college, earn a business degree and open a seaside resort hotel in her mother's native country, the Philippines.A grand dream, perhaps, for any high schooler - but one that seems in reach. And for that we can thank, in large part, people like Betty Kilby Fisher, who gained their own beachheads in Virginia's civil rights movement half a century ago.