Summer Solstice and Thoughts About Birds by Nancy Mugele

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Welcoming Summer on my porch today watching the red-winged blackbird dine on my finally-filled bird feeder. The longest day of the year just might find me sitting on this porch all day long – lazy ceiling fans above match my mood. I am on a much needed staycation this week in my new hometown and I am really trying to resist email, social media and happenings at my school. I am not doing such a good job as I have already been there once to finish reading report cards and sign Honor Roll certificates. In my spare time I am reading from a stack of novels that have been on my coffee table since spring break, notating in some new educational texts, savoring Jamie Kirkpatrick’s Musing Right Along and doing some writing.  

My husband is in Baltimore today so the house is mine. I am not usually home alone during the week. My neighbors are at work or out of town and the quiet is a blessing – except for all of the birds chattering away in my yard. I am not a bird lover. Too many viewings of Hitchcock’s movie and living with pigeons in NYC as a young twenty-something fueled my dislike. Truth be told birds really scared me. 

When we found the red roof inn there was an osprey nest in the Chester by our dock. Instead of immediate disgust, I, strangely, felt a sense of calm. I knew it was an omen as Kent School’s mascot is the Osprey but I did not know at the time that it would completely ease my irrational fear of birds. Our two osprey – fondly named Olive and Oscar – sit stoically upon their roost. They arrived as predicted in April and we were so happy to welcome them to our family. We watched in awe as they built their love nest of wild branches. The first baby osprey sighting was on Mothers’ Day and we were thrilled by its existence. We mourned its loss days later when we realized it had simply disappeared. No explanation. The osprey talk loudly all day (like our family when we are all together) yet I wonder how sad they must be. I have grown very attached.

We also inherited a bird motel on a high rusted pole near the water’s edge. We need to take it down as it leans precariously towards the house, but it has no vacancies at the moment. So I sit, transfixed by all of the comings and goings of our birds. Funny thing, quiet, because it never really is. The birds’ calls to each other signaling new seeds or new flowers interrupt my solitude yet I feel like I have friends visiting my porch. Friends with huge appetites as the food I offered this morning has been devoured by day’s end. A lonely blue jay searches for the last remnants. There are a few morsels left but don’t get me started on the squirrels. 

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown

Another Juneteenth — A Sestina by Robert Earl Price

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Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  June 19th  is the day in 1865 when Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

The order read, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

What became known as general order number 3 was delivered two and a half years after president Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation; this late arrival of the order to end slavery caused cynics in the newly emancipated community to create the term “Juneteenth.”: which meant something extremely late or likely never to arrive.

General Order number 3 is the only known emancipation notice ever given to Negroes.  Imagine the transition from slave to African American without recompense or consideration of citizenship, without a thank you for 250 years of free labor and no share of the massive economy built on your back.

This place a nugget of gold in a sea of clay

Today we stand on precious ground

A stoned arch bridging many an uncertain day

A monument for shoulder-to-the-grindstone will

We come to bear witness and to bare our hearts

Here where the past is buried in the marrow of bones

 

We are the wind chimed clank and clang of dry bones

A chalice of wisdom from fired clay

Reverent music poured into open hearts

Many colors carpet this hallowed ground

This is a cornerstone of will

The founders’ foresight promised us this day

 

Raise the pennants and praise the day

The drummer lives in incus bones

Trees planted by the waters of will

A joyful insistence encrypted in this clay

Let hurrahs and hallelujahs shake the ground

And stir the longing in our hearts

 

Ella scatting an anthem for our hearts

Spirit movers, seekers of a breaking day

The visionary’s broom sweeping this ground

This monument to long buried bones

Tread carefully over this layered clay

Built by communal warriors of one will

 

On the road to glory by grace and will

The boon of freedom glowing in our hearts

Moisten the yard and tamp down the clay

Fry the fish and fixings to celebrate the day

And set the legends sifting through our bones

Our dancing DNA moonwalking on sacred ground

 

Today a tower of tolerance stands on hard won ground

Today we acknowledge the power of a righteous will

Today we refresh dreams and replenish the legacy of bones

Today our heroes rest in the shelter of our hearts

Today a day like no other day

Today we patina the world in a crust of clay

 

Praise to this persistent will, that seized this day

Protect this swirling ground and blood mottled clay

Place the merit bones of our past safe in the trove of our hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding True North in Chestertown with Help from ‘She She on High’ by Nancy Mugele

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True North is often used to describe one’s inner moral compass. For me this past year, True North has had even deeper meaning as it symbolizes the perfect alignment of my personal and professional life in historic Chestertown.

July marks one year that my husband and I have lived on the Chester – beginning a new chapter as empty-nesters (unless you count our resident osprey). The Red Roof Inn – affectionately named by our three grown children – is our True North and we stand (or maybe sit, with glass in hand) in awe of the artisan sunset painted on our sky each evening.

We moved to Chestertown from the Baltimore suburbs for my career. I have the distinct honor and privilege to be the Head of Kent School. Located at the very end of Wilkins Lane amidst a working farm and sitting on the bank of the Chester River, I have grown to love the School and our learning community in ways I did not even realize I would. With deep gratitude to my husband, who commutes to Baltimore a few days a week, Kent School, for me, is also True North. I feel a great sense of peace as I drive onto campus in the morning knowing, without doubt, that it is the place I am meant to be.

I only ever really wanted a few simple things in my life. A small hometown with a red-brick covered main street, a fan-cooled screened-in porch with a view, a magnolia and a lilac tree. And, a calling that leaves me intensely joyful and exhausted at the end of each day.

I will forever treasure my new True North(s). Thank you, Chestertown, for welcoming us and for inspiring me.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown

Op Ed: Funding the Bay by Tom Zolper

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Tax dollars at work. It’s a sign you occasionally see at road construction projects. But it also could be affixed to any number of valuable government services we take for granted as we sail, motor, fish, or swim in the Chesapeake Bay.

Keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean and safe is important to everyone, from boaters to businesses.

Say you are a recreational boater and you spy dark clouds building on the horizon. You need real-time information on weather and water conditions. You pick up your smart phone or device and presto, the information is provided through the Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System.

You are a livestock farmer who wants to raise animals the way your grandfather did – on pasture. You’ve seen the economic data; you know you can increase your profit margin making the switch. But it’s expensive. So, you pick up the phone and secure some financial help from the Regional Conservation Partnership.

These are just two examples of countless services provided by federal programs. The buoys are funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The farmer program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (DOA).

By now most people have heard that President Trump wants to eliminate all funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, one of the biggest federal efforts that help the Bay. But there are many other federal programs that benefit the Chesapeake, NOAA and DOA programs being two. Some seem relatively safe from the budget ax; some seem in danger. Congress will decide the fate of all these programs this summer.

Federal tax dollars help fund oyster restoration, among hundreds of other Bay-saving projects.Here, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation puts spat-on-shell (young oysters attached to old shells) into the Little Choptank River. The feds have contributed millions to local oyster restoration.

The Chesapeake Bay is an ecosystem, a complex network of living creatures. Three hundred years ago the Chesapeake didn’t need help from the federal government to sustain itself. But there weren’t 17 million people living within its drainage area. Human beings are hard on nature.

Today, federal tax dollars from those 17 million residents are part of the complex econ-system (my word) that keeps the Bay alive. One dollar contributed from the feds prompts local governments, businesses, and groups to contribute up to $4 more to the same Bay-saving project. That’s how you stretch tax dollars, create jobs, and boost the local economy. Your federal tax dollars are invested. They pay off.

For instance, the feds gave $114,850 to restore 20 acres of oyster reefs in the Tred Avon River. That investment prompted the Oyster Recovery Partnership to raise $300,000 for the same project.

Another example: the feds invested $54,320 for the restoration of 27 acres of wetlands on the Chester River. The money leveraged a contribution from Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage of $53,500.

Take the federal dollars away, and re-direct them say, to the military budget, and the Bay will decline. Make no mistake about it. It’s doubtful that individual states, counties or municipalities within the Bay region would raise their taxes or shortchange other programs to make up for funding lost through federal budget cuts.

Here are just a few more of the services to the Bay provided through one agency, NOAA:

Oyster Restoration: From larvae produced at the Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge to the giant man-made reef networks in the Choptank River tributaries, NOAA provides substantial funding for the herculean task of bringing back the Chesapeake oyster population.
• Oyster Aquaculture: Just like regular farmers get help from the federal government, oyster farmers in the Chesapeake get assistance from NOAA, especially in the form of research of what works best.
Environmental Education: If we are to save the Bay, we absolutely must educate the next generation to carry on the work. Students across Maryland are monitoring and caring for streams near their schools, growing baby oysters, and studying their watersheds, among other actions. President Trump wants to eliminate a key environmental education program funded by NOAA: Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET). What might be lost? One example of many: the Choptank Choices program by the Sultana Education Foundation allows 5th-grade students in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties to study the Choptank both in the classroom and aboard the 1768 schooner Sultana.
Bottom Sonar Scans: these provide the data for navigational maps used by recreational and commercial boaters. The science also locates hard bottom where oyster reefs can be created.
• Oyster Reef Monitoring: Every year in Maryland NOAA provides about $130,000 so divers can carefully monitor whether man-made reef systems are working. These monitoring programs tell us if oysters are surviving, reproducing and more. Without these NOAA-funded dive, we’d be pouring tax dollars into the water with no way of determining results.

Eastern Shore Congressman Rep. Andy Harris sits on the House Appropriations Committee and will have an important voice in the future of these and other Bay-related programs.

Tom Zolper is the assistant media director at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Remarks: Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton at Chesapeake College

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Editor’s Note: Dr. David Skorton, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, gave the commencement address in Wye Mills yesterday.  We have reprinted his remarks in their entirety.
Thank you for that introduction, Dr. Viniar (Barbara). I’m not surprised that you’ve been such a successful and innovative leader here at Chesapeake College, given your earlier successes, including your excellent track record leading the Institute for Community College Development when we were colleagues at Cornell. Thanks for inviting me to be here today.

It’s my pleasure to be here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for this auspicious occasion. Go Skipjacks!

And let me share one of many congratulations to the 2017 graduating class! Well done!

As I thought about what I wanted to share with you and your families and friends today, the state of the world brought to mind a particularly relevant phrase: “May you live in interesting times.”

Supposedly a Chinese curse, there’s no evidence it is actually a curse, nor that it’s Chinese. Perhaps we can think of it as an early example of fake news.

If you are predisposed to thinking of our interesting times as a curse, you would certainly have justification to do so. This graduating class will have to contend with the effects of climate change. You will face a job market which is likely to become increasingly uncertain because of the proliferation of automation. And we are all living through a hyper-partisan era in which our elected officials seem less likely than ever to seek common ground to find solutions.

Given the realities on the ground, it is all too easy to become discouraged if not cynical.

However, I think these really are interesting times in the truest sense of the word. They hold great promise for the future. We have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, if only each of us and all of us grab hold of it.

I believe that wholeheartedly, because when things have been at their bleakest—wars, depressions, existential crises—the American people have always found a way to persevere and thrive. And I believe that we can and will do this again.

Despite your achievement today, it is understandable that you may feel somewhat anxious about your future or even be unsure what you want to do next. But the fact that you’ve taken on this challenge shows you have the fortitude to be successful in life. It’s true whether you arrived fresh out of high school or came later to continue your education; whether your next destination is the workforce or a four-year school.

So, before you feel the urge to rush out and prove my optimism right—or at least to get out of these robes and celebrate somewhere—I’d like to tell you why I feel so good about our collective future.

As the Secretary of the Smithsonian, I get to see what smart, dedicated people do every day. Not just the 6500 employees who work for us, but also the 6300 volunteers who work at our 19 museums, nine research centers, and the National Zoo.

In many ways, museums, like institutions of higher learning, are going through a massive transformation. Much of that is due to the pervasive influence of technology, from interactivity to communication to outreach. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the explosion of connectivity brought about by the internet and the ubiquity of smartphones.

Author Clay Shirky has written extensively about the kinds of active and engaged networks of people that social media can enable. In a TED talk, he called our internet-connected age, “the largest increase in expressive capability in human history.”

I see a lot of that expressiveness from the Smithsonian’s digital volunteers. Outnumbering our on-site volunteers, this army of 8700 people around the world transcribes Smithsonian documents and data online. They are critically important to our mammoth effort to digitize much of our collection of 154 million objects. In this way, technology is helping us reach people globally with our collections. But it is also enabling the people who help us to do so.

The power of social media also becomes obvious when groups pool their money to accomplish goals that don’t receive enough funding through traditional means. This crowdfunding can take the form of philanthropy like the viral “ice bucket challenge” that raised 100 million dollars in a month for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis—ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. That money led directly to researchers identifying a gene associated with the disease, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatments.

The Smithsonian has also been the beneficiary of people’s collective generosity. The National Air and Space Museum had a successful Kickstarter campaign to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore during his historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Technology is also increasingly giving hope to the underserved around the world. In developing nations, solar power, microloans, and clean water are lifelines to modernity.

Bringing technology to underserved populations has made huge differences in people’s ability to care for, educate, and feed their families. For instance, between 2011 and 2014, the explosion in mobile technology in developing nations led to a twenty percent drop in people who didn’t have bank accounts. This is a crucial development since, as World Bank

Group President Jim Yong Kim said in 2015, “Access to financial services can serve as a bridge out of poverty.”

The tools of the digital age also allow people from a large variety of backgrounds to engage in what has become known as “citizen science,” collecting data on a massive scale and giving the naturally curious the ability to experience first-hand the scientific method. One such program that our Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute takes part in is the

Global Amphibian BioBlitz. Its aim is to observe one of every amphibian in the world and create a database to study and protect them. So far, more than 16,000 amateur herpetologists have participated.

My outlook continues to be optimistic because so many of these technologies are being deployed by people for the benefit of their fellow human beings. Technology is a powerful tool, but ultimately it is only as important and effective as the people who wield it. The collective power of people to do good is so frequently underappreciated. Working toward a common goal, people can topple dictators, help cure disease, and change the course of history.

Making our individual voices heard is still one of the most powerful aspects of the United States. That truth is at the heart of our democracy. It is why people from around the world still aspire to the American Dream. I’ve had the good fortune to meet many of them at our National Museum of American History, where each year many people from distant shores come to be sworn in as new citizens in naturalization ceremonies. As someone whose father was a Russian immigrant and a naturalized citizen, the annual event is always a moving experience for me. I challenge anyone who meets these people and hears their stories of how they got here to question their patriotism. Seeing America through their eyes is to truly appreciate the ideals this nation embodies.

Immigration has always been important for the diversity it has brought to our nation. When people talk about diversity, they usually mean ethnicity, gender, or background. That is certainly important, for what is the American Dream but the notion that all have an equal opportunity to succeed? Thankfully, younger generations are already on board with a more diverse society.

But just as critical for the dynamism and innovation that drives the U.S. is a type of diversity that author Scott Page identifies in his book, “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies.”

He addresses the value of “cognitive diversity”—the differences in how people think. Everyone sees the world a bit differently, everyone has different strengths, and these different perspectives facilitate problem-solving.

In fact, his research showed that the most diverse groups consistently outperformed the most talented groups.

And here is another reason for you to be optimistic today: education is still the greatest predictor of earnings in the workforce.

According to the Department of Education, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn 66 percent more than high school graduates. Over the course of a lifetime, that translates into a 1-million-dollar gap between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree. And in three years, approximately two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training, including associate’s degrees.

Colleges like Chesapeake play a critical role for their students, their communities and the country. That is why I have for decades admired and worked closely with colleagues in community colleges in Iowa, New York State, and beyond.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, associate’s degrees awarded increased from 634,000 to more than 1 million from the 2002 school year to the 2012 school year, a jump of 59%, more than the rate that bachelor’s degrees rose.

And an associate’s degree provides tremendous value. The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges found that the average 2016 tuition of a community college is about a third of a 4-year in-state public school. And it’s about a tenth of a 4-year private university.

Even more impressive is the value an associate’s degree can provide once you hit the workforce. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workplace, about 30% of Americans with associate’s degrees earn more than those with bachelor’s degrees.

It is why there is a push to make community colleges free of charge, as the state of Tennessee recently did for all adults without a college degree or certificate.

Another encouraging and quite important aspect of community colleges is their forward-looking devotion to a robust emphasis on the liberal arts. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities Indicator Project, the share of humanities-focused associates’ degrees grew from 25.8 percent in 1987 to 38.9 percent in 2013.

The liberal arts are a big part of the curriculum and culture at Chesapeake College, which I think is so important today. You know that the arts and culture enrich individuals and communities intrinsically and practically. That understanding is reflected in the college’s vision, “to prepare students as independent learners who are intellectually competent, technologically proficient, and who share the responsibilities and privileges of global citizenship.”

Those are the very skills that the arts, humanities, and social sciences help provide. They improve our ability to think critically, analyze, synthesize, and communicate. They provide a historical and cultural perspective. All of which can benefit scientists, society, and employers, so I know that you are prepared for the next phases of your lives, no matter what comes your way.

This past Earth Day, I stood on a stage not too different from this, looking at a large gathering of scientists, environmentalists, thought leaders, and students not too different from you.

They were there as part of the Smithsonian’s first Earth Optimism Summit, a conference of people working on one of our most critical challenges, the environment.
If there is something that should be daunting, it’s the state of our planet. Increased floods and droughts, dwindling natural resources, increased opportunity for pandemic disease—all seem like intractable problems with no easy solutions.

But the people who work on these very real problems weren’t intimidated. They were engaged. They were energized. And, yes, they were optimistic. They knew that nearly every problem has a solution, that every challenge is also an opportunity.

As I looked over that crowd, I was encouraged and hopeful, just as I am standing here today.

So, before I leave you today, as a long-time educator I would like to give you one last assignment in a few parts.

First, imagine the world as you would like it to look in five years. Ten years. Then figure out how to get there.

Second, don’t let life’s inevitable challenges dissuade you from making a difference. Author Dr. Angela Duckworth has written about “grit,” the perseverance and passion toward achieving one’s goals, that her research shows is more essential to success than talent. You need to be possessed of that if you want to go as far as you can.

Third, be adaptable. Life is likely to throw several curveballs at you, for good and bad. Having agility of mind and spirit will allow you to roll with the punches and come out ahead.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t become cynical.

 

Reflections: Beware What You Wish For by Professor Joseph Prud’homme

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Editor’s Note: Reflections is a new column by Joseph Prud’homme,  professor in political science and religious studies at Washington College in Chestertown.  Joseph is also the founding Director of the College’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture . Meant to stimulate reflection and facilitate critical discussion, each short essay examines the kinds of issues explored in depth through the multi-faceted programming of the Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture. For more information on the Institute go here

“Beware what you wish for” is a sage reminder tested by the centuries. The old chestnut is especially apt in the era of President Trump. A number of our fellow citizens have felt called to a resistance movement its most passionate advocates liken to the heroics of Jean Moulin and Charles de Gaulle. No matter what one’s views of our crisis-riddled president, the anti-Trump “resistance” movement has defended positions that, following the World War II metaphor, are more in line with Vidkun Quisling (the Norwegian turncoat) than Johanna Solf or Dietrich Bonhoeffer (noble examples of German resistance). Let’s be careful of what they espouse—and what an Anti-Trump sentiment might impel one to hope for.

Indeed, some in the “resistance” wish for the federal courts to police the campaign histrionics of candidate Trump and to find all measure of suspect motives informing facially legal executive orders and administrative decrees—and to strike these orders down solely on the basis of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. No matter what one thinks of the temporary suspension of immigration from terrorist hotspots, there has never been a rule in our constitutional law that campaign speeches and vote-seeking rally-mongering can justify the awesome exercise of judicial review by unelected legal elites.

Leaders of the “resistance” should recall that the rule they now espouse would have sounded a death knell for much done during the Obama administration—including its signature health care legislation much debated today. We need to remember how the junior senator from Illinois, in the primary campaign against Senator Clinton, intoned in stem-winding sermons in African American churches across the Palmetto State that his administration would “restore faith to public life” by “building the Kingdom here on earth.” (See http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/08/obama.faith/index.html.)

How could the executive orders and legislative enactments of the Obama presidency have survived constitutional inspection were a legal eagle to have ventured the same inquest of campaign rally-making some resisters now seek against President Trump? The Supreme Court (whether one agrees or not) has repeatedly ruled that laws must have a secular purpose (an element of what lawyers call The Lemon Test, from the 1971 decision of Lemon v. Kurtzman). But Obama made clear to the African American churchgoers he desperately needed to secure South Carolina in the hotly contested Democratic primary that he meant to build God’s kingdom on earth—scarcely the stuff of secular legislation.

Happily, no one dared apply the same rule resisters now seek to unleash throughout the federal judiciary. And that’s a fact of which resisters must take heed.

For what kind of mischief would be unsheathe were we to take this view seriously? Every judge an inquisitor. Every campaign stump speech a mine layer. Every campaign a lawsuit. Every candidate blackmailed by political opponents.

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly trampled under toe.

Beware what one hopes for, indeed.

For more information about Washington College’s Institute for Religion, Politics and Culture, please go here.

Op-Ed: What’s the Truth about Maryland’s HB 924? By Marc Castelli

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“In general, Americans view ignorance, particularly of public policy, as a virtue”. (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols). Pretty harsh words, but if you review the tactic of panic that Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently used to push its agenda in House Bill 924, you might understand the relevance of the quote.

The oyster issue has been and apparently will always be driven by a select few using the media to achieve their goals, and who seem to find it difficult to separate fact from fiction or research a balanced story, for the benefit of their readers. It has become a tool of shrill advocacy and not for reportage. “Even the nature of coverage becomes complicated; social scientists have shown that repetition of a false statement, even in the course of disputing it, often increases the number of people who believe it.” (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols). “For Trump (and CBF et al.) shamelessness is not just strength, it’s a strategy”. (From the Editor, Time Magazine, 4-3-17). The modern media with so many options tailored to particular views is a huge exercise in confirmation bias. (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols). If the media consistently refuses to print the truth about oysters and oyster issues, it must have an agenda. What is it?

Many people and the media have been blind to a sea change in the attitudes of watermen towards science and expertise. Marine biologists have been slow to recognize a need to fill in the blanks of science with the empirical knowledge gathered by generations of watermen. In the past, it was the watermen who loudly voiced an outright rejection of science. Watermen seemed to claim that they knew everything there was to know about whatever resource they were actively harvesting. They thought that if a scientist tried to make a living from what he/she knew about a resource they would starve.

Empirical knowledge is powerful stuff, especially when one depends on it to make a living. But it is not the whole picture. On the other hand, scientists usually reject anecdotal information until oddly enough they quote it. HB 924 is an excellent example of this sea change. The bill’s purpose was to permanently set sanctuary boundaries. Its proponents used hysteria, experts quoting opinions about facts, partial facts, innuendoes, and falsehoods to push this bill. Most of our politicians, who we used to think of as guardians of truth, should have been protecting the truth. Instead, they caved into less than truth and non- truth. Now it is watermen who want to know where the science is.

The Baltimore Sun and Bay Journal keep referring to the OAC as predominantly made up of industry and industry-favoring members. “In fact, the commission is composed of 24 members. Eight members are either scientists or members of specific environmental organizations (CBF among them). Eight members are from the oyster industry. There are five legislators, two Maryland senators, two House members and one county commissioner. The remaining three are private citizens which include the two co-chairs”. (Letter to Sen. Miller from the OAC). Yet Mr. Wheeler (now a managing editor on the Bay Journal) insists on describing the commission as having,” half of its members as representing or sympathetic to the oyster industry”. Why does Mr. Wheeler persist in this mischaracterization of the OAC? He never once criticized the first OAC when it obviously favored the science and environmental side. The original OAC membership was heavily weighted towards the environmental and ecological side. The chair was the past president of WWF, then there was CCA and MSSA each had a seat, 1 from CBF, 1 from NOAA, 1 from ORP, 1 from Nature Conservancy, 4 seats from the U. of M, 2 scientists, 1 senator, 2 delegates, 1 real estate developer (!), 1 technocrat, I MWA representative and one sea food buyer (for a total of only 2 industry members). There is no comparison. The current incarnation of the OAC is far more balanced, and representative and any recommendations coming from it are more inclusive. It is clear that Mr. Wheeler has an agenda that is just an exercise in confirmation bias. What is his agenda? CBF and The Baltimore Sun both loudly “blamed” the DNR for having “created” the strawman proposal. In truth, the department serves only to facilitate meetings and conferences for the OAC. It has no seat at the table or sway in the discussions.

Apparently, CBF, U of M, CCA, RiverKeepers and school teachers did not like the legislature’s amendment of placing of the 2016 stock assessment bill’s (SB 937) process in the hands of the DNR. They wanted it controlled by the U. of M. and CBF. SB937 did not want to include any sanctuary oysters in the stock assessment. The bill was aimed at one specific user group, the industry, with no regard for facts. U. of M. and C.B.F. along with something called the Oyster Advocacy Group returned in 2017 with a vengeance to re-tweak that bill, which became HB 924. By sheer force of largely ignorant hysterics, they forced the more than compliant legislature to agree to circumvent the OAC and make the sanctuary boundaries for all 51 sanctuaries permanent. This despite a task assigned to the OAC by the legislature to review sanctuaries after five years. The department is now at that mark.

Not once did the CBF or its followers use any facts or science to prove the point that all sanctuaries were in danger, which was shamelessly insinuated. Despite numerous requests from only a handful of senators and delegates during the senatorial hearings, the CBF, U of M and the other groups did not produce one iota of hard fact to prove their case. “The collapse of the relationship between experts and citizens is a dysfunction of democracy itself” (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols). Nor did the remaining senators request the proof. They just knuckled under to the wide spread Trump induced panic of losing federal bay clean up funds. Instead of respecting the procedure the CBF and its surrogate, The Oyster Advocacy Group, did an end run on the Oyster Advisory Commission, which was discussing the sanctuaries as tasked by the legislature.

The OAC is a state-mandated commission appointed to find solutions to the oyster issues of Maryland. Watching our country’s and now our state legislature’s slavish adherence to partisan divisiveness has been a major disappointment for me. House Bill 924 did expose one thing. It proved to the Maryland watermen that the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate have only been paying lip service to the idea that Maryland’s sea food industry is important. Dialogue between experts and laypeople is essential to a functioning democracy. The politicians believe that their own and the bill’s supporters biased opinions are as relevant if not more important than informed views. “Studies show that those with the least knowledge are the most confident in their opinions”. (The Death of Expertise ,T. Nichols)

I was told many years ago when I was a believer in our system of legislative representation, that if you are explaining something to a legislator, you are losing.” Sentiment against experts is what influenced the Brexit vote and the election of our current president”. (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols). If our elected legislators, in chambers composed of Democrat majorities, would realize that they are as guilty of the political power shenanigans our president is they might have walked away from the bill or at least allowed for the strawman proposal to proceed for discussion in the OAC, where it might have survived, been modified ( toned down), or even ended. But the process was obstructed and abruptly ended.

The OAC proposed portions of sanctuary areas in the Upper Chester River and the Upper Patuxent. Both had few oysters but had the oyster bottom that was going fallow. A majority of industry members initially wanted to open up portions of the big three sanctuaries, where tens of millions have been spent. There were many emotional discussions in the OAC about the infeasibility of such an action. Ultimately watermen realized that when the federal government steps into Maryland waters and spends its budget on restoration, the federal government controls that river. The state of Maryland loses control over it. County oyster committees were asked to submit ideas about other sanctuaries. Few responded. Some committees came up with unrealistic ideas while others respected the process and sent in workable ideas that in part became the basis for the OAC plan. Not just the industry but each group represented by members in the OAC was asked to present proposals based on constituent input. Ecologists, environmentalists, restorationists, replenishment advocates all presented proposals.

Having gone through difficult and sometimes very contentious small group meetings and full membership commission meetings the OAC arrived at a compromise that would in effect add millions upon millions of oysters to just a few tributaries that have barely functioning ignored sanctuaries and have none of the big dollar investments. If the CBF had truthfully represented the proposal, the politicians would have seen that it was to improve only six of the 46 remaining sanctuaries. This would have been accomplished by taking certain low-yield areas and creating what would be hybrid harvest reserves. The change would involve planting oysters in perpetuity in exchange for the ability to sequentially open and close 4 zones for harvest. This harvesting would be supervised and done in a severely limited fashion. The watermen would plant after each harvesting, and pay for these oysters with their own funds. What can possibly be wrong with adding millions upon millions of oysters each year to the Bay and tributaries at no expense to the state? CBF alarmist Prost, and Chester Riverkeeper Hardesty refused to recognize the benefits or acknowledge that not one of the Big Three (of the planned 5) sanctuaries would have seen any such redrawing of boundaries. They would proceed unaffected by the OAC proposals. Nor would they benefit from the perpetual planting by the industry that had been proposed. Those areas were never on the table for change. The bill’s supporters refused to acknowledge the benefits of this plan to the ignored sanctuaries. It could have been used to benefit many of the 46 remaining sanctuaries that do not get any planting, bar cleaning or active management.

House Bill 924 was a reaction to this misunderstood and mischaracterized proposal. Its sponsors had members who were party to the decision to create a strawman proposal that would benefit all user groups. Then the panic mongers stepped in. The Baltimore Sun’s reporters raised the temperature with outrageous and misleading headlines about DNR approval of the destruction of sanctuaries by opening hundreds of thousands of sanctuary acres for harvesting. The panic mongers went ballistic over the proposal to redraw two sanctuary boundaries. CBF cried foul in the Bay Journal and the Baltimore Sun which printed articles and opinion editorials that went even further to mislead the public. CBF actually posted a misleading alert to all of its members and the public about the loss of habitat, and sanctuary oyster bars represented by the random harvesting of sanctuary oysters. Just as false was the claim that some of the most productive sanctuaries were at risk from this proposal. CBF and its progeny The Oyster Advocacy Group then sent the very same hysterical outburst to the governor. “Experts contribute to the problem when they comment publicly on issues outside of their areas of expertise”. (The Death of Expertise, T. Nichols)

We the public have been sold a pig in poke by the CBF and have been ill served by a majority of our elected legislators. This embrace of self-righteous ignorance bodes ill for all of our futures. Below is a list of questions that were asked at the Senate hearing but were never answered. Some were not even allowed to be heard. These questions are on the record as having been ignored.

Maybe you the readers can ask CBF, the Baltimore Sun, The Bay Journal and the Oyster Advocacy Group why they chose rhetoric, hysteria and, false facts, to stop a project that would have benefitted all user groups?

1. Where is the evidence that would prove the sanctuary boundaries were scientifically drawn? What were the parameters used in deciding the boundaries? Why should they be considered sacrosanct?

2. How much money have River Keepers, the CBF, the U. of M. spent on actively managing the 46 other sanctuaries in Maryland?

3. Why did CBF do an end run on its own co-members who sit on the OAC by going to the state legislature to stop the OAC’s strawman proposal?

4. Where is the hard science to prove that Harris Creek Sanctuary is such an unqualified success? Why was this even brought up at the hearing? Harris Creek was never included in the OAC proposal.

5. Why did the chair of the Senate Environmental Committee keep stating that she was waiting for the stock assessment survey to come in before any further discussion on hybrid harvest reserves/sanctuaries would be heard? What special knowledge is she expecting that would prove the OAC process (mandated by the legislature) should be halted?

6. Why was the just completed DNR annual fall oyster survey pointedly ignored by the Senate committee?

7. Why do all of the environmental and ecological groups feel that proposing, even more, studies instead of acting on the mountains of information already available is a good strategy?

8. Why do politicians feel that voting for more surveys and studies is good public policy? Perhaps it is that there is no political risk in constantly proposing more studies. The chair of the Senate committee hearing the bill plainly ignored the volumes of already available information in order to do the more politically expedient solution of waiting for the results of one more study. Why?

Marc Castelli is an artist who lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Christine Lagarde at WC Commencement: What Comes Next?

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Editor’s Note: Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director was Washington College’s Commencement speaker on Saturday for its 234th graduation ceremony. Here is her remarks in their entirety.

Thank you, President Bair, for your very kind introduction.

Your leadership of this school – especially your commitment to alleviate the burden of student debt – is a model for higher education. You are a trailblazer in your own right, and your passion for Washington College is inspiring.

President Bair, Board of Visitors & Governors, faculty, and administration, thank you for this honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. I am proud to be your most recent alumna!
Graduates – it is a privilege to be here with you, the class of 2017!

To your families, your friends, your professors – congratulations. No student can get here on his or her own. This is your moment to celebrate as well.
I would like to begin by posing a question.

Has anyone here seen or listened to the Broadway show Hamilton?

As a former Finance Minister, the idea of a musical focused on the life of a Treasury Secretary is appealing to me. I hope this is the start of a global trend!
In the musical, a question is asked that seems particularly appropriate to raise at graduation. In one scene, King George quizzes General Washington right after the end of the Revolutionary War – and sings these lines…

Don’t worry! I will not sing them! But I may ask WACapella for some help.

So, the King sings:

‘What comes next? / You’ve been freed / Do you know how hard it is to lead ?’ [1]

It is an intriguing question – What comes next?

I imagine that from the time you were young, just like my two sons, you were asked some version of ‘What comes next?’

When you are in middle school, people ask if you are excited to start high school.

In high school, people – and by people, I mean your parents’ friends – ask what college you will attend and what your major will be?

In college, other people – usually your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents – ask what job you will have when you graduate – or, perhaps, if you will go on to grad school?
If so, what school? Law, medicine, business? Trust me, the questions do not go away.

1. Saying ‘I Don’t Know’

We are all asked the difficult question of ‘What comes next’ at various stages in our lives.

What I would like to suggest to you today – and I will share a little of my own story to illustrate the point – is that it is ok, in fact it is often wise, to say ‘I don’t know’ when someone asks you, ‘What comes next?’

Saying ‘I don’t know’ is one of the hardest things to do in life. At the IMF, my team never wants to tell me they do not know – although I can tell if they are guessing!
We have all been trained from a young age to have an answer at the ready. But the reality is that the answer is not what matters most – it is knowing how to find the answer that is key.
Your education – this wonderful, complex, classical, liberal arts training – has given you the foundation you need to begin to solve the puzzle of ‘What comes next?’
In what ways?

The first is your skills – your academic experience has taught you how to think critically. It has opened your eyes to fields of study you might never have otherwise explored and to diverse voices whose opinions will help shape your world view.

The second is your values – your time at Washington College, and the legacy of Washington himself, have instilled in you the importance of public service, of serving others before serving yourself.

Finding the way to apply your skills, and keep them in line with your values, is the question in front of you. And if you can answer that question, you will have also begun to answer the question of ‘What comes next?’

2. Your Skills – Learning How to Think

First, your skills. You have surely heard the critique of a liberal arts background; that the training does not prepare you for the ‘real’ world, where a student educated in engineering and coding is far more desirable than one who can recite Aeschylus from memory.

As the child of a classics teacher, I take some personal offense. As a lawyer, who now leads the International Monetary Fund, I can tell you this criticism misreads the evolution of the economic landscape.

The future, your future, is one where technology, automation, and artificial intelligence may eventually supplant humans in a variety of tasks – from retinal scan payment systems to machine-made hearts and lungs to, one day, perhaps, even robot lawyers. Of course, some say lawyers are robots already – but that is a different conversation!

Two-thirds of today’s children will have jobs which have not been invented yet. [2]Studying Aeschylus, not to mention a little Sappho, Brontë, and Dylan – while cultivating an interest in design – is what allowed Steve Jobs to see the Walkman and dream of the iPod. This renaissance education is your comparative advantage in the years ahead.

Many of the founders of this country, who were lawyers, businessmen, and farmers by training, could also recite orations from Pericles by heart. Those polymath skills not only gave their revolution historical context, it informed the society they hoped to build.

Your school embodies their vision and has instilled in you a love of knowledge. Success for your generation requires a commitment to life-long learning and an understanding that today is a milestone in your education, but it is not the end.

The truth is that college has taught you how to learn, not what to learn. Many of the most valuable lessons have come from outside the classroom. You have done more during your four years than study music, history, theater, literature, and science.

And no, I am not just talking about the ‘War on the Shore.’

I am talking about developing empathy and perspective. These are the in-demand tools of the future. And Washington College has trained you well.

In your four years, you have shared late nights at the Miller Library and long weekends by the Chester River. In those moments, I hope you have had your ideas questioned by your peers and gained insight from their life experience.

There is an old proverb: ‘ Only a fool wants to hear the echo of his own voice.’

Remember that maxim as you go forward into your first job or on to graduate school. If everyone in a room agrees with you, you might be doing something wrong. Seek out those who disagree with you, learn from them, and try to understand their world view.

When I was 17 years old, I left France, my home, as part of a scholarship program designed to bring people from different backgrounds together. I attended Holton-Arms School in Maryland. To be completely candid, it was a bit of a culture shock for me. But I learned more about France in my first year in America than I had learned in sixteen years of studying French history and literature.

I had to step away to gain perspective. I interned on the Hill, answering phones, opening mail, and translating correspondence for constituents who spoke French. Every now and then I felt a bit like Tocqueville – an intrigued French observer of American democracy.

I realized that, to help someone solve a problem, you must understand how she sees a problem. I took that lesson with me – from my practice as a lawyer to serving in the French government.
It is a perspective that I brought with me to the IMF, where our 189 member nations are united by the idea that through cooperation we can maintain economic stability and prosperity for the world.

Needless to say, my career didn’t prepare me for every aspect of this position. Nearly every day on the job, there is something new. A new crisis, a new acronym, a new ‘on the one-hand, on the other other-hand…’

I almost feel as if I am back in law school – I read all the time, ask questions, challenge assumptions – and learn.

As Abigail Adams once said, ‘ Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence .’ Learning does not stop at commencement, it begins anew, and requires a ceaseless curiosity about the world.

This is the gift of your college education, and this is the training which will pay dividends throughout your life.

3. Your Values – Public Service

And yet, the training by itself is not enough. How will you use your training?

This brings me to my second point: values, and specifically the value of public service.

Public service comes in all shapes and sizes. It encompasses far more than working in government. It might mean volunteering, community activism, or joining a parent-teacher association.
Public service is about applying your values no matter what job you have. For me, one of those values has been gender equality. It is something that I have fought for my entire life.
Okay, another question. How many of you have gone on a job interview recently? That’s good – I hope it went well! I am sure your parents hope so too.

So, I will tell you my own first job interview story.

When I was coming out of law school I interviewed at a law firm in France. The conversation went well but towards the end one of the interviewers told me I could never become a partner at the firm. ‘Why?’ I asked him. ‘Because you are a woman,’ he replied. Well, I walked out of there and never looked back.

And then, what did I do? Believe it or not, I asked myself, ‘What comes next?’

I took a deep breath. I thought about my training as a lawyer and about my values. I was determined not to let this experience hold me back. But I was also under no illusion about how difficult the journey would be.

Eventually, I found a law firm that promoted diversity and creativity. I joined Baker McKenzie in 1981. Later in my career, I changed my working hours so I could have Wednesday afternoons off to spend more time with my son.

At first, it did not go over well with some of the partners. But the partners adapted. I became a partner myself. The culture shifted. In 1999, I had the honor of becoming the first female chairman of the firm.

But what was true in 1981 is unfortunately still true today. In many countries, women are either prevented from entering the workforce through legal restrictions, or they are discouraged from working by expensive childcare and inadequate maternity leave. I asked myself, what role could the IMF play in helping solve the problem?

At the Fund, we see ourselves as firefighters – providing financial assistance in times of need so nations can help their citizens. We also see ourselves as doctors – checking up on countries and guiding them to improve their economic health.

Thinking outside the box, our talented economists began showing member nations that women’s economic empowerment could reduce income inequality and help all businesses succeed.

Progress is slow, but we are making a difference. So far, we have done gender-related work in 22 countries. In our new program with Egypt, for example, we are exploring ways the government can increase funding for public nurseries and improve commuter safety. The goal is to provide women more opportunities to find employment.

I am proud that gender equality is now a mainstream part of IMF analysis and I am grateful for the intelligent, dedicated women and men with whom I have the honor to work every day.
President Bair, I know you share my commitment to gender equality, and it is a part of your life’s work. I was so pleased to learn that Washington College is planning a major celebration to mark the centennial of the passage of the 19 Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in this country.

4. Applying Your Values

This is what I mean when I say you must take your values with you. Whether your career is in the private sector or in government, public service is a calling, not a job description.
By choosing Washington College, each of you has stood up and said that public service is important in your life. The values of this institution come directly from Washington himself; his example serves as the inspiration for your honor code. You have made a promise to help others and now you must follow through.

Think about what matters most to you – is it climate change? Homelessness? Improving education? Whatever it is, fight for it.

· If you are entering investment banking, find out how your company’s philanthropy is being managed.
· If you are trained as a nurse, find out how your hospital assists people in the community without health insurance.
· If you aspire to be a journalist (god bless!), use the power of the pen to investigate how your city is rebuilding its public transportation system.

Do not be surprised when you meet resistance. If you pursue public service with zeal, you will inevitably run into skeptics throughout your professional life.

But, as Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, once said, ‘ I have an almost complete disregard for precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better .’

The lawyer in me hesitates at Ms. Barton’s disregard for precedent, but the rest of me appreciates her point!

Do not be limited by what has or has not been done before. Become creative champions for your values in ways large and small throughout your career!

Constantly look for opportunities to make progress in every position you hold.
Allow me to give you one minor example, from this speech, actually.

This morning I have referenced the Greek poet Sappho, Charlotte Brontë, Abigail Adams, and Clara Barton.

Having informally surveyed other commencement addresses, I realized that far too many quotes come from famous men, and not nearly enough come from famous women. So, we are beginning to shift the balance today!

You see, you never know when you will find an opportunity to promote the values you believe in.

Conclusion – What Comes Next?

Let me conclude by returning to the music of Hamilton.

Immediately after King George asks ‘What comes next?’ he presses the point by saying:

‘You’re on your own / Awesome / Wow / Do you have a clue what happens now ?’ [3]

Well, Washington and his countrymen were not on their own. And they had an idea about what would happen next. The same is true for you, the students of Washington College.

Remember that you do not have to answer the question of ‘What comes next?’ right away.

Take a breath. Be confident that you have the foundation to find the answer.

Trust that your training and your values – along with the support of your family and friends – will guide you, and serve as a lighthouse in the journey of your life.
That has been true for me, and I trust it will hold true for you.

Economic Development Overseas, Why Not at Home?

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Introduction: I spent some 16 years leading teams or advising foreign governments (mostly during wars) on economic, political. and social (education and health) development.  Eventually, I learned as did my colleagues, that the effort and money the US (and other nations) invested as “development assistance,” was more selfishly than charitably motivated. It advanced the political, security or economic interests of the United States.  However, that’s a subject for another day.

Here, I would like to describe the international development profession and mention some of its processes, principles, cautions and lessons-learned.  Our primary objectives were/are to relieve poverty and help raise the capacity of local populations and their governments to the point where they themselves can sustain and build on progress made.

For years, I’ve wondered why the United States doesn’t do what other countries do; namely, draw from the experiences and knowledge of international development and apply them to America’s own pockets of poverty and underperforming economies.  However, I was recently reminded of a major reason why they don’t: American politics.

The Trump Administration released, in late April, an outline of its 2018 budget priorities.  Among them were a number of proposed budget cuts: 40% to foreign aid, 36% to the State Department and the Agency for International Development (AID) and many others. Reading/listening to comments about the cuts, I recalled the much earlier dogged efforts of Senator Jesse Helms (who died in 2008) to kill AID and US international development work.

Helms pursued a multi-year campaign to shrink government and banish international development by eliminating three agencies: the Information Agency (USIA), the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) and AID.  He succeeded in closing USIA and ACDA and reduced AID from a highly regarded, very effective agency of 16,000 (1978) to a contract manager of 1,400 (2017). His last attempt to close AID occurred in 2000, during President-elect G. W. Bush’s transition.

Essentially, those sharing Senator Helms’ opinion of small government and foreign assistance, believe this latter responsibility lies first with the people and governments of these countries. They should seize the initiative, they maintain, and pull themselves out of their third- and fourth-world status.  Strongly influencing these views is a widespread, but false, notion of how much the US spends annually on foreign assistance.  Many were/are convinced it’s a large percentage of the US GDP.  It isn’t and never was.

National foreign assistance is measured by the percentage of GDP, not the absolute amount a country spends. Thus, the US’s $33 Billion ranks #1 of all participating governments.  However, its 0.7% of GDP is exceeded by other countries: Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg (1%) and by the UAE (1.17%). Put another way, each American citizen paid $80.37 per year (2015) on foreign assistance. By contrast, each spent $101.76 and $126.02 respectively on candy and soft drinks.

Throughout the following paragraphs, I’ll provide examples, war stories, of lessons I learned.

Key Elements of Successful Economic Development:

US and Business Development: Many American states, cities, counties and towns do have economic development departments or officers.  However, they seldom look to the 72 year record of international planning and program implementation for insights, guidance, mistakes made or even inspiration. Rather they are largely concerned with attracting new companies to open or invest in their jurisdictions in order to lower unemployment and expand opportunities. Business development is an important element of improving local economies, but there are others.

International Development and the Community Profile: International economic developers know each host country or region is idiosyncratic.  Thus, each requires a plan tailored to it as well as possible linkages between different internal aspects of a troubled economy, e.g. between local education/training and modern work requirements or public health and employability. This background is essential to maximize potential economic improvement because there are always reasons why a local/national economy is falling behind or failing.  In my particular work, a constant reason was years of war.

Therefore, those engaged internationally know they must first understand in some detail the society, the economy, the constraints and the advantages of each place where they will work. Without this, they will be unable to sit down with community representatives and together prepare a draft local development plan. If the outside development team is not well informed, local community reps will not become involved to the degree necessary.

Once agreed on, the plan will inevitably need to be adjusted as the implementation moves forward.

Determining the general nature of a community is a very important first research topic: is it rural, a rust-belt city or town, or one whose population is internally divided because of religious, ethnic or other issues? What is the economic history of the community? Steady growth or gradual decline as traditional employment faded? What are the demographics of the population, i.e. age, work status, single heads of household, education level, literacy rate, income distribution, health/disabilities, addictions, density of residents per square mile etc.?

How many are receiving assistance from some level of government and for what? What is the relationship between the residents and their local government and vice versa?  Is it responsive? What public services are provided and what do the recipients think of them? What about societal attitudes towards education and work?

War Story: I discovered in Afghanistan that a principal endemic reason for the lack of economic advancement, beyond 40 years of war, tribalism, death and destruction, was Afghans’ cultural  attitude towards their bosses in any context.  An Afghan employee will do nothing without the express approval of the most senior manager, farm or business owner – and this crushes most initiative.

I was advising the head of the Afghan Civil Service, who had gotten permission from the country’s president to organize a large international conference and I was helping his managers and their staffs pull it together.

Ten days before the event, I asked if the conference program had been finished. No, they said because the director general had not authorized them to purchase the special paper needed. I convinced them he would be angry if there was no program. They went to the factory and picked up the paper. When the boss learned what they had done, he threatened to fire them if they did anything more without his approval.

War Story: In Kosovo I learned a totally unexpected lesson because I didn’t think it was necessary to research attitudes of international organizations and Western European and American businesses.  I was wrong.

The project I was managing was the introduction of a fairly sophisticated website in Pristina (the capital city) on which all the Kosovar businesses could post their products, their track record, pricing and delivery options.  The purpose of this web site was to allow the large number of US and foreign military forces, international organizations and large non-governmental organizations present in Kosovo to satisfy their needs for bread, milk, soft drinks, potatoes, vegetables, beer, paper products etc. from local suppliers. The monthly purchases amounted to millions of dollars.

Our expectation was that as these large international purchases were made, the local Kosovar economy would expand, employ more people, prosper and fewer young men would join local ethnic militia groups.

Not one US or international organization purchased one potato or one case of beer through the website. The reason: their procurement offices didn’t want to change their normal practice of filling their needs from Western sources in Europe or North America. Thus, while they could have saved their organizations tens of thousands of dollars every month and simultaneously developed the local economy, they chose not to. After four months, we closed our super website, and lost our $750,000 investment. 

Program Implementation 

War Story: In Iraq, I learned two crucial lessons about program implementation. Don’t provide equipment small or large to any organization or person without ensuring that they know how to operate, maintain and repair it, and where to get parts. The second is to be careful to avoid creating a dependency.

After a year of receiving generators from the US military, Iraqi villages would ask the local US Army unit (usually recently arrived) for a new one when the other broke down. This practice continued for years. Ditto with the local farmers: the Iraqi Government had established a process to obtain seeds and fertilizer, but it was easier and faster to get it from the Americans, so the long-term solution was ignored.

Building self-sufficiency must be the primary goal of all economic development. 

Buy-in from Local Community: Armed with this detailed profile, it is possible to work productively with local citizens to custom fit a development program to the tolerances and capacities of their community and to begin implementing it.  However, before initiating any activity, It is essential that key leaders are invested in the plan and are part of its execution. Otherwise, it won’t succeed.

The larger lesson was that changing established routines and minds, even of modern, Western people, is not easy. Trying to do the same with Afghans or Iraqis, whose attitudes and ways of doing things have evolved somewhat over 3000 years, is even harder. The same would be true in different parts of the United States.

Setting Standards for Program Achievement

War Story: In Bosnia, Croatia and Afghanistan I learned one very important truth about program design: start at the level where the community is, not where you want it to be.

Had we done that, rural small businesses, local village government offices that for the most part stacked papers on floors and surfaces where the stacker, but no one else, knew exactly was there. However, we created massive confusion and vacant stares when we distributed hundreds of laptops and told them how to create computer files.

The other inhibitor, not considered, was that very few had dependable energy supplies. After we left, they returned to the pile system and sold some of the computers. Had we started with file cabinets and folders and trained on organizing by subjects and waited six months, they would have felt more comfortable moving to computers after they got a generator.

Conclusion: These are just a few of the insights and best-practices, or at least better practices, I gained through working in six different countries over a number of years.  While my war stories would have different backgrounds in the United States, I believe some of the situations and solutions would be familiar and applicable to different American communities.