Monthly Archives: May 2010

First Post – Career Choice

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Hi, I’d like to thank Bandana for the intro, my name is Sachin and this is my first post, truth be told I was struggling on deciding what topic to discuss and as I was contemplating, it dawned on me that I would touch on something I’ve been talking to friends/acquaintances as of late being career choice.

I think it’s a very relevant and important topic that is often touched on but not explored, specifically as to the driving factors that effect one’s decision in determining what career path they will pursue.  Most of my friends are in their mid-late 20’s, some have recently changed jobs into a completely new field and others are considering going to back to school to gain more credentials and skills.

Based on my experiences and I think everybody would agree in general, money is more often than not a big consideration when choosing either a specific job or considering what career to endeavour into; the stereotypes that doctors, lawyers and in general professionals, do very well holds true and since most people work to earn a living, it would seem logical to choose a profession that pays well.  I think as a pretense, when planing what field you want to enter, money is a consideration and in fact in my opinion it’s a valid consideration, after all if you plan to raise a family and lead a certain lifestyle, your payscale can be a limiting factor.  On the flip side, I know we’ve all met people who have entered a job on a temporary basis, been very successful such as in a sales environment and because they are doing very well financially, do not consider going back to school or building on a skill set that they may be more interested in.

This brings me to an obvious second consideration which should be like/dislikes and interests.  I’m sure we all remember being asked in elementary school what our favorite subject is?  Of course the guys say phys ed and the girls say art (I’m joking, don’t want to get myself in trouble here), but on a serious note your initial interests may be in sports or something adventurous like being an astronaut or a fireman.  However, to use an extreme example to make the point, if you can’t hit an 85 mph curve ball, your probably not going to play professional baseball.

Of course that was an extreme example, in a lot of cases you can build on a skill set such as acting if your interest lies in being a professional actor.  But it does bring up what I consider a third factor that most should consider which is aptitude, this quote from Bill Clinton that I came across I think describes it best:

Sometime in my sixteenth year I decided I wanted to be in public life as an elected official. I loved music and thought I could be very good, but I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz. I was interested in medicine and thought I could be a fine doctor, but I knew I would never be Michael DeBakey. But I knew I could be great in public service.[14]

So, I think it begs the question, which approach be it your interests, aptitude or financial security drive your decisions? and also from a practical standpoint is it more prudent to take a job in a field that is a compromise of all three?  I’d like to hear your feedback, that in fact was a much longer post then I had intended to do on my first one, I hope it provides some food for thought.

The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?

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In my own work and art I have been very interested in trying to bring value to things that have been helping us along in life but never really get the recognition they deserve.

Our communities have had to endure environmental degradation and exploitation for commercial purposes. Let’s not be too smug – we need businesses to employ our communities and provide us with goods and services. But over the past little while we have finally collectively recognized that the ways in which we do business currently are not sustainable.

Lake Louise, Alberta Canada ~ We undervalue our natural resources and the commercial market is not the only place where these resources derive value.

THE NATURAL CAPITAL PROJECT is moving forward with research to develop tools that will allow business leaders to make more informed decisions about the environmental resources they use and how they use them.

“Ecosystem Services” is a phrase you are going to start hearing a lot more often.  It’s a concept that proposes that nature is doing a lot of work that is simply not being recognized; if we can provide a way for the work nature does  (that we rely on) to be recognized,  we can consider the implications of our actions.  It’s an interesting idea which is much along the same lines of SROI (Social Return on Investment) – where the value being created by non-profits and other social ventures is not wholly represented by a monetary return. For the true value of the work to be undrestood the monetary and non-monetary values (i.e. social good or ecosystem service) needs to be recognized together in a holistic manner.  For a more “official” definition of Ecosystem Services click here.

From my understanding the good people at The National Capital Project have been creating “demonstration projects” at sites where changes to the environment can have drastic consequences.  These sites are where models are being created for leaders from other organizations to SEE  how the models and tools work and more importantly how to integrate these new ideas into their own decision making processes (all links are from The Natural Capital Project):

This is a joint project between Stanford University, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy.

I’m pretty interested in this concept as it does relate to my own readings in SROI.  I’m going to try to do an interview with Manu Sharma  – an engineer who is currently working on the project who is based at Stanford. (He also happens to be one of my dearest friends ever in life – when I learned about his work I was pretty awe-struck).

Until my interview with Manu – If you have 60 seconds (which I know you do)  take a listen to this podcast from Scientific American about ecosystem services (I found the link to this via The Natural Capital Project website)

PS: Keep up the good work in your life!  I know sometimes it may seem like you’re not making a recognizable contribution – so tell us what you are up to! We can’t recognize you and your awesomeness if we don’t know what you’re about! Monetary value is only one point on the value spectrum – you are awesome – your work is bringing value into the world – share your passion!  Take comfort in the stories of others and know that you are not alone.  Work hard and fight the good fight my friends.

Can I tell you about my bee?

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This bee seems to have been trapped in my studio for the past few days – I kept leaving the windows and doors open – but he couldn’t quite seem to find his way out.

Finally yesterday when I came back in – he literally buzzed right into my face and then buzzed all around – he was scared.

After exerting all that energy he practically collapsed on the floor.  I tried to put him into a cup to take him outside – but he got really agitated and then buzzed all over me again.  So I let him be, hoping he would find the open window or door.

I came in this morning – and he was lying still near my yoga mat.  He had passed away.  I put him in the cup and took him outside.  He’s been placed in between the flowers.  I wish I could have helped him out of the studio earlier – but somethings just aren’t meant to be I suppose.

Did you say new contributors?

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Why yes – yes I did!

I’m so happy to announce that there will be several new contributors to B is for Blog!! (Hooray!)

The first to join us will be Sachin142.

Sachin142 is an engineer by profession, but a creative writer at heart.  It’s going to be awesome to have his perspective on literature, pop culture and other things we have yet to decide!

Keep an eye out for his first post! (Hopefully this week!)

The Doctor and Me part 2

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Wards Island Toronto

Last Tuesday May 11, I had a pretty awesome opportunity to have dinner with Dr. Gretchen Roedde. When I arrived at her island retreat she already had dinner ready! (Tasty Thai shrimp with roasted vegetables, fried rice, and curried cauliflower – tasty!)  At this point if you have no idea what I’m talking about you may want to refer to “The Doctor and Me part 1” which is below.

A little bit about Dr. Gretchen Roedde:

picture from my phone

Me and Dr. Gretchen Roedde on the Toronto Island Ferry

She grew up on the island, then decided to pursue an anthropology degree, had a vision that she would help people through medicine and decided just like that to go to medical school.

After completing med school at McMaster University she and her family moved to a small remote community in northern Ontario so she could help train Aboriginal health care workers. She has two lovely children a son and daughter  – both of whom she adores.  (Her son plays in a punk band too! The band is called “Crank Radio“)

Gretchen is so totally cool, and has stories that are pretty rad.  My favourite line  from our conversations  was “Those who wonder are not lost.”  She even came by my Mom’s workplace just to say hello! So my family is totally taken by her warmth!

She graciously let me read her manuscript for her upcoming book titlted “A Strange Calling”.   When I went over for dinner I decided to take my little handy-cam with me.  You will find links to her articles on the blog sidebar (on the right hand side of the page!)

We recorded a bit of our conversations that night and I wanted to share them with you – super inspiring:

*Note – you may want to listen to the video through headphones.

The Doctor and Me part 1

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If you saw the recent Vlog (previous post) – this is an extension of my first meeting with the awesome Doctor:

May 4th 2010

I just met the most incredible woman last night on the late night ferry back to the island.

She’s a doctor who has committed her life to Mother and Child health.  She’s lived the last 30 years in 25 countries, through conflict, through fear, through inaction by government and ngo’s alike (not surprising, but still so sad). She’s helped to create programming that has been implemented and bravely tells the stories of women and children,  families and communities who  so desperately need a voice in Canada and around the world.

She has been using her knowledge to physically reach out and meet the people who require her KNOWLEDGE EYE TO EYE.

More importantly she wants urgently for her knowledge to be transferred to as many people as possible.  Not in a top down, Western feminist ‘I know what’s best for the world’ kind of way – No, she wants her knowledge to help bridge the gaps between traditional and institutional medicine.

Her devotion to her work, and her understanding of the need, the responsibility for great thinkers to also be great leaders of actions was so INCREDIBLY INSPIRING.

She has graciously allowed me to read the manuscript of her upcoming publication (prior to going to print).

I’ll be having dinner with the Doctor on Tuesday evening to discuss the manuscript and life in general!  I would love to introduce you to her.  I’ll keep you posted – this is going to be something amazing.

The Fear of Learning

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One of the aspects of being an artist is being open to time where nothing structured is going on.  Artists need time and space to think (and not think),  and to explore their surroundings and to be inspired.

So I’ve taken the month of May to live on the Toronto Islands – specifically at the Artscape Gibraltor Point Artist Retreat. It’s an amazing space – it’s a 100 year old school house!  There are several long term tenants, and then spaces for short term rental.  There’s also a cat whom I’ve yet to meet.

I’ve been taking a business planning for the arts course through the CCCO (Cultural Careers Council Ontario) and yesterday we had an awesome session about marketing.  Jyotika Malhotra (Social Media Week Toronto + exshoesme.com ) and Catherine Hernandez (Sulong Theatre Collective) gave us some awesome ideas for putting ourselves ‘out there.’

So in that vain – I decided to do a vlog – you can see the space I’m working in:

It’s soooooo hard to spend good chunks of your time without visible or seemingly tangible goals everyday (going to work, cooking, running to meetings).

BUT the GLORY of unstructured time and living is you run into opportunities you wouldn’t even have been able to imagine.  My meeting this amazing doctor, and THE STORIES SHE CARRIES WITH HER would not have happened unless I was taking that ferry back to the island. (More on that story later!)

Let me know what you’ve been up to this month! And more importantly – go out and try to give yourself even just 15 minutes of nothingness time.  It’s so important.