Pistis, Tinkering for Civic Engagement

Royal Portal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres

The Royal Portal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. Some say these images are direct references to scenes described in the ancient Coptic Gnostic text, The Pistis Sophia.

From a TechCrunch article, “Brigade Media Raises $9.3M From Sean Parker To Shake Up American Democracy:”

The company thinks that American democracy is adrift.

The main bent at play is a view that this country’s democracy is not “scaling” the way that it might — essentially that as our society has changed, our governing structures have failed to keep pace. This has led to a disconnect between average citizens and their elected leaders.

The description in this article also describes what we are working on at Pistis Database Services. Recent projects include Get Out The Vote (GOTV) efforts in New Rochelle, NY and Los Angeles, CA.

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StartUpTown Weekend – Columbia

StartUpTown Weekend - Columbia

October 2014

Langston Hughes

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
“Let American Be American Again”
By Langston Hughes
There are a number of organizations that teach coding and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Science) skills to women and to people of color, but this in simply not enough. Speaking as someone who scored in 99th percentile on math portion of the SAT and graduated from an Ivy League university with a Computer Science degree, I have first-hand knowledge of the limitation of the teaching of skills and excelling academically. Langston Hughes was an engineering major at Columbia University with a B+ average, but dropped out partial due to racial prejudice.
About 10 years ago, I developed a local entertainment television show called Live From VA that interviewed such guests as: Academy Award winner Mo’NiqueRussell Simmons & Rev RunKanye WestPharell Willams & Chad Hugo (the Neptunes), and Katt Williams. The underlying idea for the television show was to develop a tech company based on the strengths African-Americans, for example music. Considering the recent $3 billion sale of Beats By Dr. Dre to Apple, maybe there is something to this basic philosophy. This philosophy continues in a new venture called Pistis Database Services.
Kanye West Live From VA

Kanye West before the release of his first album on Live From VA with Christine and Chanel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXhdM7SH7U4

In 1987, when I was a senior at Penn, I developed an interactive textbook on a PC as my senior project. Over 25 years later and this is still a viable idea but I never did anything with the idea after I graduated. I never had the support to develop it any further.

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Who is Your God? Take the Test

America's Four Gods

[D]espite living in the most modernized and technologically advanced country, Americans report one of the world’s highest levels of belief in God. Americans’ faith in God appears constant even as we have come to embrace twenty-first-century technology and the benefits of modern science….

While Americans tend to be religiously devout, we paradoxically tend to know very little about religion, our own or others’. Religion scholar Stephen Prothero has shown that America is composed of “Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels, Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments, and Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses.” Religious illiteracy increases the odds of misunderstanding and conflict….

[T]he simple fact that nearly 95 percent of Americans say they believe in God undermines any notion that we are engaged in a holy war over the existence of God.

We might, however, be in a war over who God is….

The extent to which we believe God interacts with us and offers us blessings has a profound effect on what we think is right and wrong and what we feel we should do doing with our lives….

Knowing a person’s image of God, therefore, provides us with an opportunity to understand the most intimate moral and introspective conversations they have. Simply put, our picture of God is worth a thousand queries into the substance of our moral and philosophical beliefs…

In asking dozens of questions about God, we have uncovered two that pinpoint the most crucial theological disagreements in America. They are:

  1. To what extent does God interact with the world?
  2. To what extent does God judge the world?

If we know the answers to these broad questions, then we have tremendous insight into your entire worldview. In fact, our responses to these two questions predict the substance of our worldview much better the color of our skin, the size of our bank account, the political party we belong to, or whether we wear a white Stetson or faded Birkenstocks….

Our image of God is never simply a reflection of the beliefs of our religious community. The traditional method of classifying people as Catholics or Baptists or Jews tells us little of consequence about what they believe.

~ American’s Four Gods
By Paul Froese
& Christopher Bader

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A Lack of Resources is Never an Excuse

Malcolm Gladwell

There is a set of advantages that have to do with material resources, and there is a set that have to do with the absence of material resources — and the reason underdogs win as often as they do is that the latter is sometimes every bit the equal of the former.

For some reason, this is very difficult lesson for us to learn. We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.

~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell

David vs Goliath
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Building New Worlds

StarttUpTown Weekend - Stanford

February 2015

Building webs of connections outside that actually become so powerful that it actually starts to change people at the core.

How do you actually start to build new worlds with the network tools that we actually have, which is the deepest kind of tinkering?

The real game that we have today in this network age is new notions of networks and imagination.

How do we amplify our ability through emergence collective action?

But the key part of play is a space of safety and permission. What kinds of permission do we give our students today?

What kinds of permission are required for the tools that we are talking about to really have their power?

And what types of institutional innovations do we need to think about that grant those types of permission in order to be playful in this deep epistemological sense?

So I think that we are finding fundamentally new ways to bring about change is really now looking much more closely on how you build webs of connections outside that actually become so powerful that it actually starts to change people at the core.

Not through terror, not through push, but through seduction and pull.

StartUpTown Weekend

StarttUpTown Weekend - Stanford

February 2015

Langston Hughes

We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!
“Let American Be American Again”
By Langston Hughes
In 1987, when I was a senior at Penn, I developed an interactive textbook on a PC as my senior project. Over 25 years later and this is still a viable idea but I never did anything with the idea after I graduated. I never had the support to develop it any further.

Continue reading

Entrepreneurship as a Cure for Violence

Success Indicator
I-CAMP is a program to teach young people entrepreneurial skills such as computer programming. I-CAMP stands for Intrinsic, Community, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose, which are fundamental elements for building wealth and health. According to Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow:

If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste – a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits — much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.

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