Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Big Benetech Day: All Company and Volunteer Meetings

Yesterday was emotionally exhausting here at Benetech for many of us in the most positive way possible, with a couple of rare events.

We are working on a new strategic plan, our first in years (we've been working off of the original Benetech plan with minor updates for 8 years). We're doing the planning by starting with our team: we did an all-company survey and then yesterday we did a two hour meeting to go over the survey results and discuss them.

Our meeting facilitator, Bob Glavin (longtime advisor to Benetech, teaches at USF and helps many other nonprofits and foundations), told me and the senior managers to not talk and to simply listen. It was hard to keep my mouth buttoned up, but it was essential to hearing from the team instead of from the CEO! And we did.

We attract incredible people to Benetech, and it showed. We heard about how much our commitment to transparency was valued, among other aspects of our culture. There was much food for thought, as our management team develops our plan further for presentation and discussion with our board of directors. And, our team is quite interested in seeing what we do with their input (so am I)! I look forward to sharing the end product with the world.

Five smiling women

Later in the afternoon, we held a volunteer appreciation event for inhouse volunteers. Most Benetech volunteers work remotely, but our volunteer coordinator, Pavi Mehta, has attracted a group of great people who come into Benetech to work on Bookshare Bookshare and other projects as well.

Each of our inhouse volunteers received two rubber duckies, one to sign (and add to our expanding collection in Bookshare) and one to take home. And then our volunteers turned it around and gave us each a scroll with inspirational quotes. Mine was
All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin -- Lord Byron


The day was a powerful reminder of the force for good that a group of socially motivated people can be: I was really proud to be associated with our paid and unpaid team members!

1 comment:

Davis said...

Go Green In Education, Green Textbooks are here.

Let us put this in the minds of education.

Have any of us ever thought of bringing the technologies which we use on a day to day basis and bringing it to the class room.

Think of opening your textbook on your laptop and coming to this very significant figure in all of biology or medicine his name is “Antonie van Leeuwenhoe”. How would you find out who he is, well Read:OutLoud and Bookshare have created such a platform. A couple of days ago I was reading Darwin’s Black Box and ran across Antonie van Leeuwenhoe and after highlighting the name then clicking on the dictionary icon in the upper right hand corner, then going to Wikipedia I found out he was a Dutch tradesman and scientist from Delft, the Netherlands and the first person to ever see a cell or a living organism. He was also the first to record microscopic observations of muscle fibers, bacteria, spermatozoa and blood flow in capillaries (small blood vessels).

Wow is this combination a way to learn. Let us just take it a bit further, now our professor is teaching about the United Nations and a new Nation has been added to its membership, well the textbook publisher has a link and the section on the United Nations is updated and now the student is up to date.

Why are we so behind on updating education to become a leader in the world for learning? Well it may be the same reason we are so behind in our healthcare system. Did you know Medicare does not know today what it spent last week on healthcare, while we at home know what was spent on our credit card up to the last hour in some cases.

We as a nation need to bring education to the 21st century. It is not because of one institution or another but now it is our obligation to our children to bring it up to date.

Money, what about laptops for all the students the monies are not in the system, they may be available. Well they should be and think of the savings and most of the educational vantages our children will have in understanding and contributing to our hurting nation. The new administration is talking about “green”, we would not have to have the textbooks printed and there is a savings which could be computed in to the request for purchase.

Green education, what a new idea, except it isn’t, it has been brought to the system by the Learning Disabled, through BookShare.org.