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Involving Your Community in Exhibit Planning (2 of 2)

6. Determine project outcomes and effectiveness.
Program planning, implementation and evaluation are all parts of a whole and must be driven by an institution’s vision. This must be done at the beginning of the project development so the project is built around a clear understanding of what the museum wants to achieve and how it will determine success. Because both the baseball and hat exhibitions were history-based, we felt that civic pride was a foremost consideration. We wanted Trentonians, particularly children, to feel proud of their city’s history and know that its past achievements are part of their heritage, whether their families have been in the city for many generations or whether they were newcomers to the city, or even the country.

7. Market and promote your ideas.
Share with everyone you meet information about the project, who is involved with it, where you are in the process and you will reap unexpected rewards. In a conversation with a colleague during a coffee break at a seminar, I shared our idea about the upcoming baseball exhibit. He was very enthusiastic and told me that Cooperstown hosts a symposium every summer and scholars come to present papers on the history of the game. From this came the idea for three-part symposia featuring Negro League ball players, an expert on the Negro Leagues from Ohio, and former player and Trenton native Al Downing from California. Moreover, the daughter-in-law of the man who gave us the idea presented her paper on how minor league ball impacts on a community based on her intern experience with the Oneonta Yankees.

8. The new role of education
A recent museum journal states that “the principle of ‘public responsibility’ guaranteed that American museums would make education one of their principal purposes. The realization of this purpose, however, was not as obvious.” It is up to each one of our institutions to determine how to promote education. Perhaps part of the radical transformation is that people may be our most important collectible. We have studied how to coax objects to tell their stories; perhaps now we may want to shift our focus to the people in our communities to contribute theirs.

9. Be on the alert.
When involving the community, certainly you want to make sure the key people are recognized and thanked appropriately. Yet there will be times that oversights will occur and in the event they do occur deal with it at once. When the mayor made an appearance at the opening reception for “Hats off to Trenton” exhibition, he recognized the two milliners who proposed the exhibition based on their collection but overlooked another local milliner, an African American woman. I immediately approached her friends and posed the idea of a tea in her honor. It turned into a most memorable community event attended by hundreds of people— all wearing hats!10. Expect the Unexpected
Be open to possibilities, as there will be unknowns before, during and after the project. Some outcomes cannot be predicted. When you set out to plan a baseball exhibition to showcase the city’s history of the game, you think boys of summer, even nostalgia. But here’s what impressed one local sportswriter when the exhibition opened in spring, 1995. “Healing,” he wrote, “for the baseball blues, (for it was during the strike of major league baseball). It was during his visit to the exhibition on Trenton baseball that he found his solace— “Heart-stirring” he wrote, “and pure joy….”

imaginement ®   


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George Floyd: A Monumental Anniversary

The tragic murder of George Floyd in America a year ago today not only catalyzed a moral revolution that rocked the country but one that reverberated across the entire globe. On the anniversary of Mr. Floyd’s death let us be reminded of a bedrock of the American identity that Abraham Lincoln set forth in his first inaugural address: “We are not enemies, but friends, though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

As we saw last year it was a defining moment marked by artists and prophets who created impromptu galleries whether walled on temporary restrictive metal fencing as in D.C. or on city streets with their boarded-up storefronts as canvases. The ‘prophets’ pulled from symbolism from ancient wisdom traditions to aid in bridging the past with the present; other artists self-organized into a purposeful collectives making visible powerful images both cohesive in meaning and message.

Author-musician James McBride, who has built a career exploring American culture and identity through storytelling, credits the new Black Lives Matter movement to the youth—black, brown, and white bonded together in a shared purpose—to bring down institutional racism and legal immunity once and for all (2020 Amanpour & Co. interview).

Sidewalk artist-prophets have stirred the community’s collective memory with images of past Civil Rights icons along with memorializing Black Lives Matter martyrs. The young people have seen to the removal of Confederate monuments that McBride admits has been eye-opening for him —heretofore they had gone unnoticed. Investigative journalists B. Palmer and S. F. Wessler in their report titled “Monumental Lies” write how they uncovered the sources of funding on sites such as museums, cemeteries and historic houses in excess of 21 million dollars that came from the federal government—taxpayer money. 

The Ferguson activist, Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson echoes McBride on the crucial importance of being “a voice not just for children, but a voice with children and youth who have organized in so many ways to bring us to what could be a transformative moment.”

Going forward may we listen to the clarion call of our youth to tap what Lincoln aptly described as the “mystic chords of memory [that] will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Only in this way, will we cooperate in the providential design in fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream for society’s progress and achievement and together realize “The City on the Hill.”

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Whatever your reading list includes for the Fourth of July weekend or after do not miss Politico’s Nancy Scola’s article “Inside the Ad Boycott That Has Facebook on the Defensive.”

I’m reminded of the oft quoted yet apt Margaret Mead quote Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

In the article, Scola describes the novel coalition of civil rights groups and advocacy partners  who have become the architects of the #StopHateForProfit campaign that many of the boycotting companies have signed onto.

As Scola describes, “the coalition has emerged as perhaps Facebook’s most formidable antagonist, when little else — not Congress, not European regulators, not public declarations by celebrities that they were once and truly deleting their Facebook accounts — has had much effect on how the site operates. And their campaign might offer a blueprint for how activist groups can tackle a modern tech giant: fusing novel pressure tactics with the weight of legacy civil rights groups.”

In fact, with all the daunting challenges facing the global community, it may be just the blueprint to tackle these problems by distilling longing into a world community not just tied to eradicating the pandemic, but also recognizing the marvelous signs of nature’s rebound in such a short span by seeing a noticeable restored environment -such as live fish Venetian canals, seeing the Himalayas for the first time in over 30 years just from the decrease in pollution from less
carbon emissions.

As the activist Rob Hopkins remind us we must do it for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren for the future is now.

07/03/2020 03:15 PM EDT

Nancy Scola is a reporter covering technology for POLITICO. Follow her on Twitter @nancyscola.

#StopHateForProfit campaign

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Trenton’s “Lost ‘African-American’ Einsteins” Never More

…there are many ‘lost Einsteins— individuals who do not pursue a career in innovation even though they would have had highly impactful innovations.” Thomas Francke

My passion as the city museum director resided in its mission to inspire civic pride in the city’s youth based on their city’s industrial history. As an educator my passion is directed  to opening my college students’ eyes to the world of East Asian art and philosophy. I would also like to see the college curricula include this important influence  on Trenton’s industrial design history that can reinvigorate Trenton’s rightful genius standing by inspiring urban students—the ‘lost Einsteins’—to take their rightful place as inheritors of a once world-famous pottery industry.

As seen in their imaginative creations, the designer/potters’ had an uncanny global antennae for an East-to-West ‘mind-to-mind transmission’ that revolutionized Trenton ceramic design and its standing in the world. We educators should not squander the genius DNA map that is the heritage of all Trenton students. Its artistic pedigree can be traced to the Trenton School of the Industrial Arts founded for the Trenton pottery artisans in the 19th century that paved the way for the present-day Mercer County Community College, MCCC,  the former Trenton Junior College.

We cannot afford any more lost Einsteins–they are the solution to today’s most pressing problems. If this sounds like a provocative proposition, it is no more so than the outsized, audacious sign of the Trenton Makes The World Takes bridge as a reminder to keep stoking the invisible modern kiln of possibilities every day.

Check out a sampling of the contemporary art scene  BSB Gallery Trenton NJ



Study: Rich kids 10 times as likely to become inventors, creating ‘lost Einsteins’

Children born into the top one percent of households by income are ten times more likely to become inventors as those from below-median income families, according to the study. A new study from Stanford and Harvard finds that lack of exposure to innovative mentoring and internships is inhibiting innovation. Exposure to inventors in youth increases the likelihood kids become inventors themselves.


“Hence, there are many ‘lost Einsteins,'” wrote the team “— individuals who do not pursue a career in innovation even though they would have had highly impactful innovations.”

Thomas Franck | @tomwfranck Published 11:12 AM ET Sun, 10 Dec 2017



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Greta Thunberg Rails UN Leaders for their Inaction on Climate Change

Teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg on Monday opened the United Nations Climate Action Summit with an angry condemnation of world leaders for failing to take strong measures to combat climate change.

Thunberg, visibly emotional, said in shaky but stern remarks at the opening of the summit that the generations that have polluted the most have burdened her and her generation with the extreme impacts of climate change.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you,” she said.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” Thunberg said.

Days after millions of young people took to the streets worldwide to demand emergency action on climate change, leaders gathered for the annual United Nations General Assembly were to try to inject fresh momentum into stalling efforts to curb carbon emissions.

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In Response to Forbes’ 2018 Innovative Leaders List- A Book Review*

The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook TSEF could not be timelier for its process-driven action plans and groundbreaking sustainability frameworks. This week Forbes published its 2018 list of the most creative business minds, naming 99 men and only ONE woman, Ross Stores CEO Barbara Rentler, setting off a Twitter storm that found editor, Randall Lane, with egg on his face. Lane admitted the process was ‘flawed’ and vowed to bring together a task force to reassess its selection rubric used by BYU and INSEAD professors. Full disclosure, I am a contributor to the TSEF mental models chapter of the first and second editions.  It also means I witnessed a germ of an idea come into its own and materialize an action plan for a more equitable human flourishing buoyed by sustainable practices. The vision is largely owed to lead editor, Jeana Wirtenberg, who attracted enormous talent from all sectors to contribute to discussions, round tables and chapters that materialized into a book. Yet Jeana and her leadership team saw far beyond the book in envisioning a “living fieldbook” that would not only be fodder for business student papers and discussions but also be continuously updated with new research and solutions to new emerging challenges. A recent example is a pilot program spearheaded by Professor Wirtenberg at Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social innovation, RICSI, using TSEF as it textbook as a guide for “integrating a company’s full range of capabilities and assets within innovative business models to achieve positive societal impact while advancing success and sustainability of the enterprise.” Students could contribute valuable input to the Forbes task force members through an in-depth study of the chapter on metrics that can move corporations beyond tired models and fads by replacing them with more innovative, futuristic measures instead. At a time of the year, when Americans reflect on the tragedy of 911 eighteen years ago a finding of the 911 Commission that has stood out for me are missed cues leading up to the attacks that the commission attributed to the failure of the imagination. It is the hope of TSEF contributors to provide professors and students with new tools and techniques to create a more sustainable world with visionary CEOs imaginatively leading the charge by attracting and harnessing the diverse talents of its rich human capital in the important world of creating an equitable flourishing world for all.

*A version of this review is posted on Amazon.






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Democracy’s Island Beacons—Hong Kong and Puerto Rico

While we here in the United States are bombarded daily with smoke screens of a propped up economy and innumerable divisive tactics, two island cultures are putting up the good fight for democracy. Puerto Ricans demonstrated against a corrupt government refusing to implode on itself that must have greatly disappointed real-estate developers standing in the wings. The shadow of the Tiananmen Square massacre looms large over the Hong Kong protestors who knowingly are putting their lives on the line in the island’s fight to preserve the democratic autonomy promised it in its handover to China by Britain.

In the past, islands have been the preservers of culture such as the persistent activity of the monks in Ireland who laboriously copied illuminated manuscripts by hand beginning with the Book of Durrow in the seventh century when Europe was in the Dark Ages, that would be followed by other Medieval Christian artworks such as Carolingan and Byzantine illuminated manuscripts in due course. When Buddhism was persecuted on the Asian mainland in the ninth century, Japan sheltered Buddhist monks and preserved the artifacts of its religion becoming a nation of temples and virtual living museum of Buddhist sutras and art.

Meanwhile here at home, the endangered species act has been lifted so that endangered species could thrive under its protective laws: in my state of New Jersey, no longer sheltering the bald eagle’s nest will give way to the development of farmland for yet another  Amazon warehouse. And climate change be damned with the free-for-all gas and oil drilling taking place on public lands. The land of Lady Liberty who has greeted the downtrodden to her shores in the past harboring religious freedom and asylum seekers now is witness to children being separated from the arms of their parents and put into cages—Walls, Walls, Walls.

Unfortunately, we in the states are fed a daily diet of distractions as headliners taking the focus off of ongoing activities that have been eroding democracy before our very eyes: gerrymandering, voting poll purges, voter suppression, Russian election interference, packing of the federal and supreme courts (intentionally not capitalized), and downright obfuscating the wheels of legislation, Muslim bans, vile attacks on elected officials of color, undocumented workers’ raids (who hired them?) in a nation that has permitted the NRA’s buyout of politicians who are now all implicated in the mass murders of innocent babies, children, adults, unarmed black men, women etc. Ironically, these same politicians are the loudest voices in current nationwide “trigger” laws (note the irony) all in the name of the “sanctity” of human life.

The choice is ours: either we continue to be entertained by our many distractions—streaming TV shows, stock market earnings, buying into claims of “fake news” etc. or, we can be witness to the demise of global human rights and the lives of those who will be punished, or murdered,  for their “crime” of hope and aspiration in the American dream. Are these democracy’s beacons or are they its last gasps?

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Nurturing a Global Consciousness

I will be attending the 2019 GlobalMindED Conference June 5-7, Denver CO. “Collaboration is at the heart of the GlobalMindED conference – among educators, entrepreneurs and business leaders, policymakers in government and nonprofits, and first-generation college students themselves.” In reviewing my research I came across the following unpublished article written in 2004:

Books contain capital,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in 1821. It took more than 175 years, but we are beginning to see what he meant. World economies have shifted from those focused on industrial productions to those centered not only on knowledge, but also creativity. (Global Literacies, 355) In the 21st century, creativity will drive commerce, employment, trade the way natural resources and industries have influenced economies and societies in the past. (Bradford, 12)

At the same time, two seemingly contradictory forces in operation observed at the dawn of the 21st century are the interdependence or interconnectedness of the global village, as well as a strong desire for individual roots. In the global village there is not a single global culture; instead, there are various global cultures, with their own languages, codes and world-views. (Bradford, 343)

If community can be defined “by modes of participation and engagement, through local gatherings in a specific physical space or through the electronic media of the World Wide Web, then though there is not a single global culture,”(Pitman, 26) there is a New World Community. With the meeting of world cultures together in real time, can the wealthier segments continue to ignore the current trend of increasing inequality? As one educator observed, the very education students and their families aspire for in order to get good jobs and succeed in society, is also an essential contributing element to the dilemma of globalization. That is, the operating dynamic that is rewarding a few while miring the majority in killing poverty, greater and greater inequality, social unrest and ecological degradation. Preparing students—even poor or minority students on scholarship—to take their places in most of society’s major institutions and to succeed in carrying them forward in their current directions will actually increase economic and social injustice. (Hug, 16)

An important question for the Globalminded attendees: as educators in the 21st century, how will we meet the challenge to not only prepare our students for the borderless e-marketplace, but more importantly instruct on humanity, both of the individual and that of community, that is vital in forming a “global consciousness?”

Bradford, GiGi, Gray, Michael and Wallach, Glenn, eds. The Politics of Culture: Policy Perspectives for Individuals, Institutions and Communities. New York: The New Press, 2000.
Hug, James E. “Educating for Justice: Any University’s Major Mission is to Work for Global Transformation,” in America, Vol. 182 No. 18, Whole No. 4488, May 20, 2000, pp. 16-22.
Mestenhauser, J. A. and Ellingboe B. (Eds.). “Portraits of International Curriculum: An Uncommon Multidimensional Perspective,” in Reforming Higher Education Curriculum: Internationalizing our Campuses. Phoenix: American Council on Education/Oryx, 1997.
Piro, Joseph. “School-Museum Collaboration: A Passage to Asian Study.” Education About ASIA. Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 1997.
Pitman, Bonnie. “Muses, Museums, and Memories,” in Daedalus, Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 1999. Pp. 1-30.
Rosen, Robert et al. Global Literacies: Lessons on Business Leadership and National Cultures. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

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Homage to Henry Rosemont, Jr. Confucian scholar, mentor and friend


Anyone who knew Henry Rosemont, Jr., who passed away July 2, 2017, saw in him a standard bearer for Confucian Role Ethics as husband, father, grandfather as well as China scholar, teacher, mentor and friend. Henry placed a particular emphasis on the interactions of the role-bearers, not on their individual qualities. There are those said to be kind; role-bearing benefactors perform kindly acts towards and with beneficiaries: individuals are said to be brave, role-bearers perform brave acts and so on. (Rosemont, 2105, p. 96). I was such a beneficiary from the very first occasion I met Henry and JoAnn a decade ago in NYC (China House Institute) where he gave a talk on Confucius. I asked him for a resource and he gave me his card and from that point on we corresponded regularly.

Reacting to the rise of nativism and an ever-widening gap between the “haves” and the “have nots,” Henry published Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion in 2015. With a presidential election hanging in the balance, I wrote in my review that Against Individualism could not be more timely reading for addressing the Herculean economic, social, political, and environmental challenges ahead (pg.116). Just as the unchecked free market has spawned “too big to fail–too big to jail” corporate behemoths that brought about the global financial crisis, the “invisible hand” myth is seeing also to the unraveling of social justice. Despite US corporate revenues at their highest point in 40 years, increased profit margins have only translated to greater income inequality.

To help us think in new ways about these challenges, philosopher and China scholar Rosemont holds up an old model for re-ordering our society: the Confucian “Way of Humankind” (pg. 93). In contrast to the free market’s emphasis on the rational autonomous individual, the Confucian Way foregrounds the family.

Granted Confucius (Latinized honorific name ”’ K’ng F’z’, literally “Master Kong”) could not have conceived of a concept such as “democracy” in the China of 2500 years ago, but his enduring vision of wise governance guided by sage administrators rested solidly upon the foundation of the people—all the people. Confucius did not believe that government should control the people by meting out punishments: people should and could control themselves. But he understood that such self-regulation takes effort. If human beings did not attend to their own personal cultivation with diligence, then constraints were necessary to rein in greed and other passions.

For Rosemont, the essence of Confucian self-cultivation comes through grounding our feelings and deepening our intuitions within the social milieu of rituals, customs, traditions, and manners (pg. 113, n# 19). Personal cultivation involves constant re-defining of what is means to be fully human. That is best measured through our interactions with others, dynamically relating as “role-bearers” to members of one’s family, community, city, state, nation and world. Such an undertaking is a continuously evolving process of life-long learning and growing and manifesting all that goes into being human. It is an “art” that is marked by respectful deference to those above, engaging harmoniously with peers and serving as an upstanding exemplar to youth.

Respectful deference, however, does not imply walking in lockstep with a leader who discharges his duties without regard for others, either locally or globally. On this, Confucius is unequivocally clear in The Analects: “To see what is appropriate to do, and not to do it, is cowardice” (2:24). Using the Confucian compass, Rosemont concluded, “in the contemporary world free and rational autonomous individuals hinder the achievement of social justice, even in purportedly democratic societies” (pg.80). Could we not then as a nation a mere 200 years old do any better than to sit at the feet of the “Master” for the wise counsel that has guided Chinese civilization for more than two millennia and “has probably seen to the feeding and housing of more human beings than any other in human history.” (pg.121)

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MOMA Itemizes Fashion

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” ~Bill Cunningham, late longtime NY Times fashion photographer .


I think Bill would have enthusiastically embraced “ITEMS: Is Fashion Modern?” the Museum of Modern Art’s current exhibition that examines selected iconic “armor” items as stand-alone objects to demonstrate their evolution such as the power icon of the 20th century—the proverbial three-piece suit. Once the mainstay of the executive boardroom it later morphed into the ‘zoot suit’ worn by blacks and Hispanics during the Jazz Age’s heyday. As the numbers of women advanced in the corporate world, the transgendered suit became both her fashion staple and pièce de résistance of power especially in the hands of designers such as Donna Karan’s soft-power Seven Easy Pieces. If you didn’t know initially Apple’s mastermind Steve Jobs, you could have been forgiven of overlooking the most powerful executive in the world who more resembled a Beat Generation holdover famously wearing  the same black mock turtleneck, blue jeans and New Balance sneakers every day. What signals power today? …the winner is none other than the ubiquitous white T-shirt—paired with a hoodie and jeans even in the boardroom—that had a former life of humbler beginnings being worn by early 20th century laborers and later the defining garb of defiant teens rebelling against conformist 1950s (think “Rebel without a Cause”).

What was eye-opening for this viewer that in taking the long view, MOMA’s exhibit in an even way gives the uneven history of the ubiquitous T-shirt—its cotton harvested by black slaves, its cutting and sewing and assemblage by low-paid laborers, at home and abroad, and its environmental footprint throughout its lifecycle.

IMG_4941The People’s Studio

The brilliance of MOMA is the direction of current education director, Wendy Woon, in re-creating its People’s Studio, an all out hands-on studio, the brainchild of MOMA’s first educator, Vincent D’Amico.  It is on a separate floor from the actual exhibit but is not to be missed for its sense of inventive and creative community. However, don’t overlook another community forming at the exhibit terminus–a  congregative space to view colorful wall graphs as a score card of sorts for the fashion industry related to The UN ‘s Sustainable Development Goals. Yes, folks are looking at their devices. Yet there is also an element as a space once-removed from live theater, at least to me, what Ayad Akhtar, Pakistani-American playwright defines as an ‘antidote’ to digital dehumanization. Akhtar challenges American individualism by pointing out that “we herding animals are programmed at some very profound level to think and feel as one.” In the mix with my fellow viewers  I did have a sense of oneness with a museum audience. Perhaps a stretch of live theater oneness that Akhtar describes but still….

NYTimes, Sunday December 31, 2017. Arts, page 5.

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