Finding Our Individual and Collective Imagination and Inspiration
by Margot Lyon/
October 10, 2022
Several events I’ve attended recently center on the theme of emerging from the pandemic and finding ways to find individual and collective imagination that we may have lost. One way that works for me is to find articles, events, and people for inspiration. Here are some things on my radar:
I learned about this organization and event through my alma mater, the University of Michigan School of Information.
An important and influential pioneer in the history of tech, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was one of the first women to receive a doctorate degree in mathematics. Her expertise allowed her to join the US Naval Reserve during World War II to work on the Mark I computer. After the war, she remained in the US Navy as a reserve officer, working with the more advanced Mark II and Mark III computers. Grace also helped create the first compiler for computer languages and was the first female recipient of the National Medal of Technology in 1991. In 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her many contributions to the field of computing. To honor Grace Hopper’s legacy and inspire future generations of women in tech, Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney founded Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) in 1994.
The AnitaB.org flagship event brings the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront and highlights the contributions of women to the tech world. The Celebration results in collaborative proposals, networking, and mentoring for attendees. GHC presenters are leaders in their respective fields who recognize the importance of diversity in tech. The Celebration also offers professional development through a variety of activities. Today, GHC is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, where women from around the world learn, network, and celebrate their achievements.
We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people. It runs twelve exciting initiatives united under one goal — to combat systemic racism and oppression by creating a world where everyone can find themselves on the pages of a book. Established in 2014, WNDB strives to support and amplify diverse literature by mentoring marginalized creators, providing resources to diverse publishing professionals, and donating diverse books to schools and libraries nationwide. Their vision is “a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.” I’ve consulted this resource many times when choosing a book for a family member or friend.
Bryan Alexander is an award-winning, internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher, working in the field of higher education’s future. I actively follow this blog and regularly attend the Future Trends Forum, a live video conversation space where participants collaboratively explore the future of higher education. Every week they host one or several awesome guests, each one with a leading and distinct perspective on what’s next for academia. They interact with hundreds of our participants. There are no presentations; instead, the Forum is all about interactive discussion. Wide-ranging topics include climate change and higher education, supporting underrepresented communities in tech, comedian literacy and higher education, and reimagining higher education.
A full archive of past presentations is linked here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlcx8yl6hlPC3QjlbIHzxGqCP3qRa0zcg.
Adam Grant’s Interview with Indra Nooyi, the longtime CEO and chairman of PepsiCo
While there are many meaningful moments and takeaways in this interview, a highlight was when we learn that Indira’s mom used to ask her, “Well, how are you going to change the world?” Indira offers, “My grandfather was the same way. He’d say, ‘If you’re not going to make a difference in anything you do, don’t do it. Why bother to waste your time doing it?’ So it was always this notion of, uh, think of a broader society, a broader canvas, and how you can draw a picture that people appreciate on that broader canvas.”
My late Father, Herbert C. Lyon
As a mathematician and what some of us would describe as a modern-day polymath, my dad loved topology (the study of knots), fractals, chaos theory, and the power of infinity. He believed that in life and in the classroom, there is often more than one elegant way to solve a problem. One story: he was genuinely very excited about my husband’s art installation project. Through a series of emails and phone chats, Dad coached him on topics including the elegance and simplicity of the Fibonacci number and binary code. When Dad went back into the classroom to teach college math again after years as a college administrator, he found new energy and challenges. He wanted to further his teaching skills and challenge the infinite limits of his mind. To this end, he took it upon himself to memorize all of the lectures in advance so he could “be there for the students and be fully attuned to what they need.” Rather than focusing on what knowledge he would want to impart to them, he viewed them as equal and active participants in the classroom. He would sometimes say, “at the end of the day, people may not remember exactly what you taught them, what you said or did, but how you made them feel.” I strive to live up to this example of leadership and presence.
What people, events, resources, and programs inspire you lately? I’d welcome the opportunity to hear from you, @margotlyon.
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