Dog Parks & Coffee Shops + Leadership Networks

This week I got to go see a screening of DogParks & CoffeeShops: Diversity Seeking in Changing Neighborhoods on the invitation of Professor Sonya Grier, on the campus of American University, at the Metro Policy Center (@MPC_AU) which addressed a ton of interests of mine all in one.

First, the trailer:

DogParks & CoffeeShops: Diversity Seeking in Changing Neighborhoods (Trailer) from Sonya Grier on Vimeo.

In no particular order:

  • I love Washington, DC and have been posting about our changing cities and Washington as the ultimate laboratory
  • I am a fan of diversity and all that it does to support a healthy and resilient community
  • Storytelling and images are a big part of my existence. I’m more of a still photo person because video is challenging for me – so I watched with extra respect 🙂
  • The screening itself was in the American University School of International Service, a beautiful building which is famous for its LEED Gold Certification, and I got to meet its architect, Carl Elefante, FAIA, LEED AP O&M, in October (A bunch of doctors, an architect, and a bridge builder: Designing for Health)

So, of course I was going to go, and enjoyed every step that I took on my #activetransportation journey from downtown Washington, DC .

The film and discussion afterward, attended by Professor Grier and her collaborator Professor Vanessa Perry, from George Washington University further extended my interest:

  • “faux” diversity – when people are attracted to a diverse neighborhood but pick and choose the diversity they associate with, resulting in a divided community
  • Our changing cities – becoming more sustainable, with more amenities and health infrastructure, with tension around displacement
  • The work itself and what’s considered “scholarly” in academia. I didn’t anticipate this conversation at all.

Films and scholarship

Is a film, in this case peer reviewed (and Winner, “People’s Choice” Award, 13th Annual Association for Consumer Research (ACR) Film Festival) that generates portable knowledge and connects leaders and future leaders considered scholarly? Vanessa and Sonya mentioned that this would be a risky endeavor for a junior faculty, not tenured as they are.

I’m not surprised, but I am surprised in 2015 that this is still the case in academia. I thought things would have changed by now.

When I left academia (or should I say, I never joined it), I was producing “work” in my Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program that included news stories and action to improve health on the campus we were learning on. I was allowed to present it at our annual meeting, but it was clearly different than everyone else’s project.

And here I am, now, in a non-profit health system that regularly engages in video ethnography. I am also embedded in a design consultancy right now to understand the health experience of some of the most special people we serve. This work is changing health. I know it.

I hope someday any body of work, no matter what the medium, is recognized for its value in (a) igniting the passion of its creator and (b) changing the thinking of the people who experience it with the result being a better society (as judged by the people in that society). As Vanessa mentioned, a recent screening to a group of economists probably generated more conversation than ever would have via a manuscript placed on their desks in front of them.

Leadership Networks

Sonya and I are part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Leadership Network (@RWJF). There are a ton of people on it/in it, which reflects the size of the scholarship created and supported by the Foundation. She contacted me after seeing this post on the network, and we corresponded after that.

It reminds me of a concept that goes unrecognized when people learn that social networks are about having a lot of followers (they aren’t). That type of learning encourages people to think of these networks as one-way mass communication mediums, which disappoints. Instead, they are about meaningful connections with people who you might not say hello to while walking through the boulevards and picturesque circles of your communities.

My HHSIgnite teammate/lead Sabrina Matoff-Stepp, PhD (@SabrinaMatoffSt) asked me a question I haven’t heard in a long time which was about why I spend time doing these kinds of “things.” My response is that they save me time by discovering things sooner that I don’t know, and if someone knows how to do something better, I want to know about it (“Proudly discovered elsewhere”).

My suggestion, then, is post away, and then listen and engage afterward. You never know what you’ll learn. 1 to 2 great connections every 6 months is the goal of gaining followers and friendships, in social media and in life.

Our cities are changing

Today’s Photo Friday is about changing Washington, DC, which I’ve been reading and experiencing. Destroyed by riots in 1968, destroyed again by drugs that consumed people and communities, now just becoming a walkable, sustainable place, in some places.

Composite - 14th and T  Streets Then and Now - 2010 - 2014 49694

Thanks for the great networking experience and more knowledge that will help us create a place where everyone has what they need to be successful.

Ted Eytan, MD