Experience

3 Personal Daily Goals

  • Something to Show

Preferably, I’d like to be able to point to something specific at the end of each day and be able to say, “You see that? I made that.” I’m a creative person. I feel most alive when I make something from nothing. Aside from satiating my need to make, this goal will entail many beneficial side effects. It provides a resumè point: i.e. “Built 12 server automation scripts for Punchmark” I will also gain experience building complete systems which aligns with the first summer learning outcome I set for myself.

  • Learn Every Day

Every minute of every hour of every day. Last semester that I discovered that I have trouble learning computer science in the classroom either the professors are too slow and I loose interest or I feel like I’m being forced to do work that doesn’t matter just so my transcript places higher alphabetically. All I want to do is work on personal projects and learn by doing meaningful work. However, I have no free time during the semester because professors seem to think that making their students BS a lab report is a better use of our time. Anyways, I’m in my ideal learning environment. I want to make the most of it every day. I have motive to learn, I can instantly apply my learning and learn from my failures in a real work environment.

  • Do More

This is my life motto for this summer. I got the desktop wallpaper to prove it.

This is intentionally vague. What does it mean to me?

Do more…

  • than is expected.
  • than other people.
  • meaningful work.
  • things that get me excited.
  • than I did yesterday.

I want to “Do More” everyday to get the most out of this summer.

I’m listening to inde hip-hop and sipping on a chai tea lattè.

For daily vlogs, follow me @robhossboss on Beme available on Google Play and iOS App Store.

Life is like going the wrong way on an escalator.
If you walk, you go nowhere.
If you stand still, you go backwards.
To get where you want to go, you have to hustle.

Experience

3 BIG Things I’m Learning

  • Full-Stack Development

I want to have some experience working on every part of the software/web production cycle. Currently, I know front-end the best. I go in with very little experience working with databases, server-side programming, and GET/POST requests. Some of these seemingly basic concepts I have yet to understand at all. In 10 weeks not only will I have the knowledge, but the confidence to walk into any project with ease.

  • Tech Startup Culture

If there’s anything my recent work life has taught me, it that I cannot function in a corporate environment. At first, this made me depressed. I thought that the field I was so passionate about was going to lead me to a cubicle fixing a meaningless bug in 10 million lines of outdated code. Not that I fear a challenge, but I prefer to see results of my work and know that what I do is worth doing. I will learn from this internship how I can perform my best. It will also allow me to peer into the workings of a small tech company.

  • Sharpen Design Talent

Even if I never get to touch CSS, I want to learn some design practices. This applies equally to back end. I’m curious to see how a professional firm handles database design and coding practices. Most of Punchmark’s clients are jewelers, naturally their clients’ websites are designed to showcase a product as well as a brand. I would love to do front-end all day: front-end is where I am comfortable. However, when I’m comfortable, I’m not growing. When I’m not growing, I’m dying.

I’m super tired. It’s nearly 11pm. Couldn’t sleep last night from anticipation. Good night!

For daily vlogs, follow me @robhossboss on Beme available on Google Play and iOS App Store.

This post was made possible by me.
Because I made it happen.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 8

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

As a sort of close to the entire “Berea Trail Town Possess” segment in EPG, we traveled to Frankfort, Kentucky to ask for letters from the Department of Agriculture and from the Kentucky Arts Council. One member of our cohort led the discussion and made the final ask while the rest of us observed and stepped up to answer questions posed by the letter writers. Everyone seemed pleased with our work and promptly agreed to write and send their letters.

Presenting to Kentucky Department of Agriculture Asking for the letter from representative of the Department of Agriculture. EPG Cohort 12 at Buddy's Pizza EPG Cohort 12 at Buddy’s Pizza in Frankfort

We walked from the Kentucky Arts Council building to Buddy’s Pizza and enjoyed a nice lunch.

Team 'Kids OutDoors' in Kentucky State Capitol My team lobbin’ in the Kentucky State Capitol.

We made the most of our time in Frankfort and visited the Kentucky Capitol Building. Both the house and the senate chambers were under construction so we were limited to walking the opulent lobby and central portion of the building. After taking enough photos to satisfy the internet for the next week, we left to go back to Berea where we had a night session to discuss the plan for the remainder of our last week together.

Day 2

We had each been given a 30-minute time slot to meet one on one with Dr. Hackbert to discuss our experience with Dr. Hackbert and express any concerns or qualms we had. Between all 20 of us, Hackbert spent the better part of 12 hours in meetings so needless to say, there was no class.

The international students in our cohort had been pleading Dr. Hackbert to allow them to cook a traditional meal from their home country to share with the cohort. Over the weekend, Hackbert drove the internationals to Lexington, KY to browse the international foods stores and paid for their ingredients. The internationals were working in the kitchen almost all day to prepare their meals and were recruiting fellow students leaving Dr. Hackbert’s office from their interviews. I agreed to help chop potatoes, onions and tomatoes for a Lebanese dish. I stuck around for the entire cooking process until we began the feast at 9 pm out of courtesy for our Muslim members observing Ramadan.

After everyone finished their first plate of international dishes hailing from Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, we unanimously decided that we should share our favorite moment from our EPG experience. Whoever went first, decided “favorite” meant “funniest” and the stories flowed. Some we all experienced, some we were just hearing about. We heard everything from the mockery of Hackbert’s proclivity to mispronounce people’s names, to a party of international who walked into Kroger’s pretending to not understand English and each person speaking their native language to confused employees. For the first time, many of us saw Hackbert laugh so hard he cried, as many of us were.

We departed at 11 pm sore from laughing and reflecting on the good times we had together.

Day 3

The last two days were scripted, routine, and boring as we had to listen to our fellow members present for 30 minutes, following the same presentation template, about their learnings and personal discoveries gained from EPG. Needless to say, these presentations began to sound the same after about 10 presenters had already had their 30 minutes of fame. We sat through 5 hours of this with a lunch break in between and would do the same tomorrow.

Day 4

This was the day that I would present. I’ve embedded my presentation below:

**[EPG Final Portfolio Presentation](//www.slideshare.net/RobertHosking/epg-final-portfolio-presentation-50187659 “EPG Final Portfolio Presentation”)** from **[Robert Hosking](//www.slideshare.net/RobertHosking)**

I knew that I was going near the end and decided to spice up my presentation by including a section highlighting the importance and value of blogging as well as some advice for getting started with a blog since some of my cohort members have shown an interest after seeing me blog.

I have to say, my presentation wasn’t phenomenal; something deep inside me kept me from sounding enthusiastic or excited about the information I needed to present after hearing 16 others before I spill the same beans.

Nonetheless, we all finished strong and presented Hackbert and his team of faculty, assistants and students with a plethora of thank you cards with personalized messages for showing our appreciation. With that, our 8 weeks was over. I think we all could agree that there was no better way we could have spent our summer and we walked away to go our separate paths until fall semester. Each of us with 19 new friends and one new “Papa Peter”.

Thanks and Going Forward

I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who followed me through my EPG Summer Institute experience. I want to diverge away from this kind of journal-like blog posts. What I will be doing in the following weeks is writing informative, packaged blog posts about the new tools, methods, and learnings I was exposed to in EPG. I want to share some of my learning from EPG with the world. This series will not receive any more updates until next year (summer 2016) when I embark on my internship as a part of the second summer (Direct Field Experience).

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 7

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

Traditionally, the EPG cohort of each year has been invited to give a presentation to the Hal Rogers Scholars each year. The Hal Rogers Scholars are rising high school juniors who have shown high success potential and are from the rural parts of Kentucky. They are enrolled in an “EPG-esque” week-long leadership and teamwork training and as part of their training, the EPG cohort prepares a workshop and presentation to introduce the scholars to entrepreneurship by repurposing some of the same exercises that we ourselves have experienced this summer.

We were informed that we would be hosting this workshop tomorrow and without considerable aid from Dr. Hackbert: it would be up to us to introduce, lead and perform activities during the event. Thankfully we were not left to ourselves to prepare as Dr. Hackbert led us through an amazing method for organizing and rehearsing an event in just one day. I will be writing a post on this method and will link it here when complete. We spent the entire morning and afternoon sessions preparing the presentation and coming up with activities and we spent the night session rehearsing.

Day 2

Lalu Giving a presentation Lalu leading her portion of the workshop.

All dressed up and ready to impress some high schoolers, we left the college at 6AM and headed to Columbia, KY. We unpacked materials and began to set up in the room we would be presenting in. The Rogers Scholars arrived earlier than expected but we were already set up and ready to begin.

Rogers Scholars working together Teams of the Rogers Scholars working together on “The Marshmallow Challenge”.

We began by introducing ourselves individually and then after introduction by Lauren, I led the first activity then passes the mic on to the next team to continue the presentation. I have embedded the presentation below:

All went well and we left with the feeling that the kids really enjoyed the experience (as much as they could while wearing a tuxedo or heels, anyways).

Day 3

We left campus at 9:30PM to explore some key assets of Eastern Kentucky. Originally we planned to divide this work among the teams. If you recall, each team was assigned two counties to work with earlier in the summer. The teams wrote letters to key civic leaders of each county asking if they would like to benefit from our work. We have not heard from any of them so it was decided that we would attempt to absorb as much as we could from Eastern Kentucky as a group in the course of two days.

We started out by visiting the Lee County Tourism Center where we met Dedra Brandenburg one of the two only full time paid tourism directors in the area. We checked out the museum there to begin to understand a different economy dependency that was prevalent in the area; timber. After the museum we breaked for lunch with the tourism director who revealed to us that she was thinking of organizing a canoeing or kayaking race on one of the local rivers. The race would be open to the local colleges to compete and the hopes are that the event would bring attention to the area and help to bring more tourists to the area. She was curious what we as part of EPG thought of the event and was curious as to what needed to be done to execute the event.

Red River Adventure Getting ready for my turn in the relay race.

To help us understand the value of a river race, we headed out to Red River Adventure Tourism outfitters to rent enough canoes and kayaks to stage our own race among the teams of the EPG Cohort. My team happened to have a great deal of experience with canoes so we were able to bring home the gold on the short ¼ mile canoe race. As for the kayak portion, we were given an enforced 3 minute starting disadvantage for finishing the canoe portion 1st. We are not totally sure how this was fair, but we ended up coming in last place for the kayak portion.

Red River Adventure Canoe and Kayak Not sure why I look so happy in this picture. Guess I was glad to be almost done. My arms were killing me!

From here we checked into the Buckhorn State Lodge. The lodge was way out in the middle of nowhere and offered limited WiFi that was a nightmare to connect to and no data reception so everyone went the whole night without checking emails or Facebook. The lodge had a great view and a small swimming pool that was enjoyed into the wee hours.

Day 4

We gathered in a private room in the lodge at 8:30Am to have a lecturette with Dr. Hackbert then we departed from the lodge to check out some more key assets in Eastern Kentucky. We started at Kelsey’s on Main, a diner run by a local serial entrepreneur who is currently working on making the 2nd floor of her resturant into appartment-style rooms to rent out to tenants.

After lunch we drove around to various attractions in Knott county including the Knott County Sportsplex and ended our day with ice cream at Spencer’s Dairy Bar. From here we returned to Berea.

Day 5

Today we were scheduled to present our findings from last week for our assigned portion of the Boone Trace Trail to Dr. John Fox. A member from each team took the responsibility of giving the presentation but the rest of us were on standby to answer impromptu questions from Dr. Fox and provide clarification. It seemed clear that Dr. Fox found our observations helpful and valuable as we represent the “average traveler” that would be traversing the trail; not the kinds of experts that he is used to hearing from as part of the Friends of the Boone Trace.

Later, Hackbert revealed the rubric and expectations of the final presentation that each member would prepare and present next week as a sort of final observations, recommendations and lessons learned from the entirety of the EPG experience. Much of the final is reflective in nature and I am glad to have all of these blog entries to look back on as I work on the presentation this weekend.

Berea College bike rack location map Map that I made of all bike rack on campus.

On a side note, Berea’s trail town application is in good standing but Hackbert received feedback that we need a trail head sign and a count of all the bike racks in town. Hackbert spoke to my previous boss Tim Glotzbach to arrange that a temporary trail head sign be made from the student crafts department. Hackbert contacted me personally since he knew my affinity with biking and asked if I would be willing to map and document all the bike racks on the Berea College campus (the rest of Berea had already been accounted for). I accomplished this and created a map and list of captioned photos on Saturday.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 5

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

We began the week by hearing from the teams that traveled to Beattyville for the River Festival and those who went to Morehead to the Trail Festival over the weekend. From what was presented, it seems that Beattyville (the place I traveled to in Lee County) was an up and coming town trying to capitalize on its natural resources. It was a very pathetic festival compared to the reports from those who went to Morehead. Moorehead seemed to have the social media aspect of their event together as they were promoting the use of the hashtag “#More2Morehead” through signs and stickers.

We took a moment to debrief Professor Hackbert of our time spent with the Transamerica bikers last week. We revealed our discoveries concerning what they thought of the various towns they have traveled through and their lifestyle choices along their journey. Hackbert was pleased that we were able to ascertain spending habits and actual numerical figures from them.

We then discussed our “36 Hours in Berea” presentations within our team and each team elected a representative to present their presentation to the class. After hearing four presentations, we were each required to use our individual presentations and create a video voiceover to be placed on YouTube so that local business owners could be directed to the video presentation to see how their businesses are view through various tourist personas. My YouTube presentation is embedded below. I am ashamed of the horrible sound quality and scriptless voiceover but we had an hour to record, edit and submit these.

Day 2

Still thumbing through all the work we did over the weekend, we presented the results of doing the Opportunity Discovery Canvas to our teammates. We got to see how the others in our team evolved their idea and learned along the way. After hearing from everyone, we voted on our favorites to present to the class. We heard from Minashsha, who advocated for disposable wet wipes to be available in bathroom stalls, Dustin, who presented an idea for a Roomba for mowing lawns, and Adriana, who was pitching for a “Uber for pedestrians” to keep safe at night.

Afterward, Hackbert introduced the One Page Proposal. A template and process for making a proposal in an effective, concise and executable manner. We were also introduced to the Business Model Canvas and saw some real world applications of the canvas. Finally, we contacted the Berea business owners that were featured in out “36 Hours in Berea” presentations via posting a link to our YouTube presentation on their business’ Facebook page.

Day 3

We explored the Business Model Canvas some more by drafting models for existing companies. We heard from Clara and Ishwar who are two members of our cohort who won third place for the business model in the Kentucky statewide “Idea State U” competition. Their business model was for “EcoClean”, a franchisable, B-Corp, and environmentally friendly laundromat. Ishwar and Clara read their full pitch out loud to us and we used their information to build a canvas for their business.

Hackbert introduced us to a useful spreadsheet template for organizing an event. We got to practice with using the template by organizing an assigned EPG-related event. This Action Plan/Event Scheduling template will likely be useful during our time in EPG and certainly beyond.

Finally, we walked to Berea City Hall to observe the final pitch to the Berea Tourism Commission to send off Berea’s Trail Town Application to the state. The motion to sign off and send the application was accepted and we celebrated our efforts over ice cream at the Berea Fudge Shoppe.

Day 4

Today we were to experience a new level of “extreme” adventure tourism; today we were rock climbing. We left campus at 7 AM and stopped for breakfast at McDonalds. We traveled through the Red River Gorge to arrive at Torrent Falls Rock Climbing. After suiting up and enduring a 45 minute instructional and training session which included scaling a ground level practice course, we were free to begin climbing the enormous crescent cliff face. The cliff was divided into six sections, sections 1 and 2 were beginner courses, section 3 intermediate, section 4 and 5 advanced, and the 6th section was infamously known as “The Black Diamond” and was the section where the most falls have occurred (falls with safety equipment keeping the climber safe, of course).

Each section could be completed individually or together. I, plus a few others, chose to start at section 1 and see how far we could go. A group of others rushed directly to sections 2 and 3 to begin their climb. We were climbing along fine with the assistance of several conveniently placed rebar rungs.

Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure View of the Torrent Falls Building from about the halfway point.

After section 3, we lost most of the initial group that started at section 1. They had given up from exhaustion, thirst or lack of confidence to proceed. Section 4 was all upper body strength and wore us out, Causing everyone else who started from the beginning, except for A.D. (a student/basketball player mind you) and I, to get off just before section 5 to take a break. Section 5 wasn’t too bad but there was some serious congestion caused by other climbers getting stuck and fatigued midway through. This caused us to have to struggle to find a place to rest while we waited.

Selfie! at Torrent Falls Selfie!

After section five we were pumped and ready to take on The Black Diamond. It was difficult to gauge the Diamond because it curved around out of sight from where we were so we gauged the few who had already completed it by yelling to them on the ground. They informed us that the beginning of the Diamond was difficult due to lack of foot rests and that it was largely upper body strength and it was also difficult to clip safety harness while holding on the bars.

climbing at Torrent Falls

We were stuck waiting a while at the end of section 5 because there was a girl who had fatigued her arms and was not able to get a good enough grip to continue. We patiently waited and I made conversation with another climber who was waiting behind me named Floyd. He was on vacation from Cleveland, OH with his family. He said they travel to Kentucky once a year to participate in outdoor activities and let his children enjoy the outdoors.

After resting up and also losing that adrenaline, we began the final stretch, The Black Diamond. At about the same place that the girl got stuck, I too was facing difficulties. I knew if I held on too long I would lose strength and fall so my strategy was to go quickly and powerfully through the hard parts. While this strategy was effective, it made it so I was moving too quickly to secure a good foot rest and often found myself hopping instead of stepping from foot rest to foot rest. This was undoubtedly the first and only time during the whole climb that I felt I could actually fall. After that turn, the rest of the climb was a lazy descend to the sweet, sweet ground.

We all gathered in the outfitter’s shop and waited for the remaining climbers to return. One girl from Kenya did the whole course twice! Once we all returned, Hackbert offered to buy those who completed the course a t-shirt from the gift shop reading “I survived The Black Diamond”. I passed on the shirt cause I knew I would never wear it.

natural bridge view Enjoying the view

We were all famished so we drove shortly down the road to Miguel’s Pizza for lunch. After Lunch, we drove to the Natural Bridge State Park to hike the trail to the Natural Bridge and perform some intercept interviews with hikers along the trail. The Natural Bridge was amazing. A weathered rock formation making a nearly perfect bridge that had several trees and vegetation growing on it. Perhaps, the best part was being able to walk on the bridge and see the view.

natural bridge Walking on the Natural Bridge

On the way back to Berea we stopped for some Japanese food at Sakura Express in Winchester, KY.

Day 5

Friday was mostly devoted to discussing yesterday and drafting a cover letter and assembling an informative packet to be sent to county leaders of counties in Eastern Kentucky that we are interested in working with for the remainder of our time in EPG. My team was assigned Knott and Breathitt County to work with.

We will wait to hear back from the county leaders that we contacted and depending on their response we will split up into teams and work with them to help them capitalize on their natural and cultural assets using the techniques and lessons that we have learned so far.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 6

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

Monday morning we studied a sustainable non-profit called “PeePoo”. PeePoo sells biodegradable waste bags in countries where toiletries are unavailable or expensive. PeePoo bags keep human waste out of the streets and their bags are lined with beneficial bacteria that degrade the contents of the bags into safe to use fertilizer. PeePoo then buys back the filled bags to sell to local farmers.

After researching the company for a bit, we completed a business model canvas for the non-profit. Each team created a model with a specific restraint or challenge in mind. For example, my team created the model and were tasked to include an attribute in the model that would rise the switching cost (cost to the user for using another product over another) of PeePoo’s service.

In the afternoon, our guest, John Fox, spoke to us about the Daniel Boone Trace Trail. Dr. Fox, a retired surgeon and leading member of the Friends of Boone Trace Organization, is very knowledgeable about the history and significance of the Boone Trace Trail. He walked us through the trail via an online map from its origin in the Town of Middlesboro all the way to Fort Boonesboro, KY. Dr. Fox’s presentation was to prepare us for the next few days as we will be traveling portions of the trail and reporting on major attractions and giving feedback to Dr. Fox next week. My team was assigned to travel the portion of the trail in Rockcastle County. We would set out on Wednesday.

Day 2

We spent the entirety of the day in the classroom mostly discussing graduate school. As part of the “Business Model You” portion of EPG, we are considering career choices and planning for our futures. To bring awareness to the actual costs of graduate school, Hackbert required each of us to do the math. After factoring the costs of education, projected salaries before and after grad school, income tax brackets, and student loan interest, I estimated that I would make approximately $1,400,000 more in my lifetime should I attend grad school. The exercise seemed to backfire as most of us would make significantly more should we attend grad school; but for a few individuals, the cost of higher ed was not worth the payoff.

Day 3

For Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday we would not be meeting for traditional class time. However, each team was required to do three activities before the weekend. We were to travel and map our assigned portion of the Boone Trace Trail, bike/hike to the Berea College Pinnacle Trails and hike any portion of the many trails there, bike to Anglin Falls and hike to the falls.

My team decided to do one activity each day and set out in the van on Wednesday to trace the Boone Trace. The Boone Trace Trail is a motor trail that loosely follows the path Daniel Boone traveled as he entered the “New Frontier” through the Cumberland Gap. Along the trail are several historical markers placed in the early 1900’s by The Daughters of the American Revolution. These markers along with other significant points of interest were to be documented and assessed by each team within the county that they were assigned.

Boone Trace Selfie On the bridge marking the end of Rockcastle County

Rockcastle County happened to have the least number of points of interest and zero historical markers. It was also the county neighboring Madison (the county harboring Berea), so naturally our team finished early with little excitement and decided to drive north to RIchmond for some fine Indian cuisine for lunch.

Day 4

Today, my team planned on biking to The Pinnacles but we were unable to establish contact with our bike rental guy in Berea in time to reserve bikes so we ended up walking 3.4 miles to the destination. The Pinnacles are part of The Berea College Forest and consist of a loop of interconnected trails that climb to and lace the top of a prominent mountain.

Map to Berea Pinnacles Route we walked to get to The Pinnacles

Once at the base of The Pinnacles, my team began the steep climb to the lookout known as “Indian Fort”. We spent some time up there taking pictures and enjoying the amazing view. We were exhausted and hot from the walk to and up the mountain so we unanimously agreed to not hike the rest of the trails but to return back to the college. On the way back we were offered a ride from another team who decided not to endure the heat and took their van to The Pinnacles.

Selfie at the berea pinnacles Selfie at the top of Indian Fort Map of Indian Fort Route we hiked at The Pinnacles

It was about this time that everyone received an impromptu invitation to a “focus group dinner” that night at 6PM. The email made it sound like an optional gathering but not many were going to take chances and were drawn by the promise of free food, including myself.

We had little idea what the meeting was about until we arrived. A senior from a university in Arkansas was doing research for his capstone project which involved interviewing students involved in civic engagement about the idea of a Certification of Civic Engagement. We answered questions and gave feedback to this student and afterwards enjoyed Chinese takeout from the local Chinese buffet.

Day 5

We retrieved our bikes at 9AM and began the bike to Anglin Falls (10.2 miles). The path to the falls was on the highway the whole way so we had to be wary of cars around the steep and curving mountainsides that we scaled. The drivers were courteous and passed with plenty of space between us. The ride was mostly hills save for an entire mountain that had to be scaled by foot (coming down was fun though). Biking to Anglin Falls Biking to Anglin Falls

We heard from a team that biked to the falls yesterday that they were approached by a pack of dogs so we were very cautious of dogs along the way. We were approached by several dogs throughout the journey but none posed a real threat.

Anglin road Road leading directly to the trail

Once at the falls we were already exhausted from the ride but had another steep climb ahead of us. To make things worse, only one team member had the foresight to bring a water bottle. We were banking on the falls to be our source of hydration. The hike to the falls was relatively short but steep and slippery from yesterday’s rain. We came upon a sharp cliff face and had to squint to see the water droplets in free fall from the top. The “falls” were more of a drip ,even after a light rain. Unperturbed, we began gathering large leaves to craft a funnel to collect enough water from the falls to quench our thirst and fill our one water bottle. After cooling off and hydrating at the falls we descended the mountain and mounted our bikes for the 10.2 mile journey back to the college.

Anglin Falls The Falls. (If you look real hard you can see the water)

I noticed the extreme fatigue of everyone in my team and sensed their pain so I rushed ahead to the college and grabbed the van that we still had check out from the college motor pool. I drove it back to pick up two of my teammates and their bikes. Saving them a few miles of agony.

Later that night the teams concerned in the classroom to begin working on our presentations showcasing our experience with the Boone Trace Trail, The Pinnacles, and Anglin Falls. We departed for the weekend with the task of completing these presentations by Monday in preparation of presenting them to Dr. Fox and the Berea Tourism Commission next week.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 4

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

We began the day with a user design exercise where our goal was to design a new wallet or backpack for someone in our cohort. We were briefed on the customer empathy process and how to glean information from customers. Next we were paired off and given time to interview each other about our current wallet/backpack standards. We asked each other what problems we faced when using our wallet or backpack and went through a series of design prototypes, running them by the customer each time to gain more feedback until we had designed the perfect wallet or backpack for that individual.

I enjoyed this exercise partially because I have already gone through the process of designing the perfect backpack and wallet for myself. It was also refreshing to see that what I imaged the perfect wallet for me was not the perfect wallet for my customer. Designing for someone else was not a skill that I have worked to develop.

We presented team accomplishment summaries that we worked to create over the weekend. Each team created a presentation that introduces each member of the team and highlighting the team’s accomplishments while in EPG.

After dinner, we watched the movie October Sky through the lens of an entrepreneur. We applied what we learned about the Appalachian Region and the entrepreneurial mindset to the story of Homer’s struggles and triumph to gain a new understanding of entrepreneurship.

Day 2

empathy design for a wallet Prototype designs for a wallet.

We began the day by doing some pattern recognition exercises. Then we were told how to use the opportunity canvas and how to interview customers to glean the underlying problem and advance your understanding of what the customer wants.

Super efficient wallet design My perfect wallet. Though not everyone’s.

Day 3

We met briefly in the morning to discuss the plans for the next few days since we would not be meeting for class until Monday.

By Monday we were to:

  • Go through four revisions of the Opportunity Discovery Canvas by interviewing potential customers to revise the canvas
  • For our mid-term project we were to create a presentation outlining an itinerary for a specified customer segment to spend 36 hours in Berea. By copying the New York Times’ “36 Hours” segment, we are combining our learning about a specific customer segment and assembling a potential itinerary for that customer.
  • Finally, we needed to organize a trip to a preassigned festival over the weekend. My group was heading to the “Lee County River Festival”

Dr. Hackbert left town around noon that day.

EPG cyclists the belgins and the renegades The five cyclists that we hosted. Follow their stories: The Belgians’ website and the Renegades’(Domestic Bikers) Instagram @thewheelsonthebike

However, in the absence of Hackbert, we were assigned with the task of hosting some cyclists that we met in Damascus last week. Backstory time… Last week in Damascus we crossed paths with 5 Transamerica cyclists. There was one group of 2 men who are neighbors and friends from Belgium who came to bike the TransAmerican Trail after exhausting the major trails in Europe. There was also a group of 3 recently graduated individuals from the states who are traveling together for the escape, adventure, and fun. We spoke to these individuals in Damascus and offered to feed them and provide lodging once they arrived in Berea along their journey. They gladly accepted. Fast forward to Thursday this week, and they arrived in the afternoon and we all convened in the classroom and interview them over some pizza. We gained information about the persona and customer segment of the Transamerica cyclist through our talk with them and afterward students offered to drive them to Richmond for supplies and offered a place to sleep at their apartments.

Day 4 and 5

No class because Dr. Hackbert was out of town.

Day 6 (Saturday)

We met at 10 AM to drive to the “Lee County River Festival” in Beattyville, KY. We arrived and saw no sign of a festival so we asked the locals and they said the festival was not that big and it was down on the sand banks of the Kentucky River. We drove over there after lunch at the ironically named, “authentic Mexican restaurant”, called “Los Two Brothers”. There was not much to report on at the festival. A local band playing bluegrass and six stands selling their goods. There was an organization selling admissions to the rubber ducky race to take place later in the evening. We did our part and spoke to the local business owners represented at the festival and sat for a while listening to music.

While sitting around, we noticed a man getting a lot of attention and giving out autographs. We asked who he was and learned that he was a sort of local celebrity who won the third place on “America’s Got Talent” in 2013. We spoke to him about the highs and lows of becoming an overnight celebrity, and of course, everyone wanted a photo.

We decided that we had seen everything there was to see at the festival so we piled into the vans and drove back to Berea. I spent the rest of the weekend working on our assignments with episodes of “Good Mythical Morning” and “Regular Show” playing in the background.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 3

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

We did not have class Monday because it was Memorial Day.

Day 2

We began the day by heading to the Madison County Fiscal Court House in Richmond, KY to give the same presentation that we gave to the merchants of Berea last Thursday. This time, our “ask” was to get the County Judge to sign a proposal that would constitute the next step for Berea to become a trail town. David Newswanger and Dustin Watts gave the Presentation this time and after they finished and questions were answered by the Berea trail town committee members, the county judge asked to sign the paper right away.

EPG cohort 12 at madison county fiscal courthouse The group outside the Fiscal Court House in Richmond, KY

Dr. Hackbert was impressed and wanted to treat us to lunch. It was only about 10 AM so while we waited for the local restaurants to open for business, we visited “Mike’s Bike and Hike”, a local biking, hiking and camping outfitter shop. There we met the owner, Mike, who told us his story. Mike was looking for a bike inner tube for his bike and was complaining to his wife about having to drive all the way to Lexington to get the specific innertube that he needed. His wife suggested that he open a bike shop in Richmond and he followed through. His timing could not have been better. He opened his shop right as the recession of 2007-2008 was setting in and gas prices were soaring. During that first year, he sold more bikes than he could keep in stock and was able to make his business profitable within a few years. Mike then opened another bike shop in another location.

Mike explained how he has come across a major problem in his business in recent years. He says that his customers see Mike as a brand. They shop at his shops because of him. They value his expertise and opinion more than they value the store or his employees’ opinions. Customers will call ahead asking which store location Mike is working in today and they will drive to that storefront no matter the distance. This is a problem because it means that if Mike is not physically present in the store, he will lose business. His business has become dependent on him making it difficult for it to be self-sustaining. Dr. Hackbert used Mike’s situation to explain the difference and importance of working on a business instead of working in the business as an entrepreneur.

We had lunch at the Babylon Cafe in Richmond and visited the “Battle of Richmond” civil war museum on or way back to Berea.

Day 3

Wednesday we began our journey to Abingdon, VA to see what a town that has been sustaining itself entirely on tourist activity offers its tourists and how we could bring aspects of this town to Berea. We hit the road at 8 AM and stopped soon after in London, KY to grab coffee at Starbucks. Our next stop was in Benham, KY to visit the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum.

“This museum is equal parts gallery and antique display. While information boards are plentiful, the real knowledge and experience gained from the museum were through the dozens of accurate and authentic displays. There are themes and sets that really invite you to image a life in the early and mid-1900s.”Immersion” is the word and what I believe is the aim and specialty of the museum. I walked away with more of an understanding of the mining culture and history of Kentucky than I could gain from reading a hundred books.” – My review of the Kentucky Mining Museum on Yelp

Opening of portal 31 in benham kentucky The opening of “Portal 31”

After the museum, we went to “Portal 31” a mining portal opened in the early 1900’s and shut down in the 1960’s. We rode a tram deep into the mine where animatronic miners and graphical displays took us through the different eras of mining in Kentucky from the lone miner and his pickaxe to the continuous miner.

View from the top of Black Mountain Kentucky Virginia View at the top of Black Mountain

After we were filled with knowledge and understanding of the history of coal mining in Kentucky it was time to fill our stomachs. We stopped in Cumberland, KY at Charlotte’s Hoagie Shop for a wholesome lunch before driving the rest of the way to Abingdon, VA. We avoided the interstate at Dr. Hackbert’s command so we could witness the countryside of Eastern Kentucky and Virginia. As part of this path, we had to climb Black Mountain, the highest mountain in Kentucky. Clara, our team’s other driver, took us up the mountain on the narrow and winding roads. At the top of the mountain after taking pictures, we switched and I took us down the mountain in low gear.

We arrived in Abingdon and unloaded at the Alpine Motel around dinner time. Once everyone arrived and unpacked, we went to 128 Pecan, a fancy bistro just off Main Street Abingdon. After dinner, we returned to the motel to crash after a long day of travel.

Day 4

Today we focused on hearing the stories of local entrepreneurs in Abingdon and Damascus. We started off by visiting the bike rental shop that we will be using on Friday to bike a 17-mile portion of the Virginia Creeper Trail. The owner of the shop quit his job as an electrician to open this storefront and eventually expanded to a second location.

We then traveled to Damascus, VA to visit the Damascus Brewery, founded and run by Adam. Adam has a degree in Biology and worked for many years in a research lab doing DNA sequencing and genetic research. He was laid off a few years ago as his company went public. He had developed a passion for brewing in college and has been home brewing his own ales ever since. He made his own vats and equipment, saving lots of money on startup. He currently classifies as a nano brewery because he can only output 50 gallons at a time. He is about to upgrade to a microbrewery, producing a few hundred gallons at a time. Adam took us through the process of brewing and revealed the chemistry behind the brew and the steps that he and his crew take to make the different flavors they offer.

adam of teh damascus brewery Adam showing us one of his brewing vats.

One piece of information that we found interesting was the local economic impact that the brewery has had on Damascus. Adam purchases several tons of wheat and hops from local farmers every year and local restaurants and pubs keep his beer on tap allowing for a totally local economy surrounding the beer from the fields to the tap.

For lunch, we went to a recently opened restaurant and bar called “Bobo McFarland’s”. After lunch, we met with the owner of Bobo’s and heard his story. As a young adult, he worked for years in a high-class restaurant. Feeling that he had obtained the skills needed to work at a five-star gourmet restaurant in Las Vegas. He packed his bags and headed out to Vegas stopping only for gas to get to an interview for a chef’s job. He walked in the door and sat down and the first question that he was asked was, “what formal education have you had?”. He had not attended any kind of culinary school and was told to leave the room and that they were only hiring those with official degrees. He quickly got his degree completing 4 years of classes and coursework in 18 months! He eventually found that he wanted to bring the 5-star restaurant experience to small towns like Damascus. He opened Bobo McFarland’s a few months ago in hopes of getting his alcohol distribution license in time for “The Damascus Trail Days Festival” that passed just a few weeks ago. He succeeded in getting his license in time and was still painting the walls of the restaurant as customers began piling in.

We also heard from another serial entrepreneur who owns many local businesses in Damascus including MoJo’s Coffee. His story was one of repeat entrepreneurship. He always is looking for a new business opportunity and jumps on every opportunity he gets.

Heartwood Artisan Center Heartwood Artisan Center

After hearing from all these local entrepreneurs we had a makeshift lecture in the lawn in front of the Alpine Motel. We discussed our learnings from the day and plans for the remainder of the day. We decided on visiting and having lunch at the Heartwood Artisan Center for live Bluegrass music and local artisan crafts then heading to “Thursday Jams” at the Abingdon Farmers Market. The Heartwood was an amazing architectural building stuffed with local culture offering everything from local wines, coffee beans, and soaps to hand blown glass figurines, brooms, and jewelry. The food at the Heartwood was amazing and the accompanying Bluegrass music was a nice touch.

The real fun began at the Farmers Market at “Thursday Jams”. The group performing used authentic Appalachian string instruments and drums to produce upbeat cultural tunes drawing from Arabic, Latin, and African musical roots. Needless to say, the tunes got everyone in our group on our feet and it’s safe to say that the Berea EPG Cohort 12 stole the show. The next day we had citizens from the town approach us asking, “were you one of the ones dancing yesterday?”.

Thursday Jams Abbingdon Farmers Market Dancing at “Thursday Jams”

Dr. Hackbert was impressed with our unexpected dancing skills and treated us to Dairy Queen before returning to the motel where the entire gang, hopped up on ice cream and dancing fever, decided to all hang out in my hotel room with my roommate, David. It wasn’t long until one of the girls in our cohort from Lebanon broke out authentic Lebanese hair plucking threads and began giving everyone a free eyebrow plucking. Let’s just say there are no more unmanaged eyebrows in our cohort… After everyone cleared out of our room, we hit the hay to rest up for our 17-mile bike tomorrow.

Day 5

bike shuttle to Damascus Virginia On the bike shuttle to Damascus.

We woke up early and drove to the bike rental shop where we were fitted to our bikes, loaded onto a van with bikes on a trailer in tow, and shuttled to Damascus so that we could bike straight back to Abingdon, a 17-mile trail length. I had planned on sticking with the group along the trail but I soon found that I was leaving them behind even while pacing myself. I decided to leave the group and just enjoy myself on the trail stopping at photo opportunities and to sit and take a break on a bench beside the river. I saw some storm clouds approaching from the right and made it a priority to get back to Abingdon in time to beat the storm. I was the first to return to the bike rental shop with a few hours to spare before we were expected to all meet up and leave for Berea.

I checked online for a local place to have lunch and decided on Zazzy’z, a coffee, sandwich, and dessert shop about a mile from the bike shop. I walked there and had a pleasant lunch where I was approached by a lady asking If I was one of the dancers from yesterday. I explained that we were in Abingdon researching local businesses and observing the effect that trails have on local communities. I bought a bag of locally roasted Kenyan coffee beans and took the walk back to the bike shop. As I arrived at the bike shop so did the leading others from their biking excursion. Drenched in water and backs covered in coal mud flung up from their tires, they all instantly wondered why I wasn’t wet as well. I explained that I avoided the storm and spent my extra time wandering the streets of the town. As the others came wandering in we heard of one group who found a couple walking the trail who led them to their house just off the trail. The couple explained that they have an organic chicken farm and sell eggs in town. They have 75 chickens all of whom have names. They gave the group a dozen eggs and some all natural organic recipes to share.

biking the creeper trail The ones who got rained on.

Once everyone convened and cleaned up, we hit the road for the 4-hour drive back to Berea, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks. Exhausted from traveling and all the fun we had this week, I have been resting up all weekend and falling behind on the online lessons we are expected to do. Hopefully, I’ll get a reprieve as it seems many of the others are in a similar situation. This week truly felt like a vacation more than work but looking back I can see that I’ve learned a lot and this learning will likely be crucial to our work in the future.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 2

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Day 1

We set out early Monday morning to Livingston, KY a small town of 280 people to have our first out of the building experience and check out the trails and rivers of the area. We heard first hand from Mayor Jason Medley of Livingston how such a small town functions and the kinds of economic and moral improvement that he brought to the town. He told us a time when he was contacted by a citizen concerning a problem with their water pump. With no plumbers nearby, the mayor was the first to contact about the issue. Jason said he answered the call by arriving at the caller’s house with tools in hand and worked with the person to fix the pump. Jason made it clear that all civil work is unpaid volunteers and that even his own work as mayor goes unpaid. Jason mentioned that there are only five businesses operating within the 42 acres under Livingston’s dominion. A feed and seed store, the Main Street Diner, A Variety Store, City Hall, and a barber’s shop where the mayor also cuts hair and makes the majority of his money there.

Mayor Jason Medley of Livingston Mayor Jason Medley (middle), Peter Hackbert (right), and Will Bowling (left).

We spoke to and explored 3 of the businesses there. The Main Street Diner was recently under new management and has changed hands many times. We ate there before hitting the trails and rivers the food was adequate and staff was friendly. The Variety Store had an interesting story. The owner bids on storage lots both online and in person in Louisville and Lexington and sells whatever she ends up buying in her store. She said she was watching “Storage Wars” on TV, a series where two men travel the US using a similar business model. The owner says that the business has been successful enough to provide for her family for 3 years and has given her something to do. City Hall was built in the abandoned school on Main Street. Jason revealed to us that the school was shut down due to funding and the students relocated to another district. The school was renovated in the last few years by the mayor, volunteers, and labor from the local jail.

Our group of 20 was divided into 3 groups that would experience the hiking trail, biking trail, and kayaking rapids and report their findings to the others. I had registered to bike along with 4 other students. The biking portion was just recently added to the list of outdoor activities offered by the town of Livingston but they also had a horseback riding option that was not available to us at the time. The biking group commandeered 5 bikes and helmets, loaded up the pickup truck of the owner of the “Just Kik-n-it Ranch”, the outfitter responsible for our adventures, and rode out the top of the trail we would be biking. Our guide designated me as the “captain” of the group, making me responsible for keeping the group together.

The start of the trail was steep downhill and although I and two others made it down the slope with the only slight use of the squeaky, unkempt brakes on the rather dinky bikes they provided us, we noticed that we were missing two. Upon climbing the hill we found that two of our team-mates had wiped out on the first hill. One, Dustin, sustained scrapes on his left hand, elbow and knee. The other, Andrea, had a cut on her left hand and bruises on hip and legs. Needless to say, the rest of the trip was slow going. Dustin’s bike had broken its seat with the crash. I offered to trade with him since I am accustomed to riding without a seat.

Biking in Livingston with Just-Kik-n-it Ranch

I ended up guiding the team through the rest of the 5-mile trail. I would repel the myriad of dogs that approached us as we had two in our team that were morbidly afraid of dogs. For a while, we were lost as we were not sure if we should diverge from the main trail and follow the trail by some train tracks or to continue on the main trail. we followed the main trail to a dead end in somebody’s yard and were again approached by a half dozen dogs. We quickly backtracked and took the path at the train tracks. It was about this time that another team-mate’s bike, Adriana’s, suffered a broken pedal. I watched as under normal use the pedal just fell off. I tried to fix it but the threads were stripped on the end of the pedal and could not be fixed on the trail.

We walked the rest of the trail and flagged down a car that was approaching us to ask for directions to Livingston. The kind gentleman in the blue vintage Chevy told us to follow the trail and to take a right on the highway. He gave us an unopened bottle of water to share as he could probably see the thirst and dehydration in our eyes. We thanked him graciously and headed onward to the highway where we walked for a good 2 more miles on a slight incline to the town of Livingston where we recounted our journey to our cohort. We rode back to Berea and attended a night session with Dr. Hackbert to do an exercise to work to discover what our own “Work on Purpose” is.

Day 2

After we finished the discussion with Johnny, Hackbert introduced to us the role of social media platforms (Facebook, Tripadvisor, and Yelp) in bringing business to local enterprises. Facebook posts about events you are attending can drive traffic to those events from your friends and increase awareness of an issue like eco-tourism. Tripadvisor and Yelp are key platforms for writing reviews of destinations and businesses that are viewable for thousands of interested people worldwide. A positive review of a local coffee shop could be the deciding factor for driving a tourist to it rather that a chain store.

Tuesday we headed to Middlesboro KY. On the way, we stopped in London, KY for Starbucks Coffee and we also visited a state park/campground to see an example of an 18th-century settlement that was reconstructed there. We also stopped at Wildcat Harley-Davidson in London KY to gain insights about a potential tourist customer segment: bikers. Wildcat has earned several state and national awards for its successful business practices and earnings. We spoke to the manager of the store who told us that bikers are reported to be the biggest tippers, friendliest guests, and leave the cleanest hotel rooms. We used this information, later on, Thursday.

Wildcat Harley-Davidson

We arrived in Middlesboro and ate at the Avenue Cafe. I was instantly impressed by the small town. It has a population of about 10,000 and its main street is reminiscent of a booming 19th-century town. I was impressed by the apparent art culture in the town. All the glass shop windows had amazing window paintings and the brick buildings were plastered with artistic posters and murals. At the center of town were four identical fountains each on one of the four blocks at the intersection in the middle of town. We visited a professional bike and outdoor shop that had just opened a few weeks ago. Crater City Adventure offered professional high-dollar equipment for bikers, skateboarders, campers, hikers and rock climbers. We learned that the name “Crater City Adventure” comes from the myth that the bowl-shaped valley that Middlesboro resides in was formed by a meteor millions of years ago.

Fountain in Middlesboro

We then left Middlesboro for a few hours to check out the Cumberland Gap museum and trail. We watched a movie at the museum detailing the history of the Cumberland Gap and Daniel Boone’s westward journey. The museum had a gift shop with Appalachian crafts and art. I found several brooms and woodcrafts from Berea College. We took straight from the museum to the trail where we hiked a good 2 miles to the “saddle” of the Gap then 2 more miles back. We went back to Middlesboro to attend a town meeting concerning the trail town status of Middlesboro and to listen to a presentation by a University of Kentucky Landscaping Architecture student who, for her capstone project, worked with a team of students to redesign several parts of Middlesboro to increase visual, functional and environmental appeal.

We left Middlesboro for the 2-hour drive back to Berea and stopped at Dino’s Italian Restaurant in Corbin, KY for a late dinner at 8 pm. We got back to Berea around 12 am.

Day 3

Super tired from driving/traveling for the last two days, I dragged myself to class to hear again from our adventure tourism expert, Johnny Malloy, via a skype call. Johnny let us know some of the key things that tourists look for in a business and what businesses can do to increase their customer base and make the experience better for the tourist. These include offering free WiFi, maintaining and pushing social media platforms, having adequate signage, and providing amenities that can increase content created and shared during the experience like offering waterproof bags for phones for those doing water sports.

We heard presentations from the several students who spent the weekend in Damascus, VA at the Trail Festival. They reported on the kinds of tourists and customer segments present at the event. They interviewed and reported on the kinds of spending habits they were able to ascertain from the interviews. One student reported that Damascus had city-wide free municipal Wi-Fi and fiber gigabit internet infrastructure was currently present in the city which I thought was an amazing feat for a small city.

In the night session, we worked to assemble a presentation to give at Berea City Hall to several of the most successful business owners in Berea to urge them to join a Merchants Committee that is needed as part of the application process for Berea becoming a trail town. This presentation needed to show the merchants why Berea becoming a trail town would benefit them and what joining a Merchant’s Committee would mean for them.

Day 4

We heard a summary from the Dean of Berea College, Chad Berry, of the history of Appalachia where he confirmed the myth that the Middlesboro crater was formed from a meteor impact.

The presentation to the Berea merchants was to be given today at 5:30 pm and we worked on finishing up our presentation and choose three individuals to actually deliver the presentation. In the end, I was chosen along with Geurds, and Malika. We had three hours to practice the presentation which was to be thirteen minutes long. The presentation was fairly title and data intensive meaning that it was crucial to get names of towns, events, and committees correct as well as precise statistics and numerical figures. We used our iPads as a reference while giving the presentation and at the end I was charged with giving the final “ask”. I pleaded to the merchants to raise their hand and sign up for the committee and before I could even finish, they began raising their hands. This was a great feeling of accomplishment and after the presentation, several sign-up sheets were passed around to the merchants.

City of berea merchants committee The merchants starting to put their hands up at the end of our presentation.

Dr. Hackbert was impressed with our efforts and treated the entire cohort to coffee at Berea Coffee and Tea, owned by one of the merchants who signed up to the committee.

Day 5

Friday we took it easy. We worked to polish the presentation slides from yesterday so that we could deliver the same presentation again if needed to a variety of audiences.

After lunch, we heard from fifteen students who were giving presentations comparing their home county in Appalachia to an assigned county in Eastern Kentucky so that we could get a feel for the economic dependencies, and a population of the kinds of counties we will be working with later in the summer.

Experience

Entrepreneurship for the Public Good – Week 1

The Entrepreneurship for the Public Good (EPG) Program at Berea College creates a multi-year, learning experience for undergraduate students to practice and implement Entrepreneurial Leadership in rural communities of Central Appalachia. The EPG Program defines “Entrepreneurial Leadership” as:

“A process when one person or a group of people in a community originate an idea or innovation for a needed change and influence others in that community to commit to realizing that change, despite the presence of risk, ambiguity, or uncertainty”.

The EPG curriculum, teaching approach, and course of study are built from this central definition, and are expressed in the “EPG Cycle of Abilities for Entrepreneurial Leadership.” That cycle centers on six core learning goals of the program: engaging complexity and uncertainty; exploring values and ethical structures; facilitating group decisions; recognizing opportunity; mobilizing resources; and, advocating change.

Introduction

Berea College’s Entrepreneurship for the Public Good summer institute takes in 20 students to train in entrepreneurship, leadership and community service. The goal of EPG, as of late, has been to stimulate the local economy of Eastern Kentucky by helping small business owners to optimize and reach out to tourist in the area. Many counties in Eastern Kentucky have a ~3% tourism tax that applies to places like restaurants and gift shops. Thus, tourist dollars spent in Eastern Kentucky go directly to the pockets of small business owners and to the local governments to improve infrastructure and pay for public utilities and services. EPG is an 8-week program in which students spend 4 weeks learning about Appalachia, entrepreneurial practices, and communication skills, and 4 weeks traveling Eastern Kentucky, Western North Carolina, and West Virginia sharing what they learned with business owners and communicating with local politicians about improving tourism.

EPG Logo

How are 20 students to accomplish all of this in 8 weeks?

Through the careful planning, instruction, and guidance of Dr. Peter Hackbert, a leading entrepreneurship professor who has been with the program for eight years. The first day was primarily dedicated to filling out the Kolb Learning Style and Edison Innovation Literacy Blueprint. These learning assessment quizzes help to map out specific learning styles of the students and will be used to diversify and organize teams to maximize learning and communication diversity within each team. We also began a series of documentaries outlining the history of Appalachia from geological conception, through the first Native American inhabitants, to the coal mining dependency in the 19th and 20th century.

Our first speaker

We heard from Johnny Molloy, a professional adventurer and author of over 50 hiking, camping, and outdoor activity guides, who informed us that the Appalachian region is a hub of natural tourism attractions from trails, caves, rivers and mountains. He also shared the importance of tourism economy in Eastern Kentucky.

Johnny Molloy on a trail

Social media for economic development

After we finished the discussion with Johnny, Hackbert introduced to us the role of social media platforms (Facebook, Tripadvisor, and Yelp) in bringing business to local enterprises. Facebook posts about events you are attending can drive traffic to those events from your friends and increase awareness of an issue like eco-tourism. Tripadvisor and Yelp are key platforms for writing reviews of destinations and businesses that are viewable for thousands of interested people worldwide. A positive review of a local coffee shop could be the deciding factor for driving a tourist to it rather that a chain store.

Key readings

Of course, the program is not all fun and games. We are also expected to accomplish several readings during our off time. The first week was dedicated to reading “Work on Purpose” (WOP) by Laura Galinsky. WOP is a production of Echoing Green, a social entrepreneurship seed funding organization. The book’s major theme can be summarized in one equation: HEAD + HEART = HUSTLE. The argument is that to be happy in one’s professional life, one needs to find an occupation where their head (their abilities and logic) and heart (their passion) are aligned. The book follows the stories of 6 individuals as they struggled with aligning their heart and head and how they eventually found or created that perfect combination and achieved hustle.

Andrew Youn Work on Purpose

Creativity is key

Throughout the week, Hackbert had us participate in classic spontaneous creativity exercises. For example, all 20 students were asked to organize themselves in order of chronological birthdate without speaking and describe as many uses for a brick as we could in 90 seconds. I completed all of the exercises previously during my stay at Stanford University as a part of the University Innovation Fellows Annual Meetup (which is where I am guessing Hackbert discovered these exercises).

EPG Cohort 12 Creativity exersize

To city hall

Wednesday Hackbert selected 5 students (I happened to be one of them) to join him at Berea City Hall to observe a meeting of the Berea Tourism Commission to get a feel for the atmosphere and to become acquainted the members of the commission. I shook hands with the mayor of Berea!

Bike the US

Thursday, we heard from Matt Krajewski, a mechanical engineer who was fed up with his job and quit to bike across the US for charity and happened to be passing through Berea. To read more about Matt’s journey check his website/blog. Matt explained that he was traveling frugally, depending on warmshowers.org to find free housing and using the free Wi-Fi from restaurants to maintain his blog. Matt’s story was inspiring and cautionary and I intend to follow his blog to check his progress in the coming weeks.

Matt the transamerican Bike the US for MS cyclist

Getting Political

Friday’s adventure took us to Richmond, KY where we had lunch at the Chamber of Commerce State of the County Address. The goal of this meeting was to begin to practice networking with local business owners and local politicians. We heard from Judge Executive Reagan Taylor about the state of Madison County financially.

EPG Cohort 12 with Judge Executive Reagan Taylor

EPG so far…

By no means is this everything that I did this week. These are the highlights, the things that were memorable and I thought would be interesting. EPG, for me, has been more focused on learning about Appalachia than I initially envisioned. I don’t care much for learning about Appalachia as a region. I am hoping that the following weeks will include more personal/interpersonal development as well as entrepreneurial training. So far, EPG seems promising in helping me develop professional skills as well as giving me experience with customer profiling. Not regretting the decision to dedicate half my summer to EPG yet.