Hidden in Suburbia 2011 (Part Nine): Farewell, Latham

The past month has been a whirlwind as we go through all of the steps necessary to sell our house, and begin constructing a new life in Des Moines, including buying a new house there. As I work to mobilize contractors, get the house ready for showings, review property specifications in Iowa, and help hire my replacement, I’m finding myself with less time than I’d like for summer fitness, including riding my bike into the woods and wastelands of Latham and sharing my findings with our readers here. I’ve done a couple of short rides in the past few weeks, but as my psychic focus shifts from Latham to Des Moines, I figure it’s probably time to put the camera away and declare my work as documentarian of Latham’s dark spots to be over.

So this will be my final Hidden in Suburbia report hereabouts, though I suspect that Hidden in Des Moines may also be a going series once I get out there. As always, you can click the photo below to get the annotated version of the photos, or you can click here to get the wordless slide show version. This one features vast late summer meadows, graveyards, abandoned greenhouses, and the place where old pipes go to die. Here’s hoping these and all the earlier photos inspire someone else to keep looking in the spaces between the places . . .

To see other Hidden in Suburbia photo essays, click here.



Marcia and Katelin and I are back tonight from a week in Denmark, with a day trip to Sweden tossed in for good measure. Brains are fried at the moment, so not much to report here in words, except to say “Awesome, awesome, fabulous vacation!”

I did upload the photo album, however, if you’d like to see some of what we saw. You can click the image below for the directory of the annotated version, or click here for the wordless slideshow. More later, when my brain is working properly. Say “Goodnight,” Eric.

“Goodnight, Eric . . . ”

Understanding Nonprofit Mergers and Acquisitions: A Primer

“Merger-mania” has come to be a prominent defining characteristic of the nonprofit sector in the first decade of the 21st Century, as a growing level of organizational consolidation provides strong evidence that a wide-spread restructuring of the sector is underway. The article linked below provides an executive overview of contemporary literature on nonprofit mergers, with cites and references to support continued study, as well as a summary of the ways in which nonprofit organizations can consolidate, key considerations before such actions are taken, and an overview of the due diligence process required to bring a merger to fruition. At bottom line: such actions are not for the faint of heart, though when executed with caution and care, they may provide immense improvements in efficiency and the quality of services that nonprofits can offer to their communities.

Understanding Nonprofit Mergers and Acquisitions: A Primer

Understanding Organization Development: A Primer

Wendell L. French and Cecil H. Bell, Jr. once defined Organization Development (OD) as “a long-term effort, led and supported by top management, to improve an organization’s visioning, empowerment, learning and problem-solving processes, through an ongoing, collaborative, management of organizational culture — with special emphasis on the culture of intact work teams and other team configurations — using the consultant-facilitator role and the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research.”

For contemporary managers, it is often difficult to choose between “flavor of the day” management and process improvement theories, which may or may not be underpinned by testable, repeatable, scholarly research. To help get past this potential muddle and the marketing bugaboos that exploit it, I offer the article posted at the link below, which provides a high-level introduction to some of the seminal research in the OD field, with cites and references to allow further exploration.

Having a stronger sense of the academic literature in this field can help separate the snake oil salesmen from the legitimate change agents when they come knocking at your corporate door. And, believe you me, they will come knocking, and they’ll promise to transform your operation, for a price. Sometimes, it will be worth it. Other times, not. But at bottom line: if a self-proclaimed OD professional, management consultant or “life coach” doesn’t know who Lewin, Schein, Senge and Argyris are, then you can feel very confident in showing them to the door, and saving your organization a healthy chunk of otherwise ill-spent capital in the process.

Here’s the link to the full article . . .

Understanding Organization Development: A Primer

What’s The Ugliest Part of Your Body?

1. Marcia and I had to fly out to the Midwest this weekend, and booked a round-trip on Delta Airlines that appeared, online and on paper, to construe a reasonably easy trip. Woe unto us, however, that’s not how things played out, as one flight was cancelled and one flight was delayed due to mechanical difficulties, one flight was cancelled due to weather in a distant market precluding the equipment from arriving, and an easy hop through Detroit was re-routed through Atlanta, more than doubling the amount of time we had to spend up above 30,000 feet. All told, we ended up spending two nights in places that were not on our original agenda. No good. No fun. While I appreciate the fact that Delta flies Canadair Regional Jets (my favorite commercial aircraft), I’m not sure I can ever book a flight with them again after this weekend.

2. Speaking of movies, I’m not a fan of paid product placement in films, nor do I care to see great songs marred by association with crappy commercials that use them in a needlessly exploitative fashion. That being said, I am glad to note that our nation’s hipoisie seem to have discovered The Free Design in recent years when they program their soundtracks and advertisements, and anything that gets this awesome family band’s music a wider audience is okay by me. I have particularly adored their song “Love You” since I was a child. I think you need to adore it, too, since it sounds like nothing before or since. Listen here:


3. And speaking of awesome, Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is within a day or so of peering down into the massive Endeavour Crater for the first time, amazingly surviving a trek that was largely unimaginable when the doughty little robot landed in the Meridiani Planum seven and a half years ago, with a planned 90-day life expectancy. The Road to Endeavour website has been providing regular reports on Opportunity’s progress since December 2008, and the excitement there is palpable as Opportunity closes in on landfall at Botany Bay and Cape York. Incredible stuff, truly, and it will be touching moment indeed when Opportunity rolls up to Spirit Point, named after her late lamented sister rover, star of the saddest cartoon ever.