[Nature is Nurture] Stand Up For Mother Earth, Stand with Standing Rock

If you’re keen enough, smart enough, on a mission enough – you might find them hiding between lines of sexual misconduct, email scandals, and personality flaws during this perverse and conflicting election season.  You’ll catch a glimpse of them as the scurry from the darkness into the light, more often than not you’ll find them neglected or negated, swept under rugs or just simply brushed aside – what are they, you might ask? Well, they’re facts. They’re the real issues and real problems that you’re somehow not being bombarded with because the news is controlled by media companies so succinctly feeding the press stories – not truths – that it becomes hard to tell who the chicken and the egg are.  Image result for who owns the media infographicBut at least you can admit, to a point – they’re both clucking mad.

According to an infographic from 2011  that’s since gone viral, in just under twenty years – the media has gone from being owned by 50 different companies to just six by 2011: GE, News Corp, News-Corpiacom, Time Warner and CBS.  Based on the recent merger between AT&T and Time Warner, you better believe that number is only going to get smaller over time – and that’s downright terrifying.  One conglomerate to control them all could (unfortunately) make sense in a fascist dictatorship, or under communist rule – but we have either an oligarchy or plutocracy that masquerades around as a “democracy” – which makes it all the more terrifying how much “they” control the “news“.  Because let’s face it, whether locally, nationally or globally – news continually slips through the cracks while the semblance of a political psycho-circus is always lurking just around the corner.  More often than not, I find both media outlets, as well as my peers, are consumed with what consider to be the wrong issues.  Right now for me, that issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline.

For those with a terrible short-term memory, back in 2011 – there were ample protests against the cross-continent implementation of the Keystone Pipeline XL.  An extension of the Keystone pipeline that would stretch from the oil fields in Alberta, Canada all the way down into Texas.  The cliff notes version: Alberta’s TransCanada energy company wanted a pipeline to travel to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, which would bring 830k barrels of oil through a day.  Through much protest (that America heard very little about) the motion was passed in Canada.  Their intention was to piggyback on the existing Keystone pipeline, which was given a green light by George Bush in 2008.  The new XL pipeline would instead carry tar sands oil: a heavier, more corrosive and more carbon intensive oil than the conventional oil. Translation: less ecofriendly, more emissions, more pollution – and more of a mess to clean up.

The almost 1200 mile pipeline was set to disrupt wildlife while pushing out indigenous tribes that have lived in synchronicity with the land for eons.  The pipeline was raising more questions than answers, increasing our carbon footprint and forcing climate change as we frack for crude oil instead of searching for more eco-conscious and sustainable solutions. The ideology behind the XL pipeline was so terrible that troves of tree huggers, nature lovers and generational leaders came out of the woodwork in protest –  including most notably the president of the Sierra Club, who broke their 120 year stance on civil disobedience to drive their point home.  Though a Republican Senate passed the Keystone Pipeline approval act, President Obama thankfully rejected the decision in 2015.

But that was Keystone XL, and this is the Dakota Access Pipeline.  So, what’s different now? For starters, not much – and that, in my opinion, is the first problem.  Since the industrial revolution, humans have continually trolled the land, stealing and pilaging what we can from it without giving much, if anything, in return.  The DAPL proposes to take crude oil from currently untapped regions Bakken Oil Pipeline that are estimated to hold upwards of 7 billion barrels of oil. The problem with pipelines, as we’ve seen in the past, are the ways they can burst, break and wreak havoc on their surrounding environment, creating unlivable human conditions and decimate any semblance of animal life.  As the pipeline is currently drawn, it would drive itself into the heart of the Sioux Indian Tribal Lands, disrupting the way of life of not just the native human population – but the continually dwindling animal population as well.  And speaking of animal population, it feels like they’re listening – just watch this video of Bison travel down to Standing Rock to give their energy, and then remember how large packs of bison actually used to be.  This is our doing, this is is our destrution, this is humanity’s Midas touch -and we pour salt in our own wounds on the daily.

It’s a shame that so many of us believe that the earth is theirs to inherit, it’s not ours, the same way it was never our grandparents, or their parents before them – this land belongs to my great granddaughters who I’ll never meet, and their great granddaughters and so forth. Our time here is a continual investment in the future, not a past debt owed to us that we can exploit over, and over again.  According to the World Wildlife Foundation’s biennial Living Planet Report, in the last fifty years the marine life has been decimated by 36%,  terrestrial populations have declined by 38% and freshwater popluations have shrunk an abhroent 81%. They project that in the next fifth years almost 2/3 of the wildlife in the world will go extinct for a various number of reasons, most of them manmade: climate change, pollution and the destruction of the animal’s natural habit; a hat trick of terror that humans have enacted onto the world that we simply can’t turn back the clock on – but we can stop ourselves from getting greedy with the planet and going overboard.

Ways to Help

Sign The Petition 

Start small but think big.  Sometimes, it’s difficult to think of one voice as being strong, loud and resonant above all else – but then you’re stuck in a room with a mosquito and it all clicks.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and the signed petition gets heard: thankfully, the White House petition exceeded the number of signatures necessary against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but there’s a second petition  here through Credo Action that could also use some love.

Donate

The first thing everyone thinks of when they see the word donate is money.  Yes, money helps – but so do supplies, blankets, food and water.To donate directly to the Sioux Tribe at Standing Rock, head here.

Make a Visit.

For all the wonder and splendor that the United States has to offer, I never once thought I’d put North Dakota on my travel bucket list – but until now, I’ve never been so crystal clear on what could actually affect change in our world.

Facebook Activism

Though I’m typically not a proponent of Facebook activism per say, in this case – it can do wonders to disrupt, dismantle and discombobulate the network of decision making by authorities.  Though the tactic is currently under investigation by Snopes as to its actual validity, checking in at Standing Rock on Facebook  is a wonderful gesture to demonstrate your solidarity, not to mention a rallying cry to get others in the know.

The earth is much more than nature – it’s nurture, and it’s time for us to protect and love the earth the same way she has loved us.  Stand up for Mother Nature – stand up for Standing Rock.

pipeline

[Work It] Ramp Up Your Resume

 

 

From the moment we’re thrust into the world of academia, there’s a lingering air left over us that we’re destined to pursue our dream career and land our dream job.  For some of us, that’s a tried and true reality; but that reality comes with sacrifices that tend to not be talked about: the fiscal rewards seem inversely proportional to the facets of our life that we sacrifice.  Friendships, from familial to romantic, are thrust onto the back burner while deferred dreams evolve into the norm.

But then, on the flip side, there are others like myself included that are still passionately prowling for what makes sense to them. We’ve watched as hobbies and skills learned vocationally have developed into tangible career path, and our academic degrees have signified less and less, eventually fading away into obscurity on a wall in your home office as resolute proof of a life once lived.  Regardless of your career choice, one truth I’ve learned about the working world is you should always be open to the variety of options out there, because you simply don’t know what doors of opportunity you might be knocking on in the future.

Over the last month, I’ve migrated roles in my part time position into a interim Human Resources guru and I’ve seen a lot – I mean a – LOT – of resumes fly my way.  Some are stellar and some not so much, but it’s made the wheels of my mind work in new and different ways.  I’ve found that whether it’s a do or a don’t, each and every resume has valuable insight – from elevating my syntax or word choice, adjusting my work history, delving into my skill set or omitting prior experience that has little to nothing to do with the new role. Beyond now owing myself an actual resume refresh with some of the new skills I’ve learned while taking in the hiring process, I finally have some wisdom to impart on the topic. Whether you’ve had your job for a month or a year, having an up to date resume that you can send out on a whim is clutch – and could land you the opportunity of a lifetime.

 

 

Style

 ‘Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.’
– Rachel Zoe –
Granted, I don’t think Rachel Zoe was referring to reviving your resume – but for all intensive purposes, for now – let’s just pretend she was.  Even though the proof of the pudding  is your content, the style and formatting of your resume are the first impression, and you know what they say about first impressions: it’s best to make a good one.  Your resumes style should say as much about your personality as the words on the page, not to mention – it’s your first foot in the door with an employer.
I’ve found that a resume with an elegantly simple yet beautiful style will get passed on 9 times out of 10 over a plain text resume, while a standard plain text resume with proper margins and headers sounds ideal compared to a one haphazardly strewn together, without margins or any form of structure.  But let’s back up a bit and get to the basics of resume formatting.
Traditionally, your resume should have the most important information on the top and left side, while the less important information is left for the right side and the bottom.  This is because of two schools of thought – one, is that only the first few words of each line are even read – so those need to be the most important; the other is that resumes tend to be folded in half, and sometimes they stay that way – meaning anything ‘below the fold’ goes unseen.
The crux of your resume itself should be single spaced, with a 12 point font for the body.  Mind your margins and as a general rule of thumb, leave at least .5″ on the right and left sides, and you can go down to .25″ for the header and footer margin.Keep in mind that too much text is overwhelming and  having some white space is pleasing to the eye.  Bullet points for positions and professions should be limited to two lines maximum, but one if possible.  Whatever you do, please use proper case for your resume – take it from personal experience, a resume in all capitals is anxiety inducing and can basically guarantee that your resume will be sent to the bottom of the barrel. When it comes to style – consistency is key, make sure the body of your resume is all in the same font, size and color.  And last, but certainly not least – use spell check and be careful not to jump between tenses.
Like your Cover Letter, your resume should stick to one page – if you’re a creative, you can use the second page for projects and publications, but for your resume itself – it shouldn’t be one page and a paragraph – not even one full page and a trailing sentence on the next; one page, and one page only.  If you need a place for overflow information, try an online supplement like an About.Me page or LinkedIn profile. For those that consider themselves slightly more web savvy with a lot to say – try your hand at building your own webpage, not only is it a phenomenal reference point for any future employer but now you’ve already added new skill sets like Website Development, Search Engine Optimization, Google Analytics and Google Adwords. visual resume
Benefits of a Visual Resume
For anyone who’s pursuing a more creative avenue like  Graphic Design, Photography, Public Relations or Videography – you know how to best represent yourself, and it’s not in the old humdrum way you’re used to.  You deserve pizzazz, you deserve some pomp and a you deserve nothing but the best of circumstances. A visual resume is incredibly befitting and will show employers that you’re prepared to bring your A game to the table at a moments notice.

 

If you’ve got a friend in graphic design, grab’em – because their resumes are honestly instantly more creative and competitive than the rest of us. From simple additions like adjusting the flow of information or using columns to organize individual sections to more complex ones like including graphic images, social media icons and infographics to represent quantitative data – I’ve been blown away by how crafty some applicants are.  Word to the wise though, always save these types of resumes as a PDF – that way, the text doesn’t run  a muck and lose formatting when it’s uploaded to your employers website.

Content

Now that we’ve got your resume looking good and feeling great, it’s time to conquer the content of your resume – because when you get down to brass tax – the content is the product. For your resume less actually is more: with less fluff you give the reader a chance to focus on what’s important.    Let’s start at the top of the resume and work down to the bottom.

HeaderYour full address isn’t necessary, but your city and state are valuable to the employer – as is a link to a variety of different digital media profiles, from Twitter to Facebook and LinkedIn.  Just remember, these will be checked – so best to keep them clean!

ObjectiveUnless you’re making a drastic career shift or have just graduated from college or university – the ‘Objective’ statement on the top should either be eliminated or simply moved over to  your cover letter.

Work HistoryAfter a certain point in your career, you don’t need to tell your collective work history – you can start piece by piece, picking and choosing –  including only the professions that apply to the new job.  Move anything that’s not pertinent to a ‘Master Resume‘ that chronicles your entire job history, including remedial internships and part time gigs.  However, for the resume you ship around to prospective employers, it’s best to keep off any short term job that spanned for less than four months.

Each employment experience should have between 2 and 4 key notes, including key learnings, moments of growth, and acquired skills – all driven by powerful verbs. If possible, use numbers to drive your points home – not only are they a simpler way of determining value, but quantitative figures will make you stand out. Your history doesn’t necessarily need to be in a linear order – this segment should tell a story and read with your strongest applied skill set for the job at the top, then descending on downwards by rank of importance.  Omit your salary history – that’s a conversation for later down the road.

Education: Now that we’re finally out of college, our GPA and graduation date don’t matter as much as our degree itself, the honors and awards we received and the organizations we belonged to.  Did you go Greek? Work on the school newspaper? Have an hour segment on the radio station? Graduate with honors?  Volunteer at a local shelter?  All of these qualities are foundations of well rounded employees with a variety of brain stimulating hobbies.

 

Skills:  In 2016, there are some skills I just hope you have under your belt and believe you me – I’ve seen it all: Myers Briggs Personality Types,  ‘Fluent in English’, ‘Smart Phones and ‘Googling’.  Though I’m actually a fan of the first, what I realize is that all of these facets can pigeonhole an employee, or even prevent them from moving along in the hiring process.   USPS isn’t difficult to navigate, neither is Facebook.  But Facebook Page Analytics and Insuring International Shipments are two completely different stories.As a general rule of thumb, if you have to ask – you should probably just leave it out.

Posting and Hosting 

Before you save your resume, convert it to a PDF and preserve any creative or graphic elements.  Save the file  using your name + ‘Resume’ and the Date, and save it into a master directory  with all of your old resumes. That way, you’re ready to send on the fly moving forward.   As far as posting your resume online, there are several free options – including Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn; or, store a text version of your resume on About.me and a graphic representation on Visualize.Me – the possibilities are endless!  Now go on,  get out – and get hired!

[Write On] Listen Up and Get In Formation

We’ve started the year with two cultural schools of thought, on one hand there’s the loud and slightly ridiculous Stacey Dash phenomenon and on the other, we have the #OscarsSoWhite. So thank goodness that the Queen is back to shake things up and push us forward, Queen B that is. This past weekend, just the day before her highly anticipated Super Bowl collaboration with Coldplay and Bruno Mars, Beyonce dropped the world on it’s head with the release of her latest empowered single,’Formation’.  More than just a song, ‘Formation’ is a statement – ‘Formation’ is a movement;  ‘Formation’ is an ode to the rise of Black Feminine Energy – and it’s time to get in line.

Let me back up for a second.

After 31 years on this pseudo-green Earth, I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that the ideas of race, ethnicity, cultural adversity and then diversity run rampant in my veins. If you are who you surround yourself by, I’m socio-culturally middle class, with a multicultural twist. Minority Report, Oreo, Chocolate Sprinkle. My nicknames say it all, but it runs deeper.  When standardized tests were distributed in school, I always took longer than everyone else figuring out which box to check for ethnicity – what if I didn’t see my box? Does that mean I didn’t matter – do I not count? Can I check more than one box?  Where do I fit in here?

The multiracial, only child of a split family, I always had issues reconciling my ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the notion that they might invariable be two different identities were always kept at bay.  Remember Sun In? That shit turned my hair bright orange, not to mention warnings about sunscreen never seemed to apply to me.  When my dad remarried to my step mom and the three of us would go out together, people would infer I was adopted; fast forward twenty years later, and they mistake my fiance for their son.

Spot the Amanda

 

Silicon Valley born and raised, I grew up in the tiny and incredibly educated suburb of Menlo Park with my mom, and Palo Alto then Los Altos with my father. They were nice areas to be raised in and all that jazz, but let’s get one thing real for a second, they’re not the most diverse areas of the country; in fact they’re pretty monotone, sometimes painfully so. Whether it was with family, or in social endeavors, I always felt like the technicolor sheep of the family – never fitting in and always standing out.

Mentally, sonically, emotionally, I grew up in a boombox, self-identifying with Hip-hop and rap, including Janet Jackson’s anthemic Rhythm Nation 1814; but academically and socially, I attended programs where, in one way or another, I was the diversity. Whether it was attending Castilleja Middle School during the academic year, or their BRIDGE Program over the Summer, I wavered between a drop of milk in oil and a drop of oil in milk; an ever ebbing cascade of racial complexities that arose from a bi-cultural background that up until that age hadn’t been explored. Then, by the time I transferred back into Public School as a Junior in High School, Menlo Atherton High School had gotten national recognition with a center spread in ‘Teen People” as the most diverse yet segregated High School in America.

Serendipitous to consider it now, but it was around that same time that Destiny’s Child came out with their debut, self-titled album.  In a moment where I couldn’t find a cultural footing, somehow, with them, I found resonance, a voice, a mainstream media identity – or in my eyes, hope.  At 16, while away at an out of town basketball tournament, I walked into the room while several of my teammates were discussing their disgust with interracial relationships.  As I slowly sulked into the shadows, shuddering at each syllable, I faintly but distinctly overheard the words “…they shouldn’t be allowed to marry, and definitely shouldn’t be allowed to have children.”  My heart and ego sank in time as my head hung low for the duration of the tournament.  After, in an effort to reconnect to my roots, my aunt escorted me to a seminar in Los Angeles for Young African American Women; around the same time, I became a camp counselor in West Menlo Park and was quickly adopted under the wing of East Menlo Park’s more diverse subset of counselors where I became a master domino player, learned the proper way to eat fried chicken, not to mention the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie.  And in whatever down time I could muster, I buried my head in multicultural literature from James McBride’s The Color of Water to timely tomes from Danzy Senna, Caucasia and Symptomatic.

Combined, the ideas drilled in my head lead me to believe the next large sociocultural revolution would be a mixed race revolution, and we would be leading at the helm. But invariably, the events themselves, made me feel even more alone.  It was then, that the idea was finally and formally drilled into my head that there was a difference between being genetically ‘African American‘ and culturally Black.

Beyond the entertainment value, viral witticisms masquerading as lyrics and a host of regal outfits – the video  contains a not so subtle history lesson delivered with a passionate one two punch in under five minutes.  Starting with  emotional imagery and vocals that ask ‘What happened in New Orleans‘, Formation’ delves into the modern Black experience,  exploring the nuanced variety of genetic variability. Cascading through Southern cityscapes and landscapes, including estates and plantations, ‘Formation‘ offers a bevvy of emotional imagery: a cop car – and city -underwater,  a breakdancing toddler stalling a line of police with their hands in the air, ‘Stop Shooting Us’ haphazardly spray painted on an otherwise barren wall and coordinated feminine empowerment.

Imagery that grew only stronger with her performance the next day at the Super Bowl’s halftime show; decked out in gear halfway reminiscent of the 1970’s Black Panther movement spliced with Janet’s Rhythm Nation video, Beyonce urged a generation to mobilize and get in ‘Formation’.  The end result was a provocative performance of a ‘visual anthem‘ sure to live in cultural infamy.

Fast forward to three days later, and you’ll meet exactly what’s wrong with this country and could invariably elect someone as ignorant as Donald Trump; In light of the controversial dance ‘Formations’ and dress during her performance invoking the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and supposed dissent against the police -not to mention a display of their own cultural ignorance – protesters are heading to NFL’s New York Headquarters on February 18th . Not only have people willfully avoided history textbooks or contextualizing social issues like the suffrage and civil rights movement, but on top of that their ignorance has become ego driven arrogance; and I’m not sure what frustrates me more – an echoed rhetoric that minorities, especially women, are only here to entertain and not educate, or the idea that people are more offended by the message of the song than the actions that drove the creation of this performance.

I’ll be the first to admit that I never paid much attention in my European History classes and found most of my United States history courses beyond boring; but when it came to the Civil Rights Movement, I had an uncanny desire to devour all available knowledge. And I know this: The Black Panther Party was made of revolutionaries that fought for a culture that had been undermined for their entire cultural history to be recognized as equal.  Yes, they were born out of the failed non-violent Civil Rights Movement of MLK Jr and Medgar Evers but the movement didn’t promote violence, it promoted fairness while protecting the community from the racist behaviors of others while simultaneously pushing citizens to police the police – an idea that is still echoed in today’s society.

To the calls of it’s Football and not Hollywood, last time I listened to Sportscetnter I got a whole earful about girlfriends and wives, houses and style; things that invariable have jack all to do with competitive sports.  And now, we’re taking a critique to a traditionally all white variety of Halftime Entertainment.  So for a second, let’s talk about the NFL.  Let’s discuss the amount of sex crimes and prostitution rings that are cracked down on during high profile games every year, the egregious amount of drunk drivers that get into accidents leaving games or the fact that from start to finish, NFL games are riddled with advertisements parading the US Military as a revered enterprise. Yet a five minute segment that gives weight to a population more often misrepresented and underrepresented in mainstream media receives a bevvy of backlash? It’s time that people get their priorities in formation