Seeking non-profits, causes

February 27, 2015

This semester I’m teaching a class which I helped shape, and which Cuyahoga Community College has offered since 2007.  The class name is Social Media and Blogging.

As part of the class requirements, my students need to develop and carry out a social media campaign for a non-profit group of a social media cause.

It can’t be too extensive (the student will need to complete the campaign in a five-week window), but the student will be responsible for doing the social media aspects for the cause, and also for writing a couple of blogs about it.

So, right now, I’m actively seeking non-profits and causes who would like some student help in late March and April.

No charge.  Your student has already received education and some practice on blogging and social media techniques by the time they assist you.  The “outline” for this activity is attached/below.

Interested?  Email me at or call my office at 216-987-5040.  If we can work out details, I’ll put a brief description together for the students and try to “match up” causes/campaigns with students.



GUEST BLOG: Dining Diversity Found in Food Trucks

February 13, 2015

See note at the bottom of this story …


A big yellow truck rolls to a stop in the middle of the Lester A. Lefton Esplanade. A generator mounted on the rear bumper kicks to life and a line of students forms. The awning rises and the metal gate is pulled open, showing the cooks bustling inside. The LCD menu flickers to display this week’s choices. With that, the Fork in the Road food truck is open for business.

“I know that students don’t want to eat the same thing everyday,” said student and campus tour guide Lauryn Rosinski. She has been giving prospective students tours for about three semesters, and almost always touts the campus food truck as a highlight of the diversity among the dining options at Kent. “They think that’s really cool that they’re getting to eat different stuff all the time. I’m kind of showing them, you’re not going to get bored with the food.”

College dining is often the object of scrutiny. High prices, repetitive choices, a lack of healthy menus for students on the go, all of these are problems that afflict most campuses. Kent State University has taken a unique approach to offering students quality food in a convenient way. Fork in the Road is a food truck owned by Kent State and operated by Executive Chef Christian Booher and his team of cooks.

For students at Kent State, a lack of dining options on the north end of campus left them hungry and in need of something tasty and convenient. According to Richard Roldan, Director of Food Services at the university, the Fork in the Road food truck is the university’s solution.

“The biggest thing to push it was the last couple years I’ve been having a lot of conversations with students and folks across campus about under-serviced areas of campus,” said Roldan. “Places where students were coming across campus to get something to eat was a little inconvenient.”

The trend of university-run food trucks is not isolated to Kent State University. Many colleges across North America are seeing the benefits a mobile dining unit offers their student body and the popularity of such options. According to a Wall Street Journal article from August 22nd, 2012, nearly 100 colleges have their own food truck in use. This is compared to only about a dozen schools with food trucks only five years earlier. The statistics are courtesy of the National Association of College and University Food Services, which represents around 550 universities in North America.

The mobility of food trucks allows the businesses to tap into markets that wouldn’t be available with a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Especially on college campuses, a food truck is a profitable endeavor. The demographic spending the most money at food trucks is the 25-34 year old group. They spend an average of $44 per month. Those under 25 spend comparably, about $39 per month. This is according to a survey done by the statistical site in 2014.

The food truck uses it’s Twitter account (@KSUFoodTruck) to communicate with student’s where it’ll be setting up shop for that day. With over a thousand followers, the account is a popular way for students to interact with the unique service offered to them by the university.

According to Roldan, Kent State’s food truck cost about $160,000 to go from idea to a fully operational dining mobile. The truck has a twenty-foot chassis and is completely functional as a kitchen. It features a convection oven, full range grill, fryers, everything Chef Booher needs to propagate his menu.

“We decided we really wanted to have a truck that changed with the seasons, with the availability of local items,” said Roldan. The Fork in the Road menu is diverse as it is globally influenced. He described it as global fusion. There are elements of classic Americana alongside Latin dishes with Asian elements involved. All these influences combine to create a healthy, palatable alternative option to the campus’s other dining options.

The truck, which began servicing students this semester in August, has averaged about three hours per day on campus. During those days it has served an average of 200 people and pulls in roughly $11,000 in total revenue. All of this considering the average cost of a dish is only five dollars. Fork in the Road has been present at all of Kent’s home football games. Roldan said the truck will be operational when there is not classes. As long as there is a demand on campus, the wheels will be rolling to satisfy that hunger.

The boom in the food truck industry has Starbucks, the coffee chain behemoth,  testing the waters of mobile dining services at three universities in 2014. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the corporation wants to further tap into the huge coffee market of college students. Of Starbucks’ nearly 11,500 store locations, only about 300 are located on college campuses. Depending on the success of their mobile coffee ventures at Arizona State University, James Madison University, and Coastal Carolina University, the chain could expand food truck services across the nation.

Kent State University has gone to lengths to ensure students have a variety of dining options across campus. They’re currently offering six different locations spread across campus for student’s to eat, including the mobile Fork in the Road. The Student Center offers a variety of places to choose from, including an Einstein Brothers Bagels, Subway, and a sushi booth. Student’s often flock to The Kent Market, located upstairs, for additional options.

The trend of universities becoming proprietors of food trucks is a sign that the wants and needs of the student body are being recognized by the powers that be. In Kent, Fork in the Road serves as a direct response to the need of convenient sustenance for students in the far corners of its broad campus. Across North America, mobile dining units have become staples in cityscapes and college campuses.The renaissance of the food truck is being taken seriously in culinary circles. Trucks like Kent State’s Fork in the Road prove that convenience, creativity, and sustenance can coexist in an affordable way.

Andrew is a journalism student at Kent State University, and wrote this in his JMC 26001 class in the Fall 2014 semester.  You can reach him at


0% qualifiers, 100% proud

February 1, 2015

Tough day Saturday. Revere speech & debate had 12 competitors and 6 judges and parent helpers in eight different vehicles going to two different locations.

It was the ending that brought some tears. We had great expectations, but Revere did not have a single person who qualified for the OHSSL state tournament at the Akron District’s “Littles” championship yesterday. Team Akron will have more then 100 entries going to State though, and I’m extremely pleased that there are so many good and talented debaters and speakers from Akron this year.

This has been a challenging adjustment for me. When I began coaching debate/speech seven years ago in Brecksville-Broadview Heights, I knew the students, knew the school district, and knew some of the parents. That made the process a bit easier for us (Mark McCandless, Dr. Yeh and me).

The acclimation is much more complicated when one doesn’t live or teach at the school where one coaches. Revere’s program might have even disappeared in the fall of 2013, but thanks to Tony Paparella (who recommended me to Phil King at Revere) it did not. But we had five seniors among the six students who were remnants at Revere in 2013-2014.  We added a few students last year, but all we could really do was keep the fire alive.

This year, that fire is burning brighter as we’ve witnessed a resurgence in debate and speech.  It’s thanks to:

  • Nearly 10 dedicated new students who have stuck with the program all year
  • Terrific leadership from captains James White and Alexis Espinal
  • Help from dedicated parents who’ve judged, opened up homes, and made it clear to their students and to me that debate and speech are high priorities to them
  • Assistance from Brad Laidman, who provided advice and case help for our LD and PF debaters

We still have the prospect of “back door” qualifying for States at the upcoming East Ohio District NFL/NSDA tournament on Feb. 20-21 at Medina. But unless that happens, Revere will have but three representatives at States this year — a Congress contingent of White, co-captain Drew Espinal, and Megan Travers. It’s a strong bunch though.  All three have finished in the “Top Six” in some Congress tournaments, James as high as fourth and Drew as high as second. We will be ready for States and Nationals in Congress.

Disappointed?  Yes.  Discouraged?  Not at all.  We’ve had so many 9th and 10th graders learn so much about debate and speech this year. We’ve set the table for a terrific future.

Students and parents: Don’t stop believing.

And finally — like the mythical basketball coach Norman Dale says in the movie Hoosiers, “my team is on the floor.” You have worked very hard. You understand how the events work.  You have come a long way in a short amount of time. You’re a winner no matter what the ballots said, and you’ll be winners in tournaments in the months and years ahead.

IMG_20150131_153752005 (1)                         About three-fourths of Revere’s Talking Minutemen

President Obama’s community college plan: Ponder, but act too!

January 17, 2015

America has always been a nation which invests in its future. In the early 19th century, Congress funded roads, canals, and other transportation infrastructure to spur development and reduce the cost of goods and services. We subsidized railroads in the latter half of the 19th century, and funded what became known as the interstate highway system in much of the 20th century.

We are also concerned about the welfare of its people, having faith that an educated population results in a better citizenry and country. When tens of millions of American servicemen returned home from World War II, it was the GI Bill (formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act) which provided tuition assistance to attend college or obtain technical training. More than 7.5 million Americans took advantage of the GI Bill. (Its vestige is with us today in the tuition assistance which armed forces veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan employ for higher education.)

Although it had flaws, the GI Bill helped establish a sizable educated middle class and enabled the U.S. to emerge from the post-World War II era as the world’s leading economy for nearly 50 years. Notable is the fact that the G.I. Bill was a bipartisan effort, accomplished as a world war approached its end. Harry Colmery, then a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former American Legion commander, was the principal author and advocate for the legislation. President Roosevelt signed it into law in late 1944.

In this context, President Obama is proposing to provide free higher education at community colleges across the U.S. It makes sense. If you haven’t heard about it, here’s a link to the video the White House released last week:

The long lens of history supports this type of investment in human capital which our country has made in the past. Concomitant with the GI Bill was the ascendancy of the U.S. system of higher education. Prior to the two World Wars of the 20th century, Europe was considered the center of collegiate learning. But by the ’60s, the United States led the world in the percentage of its population earning college degrees.

Somehow, that was expected in America. For hundreds of years, the U.S. has regarded higher education as a public good. Our nation believes that each generation would advance – intellectually, economically, culturally and socially – beyond the one before, and higher education institutions would help champion this advance. We were the “best and brightest” on the planet. We tamed the atom, broke the sound barrier, cured polio and other diseases, and sent humans to the moon and back.

Well, we’re not the best and brightest anymore. Depending upon the source, the U.S. now ranks between 15th and 20th in the world in the percentage of our adults obtaining a college degree. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development  (OECD) placed the U.S. 19th out of 28 countries in college completion in its “Education at a Glance” report, released in September 2014.

The OECD measures education investment and the performance of wealthier democracies. Higher education levels are associated with higher earnings (no surprise) but also with better health, more community engagement, and also more trust in governments, institutions and people.

Against this backdrop comes President Barack Obama’s proposal. It’s an intriguing one, and it should spur some deep intellectual analysis and spirited discussions at a critical time for our nation.


Our nation’s residents long for college completion. A late 2012 Lumina Foundation survey with the Gallup Poll showed that 97 percent of Americans believe it is important to have a certificate or degree beyond high school. In the same survey though, only 26 percent of respondents believe that the cost of higher education is affordable to anyone who needs it. And just 27 percent believe that the quality of higher education is worse today that it was in the past.

Here are some additional facts we – as a nation – should consider:

  • Public funding of higher education is declining dramatically. As recently as 1985, state and federal support provided more than 80 percent of revenues at public higher education institutions.  That percent is now below 60 percent nationally, and below 50 percent in many states.

higher ed two

  • Individual students are shouldering an ever-increasing percentage of college costs. The chart below show’s a “net revenue per student” figure which accentuates the fact that U.S. college students have now borrowed $1.2 TRILLION to cover higher education expenses. Students graduating with $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 in debt is quite common today.

higher ed one

  • The middle class is shrinking. Median household income “peaked” at just over $56,000 in 1999, and it has been going downward every year since then.

declining middle class


President Obama’s plan, as unveiled and expanded upon, is well worth deliberating. This writer would make suggestions for improvements. There should be economic means testing, and the concept of a payback (such as through community service) could move the plan from paper to reality.

Facing facts, the political gridlock in Washington, DC might make ANY compromise impossible in 2015. But let’s hope our nation’s political leaders give this proposal a try. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain when our nation invests in improving the educational attainment of its citizens. If we remain in the bottom third of democratic nations in our citizens’ college completion rate, that bodes ill  for our future.

NOTE – There are many good articles out there on this topic, but I want to draw your attention to Debbie Cochrane and her work at The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), a non-profit education advocacy program.

LINKS AND SOURCES – Read more at:

*     *     *     *     *

You will be seeing more blogs on this site, either from me or from my students, in the weeks ahead. My family situation underwent a significant change around October 1, which affected my blogging output.  Perhaps I’ll address this further in a future post.

Finally — Please do share this posting.  The greater the discussion about the idea of free community college and the need for our nation to improve its college completion rate, the better.

Failing the sniff test

August 15, 2014

Lessons learned – so far – in Ferguson
Could Euclid, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights be next?

aa periphery 3

When the Freedom Riders attempted to desegregate Montgomery, Ala. in May 1961, Police Commissioner L.B. Montgomery let the assembled segregationist mob first beat up and then chase away the dozen reporters present at the bus depot.  Once the media was absent, the mob then attacked and viciously beat the Freedom Riders.

Older Americans, and those of us with a sense of history and justice, can’t help but recall this when reading accounts that the police in Ferguson, Mo., attacked members of the media  and destroyed their video cameras earlier this week.

aa periphery 1

City officials and the assembled police forces — from Ferguson, St. Louis and elsewhere – have failed the sniff test. From the moment a white Ferguson Police Department officer shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African American in a predominantly African American community, nearly a week ago, police and city officials have acted with dogged determination to cover up the incident and close ranks under the guise of public safety.  This cascade of ever-greater “public safety” steps, militarizing an already-tense situation, are all too reminiscent of the tactics segregationists employed in the Civil Rights era of the 1960s.   

From the onset, police explanations of Brown’s slaying don’t seem to be accurate. Multiple eyewitness accounts state that Brown was in the middle of the street, holding up his hands and saying “don’t shoot,” as he was gunned down. The Ferguson Police Department’s report, which claims that the officer shot Brown after the teen had disobeyed an order and initiated a scuffle, apparently has no corroboration whatsoever.

Additionally, Ferguson has failed to properly communicate in this crisis. At the bottom of this piece is a link to a blog from a retired safety chief, and his experienced observations are titled “Deafening Silence in Ferguson.”

Let’s look at a few facts:

  • Michael Brown was unarmed
  • Brown was shot multiple times
  • Police barred any community access to the first public event, a Sunday news conference, following Brown’s shooting
  • Nearly a week after the incident, police and other officials are refusing to offer additional basic details of the incident, such as the name of the officer involved. (NOTE – Name was to be revealed on Friday, August 15, but that has not happened as of the publication of this post. We did hear a new story — that Michael Brown was a suspect in a convenience store robbery — on Friday, however.)

The acronym DWB, driving while black, aptly applies to Ferguson. A 2013 Missouri Attorney General report shows that blacks are nearly seven times as likely to be stopped by police in Ferguson than whites. They are twice as likely to be arrested in traffic stops.

aa periphery 2

Ferguson could be Euclid, Ohio. Or Maple Heights, or any ‘first-tier’ suburban community in America where the population has changed from a white majority to an African-American majority, but yet the vast majority of the power structure is still in the hands of whites.

In such cities, elected officials and their safety forces bear a huge burden. They should be taking extra steps in community engagement, community communications, and in preparedness for crisis situations.  

They should also be working assiduously to become more just communities.  Back in 2007, the City of Euclid was found guilty of violating the U.S. Voting Rights Act. It took more Justice Dept. legal action, but eventually both the City of Euclid and Euclid School Board developed just ways of publicly electing leaders. African Americans now serve on both the school board and City Council there.  This could help ensure that a similar tragic situation doesn’t ensue. As we learned (or thought we’d learned) from 50-plus years ago, the U.S. Justice Dept. SHOULD intervene and take action when civil rights are being violated.

Finally, of course one cannot condone looting and violence that stemmed from this tragedy. However, if the Ferguson Police Dept. and City of Ferguson had been doing their duty of community engagement in the years and months before August 8-9, perhaps little or none of this violence would have resulted.

Instead, our nation is watching 1961 replay, sadly, in 2014.

* * * * *

 As a follower of Jesus Christ, I’ve asked myself “what should I do” in such a situation.  This blog is one response.

Asking for action is a better one.  I’ve sent an email to the Attorney General of the State of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Justice, asking them for a full and fair investigation into this shooting.  Links to the web sites are at the bottom of this email, if you wish to do the same thing.

 Here’s the third thing – President Obama, the appointment of a presidential commission to examine and improve race relations in the U.S. is LONG OVERDUE. High-minded people of all races and creeds, studying and working together, can certainly come up with some great solutions to the racial issues which are still causing serious damage to our nation. Mr. President, having your daughters Sasha and Malia living in a far less prejudiced and more just country would be a terrific legacy.

Additionally, Scripture from Romans 13 and Philippians 4 comes to mind. Read the chapters if you wish.

SOURCES (pictures in this blog are from two of the sites below)




LBJ — Returning to Cleveland/Akron/NE Ohio??

July 10, 2014

NOTHING NEW here. But in light of the LeBron James talk thought I’d offer you an opportunity to read something which I wrote for TACTICS, the monthly publication of the Public Relations Society of America, back in September 2010:

If LeBron James re-signs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, I will post on this blog about it.


Hobby Lobby ruling – who’s your God?

July 1, 2014

Imagine a company that has raised the wages it pays to its employee every year for the past few years, and where full-time employees receive a minimum of $14 per hour, or 93 percent HIGHER than the national minimum wage.

Perhaps the media and the Obama Administration would praise this company for its employee-friendly salaries and policies.  Add in this: the web site gave the company 4 stars out of 5 in employee satisfaction; additionally, the company MANDATES one day off a week for all its workers.  The mainstream media should be rushing to hold up this company as a model.

The company?

Hobby Lobby.

THAT Hobby Lobby.

hobby lobbyInstead, many news reports and social media memes are castigating Hobby Lobby, which began when founder David Green borrowed $600 and began making miniature picture frames in his garage in 1970.  Media reaction over Monday’s 5-4 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby U.S. Supreme Court ruling isn’t at all surprising.

Truth is the first casualty of war, and there are political agenda-setters in this country who are trying to convince us that there is a “war on” – a war against women, or a war against health care coverage, or both.

Today’s “target” in this war:  Hobby Lobby, and to a lesser extent, the Supreme Court itself.

A quick look at a few of the many facts in this case is insightful:

  • FACT:  Women employees at Hobby Lobby have had, and will continue to have, more than a dozen of INSURANCE-COVERED options for birth control if the employee so chooses. So, anyone claiming that the Supreme Court’s ruling will “jeopardize the health of women” is twisting the facts a bit.
  • FACT:  Congress did NOT vote to include every type of birth control option in Obamacare.  JUST THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE.  Only after President Obama guaranteed that abortion coverage would NOT be in Obamacare (through an Executive Order in fact), did Rep. Bart Stupak lead a few Democratic Congressman to provide the key votes necessary to even obtain passage of the legislation.
  • FACT: After Obamacare was signed into law — despite those prior assurances to the contrary — the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) then MANDATED that all forms of contraception, including abortion, be in health care plans. HHS refused to offer religious accommodations to business and organizations (such as the Catholic Church), which sought them due to deeply-held religious beliefs.

So, what’s really at stake here?

Religious freedom was and remains the issue, as a majority at the Supreme Court ruled.   Freedom of religion is one of five precious freedoms which we, as Americans, enjoy due to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  (Another of the First Amendment freedoms – freedom of the press – enables the media to criticize Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court, even the Obama Administration, openly.)

So, what reigns supreme … in your life?

Is the GOVERNMENT your God? Is God the leaders we elect who deliberate in Washington, D.C? Do you expect government to solve all of life’s problems?

Is RELIGION your God?  Are you a “dyed in the wool” Roman Catholic, Muslim, Southern Baptist, or some other religion, and do you completely obey all the canons of that religion?

Or is it a RELATIONSHIP with God. the caring and loving creator of the universe, the one whose commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill” and nine others have been enshrined into laws for thousands of years? The one who sacrificed His own son, Jesus, to atone for the world’s sins? For your sins?

Look inside your own heart and soul. An answer to that question – if you’re being honest – will probably have more to do with your reaction to the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision than anything else.

While looking, you might recall the words from Bob Dylan’s last hit single, “Serve Somebody,” in 1979:

“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Yes indeed, you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well it may be the Devil
Or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody”


Look at your favorite local media outlet. Read their story on yesterday’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision. Now go to June 2012, and read their story on NFIB v. Sebelius, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare.

Both were 5-to-4 decisions from the High Court.

Compare the stories. See if you can detect words and phrases such as “bitterly divided” and “narrow ruling” in one story, but not the other. That would indicate bias on this media outlet’s behalf in favor of one ideology or political party.

PS           Where are the news stories quoting unhappy Hobby Lobby employees, upset about this ruling?  The fact that there are none tells us something.



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