[Edu-sig] Yo from PDX!

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Sun Dec 9 22:57:58 CET 2007

Back from a break, up to date on the archives.

On the Portland scene:  the local user group is hot, jump started by a
snake charmer from Texas, with me 'n Jason co-anchoring on meetup.com,
but with our own profile at python.org as well, which makes us
official.  Jeff S. has been doing a good job of anchoring meetings.
We've swapped pizza with PHP folks, shared a meeting room with Ruby
(projectors back to back (pointing in opposite directions)).  All this
open source friendliness is owing to Portland Cubespace, the site of
our first Portland Barcamp (elements of which I migrated to Centralia,
for a test run of a physician-geek hybrid event (worked OK, for an
alpha version)).

A couple years ago I started tracking koreducators.org and its mission
to charter and fly a new school (public) in Portland.  Their battle
royale was nobly fought and well executed (I had only a bit part, made
a strategic "boo!" sound on one of the public meeting tapes), and
today LEP High is a reality, runs Ubuntu open source, attracts a broad
spectrum of talented future entrepreneurs (the focus of LEP is
Leadership & Entrepreneurship meaning you need to be thinking in terms
of running a small business in order to graduate).  I've been in to
catalyze the Python culture, open source more generally, or maybe
programming more generally, as that's a kind of "hard fun" that, like
reading, like skiing, you don't spontaneously enjoy until you're
somewhat good at it, meaning a chicken and egg vicious circle unless
you've got good jump start materials.

I got a circular from Helen King recently about complementary efforts
in Cape Town, to leverage open source and its benefits.  Lesson
planning is a kind of source coding.  Teachers closest to the action
often have the best ideas, but frequently aren't tasked with sharing
them.  A more Japanese approach, availing of post-WWII state of the
art theories (Peter Drucker and so on), breaks down any firewall
between so-called managers and so-called workers, by setting up some
revolving door plans.  Administrate for awhile, teach for awhile, be a
student for awhile.  Keep switching.  Don't think in terms of
promotion or demotion, but of keeping limber, aware, in touch with the
big picture.  This is the kind of management consulting message we
give from my tiny partnership, 4D Solutions, when called upon (but of
course the devil is in the details, so I didn't just give away the

Anyway, that's enough from my corner:  PPUG is running smoothly, in
coordination with other language communities, thanks to Cubespace; one
of Portland's most innovative flagships is having fun with Python;
schools of the future will distribute curriculum writing more wisely,
to those best in a position to reflect, if only given the time to do

Kirby Urner
Senior Partner
4D Solutions

PS:  on the international scene, I'm remembering how hard Laura and
Aiste worked on the last Europython so have been recalling some of
those meetings and discussions.  I made a couple posts to the
Europython archive, I hoped of a helpful nature, but Portland and
Vilnius or literally on other sides of the globe, so no way do I feel
in a position to offer any micromanagement skills (more what I offer
locally-based clients).

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