08 May 2011

Regarding "free unemployment"


I understand your frustration with finding qualified people. There's no doubt that there are some people getting unemployment payments who are doing little or nothing to improve their skills and employability. However, I know many eminently qualified people who are diligently seeking work and investing in developing their inherent talents to make themselves even more valuable to employers.

In the two years that I've been "unemployed" as an architect (a building-type architect), I have earned two certificates in web design, have been doing a wide range of freelance design work, expanded my services to include photography, video and writing, been teaching as a substitute teacher in public schools, recently completed a graduate level university seminar (as instructor), will be teaching urban youth during the summer and am lining up more work all the time.

I'm also just about ready to publish my first book which I've researched, written, illustrated, designed and produced myself. http://andrewraimist.com/2010/05/harris-armstrong-book-preview.html

I've periodically gotten financial support from unemployment. When I earn enough money, I simply don't get a check from unemployment for that week. Without those funds from unemployment, it's possible that our home mortgage would have gone into foreclosure and thereby destroying the years of physical, financial and emotional investment I've made in designing, building and maintaining it.

The "system" is screwed up, without doubt. In some instances it would be financially better for me not to work. That is wrong. I personally believe that I'm working for something much more than just a few hundred dollars at the end of a week (although that's certainly part of the motivation). I'm working to make more connections and to demonstrate my skills and abilities to others who will recognize the value of my contributions and appreciate the value I offer.

I'm presently producing a series of videos for the local chapter of the US Green Building Council in exchange for membership in the organization and the ability to take additional courses and get more certifications. To my way of thinking, I am being entrepreneurial in a way that benefits others and myself simultaneously. To me, that's what work is all about.

If you have a moment, please view my most recent video for them and let me know if you think I'm wasting my time receiving "free unemployment". http://andrewraimist.com/2011/05/biomimicry-at-usgbc.html


04 May 2011

Missouri HIstoric Tax Credits in Danger

Following is an email that was forwarded to me today regarding a massive cut proposed to the Missouri Historic Tax Credit legislation: 

From: Jerry Schlichter [mailto:jschlichter@uselaws.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 04, 2011 1:01 PM
Subject: Historic Tax Credit
After 12 years of success and Missouri becoming the national model, the Historic Tax Credit may be devastated in the next few days as the Legislative session comes to a close.

The Senate has passed a bill, Senate bill 280, which drastically slashes the credit to $75 million from the $140 million cap that was previously put on it, which itself was a 25% cut from the level it had been.

It is critical that supporters of the Historic Tax Credit weigh in NOW to key legislators to show their opposition to this.  Some of the facts that demonstrate why this is bad for the state follow, but feel free to give your own reasons, and in your own words, if you contact legislators.
1. The Historic Tax Credit is by far the most productive jobs law, producing 43,000 documented jobs in a study for the Missouri Growth Association; 
2. Other states are going in the opposite direction with their credit. For example, Iowa increased its credit by $30 million because of its job creation; Kansas removed its cap; Minnesota passed a historic tax credit as its flagship economic development strategy, and the model for it was Missouri; 
3. Developers are leaving Missouri and going to neighboring states because of their encouraging use of their historic tax credit and increasing its availability; 
4. To create new tax credits and destroy the historic tax credit for other hoped-for projects and hoped-for jobs, as the Senate bill does, makes no sense when it would kill the credit as we know it, with its proven track record at producing tens of thousands of jobs; 
5. The exemption from the cap for small projects, which is eliminated by the Senate bill, would end the redevelopment of Main Street projects and neighborhood revitalization; 
6. We have been the national model of success, having revitalized parts of many cities and towns, and the credit pays for itself; 
7. The budget for this year or next year will not be affected by this action.
The key legislators and their contact information are:
In the House:

Representative Steven Tilley, Speaker of the House
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Rm. 308A
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Representative John Diehl
Missouri House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Rm. 309
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Representative Timothy Jones
Missouri House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Rm. 302A
Jefferson City, MO 65101

In the Senate:

Senator Eric Schmitt
Missouri State Senate
201 W. Capitol Avenue, Rm. 323
Jefferson City, MO 65101

Senator Ron Richard
Missouri State Senate
201 W. Capitol Avenue, Rm. 431
Jefferson City, MO 65101

We will never get the historic tax credit back if it is slashed like this, and the 12 years of success in developing cities and small towns throughout the state and creating jobs will be over.

Thanks for your consideration.

Jerry Schlichter
Missouri Coalition for Historic Preservation and Economic Development

Jerome J. Schlichter
Schlichter, Bogard & Denton
100 S. 4th Street, Suite 900
St. Louis, MO 63102
314/621-6115 Phone
314/621-7151 Fax

03 May 2011

Biomimicry at USGBC

Take a look at this short video announcing the upcoming USGBC chapter meeting on the topic of Biomimicry. The speaker, Taryn Mead, is Senior Biologist at the Design Table at the Biomimicry Guild.

I produced the above video for the Missouri Gateway Chapter of the USGBC (United States Green Building Council). Here's the low-down on the event:
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
5:30 - 6:15 pm - Registration & Networking
6:15 - 7:30 pm - Formal Presentation
Missouri Botanical Garden's Shoenberg Theatre
4344 Shaw Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63110
Free for all attendees!
Click here to visit our Event Registration page. Be sure to scroll down and click the "Register" button under the Biomimicry event listing.
Contact USGBC-Missouri Gateway staff by email or phone (314) 577-0225.

Here's some background / biographical information about Taryn (images and text courtesy of the Biomimicry Guild):

Taryn Mead, Senior Biologist at the Design Table, Biomimicry Guild
Taryn's training in ecology and the socio-industrial aspects of environmental issues provides a systems-based platform for discussion of biomimetic principles and methodologies. As a Biologist at the Design Table for the Guild, she specializes in Nature's functions at the ecosystem level. With a bird's eye view on planning, architectural and production challenges, she provides insights into ecological principles that can be used to enhance the way designs fit into the landscape of a place. 
She guides clients through a design process that asks the local organisms how to flourish in the regional habitat conditions and incorporate ecosystem nutrient cycling into landscape scale designs. Her assignments include consulting with corporate clients, researching biological strategies, facilitating workshops with design professionals and biologists, creating tools to assist in the design process and managing the Guild's internship program. 
She grew up in the woods of the rural Midwest, catching crayfish in the "crick" near her parents' long time home. Her adventures, educational endeavors and employment have since moved her to south Florida, Brazil, various parts of Colorado, Los Angeles and the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. 
She participated in the National Student Exchange Program and worked at the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at California Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA. She graduated Cum Laude with degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology with an emphasis in Ecology from Western State College of Colorado in Gunnison. She was involved with numerous sustainability initiatives in Gunnison, eventually serving as Student Body President and the State Coordinator for the Sierra Student Coalition. Upon graduation, she received the Alumni Award for Excellence for her service to the campus and community. 
She relocated to Helena, MT, when she joined the Guild, after working as a biologist on commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea. In her free time, she enjoys bluegrass music, dark roasted coffee and getting her hands dirty, be it climbing, gardening, camping or rafting.