Saturday, June 25, 2011


Remember when you were a kid and someone would ask what you wanted to do when you grew up?  What did you say?  I wanted to be an athlete.  I probably said other things, too, like astronaut and firefighter (you know, the jobs that very few people I know actually do).  We were idealistic then.  Our parents told us we could do anything we put our minds to, which was good advice because it probably got us over several hurdles in our lives.

At some point we realize that you're topping out at 6' and won't play in the NBA.  Sure, that day was sad, but you saw it coming, and for that reason it was a simpler pill to swallow.  Lives change over time and we adjust to what seems reasonably possible.  

I realized that my career interests were in a far lower-paying field than one would dream of (education) so any thoughts of some big extravagant house, new car, and eating at Salt of the Earth every week basically went out the window.  That's okay, though, because my circumstances have prepared me for frugal living and enjoying the little things.  I commute on a bike, try to cook for myself instead of going out, and save my money for the occasional splurge on a good concert.  I'll make more money some day, but my circumstances have allowed me to enjoy a life where money is not a driving force.

This idea extends further.  In the job search, you will get turned down for interviews and jobs, but the only thing you can focus on is what's in front of you and not that great opportunity that wasn't given to you.  That girl or boy that isn't interested in you, it's time to pick up and move on to find that person who is interested in you and worth your time.  There's no sense crying about friends who have left, so we must enjoy the ones who are here and take time to visit the ones who are gone.  We have to deal with the circumstances that are given to us.

One of my strongest character traits is that I keep things in perspective.  I've mentioned plenty of times that God teaches us not to worry because He cares for the birds and the grass and everything in between, so surely He cares for us.  Worrying does not get us anywhere, no matter how hard that is to hear.  We could mope about the job we didn't get, the girl who doesn't like us, and the friends who have moved all over the country, but mourning our losses won't get us very far.  For this reason, I handle death and funerals better than most people.  They're gone, so there's nothing we can do now except celebrate the life our friend has lived.

I've been dealt some unfavorable circumstances over the past few years, but the only way to move on is to move on.  Things are the way they are, we may not be able to change them, so we have to take the cards we are dealt and move forward.  It's a scary concept, but God has our best interest in mind and will carry us through whatever arises in our lives.

Here is a beautiful song by The Head and the Heart singing about the way things change; Rivers and Roads

Friday, June 17, 2011


I have faith.  More than I realized.  You really learn how much faith you have when you take a "leap of faith" and make a risky move.  In my job search, I've had two campus interviews for jobs so far, been offered both jobs, and turned them both down.  They were not good fits.  The locations were not appealing and the work was not what I've been looking for.  The people were fantastic and I hope our paths cross again, but in the end it was a strong feeling of comfort when I turned the jobs down.

So I'm crazy right?  Well, maybe I am.  The fact is, though, that whether I should or not, I'm waiting for a good fit to take a job, even in this rough job market.  Sure, I'm young and have my whole life in front of me, but I'm not the type of person who will sacrifice a good place and good friends for what seems like a lateral or downward movement.  Give me community and I'll go.  Give me an amazing city (ahem, Seattle) and I'll go.  I'm young and single with what feels like the world in front of me.  I guess I'm just not as willing to sacrifice as I should be.

But that's how God created me.  He wants me to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment, not sacrificing a second.  I felt so overwhelmingly comfortable turning down each position that I did not question for a second whether it was the right move.  I have an awesome community in Pittsburgh, Beaver County, and Philadelphia that I'll only leave for an exciting opportunity.  But have no fear, employers, I am committed to only applying to jobs in exciting locations from now on!

In the meantime, I continue to pray.  I'm praying for the right opportunity to come at the right time.  I'm praying that I can soak up every second I have in Pittsburgh in case God leads me to a new location.  In the end, all we have is today, so enjoy it.

Also, enjoy this jam about Faith by Taking Back Sunday:

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Saxifrage School

The Saxifrage School was featured in the Sunday edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on June 5, 2011.  You can read the article here.

Basically, the Saxifrage School is the brainchild of a friend of mine, Tim Cook, who I met at Banjo Night at the Elks Club on the North Side in the summer of 2010. After telling Tim that I was studying Higher Education Management, he told me his idea for a stripped-down, bare essentials college that would be committed to developing a student's real-life skills.  Being a very recent student myself, this struck me as a project that I wanted to contribute to, so I have been serving on the initial planning team since February.

As Tim has learned, along with the rest of us, starting a college is not simple, but our fearless leader has committed himself in a way that is inspirational.  We don't need to be encouraged to power through to make the project possible; it is already beyond possible.  This school will happen, it's just a matter of making sure this project is the strongest project we can create.

As the PG article describes, students will learn things like how to grow their own food or do house construction while reading literature, mastering Spanish, and living in community with a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  Here's the basic idea: a valuable, low-cost college education.  As described on the School's homepage, the goal is to have dual-majors in an "academic" and a "technical" field and Spanish fluency for 400 students.  (Read more ideas about academics here)  The School plans to have 40 instructors whose salaries will be paid by a vast majority of the incoming tuition dollars.  The Saxifrage School will operate with a nomadic campus with one or two administrative buildings while hosting classes in underutilized community spaces such as churches and bars.  Students will rent living space in the community and work part-time jobs alongside their neighbors. The frills of student affairs will be cut down (or completely) as needed.  This conservation of resources will result in an education-and-community based model that will cost students only $5000 in tuition.

Academically, the dual-majors will be a combination of two fields; one academic and one technical.  The academic field choices are World Literature and Writing, International Systems, and Religion and Philosophy while the technical fields are Organic Agriculture, Computer Science, and Building Design and Construction.  Students will have the opportunity to expand their intellectual horizons while learning practical skills that can be applied every day at home and the workplace.

The uphill battle is still ahead.  Four teams have been developed to focus on the academics, fundraising, logistics, and community for the School.  Between now and the anticipated opening in 2014, the Saxifrage School will choose a community in which to start, develop relationships with their neighbors, recruit instructors and students, develop academic programs, and raise a couple million dollars, among other items on the check-list.

A buzz is developing in the city of Pittsburgh, though, with special thanks to the Mattress Factory who has provided a complimentary headquarters for the Saxifrage School to use through at least mid-June in the old Firewaters location across from PNC Park.  The General Will, as it's now called, has hosted a couple concerts combined with community conversations, a pair of shantyboating classes (the second of which is this Thursday), and will host an open IPO (Initial Public Offering) Party that is FREE to the public and scheduled for this Sunday, June 12 at 7pm.  For more information on this party, check the Facebook event here.

This is the project in a nutshell.  It's an exciting project being discussed by a group of young people who care about the future of education and Pittsburgh.  Who knows how long I will be able to continue being a part of this project in Pittsburgh, but I'm thankful to have been here at the beginning and hope to contribute in any way I can, wherever I end up!

You can also read more about the Saxifrage School at our website.

You can also follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just checking in

Life has been a whirlwind lately, so I'm sorry that I haven't been keeping up with the blogging like I thought I would!  I'll be starting an intense 30-day blog challenge series, similar to the one my friend Abby has been doing, but I'm creating my own list to start.  Look out for a blog coming about the ever-growing love for my favorite band, the Avett Brothers.

In the meantime, here's a new jam by those boys that they brought out at Stage AE in Pittsburgh last week.

Follow me on Twitter for more daily banterings: oh_hey_jake