In 1997 I created ABC Legacy: Atoms to Bits Children’s Legacy where children and their families use the Internet to learn about other cultures, events, and problems around the globe, and then use technology to connect and collaborate to care and make a difference. At this point it was merely a concept. 17 years later, I’ve come back to actually creating ABC Legacy: Alliance for Building Connections to Change and Alumni Building Connections for Change.
I'm circling back to a passion I've had since my very first days of teaching at The Fenn School. At times I wondered why a women's history major focused on social justice was teaching at a predominately white, all boys middle school, and not a coed high school or inner city school. My dad helped me immensely when he said, "Your contribution comes from "lighting candles in the minds of the future leaders of the world." So that's what I did. I included women's and social justice history about change agents including Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, and the pro-democrayc students of Tienanmen Square. With these role models I urged my students to move from an idea for social good to real life impact, and many of my former students are doing just that. My dad's directive calmed my angst, and it has been my mission in some form or other for the last 28 years. Over the last month, I've been working with Millennials and professional peers to develop a program that teaches technology awareness within a larger framework. I'm creating a learning/working environment and process/curriculum that inspires social innovation.
In order to do this, there are some questions to ask about the role technology plays in this mission.
- How can we use technology mindfully rather than letting it use us mindlessly.
- How can we harness the infinite power of this tool to create positive impact and live our legacy in the world, now?
- What if we focused on leaving a positive digital footprint rather than trying to prevent a negative one?
These are all questions I ask as I unfold a model for a Millennial Incubator located at The Wheelhouse on Bradford Street in Concord, MA. The very Wheelhouse I pre-marketed before it existed four years ago. It's almost as if it was part of the plan that together with professional mentors in the education, social innovation and technology fields from Wheelhouse and fellow alumni, college interns and high school students learn the dangers of technology addiction and apply mindfulness practices in order to actualize their social impact missions and legacies.
But how did I get here? I’ve learned quite a bit since my visit to San Francisco and the Wisdom 2.0 Conference February 14 to 16, 2014. Through amazing synchronicity and connections, my blog entries about TextLess Live More on July 3 as well as September 19 has had a deeper significance. When I went to the Kick-Off Assembly for TextLess Live More at Milton Academy on October 6, I met Merritt Levitan’s parents Anna and Rich afterwards and we discussed our collective visions for the Millennial Generation and their use of technology as well as how to foster real engagement interactions.
The Millennial Generation ideally wants to use technology for social good and not let it use them, not let it cause them mindless distraction. Many of the teens and 20 year olds are more worried about the younger children and tweens, the iPad generation. From these discussions with Anna and Rich, as well as some of the young founders of TextLess Live More, students now at Harvard, Stanford, BC, Tufts and others, there are thoughts on the future of TLLM. The hope is that the number of schools participating will expand from 50 to 500 by the end of 2015, and one million people will be wearing the blue bracelets. I’ve found that when I wear the bracelet on my right wrist it is an extremely effective deterrent to picking up my phone while driving. It helps me resist the impulse to make a phone call, switch the song, or read a text.
My Teens and Technology blog that was also called Mindful Media Musings actually started out with the title: Confessions of a Tech Addicted Yogi, but I was too embarrassed that a yoga teacher, trained in mindfulness practice, had fallen victim to this ubiquitous distraction addiction. This blog includes the study of technology addiction in addition to mindfulness practices as ways to counter problematic technology habits, and it's almost as if the blog is a directive to myself. I am aware of the seductive and addictive nature of my digital devices, but awareness isn’t enough.
Often times it takes a Digital Detox or Tech Recess to recalibrate and re-align one’s intentions and mental clarity for a more mindful use of technology. TextLess Live More days, the first Monday of every month, are a wonderful way to take a tech break, become aware of habits, and engage with others who are also spending the day unplugged.
Tomorrow, November 3 is the second TLLM Day this year, and 174 people have joined the FB promoted “Turn off for What? CCHS TextLess Live More Day.” Join a community of over 50 schools, including students and adults in the CCHS community, by turning off your phone and living more mindfully, more like Merritt Levitan, more real, more engaged, and more present! I look forward to following up with comments and reactions from a CCHS student survey after tomorrow.
Tomorrow I'm going to start Oprah and Deepak's 21 Day Meditation Challenge, take a walk to Egg Rock, even if it's inclimate weather, and create a creative collage of tree images that remind me to stay deeply rooted to the earth.
What are you going to do on your digital free day?
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