Students Clean Up Garbage Problem For 2018 National Day of Design


In anticipation of National STEM/STEAM Day (November 8, 2018), STEMconnector’s National Day of Design returns with a Mission for students of all grade levels to design solutions for eliminating food waste in their school’s cafeteria. This innovative design challenge encourages real-world critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and overall Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills while connecting students to a larger national movement – over 30,000 students across the country participated in 2017’s inaugural National Day of Design.

With approximately 20 percent of today’s jobs requiring some level of STEM background according to the National Science Board, helping young people develop these skills is critical to individual, community, and national economic success. However, despite sizeable investment by K-12, higher education, industry, and nonprofits, the workforce loses potential STEM employees at every stage of the pipeline. Experiential learning opportunities are proven to drive STEM interest and build critical employability skills that will guide young people through their education and careers.

The 2018 National Day of Design Mission, Food Rescuers: STEM Innovations to Reduce Food Waste, provides an opportunity for students in grades K-12 to acquire deep understanding about a challenge that impacts their daily lives and their communities while using interdisciplinary skills in various sciences, English, technology, and the fundamentals of engineering to design a new invention that will reduce food waste in their school’s cafeteria.

“This Mission reminds students that each of us has a role to play in solving complex global challenges at the local level,” said Erin White, Senior Director of Product Development & Research at STEMconnector. “It helps them to make the connection that what they learn in school can actually be applied in the world around them. That these are the skills adults use to solve actual problems. And hopefully that translates into lifelong interest in STEM and problem-solving.”

The standards-aligned Mission can be downloaded for free at: after August 15, and participants are asked to share photos, quotes, videos, and other updates from the Mission on social media using #DayofDesign2018 on November 8. For additional information, contact DayofDesign @

Day of Design is an initiative of STEMconnector, a professional services firm committed to increasing the number of STEM-ready workers in the global talent pool. The organization provides a platform for cross-sector learning and engagement for a passionate network of leaders who are collectively re-envisioning the workforce.

Dover’s First Robotic Community Garden


Local “Salonprenuer”, Cyber Streets, and Inner City Cultural League (ICCL) team up to #RecodeTheCommunity and #MakeI.T.Happen in Dover with state’s first Robotic Community Garden!

Tracy Torres is not only the local “salonpreneur” and owner of Artt Studio 4 Hair INC. in Camden, Delaware, but she has served on Camden Town Cancel since 2014, and is also serving her community as the Vice Mayor on her second term.  Living to serve her community, she is also passionate about youth and community empowerment.  So much that as soon as she heard about Cyber Streets (, a local forward thinking, veteran led, tech-mentor program that is quickly gaining popularity across Delaware, she jumped to be first to host a fund raising event to support their newest cutting edge project:  building and deploying the state’s first robotic community gardens to inspire, empower, and serve at-risk inner city communities.  Extraordinarily, within 2 hours her and her community managed to raise enough of the remaining funding needed for Cyber Streets to secure their newest innovative “AgTech” community project.

Born to Serve

Tracy resiliently knows the challenges of finding opportunity all too well.  “I have been a licensed Cosmetologist since 1996 and before relocating to Delaware with my husband and then 8 month old daughter in late 2005, I worked full time in a Pharmaceutical Company and part time in a Hair Salon.  I had no idea how hard it would be to get a job in Delaware and actually commuted back and forth to NJ as a contract employee training new employees on the systems and policies for Sanofi-Aventis for almost a year. In 2006, I decided to leave corporate America and took a job in Delaware at a salon making $6.15 per hour and by October of 2007.  Soon after I decided I was going to open my own salon and on December 8, 2007.  I opened ‘ARTT Studio 4 Hair’ and haven’t looked back.  My love for helping others and constant need to keep my mind challenged, I decided to run for Camden Town Council in 2014.”

Tracy continued, “The first day I met Jason and heard about Cyber Streets, I knew I wanted to help him or work with him in some way. Helping kids understand, no matter their financial upbringing, that they can be successful is so important to me. I did not grow up with money but I have never let that hold me back and any organization that takes the time to teach a child their worth, is an organization I will support! “

“I was blown away when I received a call from Jason (Stewart, VP Cyber Streets) the night before the event informing me that she wanted her business to support us with a short notice fundraiser!” said Rob Bentley, Founder/President of Cyber Streets.  “Since I don’t ask to raise funds, which are historically independently funded from my own time and resources, for any of my community projects that we have been building for the last year and a half, I was pretty shocked when she called us out of the blue.  When others are willing to voluntarily get behind your mission to change the future technological talent pool across your state and country, big things are soon to happen, and we truly appreciate her support for the youth of tomorrow!”


Rob Bentley, a former TEDx speaker and multi award winning Global Enterprise IT leader for the Department of Defense, is historically known for independently focusing his extraordinary positive “energy” by #TakingAction to manifest his community ideas to reality, of which he coined the hashtag/slogan #Vision2Fruition.  Over the last year and a half him and Jason, both military veterans dedicating their lives to serving communities in need several years after active duty,  have partnered and transformed the Inner City Cultural League (ICCL)/Sankofa Cultural Arts Center into an independent, community tech hub delivering #Opportunity4All.  The center now hosts their ongoing, self-sustaining, weekly tech-mentor program that runs not just 1 day, not 1 week, but year round all through the summer.   In that short time they have reached and positively impacted over 300 lives of youth and families across the state.  The majority of those impacted, for the moment, reside in the state’s capital of Dover.  Thus far Cyber Street’s methodical efforts have already empowered not just youth, but single mother’s/father’s, foster children, combat veteran’s, teachers, musicians, high school/college students, and technologists with new enlightened career choices to pursue at no cost to them other than finding internet access.

Rob decided to start Cyber Streets for several reasons, one being that he himself is no stranger to the adversity of the communities he so passionately serves which is sometimes very challenging for him to talk about.  Growing up was rough as his family like so many from his community often struggled to make ends meet.  Often they would live in unsavory environments, without electric or water on several extended occasions.  At 9 he began to strategize and coordinate the free food he could gather from local grocery store and restaurant dumpsters.  “You would be amazed at the amount of good food restaurants and grocery chains throw away for insurance reasons. I soon realized that just because something was out of date didn’t necessarily mean it was bad or spoiled”.

As a youth Rob had also been homeless for a couple spells living in motels for several weeks.  “It was really emotionally challenging for 7 of us living in a motel room or a 2 bedroom duplex while trying to succeed in school after transferring from high school to high school.”  It became such a stressing challenge that he eventually dropped out and went back to ace his GED and aggressively pursued a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry.  No matter what happened growing up, he was always appreciative that his stepdad did the best he could to keep some sort of roof over their head.

Then his whole world traumatically turned upside down when his brother/best friend commit suicide because he never truly knew how to love and take care of himself.  “That was by far the most challenging part of my life.  It took me years to eventually heal.  During that time, I was only living through the pain for others, not myself.  But after I did heal, I began looking for more opportunities to help serve and support others struggling with adversity in hopes someone else would not have to endure the pain and heartbreak that me and my family did.”

“When we work with all these communities that struggle with intense adversity, my heart gets feverously motivated and driven to gather and shed tremendous light and hope in their lives, because I see myself and my brother in ALL of them.”

He eventually left the restaurant industry to pursue a career in education, but soon after 9/11 took place and several months after the country went to war he felt that he should be serving as well.   After achieving some of the highest scores on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) he received his choice to go into the Information Technology (I.T.) field with the USAF, and since then hasn’t looked back.  “I.T. was a gift that truly enabled me with versatile and limitless opportunity!  All I wanted to do is share the opportunity and inspire others, so eventually I began my journey of #TakingCyberToTheStreets!”


Today, a year and a half later, the program has rapidly evolved from teaching communities to rebuild and repurpose donated computers, to 3D printing violins for their community strings programs, to 3D printing custom prosthetic arms for the community, to now building and donating the newest Robotic Community Garden back to the community.  “One of our core purposes is that we (Cyber Streets) don’t just provide the typical popular STEM camp/class into the community.” Bentley states. “We recruit the gardeners (mentors) to plant, nurture, and water the seeds (people) in the garden (community) and provide the sunlight/water (inspiring hope/opportunity) for them to grow into the opportunistic, high-demand, technological future.  That is precisely why we branded one of our slogans “#FindThemPlantThemGrowThem.”

“This is why this new Robotic Community Garden is the perfect symbol of our community’s collective efforts.” Bentley states.  “We ensure everything that we put into the community also provides them the capability and requirement to sustainably give back to the community through what they have been provided and exposed to, basically paying-it-forward and #STEMingTheFuture, #4TheCommunityByTheCommunity.”

The new community garden is one of several projects that Cyber Streets is planning for each county.  As a predominantly agricultural state Delaware understands how critical agriculture is for the survival of the planet.  However, most of the communities Cyber Streets serves aren’t aware of  the amount of complex technology that is required to support the rapid evolution of “stack farming”, robotic harvesting,  drone mapping, GPS navigated farm machines,  and other remarkable innovations in agricultural technologies to name a few.  In a rapidly evolving farming era that is increasingly supported and driven by new tech, this also means there are exciting AgTech jobs that have a serious demand to be filled across the region, country, and world.  Like many other critical STEM fields, one of the problems is that many communities are not exposed over the long term to these exciting opportunities.  Although there may be amazing facilities they can go to for educational exposure, they are often miles away, out of reach, and out of mind.  This robotic garden changes that AgTech opportunity for exposure by bringing it to the community, Cyber Streets core mission, and placing amazing scalable AgTech in their own backyard.  This technology has the capability to migrate a farmer into a techie and a techie into a farmer while reducing the carbon footprint, which can be very exciting for the future of humanity.

The robotic technology behind the garden is an open-source solution provided and developed by FarmBot.  Currently educators, non-profits, and farmers are joining the small growing community around the globe (including NASA) for research, development, and STEM/STEAM education purposes.  It provides an extraordinarily dynamic educational opportunity to combine elements of (but not limited to) agricultural sciences, meteorology, coding, engineering, data analytics, gaming, IoT, mathematics, computer science, and much more.  Currently Rob Bentley has specific research and development plans for his second unit to work with FarmBot and the local community to make it fully portable, affordable, and accessible to any community.

“We can always tell our communities that endless opportunity is out there, but unless we find a way to place it in their hands and enable them to truly experience it in every location possible, then they may never truly experience how important and exciting it is.  It is not merely enough to build really amazing state-of-the-art tech/innovation centers several miles away from the communities that truly need them.” Bentley says.  “We need the capability to place it in their hands wherever they are.  That is where we come in by ‘replacing idle hands with keyboards’, and by enforcing #UnityInTheCommunity, #SafetyOnOurStreets, and #Opportunity4All!  We accomplish all this by harnessing the extraordinary power of technology, innovation, and human spirit!  We often accomplish our efforts with an engaging and empowering conversation followed by a detailed email with a specific custom roadmap for the free tools/resources and career pathways they desire.  Fortunately, now AgTech can be included in that critical and empowering conversation as well.”


Cyber Streets and ICCL say this is only the beginning.  Over the last year and a half they have partnered and built several alliances across the state with direct support advocate organizations like that have donated considerable time, personnel, resources, and public advocacy directly to the program and its outreach initiatives.  Those remarkable organizations include the Delaware Youth Philanthropy Board,   SecureNetMD, Dover Air Force Base, Dover Capital City Rotary Club, Leadership Delaware, Transcore (DELDOT), Bob Johnson’s Computer Stuff, Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education, Sussex County STEM Alliance, and University of Delaware to name just a few.  Additionally, they have several strategic plans already in motion to not only infuse Computer Science into the school system with their various national partners, but will soon begin a new partnership that empowers struggling, and sometimes hopeless families across the state and around the globe by providing a family building/bonding model which provides a new world of opportunity for everyone!

“We ensure that we are very clear on our message.  This being that the “T” in STEM/STEAM, Tech, touches EVERYTHING.  This means that because the world of tech is the fundamental foundational fabric for virtually all industries that you have opportunity to traverse into virtually ANY field of your desire!  The beautiful thing about technology is that it is FULLY inclusive and does NOT discriminate against race, religion, political affiliation, disability, or gender.  After they are exposed, the only thing holding a person back from opportunity is their own mind, and that is where mentors play a crucial motivational role.  With tech ANYONE, from the affluent to non-affluent, can find a passionate career in science, engineering, art, agriculture, government, academia, banking, marketing, healthcare, and the sky is the limit!

Probably some of the most powerful testimony about Cyber Streets comes directly from the community itself.  In a recent statement the ICCL Director, Kathrina Stroud, stated the following about working with Cyber Streets for the last year and a half to pilot their empowering philosophy:

“Cyber Streets is not just a program. It is a philosophy.  It is a way of life.  It is a way of thinking.  Rob has a vision of positively impacting the world.  Yes, the WORLD!  When you see him, you see unchecked drive, determination, creativity, imagination, and ENERGY.  That is Cyber Streets!  If you have an idea or a problem to solve, research it; make a plan; put it into action; never give up! It doesn’t take a technology center, or a lot of money.  It can be in your basement or backyard with your children and their friends. There are plugged-in and unplugged activities that are fun and educational.  There aren’t many things I can think of that aren’t related in some way to technology.  My daughter and I changed light bulbs on her car this summer. That may sound like a simple task to some, but neither of us had ever done it. Technology related?  You decide.  I, no… WE have been bitten by the Cyber Streets bug.  I can!  You can!  We can!  I love this philosophy.  What’s that song?  ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now!’

ICCL is uber excited to begin implementing this new project into their community!  The newly hired english teacher turned tech teacher/mentor, local community techie father turned technology leader/mentor, meteorology/media/communications mentor, and the rest of the ICCL staff are all motivated to embark on this new exciting journey with Cyber Streets together!

“When several growing communities across the state and country get behind your empowerment efforts, extraordinary things begin to manifest at an accelerated pace!” Bentley states.  “When they do, you had better be ready to #TakeAction and #MakeITHappen!”

Are you up to the challenge of writing a novel in 30 days? November is National Novel Writing Month


Each November, there is a writing challenge that takes place around the world. The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenges writers to pen a 50,000-word novel within 30 days. During 2017, over 400,000 people participated in the annual event.

Many people like the challenge of writing the novel in one month, but most have no idea what to do with it once it’s done. That’s where an expert writing coach can come into play and help take the novel from a challenge to a published book.

“It’s a huge accomplishment to write an entire novel in a month,” explains Annalisa Parent, writing coach and award winning author. “The last thing you want to do is close the document or tuck it in a drawer and never do anything else with it. You did the hardest part, now all you need to do is take the next steps to take it all the way.”

As an expert writing coach, Parent has helped countless people around the world to finish their novel, edit their manuscript to publishable, work their way through the publishing process, and successfully market their book to the masses. She offers one-on-one chat sessions to provide a customized approach to guiding each writer in the specific areas they need help in.

Parent offers a wide variety of guidance for writers and can help those who are taking part in the NaNoWriMo by:

  • Guiding them through the editing process once they have finished their novel.
  • Helping them to determine what to do with the book once they have finished the editing process.
  • Working with them to target publishers that publish books in their genre.
  • Helping them to successfully reach their target market to help sell the book once it has been published.
  • Boosting the writer’s confidence so they feel they can meet the demands of the publishing process and come out successful.

“Every November it’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of something great in the creative world,” adds Parent. “National Novel Writing Month is just the start of something beautiful. But it can go on to be the start of a wonderful writing career if you play your cards right and take those steps to get you there. I’ve helped many people to get their novel published, and it never stops being a wonderful feeling for us both.”

Parent has coached hundreds of writers and has taught over 100 writing courses around the world. She works with fiction authors, as well as entrepreneurs seeking to write their expert book. Her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise Your Novel without an Outline won the CIPA EVVY Silver Award in Best Business Books, and earned a merit award in the Humor category. She has been a featured speaker on writing-related topics across the globe, and she has been a guest on a variety of television, radio, and podcast shows, sharing her secrets for how to write, publish, and sell your book.

Parent is also currently offering a 2019 Writing Gym in England Retreat. To learn more about the retreat, visit the website at: more information about Annalisa Parent, her book, and her coaching services, visit her site at: For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book TheSix Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here:

Conduct a free “unusual scholarship” search

Students dressed in Duct Taped prom attire competing for a scholarship

For a complete list of weird scholarships, conduct a free scholarship search at Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) is the largest online resource for higher education funding, helping graduates and undegraduate students address the rising costs of school by providing free access to scholarship information.

Through its site TFS connects students to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in financial aid.

  1. Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest: – Students compete for scholarships by creating and wearing promwear made from Duck Brand duct tape and/or crafting tape.


  1. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest: – High School Seniors learn duck calls and compete for college scholarships.


  1. Easy Scholarships: – students can win scholarships by performing fun community service projects, like registering to vote.


  1. Tall Club Scholarships: – Scholarships for students under 21 years of age, attending their first year of college, and who meet the height requirements of 5′ 10″ for women, and 6′ 2″ for men.


  1. Zolp Scholarship  – Annual awards for incoming undergraduate students at Loyola University Chicago whose last name is Zolp and are of the Catholic faith.


  1. Frederick and Mary Francis Beckley Left Handed Scholarship:  – For left handed students attending Juniata College


  1. Chick Evans Scholarship: – Scholarships for golf caddies graduating from high school.


  1. For the Love of Chocolate Foundation Scholarships:  – For the Love of Chocolate Foundation provides scholarships for students wanting specialized training in pastry arts.


  1. United Federation of Doll Clubs Scholarships; – Scholarships are to promote research, increased knowledge, understanding and appreciation of dolls.


  1. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarships:  – Scholarships are designed to educate the public at-large about automatic fire sprinklers.

Applications Open: City Will Offer Free Design Assistance To Promote Commercial Corridors In Low-To-Moderate Income Communities


New York – NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop recently announced that the City will offer free design assistance to promote commercial corridors in low-to-moderate income communities. Design services will be offered through SBS’ Neighborhood Design Lab program, which has already helped community-based organizations (CBOs) successfully implement branding campaigns worth up to $20,000 each.

Neighborhood Design Lab teaches CBOs how to design marketing campaigns that promote local businesses, engage local residents, and attract customers.

While visual design is a key component in boosting neighborhoods, many CBOs lack the necessary funding to put towards design expertise. CBOs can apply now through October 12th, 2018 to join Neighborhood Design Lab’s second cohort.

“Neighborhood Design Lab supports community organizations in promoting their neighborhoods in their own words,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Through visual design, community organizations can share the value of their neighborhood with fellow New Yorkers and global visitors.”

About Neighborhood Design Lab

Neighborhood Design Lab works in partnership with the Worldstudio to pair CBOs with a professional designer to brainstorm, plan, and carry out a creative design event or campaign that connects to a long-term vision for a commercial corridor. The following fiscal year 2018 participants successfully completed design projects.

  • Alliance for Coney Island launched the Coney Island for Everyone! marketing campaign;
  • Kingsbridge-Riverdale-Van Cortlandt Development Corporation created a logo and branding for the newly established Marble Hill Merchants Association;
  • Northfield Community Local Development Corporation introduced a marketing campaign highlighting Port Richmond Avenue on Staten Island aka “The Avenue”; And
  • Union Settlement built the East Harlem | Working Together marketing campaign.

For more information or to apply, visit Four CBOs will be selected to participate in this next round of the program.

Neighborhood Design Lab Success

Union Settlement joined Neighborhood Design Lab with a long-term goal of branding East Harlem as a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore the longstanding history, culture and tradition. Union Settlement found that East Harlem was being perceived as unsafe by potential visitors, which hurt local business. Through Neighborhood Design Lab, Union Settlement launched a promotional campaign called East Harlem | Working Together which included banners, information brochures, and window decal to create a welcoming environment. The campaign created a East Harlem | Working Together YouTube channel to promote local businesses. Pablo Guzman of Union Settlement’s Business Development Center stated the following regarding Union Settlement’s experience with the program:

“It was a great pleasure for Union Settlement to be part of this program,” said Pablo Guzman. “The beautiful design materials created through Neighborhood Design Lab help us bring merchants of East Harlem together.”

About the Department of Small Business Services (SBS)

SBS helps unlock economic potential and create economic security for all New Yorkers by connecting New Yorkers to good jobs, creating stronger businesses, and building vibrant neighborhoods across the five boroughs. For more information, visit or call 311.

How This Tech Founder Is Giving The Internet A Face Lift By Changing The Way We Shop


Shirley Chen’s list of experiences is as diverse as it is impressive: she spent her childhood on China’s national gymnastics team, studied biochemical engineering at Columbia University, interned at Chanel, Bergdorf Goodman, and Vogue, and worked as a media and retail consultant at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm.

Chen never imagined her resume would include founding a company. But when a former Vogue colleague tapped her on the shoulder to run the marketing and business development for luxury goods brand Moda Operandi, a seed was planted. Chen was tasked with driving customer acquisition with a specific focus on digital e-commerce, and that’s where she spotted a gap in the market.

Companies were so focused on the traffic from traditional platforms like Google and Facebook that they were missing a valuable source of customer acquisition—online content. When consumers wanted to find the trendiest swimsuit, most effective blackout curtains, or best-priced coffee maker, they looked for the answer in online magazines and blogs. The problem with that was two-fold. On the one hand, thanks to an aging internet, many older links on publishers’ pages are dead, leading consumers to 404 pages. On the other, many publishers were using hardcoded, static links to Amazon product pages (some 650 million times per month), meaning consumers didn’t have the opportunity to consider purchasing from other retailers, even if Amazon didn’t have the best price. In either case, it was a lose-lose-lose situation for consumers, advertisers, and publishers alike.

Chen devised a solution with Narrativ, a tech company that’s using AI to #EndThe404 and build a better internet for shoppers by making sure that every time they click on a product link on a publisher’s site, it will lead not just to an active page, but to the retailers with the best price.

“We built a SmartLink technology that repaired broken links online, and we democratized that pipeline that was being hard credited to Amazon through content,” Chen explained. “The mission is to improve the consumer shopping experience and build a better research experience as well when it comes to buying products.”

The results so far have been stellar. In the year since their launch out of stealth mode, Narrativ has raised over $3.5 million in venture capital, rewired more than one billion links, and impacted more than 200 million internet users each month. Narrativ, who has also partnered with notable brands like Dermstore, Ulta Beauty, and New York Magazine, is set to deliver more than $600 million in advertiser value in 2018, and has earned a nod from the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer.

Chen stands at the helm of it all, CEO of a game-changing tech company she was once almost too afraid to build. She recalls the nervousness she felt when the idea first came to her. She approached two former employers to build it, but both declined. That’s when Chen’s mentor, head of McKinsey’s North America Media spoke the words that fired her up: “Why don’t you build this thing on your own? I think you’re being a real coward.” She knew that he spoke not to discourage her, but to push her to make a move.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

The clever psychology of Disneyland’s design


Created by Walt Disney in 1955, Disneyland has been a magical destination for kids and adults alike for the past 63 years. It’s also a huge moneymaker. Disney’s parks and resorts brought in nearly $5.2 billion in revenue in the last quarter alone. Central to Disneyland’s success? Its meticulous design.

The history of that design is the subject of a new eponymous book published by Taschen. Written by Chris Nichols, an architectural historian, preservationist, writer, and Disneyland fanatic, the book touches on everything from Disney’s involvement in the park’s development to the famous designers and engineers who built it. But Walt Disney’s real feat was to create an immersive world that combined the familiar with the fantastic, laid out in an easily understandable way so that visitors always felt in control of the spectacle around them–all while persuading them to part with as much money as possible.


Walt Disney’s ability to build such a magical–and lucrative–world stemmed directly from the talent he had access to in Southern California. “It’s a creation that could only come from Southern California in the ’50s, from this place in this time, when we had so many people working in the entertainment industry,” Nichols says in an interview. “But we also had a huge science boom then, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and CalTech and all the aerospace industry that was based here at the time. They were making satellites and rockets and all this great stuff that would influence Tomorrowland [the sci-fi, space-themed section of the park].”

Disneyland was different from the other theme parks 0f the era because it was designed to be more like a World’s Fair than a carnival. In fact, the famed ride It’s a Small World was originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. But rather than showing off different country’s achievements, Disneyland instead focused on some of the most foundational American stories of the last century–fairy tales, fantasy, and science fiction–all told through immersive experiences, decades before virtual reality became a thing. Disney’s genius was in making the otherworldly feel completely familiar.


Today, with the rise of virtual reality, consumers are accustomed to feeling like they’re the center of an experience, whether it’s a music video or art therapy. But more than 50 years ago, such experiences were rare. Disneyland was a masterclass in the art of the immersive narrative. “You’re not only experiencing someone guiding you through a story, but you’re the main character,” Nichols says of the rides. “In Peter Pan’s Flight, there was no Peter Pan figure at the beginning, because you were Peter Pan. You’re not only in a story, you’re living it in the architecture, in the ride vehicles, in the costumes.” By making visitors central to each attraction, Disney created seductive experiences that visitors felt they couldn’t get anywhere else.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

5 Things Your Shoes Say About You

Cedrick McDonald

What you wear on your feet reflects your personality, status If there is one thing that most women love, it is shoes. Look in the closet of most women and you will see a collection of shoes that they are proud of. Online shopping opportunities for shoes have even further pushed the growth of the industry, with IBIS World reporting that in the last five years shoe sales online have surged, with the revenue now reaching $14 billion. It’s an industry that will continue to thrive, and for good reason. Shoes say a lot about the person wearing them, even if you have to temper what you wear with them, they always give people a way to let their personality shine through.

“I believe that shoes are a work of art and should express something profound about the person wearing them,” explains Cedrick McDonald, owner of Exotics by Cedrick. “That’s why I put my heart and soul as an artist into every pair of shoes I design. I want the person wearing them to feel like I captured the essence of their personality with every shoe.”

McDonald is a bit of a pioneer in the shoe industry, having created a style that is unique enough to earn a U.S. patent. His line of designer footwear features high-fashion pumps with 4-6” heels that have an eye-catching snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals on the bottom of every shoe. They are shoes that help make a statement not only about the designer, but about the person wearing them.

Our shoes give non-verbal cues to those who see us wearing them. Those symbolic messages give woman wearing Cedrick designer shoeclues as to what type of personality you have, as well as how successful you may be. Here are 5 things that your shoes say about you:

1. Designer shoes. Those wearing designer shoes make a bold statement about status. Designer shoes are a status symbol, and these people are comfortable with being in their own skin and are not afraid to show off their high level of success.

2. High heels. It takes a confident, driven woman to wear high heels. They are for those who are attractive, have excellent taste, and have endless determination. If anyone is running the show, it’s usually the woman in the designer high heels.

3. Expensive shoes. The amount someone pays for their shoes says a lot about what they can afford, their level of success, and their taste for the finer things in life. Expensive shoes are synonymous with good taste, success, and earning a lot of money.

4. Colors and prints. While shoes come in all types of colors and prints, those who opt for the bolder options are not afraid to be bold themselves. They could be extroverts who want to be heard or they could be introverts who are silent, yet very confident and comfortable with who they are. Even the quiet ones desire to be noticed, and bold colors and prints will help them do just that.

5. Custom designs. Those who seek out custom designs or unique shoe lines are leaders, rather than followers. They want to help set the trends and styles and want to be seen. They love how custom designs ignite conversations, giving them a chance to flex their forward-thinking fashion moves.

“Your shoes should help make you feel beautiful,” added McDonald. “If they are not doing that, then they are not worth your time. As an artist who designs shoes, it is my mission to bring out the beauty in every step my customers may take. I want them to truly live life through their soul!”

Cedrick McDonald designerStarted in 2016, Exotics by Cedrick is high-fashion shoe line that has been turning heads from the Golden Globes to the MTV Movie and TV Awards. The company motto is Live Life Through Your Soles, and he’s created unique-looking soles that stand out and make a statement. McDonald is a serial entrepreneur who owns several businesses in addition to Exotics by Cedrick. From the Tampa area, he aims to help set the trends in the high-fashion world. To create his shoes he starts with a hand sketch, usually in the middle of the night, and then creates the rendered design on CAD. Cedrick is also dedicated to giving back to help causes he cares about, donating proceeds from the sale of the shoes to the AIDS Foundation to help combat the global disease.

About Exotics by Cedrick
Owned by Cedrick McDonald, Exotics by Cedrick, a celebrity fashion and footwear designer, is a Tampa-based high-fashion high heel shoe company. The company has a patent for its unique design, which features a snakeskin outsole that is encrusted with Swarovski crystals. Since the company was started in 2016, the trend-setting shoes have made their way into many celebrity hands. To learn more about Exotics by Cedrick, visit the site at

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IBIS World. Online shoe sales.

This new solar farm combines clean energy and beehives


Using the space around the solar panels as sites for 48 hives, the Eagle Point solar farm is using its land to save pollinators and help local agriculture.

At a solar farm surrounded by orchards near Medford, Oregon, native flowers are beginning to bloom between the solar panels, and 48 beehives sit at the edge of the field. The solar farm, called Eagle Point, is now the largest “solar apiary”–a solar energy project designed to benefit pollinators–in the country.

“For me, it comes from a place of wanting to change the culture of solar and really taking into consideration more than just the panels,” says Julianne Wooten, environmental manager for Pine Gate Renewables, the North Carolina-based solar power company that developed the site.

In 2017, the company began working on a new project to keep land productive at its solar farms, reintroducing native plants, and, in some cases, working with farmers or ranchers to plant crops or graze animals around the panels. A nonprofit called Fresh Energy helped connect the company with a local beekeeper who happened to be looking for a new home for some of his hives. (This isn’t the only smart combination of clean energy and agriculture: a solar farm in Japan is growing mushrooms under the panels.)

For pollinators, sprawling solar plants can provide space for much-needed habitat. (By the spring of 2019, when the new native plants are more established, the Eagle Point solar farm will offer 41 acres of new habitat.) For nearby farms growing crops that rely on pollinators–at a time when thousands of wild pollinators are at risk of extinction, and beekeepers are still struggling to maintain their populations of honeybees–this type of project can also play a role in supporting the food supply.

For the owner of a solar farm, seeding fields with native flowers and grasses has a higher upfront cost than at a typical installation; Pine Gate also worked with experts in restoration to ensure that they were making changes that were ecologically sound. But roughly a third of the maintenance costs of a solar farm can come from managing vegetation. Depending on the location, grass growing under panels might need to be mowed eight times a year. Shifting to natural vegetation can reduce that to one or two times a year, and should save the company money over time.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How Two Young Entrepreneurs Are Tackling The Plastic Problem With Swimwear


Brother-sister duo from Colgate University pitched a novel idea in 2015 to Jessica Alba, Jennifer Hyman, Neil Blumenthal, and MC Hammer, panelists at an entrepreneurship program: swimwear made out of recycled plastic bottles. They didn’t know much about the technology then to convert old, used plastic bottles into clothing, but as children who grew up on the beach, they knew plastic was becoming a problem.

Turns out, they had a good idea, which garnered them $20,000 for their first production run, and then 21-year-old Jake and 18-year-old Caroline Danehy went on to raise nearly $25,000 more on Kickstarter for their startup, Fair Harbor Clothing.

Three years later, they have a business that’s grown exponentially, they’ve worked with the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator, and have branched out from their signature boardshorts to include women’s swimwear.  On average, 11 plastic bottles are repurposed in each pair of shorts.

The plastic bottles, Jake says, are sourced from mass recycling facilities worldwide.  They’re then sent to manufacturing facilities to be broken down into polyfibers that are spun into yarn, sewn into fabric, and cut and sewn into styles.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that polyester is made from plastic,” he says. “Instead of taking new plastic to convert into our fabric, we make use of recycled plastic bottles that may have been discarded.  While the process does involve one extra step, it’s not as complicated as it initially might seem.”

To sell their wares, the duo started with the basics: trunk shows. To date, they’ve done over 200 trunk shows in beach towns across the East Coast.  “We are huge advocates of our bootstrap model,” he adds.

Despite the growing education around plastic waste, particularly in our oceans, and some brands adopting similar practices, there are still companies who lag behind. “A lot of companies are stuck in their ways and haven’t looked to disrupt their normal production process.”

For Jake and Caroline, Fair Harbor is a business that embodies their childhood. The name, for instance, refers to a beach town on Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island where their family spent their summers. “It’s essentially a glorified sandbar, where no cars are allowed and everyone rides around on weathered bicycles. It’s a really small community that lives simply and inclusively.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Alcatraz East Awards Graffiti Artists

Graffiti Artist

It’s not often that graffiti artists get recognized and awarded for their artistic talents. But on June 2, 2018 that’s exactly what Alcatraz East Crime Museum did, holding a graffiti art contest giving the winners the opportunity to have their work on display at the museum for thousands of visitors to see. This first graffiti contest held by the museum featured seven pre-selected artists who also competed for cash prizes.

“We are excited with how our first outdoor event and first art contest went off,” says Rachael Penman, director of artifacts & exhibits at Alcatraz East. “It was a fun way to bring awareness to the public and give artists an opportunity to display their work in a museum setting.”

The top spots went to: 
1st place: Steve Hall of Maryville, TN
2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY
3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

In addition to the local area, artists from Kentucky, South Carolina, and Georgia also competed. The contest guidelines restricted the artistic themes to be suitable for a general public audience, and in line with the museum’s law enforcement and crime history topics. Winners of the contest will have their panels displayed in the museum later this summer, and received cash prizes of $750 for first place, $350 for second place, and $200 for third place.

2nd place: Casey McKinney of Louisville, KY

The judges’ panel included local law enforcement representatives Sevier County Sheriff Ron “Hoss” Seals and Pigeon Forge Chief of Police Richard Catlett, as well as artist Kelly Sullivan from Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, and Rhonda Marsh, owner of Southern Draw Tattoo Studio in Pigeon Forge.

“This has been such a magical experience for me and I hope to see more events like this in the future,” shared William Love, one of the graffiti artist winners.”

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the national cost associated with removing graffiti from vandalized properties is at least $8 billion per year, between clean up and the lowering of property values. To combat this costly problem, many cities have introduced organized graffiti art projects to revitalize areas and provide official recognition to artists. Museum visitors will be able to see the graffiti exhibit to learn more about the topic and admire the artistic work on display.

“Based on the success of this year’s contest, we are planning to stage the event again next year,” added Penman. “We will start accepting artist applications on our website in January 2019.”

The Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge. They are located near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. The museum offers a wide array of crime information, including notorious crimes and criminals, historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, crime scene investigation, crime detection and fighting, and information on how help avoid being a victim of crime. There are also many activities that are kid friendly. Currently, the OJ Simpson white chase Bronco is on display at the museum, along with Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle.

3rd place: William Love of Nashville, TN

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, log online:

About Alcatraz East
Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit