The Strindberg Laboratory, an innovative nonprofit that presents professional theater workshops and plays for disadvantaged populations, has agreed to partner with us in Long Beach. That means more opportunities for veterans to collaborate with actors, writers, directors and producers who have valuable experience in the creative arts, and to commune with peers in the process. Yesterday I had an online discussion with Strindberg co-founder Michael Bierman, who explained all veterans have a story to tell, and are encouraged to participate. People Magazine recently published a long piece about the work Michael and his wife Meri Pakarinen have been doing with California inmates. Check out a portion of the chat I had with Michael, and then scroll down to see a video report by People correspondent Tiare Dunlap:
Jeff Norman. RotorAct Long Beach president Brittney Olaes and John Bollinger
Renaissance man John Bollinger and I spoke last night at the semimonthly RotorAct Long Beach Happy Hour Meeting. It was quite a privilege to spend time with young movers and shakers who never stop making their city a better place. We shared our plans to establish an outpost in Long Beach where we’ll run a variety of programs with nonprofit partners including Rock to Recovery, The Strindberg Laboratory and Global Business Incubation. I met John in November when we both participated in the Emerald Veterans Business Summit at Loyola Marymount University. It was a conference for veterans who own or plan to own their own businesses. John is an architect, general contractor and construction engineering professor who helped launch the Long Beach World Trade Center and Port of Long Beach. We’ll be lining up partners and funding in the coming months in a variety of ways including our Night of Hope and Dreams, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen at the Brass Lamp Bar in Long Beach on March 18, the night before Springsteen’s last of three concerts in Los Angeles.
Some of the best veterans’ advocates operate in the nonprofit sector to accomplish what they couldn’t possibly do if they were to work for a government agency. But we certainly need as many talented and dedicated public servants as possible to address the needs of veterans, and it’s with that thought in mind that we wish the very best to our own Ricardo “Rick” Reyes, who has just been appointed Deputy Secretary of Minority Veterans at the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Gov. Brown made the announcement on Thursday. Rick was our Director of Military Outreach in 2009 and 2010, and still serves on our Advisory Board. He’s a remarkable Marine veteran who once went undercover posing as a homeless veteran to find out how veterans are treated in shelters. He’s now going to bring his passion to Sacramento and offer his services on a statewide level. The governor couldn’t have made a better choice.
From what I hear, the ubiquitous job fairs held for veterans lead to relatively few hirings. In that sense, veterans seeking work tend to endure the same plight that vexes the rest of the unemployed population: they’re lucky to land an interview let alone secure a livelihood. So the Emerald Veterans Business Summit on Nov. 20-21 at Loyola Marymount University offers a much-needed breath of fresh air. USAF veteran-mentor-speaker-author Anthony Morgan told me via Skype this morning that attendees will be "showing up to be an entrepreneur…to network and to tap into the resources that [conference organizer] GBI brings to the table…listening to keynote speakers [who will] show you how to get from point A to point Z, and to make the transition from veteran to entrepreneur a lot smoother.”
Another distinguishing characteristic of the conference is that the general public is encouraged to experience it as an opportunity to establish or nurture win-win ventures. For example, a nonveteran partner in a veteran-owned business is entitled to advantages - such as low-interest loans and first dibs on government contracts - that are generally available to only veterans. Understanding that veterans actually welcome such give-and-take can be liberating for those who might otherwise be reluctant to “exploit” former service members.
Admission for veterans (and Loyola students/faculty/staff) is free, and $15 for all others. For more info or to register, click here.
Individuals from nearby homeless shelters who came to our headquarters yesterday were shocked when they were given the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Pope Francis who spoke with them via satellite from the Vatican. The exchange was part of a special edition of ABC’s 20/20 scheduled to air Friday night.