Category Archives: tim brauhn

The Denver Dispatch of Doom Vol. 17 (another name change edition)

Hello dear friends,

Remember Chia Pets? CH-CH-CH-CHIA! The little packet of seeds that you mix with water and spread across the Pet are enjoying a super-food resurgence. Two tablespoons of chia seeds net you loads of Omega-3 acids and over 8 GRAMS of fiber. I love the little buggers.

I spent most of August visiting my family and friends in Illinois (my apologies for skipping over the IFYC office and others) and Colorado. A majority of that time was spent in Colorado’s original paradise, Crested Butte. I did some amazing, dare I say, EXTREME mountain biking. I shredded my legs up after a particularly dusty wreck, but emerged victorious, if not limping a bit.

As you know, Jackie and I have been debating where we might settle ourselves for a while post-Korbel School. Naturally, I voted for the sunny, wine-soaked, and nearly-perfect Bay Area. She favored the grey eminence, storied circles, and well-connected Washington, D.C. This has been a subject of much discussion/shouting for the past year. As Jackie and I were driving through the Rockies, it occurred to us that our original destination, Denver, had been off the table for some reason. We began to discuss it.

It became clear that, try as we might, we couldn’t find a strong enough list of CONS to balance the PROS. And so, by the end of October, we’ll be back in the Mile High City. Jackie’s still searching out work in the humanitarian/health/refugee services field, and I’ll continue my work with Changemakers, which continues to be super-engaging and fast-paced. I’ll soon be taking on some massive projects which will undoubtedly require me to ask many of you for help/contacts/magic powers.

I’m sorry that I can’t phone/visit each of you to tell you about the move personally. The next few weeks will be a mix of shooting around to say goodbye, toiling at religious media syndication opportunities for Changemakers, and squaring away some large projects for Islamic Networks Group. Incidentally, ING has released a super interfaith statement on “One America”, regarding the planned Park51 community center nowhere near Ground Zero. Well worth a read/share.

I’ll probably head off across the desert a week after my Oct. 12 birthday (incidentally, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is stopping by San Jose that day), since the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SIVIC), with whom I have been involved, is hosting an interfaith meeting around the visit.

Whew. There we go. Moving back to Denver. Leaving all these wonderful, graceful friends and landscapes I’ve come to love in the past year. Sad and happy. We’ll be in touch. In the meantime, remember to love everyone and everything. Also, raw pumpkin seeds, besides tasting swell, are an amazing source of manganese, which probably does something good for the body.

I miss you all, I hope to speak with you soon, and as always, keep up the good work

P.S. Today’s poetry break is brought to you by Walt Whitman, who is quickly becoming one of my faves.

P.P.S. If you haven’t seen the original Double Rainbow video, click here to watch it. It will change your life. After that, I recommend checking out my “cover” of Double Rainbow, taken while out at the farm in Illinois, by clicking here. It will change your life back to normal.



It is time to explain myself — let us stand up (from Song of Myself)

By Walt Whitman

(1819 – 1892)

It is time to explain myself — let us stand up.

What is known I strip away,

I launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown.

The clock indicates the moment — but what does eternity indicate?

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers,

There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead of them.

Births have brought us richness and variety,

And other births will bring us richness and variety.

I do not call one greater and one smaller,

That which fills its period and place is equal to any.

Were mankind murderous or jealous upon you, my brother, my sister?

I am sorry for you, they are not murderous or jealous upon me,

All has been gentle with me, I keep no account with lamentation,

(What have I to do with lamentation?)

I am an acme of things accomplished, and I am encloser of things to be.

My feet strike an apex of the apices of the stairs,

On every step bunches of ages, and larger bunches between the steps,

All below duly traveled, and still I mount and mount.

Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me,

Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there,

I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist,

And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon.

Long was I hugged close — long and long.

Immense have been the preparations for me,

Faithful and friendly the arms that have helped me.

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen,

For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings,

They sent influences to look after what was to hold me.

Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me,

My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it.

For it the nebula cohered to an orb,

The long slow strata piled to rest it on,

Vast vegetables gave it sustenance,

Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care.

All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me,

Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul.

Don’t decant your wine, MANTICATE it

I asked some Twitter-based winos that I know if they’d ever heard of using a blender to “decant” wine. As it turns out, it’s not very common. I think that this is largely because a lot of bros out there just don’t know how truly dope it is to MANTICATE your wine.

*I so desperately wish that I had remembered to do a few fist pumps in this video!*

brauhn manticate

Facebook, Places, and location

tim brauhn location

Why I feel the way I feel about Facebook, Places, and location

For a long time, I was outside looking in when it came to location-based services. Without a smartphone, I relied on the occasional wifi signal from a spot that I was frequenting. Now with my Droid X and mobile incursion lifestyle, I’ve been busy with Foursquare and Gowalla. And until a doctoral student at UPenn recently surveyed me about using location apps, I wasn’t 100% sure about why I used them.

Location is about adding a level of information, a layer we might say, to the world around us. Seems easy enough. I create venues on Gowalla/Foursquare because it helps give context. I take pictures and post them as well. Perhaps this work will help others create better, digital maps for the next wave of location apps. So I suppose I should have taken Facebook’s roll-out of Places a bit better than I did.

Facebook’s problem

We know how The Zuck and others work over in Palo Alto (just up the road from me). They release a new feature and, regardless of how public opinion seems to sway at the time, tell us how it’s going to make our lives easier. They’re right about half of the time. Think of the Feed Controversy. Facebook’s hope is that, for those who use location already, Places will become one more easy integration with the social web. For those who don’t use location, maybe Places will help bring them into the fold. My belief is that Facebook has jumped the gun here. Plenty of the users don’t trust the web with such information. My girlfriend, for one, thinks that my rampant checking in is probably mildly dangerous and almost certainly inane. :) If you haven’t seen it, watch Facebook’s video about Places (featuring a bevy of well-to-do gentlemen but no ladies):

Creating the expectation of serendipity, not so much

Maybe Facebook is picking the lowest common denominator of the original intent of the service itself: Connecting people digitally who know each other in real life. But name one person on Facebook besides your grandma who would feel 100% comfortable sitting down with a random friend from their list. Do it. I can’t name myself. I use Facebook to keep in touch, yes, and I’ll be perfectly frank when I declare that I also use it as a broadcast medium. Do I want to have a random cup of coffee with every “friend”? Nope. By enabling Places (with it’s complicated privacy controls, of course), such a high level of interplay with our real lives, Facebook is creating the expectation of serendipity, and I don’t think that we’re ready for that just yet.

Creating context for the next level of digital mapping, sounds good

When the fellow in the video talks about seeing his friends’ comments about the Golden Gate Bridge, I think of why I use location services. The more users who are actively mapping (new) territory and leaving tips, trips, photos, and descriptions, the greater our digital context will be. At least in this sense, I think that Facebook is on to something. By allowing Foursquare, Gowalla, et al. to hang onto their “territory”, so to speak, through Facebook Connect and pushing check-ins to Facebook, the world’s largest social network is still playing the open game, and I respect them for that.

The Places logo, because I have to address it

Facebook is an asshole.

Bottom line on location

Will people continue to use location-based services? Yes. Will more people join the social location party? Of course. Is Facebook ahead of the curve? Time will tell. Still, I think that the piecemeal release of a late-to-the-game product that mirrors others but lacks proper privacy controls is a bit insulting, especially when it lacks Android support. :)

The Bay Area Dispatch of Doom Vol. 16 (New job edition)

NOTE: This is a modified “for public consumption” version of my world-famous (yeah right) email newsletter. A slightly less-edited version is available – just write me!

Hello friends,

Mung beans are about $1.19 in the bulk food aisle at Whole Foods. You can take these beans and sprout them in a Mason jar. A pound of beans will make BOATLOADS of fresh, tasty, nutritious sprouts. Good eatin’! And yes, I realize that the acronym for the Dispatch is now B.A.D.D. – it’s cuz I’m such a tough guy. :)

Well well well, it’s been a while since I’ve attempted to connect with y’all. When I last checked in, we were days away from launching the One Voice of Faith conference. It went well, and the Interfaith Youth Leadership Summit that Hafsa Arain and I put together was a success. After that, it was a mad dash through World Malaria Day, movie screenings, wrap-up meetings, training to become a ONE Campaign and Malaria No More Malaria Griot, and budget reconciliation. The budget work was difficult; I had to match up how much I actually embezzled with how much the Interfaith Youth Core thought I embezzled. JUST JOKING!

The Faiths Act Fellows reunited in Chicago at the end of May. It was great meeting up with all of my lovely friends to talk through the last year and to help design future iterations of the program. The Fellowship was an amazing experience. It’s going to be a few more months before we can “take the temperature” of the coalitions that we built in cities across the US, UK, and Canada, but the preliminary statistics show that we raised about $150,000 USD, which will be personally matched by Mr. Tony Blair. 10,000 people came to Faiths Act events, and we reached out to over 40,000 folks in three countries. Not bad for a first outing, if I do say so myself. Hafsa and I worked hard to connect interfaith activists to each other across the Bay Area. For only having eight months in which to work, I think that we affected the interfaith ecosystem quite positively.

I have delayed this Dispatch largely because I didn’t want to report to you all without being able to list my new employer (probably some hang-up of being a prideful rural lad), and I will do so now. On June 21st I joined the Ashoka Changemakers as a Community Mobilizer (I’m actually a non-benefited full-time consultant/contractor). I’m helping out with some current competitions to identify and empower social entrepreneurs, and I will soon take on competitions of my own. I’m going to work on developing an outreach plan for faith-based organizations, too. It’s all very exciting!

My girlfriend and I are keeping our eyes out for interesting humanitarian jobs both here and abroad. She’s back in central Colorado (pictures of the paradise of Crested Butte) and I’m still here in San Jose. I’m helping out around the office at Islamic Networks Group ; they’ve been kind enough to let me keep my desk space for the time being. There is also more interfaith organizing to be done in the Bay Area, and I’m doing what I can in my spare time. So we’ll see – the future looks bright!

So I’ll leave you all to your endeavors, which I would spell “endeavours” like my English friends if I wasn’t afraid of the jagged red line that Gmail puts underneath it. Get plenty of sleep, try drinking a few cups of green tea each day, and…shamelessly link out to a post that I wrote about my raw food experience.

I miss you all, I hope to speak with you soon, and always, keep up the good work.

P.S. Today’s poetry break is brought to you by Thomas Merton, who is awesome. His poem “A Dirge” follows my signature.

Tim Brauhn

A Dirge


Some one who hears the bugle neigh will know

How cold it is when sentries die by starlight.

But none who love to hear the hammering drum

Will look, when the betrayer

Laughs in the desert like a broken monument,

Ringing his tongue in the red bell of his head,

Gesturing like a flag.

The air that quivered after the earthquake

(When God died like a thief)

Still plays the ancient forums like pianos;

The treacherous wind, lover of the demented,

Will harp forever in the haunted temples.

What speeches do the birds make

With their beaks, to the desolate dead?

And yet we love those carsick amphitheaters,

Nor hear our Messenger come home from hell

With hands shot full of blood.

No one who loves the fleering fife will feel

The light of morning stab his flesh,

But some who hear the trumpet’s raving, in the ruined sky,

Will dread the burnished helmet of the sun,

Whose anger goes before the King.

A tornado hit my farm – my response

Pictures of the INCREDIBLE DESTRUCTION follow this post. I returned home the other night to find a series of Gchat messages from my mother; she likes Gchat. Here’s an excerpt (names changed for some reason):

MOM: I delivered my stuff just as the rain started and right before it hit dixon. then I got over to co market between rains when DAD called.
he was very glad I wasn’t home when it hit. he said–as afraid of storms as I am–it scared him very much.
we had lots of hail–shredded the peppers, eggplant and beans–hit the south half of the garden the most–wind broke many squash and cuc stems–corn flatter than from friday’s storm.

lost half the poplar tree–it was forked up high–took out three sections of my flower wooden fence.
I feel like giving up. I’ve never seen it this bad.

lost one of the north doors to the corn crib. most of it landed on your brother’s truck
…fun on the farm.
the window in the upstairs bathroom almost fell out/off. the wind yanked it all crooked and open.

I once wrote a poem recounting the family procedure during a tornado: put on shoes, grab a snack and the cordless radio, and run down into the basement. The punchline came when we emerged after the “all clear” to find Dad on the couch reading the newspaper. So for this storm, I knew it was bad when she said that my dad was concerned. If HE’S worried about the weather, you know it’s some pretty serious shit.

My mom has an extensive garden. She’s the chieftess of a CSA (community-supported agriculture), wherein people buy vegetables and chicken eggs from her every season. It’s all organic and biodynamic, and the shareholders get to know my mom and dad pretty well. It’s a sweet system. A storm like this is devastating. When I phoned them up afterwards, I jokingly said, “Well that’s farm life, isn’t it?” My mom’s wry comment was “Fun on the farm.” I know my folks, though, and contrary to what my mom’s message said, they’re not actually going to give up.

I had the unique opportunity to visit my home farm twice in the span of two weeks this summer. Even in that short span, I marveled at the enormous growth of the plants in the garden. I know that if I head home in a few weeks, I’ll have a hard time telling that the garden was beaten down by a storm (ignoring, of course, the destroyed fence, trees, and corn crib doors).

That’s the level of growth that happens “back on the farm”, and it’s one of the reasons that I love returning home. The tornado (more likely high winds) that hit the farm are troublesome, to be sure, but one of the lessons that you learn growing up on a farm is that setbacks occur. You have to persevere and work through them.


UPDATE: I spoke with my folks recently and they said that the garden is recovering well ahead of expectations. Like I said, my mom and dad are good at what they do. :)

*** This post is part of the “Blog Every Day Challenge“, which I have undertaken in homage to John Haydon, a captain of social media and inbound marketing for non-profits. A few months back he did the same thing. Granted, all of his posts imparted some kind of value to his readers (and he has many). I’m blogging about the same old stuff. Don’t call it “general interest”, because I think that it goes without saying that humans should generally be interested in what I’m doing. :) ***


A tornado
A tornado
Beat up beets
Beat up beets
Beat down corn
Beat down corn
Hail damage on squash
Hail damage on squash
Former corn crib door
Former corn crib door
Garlic got beat down, too
Garlic got beat down, too
Tree vs. fence
Tree vs. fence
We never liked that poplar tree anyway
We never liked that poplar tree anyway
Beat down corn
Beat down corn