Mandalit Del Barco writes:
This season, Fox Searchlight has served audiences a three-course menu of movies with African-American casts and themes.
First, it served an appetizer in September, with the romantic comedy Baggage Claim, starring Paula Patton as a flight attendant looking for a husband in a hurry.
Then, in October, the studio set out a substantial main course with 12 Years A Slave. The sweeping epic by director Steve McQueen is already an Academy Award shoo-in.
Now, Black Nativity is Fox Searchlight’s dessert, a sweet Christmas tear-jerker. This musical features Oscar winners Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson, singing their way into the holidays. The film, set in Harlem, is a modern version of a classic Langston Hughes play familiar to many African-American audiences.
Director Kasi Lemmons says it was an easy sell to Fox Searchlight’s senior vice president of production. “I was at the Spirit Awards and ran into Zola Mashariki from Fox Searchlight,” Lemmons recalls. “I said, ‘I want to do Black Nativity,’ and she said, ‘I’m doin’ it.’
“I said, ‘OK, ’cause I’m going around and I want you to hear my pitch.’
“And she said, ‘I said, I’m doing it.’”
Mashariki adds, “I was like, ‘Of course I know Black Nativity, the play. Of course I know Langston Hughes. Why hasn’t anyone done this?’”
She is one of the few black studio executives in Hollywood. “It really took having someone in this position who had worked their way up the ladder to be in a position to buy who could hear that story and go, I know that story. It should be a movie, and people are gonna connect with that idea,” she says. “I don’t think many of my colleagues would have heard that and said, I know exactly what that is….”
Mashariki started out as a Brooklyn-born lawyer who studied at Harvard and taught in its African-American studies program with Cornel West. She also co-founded an African-American theater group with playwright August Wilson. Mashariki says her passion for and intuition about black audiences informs her choices. At Fox Searchlight, she also brought in the films The Secret Life of Bees, Notorious and Just Wright.
“That makes me really proud, because I’m part of that community,” she says. “When I came to Hollywood, I wanted to make many different kinds of films, but I think I would have died if I didn’t have opportunity to tell stories about people who looked like me.”
Emil Protalinski writes:
Google today rolled out a long-requested feature: being able to download a copy of your Gmail and Google Calendar data. The new feature means you can now back up your emails and calendars, or just export them temporarily so you can import them to another service.
Today’s additions let you download all of your email and calendars (the data is downloaded in the MBOX format), or choose a subset of labels and calendars. The ability to customize what you’re exporting makes it easier to control what you are backing up or want to import elsewhere.
Liz Gannes writes:
Today’s technology industry is obsessed with applying convenience and efficiency to life’s daily drags and annoyances. So what else can be booked on a website to arrive at your door a day later?
Now it’s home cleaners, at a flat rate of $20 per hour, facilitated by Homejoy, a year-and-a-half-old service that’s now live in 31 cities in the U.S. and Canada….
The secret to Homejoy’s quick success, according to CEO Adora Cheung (who declined to say how many people use the service) is that she and all her team go through professional cleaning training, so they are deeply familiar with the work they facilitate.
The company now provides full-time work for more than 1,000 people, she said. It pays them $15 per hour.
The most remarkable stat that Cheung supplied is that more than half of Homejoy’s customers say they have never had their homes professionally cleaned before. It seems that the ease of use of 24-hour advance-booking online is opening the cleaning market to new audiences.
Mark Sanchez writes:
Huntington Bank wants to extend a new microloan program launched in Southeast Michigan to markets across the state as quickly as possible.
John Irwin, Huntington Bank’s president in West Michigan, hopes to secure a partner “not soon enough” to extend the $25 million Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative that started in Detroit to this side of the state….
Launched last week in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative began in Detroit with a $5 million fund that will provide microloans through 2018.
The effort offers loans of $500 to $50,000 to small businesses needing credit.
The Columbus, Ohio-based Huntington Bank’s $25 million commitment comes through lines of credit to community organizations that provide microlending….
GROW earlier this year secured an additional $600,000 from the U.S. Small Business Administration to support microlending. Three banks — Comerica, Mercantile Bank and Fifth Third Bank — later made financial or in-kind commitments to the program.
The MEDC hopes to eventually generate up to $250 million that’s available statewide for microloans through signing up other banks to participate in the initiative….
The microloan initiative builds on a commitment Huntington made in 2011 to lend $2 billion over four years to small business in Michigan.
Jim Harger writes:
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Valencia Cooper, owner of Centralian Shop Unlimited LLC, has been looking forward to the day she can move her apparel printing business out of her Southeast Side home.
Thanks to a $3,600 “Seeds of Promise” grant from Fifth Third Bank, Cooper is out looking for that new location….
Cooper, who started her business in 2009, said the grant will give her the financial leverage to negotiate a long-term lease on a commercial space in the Madison and Hall business district….
Cooper was one of three entrepreneurs to receive grants through the “Seeds of Promise” program, which asked entrepreneurs to make a pitch for up to $10,000 in seed money….
Over the next two months, the entrepreneurs will get ongoing technical assistance as they receive their investment. They will reconvene on Jan. 21 to update the community on their success, according to a Fifth Third news release.
The start-up money is part of a $25,000 grant from Fifth Third Bank to encourage entrepreneurialism and financial education in the Southeast Grand Rapids neighborhood surrounding Dickinson Elementary School.
Fifth Third Bank, Seeds of Promise, the Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) and Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW) came together to offer a money management education series to residents in Southeast Grand Rapids with the goal of encouraging innovation, job creation and entrepreneurialism in the community.
Jim Harger writes:
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – James Pierce is trying to put his drum making business – and his calling – back together.
Working from an unheated shop space in the former Oliver Machinery Co. building on the city’s near Northeast Side, the owner of Sherwood Percussion Instruments has put together the precision wood-working machinery he needs to build the high-end custom drums he first began making 37 years ago….
Despite rave reviews and positive feedback from the drumming world, Pierce’s business plans stumbled in the early 1980s. He lost his woodworking machines in a dispute with a business partner and ended up being locked out of his business.
With a growing family, Pierce concentrated on his day job at Steelcase Inc. He made another run at the business in 1995, but the financing he needed did not happen. He got involved in his family’s office cleaning business in 1998.
But the drum business kept calling Pierce, who recently turned 60.
“Nobody would let me forget it,” says Pierce, who spent the past several years buying the woodworking machines he needs to produce drums.
He is now working on two orders and trying to rebuild his connections to the drumming world.
Now that he’s got his woodworking equipment back together, Pierce said he’s looking for a new location and startup financial backing to restart his dream. He’s also involved in a business tutoring program aimed at refining his master plan.
Pierce says he can produce up to 30 drums per month working alone, but he hopes to build it to the point where he can hire up to 12 employees to run the woodworking machines.
Beyond his dream of reviving his business, Pierce said his call has grown deeper. He believes his drums will help him reach fellow musicians as a ministry.
“This is all about Jesus,” says Pierce, who said his return to the business was “prophesied” at his church.
“I have to fulfill this. Otherwise, there’s no purpose to do this.”
Joel Kotkin writes:
Once, we saw the potential unsurpassed human liberation available through information technology. However, Silicon Valley, as shown in the NSA scandal, increasingly has become intimately tied to the surveillance state. Technology has enabled powerful firms — including Verizon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google — to channel everyone’s email and cellphone calls to the national security apparatus.
“It’s as bad as reading your diary,” Joss Wright, a researcher with the Oxford Internet Institute, recently told the Associated Press, adding, “It’s far worse than reading your diary. Because you don’t write everything in your diary”….
Some on the left are seeing the light. Britain’s left-leaning Guardian newspaper has been in the forefront unveiling the NSA scandals and the complicity in them of the tech giants. Credit belongs to the EU, which, particularly in contrast with our government, has been asking the toughest questions about loss of privacy and the dangers of oligopolistic control. With Barack Obama secure in the White House, some American leftists have also begun to recognize the extreme inequality that has accompanied, and likely been worsened by, the ascendency of the digital aristocracy.
Conservatives, for their part, can only face up to the new “axis of evil” by stepping outside their ideology strictures and instinctive embrace of wealth. The increasingly monopolistic nature of the high-tech community, and its widespread disregard for the privacy of the individual, should concern conservatives, as it would have the framers of the Constitution.
What needs to be accepted, by both conservatives and liberals, is that privacy matters, as does the threat posed to democracy by oligarchy. Until people focus on the potential for evil before us and discuss ways to curb abuses, this small and largely irresponsible class, likely in league with government, will usher in not the promised cornucopia but a gilded-age reign of Big Brother.
Charlsie Dewey writes:
Rethink West Michigan is modeled after a series of recruiting events held in cities across the country by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.
“Last year, the MEDC was running a program called MichAgain, where they were going out to different cities in the U.S. and talking to people who were formerly from Michigan about opportunities that were back home, here in the state,” Sall said.
The events were a success and did bring some professionals back to Michigan.
Kristen Ditta, senior marketing consultant at Priority Health, had been living in Chicago for five years when she attended the MEDC’s Chicago MichAgain event.
“Attending the event really solidified the feelings I was starting to have about moving back to West Michigan,” Ditta said. “Seeing all these companies come together just to entice talent to move back made me feel really good, and it made me excited for the possibilities in Michigan.
Genise Reid writes:
Is a choir a sort of large-scale care group? It is not. Choir rehearsals are scheduled for the purpose of rehearsing music, not for the purpose of spiritual development. Choir rehearsals, at best, only block out a few minutes for devotions and prayer. Fellowship is limited and accountability is virtually nonexistent. If you are reading this and you are in a choir, please do not be offended when leadership encourages you to join a care group. It is in the messy, risky, loving care group setting that we journey from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity.
Sahar Hashemi writes:
Many people have the chronology of entrepreneurship backwards in their minds. That’s why so many people’s great business dreams remain just that – only a dream. No one is born an entrepreneur. You don’t need to have exceptional characteristics before you start. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur before you start. You become an entrepreneur during the process of pursuing your dreams.
It’s not a special chromosome or magic dust some have and others don’t. Nor is it a set of personality traits. Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. No two entrepreneurs are the same. In the words of entrepreneurship guru Peter Drucker: “I have seen people of the most diverse personalities and temperaments perform well in entrepreneurial challenges. Some are fat and some are lean. Some entrepreneurs are worriers and some are relaxed… Some have great charm and some have no more personality than a frozen mackerel!”
It’s about behavior. You become an entrepreneur by actually jumping in and doing it – not talking about it or planning it and, for sure, not by dreaming about it. What activates and awakens that behavior is taking the first step and hitting the road. It’s on that journey from point A (the fragile bubble of an idea) to point B (making it happen) that you discover qualities you never even knew you had and become an entrepreneur.
James Pethokoukis writes:
According to Post reporter Lori Montgomery, Ryan has been on a RFK-esque poverty tour, “quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods” and “talking to ex-convicts and recovering addicts about the means of their salvation.” All that in preparation for a rollout next year — on the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s declaration of “war on poverty — of “an anti-poverty plan to rival his budgetary Roadmap for America’s Future in scope and ambition….”
At AEI… economists have proposed a variety of ideas to deal with long-term unemployment including work-sharing unemployment insurance programs, relocation subsidies, and bonus payments to workers who find jobs… [and] expanding the child tax credit and explored expanded wage subsidies for low-skill workers.
Kara Powell at Fuller Youth Institute writes:
The Certificate in Urban Youth Ministry provides youth workers in urban church and parachurch settings with essential training vital to effective youth ministry. This unique program offered by the Fuller Youth Institute draws from the expertise of Fuller’s Schools of Theology, Psychology and Intercultural Studies to offer academic training that can be completed with a minimum of time away from ministry commitments.
They’ve got great trainers like Michael Mata, Jeremy Del Rio, and a buncha others. I encourage you to check it out. via Urban Ministry.
Partners Worldwide has an opening for a project manager to work in Southern Africa, specifically in Farmer-to-Farmer partnerships in Zambia and Malawi. Click here to download the job description.
John Stanton writes:
The Irish aren’t exactly what most people think of when they hear immigration reform. But the community faces its own challenges: There are an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 undocumented Irish immigrants living and working in the United States. Irish bars and restaurants — like other ethnically based businesses — are routinely targeted by federal officials for lengthy and burdensome investigations “to see that they’re real establishments and that I’m not just bringing people over on visas and releasing them into the wild,” said Mark Kirwan, an Irish immigrant and the owner of Beckett’s.
And while the most of the public — and members of Congress — may assume immigration from Ireland is relatively easy due to the cultural and familial ties between the two countries, it’s anything but: Thanks to the 1965 immigration reform law, of the 10 million green cards issued between 2002 and 2012, only 15,000 went to Irish applicants.
“Many people see the ‘65 immigration bill as the Irish Exclusion Act,” Staunton said, referring to the China Exclusion Act, which specifically barred Chinese immigrants from the United States.
Organizers concede they face challenges: Many Irish Catholics are conservative Republicans, and the immigration debate’s focus on Latino immigrants and border control can make winning them over difficult.
Activists hope meetings like the one in Arlington can help change that. In addition to leaders from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Embassy, and the Gaelic Athletic Association, they also brought in successful Irish businessmen — who were also once illegal immigrants to the United States.
“I was an illegal immigrant. I was an undocumented worker,” said Cathal Armstrong, the chef at Restaurant Eve, a tony upscale restaurant in Old Town Alexandria, just across the Potomac River from Washington.
Armstrong said that while he was eventually able to achieve legalized status, many of his friends have not — pointing to one man in particular who “has no hope of becoming legal in this country. No hope. He has two kids, he pays his taxes … he has no hope. It’s outrageous.”
Gabrielle Karol writes:
Starting January 1, veterans taking out SBA loans of up to $350,000 will pay no upfront fee until the end of the fiscal year. Loans between $150,000 and $350,000 typically require upfront payments anywhere between 2.25% and 4.75%. Fees for SBA loans of less than $150,000 are currently set to zero….
And new research from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy suggests that programs aimed at veterans may be working. Business ownership among young veterans is on the rise: In 2012, 7.1% of veteran business owners were under the age of 35, up from 4.6% in 2008. This runs counter to the trend among the general population, in which business ownership among non-veteran owners decreased from 18.5% to 16.3% in the same time period.
“The drawdown of Afghanistan and Iraq has affected the young age bracket,” says Office of Advocacy chief economist Janemarie Mulvey.
Female veterans are also increasingly becoming business owners. The Office of Advocacy research found that in 2012, 4.4% of veteran business owners were women, up from 2.5% in 2008. While business ownership for women is much higher in the overall population (35.9% of all business owners were women in 2012), the report says business ownership among female veterans is growing at a faster rate.