The Great Outdoors and the Next Great Generation

“You can’t capture it in a picture, you have to be there to see it.” — Tobin Schafer, 12, of Ohio

No truer words have been spoken by the young boy at the end of a clip NBC’s Nightly News aired about the National Parks trying to attract more young people to come and visit them. While Schafer might be younger than Millennials, his sentiment is one that more Millennials need to share in order for our National Parks system to persevere and survive for our grandchildren, and their grandchildren. According to a University of Idaho analysis of Park Service attendance, “back in 1996, at Death Valley National Park, almost a third of visitors were in their 20s. But in the last few years, that number has dropped to just 11% at Yosemite and 6% at Yellowstone”.

The question is why? Perhaps it’s because Millennials and younger generations are addicted to technology (says the one who tried to ‘check-in’ on Foursquare when I reached the summit of Mt. Washington in the White Mountains). Perhaps it’s because beginning with our generations, kids spent more time indoors playing on the computer and with video games than we sent running around outdoors just enjoying the freedom of binging a kid. Perhaps it’s because we take for granted that they have always been there, and assume they always will be (you know what assume means — it makes an @$$ out of me and u…). The problem is no one has yet to figure out the reason why.

The NPCA, National Parks Conservation Association, urges its members of all ages to support the parks and to spread the importance of our parks. Many might take for granted that these parks are National Parks and assume that they will always be parks, but in today’s economy, the parks system faces budget cuts and drastic changes. According to an email from the NPCA President, Thomas C. Kiernan, to NPCA members, “Congress has slashed the National Park Service budget in the last two years — that’s an operations shortfall of $500 to $600 million! And funding is now 14% below where it was 10 years ago. Plus, President Obama’s proposed budget for next year would slash $22 million more from park operations.” A decrease in funding will lead to less staff at the parks to ensure the safety of visitors, less upkeep of the parks to ensure they are clean for new visitors and to protect the environment of the parks along with other cuts.

Funding is not the only issue facing the parks at the moment. Our government is taking actions that will effect the parks and the future visits of those who plan to visit them. Right now, the Manassas National Battlefield in Virginia is facing a highway to be built right in the middle of the battlefield. Who wants to visit a battlefield to see cars flying by? If I wanted to do that, I’d just go sit in a rest stop on I-95. And last month, the House Even passes a bill that could allow hunting in many of the parks. Who wants to go see a recreation at Gettysburg and fear that a hunt fight get caught up in the is and leave someone accidentally injured?

Some Millennials are out there protecting the environment, but is what we’ve done enough to ensure the National Parks stay for generations to come? Or decades from now, will we be viewed at the ones who allowed the parks to disappear? It’s time now for Millennials to decide what legacy we will leave our parks, and to act on it.

Lessons Learned Living Abroad

My latest TNGG post, as originally posted here.

Over 80,000 American college co-eds study abroad each academic year, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Each year, more and more college students are participating in study abroad programs at their college or university — some study abroad for a semester, or even a year, and others have internships overseas. Below are some important life lessons that can be learned while living outside the good ol’ U. S. of A.

Lesson #1 — not all of Europe drives on the “wrong” side of the road
During a study abroad pre-departure meeting at Bentley College, the study abroad advisor asked 10 eager students excited to head to Ireland “which way to look before crossing the road?” Confused, they asked “left, then right, then left again?” or “both ways?” While this question sounded silly at first, the advisor was trying to make a point — even though traffic may drive on the opposite side of the road in Dublin, you still need to look both ways before crossing the street. Being well aware of this difference in Ireland, which like the UK, Japan, Australia, India, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa and other areas, drive on the left side of the road, it still came as a shock to be on a bus in Italy driving down the right side of the road. (And don’t forget, if they do drive on the left, it means the passenger door is where the driver’s door is in America). Seriously though, you learn more important things than this, but you need to remember to keep using your common sense, assuming you have it to begin with.

Lesson #2 — not everyone likes Americans
A business professor at University College Dublin asked her students to break into groups to work on a semester long project, the only requirement was that each member of the group be from a different country, with an exception that you could have two Irish students in the group if needed. Her logic behind this was that in the past she had seen Americans be broken into their own groups, partially of their own doing, but also because no one else wanted to work with them — they saw the Americans as lazy. Erasmus students tend to take a semester abroad somewhat more seriously than American college students. Erasumus students, while in a foreign country, are usually from somewhere within Europe and are more well-travelled then their American counterparts. American’s see studying abroad as more of a travel vacation and adventure than a time to be studying seriously. (Myself included — according to Facebook, I studied drinking pints and sightseeing while at UCD.) Not only are American’s seen as lazy, but we are also seen as arrogant and a whole list of other terms we tend to cringe at.

Lesson #3 — Take a breath, and slow down
There’s a reason a “New York minute” is not called a “Sydney minute”. American’s are driven and pushed to accomplish things quickly and now. Many other cultures are more laid back and people take time to enjoy what is around them. Obviously, you try to pack in as much as you can into your trip abroad, but don’t jam things in just to say you did them; allow yourself to truly experience everything around you. Experience the culture around you. Go to a local bar and listen to some live traditional music instead of hitting up the discotech or local bar with American music. And don’t forget to take pictures and videos to remember these amazing moments.

Lesson # 4 — English is not a worldwide language
While many people around the world speak English, not everyone speaks it, even in countries which have large English speaking populations. Getting lost in the alleys of Venice with no known Italian is not the best situation to be in if you are lost late at night. Even if others do speak English, it does not mean they will let you in on that tidbit when you are looking for directions. If you are going to another country for a semester, study their native language before you head over. Even if you are only going for a weekend adventure, at least try to learn some key words (perhaps “help”, “water”, “bathroom” and “do you speak English?” for starters). While it might not be mandatory to study a foreign language in your school, learning another language can also benefit you later in life.

Lesson #5 –Be open and allow yourself to change
Sticking with the norm is easy, you know it, it’s comfortable. Going abroad automatically changes your norm, so why not change it all? Don’t go abroad and pretend to be someone else, but be open to become who you really are. You will inevitably make new friends (who could become some of your closest confidants when you go home and keep going on in life), allow these friends to know the real you, not the you you think you should be. Don’t be scared to try new things. Try the local culture, experience it all — you might learn that you like these things as much, or more, than your old hobbies (I learned that I love art during my semester abroad, and I used to think museums were boring).

Lesson #6 — Don’t stay home wondering “what if?”
The most important lesson I learned — life at home will go on. Thanks to the internet and cell phones, we can be in contact with our loved ones back home as often (or as little) as we’d like. Let go of your fears and go “balls to the wall”. As I have always believed, it’s better to do something than regret not doing it.

Don’t forget to take the lessons learned abroad and bring them back into your American life when you land at the airport to be reunited with friends and family. What lessons did you learn studying or living abroad?

Photo by SLU Madrid Campus

DIY Halloween Costume Ideas!

My latest for TNGG, as originally posted here.

Halloween is almost here and costume parties have already begun (some are coming just bit TOO early this year…). When we were little, it was always exciting to dress up and go trick-or-treating, but now as we grow up, sometimes Halloween begins to seem more like a chore.

Dressing up for the holiday in a unique way seems to become more and more difficult every year. Whether you are strapped for cash, have no time to go shopping for a costume or simply forgot to get a costume for that party that’s tonight, here are some ideas for costumes you are likely to find in your closet:

80’s Costume:

What you’ll need if you’re a chick:

  • Leggings
  • Leg warmers (or knee highs that you scrunch instead of extending all the way up your thighs)
  • Headband
  • Scrunchie (for your side pony tail)
  • White sneakers
  • Bright colored sports bra
  • Sweatshirt with an extra wide neck line
  • Blueish eye shadow

What you’ll need if you’re a dude:

  • Wig with long hair/mullet
  • Tight pants
  • Fitted tank top in a bright color
  • Lipstick
  • Eyeliner

Bat boy/girl or Baseball Player Costume:

What you’ll need whether you’re a chick or a dude:

  • Team jersey
  • Baseball pants
  • Team hat
  • Knee high socks
  • Cleats or sneakers

Additional accessories to put you over the top:

  • Baseball and glove
  • Batting helmet
  • Cather equipment (if you’re dressing up as a catcher)
  • Baseball bat *IMPORTANT NOTE: check that if you are going to a bar/public place, some of these things will not be allowed in as they could be construed as a weapon

College/University Superfan Costume:

What you’ll need whether you’re a chick or a dude:

  • T-shirt from your college
  • Foam finger
  • School hat
  • Jeans (or any bottoms you have with your school’s name on them — this could be a perfect reason to have sweats on at the party…)

Additional accessories to put you over the top:

  • Face paint
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Ribbons in your hair
  • Anything else you have that matches and shows your school pride

Lifeguard Costume:

What you’ll need if you’re a chick:

  • Red, navy or royal blue bathing suit (can be a one piece or bikini, but no drawstrings allowed — bonus points if it’s an actual lifeguard suit)
  • Lifeguard t-shirt
  • Red or navy shorts
  • Flip flops
  • Whistle

What you’ll need if you’re a dude:

  • Red, navy or royal blue bathing suit (bonus points if it’s an actual lifeguard suit)
  • Lifeguard t-shirt (optional if you are going somewhere that does not require shirts as part of the dress code)
  • Flip flops
  • Whistle

Additional accessories to put you over the top:

  • Rescue tube
  • Funny looking sun hat
  • Sunglasses (remember, b@d@$$e$ wear sunglasses at night)
  • Zinc on your nose (any color will do)

Referee Costume:

What you’ll need whether you’re a chick or a dude:

  • Black shorts or pants (if you want to be a basketball ref) OR white shorts or pants (if you want to be a football ref)
  • Black and white vertically stripped shirt
  • Whistle (should be black if you want to be official)
  • Sneakers (should also be black if you want to be official)

Additional accessories to put you over the top:

  • White or black baseball hat (football only)
  • Red and yellow cards if you are a basketball ref
  • Yellow flag if you’re a football ref
  • Black Under Armor (for layering purposes if you fear being cold)

*Note that all above costumes ideas can be adjusted to your level of sluttiness, if you so desire, though I may recommend you think against that.

If you don’t have any of the above costumes, don’t forget you can always pull out an old costume from a couple years ago that you still have lying around, an old uniform from work (nothing wrong going as a Stop & Shop bagger or cashier) or an outfit from any themed parties (luau, 90’s, etc..) you have been too lately.

Millennials & Charity Work

As you probably know, I write for a site TNGG. This article was originally written for them, but instead became the inspiration for my new themed articles that will be coming out about once a month on Millennials and charity work.

“It’s not how much money you make or whether you’re able to gain the approval of your peers. Inspiring hope by aiding those lacking the very essentials we take for granted every day is something that actually makes a constructive impact not only to yourself but to those impacted by your generosity. Only through helping those less fortunate than yourself can a person truly gain perspective on how lucky they really are.” — Mary June Olson

Mary, 25, volunteers with Denver’s Habitat for Humanity because she believes that “far too often members of our generation lack perspective on what really matters in life at the end of the day,” and she wants to make a difference. Olson is not the only millennial working with charities and helping raise money to make our world, and the world our children will live in one day, a better place.

Millennials are stepping up and volunteering in many ways to give back to the community as a whole. The number of volunteers for the Peace Corps and Teach for America has increased since the economy took a turn for the worse, but even millennials in college and the working world are volunteering daily around the world. A very common cause that millennials, and everyone, supports is cancer, but there are other smaller charities and causes that we support as well.

If we’re talking smaller, let’s talk micro — micro finance that is. As many business people, and anyone who studies the effects micro finance can have on the economy, know, this is a spectacular cause, especially these days. Little did a group of 2008 grads realize just how important micro finance would become as they graduated college in May 2008 and embarked on a 9-week trek to travel across the US by bicycle.

The group partnered with ACCION International to spread the word about how valuable micro finance was to fight poverty. When asked why they decided to undertake this challenge, Tyler Heishman, one of the creators of the plan says “the fact that it was fairly unheard of motivated us to become advocates for the cause, and we really liked the sustainable model that many organizations were striving for.”

Tyler and his friends aren’t the only crazy millennials biking the country to raise money and awareness. Every year since 2002, 25 college students bike from Baltimore to San Fransisco for the Hopkins 4K. Biking 4,000 miles may seem daunting to most, but the experience to help support such a great cause has left some wanting to bike 4,000 miles twice! The summer of 2007 Greg Gotimer “did not know what to expect from the trip and only hoped that (he) would be able to make a difference in the life of someone who was battling cancer. What (he) was not expecting was the magnitude of support we would get throughout the country for (the) ride.” That support left him wanting more — another 4,000 miles the following summer as well.

Not all of us have the time it takes to dedicate to training and biking across the US, but we’re going out to support good causes on our feet as well. More and more people are running marathons to support causes. Tim Loher ran the Boston Marathon in 2010 for two reasons. One, because he “wanted to achieve something that (he) never thought (he) would be able to do. Having never run more than 4 or 5 miles at a time, 26.2 seemed unfathomable.” And two, because he ran for the Boston Fund for Parks & Recreation to raise money for a program to help keep Boston teens off the streets by giving them “a source of income and the pride and self-respect that comes from holding a job.” Running the marathon and raising money for a cause left Tim with one of his greatest memories from his life.

The support that Greg felt biking across the States and the sense of accomplishment that Tim felt crossing the finish line are similar to what so many others feel when they are doing something for a good cause. Millennials have found other ways to reach out and give back as well. Specifically through mentoring and working with the younger generations. Organizations like Big Brother/Big Sister, Mentoring USA and the Mentoring Partnership of New York provide great places for millennials to get hands-on with the younger generations and help give back. Kristina Sorfozo mentors with Prime Time Through Urban Impact in Connecticut as a way to use her talents to “to love on these kids, break racial barriers and to teach them that love and correct conflict resolution wins outs in the end.” While these ideals seem simple enough to pass along to the younger generations, it’s a goal many of us have seem fit to take on ourselves.

How have you gone out to make a difference for tomorrow?

Kicking Cancer to the Curb: What We Can Do

So a little late, but this is my latest post from TNGG, originally published here.

Son, daughter, mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, friend, or neighbor, we all know someone (or many someones) who has been diagnosed with cancer.

A cure to cancer will come one day because society as a whole wants it and supports it — and young people have taken action and will continue to do so. We are going out and trying to kick cancer’s butt. Millennials all over the world are going out running marathons, walking miles, writing letters on end and raising money for all forms of cancer.

Emily Jasper, a blogger, wants to “make a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer” and she’s not the only one putting up a fight and trying to help fund finding a cure.

Relay for Life is a team event that raises money for the American Cancer Society (ACS) and involves at least one member of a team walking the entire night, or longer, as some relays may be. These events are held all over America and beyond (even in Australia). Lately, due to the amount of interest, they are popping up at college campuses everywhere thanks to grassroots organizations like Colleges Against Cancer.

Another way Millennials are supporting ACS is through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. In Boston, the MSABC walk is full of young participants and volunteers. Co-eds of both genders, though mostly females, wake up early in masses to participate in this event every fall. Last fall, Katelyn D’Eramo, 25, was just one of the many participants, walking for her Nana Barbara. According to D’Eramo, “the best part of doing the Making Stride for Breast Cancer this year was this feeling that all 40,000 walkers, all walking 5.7 miles, wearing pink, smiling, were working together for a cure.”

Perhaps part of the reason so many are supporting a cure for breast cancer specifically is because every three minutes, one more woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer. It was this statistic that caused me to walk 39.3 miles in two days for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer a year and a half ago. I agreed to raise $1,800, which I thought would be hard in a tough economy, but it wasn’t. Support poured out from around the world, mostly from my friends, all Millennials.

Carrie Bishop, 25, has walked the Boston AWBC multiple times for her aunt, a two time breast cancer survivor. She says she is “lucky to be able to participate and help those who are less fortunate and raise money to find a cure.” She “was raised with the value of giving back, and will always keep that and pass along to [her] children” — this value, and Carrie’s personal reason for doing it, is one that is all too familiar to many.

We’re not only out there searching for a cure through purely physical means. Those who can still be found on a college campus generally like to stay up late. Though Up ‘til Dawn, you stay up all night writing letters to friends and family to support the patients at St. Jude’s Research Hospital.

College students sacrifice sleep for many things, but even those who need a solid 8-hours a night are willing to give up one night a year to help support this great event that so many campuses host. It’s easy — all you need to do is the addresses of all your extended family and you’re sure to have enough addresses for the bigletter writing party.

Whether our feet or hands are doing the walking, we’re all heading in the right direction. Cancer has already significantly affected our generation. We’re so determined to prove to the world that we can be better than they expect and that we have a social conscious, it’s only a matter of time before one of our own is the one to fine the cure.

Walking miles on end or writing letters all night not your calling? How do you help support the cause?

The Greatest Sex Scandals in (Our) History

My contribution to TNGG’s sex week — as originally posted here.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Heck, we can all quote other presidents – “Four score and seven years ago…,” “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” “We will go to the moon. We will go to the moon and do other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard.” These are the types of quotes that we should remember from our presidents, but instead, we have Bill Clinton’s blatant denial of sex. How patriotic? At least Bill’s sex snafu taught us a couple things. For one, never lie under oath (especially if you become POTUS, ’cause then you’ll get impeached). And two, don’t cheat.
President Clinton was just one of first celebrities who taught this generation this lesson. The following are some of the biggest sex scandals  we’ve “witnessed” thus far in our lives:
MONICA-GATE: Bill Clinton’s sex scandal actually began with a lesser-remembered one, when Paula Jonessued him for sexual harassment.Lewinsky was working as an intern in the White House when the affair began. First she signed an affidavit denying a relationship during the Jones’ court case, but then another coworker, Linda Tripp, leaked tapes of conversations with Lewinsky in which she spoke of the affair. Unfortunately for Clinton, his inability to keep it in his pants and stay faithful to a devoted wife who always stood by his side, led to his impeachment in 1998 after a highly publicized, 21-day Senate trial.
TEACHER-STUDENT: So if the President of the U.S. can’t be a good example, perhaps we should look closer to home, perhaps we should look up to our teachers? In Des Moines, WA, if your teacher was Mary Kay Letourneau, that would have been a worse idea than following Clinton’s lead. Letourneau was arrested in 1997 for sleeping with her 13-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, who was apparently her “soul mate.” Soul mate or not, she was cheating on her husband and committing statutory rape. Ms. Mary Kay also wound up pregnant with her student’s child (who was born when she was out on bail). While on parole, she was found sleeping with Fualaau again — since this violated her parole, she was sentenced to over seven years in jail. While back in jail, she gave birth to her second child with her student.  After being released from prison in 2004, she married her former student in 2005 and they claim to be living “happily ever-after.” (Although, now that she is a grandmother, she thinks that her kids shouldn’t be dating their teachers — talk about being a hypocrite.)
Father Cutiè: (No really, that is his name.) With the theory of separation of Church and State, if we can’t look to politicians or teachers as role models, let’s turn to the Church, right? Wrong. In the midst of the Catholic Church, which was dealing with residual backlash from a plethora of sex abuse scandals, Fr. Alberto Cutiè, a popular priest in Miami with famous Spanish TV and radio shows, was photographed being very close to a female friend. Keep in mind that the Roman Catholic Church believes that priests are celibate because being ordained a priest means marrying the Church and being the “bride of Christ.” So while Cutiè may not have been caught having sex, he was caught red handed with his hand down her swimsuit — both breaking his vow of celibacy and the seventh commandment – thou shalt not commit adultery.
HOLE IN 15: Sex addict Tiger Woods had not just one, but 15 affairs (at least that’s when I stopped counting…) that all came bubbling out of the wood work after he smashed his SUV into a tree outside his house in November 2009. After allegedly fighting with his wife, Woods hit a fire hydrant and the tree when leaving his mansion and was taken to the hospital. As rumors began speculating, one by one, mistress after mistress came out and publicly admitted to having affairs with Woods. Eventually Woods lost sponsors, his wife and decided to go to rehab for sex addicts. While SNL, Jay Leno and political cartoonists were having a field day, Woods learned (or maybe not) that while getting it the hole may be a good goal on the golf course, it does not apply universally to all aspects of life.


Opposites Attract

In preparation for Valentine’s Day, my latest for TNGG, as originally posted here

Girl: A business woman working her way up the corporate ladder who comes from a huge Irish-Catholic family. Loves art. Country music fiend. Passionate New York sports fan. Addicted to technology and social media. Wine connoisseur. Social butterfly who feels at home at the bar. Enjoys curling up with a good book by the fire.

Boy: Tradesman who comes from a small family. Enjoys rock music. Gets a thrill from outdoor extreme sports. Doesn’t watch or follow organized sports. Doesn’t believe in social media and dislikes that people put their whole lives on the web. Introvert who enjoys hanging out with only his few close friends. Enjoys PBR and sleeping outdoors.

Back in science class (yes, the same one that taught us Pluto was a planet), we were taught that opposite ends of magnets attract. Magnets aren’t the only opposites that attract — there is a truth to the age-old love adage that opposites attract. None of us want to date a mirror image of ourselves, that would be boring (not to mention creepy if you were dating your identical twin…). But seriously, when we are dating, we crave someone different than we are. We need someone to balance out with our craziness, someone to taking our minds off the stresses from work, someone to challenge us, someone to make us better — someone who complements us.

Granted while dating someone, you are learning about someone new, but at the same time, you are really learning about yourself. Dating someone different can open new doors — when you date someone who has different interests than you, you will inevitably try new things, and hopefully, you like these new things.

While dating someone who is your opposite can open doors to worlds we never knew much about, it can also open doors to “whatever quality or character trait you lack and wish you had”. MTV’s show Made depicts people who live a life they enjoy, but deep down, they are really in search of trying something new. Perhaps this is why “good girls” are attracted to “bad boys;” they see a thrill in living on the edge, but it’s not something they’d dare do on their own. By dating the “bad boy,” she is exposed to the world that always seemed to elude her, giving her a fresh breath of energy and a youthful feeling.

Dating your opposite can do more than just open doors to experiencing new things. It can give a fresh perspective on how to view the world and deal with problems. You may start looking at situations from a different perspective, which allows you to find better outcomes or faster ways to solve problems. Or perhaps in explaining your frustrations, you will be given new insights into how to overcome them.

Opposites pose challenges, but overcoming challenges only make us grow and become stronger. A type-A person can learn to let go and be more laid back or someone lacking drive can learn to set goals and start working on achieving them. It is from those who pose challenges to us that we will learn the most valuable life lessons, and hopefully even find love.

One thing I’ve learned from dating someone different is that as much as I’m addicted to updating my Facebook status and checking in on Foursquare to let the “twitterverse” know where I am, there’s something to be said about spending a weekend disconnected from that world, enjoying nature and the boy that I’m falling head over heels for.

T.G.I.F!? No, T.G.F.R.

As seen on TNGG as a part of 90’s weekT.G.F.R.? Thank God For Reruns

While the days of waking up and checking the news to see if the superintendent or chancellor declared a snow day seem as ancient as the Y2K scare, thanks to Mother Nature, I’ve found that snow days, while rare, still do exist in the real world! Granted, snow days are now filled with compulsively checking my work e-mail, digging out my car and shoveling the driveway instead of building igloos, having snow ball fights and sledding. One thing has stayed the same, though, thanks to good ol’ TBS: my snow days still start with an hour of Saved by the Bell.

Back when Zack Morris’s cell hone wasn’t considered enormous, we used to have some pretty rad TV shows to watch. My recent snow days have left me reminiscing about “simpler” days when Nickelodeon rocked and everyone’s Friday plans were the same week after week, because, of course, we were all home, tuned in to ABC’s T.G.I.F. (which for anyone who spent the 90s living under a rock, means Thank God It’s Friday). Before the days of boy geniuses and pop stars with their own shows, we had a dancing tattoo named “Petunia” and a teenage boy madly in love with his next door teacher-turned-principal.

As we embark on a journey full of car and mortgage payments, insurance, investing in 401ks and repayment of our student loans, it can be easy to wish we were back in the less stressful times when we could turn on Nickelodeon to be amused by the different faces of Face. Nickelodeon’s line-up of shows in the 90’s may have been their best line-up of all time — it was home to many of our favorites, including:

The Adventures of Pete & Pete, wherein though brothers shared a name, they were extremely opposite people

All That, where some of the most hilarious things we saw on TV occurred and we saw some comical actors begin their careers. It was SNL for kids and Kenan Thompson even made it to the big leagues after getting his start on All That.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? We all got spooked sometimes, even though no one wanted to admit it.

Clarissa Explains it All. Melissa Joan Hart’s beginnings. We all saw parts of us in Clarissa Darling and we loved the annotations that she offered directly to her audience as well as her awesome bedroom.

Doug. The kid made being not cool cool and everyone’s heart tugged at his obsessive love over Patti Mayonnaise.

Guts. An ever-evolving game show which kept getting bigger with each season, it was completely based on skill and mastering the Aggro Crag was the dream of kids everywhere.

Hey Dude. For all of us who didn’t live in a desert or near a farm, we all had a glimpse of what life out on the range would look like.

Kenan and Kel. The reason orange soda holds a special place in all our hearts and the show that birthed the phrase “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”

Legends of the Hidden Temple. The Red Jaguars, Blue Barracudas, Green Monkeys, Orange Iguanas, Purple Parrots and Silver Snakes battled to advance each round to get to the final round in hopes of making it to the temple and feeling a little bit like Indiana Jones.

Rugrats. Where babies talked and screwdrivers were stored in diapers, yet were never found when it was time for a diaper change.

Salute Your Shorts. So many of us wished we had spent a summer at Camp Anawanna tormenting Kevin “Ug” Lee.

The Secret World of Alex Mack. Alex could do the one thing we all wanted to be able to do: turn into a silver puddle so we could sneak out of our rooms without being seen when we were grounded.

Fortunately, we had more than one outlet for awesome TV. In addition to Nickelodeon, ABC nailed it home with T.G.I.F. The twins, Mary Kate & Ashley, doubled up to play Michelle on one of T.G.I.F.’s original hits, Full House, (which sadly was pulled off the air without a proper good bye). In case one non-conventional family wasn’t enough, we had another that lived in Wisconsin; Step-by-Step was our very own version of the Brady Bunch. Sticking with the family theme, who could forget the Winslows’ and their obnoxious neighbor who wore his pants above his waist with suspenders (don’t lie, you loved Urkel and thought Stefan was smoking HOT) from Family Matters? And then we had my personal favorite, Boy Meets World, where Cory and Topanga were hopelessly in love, Mr. Feeny was the teacher we always wanted, Eric was hopeless, and I was madly in love with bad boy Shawn.

As shows of this caliber are not likely to be repeated again, there is not much left to say other than, “class dismissed.”

High Culture Needs to Play Catch Up

My first post for TNGG of the new year, as originally posted here

To be cliche, “we are the future.” We are going to run the world some day. We are most likely going to take care of the older generations some day, or at least pay your social security checks. We may even solve world hunger and find peace. But today, it is about us ensuring a future for high culture. It’s simple marketing, really. We are the generation that is going to support the industry as our parents get older and we are the ones with the means to support the industry now.

It is time for high culture to cultivate a relationship with Millennials, because as the calendar turns each day, their collectors and long-time supporters are aging (and becoming closer to death — not a pretty thought, but it’s true). High culture needs us and our rising discretionary income to become their next great generation of collectors, patrons and art buyers.

By hooking into us now, high culture is able to ensure a demand for their products for years to come — it makes for good business to market to us. Under the high culture umbrella, the wine industry has welcomed us with wide-open arms. By attending wine tastings, you learn what goes into making certain types of wine, and you are able to learn what you like and don’t like about particular wines. This allows you to walk into a store and buy a wine you know you will enjoy, not one that you will suffer through. Teaching us and helping shape our pallet will benefit the entire industry now and for years to come — especially as some think this generation will have the next greatest number of wine aficionados. According to the Wine Market council, we make up 21% of core wine drinkers, and not all Millennials are even of legal drinking age yet.

The art industry has also caught on and realized that they need to change up the way art is displayed and how we experience exhibits and gallery spaces — we want to feel involved. Artspace in New Haven, Conn. seems to understand that. And the MoMA has listened too. We say we want to be praised when we do good, well how about throwing a party for us when we support the arts?

The wine and art industries seem to have figured it out. The issue at hand is it’s time for high culture to catch up with the times and re-brand itself in order to not become extinct. We are a great resource, as we don’t have families to support (yet), and we’re not starting families as early as our grandparents did, nor our parents. We have the discretionary income to buy artwork, tickets to shows and donate to their endowments.

Now it’s time for the ballet, symphony and other high culture industries to learn how to get us there. By hooking into us now, high culture industries are just investing in their own future.