We are launching our youth program, Action Horizon Institute, this summer. Fortunately, our small team is growing strong with dedicated members of the community who share my vision and passion for making a dent in the universe. One turned into two. Then four and five. Now six and seven.
If you are unsure of the youth program I am referring to then please allow me to elaborate. First, with some backstory.
Action Horizon Institute
Six years ago, I went through a transformative learning experience while in a pilot program pioneered by Dr. Richard E. Miller of Rutgers University. Here is a multimedia composition of the pilot program I went through. Video was filmed, edited, and produced by my studio mentors: Jessica Lipman, Jacob Rasor, and James Monahan.
As I mention in my interview clips during the end of the video above, “This has to come with me.”
Teaching the Action Horizon
During the first day of class our professor, Dr. Miller, asked us to discuss an essay he had recently written. I should also mention this important tidbit: Dr. Miller is has been dedicated to education reform for 20+ years. In the late 90s he published a book titled, “As if Learning Mattered: Reforming Higher Education”.
The essay that Dr. Miller wanted to discuss with the class was titled, “Teaching the Action Horizon“. At this stage in my life I did not really care who was teaching the horizon and whether it was active or idle. Needless to say, I did not read the essay prior to the first day of class as we were instructed to do.
Dr. Miller understood not all students had a chance to read it yet. The morning of day two I ran into Dr. Miller in the hallway outside of the classroom. He asked me if I had a chance to read the essay yet. I told him I had not read it. He looked at me and said, “It’s important that you read it.”
As all the students took their seats ready for day two to begin, Dr. Miller told us to take the next 20 minutes to read the essay.
To this day, I continuously share this essay with people I am close with. It is an important artifact of our time. Important does not do it justice. It is an essential building block of innovation within higher education. Being that higher education should influence the way we develop youth in this country it can be said that this essay is an essential building block of our human evolution.
This essay contains many of the things I had thought to myself growing up as a child. I hated school. I did not trust any teachers. Perhaps this was due to the fact that they only described aspects of life. They described wars. They described history. They described society. They described social problems. However, they never told me how to solve a social problem. That is, until I met Dr. Miller.
For the first time, I felt inspired. I felt believed in. I felt like I was worthy enough to change things.
Dr. Miller and the studio mentors took me under their wing for the next year. After the program was over I continued going into the lab everyday, Monday – Friday. I was able to surround myself with positive influences. I was able to refine my new skills in video production. The mentors began to introduce me to community organizations they thought I would enjoy. I was able to apply my new skills in the real world.
My Action Horizon
As I was immersed in the community with this new technology I noticed a gap between the community and the university. I later learned this was called “town-gown relations”. It is a certain type of conflict between a university and the town it resides within.
Now that I was equipped as a solutionary, no longer a bystander who described and accepted problems as they existed, I innovated a solution to the town-gown conflict within New Brunswick. I founded an internet newspaper that was geared at bridging the gap between the students and the community members by providing access to information. I wanted the students to have easy access to information about the town and the town’s residents to have easy access to information about the student’s desire to engage with the community.
This was 90 days after I completed Dr. Miller’s program. October 11th, 2009 I incorporated as a for-profit corporation. In 90 days I went from a student to being the founder and CEO of my first social enterprise. I went from being completely hopeless, no marketable skills, and no prospects for the future to designing my own future.
Dr. Miller provided me with a private studio, access to all the technology in the department, and the ability to run my own undergraduate courses where I was able to teach students the skills I was learning so they could help accelerate the growth of my social enterprise. We generated revenue through advertising on the website, fundraisers, and taking several marketing contracts with local businesses.
The ability to design my own future has been one of the most powerful gifts ever given to me. Actually, I am not so sure that it was given to me. I finally believed in myself to the point where I was able to reach up and grab the opportunity.
Soon after the success of the project I was being brought into several different departments within the university to run workshops, produce films, design websites, and implement marketing strategies. All being executed with skills I learned starting with the pilot program with Dr. Miller. I learned how to learn on my own. Academics call this “self-directed learning”.
After launching a few other companies, being actively engaged in my local community, and developing many relationships over the years the time has come to develop pipeline infrastructure for the next generations of youth to have the opportunity to go through a transformative learning experience just as I did. It is good timing because education is finally in a place where the people are ready for an innovation.
Action Horizon Open House
We are hosting an Open House at the Action Horizon Institute for interested community members, potential mentors, donors, and students to learn more. I hope to see you there.