Sunday, May 08, 2016

WHAT does the name Steve Case mean to you? READ ON: Why corporate America needs to be more paranoid

In June 1983, I was at a crossroads. I was twenty-four years old and had spent a year working for Pizza Hut. And while I had a good time traveling the country and stuffing myself, the job was starting to get old. That summer I made a pros and cons list. I wrote down various career options — going to an established company, a startup, or a consulting firm — and ticked through the benefits and drawbacks of each possible move. 

First on my list were established tech companies such as Apple and Atari. Marketing positions at these companies would have provided the tech on-ramp I was seeking, but with big companies come internal politics and red tape. There were some pros to those jobs but also a whole lot of cons.
Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of America Online (AOL)

When considering the possibility of joining a marketing consulting firm in San Francisco, I noted that while it would be fun to work in Silicon Valley, I had three concerns: “stuffy, tough sell, don’t like consulting.” So that was a pass, too. 
Finally, there was CVC, the startup I ended up choosing. I saw a lot upside to going there: an exciting idea, promising technology, a chance to make a big impact in a growing market — and, best of all, the opportunity to work alongside and learn from entrepreneur Bill von Meister. I listed only one downside: “future uncertain.” 
Everything about the CVC job was up in the air, from my future role in the company to the future of the company itself. Of course, you know how the story ends (the company became AOL), but at the time this was a big concern. In a way, though, that uncertainty was as much a pro as it was a con. Sure, an uncertain future meant I could be out on the streets looking for a job in a few months’ time. But it also meant a chance to make my own destiny. A chance, as it turned out, to play a role in making the Internet a part of everyday life.
I’m often reminded of the famous newspaper ad Ernest Shackleton is said to have placed before his 1914 attempt to explore Antarctica: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship, and that’s what drew me to CVC. 
The bottom line is that when I was twenty-four, I had no idea where my own “hazardous journey” would lead me. I didn’t know whether my stock options would even be worth the paper they were printed on. All I knew was that in the uncertainty lay immense challenges — and enormous opportunities. There was a boundless electronic frontier to explore, an online Antarctica filled with peril and possibility. And I knew that I needed to be a part of charting that uncertain future. 
When I think about what the world will look like thirty years from now and try to anticipate what problems we need to solve — to say nothing of the problems we face now — I see another uncertain future. But I also believe that, as in my case, this uncertainty isn’t a disadvantage. Once again, we’ve got a pro masquerading as a con. Once again, we have the opportunity — and, I believe, the obligation — to set a new course. Now we just have to think about what all of us — entrepreneurs, business leaders, government officials, everyday Americans with good ideas — can and must do to make sure we arrive there. 
Ride the wave
The Third Wave of the Internet is coming, the moment when the Internet transforms from something we interact with to something that interacts with everything around us. It will mean the rise of the Internet of Everything, where everything we do will be enabled by an Internet connection, much in the way it’s already enabled by electricity. 
This process will lead to the transformation of some of the industries that are vital to our daily lives, which will make the barriers to success higher, and the need to form partnerships much more central, as a way of building credibility, opening doors, and getting past industry gatekeepers. One such partner will likely be the government, which has an interest in regulating the industries most affected by the Third Wave.
Don’t confuse your views of government with the role of government, which can be either an impediment to progress or a driver of it, and which cannot be ignored. Much Third Wave innovation will come from impact entrepreneuring focused on building “profit plus purpose” companies that have a measurable impact on the world. And this innovation will be geographically dispersed, as the rest of the country (and the world) rises up to complement the innovation now occurring largely in a few places, such as Silicon Valley. The challenges in the Third Wave will be vexing, and as Thomas Edison reminds us, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” But if we rally together, and execute with precision, we can remain the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial nation.
So that’s my thesis, in a nutshell. Think of it as the CliffsNotes — or BuzzFeed — guide to the Third Wave. One more parting thought before I go. 

A message to corporate America 
To corporate leaders, it’s time to develop a perpetual sense of paranoia and curiosity. It’s time to both fear the future and seize its promise, to restlessly drive to master it, no matter what it holds. Regardless of where you and your company stand at the end of today, you can always wake up tomorrow to find that things have changed drastically. You jeopardize your position if you don’t strive to anticipate how it will change. 

Keep your finger on the pulse of technology, and consider what its beat might mean for your business. Take stock of trends. Resist the temptation to dismiss up-and-coming technologies. 
Empower your team to ask questions and, where no answers exist, to create new ones. Give them the space to innovate and experiment. Take more “shots on goal.” Allow more crazy ideas to bubble up, because the very best ideas often sound ridiculous when first proposed. Surely, executives at Marriott and Hilton would have thought that the idea of renting an air mattress or a room in an apartment was insane. But in 2015, seven years after starting, Airbnb was valued at $25 billion, making it worth more than either of the hospitality powerhouses, both of which have been around for more than half a century. And it’s not just about relative valuations: it’s also about sudden shifts in market dynamics. As Senator Marco Rubio has pointed out, Airbnb is now the largest hospitality provider, yet they don’t own a single hotel. Similarly, Uber is the largest transportation company, though they don’t own a single vehicle. And neither company existed a decade ago. 
Remember that disruption has broadened. Your competitors won’t just emerge from the low end of your industry. Increasingly, they’ll come from other industries, too. Apple wasn’t in the music business, nor was Google in the mobile phone business — until suddenly they were. So build a network in and around your company — and look for the opportunity in every direction.
The future belongs to those who endeavor to create it. That’s why we go into business — because we have a vision for the future that we want to see through. So don’t let temporary successes permanently blind your future ambitions.
You have the resources — human, capital, otherwise — to take on ambitious projects. And so you must decide — is it better to use those recourse to resist change or to drive it? 
And remember this: In the Third Wave, partnerships will become more important. You’ll have more opportunities in the next decade than you did in the past decade. So don’t just play defense, play offense. Don’t just defend, attack. But don’t go it alone. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” 

This post has been adapted and excerpted from Steve Case’s new book, “The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future,” on sale now from Simon & Schuster. This article is from LINKED IN.


Thursday, May 05, 2016

SO… how does your garden grow? Come on Mounts’ annual tour of gardens for some ideas and visual beauty

Self-paced tours will take place Saturday and Sunday



Eight garden tours are featured and one ticket will let you in both on Saturday and Sunday for the 12th Annual Connoisseurs Garden Tour, sponsored by Mounts Botanical Garden.

A private garden on Chilean Avenue, filled with orchids and other colorful plants, and the public Pan’s Garden at 386 Hibiscus Avenue in Palm Beach are among the eight featured gardens.  Pan’s garden features over 300 native Florida plant species.  Pan’s Garden was founded in 1994 by the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.

Tickets are $25 and include a brochure with descriptions of each garden. Tours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.  Purchase tickets in advance at several locations including the Mounts gift shop and office, 531 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; Uncle Bim’s Garden Center, 926 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach; and Amelia’s Smarty Plants, 1515 N. Dixie Highway in Lake Worth.


For details, call 561-233-1757 or visit Mounts.org.  For information about the Preservation Foundation go to http://www.palmbeachpreservation.org/.

Monday, May 02, 2016

NEW BUILDING DEVELOPMENTS: WESTLAKE PLANS TO BEGIN CONSTRUCTION IN JUNE

 

A Circuit Court Judge ruled that Palm Beach County's development orders did NOT violate comprehensive plan policies on future land use and transportation in rural areas because those rules don't govern agricultural enclaves such as Westlake.  Recently the District Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the project would illegally create urban sprawl.

The forthcoming Westlake development, located northwest of West Palm Beach, will include:
  • 4500 homes
  • 500,000 sq ft of retail space
  • 1.5 mm sq ft of employment-center space ( traditional office space, light/clan manufacturing, medical office space)
  • 200,000 sq ft of civid space (with fire station, sheriffs station and school)
  • MAYBE: a 3,000-student college and 150-room hotel
Marketing for the property has begun.  There is a large skilled labor force in the area who may want to work closer to home when this project is move-in ready.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'!




Designs for the construction of a “timeless” 9,000 sq ft one-story contemporary house passed the approval of the Palm Beach Architectural Commission.  The ¾ acre lot at 430 North Lake Way 115’ of ICW waterfront.  The forthcoming long lean house with a flat roof will cover 2/3 of the lot at 430 North Lake Way.  A straight-lined entablature with horizontal quartzite panels from Spain will define the roof line.  The façade will feature floor-to-ceiling glass windows with rear windows and doors positioned to maximize the water views.



Before approval was issued, there was much discussion about the planned for 12’ privacy hedge, typical of Palm Beach landscaping.  The landscape architect said the hedge would only be broken in two places to accommodate the 12’ driveway.  Some Commissioners felt that would block views of the architecture and the landscape architect said it would mimic similar neighborhood landscaping.  He was asked to revise the hedge design so passersby could see the architecture.  Only one Commissioner objected to the architecture, the rest were in favor of the design.



In past years there has been much controversy over building contemporary-style houses with some feeling these homes will change the architectural fabric of the area.
A local architect told the board that “Palm Beach has a long history of really great but limited modern architecture."  Most commissioners heartily embraced the design, one Commissioner, an architect, said that, “This is truly another gem that we will have here…I am happy to support you.”



One next door property is Mediterranean, the other is Key West and one Commissioner objected to the house being “too dissimilar” from the others.  None of the neighbors objected to the design and one actively supported it.  One Commissioner said that she did not see “any continuity” in the immediate area anyway.”  The new owner is a former Goldman Sachs executive who retired recently as co-head of global mergers and acquisitions, and is now a partner in another investment bank, Centerview Partners.  The couple paid $15.66mm for the property a few months after he resigned.

Friday, April 29, 2016

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT AND CONSERVATIVE RABBI COLLABORATE TO BUILD UNIQUE BETH SHOLOM SYNAGOGUE


 

In response to Rabbi Mortimer J. Cohen’s letter describing his vision for a simple, modern synagogue that could hold up to 1500 people, Frank Lloyd Write responded, “Dear Rabbi Cohen, I would like to talk to you concerning your project.”  Thus began a six year collaboration between the Rabbi and the world famous Architect that led to the beautiful sanctuary above in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.



Rabbi Cohen said in his request, cost would be $500,000, there would be no windows but the glass roof and rotunda would let in light.  Walls would have acoustic treatment.  Included would be classrooms, meeting rooms and storage rooms, all to be air-conditioned.  Sketches of his ideas were included.  Wright’s goal was to have congregants walk in and feel “as if they were resting in the hands of God.” The gentle slope of the horseshoe formation achieved the goal of seeing others around you no matter where you were seated rather than the backs of heads and profiles. On bright sunny days when a cloud passes overhead, the room darkens, at sunset the room turns gold, and when the sky is blue, you see blue.



This is the only synagogue that Wright ever designed.  Many of his textures, colors and geometric motifs such as triangles and hexagons are repeated thruout the structure, creating a powerful design unity.  Modern materials were used including concrete, steel and glass, finished with gold tones of bronze and desert sand, using Wrights signature red, and matte silver aluminum.




The building was dedicated on September 20, 1959, five months after Wright’s death.  Shortly thereafter both the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation singled out Beth Sholom Synagogue as one of the seventeen Wright buildings most worthy of preservation. Later an elevator was added, restrooms were upgraded and sidewalks were widened.  Visitors can watch a 20-minute documentary narrated by Leonard Nimoy and study exhibits.  Tours are suspended when events are held such as weddings, bar mitzvahs and funerals.  No tours are given on Saturdays or Jewish holidays.  School continues thruout the year.  The vegetable garden grows food for the food pantry.

Monday, April 25, 2016

HAD A DELICIOUS BOILED ARTICHOKE FOR DINNER... if you haven't tried them, get some and cook and eat them!



Steamed, boiled, fried, or used for dips, Artichokes are the heart of spring produce. High in fiber,
low in calories and fat, and rich in antioxidants, Artichokes are a healthy, versatile vegetable that
are tender and scrumptious.
Fun Facts
  • Artichoke origins date back to the ancient Greeks. According to legend, the artichoke was 
  • created when Zeus turned the object of his affection into a thistle after being rejected.
  • Ancients believed the artichoke was a wealth of health benefits, including its use as an 
  • aphrodisiac, diuretic, breath freshener, and deodorant.
  • The "vegetable" that we eat are the plant's flower buds before the flowers come into
  • The “choke” part of the plant is a mass of immature florets in the center of the flower bud 
  • that are inedible.
  • If allowed to flower, artichoke blossoms measure up to 7” in diameter and are a beautiful 
  • violet-blue color.
  • Artichokes are available twelve months a year with the peak season in the spring and fall. 
  • There are more than 140 artichoke varieties but less than 40 are grown commercially.
  • Today most artichokes grown worldwide are cultivated in France, Italy, and Spain, while
  • California provides 100% of the United States’ commercial crop.
  • Artichoke fields are maintained in perennial culture for 5-10 years. Each cropping cycle 
  • is initiated by "cutting back" the tops of the plants several inches below the soil surface 
  • to stimulate development of new shoots. The operation called "stumping," is timed to 
  • regulate the new harvest season.
      Trim and Eat
    • Low in calories and fat
    • Rich source of fiber
    • #7 on USDA’s Top 20 antioxidant-rich foods
    • Excellent source of folic acid
    • Moderate source of Vitamins C 
      • Wash artichokes under cold running water.
      • Using a serrated knife, cut off the stems, leaving about ½” near the base 
      • of the artichoke, then cut off the top 1/3 of tip of the artichoke.
      • Using kitchen shears, snip any sharp or spiky tips from the petals.
      • Pull off any lower petals that are small and tough.
      • Rub all cut surfaces with half a lemon to preserve the artichoke’s green 
      • color. Alternatively, you may put the artichokes in water mixed with 
      • lemon juice or vinegar.
      • Place a steamer basket in a large pot and add enough water so it boils
      • Place artichokes in steamer basket, stem-side up. Cover pot and steam 
      • until artichoke heart is tender, 25-35 minutes. Test tenderness by piercing
      • the base with a knife
      • Serve warm or room temperature with dipping sauces.
      • To eat, pull off leaves, dip in sauce (if desired), and scrape meat off 
      • tender end with the front of your teeth. When you reach the center 
      • cone of purple, prickly leaves, remove it. Scrape away thistle fuzz 
      • covering heart. The heart is the meatiest part of the artichoke and is 
      • edible without the fuzz.
      This article is from FRESH MARKET.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

TWO NEW PARTIAL HISTORIC HOME DESIGNATIONS PROPOSED IN PALM BEACH


The usual custom is for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate an entire structure for preservation and protection from demolition by current or future owners of a property, but some partial designations have been chosen in the past in Palm Beach.  

This past week the Commission has nominated only part of the front structures, the facades of two homes, for landmark protection, a “compromise,” so that any future changes and additions are compatible with the most noteworthy features of the property. 




The Commissioners recommended that the Town Council designate the front entrance at Pelican Manor  at 125 Seagrape Circle and the majority approved, but two of the Commissioners voted against the recommendation, “not impressed by its design.”  The front entrance features wood-paneled double doors with a substantial stone surround, a full-height portico and balanced use of windows and doors. This home is a Neoclassical style designed by Wyeth, Kind and Johnson.  



The front façade of 200 El Brillo Way was unanimously recommended by the Commission.  The 1929 Mediterranean Revival style home is house is built in a U-shaped design by architect Marion Sims Wyeth. 



Past partial designations include the gate and perimeter wall south of the gate in front of the former Kennedy estate at 1095 North Ocean Boulevard where many recent renovations and restorations have been made by the current owners.  The home is a 1923 Mediterranean Revival design by Addison Mizner and renovated in 1933 by  Maurice Fatio.  Market value is $59.55mm according to list of most taxed estates in the Palm Beach Post) built in 1975.



The west side of the Breakers Hotel, is another partial designations.  These valuable features are hereby protected from demolition.  Actions like these keep Palm Beach Island “true-to-form” and preserve and protect the historical vision that Palm Beach is, honoring the talented architects and landscapers of the past and of today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

COME ONE, COME ALL: LESLIE HINDMAN TO AUCTION ITEMS JUNE 14TH FROM KLUGE ESTATE FROM $500 UP AND UP AND UP



“Giving back” is well represented by the late billionaire John Kluge’s generosity.  Four acres with two houses and three other buildings held a lot of “goodies” including  furniture, decorative accessories and other objects symbolic of “the good life.”  The property has been on the market for five years with all the furniture remaining inside. 150’ of oceanfront land is included.

Kluge Estate Guest House by Addison Mizner


Palm  Beach’s 89 Middle Road just sold for $39MM, with receipts for property, furniture et al slated for scholarships at Columbia University, Kluge’s alma mater.  In time to come the buyer will decide what to do with this outstanding property.



Leslie Hindman received about 400 items to appraise, catalog and put up for sale, June 9-13, allowing remote bidding.



Christie’s will auction some of the furnishings, silver and porcelain in New York City December 2nd and 3rd, about 100 lots of treasures.  Kluge’s extensive fine art collection generated about $12MM at a Christie’s auction a few years ago. Periods represented include “newer and still chic items” alongside the antiques. 


  
Models of sailing ships and a billiards table are included.  Kluge loved lavishly landscaped gardens and outdoor furniture and decorative items used on the grounds will be included, some of it bamboo furniture.  Other fabulous auctions handled by Hindman’s company included items from the Kennedy and Lilly Pulitzer estates, the historic Manalapan home, Casa Alva and similar expansive and well-decorated estates.

Monday, April 18, 2016

DOES THIS GIVE YOU AN IDEA FOR YOUR LOCAL SHELTER?

GREEN COVE SPRINGS is northwest of St Augustine, Clay County, in Florida known for its natural Sulphur springs.  It is located on the St. Johns River, south of Jacksonville. 

Kudos to the Clay County Animal Care and Control shelter for developing a new Business Cat Program which helps business owners and shelter animals.  Shelter cats are placed at pet-friendly businesses until they find forever homes. The cats get exposure to the public which can increase their chances of being adopted.  The benefit to employers is to see increased productivity and decreased stress among its employees.
Clay County Old Courthouse
Animals first get complete veterinary care, being spayed or neutered and vaccinated prior to a business placement.  Supplies come with the kitty such as food and litter.  Businesses provide a safe enclosed environment, and love and affection from office staff.  Cats are carefully chosen according to the environment with few or lots of people around the business.  A large crate is provided for night time for the cats.
18-hole Eagles Landing golf course
Result: 25 shelter cats recently found new homes during a Super Adoption Weekend.   All potential business cats were adopted.  There is no fee and the cats are considered “borrowed.”
Nature Trail

Tree House for Overnight Camping

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

WHO WAS TY COBB? THE HISTORY WE KNOW THAT’S WRONG!

About a talented baseball player, all-around nice guy, the price of fame and reporters who make up false stories to sell their books and articles. 

Ring a bell today?




Sunday, April 10, 2016

LAST HOUSE WANTED BY AUGUSTA NATIONAL SAYS “NO!” TO BUY OFFERS


Since about 2001, Augusta National Golf Club, dubbed the most powerful golf club on earth, has spent about $40MM to entice locals to sell their properties and thereby bought up much of the land bordering their exclusive grounds.  BUT there is one holdout on the northwest corner of the club owned by a couple who just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  The area is a free parking lot, Gate 6A, now bulldozed, that was once a fully lived in neighborhood, where kids happily played in the streets.  The house in question at 1112 Stanley Road is in the middle of Gate 6-A.



Augusta National was designed by Bobby Jones and others and opened for play in 1933, with the Masters starting there the following year.  In Golf Digest’s 2009 list of 100 greatest courses, Augusta National ranked #1. In Golfweek Magazine’s 2011 list of best classic courses for course architecture in the US, it was ranked #10.  The first female members were admitted in 2012, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore.  In 1990, African Americans were admitted to this exclusive membership.  There are 10 cabins on the property, one built exclusively for member President Dwight D. Eisenhower after his election, according to secret service specifications.  Famous golfers Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were also members.  Others include Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Roger Goodell, Sam Nunn, T. Boone Pickens, Jr, Jack Welsh and many other CEOs of top companies.  Membership numbers about 300 and is by invitation only.  Members and tournament winners receive a distinctive green sports coat.

    


Club officials stop by regularly with offers, but the residents don’t want to go.  They raised their family in this 1900 sq ft 3-bedroom house, with everyone coming back for the holidays, which Zillow values at $355,126.  Initial sellers got about $250,000 for their homes.  Built in 1959, on the cusp of being a historic home, it remains the “piece de resistance”.  Their grandson has become a professional, Scott Brown, age 32.  He is a PGA Tour member, not yet making the Masters.  Their brother sold his home, on two acres, and two other homes he owned, for a cool $3.6MM.  The residents owned another property across the street that they sold to the club for $1.2MM.   A nearby holdout wound up settling for $960,000, for a very similar house.



When the Masters is played at Augusta, the area fills up with cars, the rest of the year it is very quiet there.  Fans will stop by and greet the residents, complementing their landscaping and asking for gardening tips.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

ALL ABOARD FLORIDA'S BRIGHTLINE TRAINS WILL BE PET FRIENDLY, A MOVE TOWARDS PROGRESS



All Aboard Florida's passengers can include pets on their 32 daily trains from Miami to Orlando. Stops include West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.  

The West Palm Beach segment has their launch planned for the end of 2017, but that date may be changed, according to officials.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SELLING YOUR PROPERTY RIGHT NOW!


If you live in Florida, you are really in luck. Real estate prices are rapidly increasing due to the low inventories and a hot job market - it is a seller’s market.  Keep your eye on the following factors:




1. Why it's a seller's market.  If the economy in a particular region such as Palm Beach County has bounced back strong since the downturn that began in 2008, home prices will be higher because more people will be coming to that area for employment or to retire and relax. Most of Palm Beach County prices have outreached expectations, sometimes higher than the peak in 2007 and 2008.  It may be that prices are or will be staying more steady in the near future, but they are HIGH now.

2. The price must be right. It is more important than ever to work with an experienced, licensed Realtor who understands your local market trends and issues. You will need to price your home at the going market rate that reflects not only the value of your home but the neighborhood where it is located. Price too high, and there will be little interest in your property; too low, and potential buyers may wonder what hidden issues your property may have.  As a Realtor in Palm Beach County since 2000, I have been asked that question many times… “Why is the price so low?  What is wrong?”

3. Going up... or down.  Mortgage rates have a significant effect on the dollar figure that you use to price your home.  As percentage rates go up, you have to subtract the top dollar amount you had planned to spend to compensate and stick to your budget.  While mortgage rates have been historically low in order to make homes more affordable, this is a trend that may not continue in the near future so it may be prudent to buy while interest rates are low.

4. List during peak season. Take full advantage of the old rules of supply and demand. When the most people are looking to purchase a home is the best time to put yours on the market. The summer months especially June, July and August, are one of the hottest times for buyers who are planning where to be the following winter, or where to reside when school begins in the late summer and a great opportunity for you to take advantage of potential bidding wars and faster sales.  Fall is a good time as well, and January, February and March are perhaps the hottest selling months.

5. Incentives. Yes, incentives work in a seller's market.  Last year more than a third of all home sellers offered incentives. With a good percentage of the market made up of first-time home buyers and second home buyers, providing incentives could result in higher profit and a faster sale for you. 



Want to chat about the status of the market in our area, and what incentives could help a sale? Connect with me, a luxury homes specialist, today to get started.  Call or text 561-302-3388 or my landline 561-513-6180.

Monday, April 04, 2016

WHY ART CLASSES ARE SO IMPORTANT IN SCHOOLS

Arts education paints more than a pretty picture
When schools cut art programs to save money, kids from low-income families pay the biggest price in lost motivation, lost opportunity, and lost life skills.
From GREAT SCHOOLS.

Until recently, 11-year-old Sinai dreamed of playing pro basketball. Now, he also imagines becoming an artist. What makes this shift so surprising is that until last year, the dark-haired, serious fifth grader had never done art. At home he had never finger-painted, colored in a coloring book, or drawn chalk pictures on the sidewalk. His school had offered no arts and crafts either – no Play-Doh, painting at an easel, or making collages with dried macaroni and glitter.
“Before, we didn’t have art and we weren’t creative. Now I want to come to school,” says Sinai, a sixth grader at Taft Community School in Redwood City, California.
When Robyn Miller became principal three years ago, Taft had no art classes.  Despite its proximity to the gated grand estates of Silicon Valley, nearly three-quarters of Taft’s 500 students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch. Like thousands of schools serving predominantly low-income, African American and Hispanic children, Taft eliminated the arts to balance shrinking budgets years ago.
If arts education were simply an extra, like a pretty picture hanging on a classroom bulletin board, then losing it could be written off as just another regrettable fiscal reality. But recent studies show that arts education builds a critical cognitive bridge between acquiring knowledge in school and putting it to use in the real world.
“Art isn’t memorization, it’s a way of thinking, and creativity is often a significant component,” explains James Catterall, a retired UCLA education professor and founding director of the Centers for Research on Creativity. “It encourages asking questions, it encourages taking some risks, and it encourages collaborative work.”
Having art in school is valuable for all students, but research suggests it’s especially critical for low-income children whose parents can’t afford to take them to museums with hands-on art activities or pay for after-school art classes at the community center. These children are often deprived when it comes to artistic activities that teach them a different way of thinking than what they are exposed to in their academic classes.
Miller wanted to restore art at Taft, but the school didn’t have the money to hire a credentialed art teacher. She found an affordable alternative in Art in Action, a non-profit organization based in neighboring Menlo Park, which had been implemented successfully in her previous district.
Schools pay a $200 licensing fee, about $10 per student per year, for each class that uses the program, which focuses on visual arts. For that, they get access to online curriculum with 12 lessons each for Kindergarten through eighth grade. Thanks to a network of thousands of parent volunteers who teach art in their children’s schools, the organization keeps its costs down.
“With this program, we’re getting volunteers who have been trained (and have) the passion and excitement to bring to the kids each week,” says Miller. “We’re giving (students) an opportunity to explore creatively and have their imaginations soar and be innovative, maybe even in solving problems.”
She says Art in Action supports these connections because its lessons are aligned with the new Common Core standards in math, reading, and writing, and can be tailored to fit the curriculum in all other subjects from history to geography.
Math and the Underground Railroad
“What is four times four?” parent Michele Haussler asks Sinai’s class at Taft. “Sixteen,” they answer in unison.
She holds up a small square of pink construction paper and demonstrates how to fold it into four and then into 16 equal squares.
As the students fold their own paper squares, Haussler tells them about the African American artist Faith Ringgold, now 85-years-old, who is best known for her quilts depicting stories of race and racism. Ringgold’s work was influenced by quilts made by slaves in the South that had coded symbols sewn into them.
The kids are rapt as Haussler describes how slaves would hang the quilts on fences as if they were drying laundry, but they were actually signposts guiding runaway slaves to freedom in the North.
The high cost of cutting art
When kids are engaged in high-quality arts education, “not only is there a difference between how they act during art classes and lessons, but it seems to spill over to more engagement in school generally,” says Catterall.
The stats on the importance of arts education confirm Catterall’s observations. Schools with dynamic art programs have higher attendance rates, stronger morale, and better test scores than other schools, according to a 2011 report from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Catterall’s 2012 analysis of students at high-income and low-income schools with and without arts education found that, across the board, students at schools with strong art programs do better in nearly every respect.
The benefits are especially significant for poor children enrolled in arts-rich schools. Twice as many attended four-year colleges or universities, compared with poor kids at schools without much art. And they were three times as likely to earn a bachelor’s degree. They were also less likely to drop out. Perhaps unsurprisingly, low-income students from arts-rich schools were found to be more engaged overall — more involved in sports, clubs, and volunteering, and more attuned to current events.
Double-edged sword
When teacher Judy Sleeth founded Art in Action in her child’s school district in 1982, arts education had been decimated in California by Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that led public schools to lose billions in funding almost overnight. Today, Art in Action reaches about 50,000 students in more than 200 schools in 19 states, from California to Florida. Over the next three to five years, the program plans to nearly double the number of students it serves. But not all agree that organizations like Art in Action are the best way to get arts education into schools.
“We would never want to see an outside arts or culture organization replace an arts teacher,” says Doug Israel, director of research and policy at the Center for Arts Education, which advocates for professional art teachers in every New York City Public School. Ultimately, however, Israel says Art in Action and similar programs are “a benefit for students and better than no arts.”
Teachers are keenly aware of those benefits. At Taft, fifth grade teacher Jessica Kwa says she’s already planning to use the Faith Ringgold lesson when they start working on fractions.
“It’s definitely easier for them to have something to refer back to,” says Kwa.
Art also has something of a transcendent effect on her students, some more than others. She recalls a boy named Joel who missed homework and disrupted class. Art in Action changed him.
“I was surprised because I hadn’t seen him so meticulous with any work before,” says Kwa. “I immediately jumped on that opportunity to praise him, recognizing his strengths.”

When he got stuck on concepts in math and started to give up, she would refer to art class to remind him of his capabilities. Over time, Joel made those connections instinctively. He became more focused in class, turned in his homework on time, and his grades improved.