Years ago, an Executive Editor at a major New York publishing company told me—referring to my knowledge on numerous subjects—that I was “a mile wide, but only an inch deep.” I protested, “No,” I said, “that’s not true, it’s two inches.”
While in New York City, I authored 22 consumer reference books over 9 years on subjects ranging from Native Americans to Madison Avenue jingles. That career abruptly ended with the onset of the late 1970s recession where storied publishers were forced to consolidate just to survive. My next move was to Princeton, NJ. Based on my book production skills, I raised some capital and opened a graphic design and graphic reproduction company. Another recession, this time the one in the late 1980s and early 1990s downsized my 11-year-old firm until I was the only one left. I gave the equipment and the few remaining clients to a printer friend and started looking for work.
Within a few months I found a freelance job that was tailor made for me, a proofreader in an art department. The company was Merrill Lynch. Six months later I became the Design Director of the art department and spent the next 4 years on the front lines with some really tough and clever managers getting my “Ph.D. in business management” as it were. There was a change in the air at Merrill Lynch—that eventually killed the firm years later—so I decided to make a change myself.
At this point in my career, the only thing I wanted was sunshine because after 55 years on the east coast my bones were beginning to ache in the long dreary winters. I chose Tucson because there was a big university in town and an average daily temperature that drifted between 66 and 42 degrees with over 300 cloudless days.
I arrived in September, 1995 with one Westie and two cats, one with long gray hair and the other with black hair and no eyes. Freelance consulting was my mainstay but I also worked in the internet sales department of a rustic furniture store, and provided career coaching for Arizona Rehabilitation Services Administration TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) clients.
Six years ago I invented, along with my business partner Bill Roach, Top Tag Pet ID, the first USB flash drive complete-care Pet ID. In addition to running the pet ID company, I taught older folks computer skills so they could stay involved with our new technological society.
In mid December 2008, I got an idea after watching a news story on the Community Food Bank here in Tucson. I was 67-years-old at the time and had never done any community service but suddenly I had a personal community service program. The truth is I viewed community service as tedious committee meetings where hours are spent on nuance and non action. Then Senator Barack Obama, now President Obama came into his life and things started to change.
The Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week food donation program I created is in its 199th week. We have collected over 46,465.5 lbs. of food from our 200-family neighborhood. This is enough food to feed 11,914 folks 3 meals (1.3 lbs. per meal) in one day. In addition we donated $9,577.90 which translates to $86,201.10 in food and services ($1.00 = $9.00) based on the food bank's buying power.
The New York Times, USA Today, The Huffington-Post.com, Ernesto Portillo, Jr. at the Arizona Daily Star, KVOA-TV Channel 4 and KOLD News 13 have done stories on the success of One Can A Week.
In addition, communities around the country are taking my lead and collecting food weekly for their community food banks.
Areas of Expertise
Idea Creation + brainstorming
An idea worth spreading
In early November of 2008, I got an idea after watching a news story on our Tucson food bank's struggles to meet the demands place on it by a shrinking economy and an ever expanding unemployment rate. I thought that if every neighbor—nearly one million of them—donated one can of food a week, hunger in the city could be eliminated. This idea became my personal community service.
The Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week food donation program is in its 199th week. To date we have collected over 46,465.5 lbs. of food from our 200-family neighborhood. This is enough food to feed 11,914 folks 3 meals (1.3 lbs. per meal) in one day. In addition we donated $9,577.90 which translates to $86,201.10 in food and services ($1.00 = $9.00) based on the food bank's buying power. The exciting part is it takes us less than 4 hours to collect the food each Sunday. The key to succeeding with One Can A Week is to physically pick up the food from the neighbors. It’s neighbors helping neighbors help.
Talk to me about
Motivating folks to solve problems like hunger in American through personal involvement and commitment. Governments build roads and schools and repair huge storm damage. People fix people problems.
People don't know I'm good at
solving problems. My creative philosophy is in line with what Albert Einstein said, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."
My TED story
My friend and neighbor Mikel told me about TED.com and I said I would look up the website when I got home. I did and now I'm happy again. I have been sad ever since Murdock bought the Wall Street Journal, which I abandon soon after the purchase even though it was my major source of information.