Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final vision and Dr. Claud Anderson’s prophecies

“I fear, I am integrating my people into a burning house!”

Before I start this piece, I want to acknowledge the creator of its primary image. It was generated by “Creative Designs” by the very talented Tamara Coleman. If you want to learn more about Tamara and her work, contact her via email at: Tammy-cole@hotmail.com.

This Black History blog post falls under my principles of “Critical Thought” and “Financial Literacy/Money”. Here on my blog and on my YouTube channel, Big Discussions76, I challenge readers and viewers to question things and not just accept the images and messages fed to them. This is particularly important for this election year where we voters and sure to be slammed with all kinds of propaganda biased reporting by the mainstream news sources.

One of the interesting things about history is that he or she who controls the narrative controls the minds and the perceptions of the masses regarding what happened for a given person or event. Some argue that all the technology we have today has made the world worse, and there are cases where that’s true. I usually counter that sentiment by arguing that in some ways it has made it better. One way it has made the world better is through the ability to share information, so that more accurate and complete stories can be told.

When we think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we often think back to his historic ‘I Had A Dream’ Speech, his philosophy of non-violence, the marches, his time spent in jail and then his tragic assassination. But there was so much more to the legendary face of the Civil Rights Movement. In my 2019 blog post entitled, Whose Job Is It To Teach Black History?, I discussed Dr. Michael Eric Dyson’s revelation that Dr. King had extramarital affairs and why I thought it was important to know about them – something also covered in the movie “Selma”.

Another important revelation for me regarding Dr. King was my mentor sharing that just as many black people wanted to take his life as white people, if not more. It’s odd (and unsettling) to think something like that could happen, but information and perspectives that are being shared now may give insight as to why. Something that classically hasn’t gotten as much exposure, but which is now gaining traction in certain circles today, is Dr. King’s final thoughts on his life’s work.

Dr. King’s signature victory was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it turns out that before his death, he wondered if he’d spent his life fighting for the wrong things. He pondered if he’d led his people in the wrong direction as discussed in the opening quote of this blog post. This is a good place to ask an important question. What exactly happened in 1968 that warranted Dr. King’s assassination as opposed to one of the previous years? A prevalent theory is that Dr. King’s focus had shifted from social integration and desegregation to economic and financial equality/power and empowerment. His final effort was in fact the “Poor People’s Campaign”.

* * *

“In a race-based society, it’s what you own and control that determines your opportunities, rights and privileges! This doesn’t have a darn thing to do with Civil Rights! That’s a waste of time! It doesn’t have anything to do with voting!”

At this point I want to introduce Dr. Claud Anderson and then I’m going to bring the two men together at the conclusion of this piece. For those unfamiliar with him, Dr. Claud Anderson is an author/economist/historian and a former cabinet member of President Jimmy Carter. For 40 plus years of my life, I was unaware of Dr. Anderson and I only became aware of him due to the vigilance of Dr. Boyce Watkins, who I watch regularly on YouTube and who I also follow on Twitter. This, in part, underscores the good our new technologies have done.

Dr. Watkins is unapologetically black, a staunch advocate of black love, is considered controversial by some and while he regularly weighs in on some of the social issues of the day (recently Lizzo for example), his background is in economics, money and investing. His core messages are thus about black people learning how to invest and build businesses. He’s very, very passionate about black kids learning to buy stock and build businesses as early as possible and has programs for teaching such skills to both children and adults. He argues that this is more important than our kids learning to do the latest dances or excelling at football or basketball.

I don’t recall when Dr. Watkins started bringing Dr. Claud Anderson onto his show, but once he did it was easy to see why, and why he looks upon Dr. Anderson with such reverence. I’d encourage any readers to look up any of Dr. Anderson’s discussions with Dr. Watkins, and then any of Dr. Anderson’s abundance of interviews available on YouTube. He had a powerful discussion with the popular ‘Breakfast Club‘, and over the holiday season I stumbled upon an interview of Dr. Anderson from 1995 in Detroit. He had another powerful interview with Rock Newman here in DC. I’d embed these interviews right here into my blog post, but I don’t want any kind of copyright infringement claims against me. I’ll thus share the links to the interviews:

Dr. Claud Anderson Discusses America’s Race Based Society, Powernomics + More (The Breakfast Club)
Dr. Claud Anderson on the Rock Newman Show
Powernomics – 1995 Detroit Black Journal Full Episode

What’s remarkable about the 1995 interview was that Dr. Anderson spoke on everything that’s unfolding today. One point was the efforts to bring in immigrants into the United States to undermine the black vote and I’ll leave that there. It’s a very polarizing topic as ironically many black people support the same politicians who are looking to enforce these policies. The year of 1995 was just prior to the internet becoming mainstream. Interestingly, even when transferring to my Historically Black College/University (HBCU), I don’t remember any mention of Dr. Anderson, which is very strange. As noted before, the same is true for intellectuals like Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter E. Williams, black conservatives, but ‘intellectual heavyweights’ nonetheless.

Then again, it’s not strange as Dr. Anderson discussed how the individuals who decide which books will be used at HBCUs don’t want his books there during his interview with the Breakfast Club. While I recommended three of Dr. Anderson’s interviews above, and while I’m going to recommend his books below, in watching and reading Dr. Anderson’s content, I must warn you. If you’re a Barrack Obama enthusiast who was in love with the symbolism of his presidency, or even a staunch Democrat, his words aren’t kind to either. He’s not a pro-Trumper by any means, but he’s very open about the political class’ role in the state of Black America now. By the way, many, many criticisms of Barrack Obama’s legacy are emerging within the black community these days and can at least in part be attributed to what happened to Senator Kamala Harris in the Democratic primary.

With the videos I’ve listed, you can go watch and learn more for yourself. For the sake of this post, I’m just going to focus on three things. The first is Dr. Anderson’s plan for empowering black communities across the United States, much of which can be done by the communities themselves without outside help. He described the following points with hosts “DJ Envy” and “Charlemagne THA God” on the Breakfast Club. He described black economic empowerment (by the black community itself) as building a proverbial building with multiple floors:

First Floor– Build a community and practice ‘group economics’; particularly making the money ‘bounce’ in the community 8-12 times before it leaves (discussed below).
Second Floor– Politics; without economics there’s no ability to influence politicians or elections as a group; Voting is immaterial and a game of entertainment; You buy or rent the politicians.
Third Floor– Use the politicians to influence the court systems and law enforcement to decrease things like police brutality.
Fourth Floor– Media; If you don’t own media, you can’t organize, communicate or motivate.
Fifth Floor– Education; Interestingly the final level, but according to his logic it makes sense as there would theoretically be the existence of black businesses for our young professionals to start working in.

The second point I want to focus on is that of black people relearning how to ‘bounce’ their money in the black community as described above. In this context, bouncing simply refers to spending money within the community to give those there the opportunity to benefit from it long-term. Dr. Anderson argues eloquently that of all the other races and ethnic groups, the black dollar bounces the least within its own community before quickly leaving. In the Black History-related piece following this one, I’m going to discuss whether racial desegregation irreversibly started the process of destroying black businesses. An example of supporting a black business is patronizing the above-mentioned Tamara Coleman who created the primary image of this piece.

My final point regarding Dr. Anderson is that of ’Reparations’ which is basically the reconciling of the debt and economic disparities by the United States believed to be owed to the descendants of slaves created by the ‘Chattel Slavery’ and Jim Crow. I’m not going argue whether black people should get them here, though it is interesting that groups like Japanese Americans got something following World War 2. Other groups apparently got similar severances. I’ll just say that Dr. Anderson is a staunch advocate of reparations and don’t be surprised to see a further fractured black vote in the 2020 general election due to this one issue which was in large part brought to the forefront by the Obama Presidency.

* * *

I’d encourage readers to purchase copies of Dr. Anderson’s books which it seems are not available at HBCUs as described above. I asked for and received Dr. Anderson’s three books last year for Christmas: Powernomics, The Black History Reader and Black Labor-White Wealth. Again, he has in large part been kept out of mainstream media and, based upon his messages, it’s not surprising why. I would also encourage readers to visit Dr. Anderson’s “Harvest Institute” to learn more about his efforts and to make a donation if you’re motivated to do so.

So, what does all this have to do with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? Well, it relates directly to his vision of the burning house. Were his efforts in large part directed in the wrong direction? Was it always economics? Did desegregation ultimately have harmful effects on Black America, causing all our black businesses to wither away and die? Also, have we become a permanent underclass as described by Dr. Claud Anderson?

In terms of reparations, based upon responses by then Democratic candidate, Kamala Harris, and remaining candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I’m not going to hold my breath for them. Part of Dr. Claud Anderson’s ‘Gospel’ regarding economic empowerment though is hopeful and suggests that black people as a group can still coalesce and build something. The question is ‘will we?’.

It would require a mass shift in mindset which is the hardest part. If you watch Dr. Boyce Watkins’ content, he’s shared frustrations numerous times about black people as a group not being interested in learning about economics and financial literacy. Some are, but personally I thought it was odd that it took something like Jay-Z’s ‘444’ album to get black people talking about these topics at least for a little while. Again, some of us are interested in this stuff and actively talk about it and study it, but the majority isn’t. A small group will thus likely thrive while the majority may not as much.

If money, financial literacy and business topics fascinate you, I have a wealth of content on that now right here on the Big Words Blog Site. As a matter fact, my blogging platform was rated one of the “10 Best Financial Education Blogs” by the company “Expertido” for 2019. I’ve written several ‘literary’ pieces about some basics of budgeting and topics regarding things like “Matching Contributions”. My pieces are usually personal stories discussing my journey learning these concepts.

Working with a collaborator, I’ve published profuse amounts of content in the areas of Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. These are smaller informational pieces you can read through in five minutes or less. Just go to the categories tab on my platform and choose one of those categories. I also discuss money topics on my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. Please stop by, subscribe and find the playlist entitled, “Big Discussions Financial Literacy”.

As Black History Month approaches, I’ll be publishing another piece specifically focusing on whether Civil Rights and desegregation hurt Black America. Thank you for reading this piece. I want to thank Dr. Boyce Watkins for his hard work in trying to get his money messages out to our people, and for getting Dr. Claud Anderson out into the spotlight where he has always belonged. Again, for 40 years of my life I had no idea who he was and I’m not alone. That’s a major problem, but if you understand economics and media as I do now, it’s not unexpected.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

Should HBCUs teach their students financial literacy and about the business of higher education?
Are you Cooning? Thoughts on Black America’s new favorite racial slur, critical thought, and groupthink
A Black History Month reflection on Percy Julian
A Black History Month interview with Dr. Vernon Morris
A Black History Month look at West Indian Archie
A review of Marvel’s Black Panther
A review of Hidden Figures
A review of All Eyez On Me

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. I’ve recently started a YouTube channel, so please visit me at Big Discussions76. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

How To Make Sure You Land The Job You Want

Three of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional Skills/Development. The job hunt can be very competitive depending on your employment history, the current state of your field and location. If you can, you want to set yourself up to beat out the competition and have the best chance of getting the position you want. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Make Sure You Land The Job You Want.

* * *

https://unsplash.com/photos/LQ1t-8Ms5PY

When it comes to our professional lives, it’s safe to say that we all want to work in a job that we’ll love. Not all of us get to have that luxury all of the time, unfortunately, but it’s certainly something that everyone looks for. Working takes up an awful lot of our time, after all.

It’s not just a case of picking a field and walking straight into it, as you probably know by now. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of skills looking to take your opportunity away from you. You have to, therefore, put the work in and show you’re better than those alongside you. It’s by no means a walk in the park, but it’s also not an impossible task.

If you’ve found something that you’d like to pursue and feel as though you need to up your game, then here are a few things you should probably do if you want to increase your chances of landing such a gig:

Do Your Research

If you know what you’re talking about, then you’re obviously going to have a better chance of getting the job. If you were to stumble into the interview with limited knowledge, then you’ll be laughed out of the room. You obviously know that you’ll need to know a thing or two about the job at hand, but you should probably go one further and research all kinds of finer details. Whether it’s regarding home building projects, or whether it’s to do with types of machine tools, learning more and more will only benefit you. Not only will it help during the interview, but it’s always nice to have those extra pieces of knowledge going forward.

Present Yourself Perfectly

We all know that there’s no such thing as perfection, but you can do your best to get darn near. If you want to impress potential employers, you’ll need to make sure you look the business! This means getting your resume spot-on and dressing to impress. If you get these initial steps right, then that stands you in good stead going forward.

In terms of the resume, you’ll obviously need to get all of the vital information written down. But you’ll also need to make sure that it’s attractive to the eyes, too. Many employers have been known to toss resumes in the trash if they look a little untidy! Be warned!

Practice Confidence

Yes, that’s right. In order to become a confident person, you need to drill it into your own head. Practice speaking in the mirror – this is a simple one, but it’s great if you want to get into the habit of confidently getting your words out. Constantly work, too. If you’re lounging around and doing very little, your overall confidence levels will drop. Your confidence in the field you’re looking towards will also dither.

Don’t Put One Place On A Pedestal

If you don’t get the job in the company that you were expecting, then that’s okay. There will have been lots of people vying for that role, too. Never put all your eggs into one basket – that’s a sure-fire way of being disappointed. If you have lots of different options with an equal amount of importance, then you’ll constantly be focused, and your chances of success will increase.

‘My Kid Lives Music, What Should I Do?’

A key focus of my blog is General Education. Music is a very important subject that has been largely neglected. Some kids have both the desire and the aptitude for music early, but many parents don’t know how to nurture that desire. The following contributed post is entitled, ‘My Kid Lives Music, What Should I Do?’

* * *

Parents who learn to let their children grow while being autonomous as possible will see them grow into an individual. That’s one of the best things about being a parent, watching your children develop their own personality. Eventually, when they get a little older and close to their early teens, they’ll start showing you signs of this happening. One day, you might come home and be told by your child, that he or she would like to learn how to play music. This is a moment to be proud of, children who are drawn to music at such an early age will usually develop a keen liking for the art form in their adult life. But what kind of support can a parent give to their son or daughter when this occurs?

Learn more about them

It’s important to task your young child, what kind of music they listen that caused them to be interested in playing music themselves? Where did they hear it? Was it something that you might have showed them? It could have been something they heard on the radio. You won’t know until you sit them down and talk to them about it. When your child explains what kind of music they like, delve deeper into the different types of music in that genre and discover different artists with them. This means, going online and searching for their music. YouTube is a magnificent source of all kinds of music these days. You can also show your child videos of other people playing the type of instruments they’re interested in. This will let you know exactly what they want to try their hand at.

Where it all began

Many young boys want to learn how to play rock n’ roll music. There are so many legendary bands and artists from this genre, that have and continue to influence culture. But blues music is where it all began. It’s where rock n’ roll and many other forms of music started. In rock n’ roll you have multiple different instruments, but in the blues, it’s mostly only the guitar. On this page, https://www.musicianauthority.com/gifts-for-guitar-players/ are the top 50 gifts you can give to someone who loves playing the guitar. The Bose noise-cancelling headphones would make for a great gift to a child just learning because they can hear each little thing they’re doing without disturbance or noise distortion. Personalized guitar picks will make your child feel special and more connected to their instrument; increasing motivation to keep practising.

At-home teacher

Okay, so you know your kid is serious about learning to play an instrument, what should you do now? Signing your son or daughter up for lessons at school is the first option. Many schools will have music programs that can be joined voluntarily. If this is not an option, a private music teacher that gives one-on-one lessons is an option too. Make sure that the teacher is willing to travel to your house so your child feels more comfortable being alone with them.

You’ve been granted a child with a spark for music. As their loving parent, it’s your job to allow that spark to become a flame. Support your child’s yearning to learn how to play music the best you can.

What Kind Of Masters Is For You?

Three of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional/Skills. Many careers require education beyond the bachelor’s level. As such, many individuals pursue Masters degrees. Choosing the right degree is important as it will affect your career long-term. The following contributed post is entitled, What Kind Of Masters Is For You?

* * *

When you’re looking at finishing college, or you’re thinking of further your education, you may find that you’re considering getting your master’s. However, the most important question of all, is often what should you study? Sometimes, it’s easy to work out – you may find that you want to follow your major. But it isn’t all that easy. Sometimes, you need some inspiration. Here are some great options to contend with.

Business

To start with, you may find that you could consider getting your Master’s in Business Administration. An MBA can be really handy for a lot of people that want to either move into the business field or get a professional career in the future. Whether this is right after a bachelors or not.

Education

Another really great idea is education. Sometimes, you just want to think about the way that you can further your intellectual career or shape a future generation. If you’re passionate about one topic in particular, then this could be the route for you.

Political Management

Then, we also have political management. This could be a really great master’s field for a number of candidates. There can be a huge benefit to a number of different industries and professionals, not just politics itself. These can include social media manager, attorney, intelligence analyst, public affairs specialist, marketing specialist, and communications director.

For more information on the master’s in political management, just take a look at the infographic below.


Infographic Design By George Washington University

A basketball interview with Damien Foster, the other half of Buffalo Traditional’s dynamic duo

“From that point it just got better and better. Your confidence starts to build, and half of basketball is confidence! Once you get your confidence, you can go anywhere!”

One of the key principles of my blog is ‘Creating Ecosystems of Success’. A key pillar of creating them is hearing the stories and experiences of those who have made it to where we want to be. Like many kids, an early dream of mine was to play basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in the Buffalo Public Schools’ ‘Yale Cup’ high school city basketball league laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my science career.

I’m working on a project chronicling my early journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Yale Cup players from my era. On October 19, 2019, I had the honor of interviewing Damien Foster. Damien, alongside Jason Rowe, spearheaded Buffalo Traditional High School’s ascension to the top of ‘Section VI’ basketball, leading his Bulls to the ‘Far West Regional’ each of their four years, and then to State Tournament in Glens Falls in their final two years, before winning it in their senior season. In part one of this two-part interview, we discuss his background, and his storied playing days at the Buffalo Traditional High School. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Section VI basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Section V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Damien himself and Jason Rowe.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you, Damien. I’m working on an ambitious writing project about my high school basketball experience. It was my first major success and failure life lesson. While I didn’t play organized basketball beyond the 1993-94 school year, my high school experience on our team at Hutch-Tech gave me the tools I needed to earn my Ph.D. in a STEM-field – not quitting during the hard times, dealing with adversity, finishing what I started, and so on.

In my project I also tell the story of the Yale Cup in that era, and you can’t properly tell it without discussing the Buffalo Traditional Bulls, as you were the premiere program/team. As a part of my research, I’ve reached out to some of the other Yale Cup players to gain insight into what it was like to play at Bennett High School, City Honors, Kensington High School, Riverside High School, and others. I’ve also spoken with players from Hamburg, LaSalle and Niagara Falls Senior High School. As you know I spoke with Jason Rowe, so I know some things about the Buffalo Traditional Bulls, but I thought it would be great to talk to you as well.

Damien Foster: No problem. Thank you for allowing me to speak.

AD: The Buffalo Traditional Bulls were a big deal. I know you went on to play in college after graduating from high school, but when you came into the Yale Cup and Section VI, Buffalo Traditional became the game that everyone circled on their calendars (laughing). Let’s go back to the beginning. Where are the Fosters from? Are you all originally from Western New York or somewhere else?

DF: My Dad’s side of the family is from Saginaw, MI. I have lots of family in Saginaw. My Dad’s family is bigger. My Mom’s side of the family is from Greenville, SC.

AD: I attended the University of Michigan for graduate school, so I’m a little familiar with that state. Did they come to Buffalo for the steel jobs?

DF: Yes, my Dad’s oldest brother left Saginaw back in the 1950s or 60s. He came to Buffalo and left his younger brothers behind. He and his wife moved to Buffalo where he opened a bar and got into real estate – he owned property in Buffalo. Sure enough as the saying goes, when one brother leaves, the younger brothers follow. My Dad and my uncles who followed him, is what landed them in Buffalo. They visited and stayed. As far as my Mom’s side, my Grandfather married my Grandmother when they were in Greenville, SC. They were trying to get away from all the racial stuff down south and it was common for folks to go north. My Grandfather didn’t want my Grandmother around that type of stuff, so that’s what landed him in Buffalo.

AD: In the mid-1990s when you and Jason (Rowe) were juniors, they wrote a feature in the Buffalo News capturing his history. They pointed out that he basically came from a ‘basketball family’, but I don’t recall seeing anything about your start. Do you come from a basketball family as well? How did you start playing the game?

DF: I have a brother who is nine years older than me. He’s one of the reasons I started playing basketball. He played for Bennett High School and was on their 1987 team that made that run with Trevor Ruffin (pictured), ‘Boo’ Alexander, ‘Crow’ and all those guys. They were undefeated around Buffalo and in the Yale Cup; and they lost the state championship. I was around 10 years old when they played the Yale Cup championship game. It was Bennett vs. South Park and it was held at the Canisius College Koessler Center.

My Dad took me to that game, and it was the first game I ever went to. I remember my brother needing these ‘Air Jordans’ so bad for this big game – the Jordans were ‘popping’ back then. I went to the game and saw how many people were there and it was crazy. I saw him play and ever since that day, I was inspired to play basketball. They say that if you get inspired as a kid, that’s huge. I was inspired, and it took off from there for me. I was just ‘jonesing’ to play and learn the game – to just be around the game. My Dad also played a little bit in the military. So, it wasn’t a huge basketball family, but my brother and my Dad played.

AD: You eventually grew to 6’4” or 6’5” right?

DF: I grew to 6’4.5”.

AD: Was your father tall?

DF: My Dad was 6’1” and my brother ended up being 6’2.5”.

AD: I remember you becoming an ‘all-around player’. You developed your ‘guard-skills’. You could shoot it from long-range, you could handle the ball – everything. Did you start on your elementary school team? Did you start going to camps?

DF: So, taking it from 1987, I was 10 years old and I watched my brother play in that game. From that day on I wondered how I could get a basketball hoop. How could I practice? I’m ‘jonesing’, I’m a kid. Back then I was in a single-parent home. Mom didn’t have money to buy a basketball hoop at that time, so I got creative. In the winter I’d hustle by shoveling snow to make money.

I ended up buying a rim – just a rim alone. I figured out a way to start making my own basketball hoop. I’d get two by fours and plywood. I’d nail the rim to the backboard, tie it to a fence and there was my basketball hoop. I’d also tie it to a pole and then I eventually ended up putting it in my back yard. I’d play every day in my backyard for hours and hours – just being curious. I started inviting my friends over to play – you need somebody to practice on. We’d play for hours every day. It got to the point where it would rain, and it would snow, but I’d still have that jones to play and I’d go in the snow to play.

So, it started there and then my Mom was able to eventually buy me a real basketball hoop. When we put it in the ground in the backyard, my backyard became considered ‘the spot’. I was 11 or 12 years old and we were in the back yard all day. We’re talking seven days a week playing basketball all day.

Eventually it went from the back yard to running into one of my now mentors, Garcia Leonard. I met him at 12 years old at the Masten Boys & Girls Club. At the Boys Club, I learned the culture. The Boys Club back then was considered ‘the Mecca’ of basketball for all the people who came out of Buffalo. The type of people that were coming through the Boys Club at that time were some big names including: Glen Taplin, Ray Hall, Trevor Ruffin – you name it and those guys were coming through there and that was just the pick-up games. At that age I was playing with them and catching on. I was also tall for my age back then.

I wasn’t quite 6’4” then, but I was at least 6’. They worked with me. I was fortunate and very lucky for them to be able to come back and recognize the talent that I had and to just give it to me raw. They treated me like I was a grown man at 12 years old. At 13 years old if you step out there on the basketball court, you’ve got to be treated equally like everyone else and these were grown men! I learned so much from them and they took the time out just to break the game down and instill certain skills in me.

It went from playing in my backyard to playing at the Boys Club every night. Now I’m going to the Boys Club five days a week and we’re running every night. Ozzie Lumpkin was the director at the time. He played ball as well and he’d literally open the gym at 11 pm or 12 midnight.

AD: Wow.

DF: He would call it ‘runs’, so now we’ve got 15 guys down there like Ray Hall and others. We’re literally running in the middle of the night and learning the game of basketball. I’m 12-13 years old and I’m thinking to myself, this is great stuff in terms of learning to compete. I was able to pattern myself after grown men. Jason would come around as well. He got the same treatment. We were very lucky, and timing was everything at that point. It was beyond crazy because they were playing professional at the time – Trevor, Ray Hall and those guys. So, to get that one-on-one teaching and competition from them was just huge.

The next thing you know, my skill set started to develop. You’re playing with grown men so eventually your skills are going to go beyond the kids your own age. When the kids your own age can’t keep up with you they start scratching their heads wondering where you’re getting it from and how you’re doing it.

By the time I got to the sixth grade, I was at Campus East. I tried out and made the basketball team. The coach at the time was Mr. Spindler. He put me on the team, and they had seventh and eighth graders. It’s funny, one player on that team was Ben Franklin. Wait, was it Ben Franklin? Yes, Benjamin. Was Franklin his last name? He went to Riverside High School.

AD: Was it Ben Rice?

DF: Yes! It was Ben Rice. Ben Rice was at Campus East with me. He was in eighth grade. Who else was on that team? Was it Chuck or Henry? Anyway, I was the youngest player on that team, and I didn’t get any time. The two games that I did get in, my Mom is sitting in the stands and I’m nervous as heck. In the sixth grade you don’t know what to expect. I got in the game and held my own a little bit. I scored my first two points and they were pretty cool, Ben Rice and my other teammates in terms of showing me little things. They weren’t big headed.

After Campus East, I went to Build Academy for the seventh and eighth grades. There I hooked up with my boy, Roosevelt Wilson, and we started in the seventh grade. That’s where it really, really took off because you must remember that I was still playing at the Boys Club. I could see myself advancing a little bit further than the average player in the seventh grade and by the time the eighth grade came around, I was dunking the ball. I could dunk in the eighth grade!

AD: Wow.

DF: Yes, I was dunking in the eighth grade! That summer going into the eighth grade we’d play street football, pole to pole. Jason lived a few streets over from me. He lived on Ada Street. We’d play street to street to street and we ended up playing his street. He’d quarterback and I’d quarterback. We played against each other, and then in eighth grade in basketball, we played against each other for the championship – he was at Traditional and I was at Build Academy. They won, but it was a good game. That’s when Jason and me kind of meshed in terms of asking each other, “What are you doing? Which high school are you going to?”

After eighth grade, I took a few tests. I think the schools were St. Joe’s and Canisius. I just said forget it and decided that I’d go to McKinley High School. I couldn’t really make up my mind and my Mom was really on me about it. She said, “You need to make up your mind! The school year is about to start –.” So, I was decided, alright McKinley it is.

The day before school starts, I get a call from Jason and he says, “Man, we really need you over here –.” I said, “I’ll come, but my Mom is really on me!” I was so indecisive, and my paperwork was already at McKinley. Jason said, “You know what, I’m going to have Card (Coach Joe Cardinal) call you.” He had Cardinal call me and he said, “Look. Don’t show up at McKinley, show up at Traditional!” So, I’m leaving out the door (laughing), and my Mom thinks I’m going to McKinley, and she didn’t know that I was going right down the street to Buffalo Traditional.

AD: Wow. Really?

DF: And that’s how that happened. That’s how me and Jason ended up at Buffalo Traditional. It was a last-minute decision for me. The next day I showed up and just walked into Traditional.

AD: And they just enrolled you?

DF: Yes, it was one of those things where they enrolled me and got all the paperwork straightened out. Everything was taken care of and I was like, “Okay, let’s go!”

AD: Okay, before we start talking about the Buffalo Traditional Dynasty, which neighborhood did you and Jason grow up in?

DF: We grew up in Cold Springs. We were cut from the same cloth, same environment, everything.

AD: You told me about Trevor Ruffin, were there any other college or professional players that you looked up to? Did you look up to Michael Jordan? Were you into any of the UNLV teams?

DF: My favorite professional player was Scottie Pippen. I liked Scottie Pippen and that’s why I wore No. 33. It was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. That was pretty much it back then. I was a Bulls fan.

AD: Yes, me too. So, you talked about Trevor Ruffin. Were you also familiar with Ritchie Campbell and Marcus Whitfield?

DF: I was familiar with them because again I studied the game as a player coming through the ranks and coming through the Boys Club. You had no choice but to study the players before you. I heard about Ritchie Campbell. I saw him play one time, and that’s when him and Trevor Ruffin went head to head in “The Randy”, the Randy Smith League. I was young. I want to say 13 years old maybe. But I remember that game. I just remember seeing Ritchie come down and just ‘letting it fly’ – two steps across half court and just letting it fly. I was like, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’ Ritchie Campbell never really came through the Boys Club. Neither did ‘Ice Cream’ (Marcus Whitfield). They played more so downtown. They were down at ’Live at Five’.

AD: Did you say Live at Five?

DF: Yes, it was called Live at Five and I think it was at the Pratt Willert Center. That was something for the downtown guys.

AD: Okay, one more question before we get back to Buffalo Traditional. Did you ever go down to Delaware Park?

DF: Oh yeah. We went down to Delaware Park. I was 13 when my brother first brought me down to Delaware Park, getting that experience playing, seeing Cliff Robinson pull up, all the old school legends. And I was able to hold my own with them at a young age. I had my fair share of Delaware Park, but not so much as we did at the Boys Club.

AD: When I was at Hutch-Tech I heard stories about your nickname being ‘Mush’. Was that your nickname?

DF: Yes, my nickname was ‘Mush’. Back at the Boys Club, we all used to rib and play ‘the dozens’. The names just stuck with me and everyone has known me as ‘Mush Damien Foster’. At first, I didn’t care for it, but it stuck, and I got used to it.

AD: When you and Jason got to Buffalo Traditional, you two coincided with what I call the ‘Fab Five Era‘. What was your mentality? Where you going in thinking that you were taking over the team? Or were you thinking that you’d get together with the players that were there and make the best of things?

DF: To be honest, Jason and me were cut from the same cloth, so going in we knew what we were capable of doing because we’d been doing it for so long at the Boys Club. We knew that skill-wise, we were advanced. It was just a matter of going on the court, showing and proving it because when we got there, there were seniors on the team – Andre Montgomery and Jeff Novarra. We didn’t really know what to expect, and I remember having a conversation with LaVar Frasier. At the time he was a sophomore. I called him the day before practices started. We had a conversation on the phone, just trying to get a feel for some of the players.

That first day of practice, we were going at it and there was some serious business going on. In terms of my mentality I felt like I had to go out and prove myself and that I belonged on the team. Making the Varsity as a freshman is very rare. Usually you go to the Junior Varsity (JV) and you do that for about a year, and you move up to the Varsity. My mentality was straight “Mamba” (Kobe Bryant) – to just ‘kill’ everything and that’s what we did!

We went in and showed off all our skills sets. We competed and the returning players on the team – I could read their body language and facial expressions. They were blown away with what they were seeing from us as freshman. From that point it just got better and better. Your confidence starts to build, and half of basketball is confidence! Once you get your confidence, you can go anywhere. It was just very competitive that first year walking in there. From day one they respected us – Coach Cardinal and the players. They started us as freshman – “Young Guns” (laughing).

AD: So, Jason basically said the same thing in that there was a ‘basketball circle’, and you got that extensive hands- on training before you went to Buffalo Traditional. I wasn’t in that circle, so the first time I saw you play was in my junior season. I was injured and wasn’t playing much. I do vividly remember hearing some buzz about some new younger kids at Buffalo Traditional before that game, and I didn’t know who or what people were talking about.

My former teammates might not like this, but you all came out and laid the beatdown on us, literally. You beat us 96-73. You made the game look so easy. Your teammates were feeding off what you and Jason were doing, and I’d never seen anything like that before (laughing). I was amazed at what I was seeing – your ability to shoot it, your ability to gracefully handle the ball in the open floor, and so on. But you caught a lot of teams off guard that season right?

DF: Oh yeah! It was one of those things whereas a freshman you start off with three or four ‘non-league’ games. You start off against teams that are not in the Yale Cup – St. Joe’s and the other private schools and the suburban schools. And to me those were hard games. We had St. Joe’s my freshman year and they had Jeff Muszynski who was a senior. Jeff Muszynski was a star. We played St. Joe’s on their home court and when he got the ball in the layup line, all you saw were the cameras going off. You saw cameras pop and this guy is just laying the ball up. I’d never seen anything like it.

And then at the jump ball, we held our own, but we lost the game. I want to say that I had 12-13 points that game and after that we just kept getting better. I still remember our first Yale Cup game and it was against McKinley High School. I’m saying to myself, ‘Okay, these guys have a lot of seniors!’ I want to say at the time that they had ’Fats’. Do you remember Fats?

AD: Yes. Chelston Martin.

DF: Moses Tolbert and those guys – they were nice! In my freshman year, McKinley was in our building and we ‘lit’ them up. I couldn’t believe it. I had 37 points that game and I was like, ‘Wow, I gave Fats and Moses 37!’ I’m a freshman and it just starts to go from there. You start building confidence and you start to build a swagger. I don’t want to say its arrogance. It’s kind of arrogance, but it’s confidence as well and you start to build that thing up. And with each game, you’re running into players who are seniors. Do you know what I mean? You’re making a name for yourself because they’re hearing about you!

I remember the Riverside game. This is when they had Ben Rice, so I’m able to see Ben Rice in high school now – I’m catching him in his senior year. When I was in the sixth grade, they were ahead of me, so now I’m a freshman and they’re on their way out and I’m catching Ben Rice and Ed Harris. Riverside had a nice team with ‘Russ’ (Coach Bill Russell). I remember that game because I think they were No. 1 at the time in the Yale Cup.

We ended up beating them at the buzzer. We were down by two and eventually it was tied, and they were on the free throw line. I ended up getting the rebound off the missed free throw with six to seven seconds left. I dribbled to half court and hit a ‘runner’ off one leg. I let it fly and it went in. That’s what put us at No. 1 in the polls and in the Yale Cup and we beat them. Our team was just jumping all over me and hugging me. I remember looking at the expressions on Riverside’s faces and they were so mad because they were getting beaten by freshmen. It was unheard of for freshman to start on the Varsity level and then to get beaten by freshman – it was a surreal thing back then.

AD: Well, if you figure that they were the Yale Cup Champions the previous year in addition to the Section VI Class C Champions, they probably expected to repeat. I think I saw the same thing happen to our team when you came in and beat us. There was a bit of disbelief as that game unfolded. It’s like the Mike Tyson-Trevor Berbick championship fight. This young guy is coming in and he’s whipping the older guy, and the older guy can’t believe it’s happening.

AD: I asked Jason this, and I’m sure you heard this too. One of the knocks on Coach Cardinal was that they say he wasn’t teaching you any basketball and that you were just playing ‘pickup’ basketball in practices and in games. Is that true and what do you think when you hear that?

DF: I’ve heard it 1,000 times! Coach Cardinal heard it 1,000 times and we all heard it. Most of the time you’d hear it from the suburban coaches and schools. My opinion on that is that Cardinal wasn’t trying to be something he wasn’t. Cardinal was more so a father figure to us. He was there for us. We could come to him for anything and he’d give us advice whatever the case may be. You’re dealing with city kids – kids that come from single parent homes. You’re dealing with a lot of things and lots of these kids don’t have structure in terms of playing organized basketball, so they come to the city schools and play on these teams. With their attention span, you draw up a play and they get in the game and they might forget the play. Or they might not have that discipline to run a play.

I’m just saying that was the majority of what they were dealing with in the past before we even got there. They were inner city kids and a lot of the coaches were gym teachers, so it was a lot about how you related to the kids. The kids in the suburban areas, they were coming from ‘organized’ basketball, their parents were putting them in camps, and they’re going to the best schools like Timon and St. Joe’s. They get in there and they learn the ‘Xs and Os’ with no problem. It’s just a different animal when you’re dealing with city kids.

I always thought he got a bad rap for that. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of room for us to learn things coming out of Traditional. As far as the practices go, we had practice. We practiced and competed. Were there times when we went light in practice? Absolutely. Xs and Os, that wasn’t our thing. Our thing was we’re the fastest team in the Yale Cup and we’re the most skilled and talented team. We’re going to run this motion thing. We’ve got inbound plays. More so me and Jason, we were able to apply a lot of the stuff that we had learned and bring it to Traditional and bring it on the court in situations when we needed it. I either had the ball in my hands or he had the ball in his hands. When the games were winding down, Jason and me could overcompensate for a lot of the lack of coaching because we were the leaders on the court and they followed us. The chemistry was just natural. It was there and it was from us playing together all along.

Card said he was going to retire and write a book and name it, “All The Way Without A Play”. And when we won the state championship and went all the way, the media didn’t like that. He got criticized for saying that. Who in the hell thinks like that? And other coaches in the area and in the suburban schools looked at our teams and said, ‘You have got all this talent on this team. You should be winning the state championship every year – all four years!’ And I can say honestly, yes, that was the goal. It didn’t work out that way, but there was still a lot of success. But they looked at our team and said, “If you had a different coach, you would’ve won every year!” He got criticized for that, but Cardinal was a good person. He had a good heart and I respected him because he had his own unique way of relating to us and getting us motivated. It wasn’t like he didn’t motivate us. He motivated us, and he kept the team together as a family – we were a really tight family.

AD: Well, that family piece was important. Not every team had that. In terms of motivation, would he say stuff like, ‘They’re saying we can’t beat them because you all aren’t good enough?’ Would he use reverse psychology on you guys?

DF: Well, not so much that because most of the teams were gunning for us nightly, trying to get a name off us. He more so kept it to where he made sure we went out and competed every night. He made sure we left it all on the court. He made sure we focused throughout the day during school – all the little things that go on behind the scenes that go into the game. He was just that guy and I want to say that his swagger, just Card being himself – his personality, he gave off an aura where you wanted to play well for him. You wanted to do good for Card. It’s Joe Cardinal. You know he was one of those types of coaches where you want to give him your all. Not a lot of players will do that for certain coaches. So, he had his own unique way of motivating us and talking to us and keeping it real – not sugar coating anything.

AD: And his Assistant Coach was Ellis Woods?

DF: Yes. Ellis Woods was his Assistant Coach.

AD: Okay, well going back to your freshman year. I got cut from my team for grades and other struggles. I was home every night of the 1993 boys’ basketball playoffs and I remember watching the nightly news and seeing you go on your first sectional run. I remember one night seeing you do a ‘finger roll’ layup against Roy-Hart or Newfane, again with ease. Another night I saw a clip of Jason stealing the ball from one of Newfane’s guards and laying it up with ease. When the playoffs started, did you look at the bracket and think you could win the whole thing? What was your mentality going in?

DF: My freshman year we started learning about postseason play and going to Glens Falls and we said, ‘We’ve got to get to Glens Falls! That’s the goal at this point!’ You look at your team and you see what you’ve got and how you’ll measure up in the sectionals. We had some great leaders on our team in Andre Montgomery and Jeff Novarra (pictured above with the 1991-92 Bulls). Those were tough players and we went out there and competed. We were trying to get to Glens Falls my freshman year. We fell short, but it was a learning experience. We got a lot better from it and we worked on our games.

AD: You beat all suburban teams. Did those teams try and fail at slowing you down? Were you just athletically better?

DF: Teams always tried slowing us down. They’d run lots of half court sets. They’d try to ‘screen’ us. They didn’t want to run with us, because they knew they’d get run out of the gym! That was a lot of teams’ strategy, not just the suburban schools. You’ve got to remember that we were solid in terms of the fundamentals of basketball. We knew how to get through picks for example. We were able to rub all that energy off onto the other players of our team as well.

AD: You made it to the “Far West Regionals” as freshman where you lost to Marion. Coming back as sophomores, I like to say that you were the new ‘Kings’ of the Yale Cup. It was your second year, and a lot of teams graduated their seniors and were young. You graduated two seniors and reloaded with more talent (the 1993-94 Buffalo Traditional Bulls pictured above). Did you look at it that way going in? How did you go into that second year?

DF: Yes, because we acquired Darcel Williams. That was huge for us, but now we had a big guy inside. He was grabbing all the boards and could score and –.

AD: Yes, to go along with Adrian Baugh and Lavar Frasier.

DF: Right. Absolutely. We looked around and said, ‘This is it! There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go all the way! This has got to be the year!’ It didn’t happen. We fell short.

AD: You ran into Mynderse Academy. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to that game, but I remember seeing some of the highlights on TV. I remember you ‘jawing’ at one of their players after hitting three-point (laughing). I went to basketball camp with some of those kids. They weren’t tall and athletic kids, so did they just ‘X and O’ you and slow the game down? Did they out rebound you?

DF: They broke the game down, slowed it down and did the Xs and Os. They were gunning for us. It wasn’t like they were better than us talent-wise, they just wanted it more. At the end of the day, their strategy worked. That was another year that was just lost. I felt that we were better than them.

AD: So, the next year I came home from college and saw you play my Hutch-Tech team at our gym and you beat them handily 111-88. It was very impressive as there were lots of dunks and three-pointers from you all. I remember Jimmy Birden having a good game, as well as he was hitting from long-distance. You guys looked like a ‘well-oiled machine’. What was the key to beating Lyons in the Far West Regional your junior year? Were you just more experienced? Were you bigger and stronger?

DF: Well, that was my junior year, so the summer after my sophomore year. After losing to Mynderse, that’s when things really started taking off outside of Buffalo Traditional. We started playing Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball and our team was strong that summer. Our AAU team was made up of players from Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and Schenectady. From this area it was usually Jason (Rowe), Malik Campbell, Tim Winn, Antoine Sims and me. We’d drive up the I-90 to Syracuse to pick up two players, and we’d stop in Schenectady to pick up four players. I stayed away from Buffalo that whole summer.

My junior year, I was the only one from our area who got invited the ‘ABCD Basketball Camp’. I was in the top 50 in the country in my junior year. I’m at camp that summer with Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups, Felipe Lopez – all these guys and then at the Eastern Invitational Camp, and then throughout the tournaments we were playing in that summer. We played in lots of tournaments – thank God for Fajri Ansari for driving us up and down to these tournaments all summer.

We got a lot better and I took my game to the next level just from that summer alone and the experience I had going to camps. So, I think that helped me my junior year as far as beating Lyons and getting to Glens Falls. I felt like this is it. There’s no more losing and you feel like you’re the best. I was playing against the best up and down the east coast at that point. I could measure myself against other players and I said to myself, ‘When I get home, I’m going in!’ So that’s what it was for me. That summer was pivotal going into my junior year.

AD: Coach Fajri Ansari from Turner/Carroll took you to tournaments and camps?

DF: Fajri and Mickey Walker took us up and down the east coast all summer. We joined the AAU team in my freshman year (pictured above with Jason Rowe, Lackawanna’s O’ Tes Alston, and Turner/Carroll’s Malik Campbell and Antoine Sims). They took us to France, and we beat two of their professional teams that summer after my freshman year. We got lots of exposure away from the inner-city basketball. They were dedicated and drove us to Rhode Island, Boston, New York City – playing against the “Gauchos”, Stephon Marbury, Felipe (Lopez) and those guys. We played against them in AAU, and that was the exposure we needed to elevate our games to the next level, so that was huge.

AD: The two kids from Schenectady, was one of them Willie Deane, who went to Purdue?

DF: I know Willie Dean, but he didn’t play with me. It was Devonaire Deas who went to Florida State and then Antone Welsh who went to Notre Dame. Those were the two players from the “Schenectady Crew”.

AD: My Dad lives in Schenectady, so I went out there every summer, and that’s how I knew of Willie Dean. You beat Lyons and then Mechanicville in the state semifinal, and then you ran up against Peekskill in the state final. That game was within your reach, right?

DF: Yes, that game. Oh man, that game. That game was close. I could’ve put it away at the free throw line. I put a lot of blame on myself. I had two free throws to seal the deal. I missed the first free throw. I made the second free throw and I put the game into overtime. We couldn’t contain Elton Brand in overtime.

That game was so crucial for me because I really wanted to win the championship for LaVar Frasier, Adrian Baugh and our other seniors. I really wanted to see them go out with a ring and to win a state championship. Knowing that I had a chance to win the game, missing the first free throw, it just didn’t sit well with me. I just wish it could’ve been different. I know that I gave us a second chance in overtime, but I just wish the outcome could’ve been different. They worked hard.

AD: Well, hey man, that’s athletics, but Jason predicted that you would go back, and you did go back after reloading with some younger players. Losing players like, Adrian, LaVar and Jimmy, did you expect that you’d be able to reload? Or did you and Jason just do more the next year?

DF: That summer came, and we all got invited to the ABCD Camp at that point. We really worked on our games that summer. There was a lot of pressure building up. It was our last run, and we hadn’t won the states yet. You’re looking around and starting to question yourself. I just put it in my mind and determined that I was going to work my ass off. I’m going to do any and everything I must do to raise my game to that next level again. You’re just trying to get better. You’re trying to get better and you’re playing against the best competition in the off season.

So, the season came around and I had a conversation with Jason. I said, “You know this is it. This is legacy time in terms of what we’re going to leave on the table.” It was a focus like no other. We looked at the players on the team. We knew we had Darcel Williams. We had Darnell Beckham. We had the firepower to get there so it was just a matter of how we were going to do it, and that year for me, I remember telling myself that I was going to lead by example. That was the only way I could try to get everyone to be on the same page and that was to lead by example.

That year I said, “Jay, we’ve got to win everything! We’ve got to win the Yale Cup! We’ve got to win the states! We’ve got to win the federation! We’ve got to win everything!” And that was the mindset going into my senior year. That was the mindset the whole time and we went in and put in work, from day one. As soon as the season started, we gelled together as a team. We were in shape and we made sure guys were doing what they were supposed to be doing. We went in there and handled business. We won the Yale Cup. We won the states and I remember the pressure. You don’t want to let the school down – your peers, the teachers, faculty, staff – everybody that’s rooting for you. And you just don’t want to let them down.

At the state championship game against Mechanicville, I think I scored a record. I think it was 61 points over two games – something crazy. I think I broke a record. I was just trying to make sure we didn’t lose. I was just trying to leave it all out there. I said, “There is no way we’re losing this championship!” I won MVP for the state tournament. There’s something that just comes over you and you get that will power. You look deep into yourself and you try to wield that power. That’s what we did.

This discussion will continue in part two of the interview with Damien Foster. In the second part of our interview, Damien and I discuss his basketball career after being a Buffalo Traditional Bull. I want to thank Damien for taking the time out of his busy schedule to participate.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Niagara Falls basketball legend Tim Winn discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls basketball legend Carlos Bradberry discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls Coaching Legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site or add the link to RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. Finally, please check out my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Hobbies to Try in the New Year

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and three key focuses are Athletics and Sports, General Education, Health and Wellness. Hobbies are critical to everyone’s health wellness both physically and mentally. They keep both our bodies and minds, youthful, stimulated and engaged. If you don’t currently have any hobbies, you should consider some for the new year. The following contributed post is entitled, Hobbies to Try in the New Year.

* * *

Do you have time for hobbies? Most adults struggle to find the time to enjoy their hobbies around work, family life and other commitments. We go through life trying to fit everything in, struggling to make time for things that we love or even the people that we love. This is a shame. Having hobbies that you enjoy can improve your skills, boost your health and confidence, help you to find balance and peace and reduce stress. Hobbies can help you to make friends or improve existing relationships.

Unfortunately, however, when we fall out of practice, it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes, it’s easier to try new hobbies, instead of attempting to get back into old ones. Here are some new hobbies that you might enjoy in 2020.

Golf

CC0 Licence

Golf can be a great hobby. It’s an excellent way to get your steps in and enjoy a workout without hitting the gym. It can be a fantastic way to meet new people or spend quality time with your existing friends, and a good way to see some beautiful landscapes. Oh, and it can be good fun. If you’ve never played golf, look at Golf Drivers Reviews for help with what you need.

Fishing

CC0 Licence

Fishing is another great way to see more beautiful scenery. If you fish, you’ll travel to different locations and really get out there in nature. One of the most significant advantages of fishing is that it’s stress-relieving. You’ll spend time away from work and family commitments. It’s a great chance to take a bit of a digital detox and enjoy time by yourself. Even if you fish with friends or other people, you’ll spend long periods sat quietly with your own thoughts. Think of it as meditation, with fish. Or not fish, as the case may sometimes be.

Reading

Even those of us that were once keen readers often get out of the habit as busy adult life gets in the way. You might have started going to bed and scrolling through social media for an hour before going to sleep instead of reading.

But reading is better. Social media and screens keep you awake. Reading can help you to relax and unwind. It’s excellent escapism, a great way to keep your mind active and alert and a wonderful way to get away from the stresses of life. Try to read for at least a few minutes every day, taking back some time for yourself in the process.

Drawing or Painting

Having a creative hobby is great. It can help you to think more creatively in other areas of life, boosting your problem-solving skills. It can give you a new way to express yourself, and help you to unwind. It’s also good fun.

If you don’t feel particularly skilled when it comes to art, try adult coloring or scrapbooking instead of freehand painting or drawing. There’s a creative hobby out there for everyone, regardless of your skillset.

Swimming

If you are looking for a hobby that boosts your fitness without pushing you to your limits or getting sweaty, swimming might be a good choice. Swimming is easy on your joints but works your whole body. You can go with friends or alone, and there’s no pressure to be fast. Swimming is an active, yet restful hobby, that lets you go at your own pace.

Creating the Perfect Educational Environment

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is General Education. There are a lot of moving parts to the actual learning process. A major part is environment. Creating the optimal educational environment for students can be the key them excelling or faltering. The following contributed post is entitled, Creating the Perfect Educational Environment.

* * *

https://unsplash.com/photos/WE_Kv_ZB1l0

When you think about the classroom, everyone has pretty much the same image. There is the teacher’s desk, a whiteboard, coat hangers, and desks. All of these are important, but some might consider some more so than others.

There’s no such thing as a hierarchy of importance when it comes to education, though. Whether it’s kids venturing into academia for the first time or adults searching to improve their skills, everything matters as much as everything else. However, some things are often neglected or even downright ignored, but this is no way to create the perfect educational environment.

A Place to Sit and Think

An indisputable essential for the perfect classroom environment is having educational furniture that means students can sit and think in comfort. There are many ways to do this, from desks to tables to beanbags, but whatever it is, your students should be able to get on with their projects without discomfort.

Lousy posture can hinder productivity and affect concentration, while awkward seating arrangements make it near-impossible to fulfill potential. It’s a simple thing, but it’s also crucial to help create a positive school experience.

An Encouraging Atmosphere

You should also strive to create an encouraging atmosphere that celebrates achievements and helps pick people up when they’re down. Classrooms of the past may have chastised those for getting answers wrong, but this is something you must avoid.

From teachers to other students and parents or significant others, a culture of support is vital for ensuring everyone feels safe within the classroom, and once they get home. By creating this support network, you give everyone the chance to succeed and enjoy their time at the school.

A Willingness to Adapt

All teachers understand that sometimes things do not go to plan, so a willingness to adapt is an outstanding quality to have if you want to create the perfect educational environment. Things change, activities don’t go as planned, and all your preparation goes entirely out of the window.

It’s easy to panic when this occurs, but while you may be screaming on the inside, you’ve got to keep cool on the outside. Stay calm, and move onto the next thing if possible. It always helps to have a contingency plan just in case you encounter difficulties.

A Space Not For Learning

A space where students both old and young can embrace the creative side of education is another way to foster a superb environment. This allows them to take a break from the rigors of memorizing and critical thinking while still working on skills that are essential for real life.

You can make the space somewhere for musical instruments, painting, or even interpretive dance. It gives the students a chance to try something new and also prevents burnout from sitting down working throughout the day. Once they come back, you’ll find them more energized and ready to get back to learning.

The Perfect Place to Learn

Students should enjoy your lessons, so doing everything you can to make their time there as enjoyable as possible will only have positive effects and positive outcomes during their educational odyssey.

Get Back to the Books

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. Three key focuses are Career Discussions, General Education and Professional Development and Skills. Once starting a career, everyone has to eventually decide what their next steps will be. Is there the potential for promotion at your current position? Should you switch organizations? Should you go back to school? The following contributed post is entitled, Get Back to the Books.

* * *

You might find yourself wondering from time to time what the next steps are when it comes to your career. Are you going to stick at your job and work your way up the corporate ladder or take a chance on a whole new job.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and both carry a certain amount of risk. However, if neither of those options appeal there is a third way and that’s going back to school. We’re not talking about studying full time necessarily, there are a number of options but instead looking at ways to either boost the professional expertise of the field you’re already in or explore a new career.

In this blog we take a look at why training up might just be the right thing for you.

Professional Qualifications

If you’ve been waiting for promotion to come your way and it’s just not happening, now is the time to get proactive.

Take a look at some of the professional qualifications associated with your industry. Would taking a course and getting some more qualifications under your belt put you in a better position? Would gaining that Florida Contractors License pay off? If the answer is yes, it’s time to put yourself out there and back into the classroom.

Don’t waste your time doing qualifications just for the sake of them. Pick the ones that are recognised in your area and will allow you to leverage them for promotion or at the very least, better pay.

Image courtesy of Pixabay: CC0 licence

Distance Learning

One of the biggest dilemmas about studying is squeezing it in around your working life. This is made particularly hard if the qualification has nothing to do with your current job. One of the best options you can consider is a distance learning course from a reputable education facility.

These courses often offer part time study that fits around your schedule. While you may need to travel to an exam centre once a year or so, that should be the only time off that you’ll need to schedule. While it often takes a little while longer to complete the course, the pressure of trying to get it all done in a short amount of time is off of your shoulders.

Consider this option a long term investment into your future.

Evening Classes

The final study option is evening classes. Use these to access higher education courses later on down the track. If you’re struggling to pay for your training, consider asking the company you work for help. If your course can, in any way, help you in your current position you may be able to persuade them to subsidise your study.

If that isn’t an option for you, you may find that many education centres offer bursaries and grants for more mature students or those studying for specific industries – nursing or education for example.

When you want to change your working world, think about how education might help you achieve your next goal.

Six Career Paths For Plumbers

Two focuses of my blog are General Education and Career Discussions. While many sectors are facing the prospect of automation, one career that will probably never go away is that of the Plumber. Likewise there will always be a need for plumbers. The are multiple career options for individuals who hold this unique and valuable skill set. The following contributed post is entitled, Six Career Paths For Plumbers.

* * *

Plumbing can be a very rewarding career for those looking for a career in a skilled trade, with good salaries on offer for skilled plumbers and a real chance to set up in business for yourself. Many of us just think of plumbing as just doing repairs to home plumbing, but there are actually some varied career paths in the industry, from pipefitting to management.

Image – free for commercial use

Licensed Plumber

This path is what most people think of when you mention a plumber. Your training will prepare you to work as a plumbing technician, an apprentice or a licensed plumber, serving a wide variety of clients in commercial, residential and residential properties.

You’ll need to know how to install and maintain different types of water systems and have a knowledge of repairs and installation of sinks, showers and other water using appliances. You’ll diagnose plumbing issues and advise your customers on how best to proceed. You’ll need to source the correct tools and parts from somewhere like plumbersstock.com. Work in this path can be very varied, making it a great starting point for new plumbers hoping to learn about a variety of work.

Pipefitter

You could take a more specialised path in plumbing and become a pipefitter. You’ll need a background in plumbing safety and installation in order to install and maintain piping in industrial and power plants. You’ll be monitoring power generation and heating and cooling systems, as well as system installations for automated controls for these systems.

Steamfitters

If you’re interested in steamfitting, your training will be very similar to the training done by pipefitters, except you’ll need to take some more specialist training to become certified as a steamfitter. Once qualified, you’ll be working on the installation of pipes for the transportation of high-pressure gas.

Pipelayers

If you train as a pipefitter but find you want more of a challenge, than you can take further training to lay pipes, meaning you can be in charge of major pipe works. Your job will involve digging trenches for piping, and then laying the pipes. These pipes may be used to carry drainage, gas, water or sewer systems.

Gas Service Technician

A qualified gas technician is responsible safely delivering has through a site. Home or business owners can bring in a gas technician to install, replace or repair faulty gas equipment, like gas boilers.

You’ll also search for gas leaks, and perform safety tests on displays and other controls.

Project Managers

After a few years in the industry, you could consider becoming a project manager, which put you in a supervisory position over a group of employees within the company you work for. As well as plumbing skills, you’ll need to learn good management skills to run your team.

You’ll be dealing with the day to day undertakings of your team of employees, making sure they’re where they are supposed to be and producing work of an acceptable quality. You can expect higher pay in this position as well as more responsibility.

Carefully Extending A University Premises

Two of the focuses of my blog are Business/Entrepreneurship and General Education. Higher Education is big business in the United States. One of the biggest concerns of institutions of higher learning is expansion of their campuses. The following contributed post is entitled, Carefully Extending A University Premises.

* * *

Pexels – CC0 License

As a university faculty, the extreme increase in students applying to follow a course suggests a need for expansion. This can be an exciting prospect. That being said, carefully extending a university premises is often a multi-faceted project that can take some time, and may leave you feeling as though this process is extremely complex. Additionally, students are often fickle and can drop out for any time, or may even transfer to another institution should they feel their needs aren’t being met. This can be the case even if launching a range of excellent and prestigious degrees.

In order to best pursue this extension and to better manage your construction efforts, a careful plan needs to be in the works long before you begin. Additionally, ensuring that the least amount of harmful influence on your daily operation is considered can help you avoid alienating students, and prospective candidates alike. Additionally, a university budget can be a tight thing, meaning that cost-effective managing this process requires a little more forethought. With our advice, you are certain to carry this process out to the best of your ability:

Alternate Lecture Theatres

Finding alternate lecture theatures for your students can be an important first step. After all, it can be hard to lecture and study when large construction efforts are taking place. Additionally, consider the routes to said lecture halls. It might be that you need to subsidise extra coach or train fares to reach a different part of the city, or maybe you need to rent out an entirely new building for six months of the year. It is possible, but you have to manage people and resources carefully.

Reliable Construction Firms

Reliable construction firms, such as Stosius are known for their extremely accurate planning and impressive execution. When you can rely on a service to keep you on schedule, to stay thoroughly communicative of their needs and remain two steps ahead at all times, you can ensure that the practical planning of your own approach can be effectively considered, and this may save you and your faculty a great deal of stress. Additionally, being advised as to the best safety implements and usual requirements will help you curate that former plan of action.

Telegraphing In Advance

If your construction efforts mean that half of your science block is going to be out of action for that year, then it could be that telegraphing this in advance is essential. Students may not withdraw their applications as you may vital alternate arrangements, but letting them know about said work rather than lying in the brochure or somehow deflecting them away from said plans during the tour can be an honest and ethical way of going about things. Financial subsidies, additional investments and potentially the means to rework non-essential course practicalities can enable you to move through this time with care and attention. This makes a difference.

With this advice, you are certain to carefully extend your university premises well.