Tuesday, February 21, 2012

International Olympic Commitee WOMEN AND SPORT World Conference - Closing Ceremony 2012

ANIMATED PHOTOS (Copyright Paige Battcher and OptimismTravels.com): 1) Olympic Rings, 2) Conference logo, 3) Me at the podium...a girl can dream right?, 4) Closing ceremonies, 5) Closing ceremonies --including IOC Member and Director of LA84 Anita DeFrantz , L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and IOC President Jaques Rogge.


Saturday, February 18 marked the close of the 5th IOC Women and Sport World Conference.  To say the very least: IT ROCKED! To say more: it was inspirational, powerful, and an exceptional conference.  Days later, I am still covered in goosebumps realizing how incredible it was to be surrounded by diplomats, international foundation presidents, olympic gold medalists, national sportscasters and some of the most impressive women leaders in our world's history.  The conference highlighted the growing leadership of women on and off the playing field.  We heard stories of women who struggled just for the right to play sports and for the freedom to make a career in a man's world.  Many women fought hard for the rights that we have today; to never second-guess our ability and rights to play sports and lead with integrity.  I thank them for their bravery and ambition.  I live through their honor having played  EIGHT sports competively in my lifetime thus far.

In the London Olympic Games this summer, for the first time in Olympic history ALL sports will see the competition of both men and women.  In fact, somewhere close to 45% of athletes competing this summer will be female.  This is good right? Yep, but it needs to be 50%.  It has been a long time coming, yet we still have more work to do. 

In the "Women, Sport and Media" session, we were motivated by such outstanding females as Christine Brennan (USA Today, ABC News, CNN, NPR...this woman covers it al!) and Molly Solomon (Ms. boss-lady at NBC Universal, head producer of Olympic coverage).  Ms. Solomon shared that the industry is still a man's territory in terms of top executives, but that the number of exceptionally talented women 'poised in middle-management' will soon lead to a great revolution.  The discussion of women both on and off the camera was riveting. 

I particularly enjoyed Molly Solomon's insight that storytelling is where the industry is headed; she shared a short video story of Cathy Freeman and her rise from a marginalized Aboriginal heritage to Australia's champion as a gold medalist in track and field.  According to Solomon, she says "we need to present the Olympics in distintive ways, because the Olympics is about more than sports" (quoted during presentation, Feb. 18, 2012).  That's right.

I am more enthusiastic than ever that I can create short film --in a storytelling fashion --that will be useful to promoting the Olympic movement, Olympic athletes, citizens of host cities, and people all around the globe.

Two final thoughts...
1. Women and Girls have every inate human right that men and boys have.  So, give it your all! Be courageous, kind, and be a leader!
2. To both the women and men headed to London this summer, I'll be cheering for you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

IOC World Conference for Women and Sport - 5th Edition

Under the most incredible circumstances of fate, I am honored to be at the IOC World Women and Sport Conference.

I am celebrating the 40th birthday of Title IX among the most accomplished and fascinating people in international women's sports. Title IX was a powerful piece of US legislation calling for equality in sport --the direct reason why I had the immense opportunity to be an NCAA athlete in Rowing at the University of Louisville.

I've heard from so many powerful speakers today and have met so many exceptional people thus far --including Olympic gold medalist!

Ms. Ann Stock of the Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, led a powerful presentation of the vision of our nation to connect people worldwide through peace, equality, and sports. I believe whole-heartedly in their mission of "smart power" and as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador, I bare proof that one-by-one we can bridge mutual culture understanding globally through programs like the ones supported through the State Department.

Inspiration is everywhere at this conference. It's clear that women in sports create leadership. And as Roland Rich, director of the UN Democracy Fund, pointed out "we need to change the patriarchal nature of politics" (Conference presentation, Feb. 17, 2012). And, in doing so (especially through sports and civic empowerment) this femininity can bring less conflict, more listening and more creative political discussions in countries far and wide.

The exceptional message here at the 5th Annual IOC Women in Sport Conference in Los Angeles is: sports are a legacy for peace and understanding, and the progress of women in sports is a testament to modernity and hope.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Marlton Square Redevelopment -Los Angeles, CA

The Marlton Square redevelopment project has been drastically unsuccessful. TWO DISCLAIMERS: 1) there are many parties to blame, 2) although the CRA was involved, this happens to be one of the worst projects in their portfolio of otherwise useful community redevelopment projects.  These events take place in Los Angeles, CA.  Events like this happen throughout the world.

Where's the optimism you might ask?  It's under the surface --distinctly relevant in the fact that if we can learn from and listen to one another, mistakes of the past don't have to be mistakes of the future.

PROJECT BACKGROUND:Former Businesses at Marlton Square prior to this project:
• Vons Grocery Store
• Two gas stations
• Clothing stores frequented by residents
• Barbershops
• African American Culture and Wax Museum
• Important community services, especially regarding the elderly.

1984: Tom Bradley sought to reinvest in the aging Santa Barbara Plaza
1. Very little evidence of blight
2. Stores located there were economically viable and considered part of the community
3. Many community services and services for Senior Citizens.

1996: Magic Johnson's development firm wins rights to Marlton Square, after four years of attempting to assemble the entire project area. 36 property owners and 300 different businesses/tenants complicated the project.

1999: Despite Magic Johnson being a respected and established developer in the region, the Marlton Square project was given to Chris Hammond under the direction of City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas after Hammond claimed to be able to assemble the properties without the use of eminent domain.

2000: Chris Hammond of Capital Vision Equities outbids Magic Johnson and takes over project officially.

2004: Capital Vision Equities defaults

2004-2007: Chris Hammond and Capital Vision Equities bring in other equity partners including Jeff Lee of Lee Homes, Pacific Retail Trust, LNR Properties, and USC football star Keyshawn Johnson. These partners left and replaced one another over this span.

2007: Chris Hammond stops making payments to construction companies.

2010: Meta Housing receives $10 million in HUD and CRA funding and takes over project area ($8 million from HUD, $2 million from CRA)

2011-2012: Kaiser Permanente in negotiations with CRA to purchase Southern portion of property for the development of medical office buildings.

• One local developer who chose to speak to the Sentinel on the grounds of anonymity said, "Hammond has screwed this deal up so bad that at this point no one wants to touch it as long as Hammond is around—Chris is just a bad guy, he cannot be trusted."

• City Controller Laura Chick warned against relying on Chris Hammond, who she felt had questionable creditworthiness and reliability, as well as a number of previously bounced checks. There are also copious lawsuits pending against Hammond for various reasons. Keyshawn Johnson, who was brought into the Marlton Square project quite late, is currently suing Hammond and his related companies.

• Those most affected by the redevelopment disaster are the residents and local business owners who relied on this commercial center. Loretta Jones, a representative from the non-profit "Healthy African American Families" stated, "Chris Hammond was a nightmare". "To date he still has not paid me all of my money, but because of a confidentiality agreement he made me sign I cannot tell you how much I agreed to relocate for or how much I still have not been paid."

The question remains: What is lined up at this point and how does it pencil? Why take a bid to demolish if there is no bid to develop? If another decade goes by without a feasible solution, crime will continue to rise near Marlton Square.

William Chun of the CRA referred to the destruction of the remaining units as, "the physical representation of progress." We feel that these buildings, despite their lack of use, would be heavily utilized if the surrounding conditions --such as sidewalks, green space, shade, and amenities --were improved. What the 1954 aerial photograph shows us is that many of the small businesses were in buildings which we estimate were built between 1960-1975. This leads us to two final thoughts:

1. These buildings were fully functional and structurally sound when the area was first designated for redevelopment.
2. Why not invest the money slated for demolition into small business loans, adaptive reuse of the existing structures, and a genuine investment in Marlton Square.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Westlake, Los Angeles

Dear mom and dad,

I made this website for a class project in History of Planning, with David Sloane, Ph.D.  Thought you might enjoy it. I love you.