I just finished reading “Stories I Only Tell My Friends“, Rob Lowe’s biography, which then led me to watch “St. Elmo’s Fire” tonight. During the movie, I remembered that my first post on this blog talked about having my own space and I could make my own peanut butter and jelly sandwich if I wanted. I did not realize it until tonight, but I got that from “St. Elmo’s Fire” when the character played by Mare Winningham spoke of the freedom of having her own apartment.
I remember watching that movie in 1986 when I was in college and the world was wide open in front of me with friends and my own place to live. Then, I watched it again in 1991, during the last recession, and I remember crying when the Demi Moore character, Jules, was sobbing, saying how tired she was at 22. I was 26 and felt that exact same way. I was waiting tables and could not get a full time job in my chosen career path. I was working so hard just to keep going on the treadmill.
Reading Rob’s book (he is a year older than I) led me on a trip down memory lane through the crazy 80’s and all the excess and serious fun I had. Then the sobering 90’s came, and with it, the character building of working for two PR agencies for $5 an hour to get experience. Then my big break in 1993, when I got a full time job at a PR agency planning and promoting a big event.
The excitement of using what I learned in college, learning how to work on a Mac, meeting new people and helping on the San Jose Arena opening took me away from those moments, where, like Jules, I could not see around the next corner.
I bring this back to present day, as we sit in another recession. (I don’t care what they say about GDP growth, people around me are desperate for meaningful work). As I search for my next opportunity, I have been given a chance to help others on this island. I am going to implement a technology conference in Kona on April 26, 2012. I wrote a grant to the Economic Development Department in March, which was approved in June and will flow through the Friends of the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NEHLA). This will allow me to work with a group of very enthusiastic and well connected folks to implement the TECHCONKona conference, which will bring hope, job skills, connections and more to the residents of the Big Island.
Seeing the movie tonight reminded me of how frustrating it was to have a degree and still not be able to find a job. I wish I had had someone working behind the scenes to give me a leg up. The tech event will provide education and a chance to bring together people who can make things happen here. I want to find additional funds to provide hands on computer training the day after the conference in WordPress, blogging, Facebook, and even Microsoft Outlook! We will have consultants talk about “Dual Use Technology” and other computer/technology opportunities which can directly help people.
“St. Elmo’s Fire was just a myth, but the sailors thought they needed the story to keep them going when things got tough”, Rob Lowe, as Billy, explains. Well, maybe I need a little bit of the story, as do a lot of us who are on this ship. Perhaps, on February 17th, when the conference is over, I will invite my volunteers and trainers to join me up at the fire pits at Sam Choy’s, knowing that the spark of opportunity helped my fellow residents and I put on a damn good show.