Technical Women Inspiration Cards

My husband, John Plocher, just created a set of colorful inspirational PC cards for Technical Women, particularly TechWomen mentors and mentees. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, a program which I helped to design in 2010-2011 and for which I have been a proud volunteer mentor since. John designs PC cards as a part of his model train hobby – so he regularly prints new designs for fabrication in Shenzhen, China.  These cards are 4″ x 2″ in size and have two holes in them so they can be hung as decorations. One side says Technical Woman / STEM Science Technology Engineering Math.  The other side says LEADER, with one of six quotes:

  • “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
  • “If it is a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.” – Grace Hopper
  • “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” – Marie Curie
  • “Every girl deserves to take part in creating the technology that will change our world and change who runs it.” – Malala Yousafzai
  • “Yes, I’m a feminist, because I see all women as smart, gifted, and tough.” – Zaha Hadid
  • “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” – Oprah Winfrey

John and I are talking about adding more colors and quotes.  Suggestions?

Here is how John made the cards – if you want to make some of your own.

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Photos Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Finished Shakespeare’s Henry VI

Since the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California) Shakespeare Reading Group started meeting in 2012, we have read almost all of the Bard’s plays at least once.  We meet about every two months for a potluck dinner and to read a play – taking turns hosting.  Since April, we have been reading one of Shakespeare’s early hits, the three play history series on Henry VI and the Wars of the Roses.  Our group of 13 last night ranged in age from 92 to 16 years.  I am the group Mentor – sending out recommended reading and movie links in advance, assigning roles, and giving an overview on each play before we read.  The Rev. Stephenie Cooper prepares a role analysis to keep us from having too many readers being assigned roles who speak with each other. Melita Thorpe is in charge of the theater program for the parish. Some of us read from paper books and others from iPads.

The favored roles in our group are the evil characters.  Our 16-year-old reader of Richard of York (the future Richard III) enthusiastically murdered most of the other characters. John Watson-Williams, our 92-year-old reader, asked to read the role of the classic politician Warwick the Kingmaker.  I read King Edward IV whose unwise marriage to Elizabeth Woodville changes his reign.  My husband John Plocher read all of the messenger roles in his usual energetic and irreverent style.  We had a delightful evening!

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Image Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Re-Binding Books for Jail

Part of my leading seminars at Elmwood Jail (Milpitas, California) is finding study materials for the inmates: journals and pencils as well as dictionaries, prayer books and Bibles. Books going into jail cannot have hard covers since those have the potential to be turned into weapons.  If hardcover books are donated to the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, the covers have to be ripped off before use. Ripping off the cover makes a book more vulnerable to falling apart, especially in the rough and dirty jail environment. So, I figured out an alternative: how to re-bind books using manila folders and a hot glue gun.  Collette Lynner of CIC asked me to teach volunteers at Menlo Church how to repair and re-cover donated books so they would last longer in jail.  Collette and Rié Collett put together 30 volunteers in two teams.  On 28 July 2018, we re-bound 465 Bibles, enough for CIC to distribute in about six months.

This is bookbinding at its most basic – with a focus on low expense and high durability.  This method is not appropriate for valuable volumes but works very well for books that need to last a long time in a hard place.  Here are the steps:

  1. If the book’s back cover is loose, or some sections of printed text (called signatures) are loose, use the hot glue to stick them back together before starting the re-binding.  Running a thin bead of glue into the crack between the signatures will re-attach the book to itself.  Running a wide zigzag of hot glue between the book back (called the case) and the sewn-together paper signatures (called the text block) will attach them firmly together.
    • Hot glue is hot and it is easy to burn yourself. If the glue gets on you, rub it off quickly.
    • Hot glue only stays really hot for about 3 seconds after it leaves the gun – that is how long you have to adjust things before your glue gets too hard.
    • Put the glue on the book, not on the board.
  2. Remove the book boards (sides of the hardcover binding) by cutting carefully along the spine, leaving at least a 1/4″ hinge beyond the fold.  Leaving the spine binding intact protects the book better and keeps the original printing on the spine intact.
  3. Cut pieces of manila folder or heavy paper (about 50 pound card stock) to the size of the removed book boards.  There should be about 1/4″ of card on the sides beyond where the book pages end.
  4. Run a bead of hot glue under the hinge – at the cut edge of the spine – then push the cut pieces of heavy paper into the glue.  If you can do so without touching the glue, push the edges of the spine into the glue.
  5. Trim off any loose threads or extra bits of glue.
  6. Either write the name of the book on the new soft book boards, or use printed labels.

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Image Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson. Thanks to Collette Lynner for her photo of the Bibles in many languages.

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Starting Book Two

Last month, I finished revising and printing/binding 256 pages (in 17 sessions of Book One – “The Hebrew Bible“) for the pilot version of the new “The Transforming Literature of the Bible” (TLB) course. Today, I finished revising 140 pages in the first 9 sessions (out of 19) of TLB Book Two (“The New Testament“).  Production starts tomorrow.  I am collaborating on the revision of TLB with the Rev. Canon William H. Barnwell who wrote the original course. In addition to revising Canon William’s 2008 course materials, I am running a pilot version of the class itself at Elmwood Jail (Milpitas, California). I am grateful to my Co-Mentors Diane Lovelace, and my husband, John Plocher (with the Rev. Peggy Bryan as backup). This program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy  (CIC) and St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.  Thanks to Collette Lynner of CIC for supporting TLB production.

Six students are finishing the 17 sessions in Book One this Friday.  We start studying Book Two next week.  The inmates are very enthusiastic, doing their extensive homework reading and participating energetically in in-class discussions and reflections.  There is a waiting list of inmates from two dorms to join us.

Literary selections are included in TLB to provide a diverse context in which to understand some of the major themes in the Bible passages under consideration.  In addition to readings in the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), the students of Book One have also read:

  1. “The Welcome Table” story by Alice Walker (1973)
  2. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1955)
  3. “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears” poem by Mohja Kahf (2003)
  4. “The Son from America” story by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1973)
  5. “The Big Red Apples” story by Zitkála-Šá  aka Red Bird (1900)
  6. “My Last Duchess” poem by Robert Browning (1842)
  7. “I Have a Dream” speech by the Rev. Martin Luther King (1963)
  8. O Pioneers! excerpt by Willa Cather (1913)
  9. “The Family of Little Feet” story by Sandra Cisneros (1984)
  10. The Gangster We Are All Looking For excerpt by Lê Thị Diễm Thúy (2003)

The Book Two (New Testament) students will read these literary selections in Part One “A Journey With Mark“:

  1. “At the Arraignment” poem by Debra Spencer (2004)
  2. “A Private Experience” story excerpt by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009)
  3. “Sonnet XXVII” by William Shakespeare (1609)
  4. “Under the Poplars” poem by César Vallejo (1919)

One of the TLB students wants me to start another Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar in their dorm after I finish Books One and Two of TLB. Joel Martinez and I are Co-Mentors for a weekly EfM seminar which started in 2015 in another dorm where inmates tend to stay inside longer. I designed TLB to be finished in 5 months but EfM takes four 9-month terms to complete. I told him that if he can find ten other students who will be there for long enough, I will start another EfM class.

Other than my ongoing project as the Mentor for the Shakespeare Reading Group, TLB is one of the few times since I was graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in English (with a specialty in Shakespeare) that my knowledge and passion for literature has been of such use.  I am very much enjoying reviewing potential TLB selections.  Thanks to my daughter Jessica Dickinson Goodman for her advice on some of the selections, and to John for reviewing my drafts.

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Image Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.


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Solve24 from TechWomen of Lebanon

TechWomen Katy Maya Lara Rasha Washington DC October 2017

I am very proud of three of my TechWomen mentees from Lebanon who just launched the Solve24 – a new technical camp for teens in Beirut.  Our 2017 TechWomen Fellows from Lebanon (Lara Chikhani, Maya Itani, and Rasha Sukkarieh) have been working hard – with some advice from their three experienced mentors from the Silicon Valley (Mercedes SoriaFatema Kothari, and me) for many months to create this new program – while working at regular jobs, of course.

About Solve24:

A project-based program, designed to train students aged 13 – 17 to think outside the box while inquiring about and solving real-life challenges. The program allows them to explore design thinking processes and STEAM tools to find ways for creating usable and innovative products and finding solutions for real-life problems, in 24 hours, spread over 2 weeks. Throughout this camp, students will attend workshops and engage in specific activities that will guide and shape their way of thinking and provide them with the needed strategies for solving problems in an innovative way. First Session: 30 July – 9 August 2018

Lara, Maya, and Rasha are inspiring and remarkable and creative leaders!

Katy Dickinson, Mercedes Soria, Fatema Kothari, TechWomen October 2017

Facebook post by Maya Rasha Lara 1 July 2018

TechWomen Lebanon Rasha Maya Lara October 2017

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Images Copyright 2017-2018 by Katy Dickinson and TechWomen.

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Summary: General Convention GC79

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Episcopal General Convention at Hutto Detention Center outside Austin TX 8 July 2018

Written after the final legislative day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I was with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).  In my first GC79 blog, I gave a list of the big topics for discussion at this General Convention.  Here is that same list, linked to an Episcopal News Service article about what happened:

  1. Marriage Equality: approved a historic resolution giving all Episcopalians the ability to be married by their priests in their home churches
  2. Revising the Book of Common Prayer: adopted a resolution that allows all congregations in the Episcopal Church to use optional, expansive-language versions of three Rite II Eucharistic prayers in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer
  3. The Episcopal Church and the #MeToo movement: voices and stories of women played a significant role, from a liturgy where bishops offered laments and confession for the church’s role in sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, to passing a resolution so that deputies can to bring babies on the floor of the House of Deputies to feed them
  4. A salary for the president of the House of Deputies: agreed to a plan to pay the president of the House of Deputies for the work of the office
  5. Following up on the church’s three priorities: evangelism, racial reconciliation and justice and care of creation
  6. Formulating the 2019-2021 triennial budget: accepted $134 million three-year spending plan
  7. Middle East peace: of 15 resolutions on Israel-Palestine, only six passed both houses, on topics including Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, the disproportionate use of lethal force on both sides, and ways the Episcopal Church can press for peace through its investment decisions

Other GC79 big topics and actions of interest:

Part of General Convention is spending casual time with the remarkable people who attend – and visiting Exhibit Hall booths of programs and institutions and vendors. I bought so many books I had to ship them home in a separate box – which has not yet arrived. Pictures below are of some of the other giveaways and publications I collected. On my flight home from Texas to California, I spotted Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing who gave a remarkable talk at GC79. The Rev. Rob Fisher of our Deputation reported that he spent his flight home reading The Agile Church, which he bought at the GC79 Exhibit Hall.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are on the Diocese of El Camino Real website. Here is my complete set from GC79 as the official diocesan  blogger:

On 16 July 2018, Episcopal News Service published a summary of GC79.

Note that the GC79 Virtual Binder will only be available online through Labor Day (3 September 2018).

El Camino Real Deputation dinner GC79, Rob Keim picture 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

GC79 stuff to bring home 13 July 2018

Dr. Catherine Meeks flight home from GC79, 13 July 2018

The Agile Church book by Dwight Zscheile, Rob Fisher picture 14 July 2018

Episcopal General Convention 4 July 2018

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Images Copyright 2018 by Katy Dickinson.

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Day 9, General Convention

Alternates and Deputies in GC79 House of Deputies at border wall between house floor and side gallery on 12 July 2018

This was the eighth legislative session day of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church “GC79” (in Austin, Texas).  I am with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (Central California).

Today was a hard march through dozens of complex resolutions.  Everyone is very tired.  Some of the major resolutions passed today include:

Sometimes the House of Deputies took refuge in silly songs and pigeon jokes but mostly we stuck seriously to business.  The House of Bishops ended today’s session early because the Deputies had not finished enough to pass along.  Both houses meet again starting at 8 am tomorrow for the final legislative day.

Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (of Indianapolis) gave an inspiring sermon at the closing worship service, ending with “You know what to do.  You have got this.  Now go!”  The El Camino Real Deputation met after the service to eat a pecan pie given to Bishop Mary by the Bishop of Texas.  It was delicious! Bishop DeeDee Duncan-Probe (of Central New York) stopped by to greet Bishop Mary, as well as El Camino Real former-Chancellor Nancy Cohen, and me – she knows Nancy and me from when we were at All Saints’ – Palo Alto together.

These blog posts and other GC79 news are posted on the Diocese of El Camino Real website.

Pigeon comedy GC79 on 12 July 2018

House of Bishops GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 worshiping on 12 2018

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry ending worship service GC79 on 12 July 2018

Bishops Mary Gray-Reeves ⁦of El Camino Real and DeeDee Duncan-Probe of Central New York GC79 on 12 July 2018

Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real Deputation GC79 with pie on 12 2018

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