Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

Fabric Arts and Crafts in Sierra Leone

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

While visiting Sierra Leone in West Africa earlier this month, my daughter Jessica traveled with fellow TechWomen mentor, Terri Khonsari, and with Ibrahim Kalokoh and Joseph Ellie of Families Without Borders Tech Center (FWB). Some of our activities were arranged by Mrs. Thaimu (“Mrs. T”), an entrepreneur in Makeni who works with FWB.

In addition to giving presentations at FWB, the University of Makeni in Makeni, and at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) in Freetown, we wanted to learn more about Sierra Leone. In particular, we wanted to purchase some of the elegant fabric and embroidery that we had seen Terri wearing in the Silicon Valley.

Our first day, Mrs. T brought us to her home to show us samples and discuss options for design.  Then, we went fabric shopping, followed by a trip to the tailor. Most of the fabric we purchased was cotton, often with local designs but mostly manufactured outside of the country.  One variegated brown cloth  was made locally from kola nuts. Our shirts, tunics, and dresses were completed in just a few days. We ended up fabric shopping several times during the whole trip: the vast design range and high quality of available materials are remarkable.  Jessica and I will be sewing with our new fabric for quite a while!

In addition to fabric, I purchased a batik panel at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary gift shop. It shows a woman in local costume against a map of Sierra Leone. I made it into a pillow for my office – to remember my first trip to West Africa.

Mrs. Thaimu, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Tailor, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Kola nut fabric with embroidery, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik pillow and embroidered clothes, July 2017

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

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Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Flower Report – Twitter’s Sunday Bouquet

May 4, 2017 Yellow and brown African Iris starting summer bloom in SiliconValley FlowerReport

Silicon Valley is known for technical and entrepreneurial leadership but our gardens are amazing too! Every Sunday on Twitter, Alyssa Harad of Austin, Texas (“Writer. Cook. Sunday FlowerReport anchor. Books, art, perfume, witchery, feminism. Author of COMING TO MY SENSES (out now, from Viking/Penguin)”) presents the Flower Report: photos of blooms tagged by her devoted Twitter fans from all over the world. Put some calm loveliness into your sabbath – to dilute the overwrought news of the week.

Here are my contributions – photos of Silicon Valley and nearby blossoms – since May 2017. Roll your cursor over the photo for a description.

May 5, 2017 Crab apple tree in deep pink bloom Reno Nevada FlowerReport

May 7, 2017 Lilac bush blooming in Carson City, behind Nevada State Railroad Museum FlowerReport

May 10, 2017 Yucca shoots up tall spires of creamy white flowers SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 11, 2017 Dark pink tea tree hedge in full bloom - Leptospermum from NewZealand - in Emerald Hills, CA FlowerReport

May 15, 2017 Violet blooms, tall stalks, grey leaves: Rock Purslane, or Calandrinia Grandiflora SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 17, 2017 Ice blue flowers on plumbago vine - covering fence to ten feet SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 20, 2017 Flowers almost open on artichokes: 2 meters tall (over six feet), on 3 Creeks Trail SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 21, 2017 Lavender spears: just opening their purple blooms on long green stems SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 22, 2017 Deep red Daylillies with yellow centers (hemerocallis) blooming BellarminePrep SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 23, 2017 Matilija poppy (romneya coulteri) - called fried egg flowers - stems grow 6 feet tall SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 28, 2017 Violet geraniums have sprawled over a corner, all from a 4

May 29, 2017 Lovely brilliantly purple Jacaranda trees (Bignoniaceae) at Tamien Caltrain station SiliconValley FlowerReport

June 1, 2017 Pink and very poisonous oleander blossoms SiliconValley FlowerReport

June 2, 2017 Red yellow and brown flax blooms on tall spires SiliconValley FlowerReport

8 June 2017 Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia) has started opening its summer-long yellow blooms - to be followed by red fruit SiliconValley FlowerReport

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Story of WP668 – Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention

Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, Reno Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1038

John and I took a road trip from the Silicon Valley to Reno and Carson City Nevada a week ago. I presented the “Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668” to the annual Western Pacific Railroad Historical Conference in Reno, Nevada.  The convention is put on by the Feather River Rail Society.  I was the only woman speaker! While in Reno, we toured Jim Petro’s remarkable model train layout – Jim is a master railroad modeler and scenery builder.  His layout runs on the JMRI software that John helped to create – and uses John’s DCC Brakeman as well.  We also were able to visit Union Pacific’s UP1983 locomotive in the old Western Pacific colors that was brought to Reno for the convention.

On the drive home, we looped through Carson City, Nevada, to visit the WP657 caboose (sister to our own WP668).  WP657 was moved to the Nevada State Railroad Museum from the Ponderosa Ranch.  The inside of WP657 is intact.  We enjoyed our special tour, seeing all of the original furniture, cabinets, and fittings that are missing from WP668.  We came back to California over Carson Pass in the snow and fog, and saw the very-full Carson River dumping its snow melt.

Katy Dickinson telling Story of WP668 - Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 2017 IMG_0995

Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 2017 IMG_0842

John Plocher with Jim Petro's model train layout control, 5 May 2017 IMG_0915

John Plocher and Jim Petro, 5 May 2017 IMG_0930

Reno, Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1079

Caboose WP657, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City Nevada, IMG_1135

Inside Caboose WP657, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City Nevada IMG_1176

Sierras waterfall, Carson River West Fork, IMG_1334

Near Carson Pass, Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1366

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Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

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Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family, News & Reviews

What the Presiding Bishop Said

Tweet from RealEpiscopal 11 Jan 2017, Katy Dickinson and Presiding Bishop Panel on 7 Jan 2017, photo by Elrond Lawrence

“You are doing it.  Keep going.” is what Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in Salinas, California, on 7 January 2017. I was a member of the panel that asked questions after his keynote. From my notes, my opening question was:

“The Silicon Valley has a skewed population.  In the high tech world where I work, there are about 25% female, 4% Latino, and 2% Black in the computing professions.  In Elmwood Jail where I lead an Education for Ministry seminar each week, men and women are separate and there are 42% Latino and 29% Black. I feel like I live in two worlds. What can we do to reach out, to bring this divided community together?”

When Bishop Michael answered “You are doing it.  Keep going.”  I heard that the answer lay in outreach ministries like mine – and in telling people about that work. Individuals with a foot on both sides can connect a community.

It is a good but a little scary to have an experimental program succeed so well.  I have been thinking a great deal about what Bishop Michael said – and about what to do next.  The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino RealSaint Andrew’s Episcopal ChurchCIC, and EfM have strongly backed our jail-based seminar during the last year.  My first step was to talk with the CIC Chaplain for Elmwood, and then with the EfM program at the University of the South – School of Theology, about starting an additional class at Elmwood.  They support expanding the program.  Now to find more funding!

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

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Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and Elrond Lawrence

 

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Being the Only Woman in the Room

TAB, Sun Microsystems Technology Advisory Board, Greg Papadopoulos, Steve Ward, Ivan Sutherland, Danny Hillis, Dave Patterson, Mike Splain, June 2008

This week I met the Rev. Liz Milner, new CIC Chaplain for Elmwood Jail where I hold a weekly Education for Ministry (EfM) seminar in a men’s medium-security dorm. During this introductory conversation, I mentioned to Liz that I was comfortable working as the EfM Mentor in a men’s facility. After so long working as an executive in Silicon Valley technical companies, I would have to be comfortable being the only woman in the room!  NCWIT reports that only 25% of US professional computing jobs are held by women, with numbers much lower at senior levels.

For decades I designed and managed programs for Sun Microsystems such as the TAB – Technology Advisory Board, pictured above. It was an honor to work with world-class innovators and leaders like Ivan Sutherland, Greg Papadopoulos, and Danny Hillis, but with very few exceptions, they were all male.

Women in technology meet each other at conferences, like the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (over 15,000 attended in 2016 – about 90% of whom were women), or in professional programs like TechWomen or Technovation.  We keep aware of our accomplishments as a group by means of projects like the Notable Technical Women cards and posters, and by awards such as Women of Vision. Women geeks are often the only female in the room – but there are many rooms!

EfM at Elmwood Jail, Katy Dickinson, Patrick Ryan, 4 inmates, Milpitas CA, Aug 2016

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Images Copyright 2008-2016 by Katy Dickinson

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Honoring Jail Ministry

Katy Dickinson's Simple Servant-efm-elmwood Jail Award, 4 Nov 2016

Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves honored dozens of jail and prison ministry volunteers last month, among them, myself. Since 2007 Bishop Mary has served as the third bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in California. Since 2015, she has also been the Vice President of the House of Bishops. Some years ago, Bishop Mary created the Simple Servant Award to honor those working as faithful ministers in the community.

I was out of town – in Sewanee, Tennessee, renewing my Education for Ministry Mentor Accreditation, and being trained as the Diocesan Coordinator for EfM – so I missed the Simple Servant presentation at the ECR annual convention on 4 November 2016. However, my husband John Plocher helped Bishop Mary prepare her presentation slides, so I was able to contribute photos and information in advance.  The Reverend Peggy Bryan worked with two of my student inmates on the artwork for the certificate.

Jack Fanning and I received our certificates the following week.  Jack helped me to start the first EfM program at Elmwood Correctional Facility (Milpitas, California).  There are about 25 EfM seminars in prisons in the USA but ours seems to be the first class in a county jail. We just started our second EfM term inside Elmwood. Our seminar includes have six men in Year-1 plus four continuing to Year-2.  Thanks to the University of the South, The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, CIC Ministries, and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church for their joint and generous support of this program!

If you are interested in volunteering in a Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) jail, please contact the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC).

Katy Dickinson and Jack Fanning with Simple Servant Awards, 13 Nov 2016

Two photos taken by Elrond Lawrence of the 4 November 2016 presentation in Salinas:

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

Simple Servant Award by the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, 4 Nov 2016 - photo by Elrond Lawrence

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Top Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson, 2 Lowest Images Copyright 2016 by Elrond Lawrence

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