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February 28, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Emerge: Artists + Scientists Redesign the Future

  |   Video
  • During the first three days of March, ASU is hosting “Emerge,” an event that brings artists and scientists together to explore questions of human existence and the future we hope to create. The event’s three principal organizers explain what “Emerge” is all about.
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: science, artists, humans, future,

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Ted Simons: During the first three days of March, Arizona State University is hosting an event called emerge. It will bring together artists, scientist, futurist and engineers to explore questions of human existence and the future we hope to create. Tonight we hear from the three principal organizers of emerge. Cynthia Suhleen, assistant professor at the ASU School of Sustainability and the Center for Nanotechnology and Society. Thunawsus Rikakis, director of the ASU school of arts, media, and engineering in the Herberger Institute For Design and the Arts. And Joel Guhrow, Lincoln professor of law, culture, and values at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. Good to have you all here. Thanks for joining us. There's so much to talk about. What is -- give us a capsule summary, what is emerge?

Cynthia Selin: Emerge is an event that we're hosting at ASU this Saturday, open to the public, where we really want to trigger the imagination of Arizonans to think about viable, sustainable, exciting futures that we want to live in.

Ted Simons: I notice one of the ideas was to rethink the future of the human species. That's a big bite.

Thanassis Rikakis: Well, it's a big bite, that's why we think if we're going to do that, we want to bring together as many disciplines as possible, as many perspectives as possible, that's why the subtitle of the event is "artist and scientists." So this is not a -- this is a future that balances the humanist perspectives with the technological incentives.

Ted Simons: With the idea, the bottom line is that what it means to be a human is changing with all this technology. Correct?

Joel Garreau: That's right. We've got all these emerging technologies, they're chaining our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our kids, so the big question is, if that's all true, what kind of human does we want to be, and that's what we're going to have people doing, reinventing on saturday with everybody who wants to come.

Ted Simons: When you have such a big idea and a big topic and so people involved, how do you get focused? How do you keep from flying off -- unless you want it to fly off in 40 different places-- [LAUGHTER]

Cynthia Selin: It will be this explosion of ideas, and it will fly off the handle. We've really invited some top foresight thinkers and scholars, artists, story tellers, and asked them how far can you take your future in thinking? How far can we envision a world that we want to live in? A world where we're not just surviving, but we're thriving.

Ted Simons: The idea, you mentioned artist and story tellers, how important is it to get -- a lot of people think science, technology, we've got to get a bunch of engineers and start looking at schematics. Artist, story tellers and designers. Why is that important?

Thanassis Rikakis: Let me give you an example. All of us can relate to, we all know teenagers with all these portable devices are everywhere with their music, on their phone. We want the new guitar of the future, digital media allows teenagers to get together, make together. The idea is when we're thinking about the future, we're thinking about technology, the humanist perspective, the artist perspective, the designer perspective needs to be much in there so you actually go from a consumer future to a participant and maker and shaper.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So people are buying into the system, whatever the system might be.

Joel Garreau: Oh, no. Not a chance. [laughter] That is the last thing in the world we want to do. The kind of people we're having on Saturday are really non linear thinkers we have people like Stewart Bran, who did the whole earth catalog, and Neil Stevenson the science fiction writer who did Snow Crash and Reamde, we've got Bruce mile, massive change network, Bruce sterling who wrote "the difference engine," and ASU’s president Michael crow, these are all people who are not inside the box thinkers.

Ted Simons: But I guess what I'm trying to say, want to get people at least on that track to see what you're talking about, and see whether or not it's viable.

Joel Garreau: Well, you certainly want this to be -- want this to be within people's perspective. The whole idea of bringing artist and technologists together to invent this together is to try to bring to it a place where ordinary people can understand and take control of their own futures, and not having it dumped on them. To do that you have to engage people with relationships with their kids, with the human portions of their lives that they understand as they're making dinner, watching the television. So you do have to bring it into a human frame, but this is not about the gear. This is about the humans.

Ted Simons: Indeed, and it also has to be within a frame people are going to be comfortable with in terms of governance, democracy, which most folks I think would be encouraged to pursue, and there's got to be some accountability as well, correct?

Cynthia Selin: That's right. One of the themes that will be shot through a lot of the conversation has to do with sustainability, equity, democracy, these values that we really do hold dear. So we're accustomed to a lot of the sustainability problems, whether it's abrupt climate change, or resource depletion, and what we're saying is that we can't leave this to the scientists alone, we can't wait for the next technological fix, but we really want to harness the collective imagination and bring it to bear to think about what kind of future we want. What kind of future will be sustainable?

Ted Simons: Does it feel like we don't have necessarily the best of handles on science and technology right now?

Cynthia Selin: I think that we often get blindsided by emerging toes. Certainly there's a lot in the works from nanotechnology and cognitive science, that are just -- that isn't on the tip of people's tongues. So on the one hand we're really inundated with so many images of the future, whether it's in the next disaster flick, or whether it's the excitement around the new apple product. But really thinking about how technology in society interact, and our range of freedom and choice in technological decision making is quite important, and I think we really create a space that emerges, where there's conversations can happen.

Ted Simons: Have those conversations not necessarily been happening, or at least not obviously to this level, but have we taken baby steps toward those conversations?

Thanassis Rikakis: It's a great question. It's a great -- we can look at it in two parts. Part number one is we want people to wake up and not worry about catching up with technology. We want people to wake up and state the future they want for their kids. For the families. And technology serves that. So the first step we need to take we need to flip the dialer around this cannot be the agony of people catching up with technology. It's people steering the dreams and having technology serve that. That is a major step, we're trying to achieve through emerge. We want priorities to be right as technology development is happening, and the second thing is exactly what you're saying. How do we get this conversation happening? How do we make technology and scientists aware of the human dream and have them serve the human dream rather than -- so we keep thinking of things that are very important for Arizona, at ASU and in Arizona overall because it's a new space, a lot of the conversations are taking place, and that's why we're doing this in Arizona, because we believe it's a prime space for this conversation.

Ted Simons: We've talked a lot on this program about Arizona being tabula rasa. You can basically do a lot of things here with the history getting in the way. Does that help a conference like this?

Joel Garreau: I don't that emerge could occur anywhere else but here. I think Arizonians have built an amazing place because they’ve created a place like Arizona State University. This is arguably the foremost silo busting institution in America. You have lots of makers of the future here, like we have people who are creating creatures of biodesign that eat CO2 and poop gasoline, thereby solving climate change in the Middle East, hopefully in the next five years. We also have people like us who are the arm wavers about what this means. But the difference is, at ASU these two groups of people drink with each other. And I've never seen anything like that at Harvard or Berkeley or Stanford.

Ted Simons: Why don't those two groups of people drink with each other? Why is it those who make the future and those who think about the future, what's going on there?

Cynthia Selin: I think in a traditional University you have these disciplinary walls, but at ASU it's this really fertile ground where there is a lot of interdisciplinary collaboration. So the center for nanotechnology and society where I conduct my research, we're humanists, we're social scientists and we're work can alongside with scientists in the laboratory to try to appreciate the futures that we're creating and how we can bring forth science and technology that benefits humanity.

Ted Simons: It sounds like were you bringing that forth by way of hands-on workshops and things. Tell us about this festival, the digital culture festival and where is all this happening and when is all this happening?

Thanassis Rikakis: I think it's a great example, it also gives a summary of what we're talking about. From 5:00 to 8:00 in the evening, on Saturday, throughout the buildings of the design arts institute at ASU, we have a festival. But this is an unusual festival. This is not where people show up and consume high end content. This is a place where they show up and interact with each other. And as they have these human relationships, the technology is following them and allowing them to shape content. So we’re trying to have a cultural part of them that goes from the consumer to the maker and five to eight throughout the spaces people can show up and interact with the new human driven paradigms.

Ted Simons: About 30 seconds left. Where can we get more information for this?

Joel Garreau: It’s open to the public and it’s free. It's all day Saturday, into Saturday evening. And as Thanassis said Saturday evening is when we have the dancers and the improv actors and the moving sculpture the whole nine yards. It’s going to really rock.

Ted Simons: It sounds like it's really something. Thank you for joining us. Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll look at how Arizona compares to the rest of the country when it comes to poverty and a local theater company is staking a rock and roll musical to teach kids about America's presidents. That's Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," 5:30 and 10:00 right here on eight HD. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Fast Pitch Philanthropy

  |   Video
  • On March 6th Social Venture Partners is holding its "2nd Annual Fast Pitch Social Innovation Expo." It’s the culmination of a seven-week training and mentoring program for innovative nonprofits that are effecting social change. Finalists have three minutes to make a “pitch” that could earn their nonprofit $100,000 in funding. SVP Executive Director Terri Wogan talks about the program.
  • Terri Wogan - SVP Executive Director
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: sports, fast, pitch, money, charities, nonprofit,

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One-third of our youth are obese or overweight. 20% of our kids are come to be school high. The Latino status dropout rate is at 21%. That's where we come in. You're going to hear eight amazing stories tonight. If you had to give your pitch, what would you say? And how would you say it in 180 seconds? This event reflects what social Venture partners is about. We're seeking $65,000. $250,000. $250,000. $120,000. A contribution of $100,000. $150,000. $25 first to invest. You can be part of something from the ground up. Please help us. Partner with us. With your help, we can do it. My name is Chris Linn, and I'm the executive director for popsicle center, which provides help and hope for children who struggle to eat.

Ted Simons: That indeed is Chris Linn, she was the winner of last year's fast pitch event, sponsored by social Venture partners of Arizona. Leaders of various nonprofit were given three minutes to convince potential donors to fund their organizations. It culminated a seven-week program that taught nonprofits how to most effectively get their message across. The second annual greater Phoenix fast pitch social innovation Expo takes place one week from today on Tuesday, March 6th. Here to talk about it is Chris Linn, executive director of the Popsicle Center. And Terri Wogan, executive director of social Venture partners, Arizona. Thank you both for joining us. You were the winnrt last year. This was three minutes, give us your best shot? How did this work?

Chris Linn: Well, we were able to go through a seven-week training session where we had mentors assigned to us, and it was really the goal to hone in on our three-minute pitch, which was phenomenal for our organization. Over the seven weeks we all start out with note cards and as we progressed we went on stage and told our story with conviction.

Ted Simons: Why do you think you won?

Chris Linn: I'll tell you, I do believe that as far as our organization is concerned, Popsicle Center stand for parent organized partnerships supporting infants and children learning to eat, we're very unique. There's not another organization like ours in the valley. And nationwide, actually. So I think our story was unique and since we're a grass-roots organization pioneering a topic that hasn't been on the map, I think that was appealing to a lot of the partners.

Ted Simons: A lot of the judges, these are experts in the field, correct? Who actually judges in this particular contest? You had a lot of folks giving three minutes of their best time.

Terri Wogan: We did. We have seven community judges, and they're CEOs of corporations here in the valley, and foundations. And we also have a group of our social Venture partners who work in the field of Venture philanthropy, so they're looking for that start-up organization or something that is unique that can scale and grow and hit a home run out of the park.

Ted Simons: I was going to ask what exactly the judges and the folks are looking for. But the presentation is important in and of itself.

Terri Wogan: The pitch is a big part of it, but we're also looking at the content of the pitch. So we're looking at innovation, we're looking at how you're unique, what impact you have, and then the actual pitch.

Ted Simons: How were nonprofits chosen to take part in the contest?

Terri Wogan: We put out a call for applications in September, and any nonprofit can apply. Then we had a group of our partners go through each of the applications and we selected 20 that we thought really would exemplify something unique, something innovative, that we wanted to know more about their story.

Ted Simons: And then you had seven-week mentorship program to improve the message, tighten the message? What were you taught?

Chris Linn: Absolutely. It was to really tighten your message. If you're going to have an audience with a potential donor, you sometimes only have a very short amount of time. So you need to be compelling with your message and help them understand what they're investing in. That's what we were taught.

Ted Simons: When you were done, did you look at yourself back when you start and went oh, boy! I really had a lot to learn.

Chris Linn: Absolutely. Absolutely. I also -- the value in what we went through was absolutely -- you use the word priceless to tell the story.

Ted Simons: Was there an ah-ha moment as far as the mentorship program or was it a compilation of common sense and education?

Chris Linn: I did have an ah-ha moment throughout the process. When I was trying to say how I would hone in on my pitch, I was saying, is that what you want to say? Say it. It was really about taking to it layman's terms and making sure people could understand.

Ted Simons: Why is this particular skill, the three-minute skill, the fast pitch to tighten the message, why is that so important for nonprofits?

Terri Wogan: Because there's so much competing noise out there for funding, and so we're trying to really get these nonprofits to understand that they have a very short amount of time to sell their story and their pitch. So we're hoping that they can look at their value proposition, their business model, and understand how to deliver that.

Ted Simons: What is social Venture partners, before we move forward?

Terri Wogan: We're an organization of individual donors who pool our philanthropic dollars and grant them out to various nonprofits. And we use a Venture capital approach ask we apply it to our philanthropy. Our partners also get their time and talents, their skills to help the business portion of a nonprofit.

Ted Simons: We talked about this last year, and you mentioned how this was a Venture capital approach to nonprofits. What exactly does that mean?

Terri Wogan: That means that we're looking at the infrastructure of an organization. Rather than the program. A lot of foundations and funders fund programs. But we will actually fund the operations of an organization, we really will look at what does this organization need in order to grow, what is the barrier stopping them and we'll do board development, help them with their messaging, help them with their financials, get them to start thinking more like a business.

Chris Linn: And what advice -- we got the next event coming up a week from today. Tempe center for the arts, correct? And what advice would you give those contestants who are going to have to get up on that stage and give three minutes of quality time?

Chris Linn: You deserve this. You've worked hard for this. Go up there and tell your story with conviction that. Would be my absolute advice.

Ted Simons: You really have to believe in what you're doing and be confident in what you're doing, and that shows.

Chris Linn: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: All right. Congratulations on last year's win. Good luck this year. It's good to have you both here.

Valley Home Prices

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  • Mike Orr, Director of the Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business, comments on a new report that shows some encouraging news for Phoenix area homeowners.
  • Mike Orr - Director, Center for Real Estate Theory and Practice, ASU W.P. Carey School of Business
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: valley, economy, housing, ,

View Transcript

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. ASU is reporting some positive news for valley homeowners, especially when it comes to price and foreclosures. Here to explain is Mike Orr, director of the center for real estate theory and practice at ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business. Good to see you again. Thanks for being here. Single-family home prices on the increase, huh?

Mike Orr: That's right. Measuring them moving up since last September, and now higher than they were 12 months ago.

Ted Simons: What's going on? Why the increase?

Mike Orr: It's a supply issue. People have been thinking there's a glut of homes and they have been for many years, but over the last 12, 14 months, the oversupply has been so tough, and we're in a position where there's actually fewer homes on the market than we have buyers for.

Ted Simons: 42% drop in number of homes from this time last year. Are investors mainly at play here?

Mike Orr: Investors are a big factor in the reason we got the reduction. When our prices collapsed back in 2008, that brought investors on the scene and they've been here in big numbers. They don't really outnumber the normal buyers, but having them in the market means things get snapped up and right now it's very competitive. Lots of bids for any home priced competitively.

Ted Simons: When you say lots bids, you're looking mostly at what, $350,000 or less?

Mike Orr: That's right. The affordable up to the mid range home, beyond that things are still relatively quiet.

Ted Simons: So there's a glut of the higher end homes?

Mike Orr: I wouldn't say a glut. But there's plenty of choice. It's not as competitive.

Ted Simons: OK. Foreclosure starts, your report has them down 49% from this time last year. If foreclosure starts are down, doesn't that mean good news in the next couple months?

Mike Orr: It means there's more -- fewer people in delinquency, we've got fewer foreclosures likely to happen. Actually a large percentage of foreclosure notices don't end up in a foreclosure, they end up in a short sale or a loan that's modified. The banks are trying hard not to get any homes back and they're succeeding. One of the things that's really gone down a lot are the bank-owned homes. We're only generating 700 of those a month now. We were generating four or 5,000 at one point.

Ted Simons: The idea of the foreclosures though, back to that, we had so many, did that kind of help our system work itself out, maybe better than in other areas?

Mike Orr: Well, it means we suffered greatly from foreclosures, but we got through them faster. In some states like New York, there's a lot of extra process people have to go through. So there's a big backlog of delinquent loans that haven't been handled yet. When you get through a foreclosure, one beneficial is you no longer have a delinquent loan sitting there. So we've got through a bigger percentage of most of our delinquencies than most states.

Ted Simons: With am these investors, are these folks not -- a lot of world folks from around the world are looking at our market and they're playing it.

Mike Orr: It's local people too, but we've got funds from California, from New York, Canadians in particular are very keen on Arizona because their currency is strong so that makes the homes look even more attractive to them.

Ted Simons: Before the real estate bust, there was a lot of investment activity in Arizona. Some folks were warning that's not necessarily the healthiest thing to see that much investor activity. Is this a healthy situation right now?

Mike Orr: It's very different, because then people were investing with somebody else's money. They were basically putting virtually no money down and borrowing the money to buy homes. Which is really just speculation. Most of the investors now, they're either putting in 100% cash, which is their own so there's really no financial risk it will be another foreclosure, or if they are borrowing, it's only 50 or 60% of the value of the home. So it's much less risky situation.

Ted Simons: So bottom line, supply is dwindling, prices are rising.

Mike Orr: Yep.

Ted Simons: For the 350 and less.

Mike Orr: That's right.

Ted Simons: Encouraging news, has it been coming on, is it steady, getting quicker?

Mike Orr: We reached the low point around August-September, and we tentatively started moving up. Now I'm seeing the process accelerate, which is what you might expect we're getting into the prime buying season. So if there's going to be a significant movement in prices, it's probably going to be in the next three months.

Ted Simons: You mentioned the prime buying season, springtime is usually when folks get active in terms of home buying.

Mike Orr: February through June is our peak season.

Ted Simons: We're hitting it in stride.

Mike Orr: Yes.

Ted Simons: Before you go, we keep hearing rumors, reports of banks somehow hiding homes. There's going to be a glut of homes hitting the market when the banks decide they'll do this, that, and the other. What do you make of that?

Mike Orr: It's impossible for a bank to hide a home they own. The only thing they can do is hide the fact someone owes them money. As soon as they decide to foreclose, that's a matter of public record and I get to count it. There's no homes that the banks are hiding, I can count and give you a list of the homes they own, more than half of them are on the MLS being listed for sale or waiting to close escrow, but there's a few thousand that have recently been foreclosed. But in no way hidden or secret.

Ted Simons: There's no threat to when things start getting better, here comes houses aplenty.

Mike Orr: The only thing that could happen is if we get more people getting into default. And the foreclosure rate would rise again, which as you know it's down, but it could start going back and up that would delay the recovery. I don't see that happening right now, but anything can happen.

Ted Simons: Yes indeed. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Mike Orr: Thanks, Ted.