Dr. Mark Mussman is the brains behind the Creative App Project, one of the People’s Liberty grant recipients. It’s a ten-week developer training designed to help novices create and market their own mobile applications. But I met the guy way back when he was just plain old Mark Mussman.
It was January of 2003. We were in the gym of the Emmanuel Community Center on Washington Park and it was bitterly cold outside, the sidewalks full of ice. I was terrified nobody was going to show-up for the kick-off of InkTank, a non-profit writing center I dreamed-up to get people together through words in the wake of Over-the-Rhine’s darkest days. Kathy Y. Wilson of Your Negro Tour Guide fame got the crowd all fired-up. Tracy Walker played a tune or two on her guitar. Council member David Crowley made an appearance (oh, how we still miss you, Mr. Crowley – your integrity, your patient listening – four years now since your death). And then there was this cocky young guy in a colorful knit cap with ear flaps, long ties dangling down on either side, his wild hair sticking out from underneath.
Mark and I ended-up team-teaching a weekly writing group for the men’s residential recovery program at the Drop-Inn Center. He was doing research for his PhD in education and called our group a ‘literacy program.’ I was in the middle of the perpetual process of reinventing myself with no idea of what I was doing, a recent escapee from corporate American success. Every so often these days I still hear a familiar voice holler, “Miss Kathy!” as I pedal home from Findlay Market. It’s Tony or Roger. Maybe Ron. The only people who ever called me that – those men whose stories changed the course of my life.
A couple of weeks ago I got a Facebook friend request from Mark. We hadn’t talked for more than a decade. He’d been reading my blog and invited me to visit the People’s Liberty offices in the Globe Building.
When I walked in the door, I almost didn’t recognize my old friend. He’d cut his hair and lost the hat. But the biggest surprise was how easy it was to laugh together. Because I remembered Mark always being a little annoyed with me, like he might get up and quit at any time. He was the one who knew what he was doing in contrast to my, “Let’s just see what happens” approach. Mark was very serious about teaching people real skills that could change lives.
All of this is a long-winded, very sentimental meander to the reminder that none of us can ever afford to stop learning, It’s 2015. We’re in the middle of a crazy, new information-based, sharing economy where he-or-she who packages easy-to-access niche knowledge has the power. Learn how to build an app. (Yes, YOU, Ladies and Gentlemen – this course is for beginners and it is free so there are no excuses). Learn how to change the world. We are all in a constant process of reinvention, are we not?
And if anybody can help you do it, it’s Dr. Mark Mussman. Because at heart he hasn’t changed a bit, still dedicated to teaching people real skills that can change their lives.
(The deadline is June 15. Sign up at www.cap513.com. )