by Tom Stankard
Richard Dalton; creator of LookUpDetroit.com was cordially invited to speak to the students of Mark Twain IB School in Detroit about what it means to be a “Social Entrepreneur” for their Career Day. Richard is an Anglican Minister and Metro Missionary with a deep concern for our metro area. He lives in Rochester and is also the happy husband of singer/songwriter/bakery manager Theresa Dalton for the last 38 years.
He founded LookUpDetroit.com with the goal of our community having an ad free place online to share great local stories and good news throughout our metro area. He has hopes of bringing our region and communities together on-line. “At LookUpDetroit.com we are inviting all sorts of people and talents to share this local communication platform and all kinds of wonderful things about our community.”
Dalton wants to help change Metro Detroit’s negative reputation by reporting the “good news” on the family friendly and faith friendly LookUpDetroit.com. “There are a lot of great things in both our city and suburbs that don’t really get any exposure” – Dalton said. “What makes LookUpDetroit.com different is that it’s ad-free, faith-based with thousands of local web links and handy local tools.” and “Another great strength of the website is our metro blog where hundreds of stories can be posted and passed on to various networks through emails, facebook, twitter and hundreds of other on-line platforms.”
The staff at Mark Twain School directed him to set up his first session in their recently remodeled library, his attention was quickly drawn to dozens of inspirational quotes scattered around high up on the walls. As the career day started, his first group were the older seventh and eighth graders. Many were interested and engaged when asked about their own online activities, most all of them were on facebook, some on twitter. Dalton shared about his motivations and activities as a social entrepreneur doing something for the community. During the talk he also referred to a few of those large and lovely quotations displayed of the walls of the library. He challenged each person in the group to make a positive community difference during their summer break and perhaps even use the website to share their local news and stories online.
When the presentation was over, he toured the school for a bit while on his way to his next presentation led by a student guide provided by the school. I followed him that day. He stopped and talked to many folks he ran into on the way to the classroom. He finally got to the classroom that was described as a group with some “learning disabilities”. Grabbing the attention of this group was a bit harder. Career Day didn’t seem to be a high priority on their young adolescent minds, perhaps some felt they had all the time in the world to decide what they want to be when they grow up. They seem to have had a good time hearing from Dalton, although he met with some challenges and distractions from this group.
After the presentation was over it was back to the library for one last presentation with second graders. “I felt this younger group would be the most challenging to share my work and story about LookUpDetroit and provide them with a challenge to be lifelong learners.” As the presentation began the kids seemed pretty engaged. He was using a laser pen during all three presentations to point out features of the LookUpDetroit website on their large projection screen. Richard got a kick out of presenting to the young ones telling them how important it is to make sure you read everyday. He drove his message home by sharing this quote from his notes; “A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” asking the students guess who said it. Some of the guesses were: “Martin Luther King ?” “George Washington ?” “Bill Gates ?”. He let them keep guessing and then dropped the hint – “What’s the name of your school?” “Mark Twain” … that was the right answer. He also shared another quote from Twain that he felt applied to some of his own work, “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds”
As the presentation was winding down the fun really began. One student asked about Richard’s neat little laser pointer in his hand, so he handed it the young lad and told him to point it at his favorite quote up high on the library walls. He pointed to a quote by Groucho Marx “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx. Dalton instructed each student to find their favorite quote and use the laser pointer, all the hands were raised. The laser pen was passed and the various quotes were read aloud. This was a great time for each student to LOOK UP for inspiration. This unplanned activity with the second grade class was the hit and highlight of all three sessions at Mark Twain IB School Career Day. He really connected with many students that day, inspiring them to make a difference on the Internet, in their community, and more importantly to READ!
(Thomas Stankard is a student at the University of Dayton with an academic major in communications and journalism. Brought up in Birmingham, Tom has an interest and concern for Metro Detroit and the LookUpDetroit project.)