When we were back in Indiana a few months ago visiting my parents, my brother, Bruce, told me about a cool project he had been working on with a group of his Master Gardener friends. He also said that the project had won a state award and might get a national award.

It turns out, the project actually won an international award – first place in the Special Needs Audience category of the 2011 International Search for Excellence Award, sponsored by The National Gardening Association and Extension Master Gardener.

The details can be found in the article, Noble County project wins Excellence award, which includes a picture of the representatives of the group that won the award, including my brother.

The project involved teaching gardening skills to minimum security prisoners. Among other things, some of the vegetables (quite a lot) were donated to a local food pantry. Bruce told me that, as a result, a number of the participants were hoping to get into gardening, landscaping or food-related careers.

As I said, it was a cool project.

Today, Bruce sent me the speech he made when accepting the award at The International Master Gardener Conference in Charleston, West Virginia last week on behalf of the Noble County Master Gardeners. He said that there were about 1,000 people in the room. He said he was nervous, but thought a great project deserved a good speech. Apparently, many people thought it was a great speech.

I did too.

Maybe you will too. Here it is:

This project was a joint effort between Chain O’ Lakes Correctional Facility superintendant Michael Cunegin, Noble County Extension Agent Hanson Young, and the Noble County Purdue Master Gardeners. We gave the inmates a 80 hour intensive training program based on our Master Gardener training with a emphasis on landscape design and installation and greenhouse production to make the guys more employable when they get out.

The guys couldn’t understand why we would take time to come in there and teach them. They would ask us every night and our answers weren’t good enough. Seems nobody had ever taken time to do something like that for these guys. Finally I told them the AA saying that says if it weren’t for the grace of God that would be me in there and if it was, I hoped somebody would do it for me. They understood that.

A ways into the classes a well-liked secretary at the facility was killed in a car wreck on the way to work one snowy morning. The guys asked us to design them a memorial garden they could plant for her. We told them they had the training now, they should do it themselves. We got them the plants that spring and they planted it.

This gave us the idea to put in a vegetable garden so they could get some hands-on training. The produce was going to supplement their meals. We had a landscaping project at the courthouse in town and were using the guys for labor. One day they helped was the day the local food pantry was open. The guys asked what were all the people standing in that line for? When they learned it was needy people waiting for food, they were seriously moved. They went to Mr. Cunegin and told him they wanted to donate their produce to the food bank if that was possible. They ended up giving over 1100 pounds of fresh produce to the food bank that summer.

I went out there two or three times a week to check on the garden and one day I asked them, why do you do this? You could be sitting under that shade tree smoking cigarettes with them other guys, making fun of you sweating in the sun and working so hard. They told me it was weird, but it makes you feel good. They had never experienced that feel good thing before. So the best thing to come out of this project was to introduce these guys to that feel good thing. Now I know how to explain why I am a Master Gardener. That feel good thing. Thank You for this award.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools


Tom Mighell and I have recorded another episode of The Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast and it’s now available on the Legal Talk Network and on iTunes, with an RSS feed here. The episode is called “Lawyers as Project Managers” (show notes here), and it’s sponsored by Clio. A special thank you to readers of this blog who listen to the podcast – consider trying out an episode or becoming a regular subscriber.

Here’s the episode description:

It’s what you do with the technology after you get it that really matters. A hot area these days in legal technology is the use of technology for project management, especially in e-discovery. But e-discovery is not the only place we’re seeing project management discussions. In this episode, co-hosts Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell take a look at the impact project management concerns will play in technology choices, the evolution of legal project management skills and practices, and the increasing role project management is already playing in the practice of law.

It seems that a day rarely goes by where I don’t see several blog posts and articles about the growing role project management is playing in the practice of law.

In a sense, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the emphasis in 2010, because the idea has been around for quite a while. I had written about using a program called The MasterList because of its project management focus back in my 2002 legal tech trends article, an article also noteworthy for my confident prediction about the role blogs could play. Ironically, it was a prediction I confidently made more than a year before I got around to starting my own blog. Tom and I also dedicated a chapter of our book to the role of project management tools in collaboration efforts.

On the other hand, there’s no doubt that the growing emphasis on e-discovery has re-energized and brought a new focus to the role project management can play in the practice of law, and Tom and I dive into this very important topic.

We cover the waterfront, from difference between case manaagement and project management to whether project manage is a necessary lawyer skill today to the huge benefits good project managers bring to projects.

One of the great things I’ve found is that project management skills can definitely be taught and learned. Project management is also a great example of an approach to fit your technology into your real-world needs.

In our “Questions and Answers” segment, we take on two audience questions:

1. Is there a good way to manage or delete Facebook friends with whom I no longer want to be “friends”? (Yes – and we outline a couple of approaches)

2. Is there a way that I can easily go back and look through old tweets, Facebook posts and other social media updates? (yes – there are ways, but probably not so easily as you’d wish)

We end the podcast with our Parting Shots – practical tips you can use right away. Tom thinks it’s time to take a closer look at Google Voice and recommends a blog post on the top 10 clever Google Voice tricks. I rave about Rodney Dowell’s recent episode of The Un-Billable Hour titled “Outsourcing Legal Work to India – Even Solos Do it and Nick Morgan’s recent blog post “10 Rules for Presenting as a Team.

Give our new episode a listen and let me know what you think. Show notes for the podcast are here. And try some of the back episodes as well. You can also now follow the podcast on Twitter at @tkmreport.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Follow my microblog on Twitter – @dkennedyblog. Follow me – @denniskennedy

Now Available! The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Visit the companion website for the book at LawyersGuidetoCollaboration.com. Twitter: @collabtools