Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Service of Every Little Bit Helps: Bard College Serious about Education for All

Monday, November 6th, 2017

Photo: bard.edu

I increasingly admire Bard College. We have enjoyed concerts at The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, and outdoors in summer before that, for some 20+ years and most recently, during parent’s weekend. We attended a concert at which the students played. [We have most often heard the American Symphony Orchestra replaced by The Orchestra Now, but the student performances are always a treat.] Leon Botstein, conductor, music director and president, reminded the audience made up, I suspect,  of many music lovers like us who had no undergrads in the game, that while each of the students major in music, they all have a second major. So smart for a college known for its outstanding creative offerings. So practical. So necessary today.

Bard president Leon Botstein confers associate degree to member of prison college initiative. Photo: dailyfreeman.com

The college is innovative in more than the arts. Its college program for prisoners made headlines in 2015 when the prison debating team beat Harvard’s. And now Bard has launched a “microcollege,” at the Prospect Heights public library. Leslie Brody wrote about it in The Wall Street Journal in “Bard Launches Free ‘Microcollege,’ in Brooklyn.” The free two year college is for “low-income applicants who haven’t sought degrees due to the price tag or personal hardships.”

The director of both programs–prison and library–is Max Kenner, VP for institutional initiatives at Bard. He calls access to college in this country “a catastrophic failure.” The “intellectual power of prison inmates,” that surprises many and frustrates Kenner, inspired the idea for the microcollege. Kenner mentioned never-ending jokes about his beloved prison initiative with “a punch line something about a captive audience.”

As in the prison program, Bard instructors will teach small seminars. Graduates will receive a liberal arts associate degree. The students will all be from Brooklyn, the program starts in January, 2018 and the goals: To grow to 64 students and that the graduates continue their studies to earn a four year degree elsewhere.

Do you also admire pioneering programs like this? Should it work, do you think it will become a template for other colleges to begin to chip away at one of the many closed doors to education?

Photo: dance.bard.edu

Service of It’s New to Me: Sharing Luxury Watches & Eyewear & Clever WC Access

Monday, August 7th, 2017

I appreciate learning about fresh business practices and ideas. Here are three that were new to me.

Login

We were at a tea shop in the Village the other week and discovered a clever way to control WC access for customers only. The login number to open the door on a lock system similar to the one above was printed on our receipt! Another customer had to point this out to us.

Rent Luxury

Photo: bloomfieldrentals.com

The next two examples relate to rentals. Most know that you can rent art, jewelry for posh events, movies, furniture, housing, cars, gowns, tents, tableware, tables and chairs for parties. I didn’t realize that there are businesses that rent high-end watches and designer eyewear!

Oh and today, what for years was called renting is today often called “sharing.”

Tick Tock

I heard about Eleven James from an acquaintance who recently started a job at “your annual membership club for luxury timepieces.” Its fees range from $149 to $800/month. Founded by Randy Brandoff in 2014, reporters Dennis Green and Hollis Johnson said his inspiration for the concept came from his former employer’s clients. As a NetJets executive he observed that the wealthy clientele of that company–that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets–loved luxury watches. Brands in the collection, according to the businessinsider.com article, are new and vintage models of “Rolex, Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, IWC, Tag Hueer, Tudor, Breitlig and more.” They are said to be worth “in the eight figures.”

On its website Eleven James promises to check, clean, resize and if necessary service every watch that members return. Members keep them from three to six months and collect points by treating them with care. The points allow them to upgrade their memberships and gain equity toward purchases.

Brandoff told the businessinsider.com reporters that his customers fall into the “try before you buy” category; millennials discovering watches–they depend on their phones to tell time—and want to test what they think about wearing one before spending $thousands as well as recipients of corporate gifts.

I Can See Clearly Now

Eyedesired.com sent me a press release in an email. On its Facebook page it describes itself as “a designer eyewear rental platform. You pay a monthly subscription and get unlimited pairs of sunglasses and optical wear [includes lenses & shipping].” According to their press release, members can “swap out pairs as desired and keep the ones they love for less than retail price.” Founded by Rida Khan, members have access to brands such as Tom Ford, Balmain, Jimmy Choo, Philip Lim and Versace.

According to the release, “Eyedesired offers both prescription glasses and sunglasses for men and women. The company carries frames from more than 100 fashion designers and brands in thousands of different styles. A basic subscription starts at $45*** per month and gives subscribers instant access to designer frames that retail from $200 to upwards of $1,000. Free single-vision lenses and shipping are included for optical rentals.” ***The website notes that unlimited sunglass rentals cost $29/month.

In addition to housing, what have you rented? If luxury watches and eyewear are your passions and money is no object, would you consider renting either or both?

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