Reflections after a visit to Silicon Valley

I spent this past weekend in Silicon Valley and it was everything I think about when someone mentions the valley and more. The weekend was filled with goodness. It was an early thirteenth wedding anniversary celebration, we a lot of fun, discovered great eateries that could give some of Portland’s best restaurants a run for their money.

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  • Embracing AirBnB: What better place to have my first Airbnb experience than Silicon Valley. Even though it has been around since 2008, it has taken me some time to get on board. We stayed in Willow Glen, a treasured neighborhood in San Jose. The set-up was perfect, it was a semi-private accommodation in an 1920s home (with private bathroom); the owner was incredibly hospitable, a kind middle-aged professional (according to my husband). Oddly enough I did not meet her in-person. The sharing economy is somewhat mystical, its intriguing and it is certainly an evolution in our culture where trust and community takes on a new meaning.
  • The social issue of our century: We went to a service at St. Christopher’s. California puts diversity in a new light. The sheer geographic size of this populous state, coupled with the fact that there’s no single racial or ethnic group forms the majority of the population, making the state a minority-majority state is impressive. Acceptance and embracing differences is a very simple and important idea to achieving harmony. While I’m sure people can pick holes in California for many reasons, it has the social foundation for our nation. The homily in Church explored a variety of themes, I was struck by a key question to contemplate. “What does it mean to be one of us?” Parishioners were also invited to support a non-profit dedicated to human trafficking among immigrants. I subscribe to the belief that safety, health and security is a human right. Reflecting on the wave of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border, the pastor brought the issue back home to the local area where some claim more than 40 percent of human trafficking in California happens in the Bay Area. This week  I read about  the 35 people found in a cargo container in Tilbury Docks, England. This is a global and one of the hottest issue of our time, everyone has a hand in being patient, having an open heart and mind, and being willing to address it head on.
  • Innovation is alive, happening fast and furious: Leaving the valley, I feel more in the know. I was probably behind the times relative to local entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts but being surrounded by stories, ads about products that hadn’t hit my radar and speaking with local, everyday wizards from Tesla, eBay, Cisco and so on, is thrilling. Innovation takes on many flavors, from new products and services to business models. Incremental innovation has merit too; let’s take Zoho, an ad-free email service, it hadn’t crossed my path. The start-up gumption is palatable, the speed of life multiplies tenfold when you land in SJC, even the restaurant service is speedier. Learning more about the future power of the internet of things (“small, often unseen computers attached to objects that transmit data about the environment or offer means for controlling” – MIT Technology Review) was thrilling. Who knows who and how my oven will be instructed to cook exquisite recipes in the future?

We spent a relaxing day on the beach in Santa Cruz. I was surprised by the beautiful, yet curvy journey between San Jose and the coast. It reminded me of New Zealand. I love to travel – whether I travel 50, 500, or 5000 miles.

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