His home, a short walk from this coffee shop, hosts an urban farm, Mezzacello. Thomas Jefferson is an admitted influence for Jim. Starting in 2013, this densely urban plot has been transformed via his alchemy into a fruit-&-vegetable-growing farm. In its current winter dormancy, the census is 8 chickens, 2 ducks, 5 rabbits,
about 30 fish (tilapia, coy, goldfish) and frogs.
Jim serves on staff at the PAST Foundation, a STEM-influenced not-for-profit program that works collaboratively with educators, businesses and industry to co-create innovative strategies designed to give real meaning to educational content. P.A.S.T. stands for Partnering Anthropology Science Technology. “My personal life and my work at PAST intersects in a delightful way.”
Let’s begin with CORE VALUES: Jim cites honesty as a primary value, but also hope. As one who operates a sustainable farm, diligence is not only required, but rewarded. Likewise, he values the power of curiosity. But he cautions, “without curiosity, the honesty and hard work lead to an empty life.” And, about honesty, he reminds us “You can’t cheat the ‘House,’ i.e., Mother Nature. The House always wins.”
His current (ongoing) personal mission to EFFECT CHANGE: “To inspire, expose and engage youth with science and play.” Jim’s mantra in this application is, “grow, maintain, sustain, explain.” As a military veteran, he’s “always about the mission. Currently the mission is to apply education, technology and curiosity to solve problems.” But he includes the concept of “PLAY, let’s have fun while we do it.”
EARLIEST MEMORY: Having spent his early childhood in Los Angeles, he recalls his visit to the Palomar Observatory at age six, looking through the lens of the Wilson telescope at the rings of Saturn. This revelation influenced him for a lifetime.
The FEELING OF HUMAN CONNECTEDNESS, the TEXTURE OF EMOTION: “Excitedness that is electrifying, like the sensation of static electricity on skin. I cherish human connection.”
On the SCARCITY/ABUNDANCE spectrum: Growing up in extreme poverty has helped form Jim’s current mission, “I know poverty’s harm, and I know what it takes to get out of poverty.” He reaches out to as many youth as he can to point out, “energy has a cost, karma has a pay-back, you can’t have something for/from nothing. Everything in nature has a cost.” He continues, “I’m nothing if not abundant; I’m healthy, have shelter, a husband who loves me, a job I have passion for in a vibrant city, and this opportunity to give love.”
The proverbial “BOX” that we’re sometimes encouraged to THINK OUTSIDE OF: Jim’s BOX is 3-dimensional, and he seeks multi-dimensional outlooks and applications that don’t usually fall together, “out-of-the-box ways of doing things.”
His MUSE, the source for IDEAS: “Curiosity, and dreams.” He has lucid clarity of his dreams and can induce problem-solving in his dreams.
On UNCERTAINTY: “It’s a constraint, you need to plan against (uncertainty) by 1) coming from a place of abundance, and, 2) apply what you know. Uncertainty is a victim’s excuse.”
How does Jim anticipate 5-YEARS ahead, 2023? “For Mezzacello, becoming more robust, and a multiple of such co-ops throughout the city.” And he hopes to see engineering in low-earth orbit. As for IT data, “Columbus could be an IT capital, doing something meaningful with information rather than merely holding it as a repository.”
His ANCESTRY: “No known family tree, I’m a bush, instead of a tree it’s a low-lying shrub.” Jim was raised by his older sister.
Finally, Jim, WHATCHA READIN’? Currently immersed in A MOST ELEGANT EQUATION, EULER’S FORMULA AND THE BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS, and Jim is the second “CAFFEINE COMMUNION” interviewee with which THE RIGHTEOUS MIND by Jonathan Haidt has been recommended, so…I’m on a mission!
Much THANKS to you, Jim.
And THANKS, too, toward all readers of “CAFFEINE COMMUNION.”
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