Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nails and Fat Tires

No... not nails and flat tires, but fat tires. This week was great, and much better than last year at this time!

First, our College of Business faculty uananimously approved the curriculum for a new masters program in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise. This was a key step for our program and, more importantly, it was a great way to start working with a broader team in this area.

Now about those nails... on Tuesday, we were very fortunate to have Hernando DeSoto visit campus and give a talk about the role of private enterprise in alleviating poverty, as one of the kick-off activities for our program. He gave a wonderful talk to a full house at CSU. One of the interesting anecdotes he told was that Thomas Jefferson used to be proud of being a "nailmaker". Seems pretty mundane for a guy who was a founding father of our nation (and the University of Virginia) and a president (he was also a slaveowner, and it seems the slaves were really the nailmakers). But DeSoto said that in those days, nails were quite hard to make, and very valuable. So valuable, that when someone moved, they often burned down their house to recover the nails. So why was he talking about nails? Well, these nails represent what holds the house together, and DeSoto was talking about what holds a society together. For him, these "nails" include economic and legal freedoms, including private property rights and the ability to form business organizations. These "nails" may not be as obvious as the lumber and windows and roof... but without them, the house will not stand up over time. Much of DeSoto's work is devoted to figuring out what the important nails are, and then helping build stronger societies in the poverty stricken areas of the world.

Now DeSoto didn't mention that Jefferson was also a brewer, and that gets me to beer... which gets me to Fat Tire. In Fort Collins, we are lucky to be the home of New Belgium Brewing, which makes great beer (including Fat Tire), throws great events (Tour de Fat), and is one of the more progressive companies out there (the first wind powered brewery). Recently, I was asked to join their board, and last week I attended my first board meeting. I was impressed by the quality of the team as well as their business processes and systems. I think we will be seeing a lot more cool things come out of this company... and yes, we did sample the product at the end of the meeting.

And while I am on fat tires, I have to say the mountain biking (the sport that inspired the eponymous beer) in Fort Collins has been awesome recently. The weather has cooled a bit, the trees are bright yellow, and the trails are in great shape. Kudos to all the new trails we are getting open- Blue Sky is terrific, Shoreline has been rerouted, and Bobcat Ridge just opened 4 miles last weekend (with another 6 to come in the spring). There are very few cities with such great riding "right out of town" and our tribe should be very pleased with the results.

Lastly, I pause to give thanks. A year ago, my son was riding his bike back into Crested Butte, after finishing a century ride on a beautiful fall day. Another young man was not having such a good day, had too much to drink, got in his SUV, and hit my son from behind at over 60 mph. Luckily, Peter lived, but he was dinged up pretty bad, and spent the winter in our basement, instead of playing in winter's powder. I am not sure his ankle will ever recover, but his mind and attitude have definitely bounced back. In a few weeks, he heads back to Alta, and I hope they have an epic winter to make up for the one he missed. I am looking forward to his videos on UTube.

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