A year ago I had the opportunity through the Grand Avenue Pop-Up program to open an office that would be come the home base of Einstein Productions. Matt Sabady and I began the task of converting a blue and Pink office space into one we could take pride in displaying. We removed mirrors, painted walls and ceiling and laid new carpeting (that pink Merle Norman stuff had to go!). We had help from Dave and Ellen Sabady, Jim Burns, Chris White and Jenny Harpham. We opened the doors on September 1st so our actual anniversary isn't for a couple of months - but we have truly come a long way.
We have five reoccurring 'gigs' with area businesses, have covered bands, races and weddings. Have members that are skilled in Web Design, Photography, Video and animation. Participated in the Biz Times Expo and Grand Avenue ART Milwaukee Events. Have a booth at the upcoming Fox Tail art fair in Wauwatosa, and just recently submitted a reality TV idea to the History Channel.
We continue to apply for grants to upgrade our equipment or pay our mentors. A big shout out to Organic Valley which just awarded us a wonderful gift, even after having a devastating fire on their own business.
In all of this it is always important to remember what this office has meant to so many and what it will continue to do year after year, provide a way for young, talented adults to become valued members of society and remove their dependence on Government programs that may not be around for the rest of their lives.
There is no hidden agenda here, this is not an opportunity for the board members to fatten their wallets - all funds go directly to running the business and any remainder to the associates and mentors involved. It is that important for this company to be successful and its members to be able to become contributing members of their city.
I hope next year I am able to write you from an even bigger space, with even more wonderful news and examples of our great work. Until that time, if you know of grants we can apply for, or clients in need of digital skills - please use the contact us form above and help us get the associates and mentors over worked!
Each year the Women in Media Foundation present awards to women that have excelled in the art of video and film editing. This year we submitted our "maiden voyage" piece "The Halo Project".
Yesterday we received notice from the foundation that our project had been awarded the "Documentary" award. We will be traveling to New York in June to attend the ceremony and pick up our statues. This just goes to show you that hard work and dedication really do pay off!
Congratulations to a great team - Renee Graber, Jennifer Harpham and Jim Burns for this well deserved recognition!
On February 7th we did something we haven't done before, we covered an event for Marquette University on Social Innovation. There were many firsts that day. It was our first time out on location without our leader; it was the first time a mentor/associate relationship was firmly established, and it was the first time that two of the members of the team had ever done any professional photography work.
Carole was very nervous, much was riding on this client. It was an opportunity to show what she had known all along, that these teams would in fact work well together and be able to provide professional coverage of events. But that did not make it any easier for her to cut her team loose with out her ever watching eye.
She must have done something right. This team not only presented them selves well, but also created a buzz among the professionals attending the conference.
A social innovation start-up was covering a conference on social innovation. How perfect a fit is that? Not only was the team able to create a record of the event - but they also were able to listen to the guest speakers and experts on a topic.
The team returned energized and proud of their accomplishment. They offloaded and edited footage in preparation for the final product. But most importantly, the returned with a sense of belonging and pride that they did not have before they headed out that day.
They had shown the world that they were no different from the rest of the individuals in that meeting - they too, had something to give back and something to share.
We hope that everyone at the summit saw their work ethic and skill so that the next time they need someone to cover an event, Einstein Productions sticks in their mind.
With much thanks to Molly Faye for following up on my quick message when I ambushed her at a book signing I am happy to announce that Monday, January 7th, Renee Graber and Carole Burns will appear on "The Morning Blend" to discuss "Einstein Productions" (EP) and hopefully increase both our client and our associate numbers.
If anyone is wondering what that big sign on the little store at the end of the Grand Avenue second floor is all about - this will be your chance to find out!
We have been open for almost three months now and have picked up two major clients, Independence 1st and Sodexo foods, but we have so much more time on our hands that it would be good to have more clients. We now have two interns and three Alumni working at EP so the number of clients are due to increase.
I am also always on the look out for more training opportunities for our associates, for that reason I am proud to announce that Einstein Radio will soon be hitting the airwaves. Grant money would be nice to help cover the cost of server and broadcast fees - this may be a place that we can sell advertising space and help cover costs as well.
January also starts the grant writing season, I am hoping that funding for future training can somehow come from outside grants until the revenue income from clients increases enough to cover the rent.
I am also a little bit worried that the new owners of the Grand Avenue may increase our rent when our lease is up - this could close our doors in the GA for good if we don't have any major clients or funding options.
All in all it has been a learning experience and great opportunity so far - looking forward to a wonderful 2013 and for your continued interest and support. If you know of anyone needing our services, please forward our information!
We had our grand opening yesterday. Many of the people I had hoped would attend did not show up, I'm guessing that they were busy with other challenges in their lives. It was a Monday and it was held from 4-6pm. Lessons learned.
But there will be other milestones to catch, other times to celebrate. For now I am going to bask in the glow of opening the doors officially, seeing the look of anticipation in the faces of those who will be working at the shop, and knowing that this is really, truly happening.
Now we need to start finding some paying clients, and training the mentors and mentees on the fine art of video and photo editing. Taking the footage is the easy part, as long as we remember to use tripods, the rules we have learned about framing a shot, and getting clean audio.
What you do with the footage next is the critical part. We are hoping to work with and train individuals in Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, and perhaps a little bit of InDesign and Illustrator.
We had a few people stop last night and pick up flyers and other information. Today we actually get our own internet service, which will be a blessing to all involved.
If you know of any activities we can cover for you, if you'd like that VHS tape of your younger years placed on a DVD, or want to create a digital photo album, please contact us. We have staff waiting to assist!
For now, thank you all for your continued support, for believing in the dream and for helping to make the world a more caring place for everyone!
It is becoming closer and closer to the day when Einstein Productions is open for business. Well, not in the way that a storefront would be opening with loads of inventory. We will be open to work with clients. To produce new and unique photography. To start members and mentors working together, enriching lives and telling stories.
I began this venture focusing on what I knew and what I knew we could professionally create. Our members will work with clients to tell stories that matter. Stories that will document and save lives. Stories that will make a difference.
I have been amazed over and over again with the work ethic of the members that I have had the pleasure to share this dream with, how often I would show up to the storefront and find that the surround sound had already been installed. The day that the member needed to troubleshoot our network connection on his own, and followed through by calling not only the manager of the property, but the internet provider to schedule an appointment for our installation.
Did I mention that this member has Asperger syndrome? Did I mention that this was something that not only amazed me, but also his parents? Can I tell you how incredibly impressed I was? I can't say that Einstein Productions is magical, but give people an opportunity to amaze you - and they will.
Please join us on Monday the 15th for our open house at 10 am in the Grand Avenue Mall - or if you can't make it that early, then attend the ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30!
I will keep blogging as time permits - sometimes I do have to work and I do have a family that would like to see me sometime, but please keep checking back - we need your support and we need your understanding.
If you do have anyone that could use our service, please us the "contact us" page and introduce us!
You will be helping our mentors and members create a better life for themselves!
That is what it costs to support all the individuals with Autism each year. Now imagine instead of costing money, they actually add 32 Billion? That is what I am hoping to accomplish with my business plan. Okay, I won't be able to help every single individual, but even if I can help 10% that would be a big relieve to everyone.
Not to mention the relief on the health system - having a valid job and reason to wake up each day lessens the chance for depression and keeps these individuals out of the hospital.
Last week at the business plan competition I ended up as the runner up for the social plan. This is a good thing, it means that someone believes in my plan and it may actually be valid, it just needs a little work and refinement. I know the more research I make into the financial impact and the return on investment it is something that would work, be sustainable and have a life span of years.
Sometimes you have to help yourself in order to help others. I know my plan will help my son and his friends, and then it will turn around and help many others.
I just hope that at some point I am able to clearly explain it in three minutes. Tomorrow is my next chance to work on my pitch- then perhaps in a few short months I will try out for Shark-Tank. That may just be my answer.
As a digital storyteller, it is sometimes difficult to turn off my brain. I find myself thinking of story ideas in the simplest of places. Take today, for instance, I was at the Wisconsin Humane Society dropping off an injured bird I found in the back yard. The easy story here would have been about the bird and how I kept it in my home for three days to make sure it was going to be alright. But that isn't the story that came to me as I walked across the parking lot.
About two years ago the society started building an area in their parking lot that appears from the road to be a meeting place. So after I had made sure my new little friend would be taken care of and had a chance to be returned to the wild, I headed to the structure to see what was up.
The area is a beautifully sculpted center walled off from the city traffic a short distance away. When you walk around the corner and through the arch you are greeted by non-other than St. Francis himself. A large carved wall at the other end of the garden informs the wandering visitor that this is Lorraine's Garden. It was created through a gift from a family that truly saw the value in not only caring for animals, but welcoming them into your family.
While I was marveling in the beautiful garden and the peace it brought to my heart a family approached and started looking at the bricks, for a small amount you can buy a brick and remember a loved one, and their love for nature. They had purchased a brick for their grand mother, the family consisted of a husband, wife and their two sons. I watched for a brief moment and then headed to my car. I wanted to remember this moment and I started writing a story in my head. I thought to myself, if that family could only sit with me for five minutes, I would love to find out more about grand mom and why animals where so important to her life. I am sure there was more than one story that travels through Lorraine's Garden, and I'm happy that Lorraine's family thought of others when it came time to remember her life and the animals she cared about, that is another story I'd love to tell. Perhaps this is why Einstein Productions means so much to me, besides the obvious people we will help in the store, its the number of stories out there just waiting to be told.
Autism has a far and wide reach. Even if it doesn't directly affect you, chances are that it affects someone you know. It came as no surprise to me, then yesterday when I received an email from a colleague which detailed a new educational opportunity starting up at Milwaukee's Discovery World. They have teamed up with Translator Digital Cafe to start a venture entitled "Islands of Brilliance".
As I read the brief of what this collaboration offered I became increasingly excited. They are developing almost the same learning opportunity for Middle and High School students that we are trying to accomplish at Einstein Productions. I have reached out to "Islands of Brillance" in hopes that we can form a partnership as well. Imagine how wonderful it would be for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to graduate from high school and know that they could transition to a career training center that will allow them to expand on skills they already have been developing. It would allow this section of society to realize that they can move into adult life with hope and anticipation for a life similar to their peers.
As a parent, I can tell you that would have been a great feeling, sitting in the auditorium, watching my son cross the stage, and realize he has a chance at a life, owning his own home, celebrating with friends and co-workers as a job well done becomes a shinning moment for his employer.
I look forward to hearing back and will fill you in on any progress we are able to make.
I work at Marquette University and the overall 'theme' for this year is "Freedom". When I see Freedom as a word, in my life, it is the freedom to explore, to expand the knowledge of others, to dream for a world that has developed an understanding and acceptance of those that are different. My personal focus for this year is to expand the knowledge and understanding of the community towards individuals with Asperger Syndrome. I know this community and the talent they possess, it is raw, untapped skill that has been placed on the back burner. A skill that can be woken up with the use of technology. I attended a breakfast yesterday which welcomed Marquette's Entrepreneur in residence, David Bornstein. He mentioned in his welcome speech that researchers are finding that digital technology can be the leveling agent to individuals with special needs. It made me smile, this is exactly what I have been working on for the past five years, first doing work with my son and his friends with Asperger Syndrome. It started with Second Life and the awakening that we could attend social functions, completely anonymously and learn social networking skills. This expanded to the online meeting organizing tool, Meetup, which has brought 75 families together in the common interest of empowering their loved ones.
Through these meetings one thing became clear, finding and securing a career was a must if individuals were to be able to have a feeling of self-worth and add to quality of life.
I knew where my focus needed to be - but how could I assist with so many that had such varying needs? The answer was right in front of me, which is usually the case. I could use my skills as a technology trainer.
Over the next two and a half years many versions of this training came to light, a LEGO store was the first try, but the overhead and money needed to start such a venture was well beyond my reach. I teamed with two other families and we formed a non-profit organization that could be used to create a work environment for this part of society.
In March of 2012 the opportunity finally presented itself to have an office, a real space that would put into practice what we had been writing down and outlining on too many notebooks and pieces of paper. The main mall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was offering store fronts to pop-up groups. We fit the mold, and although we were turned down for our first idea, we kept moving forward and pivoting (a term we learned all too well). By the start of August a lease was signed and work began on Einstein Productions, a digital storytelling space that would offer Marquette University Alumni the opportunity to free-lance their talent in an office space, complete with street address and phone number different from their home.
In exchange for use of the office space, these mentors would build social, work and technical skills required by adults with Asperger Syndrome.
The store needed many upgrades to electrical, furniture and a fresh coat of paint before we could open the doors. Members of the group donated time and money towards renovations. On September 17, 2012 Einstein Productions opened its doors to the public. Check out the photo gallery to see the work that went into making this space a reality.
On October 1, 2012 we will celebrate with a grand opening - if you are in the Milwaukee Area - stop on the second floor of the Grand Avenue Mall - the Plankinton building side - and say hello!
Carole Burns is a multi-media specialist. She is one of the co-founders of Einstein Productions. Carole is the mother of a 24 year old radio mogul and a 21 year old photographer.