Friday, January 05, 2007

The Afterwork Chronicles page loads exceeds 10,000

In the past day, The Afterwork Chronicles' little view counter clicked over to 10,000. That means 10,000 page loads have occurred since the blog's creation in October 2005! Go us!

The popularity of this blog has steadily increased. We are always looking for feedback so please sound off in the comments section. No logging in required!

But, as far as we can tell, the numbers show that people are enjoying the blog.

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You can also share blog posts with your friends by using the little envelope icon on the blog.

If you are a blogger yourself, consider linking to The Afterwork Chronicles or the NET's website on your blog. Every little link helps us get more exposure!

Improve Quality of Place: Be a crime fighter

Two thirds of Americans ages 25 through 34 say they’re deciding first where they want to put down roots, and then looking for a job in that place, according to a report by CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders.

This conflicts with the common misconception that young professionals will go anywhere for a job. Not true. Talented young professionals choose places to live based not solely on productive considerations, but on amenities and consumption opportunities, community, social and family considerations. What many people refer to as "quality of place."

The main attributes these footloose employees seek in a place to live are cleanliness, access to excellent schools, parks and green space, and affordable housing.

In addition, talented young people are choosing to locate primarily in the center of a region. A three-mile circle generally corresponds to the commercial heart and close-in neighborhoods in each metropolitan area. In 2000 they were 33 percent more likely to live in the close-in neighborhoods.

So the key is here young professionals, and community leaders, we need to make our close-in neighborhoods more appealing, clean and affordable.

Well how do we do that?

By being a neighborhood crime fighter.

The Bethlehem Police Department recently launched a crime tipline.

The line isn't intended for emergency calls, but to report possible gang activity, drug deals or to help police with ongoing investigations, said Bethlehem police Commissioner Randy Miller.

''The citizens are our key because they are our eyes and ears with what is happening on the streets,'' he said. ''The line will be another tool to give us more information in what is happening in those neighborhoods.''

Callers may remain anonymous. The phone line will be answered by a part-time civilian employee. After hours, callers may leave a message.

Bethlehem Police Department's Crime Tip Line is 610-691-6660.

Allentown Police Department also has a Crime Tip Line at 610-439-5911.

Call in anytime you see suspicious activity. After all, no one knows your neighborhood better than you. Together, we can make our communities safer.

"Improve Quality of Place" will be an occasional feature here at The Afterwork Chronicles.

Global Warming rears its ugly head this season

Much of the Midwest and the East Coast are going through a remarkably warm winter, with temperatures running 10 and 20 degrees higher than normal in many places. New York City saw a November and December without snow for the first time since 1877. And New Jersey had its warmest December since records started being kept 111 years ago.

In addition,
a chunk of ice bigger than the area of Manhattan broke from an ice shelf in Canada's far north in summer 2005, but was only learned about in December. It was the largest such break in nearly three decades, casting an ice floe with an area of 66 square km (25 square miles) adrift in the Arctic Ocean. Manhattan has an area of 61 square km (24 square miles). The break was likely due to a combination of low accumulations of sea ice around the mass's edges as high winds blew it away, as well as one of the Arctic's warmest temperatures on record. The region was 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees F) above average in the summer of 2005.

If these two recent news stories aren't enough to convince you global warming is happening, check out these factoids.

So what can you do?

First off. Take action. Join the online march at and demand solutions to global warming now. The Stop Global Warming Virtual March is a non-political effort bringing Americans together to declare that global warming is here now and it’s time to act.

Secondly, make changes at home. Most things you can do not only save energy and CO2 emissions, but save you money. It should be music to your ears. And it really is quite easy. You'll be surprise how much you can really cut back on your CO2 emissions through some simple changes. suggests:
  • Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
    CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds! You can purchase CFLs online from the Energy Federation.
  • Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
    Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.
  • Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
    Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Install a programmable thermostat
    Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
  • Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
    Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!

  • Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
    You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Use less hot water
    It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
    You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.
  • Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
    Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save you thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
    Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!
  • Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting
    You can save 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Be sure you’re recycling at home
    You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates. Earth 911 can help you find recycling resources in your area.
  • Buy recycled paper products
    It takes less 70 to 90% less energy to make recycled paper and it prevents the loss of forests worldwide.
  • Plant a tree
    A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10 to 15%. The Arbor Day Foundation has information on planting and provides trees you can plant with membership.
  • Get a home energy audit
    Many utilities offer free home energy audits to find where your home is poorly insulated or energy inefficient. You can save up to 30% off your energy bill and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Energy Star can help you find an energy specialist.

  • Switch to green power
    In many areas, you can switch to energy generated by clean, renewable sources such as wind and solar. The Green Power Network is a good place to start to figure out what’s available in your area.
  • Buy locally grown and produced foods
    The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
  • Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
    Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
  • Seek out and support local farmers markets
    They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. We are lucky to have several here in the Valley. You can find a farmer’s market in your area at the USDA website.
  • Buy organic foods as much as possible
    Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
  • Avoid heavily packaged products
    You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.
  • Eat less meat
    Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
  • Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
    Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.
  • Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
    Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.
  • Keep your car tuned up
    Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.
  • Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
    Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!
  • When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
    You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.
  • Try telecommuting from home
    Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.
  • Fly less
    Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.
Together we can make a difference.

NET starts new year with a bang - over 80 people attend First Thursday

Over 80 people attended last night's First Thursday event at Starter's Riverport in Bethlehem. There was a good mix of old members, and a lot of new faces.

The festivities started early with people streaming in steadily at 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. When this writer headed out at 9 p.m. the place was still hopping with at least 60 people.

A variety of industries were represented from advertising, to chemical engineering, to education.

Don't be lame and miss out on the fun the rest of the month. Check out our events page for a complete listing.

Remember, those individuals that join or renew their NET membership in January will receive a 10% off the current membership dues of $30. Click here to take advantage of this offer. Why become a member? Discounts, free First Thursday admission, and great events to name few.

Already a dues-paying member? No problem. The current dues-paying member who refers the most individuals to sign up for membership in the month of January, will receive one year of NET membership for free. Just have your friends put your name in the appropriate field.

NET January Dine-Out at Nuts About Ice Cream

Join the NET for its monthly Dine-Out for dessert at Nuts About Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor in Bethlehem.

Please RSVP to by Wednesday, January 17th.

When: Friday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.

Where: Nuts About Ice Cream, 1124 Linden Street, Bethlehem

Cost: Expect to pay $2-$8 depending on your dessert

More information.

For the latest on NET news and events sign up for our weekly e-mail.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

NET Connect: Business Card Exchange

Think a business card exchange sounds to flat and outdated for your business needs? Then you haven't been to the NET's Connect: Business Card Exchange. This isn't the pale, male and stale crowd, this event is your peers, your co-workers, your demographic.

Our Business Card Exchanges are always a great success, with lots of connections made with people from many different industries and professions.

Be sure to bring plenty of business cards! Come alone, bring your friends, introduce someone new to the NET, introduce yourself to someone new. Expand your network...Connect

Sponsored by Riverport and The Network of Young Professionals.

When: Thursday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m.

Where: Riverport Condos (11 West 2nd Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015)

Admission: FREE!!

Contact: Abraham Nemitz at

More information.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

NET to discuss affordable housing on radio tomorrow

Representatives from the Network of Young Professionals will be guests on WGPA AM 1100, at 4 p.m. Friday, January 5th. President Abraham Nemitz (, and Vice President Wendy Gerlach ( will be discussing affordable housing on Now You're Talking Real Estate.

Be sure to tune in! You can also listen online.

Join NET tonight at Starters Riverport

Come join the NET at Starters Riverport tonight, at 7 p.m. It's membership month so this is the ideal time to check out all the NET has to offer.

First Thursday will be FREE to all attendees this month regardless if they are members or not.

Those individuals that join or renew their membership in January will receive a 10% off the current membership dues of $30. Click here to take advantage of this offer.

Already a dues-paying member? No problem. The current dues-paying member who refers the most individuals to sign up for membership in the month of January, will receive one year of NET membership for free. Just have your friends put your name in the appropriate field.

NET membership is the key to NET’s fantastic social, educational, and cultural events. In the past year, we’ve had political roundtables, professional development seminars, community volunteer opportunities, and recreational outings. And of course, we’ve hosted lots of social events including our regular First Thursdays, which are free for NET members.

In addition, the NET membership card is a gateway to discounts at businesses throughout the Lehigh Valley. We currently have over 100 participating businesses, and with our aggressive new campaign, that number is rapidly growing.

Local merchants, insurance companies, theaters, and restaurants all recognize that suave little card and those who carry it. Click here for the most up-to-date listing. With only a handful of uses, through these discounts the NET membership card easily pays for itself.

Our newest Affiliate Member, Lehigh Valley Style, will be providing a free subscription to all NET members.

As a dues-paying member, you are able to vote in NET elections, run for the NET board, and serve as committee chair. To find out more on how to become further involved in the NET come to our next organizational meeting.

Most importantly, your membership fee helps fund the NET, making all that we do possible.

To get the latest news about NET events and more sign-up for our weekly e-mail list here.

Snowblast Winter Festival

Snowblast Winter Festival, a celebration of winter, will feature outdoor activities, great food, art and music.

Ice Sculpting on Main Street on "Third Thursday Ice Skating at the William Street playground, Ice Skating Lessons and Skating Exhibition, Guided Adventure Hike up South Mountain, Snowboard and Ski Safety Demo with Bear Creek Instructors, Alpine Ski Workout with Velocity Sports trainer, Sunrise Cross-country skiing at the Wildlands Conservancy, Nature Photography exhibit at the Wildlands Conservancy, "Hoot Hike" at the Wildlands Conservancy, Slippery Tug of War, "Fireside" Storytelling at the Emmaus Public Library, "Chill Chasers" winter fare and musicians at local restaurants, Winter Art Exhibition at Out of Our Hands

All activities are free and open to the public. Cross-country skiers must provide their own skiis. Some ice skates are available.

When: Jan. 18-20

Where: Emmaus

Cost: FREE!!

A "Snowblast Blizzard Ball" fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Jan. 20th at Club 316, Main Street, Emmaus from 8-11 P.M. Tickets: $5.00 Class Act will perform.
Any questions or to purchase tickets for the Blizzard Ball, contact us at or call (610) 966-3602.

New trail in Easton could be available this spring

The recreation path proposed with the Bushkill Creek Corridor project in Easton could be accessible to the public as early as this spring with the city's recent purchase of 11 acres from Norfolk Southern Railway Corp.

City Council approved the $130,000 purchase last week.

For the Easton Redevelopment Authority, which is overseeing the $50 million to $60 million initiative, it's another major hurdle in acquiring key properties.

''We're excited about it,'' said Executive Director Barbara Kowitz, who also is head of the city's Planning and Economic Development Department. ''We think the trail can happen as soon as we control all of the land.''

Norfolk Southern's abandoned rail bed is located mostly on the south side of Bushkill Creek and stretches nearly the entire length of the corridor from N. 13th to N. Third streets.

The city already obtained easements from Met-Ed for small sections of the trail and acquired land for the trail head at N. 13th when the authority bought the former Simon Silk Mill property for $2.5 million.

The last remaining parcels needed to complete the recreation trail link between the redevelopment sites on N. 13th and N. Third streets are owned owned by the Easton Cemetery Association.

Kowitz said the city is negotiating to either purchase or obtain easements for land as well as use of the bridge off Bushkill Drive. Although the public already uses the bridge to access trails throughout the cemetery, Kowitz said the city is trying to obtain official use so the trail can be further developed with interpretative signs and other amenities.

The state awarded a $9 million grant to the city for the entire project, and the city divided up the money equally among the trail, the silk mill site and Lafayette College's downtown properties on N. Third Street.

In addition to the silk mill, the authority purchased an adjacent warehouse for $950,000 and has identified several other parcels it would like to acquire. But it has already spent its $3 million share.

The Delaware & Lehigh Canal National Heritage Corridor is overseeing the trail development.

Lafayette College used its own money to purchase nearly all of the properties in and around the 200 block of N. Third Street. Its investment in the downtown, which serves as an entrance to its campus, prompted Gov. Ed Rendell to award the unusually large grant. The college will be able to use its $3 million share on planning and development and renovations.

The college hopes to invigorate that area of the downtown with shops and restaurants to support student activities while the city authority is considering a mixture of residential, office, recreation and retail uses for N. 13th Street. The effort is expected to spur about $50 million in private investment.

More here.

Minor league hockey arena considered for Lehigh Valley

A sports consultant is studying the feasibility of bringing minor league hockey and an arena to the Lehigh Valley.

The $60,000 study, funded with state grants sought by four local lawmakers, will help developer Abraham Atiyeh and unnamed minor league hockey partners research the likelihood of completing a $60 million arena similar to the Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre.

That arena is home to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, an American Hockey League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham alluded to the project last month after Aztar Corp. failed to win a license for a casino that would have been built on 17 acres off Union Boulevard in east Allentown. The tract was formerly owned by Agere Systems.

But Atiyeh, who envisions a 10,000-seat arena, said he is also looking at sites in downtown Allentown and off Route 33 north of Route 22 in Northampton County.

''We are going to have hockey, concerts, Disney on Ice,'' said Atiyeh, of Whitehall Township. ''We are looking at where it will have the best infrastructure and economic impact.''

The study is being done by the Leib Group, a sports consulting firm in Mequon, Wis., whose past clients include the Nashville Predators National Hockey League team and the McCourt family, which recently bought the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Atiyeh said the study is being funded with state grants of $25,000 pushed by Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Northampton; $12,500 by Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh; $12,500 by Sen. Rob Wonderling, R-Montgomery; and $10,000 by Rep. Craig Dally, R-Monroe.

Wonderling and Boscola confirmed their contributions to the project. Boscola said she provided $25,000 for the study from Senate Democrats' share of economic development funding through the state Department of Community and Economic Development's community revitalization program.

The money is going to an entity called the Lehigh Valley Area Regional Authority, according to Boscola's office. Boscola said she has discussed the project with Atiyeh on several occasions and liked the idea of a study, supported by a variety of lawmakers in the region, to determine whether a multipurpose stadium is viable.

''We want to just know that the market is there. I suspect it will be,'' Boscola said. ''It also can factor in what size you want to build, if you are going to build something at all.''

Wonderling said he wants proof that the arena's economic development benefits would outweigh its costs. The study will help determine that. ''This isn't just a box you check off to go to the next phase,'' Wonderling said.

Jim Grinstead, executive editor of the industry publication called Revenues from Sports Venues, said minor league hockey teams move around a lot, and that at any given time, there would probably be a franchise willing to relocate to the Lehigh Valley if it were shown to be a profitable market.

''If you've got a market that is growing and has potential, getting a team is not going to be a problem,'' Grinstead said. Some minor league hockey teams are wildly profitable, while others barely scrape by, he said.

The arena's $60 million price tag sounded reasonable, he said, and the Leib Group has a good reputation.

Philadelphia, Scranton and Hershey all have American Hockey League minor league hockey teams: the Phantoms, Penguins and Bears, respectively. Trenton, N.J.'s Titans play in the East Coast Hockey League.

The AHL is the equivalent of AAA minor league baseball, Grinstead said. The East Coast league is a step or two below that, he said.

More here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Financial Planning 101: Do you know your FICO score?

A FICO-score is a three digit number that determines the interest rate you will pay on your credit cards, car loan, and home mortgage, as well as whether you will be able to get a cell phone or have your application for a rental apartment accepted. Your FICO score can even affect your auto insurance premiums or your ability to get that job you applied for. FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation and is a tool the business world uses to size up how good you will be at handling a new loan or credit card, or whether you’re a solid citizen to rent an apartment to. A high FICO score will get you the best deals; a lower FICO score translates into paying higher interest rates on cards and loans.

The difference between the highest and lowest of acceptable FICO ranges (500-850) is about 3.5 points on a home loan, and more than 10 points on a four-year auto loan. That’s a big difference.

For example, on a four year, $20,000 auto loan, we’re talking about paying an extra $103 a month if your FICO score is in the 500-589 range rather than the top range of 720+. That’s $1,236 a year, which comes to $4,944 over the four years of the loan.

1) Get all three credit reports.

Since your FICO score is a calculations based on the history in your credit reports, your first job is to make sure everything is correct. The big three credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. You can get the reports online, for free, once a year at Since creditors report to different bureaus, it is important to review all three reports.

Checking these reports is important because according to a recent survey by the U.S. Public Interest Group found that 79 percent of reports had some sort of mistake or error.

2) Fix the errors.

You can fix errors by filing a report online through each credit bureau. They in turn, will check the information with the creditor. Therefore, it is a good idea to contact the creditor as well to fix the error.

3) Get your FICO score.

After you’ve reviewed your credit reports and fixed any mistakes, you are now ready to get your FICO score. The charge for one FICO score is $14.95, so getting all three can get expensive. So which one should you get?

If you are planning to apply for a loan, typically a lender will check just one of your FICO scores. So you want to call them before you apply and find out which FICO score they will use. If they say Beacon score, that means it’s Equifax. If they say Empirica, it means they use TransUnion. The Experien name is self-evident – it’s Experian/Fair Isaac Risk Model.

The one exception is when you are buying a house. Because this is such a huge financial responsibility, mortgage lenders are going to check all three FICO scores. But spending $44.85 to make sure you’re in good shape for landing a six-figure mortgage isn’t asking much.

Taken from a summary of Suze Orman's The Money Book for Young, Fabulous and Broke.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Transportation Forum: Get the Valley on the Right Track with Passenger Rail

Attend a community forum with Robert Puentes, Fellow, Brookings Institution and Sen. Rob Wonderling

Community leaders want to know what young professionals have to say. We are, after all the future of this area. Have your questions answered and your opinions heard. Food and beverages will be served. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Sponsored by RenewLV and The Network of Young Professionals.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 16, 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Where: Terrace Room, Hotel Bethlehem (437 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA)

Admission: FREE!!

Contact: Kevin Conrad at 484-893-1060

Shed those pounds at your local gym compliments of the NET.

It's that time again. Time for the New Year's resolution where we try to get rid of the holiday weight in time for swimsuit season. If you're considering a gym membership we've got some important news for you. The following gyms are offering special deals to NET members. Most of the discounts will cover more than half of the cost of NET membership, and you still have the entire year to use that handy, dandy card at over 100 participating businesses. Not to mention, when you become a NET member you now get a free subscription to Lehigh Valley Style, a $15 value. And in January, NET membership is 10% off. So what are you waiting for? Join the NET now. It's a no brainer.

Easton Yoga - Buy 10 regular classes and receive 2 free (a $20 value)

FitQuest Fitness - Free one-week trial and 50% off the enrollment fee

Lehigh Valley Racquet & 24-7 Fitness
- 50% off the current enrollment fee

Lehigh Valley Yoga Center - 15% off a basic session

Your local gym not listed? Send the name, location and contact information to Erin Gruver at and she will contact them about participating in the NET discount program. Please note that the NET supports private, locally-owned businesses only. No chains.

Lehigh Valley Professionals Group Meeting

Lehigh Valley Professionals (LVP) is a free recruitment resource for companies, organizations, and recruiters seeking high-caliber professionals and consultants of all disciplines in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding area.

Meeting agenda:

· 10:00 - 11:00 Program: The 1st Step to your New Career
Kevin Boucher, Program Chairperson ~ Lehigh Valley Professionals Group

· 11:00 - 1145 Icebreakers and Open Discussion

· 11:45 - 12:00 Network

Next meeting is January 12, 2006, at 10:00 AM, in the Lehigh Valley Room.

: Friday, Jan. 5, 10 a.m.

Where: Lehigh Valley Room, Careerlink Lehigh Valley, Allentown

Cost: FREE!!

The Lehigh Valley Professionals Group is not associated with NET.

Allentown woman to work with Gore on global warming

This summer's documentary ''An Inconvenient Truth'' made an unlikely movie star out of Al Gore, who narrates the film.

But for Jamie Harkins, the former vice president has always been something of a star, going back to her environmental economics class at Muhlenberg College, where she read Gore's books.

So when Harkins — who lives in Allentown and works as vice president of finance at Easton's State Theatre — learned about a chance to work with Gore, she signed up right away, even before she knew what the work entailed.

''I just knew I had to do it,'' said Harkins, who leaves this week for Tennessee to work with The Climate Project. She'll take a four-day course — led by Gore — and learn about issues surrounding global warming, and receive training in giving the same presentations that form the basis for the documentary.

According to nonprofit The Climate Project's Web site, the same course also is offered in Sydney, Australia.

When the training is over, Harkins comes back to the Lehigh Valley and will spend the next year giving the presentation at schools, churches and businesses.

The whole process began last summer, when Harkins, who graduated from Parkland High school, participated in a nationwide conference call with Gore, who alluded to the project.

''All he said was 'I'm training a thousand people to give this global warming presentation,''' she said. Harkins began sending letters to Gore's office, and eventually was chosen — along with others nationwide — to come to Tennessee. At that point, she hadn't even seen the documentary yet. She's seen it since then, given copies of the DVD as Christmas gifts, and taken other people to see it, converting some global warming skeptics along the way.

She's also started driving a car with a diesel engine, making sure she practices what she preaches.

Despite any debate over global warming, Harkins insists ''An Inconvenient Truth'' is not a political movie, but one that simply lays out scientific ideas.

''Really, it's not that people are against the idea anymore,'' she said. ''They just don't know what it's all about.''

So what exactly is NET?

This question has been posed to me again and again, which as marketing chair, I am glad to hear because it means we are reaching new people.

Formally, the Lehigh Valley Network of Young Professionals "fosters awareness of employment possibilities, welcomes new young professionals, supports community organizations, provides professional development opportunities, and engages in social networking."

Yeah, yeah you say. But what exactly does that mean? Let's look at it piece by piece.

One of the most active parts of our organization is social networking. Our First Thursday events consistently draw 40-60 people, sometimes more. Although we don't define "young professional" generally NET members hover in age between 22 and 35, with the average age being 28. We are a good mix of locals, like myself, and many imports who are just getting acquainted to the area. Most of us are working and just cutting our teeth in our given businesses which range from engineering, to sales, to graphic design.

Although we are not a dating service, most of our members are single, and many romantic connections have been made through the NET. In fact all of our presidents have met their wives through the organization, so we have a pretty good track record.

Our other strong consistent social opportunity is our monthly dine-outs in which we get together at various restaurants throughout the Lehigh Valley. This is a bit more intimate setting than First Thursday and draws anywhere between 12 and 30 people.

Although we certainly like to cut loose and have a good time, we are not a party or drinking club. However, many members go out together after our events which generally let out around 9 p.m.

We provide employment and professional development opportunities through events like our Connect Business Card Exchanges. Held at art galleries, lofts and other unique places around the Valley, these events provide a more formal, business atmosphere which usually attract 20-40 people. Other professional development events we have held include business lunch etiquette and entrepreneurial events.

In addition to professional development, we also occasionally host educational classes of interest to young professionals like first time home-buying seminars.

As far as supporting community organizations, we have consistently volunteered at Musikfest. And every year we collect cans for our November First Thursday for a local food bank. In addition, we have become involved with Renew Lehigh Valley, an initiative to promote smart growth and revitalization in the Lehigh Valley. Community leaders are listening to young professionals, since we are vital to the future of this region.

Finally, the NET is the unofficial welcoming committee for all young professionals new to the area. The NET is a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people and get out into the region. We hold activities at a variety of locations, and will be able to help orient you in no time.

So what exactly is NET? It's what you make of it. If you just want to hang out, make friends and have a good time, fine. If you want to further your career, beef up your resume, and impress your boss, you can. Or if you want to get involved in the community and make a difference great! You can do all of the above. It's up to you.

I hope you will consider joining us on Thursday for our January First Thursday event at Starter's Riverport. And if you're ready to join, we'll give you 10% off your membership fee during the month of January.

Hope to see you there!

Vanessa Williams
NET Marketing Chair

Monday, January 01, 2007

Working a Room: Guide for the Introverted

As a self proclaimed introvert – I relate to your pain and anxiety.

We are all confronted with the daunting challenge of entering a room filled with hundreds of strangers yapping and shaking hands. We want to be like them, the carefree and confident, those that seem to smile and waive to everyone – they just walk by and are drawn into a new conversation.

Does this saga sound familiar? Before you leave you try to convince yourself you have more work and your time is best served staying in the office, but damn you RSVPed! While you drive to the venue you are already dreading the experience, thinking you can still go back to the office. By the time you park and are walking to your destination your heart beats faster, you start to think how short you can make your cameo appearance and leave.

As you enter you are overwhelmed by the crowd, your hands are clammy – so you wipe them off in case you have to actually shake someone’s hand. You have no clue where to go first – then off in the distance like an oasis rising from the Sahara desert you spot the safety net of the buffet and bar!

First of all most people in this world as just like you – Introverted! Second – being introverted is fabulous and don’t ever think anything less! We need our own theme song! So recognize who you are and be proud.

We cannot change our DNA, but here are some techniques to ease the anxiety level and make group networking experiences more manageable & comfortable.

Volunteer – Sign up to volunteer if possible. This affords you the status of being knowledgeable about the event and able to help others. Mentally you now have an official reason for being there. Think of yourself as more than just the regular attendee - you are part of the host team!

Early Bird – Much of the intimidation factor is the sheer size of the audience. So arrive very early – even offer to help set up. This gives you a chance to meet the organizers and other volunteers in a small setting. Busy work will help take your mind off the event and knowing the hosts make you feel like a part of the team. Often they will repay you for your help by making some introductions.

Don't Worry, Be Comfy – You will feel how you dress. You are already going to be nervous and stiff so don’t make it worse by wearing an itchy wool suit or stuffing yourself into an outfit you don’t really like and doesn’t flatter you. Wear something that you believe you look good in – if you think you look good you will feel good. Wear something comfortable – don’t push the envelope with flip flops and Bermuda shorts, but if you prefer a suit – wear one you really like, if you typically dress casual then allow yourself to be comfortable and still look professional. Caveat – Take into account the dress code of the event and don’t go to an extreme on either side.

Co-Pilot – Attend with a friend who is in a different business and help each other navigate the crowd. If you can go with someone who is more extroverted that is even better, but the goal is having a wingman/woman. It’s much easier and less stressful to travel in a group. You can take turns introducing each other to new people and allow your friend to brag about you. As a dynamic duo you can approach others as a team and neither of you will feel all alone in a swirling sea of networkers.

Seek out your fellow Introverts – Like a beached whale they are often not hard to spot – look against the walls, columns or other obstacles where they frequently attempt to camouflage themselves into the room! Others will stand in the middle with their snack observing the action all around trying to be invisible. Approach such folks and introduce yourself – they are just as uncomfortable and anxious as you. This allows you to practice approaching others. You may even find a buddy to work the room with.

Set Goals – Much like a fear of heights - A Fear of networking and interacting among a room of strangers cannot be conquered in one day. Baby Steps. Do not expect to incorporate all these suggestions at once. Integrate them slowly into your practice. Goals aid this process. Never commit to yourself to stay for a period of time – all you will do is monitor your watch like its 10 minutes to midnight on New Years Eve. Set goals that involve meeting people: Commit to introducing yourself to 5 new people and reconnecting with 5 others you already know to catch up. When you reach your goals you can leave, patting yourself on the back all the way out the door for a job well done.

Follow Up – You have overcome your doubts, fought through discomfort and achieved your goals! Don’t waste all that energy and exciting progress by not following up with those you met. This is the crucial step! How you respond sets the tone for who you are and how others remember you. Send each person an individual message, be it a phone call, email or note card – make it memorable and personalize the message. No room for generic stuff here! For those whom you want to meet again, simply invite them to have lunch or coffee.

Face to Face – This is where you shine! You can engage in a one on one conversation and truly spend energy getting to know someone on a personal and professional level. Relationships start with a face to face conversation. Such meetings are why you endured ands pushed yourself. Don’t launch into your sales pitch or dominate the conversation. Show genuine interest in them as a person – what they do outside work, their family, dreams etc. Think – how can you help them in terms of connecting them with others you know? They are testing your human being factor. Make sure you pass.

Always remember, people do business with those they like and trust. In every interaction and every conversation BE THAT PERSON!

Copyright © 2005 Strategic Business Network. All rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this article or any of its contents providing this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. Contact Judy by e-mail at or by telephone at (615) 474-1952.

Top ten reasons to become a NET dues paying member in January

1. NET membership is the key to NET’s fantastic social, educational, and cultural events. In the past year, we’ve had political roundtables, professional development seminars, community volunteer opportunities, and recreational outings.

2. NET members get to join in on First Thursdays for free. First Thursdays cost $3 for non-members.

3. NET members get a free subscription to Lehigh Valley Style (worth $15).

4. The NET membership card is a gateway to discounts at businesses throughout the Lehigh Valley. We currently have over 100 participating businesses, and with our aggressive new campaign, that number is growing every day.

5. You can fulfill work volunteer requirements by having fun with your peers and making a difference in your community.

6. You can take action with a group of your peers and speak out on behalf of young professionals across the Lehigh Valley to help shape the quality of life here. We do have a voice, and community leaders are listening.

7. You can develop professional skills that can help advance you in your career and network with other like-minded young business people.

8. The opportunity to become a leader in your community and give back to the Lehigh Valley.

9. As a dues-paying member, you are able to vote in NET elections, run for the NET board, and serve as committee chair. To find out more on how to become further involved in the NET come to our next organizational meeting.

10. During the month of January you get 10% off the regular $30 membership fee.

So what are you waiting for? Join now!

Sunday, December 31, 2006

NET Events Planning Meeting

Ever have an idea for a NET event? Want to be involved in the event planning process? Come share your ideas and talents to help with NET events for the future. Whether you want to be involved very little or very much we could always use a hand. Ideas always welcome!

When: Sunday, Jan. 14, 4 p.m.

Where: Wired Cafe, 520 Main Street, Bethlehem 18018

Admission: FREE!!

Contact: Wendy Gerlach at

More information.

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