Posts Tagged ‘Christian Grantham’

Blogging, technology and self-fulfillment

December 29th, 2013 No comments

ascii me

I like to think I’m bi-lingual. If you’re reading this, one language is obvious, and the other is not. The one that’s not is HTML.

Like most people in 1990, I was using Unix commands to dig around on wide open gopher servers of the few universities that were online. I would “finger” active users and saw profiles that used ASCII text to create an image.

ASCII graphics weren’t new, but for a while it was as close as computers could get to delivering an image. At 1200 bps, ASCII was all you were going to get. What was new to me was live interaction with remote users through a computer hooked up to the telephone line.

If we could interact live behind ones and zeros online, it was a matter of time before it was something more real like audio and video. When it comes down to it, pretty much everything is data. That epiphany might sound like a no-brainer now, but to this day this idea leaves wide open many possibilities of how we can share things or experiences in the near future. The only things limiting our vision of the future back then was the size and power of computers.

This new space resonated with a part of me that yearned to share, explore, connect, document, learn, and grow. I felt a real calling. Here was another way to have an impact, a chance to connect with others, and most importantly a way to share my own story in a space where fear and judgement was less of a match for the power of truth and reason in a new public space.

head deskI went to college and then totally failed at computer science. I changed my major and then took time off school hitchhiking 1,500 miles across Canada and Alaska. I needed to figure some things out.

It turned out, some computer science professors didn’t share my vision of what was coming and thought it was important I learn Pascal which I’m guessing is the Latin of computer programming these days. “Computers do machine things. It’s not some party phone line of yapping teenagers figuring themselves out,” said 1992.

I had met what would become a common road block over the next 20 years, but I eventually returned to school more determined to change the world. That’s when Netscape happened. I quickly taught myself HTML, stuck a message in a bottle and got invited to work changing the world in Washington, D.C.

When I started my blog 14 years ago today, there were only 9.5 million websites in existence. We were quite literally at the beginning of a new world. There are almost 2 billion today. Sites like Facebook now capitalize on that very early yearning I experienced. The empowerment the web has given many people like myself has changed the politics of our country. Most of my life opportunities have flowed through the language of HTML, including meeting my husband.

The past 14 years have taught me that self knowledge plus new technologies equals revolution. Maybe one day we’ll learn the language of reality and write trees, air and mountains, remotely molecularize elements, program germination, or reimage the output of a dreaming brain. But without a strong sense of self, revolution can go very wrong in that world to come. One lesson I’ve learned is there is another language one should master in preparation for any revolution. It’s the language of being the fullest, most actualized human you can be. You’ll never know what is really possible without that.

The revolutionary act of love

June 26th, 2013 1 comment

marriage license
… can change the world. When President Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, I was a year from graduating from Middle Tennessee State University. In my last year I decided to dedicate myself to undoing it, faced death threats, campus protests, lots of local news coverage and soon found myself working with close friends at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the White House in Washington.

Like many of my colleagues, I put my life on hold and worked through many challenging defeats knowing in my heart that love will win and knowing in my mind that the United States Constitution could weather even the worst kind of enemy: hatred.

We worked in small offices on 14th Street, N.W., eventually moving to bigger offices. Shortly after I left for the White House, HRC’s talented and dedicated staff was raising millions of dollars and moved into a permanent presence that I’m sure will help defend forever the America I know and love.

Somewhere in this story, I met Vince, a Marine serving our country at Quantico under another policy since reversed: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. When he wanted to re-enlist on September 11, 2001, it took everything I had to stop him. His mind was on America while mine was on saving the only family I felt I had. We held a ceremony in 2002 attended only by friends. We got married legally in 2010 in the streets of Washington in front of a sandwich shop across from the court house. While we settled into jobs and the suburbs, our friends fought on.

We still live through challenges. We are one of just a few thousand married American couples living our lives in a revolutionary act and are so proud to know the promise of America is affirmed today by the United States Supreme Court for those who can now work less to prove themselves worthy and more on building a family and living the American dream we all rightfully deserve.

A Tennessee tradition of whiskey making rises and shines

Check out this nice article by Jennifer Folsom in the latest Watertown Gazette on our effort to resurrect an age-old Tennessee tradition of moonshine and whiskey making on Short Mountain. Awesome photos by Jessica Atnip. Here is an excerpt.

“While we were collecting signatures for the referendum, the people we talked with were very supportive,” says Kaufman, noting that once people in his community realize what his goals are, they are ready to support him and the distillery.

“People want their way of life honored. We did some digging and discovered that in Cannon County before prohibition there were 18 legal distilleries. The people of this area were flourishing at that time and grew orchards, corn and sorghum to support the industry. It was a time when farming made sense.”

Kaufman, great-grandson of Jesse Shwayder, founder of Samsonite Luggage, doesn’t just ask for support from his community – he first gives it. The distillery was founded with his great-grandfather’s tradition of letting the Golden Rule guide him, on hand and in heart.

“I knew I needed to create an industry which would include agriculture, this area’s rural heritage and would encourage people getting together and working together,” says Kaufman of the distillery’s principle of mutual respect. Kaufman wants to “turn the clock back 100 years” and return to a farming model which creates value-added products and not only supports itself but the community as well. He plans to source agricultural products from within 30 miles of the distillery and bring jobs and needed revenue to his community.

This spring Little Short Mountain Farm and a team of neighbors and volunteers planted seven acres of corn. They used five teams of mules from the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners Association. (See for a video of the planting.)

“Everyone who has been employed here since the start has lived within 15 miles,” says Grantham. “We are trusting our neighbors and involving our community, and so they want to be a part this. We want every part of this distillery to reflect this community.”

Siting the dream

January 24th, 2011 No comments

distillery design
Architect Marcus Dipietro and Short Mountain Distillery CEO Billy Kaufman on a conference call with David Pickerell

It would take you a few hours to walk the nearly five mile perimeter of Billy Kaufman’s 300 acre farm on Short Mountain near Woodbury in Cannon County. By the time you’re sitting on the porches of Short Mountain Distillery with friends and family, we will probably have walked that a few times over.

This weekend, Marcus Dipietro came out to walk some of the farm with Billy and me to begin looking for the perfect spot to build the distillery. As we walked the land, our conversation turned to our team’s foundational values and how the distillery design can best express those values for generations to come.

The Golden Rule, community, heritage, stewardship, craftsmanship, and our connection to the land. These are some of the core values and archetypes of the dream unfolding here, and we aim to make it a testament to a way of life that makes America strong.