If you missed this year’s Friendly Gathering, Vermont-based jammers Twiddle made sure that fans who couldn’t make the Timber Ridge, Vermont happening still got a glimpse of their infectious sound. The band piled into a vintage Airstream mobile recording studio, dubbed the FrendShip, to connect with fans across the world. Two fans were selected to Skype the band during their performance, and follow them up with some questions. Watch Twiddle perform “Daydream Farmer” in the Airstream below!
<a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSCY8-TCfDo” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/gSCY8-TCfDo/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Stephen Hawking recorded a version of Sarah Howe’s poem “Relativity” via his voice processor. British artist Bridget Smith later combined the audio with images of graphite particles in motion. “Relativity”for Stephen HawkingWhen we wake up brushed by panic in the darkour pupils grope for the shape of things we know.Photons loosed from slits like greyhounds at the trackreveal light’s doubleness in their cast shadowsthat stripe a dimmed lab’s wall — particles no more ―and with a wave bid all certainties goodbye.For what’s sure in a universe that dopplersaway like a siren’s midnight cry? They saya flash seen from on and off a hurtling trainwill explain why time dilates like a perfectafternoon; predicts black holes where parallel lineswill meet, whose stark horizon even starlight,bent in its tracks, can’t resist. If we can thinkthis far, might not our eyes adjust to the dark?A presentation and poetry reading by Howe will be held on Oct. 28 in Radcliffe Yard. The event is free and open to the public.More information about the poetry project, with embedded videos, can be found online in an article in The Guardian. More information about Sarah Howe can be found on her website. Combining the U.K.’s National Poetry Day, Oct. 8, with its yearlong theme of “light” could have easily set the stage for a tale of poetry and science, but Sarah Howe needed no such prompting.Howe, a Hong Kong–born British poet, is currently the Frieda L. Miller Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Inspired by her love of science and her exploration of the universe’s mysteries, Howe wrote a poem dedicated to Stephen Hawking.After Hawking learned of Howe’s efforts, he invited her to read her draft to him. He then recorded a version via his voice processor, and later the British artist Bridget Smith combined the audio with images of graphite particles in motion.Howe said seeing Hawking’s labor-intensive and time-consuming efforts to communicate has only intensified her appreciation of language:“Watching up-close the painstaking process of cheek twitches and scrolling word-menus by which Hawking communicates — it took him a quarter of an hour to type a single sentence, which then boomed from the speaker into the quiet room — filled me with a sense of the preciousness of language.“Even as he offered to read my poem for National Poetry Day, he was self-deprecating about the synthesized voice he says he now thinks in: It is not very musical. To the contrary, I tried to reassure him; it has a rhythm and harmonics all of its own. Listening to recording after recording, I’d tried to hear it in my mind as I wrote and re-wrote my lines. It was originally designed for a telephone directory, he added, with what I imagined was a chuckle.“We’d shared a joke earlier about the strings of random words that flash up on his screen whenever the cheek-sensor picks up stray movements, when he’s eating, say, or looking round the room. He should publish a volume of experimental poems.”Stephen Hawking reads “Relativity”
In a time of uncertainty, challenge, and change, Harvard’s dedication to the pursuit of knowledge and truth and its unwavering devotion to inclusion can inspire a better, more tolerant world, Drew Faust told the Class of 2021 on Tuesday afternoon during her final freshman convocation ceremony as Harvard’s president.“We believe in facts and in the power of human minds to ascertain them,” said Faust, speaking from the steps of Memorial Church while surrounded by students, staff, faculty, and alumni. “We are committed to education and learning as vehicles for human betterment and as essential foundations for democratic government.”Faust urged the incoming 1,702 undergraduates to engage with their classes and their professors, and not to shy from risk. She also encouraged them to connect with and celebrate the diversity of their classmates.“We are excited to welcome you, Class of 2021, because you are in yourselves a great educational machine — destined to teach one another — and, of course, teach us as well — because of the variety of who you are and what you bring.”Ifeoma White-Thorpe (from left), Anabelle Paulino, Hannah Pearce, Ines Pedro, and Yiting Yang savor the moment as the Class of 2021 is welcomed to Harvard College outside the steps of Memorial Church. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe Class of 2021 is made up of students representing all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and stands as the most diverse in the University’s history.Engage, debate, take chances, and “listen generously to others so that they may take risks too,” Faust told the students. She also encouraged her listeners to do something they might not be accustomed to: “admit you are wrong.”“It is the best way to learn and grow,” she said.Faust noted that the University’s longstanding commitment to diversity is being challenged by a lawsuit questioning Harvard’s admissions processes. That same commitment is being reaffirmed, she said, by a policy implemented this year that seeks to limit the influence of exclusive and discriminatory single-gender social organizations on undergraduate student life.Harvard’s goal of creating a diverse campus is paramount, said Faust, who emphasized the University’s commitment “to providing an educational experience that affirms the importance of every student at Harvard and urges students to learn from classmates unlike themselves.”Faust encouraged the new class to “[h]elp us to build at Harvard a model of how people can be enriched rather than divided by their differences.”“In face of proliferating incidents of hatred and violence across the country, we need to insist on a different way of being together,” said Faust. “Let us strive to be a model of unity at a time of fracture and divisiveness. We have never needed the promise of this University more.”Rakesh Khurana, Danoff Dean of Harvard College, told the students, “We have never needed your talents, your energy and your commitment more than we do right now.President Faust remarks to Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith as the band roars behind them. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer“We can create a community that measures itself not by trying to be the best in the world, but the best for our world,” he said.Michael D. Smith, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, returned to the simple advice he has given to incoming classes in years past.“You are surrounded by the powerful and beautiful things that happen when we connect ideas and when we connect people. So when you find that little voice inside your head comparing you to that fellow classmate across the room, I hope you remember these three words: don’t compare, connect.”Faust’s welcome to the Class of 2021 came a day after she sent a letter to President Trump supporting the aspirations of students nationwide. In urging the president to continue and defend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Faust praised the program as a path “for talented and motivated students to pursue their education and explore meaningful ways of contributing to our communities and economy.”As in years past, music played an important part in convocation. The ceremony opened with “Fanfare for the Class of 2021,” composed and conducted by Nathan Wolfe ’19 and performed by the Harvard University Band. The convocation also included performances by the Kuumba Singers, the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum.The event also included an invocation from Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, a welcome from Dean of Freshmen Thomas A. Dingman, and a student salutation from Marcus Granderson ’18, president of the Kuumba Singers.As the ceremony drew to a close, one of the newest residents of Straus Hall, Serena Shah ’21, cheered when Dingman acknowledged her freshman dorm. Proudly wearing her new Harvard pin, Shah, from Barrington, Ill., said she welcomed Faust’s message of inclusion and diversity.“I am really glad that President Faust brought it up,” said Shah. “Anything is a step forward in this arc toward inclusion, and I am really glad that she’s talking about it so that it gets us thinking about it, because it is really important.”
Janice Chung | The Observer Two tickets announced their candidacy for Saint Mary’s student body president and vice president Tuesday. Juniors McKenzie Johnson and Barbi Prokup hope to deliver “change, communication and community,” according to official campaign materials, while juniors Emma McCarthy and Mary Joy Dingler are campaigning to promote transparency, communication and diversity on campus.The two tickets will deliver speeches today at 5 p.m. in the Noble Family Dining Hall, and elections will be held Thursday. The winning ticket will take office April 1, succeeding current student body president Kaitlyn Baker and vice president Maddie Kohler.McCarthy, a political science major, and Dingler, a humanistic studies major with a concentration in English writing, put a special emphasis on transparency in their campaign.“One thing we really want to work on is publishing office hours [of members of student government],” Dingler said. “Students should be aware of when they can go and talk with every committee chair and the student body president and vice president, to make us more available for students.”The ticket also wants to establish a weekly email to students, similar to the Week@ND emails, McCarthy said. They said they believe the email will help bolster attendance at campus events.“We definitely think we receive too many emails,” McCarthy said. “ … If we send it out every week on a Sunday, students will come to expect it as time goes on. At least once a week, we want to say, ‘Hey, here is what is going on,’ and have each co-chair report their events to the vice president. She will compile it and send it out.”The pair plans to improve the dining experience at the College, Dingler said.“You have to eat,” Dingler said. “Café Spes Unica closes at [3 p.m.] and seeing as there have been more night classes, we think it would be beneficial for it to be open until 5 or 6, just so students have the chance to get dinner, since a lot of times, a lot of education majors do not get a chance to eat because they are so busy every day.”As faculty and staff of the College play a large role in the everyday life of students on campus, the McCarthy-Dingler ticket also hopes to implement a “Thank You Week,” in which students show their appreciation for the work of staff and faculty, McCarthy said.“We have lots of big weeks here on campus, but one that we have neglected is thanking our faculty and staff for everything they do for us,” McCarthy said. “We really want to establish a week where we write cards and show our appreciation for all the work they do to make Saint Mary’s our home away from home.”Similarly, the ticket hopes to continue mental health awareness week and to make online scheduling of counseling services available to students, Dingler said.“We want these resources to be more accessible so that students know that they can go,” Dingler said.Johnson, a business administration major, and Prokup, a finance major, said they will focus on feasible plans in their platform.“We wanted to include things that could actually happen on campus,” Johnson said. “We wanted to be realistic with ourselves — a lot of things on our platform are things we know we can accomplish. They are things that we think are important but also realistic.”The pair plans to address bullying on campus, Prokup said.“There have been girls who have been harassed via door and leaving notes, social media: It has become an excessive problem here on campus,” Prokup said. “We want to create an anti-bullying program that has steps on what we need to do as students to prevent and protect our fellow students.”The program would be run through social media and campus-wide conversations, Prokup said.“We are fully committed to this because it is such a strong problem here that we really want to help combat,” Prokup said. “We would like to hold other events to remind everyone that this is a safe campus where you can be yourself without having to face judgment.”Johnson and Prokup plan to increase attendance at events through a regular email, Johnson said.“Even as someone involved on campus, I never know when sports games are,” Johnson said. “I know I can probably look it up on the website, but if it is not directly presented to me, then I probably will be unaware and not go. … That is something we want to address.”The campaign also wants to promote communication between all aspects of the College, Johnson said.“Communication is such an important things here, especially when it comes to communication between the student body, professors, faculty, the Board of Trustees,” Johnson said. “I think that the position of student body president has really lost that emphasis of being a representative of the student body, someone who has had frequent connections with students, conversations with students.“It is sometimes sad to me that people don’t know who our [student body] president is,” she said. “I really want to address this next year — we want to know everyone, we want everyone to know us.”Tags: saint mary’s, SMC, student body elections, Student Body President
The post-Irene mobile home de-construction team assembled by Lt. Governor Phil Scott and Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Lawrence Miller has reported that they removed 68 homes in six parks around the state, completing the first phase of their work in early December. Scott and Miller launched the project in late September after hearing that many Vermonters whose mobile homes were destroyed in the flood were facing disposal costs of $3,500 to $4,500. A total of 385 mobile homes throughout the state received some level of FEMA assistance, and 141 of these were deemed “substantially damaged” and beyond repair. However, the average FEMA award to mobile home owners – which was to cover repair or replacement of the home itself as well as damaged contents and temporary housing costs — was only $4,500. Scott initially worked with the Associated General Contractors of VT to set up a coordinated mobile home removal effort that reduced the per-home cost to $1,500. Secretary Miller then reached out to the Vermont Community Foundation and the Vermont Long Term Disaster Recovery Group, who collectively raised more than $300,000 to enable the team to offer the de-construction and disposal service free of charge to any mobile home owner living in a park. Demolition started on October 31, and all of the work was completed within six weeks. This played a key role in rehabilitating flooded mobile home parks in central and southern Vermont. “Thanks to the team we put together, we finished before the worst part of winter set in, which will allow homeowners and park owners to move forward and rebuild,” said Secretary Miller. Scott noted that one park remains on the project list: River Run Park in Berlin, which was flooded in May, and where a handful of homeowners were unable to pay for the removal of their destroyed homes. River Run, he said, serves as an example of what might have happened after Irene. “Five abandoned trailers still sit there today, and they’re holding up the rebuilding process at that park. We could have easily seen that happen on a much larger scale after Irene, had we not been able to remove those trailers quickly.” Scott added that the team has set aside funding to remove those five homes at River Run as soon as the park owner and the town have completed the abandonment process. FACTS: Mobile Home De-Construction Project 385 mobile homes in Vermont received some level of FEMA assistance / 141 “substantially damaged”Average mobile home repair cost: $9,854 / Average mobile home FEMA award: $4,518(Source: FEMA) The Team: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, Secretary of Commerce and Community Development Lawrence Miller, Associated General Contractors-VT, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity’s Mobile Home Project, Vermont Community Foundation, Vermont Long Term Disaster Recovery Group, UVM, Downs Rachlin Martin Removed 68 mobile homes from 6 mobile home parks, October 31-December 8 Weston’s (Berlin) October 31-November 14 32 homes Patterson’s (Duxbury) November 15-17 11 homes Whalley’s (Waterbury) November 21-22 10 homes Riverside (Woodstock) November 29-30 5 homes Greene (Sharon) December 5 2 homes Glen Park (Brattleboro) December 7-8 8 homes Crew consisted of an excavator, a 4-yard loader, and 2 ground laborers to rake upAverage time per mobile home: 2 hoursTotal of 946 tons of waste, 105 tons of salvageable metal removed Not a state program; with the exception of administrative costs (state employee time and CVOEO employee time), all funding came from private donations (total of $300,000 came from more than 2 dozen donors). Notable donors: Aubuchon Hardware ($25,000), Bond Auto ($50,000), Argosy Foundation ($60,000)The project also received $50,000 from the Phish concert (the first grant made from that event). Per-home demolition and disposal cost was estimated at $1,500; actual cost averaged $2,500(Added weight from wet insulation, wet materials, household contents)
Roadkill CompostCar-struck animal carcasses may soon become compost in the Commonwealth. According to the Associated Press, Virginia is testing a new program to turn roadkill into plant food. The effort includes a special system that accelerates the decomposition process while also reducing odors. It can also apparently break down animals in as little as six weeks. Currently the Virginia Department of Transportation buries roadkill or disposes it at landfills at an estimated cost of $4 million a year. D.C Named the Fittest City in the U.S.The nation’s capital is the fittest city in the United States, according to a recent set of rankings released by the American College of Sports Medicine. The D.C. metro area came out on top in the organization’s annual American Fitness Index, which was developed as a data-driven study to measure the health and fitness of the country’s 50 most populous metropolitan areas. In addition to having a large number of residents who frequently exercise, the District also scored high for numbers of parks, recreation centers, and farmers’ markets per capita, as well as relatively low death rates for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Record Year for National ParksLast year saw record attendance in America’s national parks. A report that came out earlier this year tallying 2014 numbers reported a record 294 million park visitors. According to a piece in National Parks Traveler that’s a jump of more than 20 million visitors from the previous year. In the South the Blue Ridge Parkway saw a big uptick, hosting 13.9 million people in 2014, approximately a million more than the previous year. Great Smoky Mountains National Park was up 744,276 for a total 10 million park guests.
Cradled between the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to the east and the Central Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, the city of Lexington, Va., hosts a wealth of outdoor adventure, culture, and history. With two campuses just a short walk from downtown, Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University, the vibe in this otherwise quaint community is young and fresh.Bucolic farms litter the countryside just outside of town, indicative both of Lexington’s agricultural roots and its ever-growing farm to table movement. Mild weather year round makes Lexington the perfect destination for any season’s vacation. Hikers and equestrians, foodies and artists, come one, come all! There’s a little something for everyone in Lexington, Va.Cradled between the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to the east and the Central Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, the city of Lexington, Va., hosts a wealth of outdoor adventure, culture, and history.Day 1Wake up those legs with a hike to Devil’s Marbleyard, a unique geological field of boulders and rocks that range in size from marbles to houses. Located in the James River Face Wilderness off of Milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this three-mile out-and-back can easily be completed in a few hours. If you’re looking for a longer hike, and a bigger challenge, return via the Gunter Ridge Trail for a total loop length of 8.3 miles.Located in the James River Face Wilderness off of Milepost 71 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, this three-mile out-and-back can easily be completed in a few hours.After your hike, take a tour of one of the area’s greatest natural wonders—the Caverns at Natural Bridge. Guided tours (adults: $18, kids: $12) run every half hour for 45 minutes each and take visitors 34 stories belowground to an otherworldly landscape of stalactites and stalagmites, of course, but also dripstone, flowstone, draperies, and pools.Guided tours (adults: $18, kids: $12) run every half hour for 45 minutes each and take visitors 34 stories belowground to an otherworldly landscape.Make sure to see the Natural Bridge itself, once called “The Bridge of God” by the native Monacan Indian tribe. You can see its holy glory via the Cedar Creek Trail, a one-mile trail that winds past its namesake, Cedar Creek, and ends at the 30-foot Lace Falls.Day 2Short of outdoor adventures and Civil War-age history, Lexington is also home to the nationally renowned Virginia Horse Center, a testament to the area’s rich equestrian scene. On your second day in Rockbridge County, you’ll experience those picturesque farms that passed by your window the day before from a different perspective, the way early settlers would have seen the countryside—between the ears of a horse.Make sure to see the Natural Bridge itself, once called “The Bridge of God” by the native Monacan Indian tribe.Tish Vest is the local go-to for guided trail rides and lessons. Her property, located in Natural Bridge, is not only a textbook example of Virginia’s beauty, but is also uniquely joined with the Bodhi Path Buddhist Center. Don’t be surprised when you come upon a Buddhist temple during your trail ride.If you prefer to hop in a saddle of a different sort, check out Shenandoah Rides and Rentals for all of your touring, shuttle, and bike rental needs. Owners Dave & Tasha Walsh can suggest routes, help with shuttle, and even assist you with long-distance ride logistics. For a casual, yet scenic, afternoon ride, ask the Walsh’s about Goshen Pass—they’ll set you up with a ride that’s mostly downhill and overlooks the Maury River.FoodVegetarians and vegans will find their new haven at Kind Roots, a small, family-owned restaurant located in the Lexington YMCA. It’s like a deli, with a unique and local twist that’s winning the hearts of customers one sweet potato burger at a time.Part grocer, part restaurant, the Blue Phoenix Café & Market is a hit no matter your dietary preferences. Vegetarians will delight with classic menu items like the TLT (that’s tofu, lettuce, and tomato) and the Grilled Cheese with sundried tomato aioli, while even the most carnivorous of carnivores will find their savory weekly specials something to Yelp about…in a good way.For a taste of the Shenandoah Valley itself, The Red Hen is a must. As Lexington’s first farm-to-table restaurant, The Red Hen has well-established relations with the area’s best farmers and caters its menu each day to the bounties of the valley. When in doubt, go for the risotto. This is fine dining at its best.Savor the charm of southern eats and atmosphere at the Southern Inn Restaurant. Opened in 1932, this restaurant still maintains much of the same design and infrastructure from its early years. You can get standard southern goodies like fried pickles and fried pimento cheese here, and they are to die for, but don’t take our word for it. Get some yourself.Opened in 1932,The Southern Inn still maintains much of the same design and infrastructure from its early years.Libations & NightlifeIn the summertime, the Lime Kiln Theater is the place to be. The outdoor venue is breathtaking, the line-up is always killer (last year’s events featured Ben Sollee, Steep Canyon Rangers, Chatham County Line, Mandolin Orange, and The Infamous Stringdusters, just to name a few), and the vibe is downright groovy. It’s the perfect way to spend a summer evening.Craft beer fans will want to stop in at Blue Lab Brewing Company, which opened in 2010. While Blue Lab offers five standard brews year round, the adventurous palette will want to explore beers like the Green Chile Ale and the Coffee Chocolate Stout.How would you like to spend your next Sunday under the sun, lounging on a deck with an uncorked bottle of wine beside you and music in your ear? Who wouldn’t!? At Rockbridge Vineyard’s Uncorked and Unplugged series, that’s exactly what goes down two Sundays of every month, April thru October. Bring the family, the lawn chair, the picnic basket, the dog, the hula-hoop, and your dancing shoes for this pickin’ good time. Like a cherry on top, their wine is pretty fabulous, too.Brew Ridge Taps has 18 beers on tap and 199 bottles of beer on the wall.Brew Ridge Taps. 18 beers on tap. 199 bottles of beer on the wall. Appetizers, wafflewiches (that’s a sandwich, with a waffle instead of bread), open mic nights, chalkboard tables. Need we say more?Looking for a place to hunker down for the evening with a craft cocktail in hand and a fire crackling in the hearth? Look no further than TAPS, located in The Georges. TAPS also serves locally inspired soups, salads, and sandwiches, making it a perfect place to host events.Love Devils Backbone brews but can’t make it out to Nelson County? Check out the brewery’s Outpost in Lexington, where 45,000 barrels of beer were brewed in the Outpost’s first three years of operation.LodgingFor a boutique inn experience, check out The Georges on Main Street. One part history, one part luxury, and one part convenience, this place is sure to make you feel like royalty.Submerge yourself in the farmland surrounding Lexington at Applewood Inn and Llama Trekking. That’s right—llama trekking. Aside from the environmentally friendly, cozy, bed and breakfast style accommodations here, you can also sign up for a guided llama trek around the property.For a boutique inn experience, check out The Georges on Main Street.A stay at the House Mountain Inn is like going back in time. The rustic log cabin is situated against a backdrop of picturesque mountains on the 1,000-acre Allegheny Mountain Preserve. The back deck overlooks the painting-perfect landscape, and with a two-story fireplace, gourmet meals, and a daily complimentary wine and cheese hour, we won’t blame you if you decide to stay forever.Find peace along the banks of the James River at Wilderness Canoe Company, where primitive, riverside camping complete is status quo for every site. Camping is reserved for those looking to paddle the river, so make the most of your stay by renting a canoe or inner tube. You can tackle the James yourself or hop on a guided tour ranging from flatwater to class III rapids, level pending.Upcoming EventsApril 2: 10th Annual Rockbridge Bull & Oyster FestAugust 12 & 26, September 9 & 23: Music in the Garden SeriesSeptember 5: Labor Day FestivalSeptember 9-10: Mountain Music & Dance FestivalSeptember 10: Rockbridge Beer & Wine FestivalSeptember 22-24: Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival[divider]Check out More from our 48 Hours Series below[/divider]
By Dialogo March 15, 2011 Colombian drug trafficker Aníbal Zapata, who escaped from a Peruvian prison in February 2009, has been arrested by the Colombian police, that institution announced. Zapata, who was serving a sentence for drug trafficking in Peru and was sought by Interpol, was detained in the Colombian city of Medellín (400 km northwest of Bogotá). Zapata was made available to the Colombian Public Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, the Peruvian authorities were informed of his arrest so that they can start extradition procedures, the Colombian police indicated in a statement. The Colombian drug trafficker had been arrested by the Peruvian authorities in January 2008, in a residence in Lima where he was hiding a shipment of 128 kilos of cocaine, valued at 4.5 million dollars. His escape from prison took place through an alleged fraud, by means of the presentation of a false habeas corpus ruling and order, the Colombian police indicated.
The $1 billion Scott Credit Union signed a sponsorship deal May 12 that includes the naming rights of an MVP deck at Busch Stadium, the home field of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.Financial terms of the three-year agreement were not disclosed by the Edwardsville, Ill.-based cooperative.The MVP Deck is a covered outdoor party deck in the stadium’s left center field. The deal also includes scoreboard advertisements, player appearances and a sponsorship of a Cardinals promotional giveaway night. continue reading » 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr
Concerns regarding the bottom line, on-going regulatory expectations, low interest rates, poor loan quality and pressure on net interest margin – in addition to economic uncertainty both domestic and international – are most likely affecting your credit union’s ability to reach or exceed your performance goals. But on a positive note, by keeping a close eye on your product and service delivery systems – as well as the costs and terms of your service contracts – you can create income and savings opportunities that will better-position your success in the New Year.Carefully target your products and services to match member needsAs consumers expect more convenience and accessibility when conducting their financial transactions, it is incumbent to provide a range of mobile and online options in order to remain competitive. As a result, increased spending on technology is expected to continue for such items as mobile applications, online banking, payment software and security – in addition to branch technology to support more efficient face-to-face and virtual service options.As this paradigm shift in service delivery becomes the industry norm, I have worked with many clients to help ensure they are able to make the very best, informed decisions when it comes to choosing a product vendor or renewing a legacy service contract. Simply signing the bottom line without a careful review of the services provided – or the contract terms – can result in:missed opportunities to gain a competitive edge in the market;loss of potential savings, increased income and improved contract terms; as well asservices that may not meet your members’ needs and expectations.Is there gold hiding in your contracts?For many institutions, signing a new service contract – or renewing an existing one – often becomes a matter of habit. If you are satisfied with the level of service from a vendor, you might not think of the possible benefits of having your contracts reviewed and possibly re-negotiated by a professional. From experience, many clients we work with are only familiar with the pricing they already have in place. And, they are often unfamiliar with how pricing for services has changed over time, as well as the possibility of any realistic cost-savings. This can put a credit union at a major disadvantage when dealing with a service provider agreement.What’s more, if you simply let your contracts auto-renew every time, it is possible that your service needs may have changed without your even getting the chance to explore alternative or lower-priced options.For example, take a look at some of the most popular consumer financial services available today: mobile banking and Internet banking/bill pay products. A professional review of your current contracts for these services can uncover substantial savings and possible incentive income opportunities, as well as potential improvements in the contract terms.For one client, overwhelmed with normal day-to-day operations, the savings opportunity was significant when it came to negotiating a vital core processing contract. By understanding their concerns and needs, we saved them valuable time that they could be using for other critical tasks and much more. Ultimately – after securing improved rates and terms – the end result was a savings of approximately $72,000 per year, over a seven-year period.Just think what you could do with additional incomeGiven the number of service contracts held by the typical credit union, the potential for cost-savings and monetary incentives is tremendous for your competitive position. Savings from a contract review offers a solution for institutions to invest in updating technology or enhance your service-offerings to members. Or, it is possible that the monetary rewards may provide the funds necessary to expand your business or open new branches.Get the most value from your time and your service contractsIf you don’t have in-house contract expertise, you are likely spending valuable time keeping your service contracts current while you could be focused on more profitable member service activities. A professional audit of your contracts will help to uncover areas where improvements can be made. And depending on your current agreements, the findings can lead to savings opportunities, improved terms, service upgrades, and increased revenue potential that can offset some of the economic and regulatory challenges you may be facing.So don’t delay. Putting a professional review of your service contracts on the back burner can result in the loss of monetary rewards that could help you get the New Year off to a more positive start – in terms of your credit union’s bottom line, as well as improved member service. 12SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Kelly Flynn Kelly has over 15 years of sales and management experience helping financial institutions of all sizes. She leads a team whose charter is to optimize the value of every contract … Web: www.JMFA.com Details