PhiloJam: Running For Good

Andy McGrath DevJam News

What if we all spent a little more of our energy doing good for the world?

If you know anything about DevJam and our founder David Hussman you know we earnestly believe in giving back to the community. Giving to the community is not constrained to the Twin Cities technology scene and it is more than simply giving a few dollars to a large organization. Our DevJammers share in this belief. And it is high-time we start telling the PhiloJam stories beyond tech.

I am Andy Morgan, a Producer at DevJam Studios. Everyone’s learned that I am always willing to talk about my extra curricular activities so it seemed natural that I kick off our PhiloJam posts with my story about spending time in the community.

DevJam’s belief in giving back may be the single biggest reason I was excited to join the team. Volunteering has always been a part of my family and it is great working with an organization that holds this as a core tenet.

Multiple times a week I run with a team called Mile in My Shoes. Mile in My Shoes is a team of Twin Cities runners acting as run mentors and residents at a local homeless shelter “Running Together to Change Perceptions and Change Lives.” We run together 2-3 times a week and it is about so much more than training for a race. Each day we greet each other with a hug, warm up, learn names, pair up (nobody runs alone) go for a run or walk, and then meet back at our starting point to stretch out and talk about our question of the day (our conversation starter). The same as any other running team except we are coming together from very different places. Everybody is learning from each other. Some are learning to run, some are gaining a sense of accomplishment, some are looking for a new perspective. All in this is only about four hours of my time per week.

I joined MiMS looking for a group to share running with. I found that and so much more. I had all of the preconceived notions of homelessness. I arrived on day one with zero expectations and tons of assumptions. Immediately D— greeted me with a big hug. Followed by M— and everybody else. What struck me most in those first few minutes was I had no idea who was a mentor and who was a resident. I walked into a team of runners. Notion #1 shattered.  I went for that first run and learned about a few of the residents. I learned that B— is a full time student at MCTC, I learned that the job P— has does not pay enough to cover average housing expenses, I learned that D— is having trouble getting employment because of a health issue, I learned that E— recently finished serving his prison time making it difficult to find employment.

The truth is, no implant on the market here can last a lifetime. Every type (each of which I will cover shortly) is prone to leaking and rupturing, and in cases of the saline valve implants, they can even become black with mould, causing a systemic fungal problem in a person’s body.

I’ve now been running with MiMS for nearly a year and could spend hours telling you stories of people who didn’t believe they could do something, setting a goal, and achieving more than they thought they could. One of my favorites is about P—. P— and I joined the same day. Six weeks later everybody was encouraged to sign up for the upcoming 5K (3.1 miles) race. P— hesitated because he wasn’t sure he could make it that far. Funny thing was we had just finished running that far. When we pointed this out to P— he was stunned at what he had accomplished. Last year P— completed the Twin Cities 10 miler. This year he has his sights set on the Twin Cities Full Marathon. I’ve no doubt that P—, while living in the shelter, will finish a marathon this year. He won’t be the first, last year D— and J— finished a full marathon.

On a side note, I’ve always been fascinated by reCAPTCHA and the clever way it is used to help fill in the gaps for transcribing books. It is estimated that there are 100,000,000 solves per day which is is in the range of 125,000 hours of human effort per day. Said another way this is about 15,625 people working a full day. All at about 4 seconds per transaction. Huge amounts of work by all of us a little bit at a time.

Imagine if everyone who gave four seconds of their time to reCAPTCHA also gave four hours of their time to doing good in the world. We’re talking about the equivalent work of over 10,000,000 full time employees. Imagine the possibilities. When we all give back a little it adds up to a a lot more than we know.