Twiggs and Associates Inc.
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Observations
Indoor Urban Farming
The Garden of Eden is a commercial indoor urban farming concept that provides a sustainable engine for job growth, food security and community revitalization, by moving traditional farming activities into cities for year round harvesting of high quality, low cost, fresh-cut, and locally grown produce.

Our goal is to perfect the commercial indoor farm for the production of 2 to 6 million pounds of produce per year to benefit local community residents and enhance their quality of life anywhere in the world.

For more information...

Keep in Touch: A Guide to Crafting Web Site Newsletters
Like some huge universe expanding away from itself after a big bang, the Internet is continually growing and shifting. Internet shoppers travel between the sites, one after another, searching for the best information and the most attractive deals. The fluidity and ease of their motion brings a disturbing consequence for online merchants: no longer are shoppers bound by the concept of \"customer loyalty.\" Even if your site is remarkably well designed, useful, and popular, there is no guarantee that your customers will remember you and check back with you later. After all, they can always find what they need somewhere else.

So what can you do to ingrain your URL in the minds of your visitors/customers? How can you encourage repeat business and announce site news to an interested audience?

Write a Newsletter!

First of all, you have to build a readership base by collecting as many interested email addresses as you can. Notice the use of the word \"interested.\" Unless you want to alienate lots of potential customers and waste valuable email resources, you can\'t just randomly sign people up for your newsletter.

The simplest way to gather names is by simply asking your site visitors to sign up for updates. However, the more casual or merely curious shoppers will most likely not be encouraged to give their information to you.

To sweeten the deal, add a contest or sweepstakes to your site, and devise an entry form which contains an area for registrants to sign up for your newsletter. If you want to risk it, you can automatically place your registrants on the newsletter subscription list; in this case, you had better make sure that there is a statement on the entry form informing registrants of this policy and reminding them that they can cancel the subscription at any time. Display an \"unsubscribe\" email address for their convenience, both on your entry page and on your actual newsletter. After all, why would you want to waste time and money sending newsletters to uninterested and/or annoyed parties?

Now, you have to devise content for the newsletter. Of course, you could make your newsletter a mess of extensive advertisements, mindless hype, and self-serving promotion, but this approach ignores the fact that you are trying to draw your visitor\'s loyalty.

Through your newsletter, you are trying to express a sense of community, of shared interests, of an accessible, customer-oriented company. Instead, try to think like your visitors. Wouldn\'t they like to read something a little more useful, a little more fun, a
little more attuned to their lifestyles? If you give them the content that they want to read, they will remember your company\'s name. They will remember that you care about entertaining and informing them.

  • Announcements: There are ways to announce new web site content, sales, and upcoming contests without sounding like a pushy ad. Emphasize the benefits of promotions by naming prizes that can be won from your site. Subtly highlight discounts and new product lines without resorting to a hard-sell.
  • News: Find interesting tidbits or news regarding your retailing sector. For example, if you have a skiing newsletter, you could include a short, fun history of the sport. Make it informative and different.
  • Links: Give links to helpful and/or site-related information, or choose a \"Link of the Month.\" For extra exposure, trade newsletter links with another partner site!
  • Polls: Ask your readers a question, and then print the results in the next newsletter. For best results, pick a well-known topic and allow your readers to send in simple responses. If you want deeper insights, make a contest out of it and give a prize to the most interesting and/or well-stated opinion.
  • Various fun stuff: Anything goes, as long as it is entertaining, cool, and has at least a tenuous relationship to your site. Recipes, famous quotes, funny anecdotes, jokes, and riddles are all good ideas.

Now you've got a web site newsletter chock full of fascinating information that your visitors will actually want to read. Be creative, be informative, and above all, be remembered.
Closing the gap
I recently took on a challenge that’s given new purpose and meaning to my life - the education of our kids via the Internet, or "distance learning". In an effort to find practical applications for the technology we have available in our community, I learned of curricula in math, science, history, reading and writing for K-8th graders that was available over the Internet. Educational curricula, that is approved by the state of Washington and supported by Seattle Public Schools, is now available through the Louise Jones McKinney Ethnic Learning Center.

For kids that don’t have computers at home, we loan Sony PlayStation equipment and curricula on CDROMs in the same subject areas. Enrollment in the program includes online assessment of each student and the development of individualized training plans. For example: a student may be reading at the 5th grade level, have a 7th grade level in math, and a 6th grade level in science. The individual training plan for this student can be tailored to meet their specific learning objectives in each subject area. What a novel idea!

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New tools for the new millenium
Unless you've been vacationing on another planet, you've been hearing lately about something called the Internet. Politicians claim that children must be protected from "it", at the same time that schools must be wired up for "it". Business leaders are concerned that their companies have a "presence" on "it".

A great deal of money is changing hands in the stock market, propelled by excitement about any new company that might have a handle on where "it" is going. Microsoft and Amazon.com are the local favorites. Well, if any of these people have a good grasp of what "it" actually is, they've been doing a poor job of sharing their wisdom with the rest of us.

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A celebration of differences
A celebration of differences is a celebration of life. We must learn to celebrate our differences, although distracted by the need to belong to an immediate circle of friends and people of like mind. We are all similar, but different; equal, but not the same; unique, expressions of life. We have value. These truths endure our ignorance, eventually making fools of those who fail to accept them, and empowering all who are able to discern that mankind is more alike than different. By focusing on similarities rather than differences, we discover common ground on which to build relationships that facilitate communication, trust and mutual respect.

A Celebration of Differences challenges our most cherished opinions of how we relate to those around us.

A Celebration of Differences requires that we open ourselves to new ideas, customs, traditions and values without abandoning our own.

A Celebration of Differences helps us to recognize that what we may have learned about others may not be true - but simply what we have learned. The truth is - we all count. We matter. We can make a difference if we dare to give ourselves permission to consider new possibilities, and new ways of doing familiar things.

A Celebration of Differences demands that we abandon the preoccupation with skin-color as an indicator of individual character. Greatness doesn't come in colors. Neither does honesty, loyalty nor kindness - all desirable traits in most cultures. Yet, if you look closely, these traits share a common attribute. The fact that I am great, honest, loyal and kind does not keep you, or anyone else from being just as great, honest, loyal and kind. There will always be enough of these qualities to go around, as long as we value those individuals who exhibit them.

A Celebration of Differences is truly a celebration of life.

Michael E. Twiggs - June 29, 1995 - All Rights Reserved.