Category: prvuqsug

  • Shorenstein Center announces Goldsmith Book Prizes

    first_imgWinners of the Goldsmith Book Prizes have been announced by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy.The 2013 Book Prize winners are “Why Americans Hate the Media and How It Matters” by Jonathan M. Ladd in the academic category, and “Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom” by Rebecca MacKinnon in the trade category. Ladd is an associate professor at Georgetown University, with appointments in the Public Policy Institute and the Department of Government. MacKinnon is a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation.The Goldsmith Book Prizes honor the best academic and trade books of the year in the field of media, politics, and public policy. The prizes are underwritten by an annual gift from the Goldsmith Fund of the Greenfield Foundation. The authors will be honored at the Goldsmith Awards Ceremony at the Harvard Kennedy School on March 5.last_img read more

  • Winthrop House addition honors alumnus

    first_img Planners gather ideas for how to update, improve College living spaces In honor of his generous support for Harvard’s House renewal project, the new five-story addition to Winthrop House will be named Robert M. Beren Hall after the alumnus of the Class of ’47, M.B.A. ’50.Beren, a former Winthrop resident and a lifelong philanthropist, has supported Harvard through a variety of programs, including funding for the state-of-the-art Robert M. Beren Tennis Center, multiple faculty chairs, and Jewish student life. He saw the Winthrop House project as a unique opportunity to have a lasting impact on generations of students to come.“My time as an undergraduate — as was the case with so many of my classmates — was interrupted by World War II. On my return, I spent summers making up for the time missed while serving in the Army. But in spite of those hurried years, I left college for the Business School with warm memories and a soft spot for both the College and Winthrop House. My son Adam ’83 was also a resident of Winthrop House during his years at Harvard,” Beren recalled.“It’s my hope that this support for House renewal will provide generations of students with housing facilities worthy of Harvard, and that Robert M. Beren Hall, in particular, will serve as a cornerstone of a renewed Winthrop House,” he said. Winthrop House’s current buildings, Standish and Gore halls, opened to freshmen at the College in 1914. As the House plan took shape under Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell in the late 1920s, these neighboring structures became Winthrop House, named in honor of Harvard President John Winthrop, a member of the Class of 1732.Robert M. Beren Hall will provide additional undergraduate housing, new space for House programs and social activities, and common areas that will become a focal point of daily life.“Bob Beren’s incredible generosity comes at a momentous time for House renewal,” said Michael D. Smith, the Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Having seen the transformational impact that the process has had on our first fully renewed House, Dunster House, we’re excited to move forward with our vision for Winthrop, which will strengthen the close-knit community that is at the heart of our House system, while better meeting the needs of today’s students.”Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., J.D. ’94, and Stephanie Robinson, J.D. ’94, co-masters of Winthrop House, applauded Beren’s generosity. “Every year, we see the vital and unique role that the House system plays in the student experience at Harvard. And when Robert M. Beren Hall opens, we know this space will provide invaluable opportunities for students to convene, collaborate, and to just unwind,” they said in a statement.The House renewal project broke ground in 2012 with Stone Hall at Quincy House. It has since transformed Leverett House’s McKinlock Hall and, most recently, Dunster House. Winthrop House will begin the process in June.“A Harvard education extends far beyond the classroom, and it is in the Houses that students can get to know their classmates and mentors, learn and grow together, and form relationships that will enrich their lives for many years to come. Bob Beren’s generosity and vision for Winthrop will have a lasting impact, and I look forward to seeing Robert M. Beren Hall represent his outstanding dedication to this University,” said Harvard President Drew Faust.The Beren family will join members of the Winthrop community, College leaders, and Dean Smith this spring for the groundbreaking ceremony of Robert M. Beren Hall. Renewing Winthrop House Relatedlast_img read more

  • The sacred in Harry Potter

    first_imgIt might sound like a tongue-in-cheek item in The Onion, but a class on reading the Harry Potter books as sacred texts has proven a popular offering for the Humanist Hub at Harvard.Led by Harvard Divinity School graduates Vanessa Zoltan, M.Div. ’15, and Casper ter Kuile, M.P.P. ’16, M.Div. ’16, the class began as a reading group last summer at the Humanist Hub, where Zoltan is an assistant chaplain. It drew nearly 80 participants on its opening night, and is now starting its second year.Recognizing the potential reach of their subject, Zoltan and ter Kuile joined with producer Ariana Nedelman, M.Div. ’18 to put together a podcast. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, the group worked through final exams and wedding plans to produce the podcast, and the series debuted in May. It has since climbed as high as No. 2 on the iTunes top podcasts, and remains atop the religion and spirituality charts.A proctor and student, respectively, Zoltan and Nedelman met with the Gazette in the Yard to talk about creating the podcast, the intricacies of reading a text as sacred, and how they see the future playing out. The Boy Who Lived (Book 1, Chapter 1)In the premiere episode of “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” Casper and Vanessa talk about why they are starting this project and analyze the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone through the theme of commitment. GAZETTE: Where did the idea for “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” come from?ZOLTAN: I met Casper while I was doing work treating secular texts as sacred, and we became good friends. We had very similar values and similar projects that we were interested in, in terms of doing ministry for people who didn’t feel comfortable in traditional religious settings. I was running a class on treating “Jane Eyre” as a sacred text, and Casper came, even though he didn’t do any of the reading [laughs]. But he was super into it, and he was so supportive and so sweet. It was me and four women in this tiny room at the Humanist Hub, and he was like, “This was so, so great. But don’t you think it would be more fun if it was about a book that people actually read?”So it was his idea to do Harry Potter, and once we started talking he got even more interested in my work. He came to my thesis defense, and we pitched doing Harry Potter as a sacred text as a class to my boss at the Humanist Hub, Greg Epstein, and we started on our adventure together. So the way I like to say it is I liked the books a lot, but I had faith in Casper.NEDELMAN: Before coming to graduate school, I was working for Pemberley Digital, and the phenomenon around “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” was so interesting to me. Part of that was people were loving “Pride and Prejudice,” and seeing themselves so fully in Elizabeth Bennet and identifying with her. And the most beautiful part of my job was responding to fan mail. We’d get these people writing in telling us how this YouTube series had changed the way they were living in the world, had helped them with their disability or depression or whatever it was. Those moments were actually what inspired me to want to come to [Harvard] Divinity School, and then when I came and heard about “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” it just zeroed in on everything I was already excited about, about people finding literature as something that could resonate in their lives.GAZETTE: Could this be done with any piece of literature, or does it have to be good literature, or fall in the realm of Joseph Campbell’s hero myth, or something else?NEDELMAN: It really depends on the love. I think it’s dangerous to say that some literature is better than other literature because you end up drawing lines about what is great literature, which makes me uncomfortable. People are already doing this work with Harry Potter, that’s what’s important. Sorting into the houses is an example we always use. That’s part of how people will identify on Tinder, like I’m a Ravenclaw or I’m a Hufflepuff. And it’s not “If I were to be sorted into a Harry Potter house, it would be Ravenclaw,” it’s “I am a Ravenclaw.” And I think that the work of people who are already living through Harry Potter or seeing themselves in relation to Harry Potter in an intimate way is what makes what we do possible.ZOLTAN: But I do think that a text has to be what I call “duly complicated,” and how I define that is the three of us should be able to look at the same sentence and have four different readings; and I do think there is a risk when we treat something unworthy as if it is sacred. I think it’s a fluid definition, and I certainly think that in different contexts different things are sacred. The example I give is that the Bible is considered sacred, but if it was a Bible in a different language and you didn’t know, you might use it as a doorstopper. So we say that “sacred” is an act, not a thing, and I do think the thing matters. Some texts are more worthy and will give you more gifts than others, but I don’t want to be the arbiter of what counts as sacred. But I do think Harry Potter is uniquely qualified for endless amounts of speculation.The three founders of the podcast, from left, Vanessa Zoltan, Casper ter Kuile, and Ariana Nedelman. Photo by Robert MajovskiGAZETTE: What chapters are you most excited and least excited to do?ZOLTAN: I’m most excited and most terrified of doing the chapter at the very end where Harry walks into the woods [to sacrifice himself]. There’s so much potential richness to talk about, and as ministers trained in preaching you want to excavate the deepest possible lesson from the text. It’s about a young boy committing suicide to a lot of people, and then it’s about a young man doing something brave, and it’s also about a young man saying goodbye to his family, and it’s about mortality and the possibility of resurrection in the next life. I think that I’ll be less scared by the time we get there because we’ll have laid so much groundwork in previous chapters and conversations. But I think about that chapter frequently. Whenever I’m walking to something that I’m stressed about, I’ll be like, “Stop and smell the grass, Vanessa.” I think it’s so beautifully written, and his questions are so childlike. I did hospital chaplaincy, and I’ve sat with dying people in their 80s and 90s, and those are the questions that they have, too: “Will it hurt?” “How will it happen?” So the questions feel very innocent and childlike, but they’re eternal questions. She really transcended the story in the beauty of that chapter. I feel like, for that episode, we can just read that chapter aloud.NEDELMAN: I don’t know that there’s a specific chapter, but I know the books get increasingly dark and complicated. Right now this first book has a lot of lightness to it, and I’m just worried about week after week of dealing with these tragedies and how to make it a good experience for people and make sure that we tap into the complexity and richness of those things.GAZETTE: Part of reading a text as sacred means that there cannot be plot holes. For example, you discussed how Hermione lies to the teachers about being saved from the troll, almost for no reason, and you’re not allowed to then say, “Wow, [author] J.K. Rowling really screwed this one up.” You have to find a purpose for it. Are you confident that your interpretations are going to hold up over the next seven books, and how do you think you’re going to grapple with contradictions, if and when they show up?NEDELMAN: I don’t feel like we’re trying to make definitive interpretations of this text. I think it’s really important that we’re modeling the process of interpretation and of reconciling things. It’s important to be seeking what I’ve called perfection in Bible classes before, to believe that everything’s there for a purpose and that it’s there to teach us something. But I don’t think it’s going to be our purpose to look back at previous interpretations and be like, “Is that still true?” Part of the process is reconciling what we thought was true and now what is true and then making that make sense again.ZOLTAN: We’ll get emails about, “You said this in a previous episode, and now you’re saying something else,” but I’m not worried about it either. I had a moment like that with “Jane Eyre.” I don’t remember what it was, and I was like, “How can these both be true?” I felt like there was a mistake in the novel. So I was thinking about it out loud in front of [HDS Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies] Stephanie Paulsell and I was like, “OK, what are we doing here? The novel’s supposed to be perfect,” and she said, “Whoa, whoa, is it supposed to be perfect? I thought it was supposed to be sacred.” That was 2½ years ago, and it’s taken me 2½ years to come up with a remotely adequate answer to that. My mom isn’t perfect, but she’s sacred to me, and she’s a ball of contradictions, and there’s no rhyme or reason. There are a lot of things about her I can count on. She’s almost always going to be sweet and in a good mood — except when she’s not. And when she’s not, it could be for a good reason or it could be because a memory floated up in her head at that moment about something that happened 20 years ago, and I will never know. She’s not perfect, but she’s still sacred. So the books aren’t going to be perfect, but it’s not our job to treat them as if they’re perfect, it’s our job to treat them as if they’re sacred, which means loving them and treating them with rigor and faith and community. But the fun part of that is that in 10 weeks when it turns out we were wrong about how we interpreted something, we’ll have more information, so we’re just going to be rediscovering it.NEDELMAN: I also think we’ve made a commitment not to talk about J.K. Rowling and to take the text as what it is. So I think in saying the text isn’t going to be perfect we’re not saying she screwed up.ZOLTAN: Yeah, there are no mistakes. That’s what makes it sacred. This is where my rule [comes in because] that’s what makes it worthy. The three of us can read it and have different theories as to why Hermione does a given thing. So if there were only one possible interpretation of that, it wouldn’t be worthy of treating as sacred.GAZETTE: So given the continued increase in religious non-affiliation in the United States, do you think this sort of interpretation of art-that-you-love is how we maintain faith, by becoming Beatleists and Potterheads and Whovians, so to speak?NEDELMAN: For me, personally, I do think some kind of spiritual life is important. I believe that there are big questions that, whether in an institutional setting or not, as human beings we have to grapple with. And as people distance themselves from more traditional institutions, we need to give them space to do that. And I do think that can be anywhere as long as you’re willing to treat something in that way, that as long as you’re putting the time in to think about it complexly, to love it, to take riches from it, those places can stand in for traditional religion.ZOLTAN: I do think this is a deeply religious country, and it is a deeply theological country. The deepest theology that I want to rub up against in this country is that we get what we deserve. We believe in Manifest Destiny, and I don’t see that theology going away. We tend to believe that, at least as a meta-narrative, that the victims of natural disasters sort of deserve it because the richer people who work harder and live in the better neighborhoods aren’t as adversely affected. Or that kids from certain neighborhoods don’t deserve a good education. I really think that that comes from a Calvinist, Puritanical cultural history that is still a dominant narrative in this country. I think Americans believe that that is the way that everybody thinks, but I think it’s a uniquely American way to believe.Readers discuss the themes of the assigned chapters in breakout groups. In the center, Emily Colgan, the podcast’s social media coordinator, talks with Casper ter Kuile. Photo by Nick BohlGAZETTE: Have you guys been getting a lot of angry mail?NEDELMAN: We really haven’t! We keep expecting to.ZOLTAN: I got my first hate tweet the other night, and it was so polite. I thought, “That’s it?” We braced ourselves, but we really haven’t. We’ve gotten some like, “I disagree with you.” We’ve been called social justice warriors.NEDELMAN: I think we’re currently still the top podcast in religion and spirituality, which means that we displaced a bunch of evangelical Christian preachers, and I’ve always gotten the impression that evangelicals don’t like Harry Potter. I have a lot of friends who were raised evangelical who were banned from reading it.ZOLTAN: We’ve had some people write in to us about that, that they’ve only been allowed to read it since they left the church.NEDELMAN: But you would think that those people would see Harry Potter on religion and spirituality and think that it was an abomination.GAZETTE: How much of Harvard Divinity School is in each episode or in your process?ZOLTAN: I would say that there are competing voices in my in my head. My family and our history is a big story, that is, a big lens through which I see everything, and then literature and my love for literature is a second, and then the Divinity School is the third lens I see it through. And there are definitely key moments of conversation that come back to me.NEDELMAN: Even if you’re not actively implementing what you learned at the Div School, your experiences in certain classes and thinking about certain things affect the way you think about these topics. So it’s always infusing what you’re thinking about.ZOLTAN: The M.Div. is a very practitioner-oriented degree, and so I feel trained as a chaplain. I don’t feel like my training is done, I’m going to retake “Intro to Ministry Studies” this next semester. I still have mentor relationships with chaplains. I’m still very involved in my training.NEDELMAN: I’m still in the Divinity School, so I get to have that playground to think about what we’re doing. I get to have peers who ask why we’re doing blessings this way, and the institutional support to take a class like “Ministry in the Digital Age,” and to spend a whole class talking about this podcast, so that’s been wonderful.ZOLTAN: The Divinity School’s been so supportive. They’ve written us letters that have made us cry.“Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and SoundCloud. Classes for the reading group at the Humanist Hub start Sept. 14. Visit for more information.This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.John Michael Baglione is a writer and author residing in Boston. His work can be found at read more

  • Beer Guide: Best Outdoor Bars

    first_imgWhat makes a good bar? It’s as difficult a question as “what makes a good trail?” or perhaps even “what makes a good spouse?” But we’ve all asked it. We’ve all pondered that deep, philosophical question, trying to quantify the quintessential characteristics that separate an average bar from an awesome bar. A deep beer list heavy on local brews? Certainly. A spacious patio? A hot bartender? It doesn’t hurt.One thing’s for certain: we’re all looking for that perfect place where we can sit in the sun, sip a local beer, and rest our shaky legs or gripped forearms. Because, ideally, The Good Bar is located near some epic adventure that will at least give us the illusion of earning our carbs. The staff at BRO is on a never-ending search for the quintessential Good Bar, scouring pubs near mountaintops and river valleys throughout the Southern Appalachians. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. Here’s a list of our favorites.Devils Backbone BreweryRoseland, Va.Whatever is on your mental checklist of Good Bar characteristics, Devils Backbone probably has it covered. DB won the Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year award at the Great American Beer Festival in 2012. As for a cool space to drink beer in the sun, how about a patio with views of Three Ridges? Located at the base of Wintergreen Mountain, for many people, Devils Backbone is in the middle of nowhere. To us, the brewpub is in the epicenter of awesome, with quick access to the aforementioned Wintergreen as well as Three Ridges and the Appalachian Trail. What really sets DB apart, though, is the Devils Backbone Adventures race series, a collection of off-road running and biking events that begin and end at the brewery and use the growing network of trails located on the brewery owner’s adjacent land. Or sign up for the more casual, monthly nighttime events where you’ll run with glow sticks beneath a blanket of stars. Drink your post-race beer on the side patio while listening to the sizzle of bratwurst and burgers cooking on the grill.Vibe: Western lodge—lots of wood, glass, animal heads in the pub, and wicking layers on the clientele.First, hit the…Race course. Take your pick of mountain bike or trail running races sponsored by and held at the brewery. If you’re not competitive, the A.T. and Three Ridges Wilderness are just a few miles away. And a road bike climb up Wintergreen Mountain is short but brutal.Pull up a chair next to…Weekend warriors fresh off one of the brewery’s races, just like you. Swap stories about bonking mid-race and soul-crushing mechanicals while waiting for the burgers and brats to cook.Order the… Wintergreen Weiss. Named for the formidable mountain behind the brewery, this Hefeweizen is as refreshing as the slice of orange you’re probably going to ask the waiter to put in it. This is the style of beer that inspired DB owner Steve Crandall to start his own brewery.Legend Brewing CompanyRichmond, Va.Before there was a craft beer scene in Virginia, there was Legend, the oldest brewery in the state, and one poised to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. Even if you have no respect for your elders, you have to respect Legend’s patio. The brewpub sits in Old Manchester, a warehouse and railroad district on the south bank of the James River that’s slowly converting to condos and lofts. From the 200-seat patio, you’ve got a shot of the rail yard below (not impressive), the James River beyond the trains (kind of impressive), and arguably the best view of Richmond’s downtown skyline anywhere in the city (very impressive). If it’s sunny, and anywhere near happy hour, the patio will be hopping.Vibe: Industrial chic, minus the chic. But in a good way.First, hit the…James River. You’ve got options. If you’re a boater, tackle the drops and play waves of the Lower James, in the heart of downtown, just a shuttle-bunny hop away. If you’re a biker or runner, hit the Buttermilk Trail on the 54-acre Bell Isle Park on the edge of the river.Pull up a chair next to…just about anyone. Legend is a popular post-session pit stop for boaters and runners alike, and if it’s sunny, it’ll feel like the entire city is crammed onto the deck trying to catch some rays and soak in the view.Order the… Lager. We love Legend because they have the balls to brew a lager, a beer most craft brewers dismiss because of its mass-production connotations, but the beer has a crisp finish and, at 4.8 percent ABV, is built for drinking in the sun after a day on the river.The Pourover PubWesser, N.C.The Pourover doesn’t just have a big deck. The whole pub is one big deck. This open-air bar feels a bit like an ocean side tiki hut, only it’s next to a river, and there are lots of people with Southern accents. The Pourover is the designated pub for the Nantahala Outdoor Center and sits right on the mighty Nanty overlooking the newly enhanced NOC Wave, the site of the 2013 Freestyle Championships. The NOC’s pullout for the class II-III river is just a short stroll across a pretty footbridge, which means this pub sees a lot of post-river action with rafters high on their first experience in rubber. On weekend nights, expect a more local crowd, as the pub is filled with resident boaters and gorge-dwellers who are psyched to finally have a proper pub to call their own.Vibe: Raft guide hangout meets German beer garden meets island tiki bar. It’s confusing, but it works.First, hit the…River. Duh! Yes, you can pick up the A.T. inside the gorge and the NOC has its share of mountain bike trails, but if you’re in the gorge, you should be boating the brutally cold Nantahala.Pull up a chair next to…Olympic boaters and families from Atlanta. The NOC is a breeding ground for some of the best paddlers in the South. It’s also the most popular river for family-friendly rafting trips. It makes for an interesting mix at this bar that overlooks The Wave.Order the…Pabst. Sure, the Pourover has plenty of local beer to choose from, but you’re in paddler ground zero, and when in Rome…Universal JointClayton, Ga.First, there are actually three Universal Joints (or U-Joint in the local vernacular), each located in a separate hip town (Decatur, Ga.; Asheville, N.C.; and Clayton, Ga.). Each restaurant has been installed into a renovated garage, so similarities between the three spots abound. But make no mistake, Clayton’s U-Joint comes out on top in terms of location, thanks to its proximity to the Chattooga River. The bar itself is worth the trip. Picture a huge patio on Main Street USA with big garage doors that are thrown open during the summer, blending inside and out. Add the killer burger menu and deep beer list, and you have a combo that’s unparalleled. Boat the Chattooga, drink at the U-Joint: that’s a summer-day bucket list all on its own.Vibe: Small town hipster hangout meets waterlogged river rat hangoutFirst, hit the…Chattooga River. No other river in the Southeast offers the Chattooga’s drop-and-pool whitewater and pristine wilderness setting. Want something more alpine? Check out the views from the peaks in Black Rock Mountain State Park.Pull up a chair next to…fun-loving river guides. Buy them a beer (or two) and get them to tell you their favorite stories from the trenches of guiding tourists down one of the burliest rivers in the South.Order the…Sweetwater 420. The beer list is varied and changes frequently, but you can always count on this (relatively) local pale ale on a hot day. If you’re hungry, you can’t go wrong with a burger, preferably covered in pimento cheese and topped with bacon.The BywaterAsheville, N.C.Bring your own meat. That could be the slogan for The Bywater, a tiny pub with a massive lawn that stretches toward the French Broad River.  On that lawn, you’ve got your cornhole, your horseshoes, your bonfires, your boat launch, and your grills. Bring your own burgers or brats or whatever, and feel free to fire it up. Food trucks show up most weekend nights, and the Bywater has become a popular takeout for boaters and tubers paddling a calm two-mile stretch of the French Broad. On weekends, you’ll find Asheville hipsters mingling with young families and boaters still wet from the river.Vibe: Neighborhood barbecue in the backyard we all wish we had, complete with boat launch.First, hit the…French Broad. There’s a calm two-mile stretch that takes you by The Wedge Brewery, if you’re looking for an extra pit stop. If you’re not a river rat, check out the relatively new singletrack at Richmond Hill Park, which twists and rolls on a knoll above the Bywater on the other side of the river.Pull up a chair next to…hipster families with kids named Tallulah and Stellar. The expansive, open lawn is irresistible on warm summer days.Order the…Pisgah Pale Ale. Local, hop forward and thirst quenching, Pisgah Pale is the unofficial official beer of summer in Asheville.Check out the rest of our Southern Brew Guide!last_img read more

  • Senators introduce companion to House-passed rulemaking bill

    first_img 9SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr A CUNA-backed U.S. Senate bill was recently introduced, serving as a companion to a House-passed bill that would modernize federal rulemaking.The bill was introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Angus King (I-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). CUNA supports the bill as a way to move away from the one-size-fits-all style regulations that have added to the increasing regulatory burdens facing credit unions.S. 2006 is a companion to the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 185), which was introduced in January and subsequently passed the House by a 250-175 vote.“Through stronger cost-benefit analysis and greater transparency, this commonsense legislation will build a less costly, more stable regulatory environment for job creation and economic growth,” Portman said.Prior to the House vote on the legislation, CUNA and a number of other organizations urged the House to pass the the bill in a Jan. 12 letter, saying it “builds on established principles of fair regulatory process and review.” continue reading »last_img read more

  • How used growth-driven design to quadruple leads for loans

    first_img 1SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Derik Krauss Derik is a cofounder of BloomCU, an award-winning website design agency for credit unions. His agency’s design work has received recognition from CUNA (Diamond Award),, and others. He … Web: Details Meet Dave Sullivan, VP of Marketing at People Driven Credit Union (PDCU).PDCU is a full-service financial institution that has been helping members and their families since 1928 and currently serves 25,000 members. Like many credit unions, PDCU has an aging membership and needs to attract younger people. If they don’t grow, they’re at risk of eventually merging out of existence, as has happened to 18,000 credit unions already. My company, BloomCU, helped Dave with his credit union website design ( and we continue to help him use it to win business. While there are many pieces to the puzzle when it comes to growing a credit union, his website plays a key role because, like most credit unions, it’s his most visited branch. Plus, young people are more likely to interact with his website than to call or visit a physical branch. So, Dave and I have been working to use to get more loans and deposits for his credit union. We practice The Growth-Driven Method of website design, which is a proven strategy to grow a credit union through continuous, results-driven improvements. In keeping with this method, Dave and I brainstormed some ideas, looking for ways to generate more leads for loans and accounts. Then, we ranked our ideas, and one rose to the top of our list: Try simplifying his lead capture form, as the existing one was a bit too long and cumbersome.The existing form was a bit too long and cumbersome.We believed we could make the form easier for people to complete and thereby generate more leads. To simplify the form and increase submissions, we decided to apply five data-backed insights:Use fewer form fieldsInclude labels above form fieldsShow form fields progressivelyImplement an auto-populating messageDon’t use “submit” for button text(We also decided to make the introduction to the form a bit more in line with the user experience. While we didn’t have any specific research to support that decision, our intuition told us it was a good idea.)With these insights in mind, we went to work to create the new form. We wrote a new introduction, reduced the number of form fields from 14 to 4, added labels, made the fields show progressively as they are filled out, and auto-populated a message for the user to send. We also changed the CTA button text from “Submit” to “Send Message” and, lastly, we decided to remove the privacy policy.The simpler form had a new introduction, fewer fields, top-aligned labels, progressive fields, an auto-populating message, no privacy policy, and new button text.Then we put the new, simpler form on trial by A/B testing it against the original, longer form. We ran the A/B test on a couple of Dave’s loan pages and split visitors between the two versions of the form: about half of the visitors were shown the original form (version “A”) and the other half saw the new one (version “B”). We split tested the forms: half of the website users saw version “A” (the original form) and the other half were shown version “B” (the new form).We let the A/B test run until we had 753 visits from’s users and statistically significant results (the test reached 99.4% statistical confidence, which means you can trust the results because you want to see 95% or higher):Version A (original form):2.3% conversion rate (9 submissions / 394 visits)Version B (New Form):10% conversion rate (36 submissions / 359 visits)The new, simpler form generated 4x more leads for loans. It’s 335% better at getting submissions than the original form.“The new, simpler form generated 4x more leads for loans.”This Growth-Driven experiment involved fairly simple changes to the credit union website design. It was easy to implement but produced big results. Now, using the simpler form, Dave is generating more leads from his advertisements to help PDCU grow. Takeaways:Make your lead capture forms easy for visitors to fill out and you’ll get more leads. It’s a simple insight you can apply today to produce big wins and grow your credit union.Be a marketing scientist. Always test your ideas and measure the results. Don’t just assume an idea is good.Use The Growth-Driven Method to improve your website continuously.Also check out this Case Study with that shows personalization increases user engagement by 31%.last_img read more

  • Let the investment begin

    first_imgTo access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week. Would you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletterslast_img

  • Epsom & Leatherhead

    first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

  • Governor Wolf Tours Areas in Delaware County Affected by Severe Weather and Flooding

    first_imgGovernor Wolf Tours Areas in Delaware County Affected by Severe Weather and Flooding August 16, 2018 Press Release,  Weather Safety New Albany, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf visited Upper Darby and Darby in Delaware County to tour areas affected by the heavy rains and flooding that swept through the commonwealth over the past few days. The governor was joined by PEMA Director Rick Flinn, local officials and legislators to see those areas where damage to homes and businesses occurred. “When I visited Bradford County yesterday I saw damage that was devastating and heartbreaking and today I am seeing much of the same,” Gov. Wolf said. “Businesses destroyed and homes with flood damage. But, also I am encouraged by the resilience and community spirit of support – neighbors helping neighbors – that I see everywhere I go in Pennsylvania.” In Upper Darby, the governor and officials saw the damage from flooding to multiple homes and businesses, some of which sustained severe damage as Naylor’s Run and Cobb creeks overflowed their banks on Tuesday. In Darby, flood waters that caused traffic congestion and emergency response delays have now receded, leaving a massive clean-up.“The first responders, emergency management personnel and people of Upper Darby and Darby deserve our thanks for taking care of each other during this tough weather week” Gov. Wolf said. “I am pleased that I was able to meet with some of them to learn what else the state can be doing to help.”center_img SHARE Email Facebook Twitterlast_img read more

  • Companies team up to build world’s first shallow draft ice-breaking W2W vessel

    first_imgThe vesselwill perform year-round crew transfer services for up to 40 persons from theshallow Nabil Port to offshore platforms near the east coast of Sakhalin. Thevessel can also be deployed for oil spill response services. It is worthmentioning that Wagenborg and Mercury Sakhalin are already working together in theSakhalin region with the ice-breaking support vessel Arcticaborg which startedoperations in November 2019. With Wagenborgicebreaking technology of the icebreaking hull and pulling Azimuth thrusters,the vessel can break through ice up to one metre. By combining a shallow draught of 3.15 metres, a transit draught of 4.0 metres in open waters and a grounded bottom notation, the vessel can be deployed year-round. The motion-compensatedgangway on this vessel is optimized for both winter and summer operations,resulting in multiple gangway positions. The shallowdraft ice-breaking walk to work vessel is specially designed and optimized foryear-round operations in the challenging conditions on the east coast ofSakhalin in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees to +35 degrees. The offshorespecialist said that after delivery in December 2021, Mercury Sakhalin willoperate this vessel on the east coast of Sakhalin for the oil and gas industry. Royal Niestern Sander shipyard and a joint-venture between Mercury Sakhalin and Pola have signed an agreement for the construction of the world’s first shallow draft ice-breaking walk to work vessel. Wagenborg wasan intermediary between the parties and has contributed to the project with itsoperational experience of sailing in shallow waters with ice-breaking vessels inthe Caspian Sea and walk to work operations in the North Sea.last_img read more