Interview with #ThankfulForTravel Winner, Andrew Garcia!

thankfulfortravel-winner-interview

As part of STA Travel’s recent #ThankfulForTravel promotion (which raised over $10,000 for our charity partners at Teen Cancer America!) we also entered every person who participated into a drawing to win a $500 STA Travel voucher!

UC Santa Cruz student, Andrew Garcia, was our lucky winner and we caught up with him to learn a bit more about his travel aspirations and what it means to him to be #ThankfulForTravel.

1.Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Andrew Garcia and I am a third year Human Biology major at the University of California Santa Cruz. I am from beautiful, sunny San Diego which is where I draw the inspiration for what I want to do with my degree. I want to go to medical school to become a general practitioner to help my community.

2. What made you want to enter the #ThankfulForTravel promotion?

I have not had the opportunity to travel before my time in college. My mom got to travel all over the world when she was my age, inspiring me to do the same. This year I have had the opportunity to travel to the US’s biggest cities, New York, Chicago, Washington DC, and even studied abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had learn and inspire others to travel.

3. What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?

My favorite place I have traveled is Barcelona, Spain. I speak Spanish and I have been studying Spanish culture for the majority of my life. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to explore Catalonia. The nightlife and the beaches in Spain are second to none.

4. How do you think you’ll use your $500 travel voucher? Any specific destination/trip in mind?

I have caught the travel bug! I want to get back out there to continue to explore. Spain was a great starting point because I speak Spanish. I did not have the opportunity to explore the rest of Europe while I was there, but I want to go to Rome next. I have heard nothing but good things and the $500 will help pay for a flight.

5. What’s your #1 travel tip?

Walk. In Spain, I walked an average 9 km a day. I explored the city like few get to see it. Look beyond the top tourist destinations and go where the locals are, often they are very nice and invite you along on experiences you could never plan.

6. Hotel or hostel?

I prefer hotel, actually. Many other students while studying abroad choose to be in a hostel, however, I say hotel. Its private, and you get to take full advantage of the bed to do what you paid for, sleep.

7. Solo travel or group trip?

I had the most fun when I was in a group enjoying the nightlife. However, don’t be afraid to solo explore, that can be very fun too.

8. Favorite travel souvenir to bring home?

I like to collect sports jerseys, especially soccer jerseys from the cities I’ve travel too. Great conversation starter when you wear it around town.

9. What’s your #1 travel ‘must-have’? (AKA; you never leave on a trip without this)

I need my headphones. Whether it be a long plane ride, a phone call home, or enjoying a little quiet time, I need my headphones. But if I had to choose the second item it would be my DSLR camera.

10. Where can people connect with you?

I am a California college student who explores biology, baseball, and the world around me. If you want to follow my story you can find me on Instagram @drewcr3w and on Snapchat awesomeandrew7.

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Bridge between Startups and Local Government [Interview with San Francisco’s Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath]

In 2014, under the leadership of former Mayor Ed Lee, the San Francisco’s Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation created Startup in Residence, a program connecting startups and local government to make government more effective and responsive to residents. Startup in Residence (STIR) brings startups and local government together to develop targeted solutions to civic challenges through a novel approach to shortening the typically protracted and arduous government procurement cycles. This collaborative effort provides local government agencies access to more efficient and responsive technologies and participating startups the benefit of sharing their solutions in the govtech market.

In 2016, the STIR program expanded to four Bay Area cities: Oakland, San Francisco, San Leandro, and West Sacramento. And in only two years, STIR has worked with nearly 30 startups and recently announced their expansion to 12 local governments nationwide providing a larger platform for startups and continued impact on local government.

Recently, we had a chance to interview Jay Nath, Chief Innovation Officer of San Francisco, to talk about STIR and entrepreneurship in the U.S.  Jay described how STIR is mutually beneficial for startups and local government by providing startups with a low risk foray into the world of government technology and allowing government agencies to take advantage of new technologies quickly to accelerate better outcomes for residents.

STIR is helping government agencies catch up to the private sector’s customer-driven market focus. Startups are invited to apply to work with participating cities on specific technology needs. For the upcoming 2018 cohort, challenges include improving 311 request routing in San Francisco, an interactive park finder in Santa Monica, and a resident service and engagement tool in Washington, D.C.

During the 16-week program, government departments work with the startup to co-create, working through four phases: discovery, design, build and user testing. At the end of the 16-week residency, startups deliver a prototype. The goal is for cities to access new technologies that help them to improve quality of life for residents. From the startup’s perspective, working with these cities allows them to apply their innovative solutions to public sector challenges, setting them on a pathway to contract with cities nationwide.

Bringing startups into Govtech

Given San Francisco’s notoriety for entrepreneurship and all things innovation, there are countless startups and entrepreneurs from all over the world hoping to find the perfect platform to showcase their visions. It is this environment, Nath said, that allows STIR to attract early stage companies with big ideas to join the program, providing startups a unique opportunity to explore the govtech market, a market that currently, presents many barriers to entry.

STIR is an opportunity for startups to engage civically and set them on a path of steady and long-term business opportunities in the public sector. One such startup is Binti. Binti participated in STIR’s 2016 cohort partnering with San Francisco’s Human Services Agency (HSA).   During the residency they developed a mobile-friendly app for prospective foster parents, making it easier and more straightforward for them to complete HSA’s foster parent application process. The impact was significant; Binti’s tool reduces the time for social workers to process foster parent applications by 50%, ultimately helping them do more social work and less paperwork.

“Through our participation in the Startup in Residence program, we co-developed an impactful product, and the partnership with Binti really helped us advance our efforts to nurture a more modern, tech-friendly organizational culture,” said Barrett Johnson, a Program Director at the San Francisco Human Services Agency.

According to Felicia Curcuru, founder of Binti, after the collaboration with HSA, the company has expanded their business to other cities in California. LotaData is another success story.  The startup worked with the City of San Leandro to create the “People Intelligence” platform, an easy-to-use geo-dashboard that consolidates data from across the city into a single place. Startups like Binti and LotaData are helping to modernize government while exploring new markets for their services and products.

Calling all startups to board the government train!

The application for 2018 the Startup in Residence program is open through midnight on January 1st at midnight PST.  Jay said STIR welcomes applications from startups, tech firms, and individuals that are willing to share their ideas, make efforts to improve civic challenges and serve the public using technology. The 2018 STIR program has extended to 12 local governments in California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, DC. As for startups, this is a perfect chance for them to showcase their capabilities.

To learn more: https://startupinresidence.org/apply.

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From Kennedy's Killer to an Ivanka Romance: The Wildest Claims from Quincy Jones' New Interview

Quincy Jones doesn’t mince words when it comes to some of the biggest stars who have entered his orbit over the years.

The 84-year-old record producer recently sat down with Vulture for a wide-ranging interview where he opened up about everything from working with Michael Jackson to dating Ivanka Trump. Some of his shocking claims may seem out-out there, but a few have already been confirmed to be true!

Read on for some of the biggest revelations from Jones’ sit-down.

Jones says he once dated Ivanka Trump

After calling his former acquaintance Donald Trump a “megalomaniac, narcissistic” and “crazy motherf—er,” the legendary producer added as an aside, “I used to date Ivanka, you know.”

Vulture’s David Marchese spoke for all of us when he asked: “Wait, really?”

Jones went on to claim that he and Ivanka dated 12 years ago, after she asked Tommy Hilfiger to set up a dinner for them. Twelve years ago, they would have been 72 and 24.

Jones recalls telling Hilfiger at the time, “No problem. She’s a fine motherf—er.”

“She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life,” he continued. “Wrong father, though.”

He revealed that Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor were lovers

Jones was first to allege that the legendary duo had a sexual relationship, claiming that Brando would “f— anything. Anything! He’d f— a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.”

On Wednesday, Pryor’s widow Jennifer confirmed the rumor, telling TMZ that her late husband was always open about his bisexuality with friends and would not be ashamed that the relationship was revealed publicly.

RELATED VIDEO: Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor Had Sex, Says the Comedian’s Widow

He called The Beatles the “worst musicians in the world”

Jones didn’t hold back when asked about his first impression of arguably the world’s most popular band, calling them “no-playing motherf—ers.”

“Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it,” he said. “I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and Ringo had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it.”

Jones recalled telling Starr to take a break and calling jazz drummer Ronnie Verrell.

“Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up,” he shared. “Ringo comes back and says, ‘George, can you play it back for me one more time?’ So George did, and Ringo says, ‘That didn’t sound so bad.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, motherf—er because it ain’t you.’ Great guy, though.”

Jones claimed Michael Jackson lifted music from Donna Summer

“I hate to get into this publicly, but Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs,” Jones said. He cited Donna Summer’s “State of Independence,” from which Jackson lifted the riff for his hit “Billie Jean,” he said.

The producer added, “He was as Machiavellian as they come. Greedy, man. Greedy.”

Jones also said that he would “kill” Jackson over his plastic surgery, calling the late music icon’s excuse that he had vitiligo “bulls—.”

He doesn’t think Oprah Winfrey should run for president

Despite calls for the TV legend to run for office, she’s shut down the idea — and Jones agrees that Winfrey doesn’t belong in the White House.

“I don’t think she should run. She doesn’t have the chops for it,” he said. “If you haven’t been governor of a state or the CEO of a company or a military general, you don’t know how to lead people.”

That said, he isn’t a big fan of current commander-in-chief Donald Trump. “He doesn’t know s—. Someone who knows about real leadership wouldn’t have as many people against him as he does. He’s a f—ing idiot.”

Jones says he knows who killed President John F. Kennedy

The music industry icon alleged that mobster Sam Giancana was behind the assassination.

“The connection was there between Sinatra and the Mafia and Kennedy,” he said. “Joe Kennedy — he was a bad man — he came to Frank to have him talk to Giancana about getting votes.”

Jones then stated, “We shouldn’t talk about this publicly.”

There’s no “innovation” in modern pop music

“It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no f—ing songs,” Jones said. “The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.”

However, there are a few modern acts that he approves of. “Bruno Mars. Chance the Rapper. Kendrick Lamar. I like where Kendrick’s mind is. He’s grounded. Chance, too. And the Ed Sheeran record is great,” he shared. “Sam Smith — he’s so open about being gay. I love it. Mark Ronson is someone who knows how to produce.”

The Kids That Invaded Their Dad's BBC News Interview Pound On The Door Now When He's On TV

He now locks the door!

The greatest TV moments of 2017 was, without a shadow of a doubt, this interview that turned into a complete shambles when the interviewee’s kids invaded.

Robert E Kelly, a professor of political science, was supposed to be talking about the resignation of South Korea's president Park Geun-hye. However, he forgot to lock the door behind him, resulting in both of his kids crashing his interview.

BBC News / Via youtube.com

It spawned one of the greatest GIFs of all time.

It spawned one of the greatest GIFs of all time.

BBC News

And when it went viral across the world, he responded with this tweet when BBC News asked if they could repeat the clip on television.

And when it went viral across the world, he responded with this tweet when BBC News asked if they could repeat the clip on television.

“Goes viral and gets weird.”

Twitter: @i

Now, whenever he tweets an upcoming interview, everyone has one thing on their mind.

Now, whenever he tweets an upcoming interview, everyone has one thing on their mind.

Twitter: @Robert_E_Kelly

Oh, and your eyes can’t help looking at this corner of the screen, just in case something is about to happen.

Oh, and your eyes can't help looking at this corner of the screen, just in case something is about to happen.

BBC News / Via youtube.com

He said: “This whole thing happened because I was tired, it was the day the South Korean president had been impeached, I had done five interviews beforehand and I just forgot to push the button, man.”

He said: "This whole thing happened because I was tired, it was the day the South Korean president had been impeached, I had done five interviews beforehand and I just forgot to push the button, man."

BBC News

He then said: “Even now, when I push the button, my kids come down the hallway and they pound on the door … If you ever watch me doing a TV video and I’m talking very loud, it’s because I’m covering up my kids pounding on the door, because my wife lost track of them again.”

He then said: "Even now, when I push the button, my kids come down the hallway and they pound on the door ... If you ever watch me doing a TV video and I'm talking very loud, it's because I'm covering up my kids pounding on the door, because my wife lost track of them again."

“And they come running down the hall and they pound on the door [and go] 'DADDY DADDY DADDY.'”

Yeah, that's my family, man. My kids are very energetic.”

BBC News

Thank you for the memories.

Thank you for the memories.

BBC News / Via media.giphy.com