I’m coloring the world with a blue pencil.

Cali Harris | aka CaligaterMy Gramps was a professor who specialized in education. He taught classes like Child Psychology, The Learner, and Child Growth and Development. And he taught my mom this lesson early in her teaching career:

My mom was teaching 3rd grade students to print letters. A few students were having trouble writing their letters, and so she corrected the mistakes with a red pencil. But the students weren’t improving their handwriting.
She asked her dad what to do. “Instead of marking incorrect letters with a red pencil, why don’t you use a blue pencil to circle the letters that were printed correctly?” he suggested.
So, my mom started using a blue pencil to highlight all the letters that were printed correctly.
The result? The students quickly improved their writing.

I’ve carried this lesson with me since I first remember hearing my Gramps tell the story.

My Gramps lived his life using a blue pencil. He looked for the best in every person he met. And by doing so, he made those around him feel extraordinary.

I’m trying to live life in a similar way.

I’m coloring the world with a blue pencil.

Every day, I craft my life’s work.

As a relationship-builder (by profession) and social scientist (by training), I get lots (-lots-) of opportunities to use a blue pencil. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I succeed, but I’m usually giving it a solid go.

I believe magic happens at the intersection of relationships and systems. (More about that here.)

My superpowers:

Systems Thinking  Empathy  Cultural Compass

My guiding values frameworks:

  • Act with integrity
  • Engage in curious empathy
  • Innovate through the adjacent possible
  • Extend invitations
  • Celebrate enthusiastically

I’m looking for my next full-time gig. In the mean time, I consult with a wide variety of organizations to help them get unstuck and to design better programs. Most recently, I worked for the University of Colorado Boulder at the Leeds School of Business, designing an entrepreneurship, innovation and design initiative for CU students. Prior to that, I worked for Techstars, where I helped build partnerships with corporations. In addition to bachelors degrees in Ethnic Studies and Journalism, I also earned an interdisciplinary Master of Social Sciences degree. My graduate research explored how technology accelerators provide social capital to entrepreneurs (more about that here). Social science is my jam.

Along with my life’s work, I am completely lit up by the relationships in my life: my family, my friends, my coworkers, my community, and new people I’ve yet to meet. (Maybe that’s you?)

This site is my life dossier.

I like to dance, walk up mountains, eat real food, have potlucks with family + friends, swagger my vernacular, pitter around Boulder, Colorado, support good businesses, write poetry on corners of paper, belly laugh, start 3 books at once, and hug-squee.

I live a faith-centered life and am curious about the type of grit it takes to build good character and live from the heart. (What I’ve learned so far: it’s the hardest work there is. And the most rewarding.)

I dig interdisciplinarity—the openness to examine things from many perspectives, to cross boundaries, to find new intersections.

Believer in being principled. Lover of community and the humans that create it.

Earnest often. Feisty sometimes. Curious always.

Dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education; dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?

– Friedrich Nietzsche, 1888, Twilight of Idols

Caligater.com - the Gater!

Photo above courtesy of the talented kendallruth.com