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Economy in Action at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

The recent openings of the Winspear, the Perot Museum and the brand new Klyde Warren Park usher in a new era for downtown Dallas.  Just down the street from the Perot, and caddy corner from KWP is a more inconspicuous update to this thriving area: The Economy in Action Exhibit at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, open since October.

Alexander Johnson, Media Coordinator at the Dallas Fed, explains that Economy in Action, “explores the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve.”  To clarify, the 12 District locations of the Federal Reserve Bank are part of the economic policy making structure, while the Bureau of Engraving in Fort Worth mints money.  To drool over page after page of crisp new hundreds roll off the presses, you would need to be 37 miles away at the Fort Worth Mint.signglobe

Behind the visitor’s desk at the Dallas Fed is a nicely done collage introducing the 11th district composed of southern New Mexico, northern Louisiana and all of Texas.  Throughout the lobby is a rather plain, but still interesting history of both US and Texas currency replete with monetary factoids.  Did you that “HAWAII” was printed on all Hawaiian currency during WWII so that if Japan invaded Hawaii the currency could be voided?

The Money in Action exhibit starts in the 18th century with Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson squaring off pro and con (respectively) about whether it is necessary to establish a central bank.  Hamilton, the first US Secretary of the Treasury, ultimately wins the argument, with The First Bank of the United States being established in 1791.  Fifty years later President Andrew Jackson succeeded in disbanding The Second Bank of the United States, eliminating central banking from the US economy.

After the central bank was quashed, banking shenanigans ensued and the United States lurched from one recession to another.  Another surprising fact is that between the Civil War and WWI the US was in recession half the time?  In 1913, the modern Federal Reserve was established and will celebrate its centennial on December 23.  There is an interesting exhibit about how the Fed cities were chosen.  There is an legendary story about the elaborately orchestrated “accidental” train meeting that led to Dallas being named as a location for one of the Fed’s district offices – sorry, New Orleans.

The exhibition glosses over 20th century economic history of the US with a mural and moves on to explain the Fed’s mission and how it functions.  This is the most interesting part of the exhibition.  However, this presentation of the modern Federal Reserve, seems to use the obscure economic history explored in the first part of the exhibit as a didactic foil to explain the Fed’s role in the modern economy. Don’t like the Fed? Here’s what the economy looked like without us.

Compared to the state of the art museums in the neighborhood, the Money in Action exhibit feels clunky.  Unlike the currency display in the lobby (walk and read), Economy in Action exhibit is highly interactive.  There are loads of short videos, sound clips, fun facts etc that require the push of a button or the lift of a panel.  There isn’t much sizzle to these devices, but they do unlock loads of knowledge. pyramid2

My biggest criticism is the theoretical nature of the exhibit.  Of course, there is a disparity between the long term orientation of the Fed and the short term reaction of the markets.  But the exhibit passes over modern issues like Quantitative Easing, federal debt, the global economy, technology and even the Great Depression.  In short, Economy in Action feels like it is in a bubble.

As trivia, the entire Economy in Action experience is pretty unbeatable, from the big picture perspective, to the little tidbits presented in the exhibit, to the elaborate security system just to get in.  It is almost impossible not to take America’s role as an economic superpower for granted, but the Economy in Action exhibit is a humbling reminder that America had to find its way economically, just it did (and does) with more top-of-mind issues.

Chances are pretty good that eventually we will all find ourselves at the Winspear, the Perot, and the new park.  But seeing the Economy in Action exhibit will take some planning as it is only open from 9-3 Tuesday through Friday (it will not be affected by The Sequester) – admission is free.  Put it on your to do list, and be ready to roll up your sleeves, push some buttons and to come away from the experience more knowledgeable than when you went in.

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News Release: Glen Rose to Host Visitors and Events as Part of 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit in North Texas

August 24, 2012 (Glen Rose, TX) — North Texas has been named the site of the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit.  The event will bring 160 visitors from Japan to participate in tours, programs and homestay visits with 15 communities all over the DFW Metroplex.  The half dozen visitors who will be hosted by Glen Rose will establish relationships with their host families and see the wealth of attractions in the area. The centerpiece of the visit will be a concert held in their honor.

The Concert on Saturday, September 1, at 7pm will enjoy the outstanding acoustics of the First United Methodist Church.  There will be a reception at the Pie Peddler after the concert.  Japanese-born, Dr. Asakura, Tarleton State Professor of Music, will sing a selection of traditional American songs.  Lending his baritone voice to Spirituals, he will be accompanied by TarletonState colleague Dr. Leslie Spotz.  According to Dr. Spotz,”The invitation to participate in such a far reaching international exchange right here in north central Texas is exciting and inspiring!  Dr. Asakura and I were delighted to be included.  It seems especially appropriate that he and I continue a Japanese-American cultural exchange in Glen Rose, since we already have that every day in the music hallways of TarletonStateUniversity’s FineArtsCenter.”

The visit begins in Fort Worth on August 28, with the Opening Ceremony at Billy Bob’s Texas and closes in Dallas on September 3.  While the visitors are in Texas, they will take in sights all over the Metroplex including the iconic Fort Worth Stockyards sites and a favorite Japanese pastime, watching baseball.  The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX will observe Japan-America Friendship on Tuesday, August 28, when the Texas Rangers take on the Tampa Bay Rays. 

The Glen Rose Homestay program kicks off on Thursday, August 30 with a welcome reception at Barnard’s Mill at 3:00 PM.  “I was so excited to be asked to coordinate this event,” said Pie Peddler proprietor Rhonda Cagle, who is also the Host City Coordinator for Glen Rose.  “I am a retired teacher and learning about different cultures is so intriguing to me.  I look forward to showing them around my unique home town of Glen Rose.  We have so much to offer a visitor to our small town.”

On Friday, August 31, the visitors will visit Fossil Rim Wildlife Preserve and DinosaurValleyState Park.  In the evening, they will take in a slice of life (Texas-style) when they watch the Glen Rose Tigers take on Ranchview in the season opener high school football game. Following the football game, the visitors will be treated to a hayride at the Hideaway Ranch and have dinner at its new Silver Dollar Steakhouse.

”Immediately upon learning of the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit, we knew we wanted to be involved,” said Jason and Traci Niedziela, the owners of the Hideaway Ranch and Silver Dollar Steakhouse.  “We enjoy cultural exchange and we’ve both lived in Japan.  As a result, we have a profound interest and love for this country.  We look forward to helping any way possible.”  Jason and Traci Niedziela are also helping conduct the cultural training for the Glen Rose host families in anticipation of the three-night homestay program.

The Summit honors the life-long friendship between Captain William H. Whitfield, an American whaler, and John Manjiro Nakahama, a Japanese fisherman and the first Japanese citizen to be educated in America.  Manjiro’s knowledge of America faciliated the opening of Japan to trade with the western world following the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1853.  Manjiro taught English, navigation, ship-building and American ideas, such as democracy, to young Japanese samurais who led Japan to modernize and join the developed world.

“The friendship between these two men is unique in that it has continued for more than 170 years between their descendants,” said Hiroko Todoroki, CIE Secretary General. “The purpose of the annual Grassroots Summit is to encourage new friendships between Japanese and Americans that will last a lifetme and beyond. Members of the Whitfield and Nakahama families play a pivotal role in each Summit, and serve as a reminder of the enormous potential of grassroots exchange.”

The 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit in North Texas is being presented by the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth and the JohnManjiroWhitfieldCommemorativeCenter for International Exchange (CIE) in Japan and the U.S. in cooperation with the Consulate-General of Japan in Houston, community organizations and the host cities.

Sponsors are Fujitsu Network Communications, Inc.; Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.;  7-Eleven, Inc.; Sumimoto Corporation of America; and Gulf States Toyota, Inc.  Additional support is provided by Brounoff Communications; The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art;  Dallas GiveCamp, and Suzuki Graphic Design Studio.

For more information on the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit in North Texas, visit the website at:  www.NorthTexasGrassrootsSummit.org.

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About the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth (JASDFW)

The JASDFW has a 42-year history of contributing to mutual understanding betweeen the United States and Japan through educational, cultural, business, and exchange programs.

About the Center for International Exchange (CIE)

The CIE, a foundation formed in 1992, aims to contribute to global peace and stability, by promoting the mutual understanding and friendship between citizens of Japan and America and throughout the world.

Search for Fashion, as seen in the Blitz Weekly

Pop Quiz:  The highlight of In Search of Fashion on August 3 will be:

a)      Dueling DJs and a jumping dance floor

b)      A five-way fashion design competition

c)      Artists on-site creating original works

d)      It’s really all about the little things

The correct answer is, “D.”  Search for Fashion is a benefit for people in the events industry (more on that in a moment).  Every detail will be designed to be noticed by people who make a living by noticing details: other events professionals.  “We are all about pushing the envelope,” says J. Damany Daniel the Award Winning Event Producer and coordinator of Search for Fashion. Those non-stop flourishes and surprises promise to create an unforgettable ambiance, but options A- C will be the centerpiece of the evening.

The main attraction is the fashion design competition and runway show.  The competition, “Fashion of the Fittest” pits five fashion designers, Ashlee Brooks, Lindsay Weatherread, Mario Gallegos and Yasmima Johnston (all Dallas natives) against each other.  They have 45 minutes to create an original design using a mystery material.  Attendees will be able to watch the designers at work in the adjacent room.  The audience gets to vote on the winner.

“Dress to impress,” Sasha Souza the events chair for the Search Foundation emphasizes, “this is a fashion event.”  When I ask Damany about formal attire, he bottom lines it for me, “When we get the dueling DJs going, I want everybody out on the dance floor.  This is a party, and we want our guests to be comfortable.”

The evening sounds mysterious and exciting, but what is this cause, The Search Foundation, helping events professionals in crisis – like if you run out of ice or something?  Sasha puts it in perspective, “Most people in this industry are small business owners.”  She refers me to Cameron Fox, Chief Creative Officer of i-entertainment in Arlington, who was recently helped by the Search Foundation.

“It was April third,” Cameron intones the date like someone who has told the story many times before. “It was the day we got all that hail and the tornados that came through the Metroplex.  The tornado touched down right on top of our building at about noon, by 2:30 the building was condemned.” He would have to move.  Despite the help of the close-knit industry professionals in DFW to get him moved and to ready his new space, there was still the matter of the $11,000 it cost him to relocate at the drop of a hat.  “The tornado hit on Wednesday, I had events on Friday and Saturday, I made those appointments.”  Wow.

In Search of Fashion, sounds cool, but vaguely cool.  If only there was more detail about the surprises, and how, for the love of God, how could there be no mention of the food!  Although I wasn’t able to get a scoop, or even a hint, if you are on the fence – go for it.  Search for Fashion looks like an evening with “wow” around every corner.  The event planners will be behind the scenes making sure everything goes perfectly as usual.  Behind them is the Search Foundation providing a little peace of mind, and a big helping hand in case of catastrophe.

Don’t get carried away with being fashionably late.  Event professionals will be attending from all over America, Search for Fashion sponsors and event planners will be showcasing their most innovative work.  Dust off your twitter account and charge up your smart phone or iphone, because they will come in handy.  Tickets are $85 per person.  The event is from 8-midnight at the eM the Venue, in the Design District.

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