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    Welcome to the Ambassablog! We're the front-line employee bloggers of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and participants in the Airport Authority's Goodwill Ambassador Program.

    Here you'll find our continually updated posts about life at historic San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field).

    Take a look around, and Email us if there's something you'd like to see added to the Ambassablog or covered in future posts.
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    For questions or information about this blog and other social media tools used by San Diego International Airport, contact:
    Steven Shultz, M.S.
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    San Diego County Regional Airport Authority: sshultz@san.org
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Spring has sprung — get out the hoe!

Kelly 'killing' the lawn.

Organic edibles.

The Airport Authority has its share of home gardeners, from sunflowers to heirloom tomatoes to jalapeño peppers.  But one of our own does it in a big way—and it’s hit the local press.

Rainwater collection system.

One of our technology gurus not only has all of his gears turning but actually has two green thumbs.  Kelly in the Airport Authority’s Information Technology Department and his wife, Janet, decided to convert their yard into an edible garden two years ago, and they haven’t looked back. Together they spent the better part of 2009 organically “killing” their lawn by depriving it of water, spraying it with vinegar, and cutting it super short.  They then covered it with cardboard, water and 14 cubic yards of mulch, letting it compost for the organic edibles to follow.

Janet admits that “it looked like the dark side of the moon for nine months or so.”    Kelly says that Janet brings the passion for saving the planet but that he seems to have a natural affinity for plants.

Nature's bounty.

Now, arugula, carrots, chives, green rhubarb, lima beans, radishes, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, celery, asparagus, squash and tomatoes all tumble out of raised beds or climb stakes and trellises.  Passion fruit drops off vines that run along the garden’s edge (vines that are 20 feet long and 5 feet high).  Blueberries and lemons flourish on bushes and trees.

Compost is amended with worm castings and rain gutters have been added to collect water from those rare San Diego rain showers.   The latest addition is a fortified trellis engineered by Kelly (it’s that geek thing coming through again…) that can support all of the weight of the tomatoes.

A yard transformed.

Kelly and Janet share ideas with other local enthusiasts through such organizations as San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project and Victory Gardens San Diego.  If you are interested in learning more about Kelly’s gardening  feats,  check out the cover story in the Sep 2011 issue of the San Diego Reader.

Meanwhile, bring on those tomatoes, Kelly!


Talk about teamwork …

Nyle, the Airport Authority's Manager of Concession Development.

There are great team players everywhere.  Here is the story of one of our own….

Nyle, the Airport Authority’s Manager of Concession Development, was recently tasked with heading the selection process for San Diego International Airport’s new Concessions Development Program (CDP). Nyle was charged with engaging all stakeholders, acting as staff liaison to the CDP evaluation panel, and working with the Airport Authority’s Procurement Department to ensure an impartial and transparent selection process.

In preparation for the airport’s old master concessionaire arrangement coming to an end at the end of 2012 due to lease expiration, 16 Request for Proposal (RFP) packages for new food and retail concessions were already on the street, and responses were coming in. Interest from both local and national concessionaires was intense, and the timeline was tight.

Click the image above to see larger images of where all the great new shops and restaurants are going to be located at San Diego International Airport, starting in December 2012.

With a keen understanding of the Airport Authority’s collaborative culture, Nyle starting knocking on doors. He believes, as does the Airport Authority, in an “inclusive” approach to teamwork.

As he identified and engaged stakeholders, Nyle took the time to talk with each of them on the importance of their role in the effort. Where he felt he needed extraordinary support, he worked hard to obtain it. Through an ongoing, two-way dialogue, he was able to establish a trust level among stakeholders that extended all the way to the President/CEO’s office.As a result, everyone knew their role and what they could expect from Nyle.

As the effort gained momentum, Nyle made multiple presentations to the Airport Authority Board (which he identified as one of his key stakeholders).  These presentations were crafted to provide a clear and consistent message across all 16 concession packages.

Nyle kept on point as he disseminated information about the program, both within the Airport Authority and externally to concessionaires and the San Diego community.

Stakeholders came away proud to be part of a very successful effort and with a great appreciation for the collaborative skills of Nyle.The selection process concluded on time and won Board approval of staff’s recommendation for all 16 concession packages. As a result, SDIA will offer more than 80 great new food and retail concessions beginning in December, 2012.

Give us five, Nyle!

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KIPP students visit SDIA and its Quieter Home Program

At right, Quieter Home Program Inspector Jack explains to KIPP students how the program is making homes quieter at the Point Loma Tennis Club condos.

Recently, students from the San Diego charter KIPP: Adelante Preparatory Academy school toured San Diego International Airport and its Quieter Home Program (QHP). Six middle school ‘KIPPsters’ received quite a treat: a Terminals to Tarmac tour lead by Ambassablogger Ryan of the airport’s Strategic Planning Department and Sandra of Airport Planning. After lunch (which included a teambuilding activity of constructing a new airport out of Legos), they met yours truly (I’m the airport’s QHP Coordinator) for a tour of the new QHP showroom and a few homes in construction.

Students from this charter middle school have had the opportunity to visit the airport for the last few years as a result of Ryan’s community involvement with San Diego LEAD; KIPP Adelante was his community project. KIPP Adelante’s slogan is: Work Hard. Be Nice. Dream Big.

KIPPsters learning about the airport.

Students were very interested in the QHP and that it was free to eligible homeowners in defined areas near the airport. The showroom tour included an explanation of the QHP’s acoustic reduction goals, lead by Ambassablogger Sjohnna, who is the QHP Manager.

KIPPsters got to view the products, and experience the acoustic kiosk, giving them a sound understanding of a five-decibel reduction, the goal for any residence. They then boarded a bus — along with Craig, the QHP Construction Manager, and me to tour Point Loma Tennis Club condominium complex, one of the current QHP projects.

Jack and Brandon, Construction Inspectors for QHP, walked the students through the entire construction process. KIPPsters visited homes the contractor opened that day, including one in mid-construction, and one in its final day of construction. Jack and Brandon explained how new acoustic windows are retrofitted and how electrical panels are upgraded for new furnaces and air conditioning. Jack was impressed with the KIPPsters, calling them “attentive, inquisitive and very polite.” Reflect back to the academy’s slogan.

KIPP students enjoying a guided tour of the airport.

KIPPsters then met Whitney, the QHP Homeowner Liaison for the Point Loma Tennis Club. Whitney and I talked about our positions and how continuous communication and great customer service are vital with homeowners throughout the Quieter Home Program process.

On the bus ride back to the Airport, the students talked about the tour; they could not believe the amount of construction that occurs in the 15 days allotted for a project. One student felt it should take longer, perhaps even a year! Ryan, Sandra, Craig and I then quizzed the students about what they had learned that day; the KIPPsters enthusiastically had some great answers.

Freda, the Director of Development at KIPP, thanked the airport staff and the Quieter Home Program for “opening our students’ eyes and feeding their curiosity.”

It was a great day for all!

Work Hard. Be Nice. Dream Big.

Guest Blogger:

Catherine, Program Coordinator for the Quieter Home Program

We got the Wright stuff!

You may have noticed that Ohio state license plates proclaim the Buckeye State to be “the Birthplace of Aviation,” while North Carolina plates say the Tarheel State is “First in Flight.” Their respective state commemorative quarters make the same, seemingly competing claims. So which is right?

They’re both right, because of the Wrights … two brothers named Orville and Wilbur. They are credited with having the first successful flights in a heavier than air, mechanically propelled airplane. They were from Dayton, Ohio, and developed all their concepts for flight in their home state. But when it came to a place to actually demonstrate their airplane in action, they chose what meteorological data told them was the windiest point in the United States: Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

From the sandy beaches along the Atlantic, the Wright brothers lifted themselves, literally and figuratively, into human flight and one of the greatest achievements of humanity. Aviation as we know it ultimately owes its origins to Orville and Wilbur Wright, and proper tribute is paid to these pioneers at the Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina.

I visited the memorial this year, carrying with me from one ocean coast to the other a sense of awe and appreciation for what they achieved.  I certainly got to that location a lot faster by my own air travel! Every year, the date of December 17 is set aside for all Americans to celebrate the Wright brothers’ lift-off from the bonds of earth and gravity on that day in 1903.

San Diego is famous for a lot of aviation achievements in its own right, but we’ve never forgotten where it all began.

Charles Lindbergh may be prominent at airport, which now bears his name, but the legacy of the Wright brothers lives on in a pair of conference rooms at Airport Authority headquarters named for each of them, which can be and often are joined to host large meetings — especially those that welcome the public.

This pair of rooms on the second floor of the Commuter Terminal ensures that we have the Wright stuff, too, adding our own touchstone of respect to a pair of pioneers who did what was once considered impossible. In its own way, San Diego joins Ohio and North Carolina — and we can all be Wright!

And the beat goes on …

Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Drum Line students get a lesson from Tyra

Tyra, of the Airport Authority’s Access Control Office, and the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA  in San Diego are striking up a band. To be more specific, a “show band-style” drum line.

Jackie Robinson YMCA Drum Line students

A Jackie Robinson Family YMCA program, this is not just a drum line; it’s a lifestyle. The kids participating must be in school, have a good GPA, and already be playing in their school band. Once selected, they learn a unique style of drum line. “Show band-style” means music and entertainment, with the drummers marching, twirling and dancing while they play.

Tyra learned this style in Detroit, where she was part of her high school drum line at Cass Technical High School and then went  on to the world-famous Grambling State University Show Band. She has brought her passion for music to San Diego.

In partnership with the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, Tyra is introducing this program within a southeastern San Diego community that has seen a decline in school enrollment and a rise in gang violence. Her goal is for the drum line to give the kids and their community a renewed sense of pride and something good to look forward to.

Tyra offers helpful tips to a student drummer.

“We want kids to join a team, not a gang, but it gets complicated. Every child does not have access to neighborhood facilities. Most can’t afford participation fees. The shortage of responsible adult volunteers makes it difficult to stage youth activities in areas that need the most intensive programs. When a child becomes hardened and committed to crime, exposed to and addicted to drugs and alcohol, physically injured, scarred or murdered, that is indeed the greatest loss of all. Tyra … is a great example of the power of one person making a difference in the lives of kids from San Diego County’s most critical community.”

— Jackie Robinson Family YMCA Executive Director, Michael Brunker

The first drum line is working hard rehearsing for their first performance, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at the Jackie Robinson YMCA. Here’s a flyer about the performance:

Additional performances are planned at the YMCA and other venues. Who knows, maybe they’ll even turn up at a future Chargers game.

By next year, Tyra plans to grow the program to include more kids and possibly a band camp. She also hopes to increase sponsorship and opportunities to perform. The word is already out in the community, and calls are coming in.  If you  live in the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA community, or want more information, contact Tyra at 619-407-0122 or tyra_hawthorne@yahoo.com.

Birthstones, gemstones, and more …

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Special Guest Post by Cynthia in the Marketing & Communications Division

Do you know what your birthstone is? I was born in January, so mine is garnet. I’ve always loved the warmth of the red color. But my favorite color is green, and I have to admit that I have, at times, been jealous of those folks whose birthstones are emeralds. When I recently visited the Gemological Institute of America’s (GIA) exhibit, GIA Celebrates Birthstones, located post-security in Terminal 2 at San Diego International Airport, I found out that I don’t have to be jealous anymore.

It turns out that garnet comes in multiple variations. Although red is the most commonly known color, there is a green variation as well.

GIA is the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls. This exhibit showcases raw and finely crafted gems and jewelry from the GIA collection. You’ll be guided through a variety of interesting facts and folklore related to each month’s birthstone, as well as an introduction to the tools used to grade stones in this fascinating field.

Stop by soon and see if you recognize what your birthstone looks like before undergoing polishing. The exhibit runs through February 2012.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about GIA and its collections but are not traveling through the airport, the GIA world headquarters is located in Carlsbad, California (about 45 minutes north of downtown). They give public tours of their museum and exhibits with advance reservations. You can learn more by visiting:  www.gia.edu.

Make it to Milwaukee!

Giving the “thumbs up” at the Bronze Fonz on the Milwaukee Riverwalk.

You may recall that two years ago (has it been that long?) a few of my fellow Ambassabloggers and I did a creative send-off of the “Laverne & Shirley” theme to celebrate the launch of non-stop service from SDIA to Milwaukee.  But yours truly had never actually been to Brew City, USA—til now.   And after having experienced a great weekend there, I’d say it’s one of the best underrated destinations our airport offers!

My muse to make the visit was actually a fellow coworker at the airport, our ever-friendly “Plant Man,” Ernie.  He makes the rounds trimming, watering and nurturing our indoor greenery, offering cheerful salutations to everyone.  After having made a trip of his own to Milwaukee, and knowing that I ride a Harley, Ernie suggested that I live out the “Laverne & Shirley” script and see the home of Harley-Davidson and its namesake museum.  I figured that was reason enough to visit.

But I was pleasantly surprised that the Milwaukee Art Museum was yet another great sight to see.  Covering all kinds of media from antiquities to the most contemporary, the museum is a work of art in itself, famous for its unique design and flapping wings.

Playing Evel Knievel at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

But more than museums, the city has some outstanding outdoor offerings in the Mitchell Park Domes and Boerner Botanical Gardens—places sure to please Ernie!

Everyone has to eat, and there’s a lot more than just beer and bratwurst!  Wisconsin is known for its dairy delights, and artisanal cheese plates are a ubiquitous item on every restaurant menu.  For authentic German cuisine, take in the Old World charm of Mader’s.  For farm-to-table freshness from an on-premises garden, try the hip Roots.

I got to relive my own 2010 Harley ride of Route 66 with a Sunday buffet brunch of chef specialties from cafes and diners on the Mother Road at Smyth, the restaurant at the biker-boutique Iron Horse Hotel (yes, bikers can have impeccable tastes!).

No trip to Milwaukee would be complete without a trip to the Safe House.  The average food isn’t the draw, but secreted behind an export building façade accessed from an alley, the place is inspired by the spy hideaway homes of espionage ages past.  It is complete with tricky mazes, Cold War kitsch, and whimsical ambience.  You have to have a password to be let in, but there is a way around that if you don’t know it; I’m sworn to secrecy not to reveal more.

From the eclectic ‘hoods of Brady Street and the Historic Third Ward, to the Milwaukee Riverwalk and Lake Michigan shorefront, Milwaukee abounds with charming, historic architectural stock with one-of-a-kind shops all fit for pedestrian exploration.

Milwaukee is so much more than just its breweries, though one can certainly imbibe well if so inclined.   While there is no visible homage to Laverne and Shirley in their hometown, there is the Bronze Fonz paying tribute to the “Happy Days” character that first put Milwaukee on the entertainment map.  So head off from SDIA and get your own obligatory photo-op with the epitome of coolness!

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