Reflections on the Japanese healthcare system

This post was written by Management Professor and Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking Executive Director Bruce Avolio.

Bruce AvolioMy trip to Japan this past week, brought me first to Kyoto, then to Osaka and Tokyo. Kyoto is the City of Temples and Shrines, over a thousand, much of which are all in wonderful condition. The purpose of my trip, was to do a keynote presentation to senior Japanese leaders in the healthcare field, on the transformation that is underway in healthcare around the globe. I also conducted a day-long workshop for middle to senior leaders in the healthcare industry, more focused on advancing leadership development in individuals, teams and organizations.

If you have never been to Japan, go! The Japanese are perhaps the best hosts on earth. They delight in making things easy for you and showing you their country.

Intermingled among the work related events, we had opportunities to visit very interesting shrines where Shoguns sat in court governing regions of the nation back in the mid 1800s. We learned about their culture and styles of leadership. One style that was very disconcerting to me, as I am always late to everything, was that if you were late to a meeting with the Shogun, by a minute, and that was after traveling months to get there, it was time to say goodbye to your comrades. There were very strict codes of behavior in terms of who sat where in meeting the Shoguns, and even more strict
when meeting the Emperor.

In advance of my trip, I read up a lot on the Japanese healthcare system. Like most modern systems, it was based on Bismarck’s model in Germany of a more centrally controlled system. But unlike say Canada and the U.K., the primary involvement from government is in setting prices for everything from 4 stitches to an MRI. The costs are kept very low, such as $105 for a night in a hospital, any hospital.

BookScanCenter_2In the USA, that would be comparable to a hotel on the freeway for one night, certainly not our top hospitals, where rooms run into the thousands per night. The rigid cost structure is transparent, and everyone has to follow it, no exceptions. So, it is hard to run a healthcare business in Japan and be profitable, but everyone is covered, and the quality of care is good, based on Japan having the highest life expectancy rate, and lowest infant mortality rate in the world among other statistics. The Japanese can get into see their doctors usually in a day or two, and that can include top specialists. Japanese typically go to their physicians regularly resulting in better preventative care. And there are few if any lawsuits, and no one goes bankrupt in Japan due to medical bills.

Yet, all is not perfect of course. The system is struggling financially with low costs and an increasingly older population. Moreover, while I was in Japan, there was a series of stories of a surgeon who had killed a number of patients over a several year time span, and it appeared many knew he was incompetent, but challenging a senior physician is difficult to do in a culture like Japan. One article termed it a problem with leadership, that should have intervened to stop this surgeon. I would add a problem with organizational culture, not unlike we see in the US in terms of similar incidents.

In the end, we started some potential fruitful relationships between our school and the healthcare leaders in Japan, and going back to Japan in the near future, seems like a great possibility. Between the hospitality, food and beautiful cities and countryside, it seems like a great place to strike up a collaboration.

Marketing in Healthcare – Special Interest Group Recap

The UW Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy was formed to link business professionals and academic researchers. One way to link academics and professionals is through programs like the Healthcare Special Interest Group (HSIG). The purpose of the HSIG is to bring the best marketing minds in healthcare together and come up with projects to develop new knowledge. The meeting was hosted by Robert Palmatier, research director of the Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy. John Henson, the VP of Medical Affairs from Swedish Hospital helped to facilitate the discussion.

The first meeting was designed to set the direction and future for the HSIG. The group decided to focus on creating value by sharing best practices in marketing. They agreed to have a topic for each future meeting and look at challenges facing the companies and healthcare industry. Marketing is often competitive, but the company representatives agreed that it is beneficial to work together.

One topic in the open discussion was the Shift in Marketing in the Healthcare Industry. The shift in marketing is from individuals to employers because employers choose the plan options for their employees. This is enterprise marketing, and healthcare companies have to market to both individuals and employers, and keep consumers involved and engaged. Otherwise the customers will choose a different plan. One example was the pressure from Boeing- healthcare practices changed and the speed of innovation improved. Employees can now choose between two plans: Swedish and UW Medicine

Companies want to market “wellness” so customers don’t visit doctors only when they’re sick. They want to shift the consumer thinking to: “I want to be well.” UW Medicine is only 12 years old, and the brand is 6 years old, so they are relatively new to marketing their company. Healthcare is being run like a business, creating a potential need for healthcare focused EMBA or other programs, but the market is small, so these would only be offered every 2-3 years

One challenge concerns the use of Technology in Medicine. UW Medicine recently introduced a program that allows patients to communicate with their doctors using video chat. Providence launched HealthExpress, a similar program in Washington. Getting consumers to engage with these new technologies requires marketing. Digital Healthcare is the fastest growing segment in healthcare. A problem the HSIG noted was that IT and medicine departments often do not communicate well. An additional concern is how to get customers who are offline to engage with these online offerings.

Behavior Change as a Marketing Endeavor, was another discussion topic as most marketing efforts go to behavior change. Problems included the determent issue with life insurance, financial services, and healthcare, and how companies can deal with the episodic nature of healthcare. The ACA (Affordable Care Act) is bringing thousands of new patients into the healthcare system, many of whom are getting coverage for the first time. One question is how to get them into the doctor for preventative care, rather than to the ER.

Loyalty Programs are very effective at creating behavior change. When using loyalty programs, companies should limit communication and communicate only when they have something new and improved to offer. For example, when airlines use random upgrades, customers feel gratitude (vs. “I earned those miles”). Surprising people is important. A concern for healthcare companies is finding loyalty cards that customers are motivated to use. Regulations about private healthcare data make accessing information about customers difficult. A potential research project would be to get people to volunteer to have health-related data recorded on a card and analyzed.

Finally, every local healthcare company can benefit from making Seattle a Healthcare Hotspot. Economic development attracts new businesses and creates a virtuous cycle. Washington has strong potential and a history of innovation. Seattle could be among the first cities to achieve the Triple Aim in healthcare (improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.)

Working abroad leads to freedom in the job market

Guest post by Nathan Bright (BA 2014)

Nathan Bright at the University of ManizalesMy name is Nathan Bright and I graduated from the Foster School and the CISB Program in March 2014 with a general business degree and Spanish minor. During my time at UW, I was able to study abroad in Spain and travel around Asia, so I knew when I graduated I wanted to find opportunities to work abroad and travel. I was lucky enough to be offered a position in Spain teaching English as well as a position in Colombia working at a university teaching business. I chose to move to South America because I wanted to experience a new country and continent and was excited about the opportunity to teach business and speak Spanish at work.

My original contract at the University of Manizales was for six months, but my coworkers and bosses were so happy to have me that I was able to extend my contract to a year. One thing I really enjoy about the job is the amount of freedom I have to design my own projects and work with professors to develop programs that are interesting to both the faculty and students. I also have the opportunity to speak English and Spanish while teaching business courses and work with students and professors in class and outside of the University during separately organized events. Working abroad has given me much more freedom in the job market because I would have never had the opportunity to be a professor or design my own projects if I had found a similar entry-level position in the US.

The CISB Program did a great job preparing me for this opportunity. We studied a wide variety of cultural experiences and had a lot of opportunities to work in real-life business contexts, which gave me the skills and knowledge required to live and work in a foreign country.

Because companies in other countries are often excited to have the opportunity to work with foreigners who are passionate and well-educated, there are plenty of ways to enter the job market in a different country. If you wish to contact me about my experiences abroad, email me at natebright01(at)gmail.com.

Syncing to the digital age of marketing

Wired In ConferenceOn January 31, the Foster School of Business welcomed 170 student registrants from 10 universities across the Northwest for Wired In: Syncing to the Digital Age of Marketing, the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Marketing Conference. The event, hosted by Foster Undergraduate Career Services and the UW American Marketing Association, was sponsored by Eddie Bauer for the second year.

Centered on the theme of digital marketing, the day’s presentations included an opening keynote by Eddie Bauer, breakout sessions by Bing, Porch, Delightful Communications, and Drake Cooper, and a closing keynote by 4th Avenue Media. The attendees could choose which of the breakout session options to attend based on their own personal interest level.

In addition to the presentations, students participated in two interactive elements; team activities led by Puget Sound American Marketing Association and a networking event. The team activities were designed to get students talking about relevant marketing topics which included: designing a Google AdWords campaign, creating a sales pitch, responding to a social media blunder, creating a content marketing campaign, and brainstorming for a guerrilla marketing campaign. The networking event featured 16 companies of various sizes and industries, offering attendees opportunity to meet more professionals in the field.

Message from the Sales and Marketing Center’s Research Director

Have you ever wondered how other firms are solving sales and marketing problems or if there is a better way to analyze a marketing issue or benchmark best practices? We have designed the Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy to help address these issues by matching business professionals and their sales and marketing challenges with world-leading academic faculty and research as well as with other sales and marketing executives.

After spending over a decade as both a business executive and marketing professor, I am convinced these two groups can and should work together to improve business performance. Yes, they often speak different languages and can work at different speeds, but there is also an opportunity for tremendous synergy. Business professionals know today’s problems, interface with “real” customers and have great access to real-time data. Academic researchers have deep knowledge in their research domain and the motivation and skill to rigorously analyze specific problems, but often lack a connection to real-world business problems, customers and data.

We are committed to building the necessary linkages between business professionals and academics. Help us make sales and marketing research relevant to your business by engaging with the SalesMark Center. You can sign up for our newsletter, attend a conference or networking event, take a one-day class or join a Special Interest Group (SIG) with other executives focused on a specific sales or marketing problem.

Please contact me by email or phone at palmatrw@uw.edu or 206-543-4348 for more information.

Best regards,

Rob Palmatier
Professor of Marketing
John C. Narver Chair of Business Administration
Research Director, Center for Sales and Marketing Strategy

Foster on Tap: An alumni happy hour

This blog post was written by Alex Andreotti, Foster’s Assistant Director of Events.

On Feb. 26, Foster alumni gathered at Palomino Rustico in Bellevue for the year’s first installment of Foster on Tap, the newly renamed alumni happy hours. Alumni across graduation years and degree programs gathered to network, reconnect and swap stories of their adventures post Foster. During the event, we asked attendees to tell us the most useful thing they learned at the Foster School. This is what some of them had to say:

“Numbers tell half the story; always look at them closely.”

“Social interactions are just as useful as coursework when building a career.”

“Collaboration with peers. All of those group projects helped me learn more about personality and team dynamics.”

“Negotiation is joint decision making.”

“A holistic overview of different aspects of business.”

“Got to know many classmates from other countries.”

“Timing is everything. Sometimes you need to wait, other times you need to rush.”

See a few photos from the event below. More photos can be seen on the Foster GOLD Facebook page.

Foster alums
Foster alums
Foster alums

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See upcoming alumni events here.

Better batteries, recycled building materials, and smart diapers: Environmental Innovation Challenge 2015

EIC 2014 winner Korvata with Pam Tufts
EIC 2014 winner Korvata with Pam Tufts

How do you foster innovation to address pressing environmental issues? Get college students engaged! The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge at the University of Washington taps into the passion, smarts, and motivation that  students have for solving environmental  problems.  Since its outset, the EIC has attracted 726 students (161 teams) and awarded over $180,000 in prize money.

EIC Banner 2015_541x138A record 40 student teams from colleges and universities across the pacific northwest applied to the this year’s Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Each team that applies must define an environmental problem, design a solution, and develop a prototype. This year 22 teams were selected to show their prototypes and pitch to 250+ judges at a demo-day event on April 2, 2015.

Meet the 22 teams competing in the 2015 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge:

Benchmark ECR
(University of Washington, Washington State University)

Benchmark Environmental is developing an affordable, easy to install, and low maintenance stormwater treatment system. The Benchmark ECR will enable more companies and municipalities to effectively treat every pollutant present in stormwater runoff.

Bettery
(University of Washington)

Bettery provides a better model for battery use: a reusable subscription service that gives consumers unlimited access to reusable batteries with a monthly subscription.

BrightBike
(University of Washington)

The BrightBike has a revolutionary set of features, including electric assist, cargo capacity,  a strong and lightweight composite frame, a rain cover, and a complete light system, that make it an irresistible alternative to driving.

Community Supported Bio
(BGI at Pinchot University)

Community Supported Bio (CSB) closes the loop for the farm-to-table movement by turning food waste into renewable biogoods: organic fertilizer & fuel. CSB helps decrease emissions and lower air & water pollution, all while improving soil fertility for farmers.

EcoStream
(University of Washington)

EcoStream builds awareness and lifelong habits to conserve our most valuable resource by helping people conserve water and change their usage habits in a fun and inexpensive way.

Estufa Bella Company
(Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University)

Estufa Bella Company designs and manufactures clean-burning, biochar-producing cook-stoves for use by an estimated 2.7 billion individuals who use traditional wood fires for household cooking and heating.

Extrusion Electronics
(University of Washington)

Extrusion Electronics is reimagining 3D printing with a conductive plastic filament, enabling makers to create and replicate simple electronics at home.

FireBee
(University of Washington)

FireBee is a portable thermoelectric generator that turns cooking fires into personal power stations,  creating an alternative energy source for people in countries that are otherwise off the grid.

Flexolar
(University of Washington)

Flexolar, a flexible and lightweight polymer-based solar cell, is an alternative to inorganic solar cells that are heavy, fragile, and costly to manufacture and install.

GeoPop CCS
(University of Washington)

GeoPop turns used plastic bottles collected from the trash  into affordable geocells for use in constructing retaining walls, stabilized slopes, platforms, stairs, and pathways in urban slums.

Helio
(University of Washington)

Helio manufactures portable solar panel chargers designed to generate enough power to charge laptops and other electronic accessories.Transmitting energy from the sun eliminates the need for extra batteries and reducing the toxic pollution associated with them.

Hook
(University of Washington)

Hook is a home automation hub that allows customers to convert existing electronics  to smart devices, decreasing energy consumption, improving home safety, and reducing the amount of electronics that are routinely discarded in landfills.

Illuminant Diagnostics
(University of Washington)

Illuminant Diagnostics has developed a biosensor empowered by nanotechnology that provides rapid, mobile bacteria detection without the need for cell cultures, traditional DNA testing, or isolation of disease-specific antibodies.

Ion Informatics
(University of Washington)

Ion Informatics is developing a proprietary technology that provides critical information to battery operators, optimizing asset utilization and prolonging the useful life of the battery. The end effect is a dramatic increase in value that can be extracted from each battery by enabling viable second use battery systems.

MarineSitu
(University of Washington)

MarineSitu provides environmental monitoring solutions that facilitate the sustainable development of marine renewable energy.

PowerNode
(University of Washington)

PowerNode is a web-based industrial energy monitoring system that enables users to monitor machine-specific power consumption.

Protium Innovations
(Washington State University)

Protium Innovations is developing a solid state hydrogen liquefaction device that is scalable and more energy efficient than current liquefaction technology.

Silicar9
(University of Washington)

Silicar9 is producing a new low-cost disposable protein purification system that uses more environmentally friendly materials than existing technology.

SmartyPants
(University of Washington)

SmartyPants is reinventing toilet training—and aims to prevent millions of diapers from ending up as a biohazard in landfills across the country—by predicting impending bowel events and alerts users to get to a toilet.

SwitchPoint Solutions
(Central Washington University)

SwitchPoint Solutions’ pilot product, the Solar Evaporative Air Conditioning Handler (SEARCH) is capable of achieving HVAC efficiency gains of over 40%, offering cost savings necessary to incentivize investment in renewable methods of heating and cooling.

Tape-It-Easy
(Seattle University, University of Washington)

Tape-It-Easy is increasing the adoption of water-efficient drip irrigation with a hand-driven, inexpensive tool that dispenses and secures drip tape for faster and easier installation.

TrashWall
(Washington State University)

TrashWall uses recycled materials scavenged from waste streams to build insulation panels that can be installed in rental units to reduce energy waste and increase cost-savings for renters.

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The Carletti Expedition: Excerpts from Nicaragua

Guest post by Wilson Carletti, recipient of the Bonderman Travel Fellowship

Before departing for La Isla de Ometepe, I happened to meet Alex Tuthill, a UW grad who started Pacha Mama (arguably the most well-known hostel in San Juan del Sur). He left corporate America behind after the 2008 financial crisis and ended up meeting his future Nicaraguan business partner in a hostel while traveling. We chatted about his business, the emerging middle class in Nicaragua, and the various projects he is involved in around the community – currently he is helping to rebuild the local health clinic, but he is also involved in local youth sports leagues, women’s shelters, etc. And to think, simply because I wore my UW shorts that day, I ended up having an awesome conversation.

Ometepe

Ometepe is a gigantic island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua that houses two massive volcanoes – it looks like it belongs in Jurassic Park.

I sat down on the stiff, warm wooden bench on the musty ferry, as the loud motor churned at the water, attempting to pry itself from the land. Mexico was playing Nicaragua in Little League baseball on a tiny, fuzzy television set, so I sat down with some other men and entered the conversation. One guy’s favorite team was the Boston Red Sox, while the other’s was the LA Dodgers. The Dodgers fan spoke nearly perfect English – turns out he grew up in LA, but left the states for one reason or another. Now he lives on Ometepe, working as a chef.

I got up early on the day I planned to climb Madeira, the smaller, more forested volcano on Ometepe. As we clambered up a trail toward the entrance of the park, our guide, Harold, gave us a quick Ometepe history lesson (currently it has 47,000 residents, but the first inhabitants came here 4,000 years ago), and showed us some 2,000 year old petroglyphs.

He commented on the state of Ometepe. Tourism has greatly improved the quality of life on the island. For example, there used to be two schools on the island and now every town has its own school. There are still plenty of problems, one being sexual education – Harold’s wife has 64 siblings.

Sure, there are problems, but Ometepe is also nearly self-sustaining – almost all of the fruit, dairy and meat products come from the island or the lake. Unlike much of Nicaragua, there is a recycling program on the island, the animals look much healthier and in general, the people have a much greater respect for nature.

Regardless of what I am doing, I am learning every day. I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

 

Granada

I wandered down the streets of Granada looking for a cab, but had no such luck. Two men, one who spoke English, near the Parque Central persistently offered me a taxi, though something in my gut told me not to go with them. I can’t really explain it – the offering of assistance felt insincere.

And then out of nowhere, a taxi driven by an older man came whipping around the corner and stopped right in front of me. There were already two women and two kids in the backseat, but he saw the other men attempting to strike a deal and immediately undercut their prices. This time my gut told me to hop in, so I did.

Minutes later the man asked me where I was from. “Los Estados Unidos,” I replied, which disrupted his calm demeanor and brought about a new energy in him.

“Los Estados Unidos es el mejor país del mundo,” he declared dramatically. I was pleasantly surprised and honestly taken aback. Most people here have been very friendly and helpful, but not to the point of declaring my country the “greatest on Earth.” He went on to explain that while the U.S. does some bad stuff, all countries have bad people, and the U.S. helps those in need. Plus, they have Major League Baseball (his brother lives in San Francisco, so he is a Giants fan).

We went back and forth talking about politics, baseball, poverty, his favorite U.S. presidents (he really liked Ronald Reagan), communism, war, etc. He explained why he feels democracy is so great; “democracy allows us to be friends,” he said, extending his hand. As I shook it, and told him my name was Wilson, he smiled and exclaimed, “Como la pelota!” – “Like the ball (from Castaway).” As we neared my destination the road became muddier and rugged; he slowed down and looked gravely at the rough terrain ahead. He then turned to me and said what might be the only words he knows in English, “I’m sorry, Wilson.”

The sincerity in his voice was heart wrenching. He felt as though he was letting me down – after that single sentence, the conversation switched back to Spanish and I assured him that everything was just fine.

Little did he know that was one of the coolest taxi rides of my life and a moment I’ll never forget.

I bid my new friend farewell and gave him a nice tip. Holding the money in his hands, he looked up, smiled, and said – “Dios bendiga usted y Los Estados Unidos” – “God bless you and the United States.”

And with that he was gone.

Adapted for the Foster Blog with the help of Wilson Carletti. More episodes to come. Follow his unabridged journey here.

Storyform is shaking up online storytelling

Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, says you should never s do a startup just to do one. “There are much easier ways to become rich,” he says, “and everyone who starts a startup always says that they couldn’t have imagined how hard and painful it was going to be. You should only start a startup if you feel compelled by a particular problem and think starting a company is the best way to solve it.”

It was this advice that led Rylan Hawkins (BS 2009) to leave his job at Microsoft in the summer of 2014 and start his own company. “I believe in a better online reading experience, and I’ve decided to go after it,” says Hawkins, now the co-founder and CEO of Storyform, a framework that allows publishers and photographers to share their stories online in more captivating ways.

Storyform BannerHawkins and his co-founder, Luke Clum, believe that the current state of online reading—static content, complex designs, distracting layouts, relentless popups—diminishes the stories that authors are trying to tell. With Storyform, publishers can create “immersive narratives” on their own domains that truly engage their readers. They’ve done away with distracting sidebars and replaced scrolling canvasses with full-screen magazine-style pages that feature eye-catching layouts and interactive elements like video. They’ve also discarded traditional web page advertising in favor of ads that are sleeker and better integrated. “Not only will readers be engaged with beautiful story content,” says Hawkins, “they’ll also find the ads beautiful.”

storyform-ogThough Storyform is not even a year old, Hawkins is no stranger to startups. “I had three startup experiences in college,” he says, referring to VibeGlobe (BPC 2009), a platform to help nonprofits raise money from younger donors; Visual Schedule Finder, a program that allowed UW students to search for the perfect class schedule; and YourSports, a startup that is still thriving in the hands of CEO Chris McCoy (read about it below!). Hawkins reflects on each of his early startups as great learning experiences that he can apply to Storyform, and those lessons-learned seem to be paying off. Storyform currently has 1,900 registered publishers in countries around the world (a number that is growing about 10 percent a week) and they have logged over 17,000 hours of user engagement.

So what’s next on the road to Storyform’s success? “We’re still very early-stage, so we’re bootstrapped right now,” says Hawkins, “but we’re preparing for a first round, learning the fundraising space and meeting with everyone we can.” In the meantime, Hawkins and Clum will keep working on what got them into the startup life in the first place: transforming the way stories are told.

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YourSports: connecting the world online through sports

March Madness is coming, and athletes, coaches, and fans all over the country are gearing up for another exciting season—the sweat, the competition, the glory! But Chris McCoy (BA 2011) is excited for another reason. March Madness 2015 will mark the public beta launch of a startup effort seven years in the making. YourSports is a new sports networking platform that aims to change the way people connect through sports online.

“Sports is the ultimate connector,” says McCoy, who started YourSports during his senior year at the University of Washington. “It has an inherent ability to build relationships at all levels—high school softball teammates, 2010 Winter Olympics competitors, 12th fans—but until now these relationships haven’t been collected online in a centralized location.”

YourSports Graph BTCSure, you can find fellow fans or your college soccer teammates on Facebook or Linkedin, but there’s a lot of chatter on those social platforms, and only a small portion of it is about sports. There’s also many mainstream sports media websites, but those don’t offer the personalization that comes with social networking sites. McCoy is banking on the belief that sports communities want a personalized dedicated sports experience.

McCoy explains that social platforms connect people by interest. “Think of it this way,” he says, “Facebook was student directory-meets-social network. Linkedin is resume-meets-social network. YourSports does the same with sports data. We’ve taken the most comprehensive historical and geographical sports data on the planet and gathered it online in one place to unite teams, athletes, fans, and influencers from all levels, throughout history, and around the world.”

YourSports - chris and russell wilson
McCoy (right) with Russell Wilson

YourSports currently employs about 20 people—mostly engineers and data scientists—in 9 cities, working to build out a platform based on millions of pieces of local and national data from 100+ years of sports history. They have already created 500,000+ profiles of athletes, schools, and sports venues, raised $1.7 million in angel investment, and have seen a steady stream of people joining (“in the low thousands”) since launching their private beta in 2012. McCoy has also recruited a strong board of advisors, including ESPN.com senior baseball writer Jerry Crasnick and Ward Bullard, former head of sports at Google+. After YourSports’ public launch during March Madness, McCoy will continue to work on the next step: monetizing YourSports using a commerce model that connects users with places and products recommended by their favorite athletes. “If we get it right,” says McCoy, “YourSports will become one of the most interesting sports marketing and commerce platforms on the planet.”

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