This year is a good time to reread Silent Spring

Written in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, was and still is nothing short of revolutionary in its importance. The first piece of writing that clearly collected and synthesized the existing work of environmental scientists and ecologists on the harmful effects of pesticides and insecticides in the environment, Silent Spring was a profound wake up call, an alarm bell, a highly effective call to arms for a new environmental conservation movement. Today, it is an essential document of the beginning of that movement and an education in basic ecology for the student looking to better understand our planet.

Should you ever feel in need of proof that one dedicated person can seriously change the world, this book may be it. Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist who began her career at the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries writing humble educational radio scripts, used a combination of poetic prose and relentlessly damning evidence from the study of the natural world to do do things in Silent Spring: First, to illustrate the beauty, preciousness and incomprehensible wonders of nature. And second, to condemn and tear apart, beyond any shadow of doubt, the cavalier use of toxic chemicals for “control” of insects, pests and unwanted plants on farms, in gardens, along roadsides and elsewhere.

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Exploring perception with James Turrell: Into the Light

A portrait of artist James Turrell. Image source.

Since the early 2000’s, I’ve been fascinated with artist James Turrell. You might even call me a fangirl. While some look at art like his–art that makes use of so much empty space–and see the Emperor’s new clothes and a whole lot of nothing, I get ecstatically stoked about it. I was pretty damn ecstatic recently when I learned that my visit to Boston last month would allow me time to visit “Into The Light” – the current Turrell exhibition at the Mass MoCA.

Since the 1960’s, Turrell has been exploring the realms of the untouchable: light. Enlisting architecture and LEDs, enclosed and open spaces, negative space and the sky itself, Turrell has sought to take intangible natural forces and make them physical. His works vary in medium, size and shape, yet the impact of a Turrell is an identifiable phenomenon that becomes familiar once you’ve been in their presence. That impact is all-consuming, enveloping and awe-inspiring.

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Saint Martin Memories, Learning To Dive, and How To Help Now

I have a new guest post up on BlissyLife.com. BlissyLife is a marketing and media group created by and for adventure travelers and digital nomads, seeking to share tips and stories about living our most fabulous, most mobile lives. Check it out below or see the original post here.

There I am! This shot was taken by one of my new diving buddies on one of my very first dives in SXM.

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Columbia Startup Demo Night: 6 Inspiring Founder Stories

On Thursday, September 14th, 2017, the San Francisco chapter of the Columbia Venture Community will host CVC’s biggest West Coast event of the year: Columbia Startup Demo Night! We always look forward to this opportunity to meet, mingle and shine the spotlight on innovative startups from the Bay Area. This time, six startups, all with at least one founder who graduated from Columbia, will take the stage to demo their startup and compete for a cash prize in front of a panel of experienced judges.

As we gear up for the event, we’re speaking with all our Demo Night founding teams so that we can share their diverse, inspiring stories with the CVC community.

I had fantastic opportunity to meet and speak with founders from our six CVC Demo Night teams over the past several weeks. These six articles are the result of our conversations. Continue reading “Columbia Startup Demo Night: 6 Inspiring Founder Stories”

How Designers Can Fight Unconscious Bias

I published a guest post on Design Observer, called, “How Designers Can Fight Unconscious Bias: Powerful Lessons From Vectors SF.” It’s reproduced below, or you can read it over there. In it, I discuss an IDEO designer’s important talk about unconscious gender and racial bias, and how designers can help eliminate it, from the Vectors SF design conference.

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Artist feature content series: FIGMENT artists

In 2017, I worked with FIGMENT Oakland interns and our communications team to brainstorm and produce a series of longform articles featuring outstanding FIGMENT artists. Together, we developed a content strategy and a plan for interviewing participating artists and creating some in-depth content.

The goal? To build excitement for the 2017 FIGMENT event, and raise awareness in the local community about these San Francisco Bay Area artists.

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Challenging fashion: Comme des Garçons at the Met

Snapshots from Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. Photo by Irene Kaoru.

Since I was a child, growing up in the 1980’s, I have admiringly followed the work and career of Rei Kawakubo. When I was too young to know what, precisely, avant-garde fashion was, I sensed that this designer was doing something special, unique, and somehow, important.

From the pages of W and Vogue, I pieced together an education in the adornment and presentation of the female body as idealized and imagined, often by male designers creating for the pleasure of male gazes. Kawakubo was starkly different in every way: female, Japanese, trained in fine art but not in fashion, and wholly original in her rejection of simplistic prettiness and conventional beauty. Her work lit a fire of possibility in my mind.

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Considering Tyranny on Independence Day

The founding fathers did something special when they designed the United States of America, with its branches of government designed to keep one another in check and protect the personal freedoms of individual citizens. For many Americans, though, the Constitution is something of a magical document, and the ideals of freedom and justice amount to some mighty magical thinking. For many Americans, oppression, corruption, human rights atrocities and war are things faced by other people in other countries — here in the USA, we’re protected by that magical document. We’re exceptional. We’re safe.

Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University, would like you to consider that this magical notion of safety is nonsense, which you may entertain at your extreme peril. On November 15, 2016, Snyder wrote on Facebook, “Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.”

He’s right.

The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why.

In his book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, Snyder presents the expanded and fleshed-out versions of the 20-point list (from that much-circulated Facebook post) of ways free citizens can protect their liberty and each other in politically unstable and frightening times. This slim volume is packed with ample reasons why we should care about doing so, and chilling, cautionary illustrations from 20th century history.

This 4th of July, as we take a day off to meditate on what makes our country special, let’s also consider how we can keep it. On Tyranny offers grim warning alongside essential hope.

One of Jasper Johns “Flag” paintings, 1960-66.

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An Artist Date with ferocious flowers

I haven’t been strictly following the weekly structure, but in my own haphazard and meandering way, this year I’ve been happily working and playing through Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artist’s Way. By that I mean, I’ve been reading it here and there, writing my Morning Pages when I feel like it and sometimes even when I don’t, and whenever I’m feeling “stuck” or uninspired, I turn to the exercises and ideas contained within. I highly recommend this, whatever type of artist or human you happen to be.

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