Tag Archives: creativity

Why we write — What is 1X57 about?

1X57 is a daily publication about sustainability, and all the related topics. The primary subjects are zero waste, farmers markets, and clean energy. Beyond that is an array of fun topics like: do-it-yourself (DIY), crafts, sports, art, and creativity.

We talk about all of them and, of course: reduce, reuse, recycle.

5-6 pieces a day are published. A few are opinion pieces written from an expert point-of-view following research, experiments, and field tests. Comments, criticisms, and queries for help are welcome.

The remaining content is blend of support pieces and fun stories. The support pieces are studies, other experts and their opinions, and facts that support each opinion piece. They are designed to give you a broader perspective while also bringing together the best knowledge available.

The fun stories shake things up and are thrown in purely because they are interesting. Anything from short shorts to amazing surf artwork. It’s a little of the playful with the serious.

These are the topics we are passionate about, and would normally be gabbing to our friends about. This publication is the perfect way to share our obsession and invite you to become our friend. Enjoy!

 

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A Labor Day Question: Will You Be Living Your Passion At 80 Years?

Composer John Williams

This weekend, I experienced the mellifluous genius of John Williams conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl through a series of scores he has composed over his fifty-plus year career. The man responsible for creating the iconic themes to Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter (the list goes on, and on, and on) is now eighty years old and is the living embodiment of having a career versus having a job. Last year, he received two Academy Award nominations for War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin and shows no sign of slowing down.

Which got me thinking…what will I be doing when I’m an octogenarian? Will I be living my passion? How many people envision a career beyond “retirement age”?

It wasn’t until I witnessed Williams on stage — the exuberance on his face, the vigor in his voice — that I considered the question.

Warren Buffett is 82 years old and while preparing for his abdication of the Berkshire Hathaway throne, appears amazingly involved. Queen Elizabeth is 86 and spoofing herself at global arenas like the London Olympics. It’s conceivable these magnates will remain actively centered in their vocations well into their 90s.

As our lifespans lengthen, are our views on everything from careers to relationships to faith expanding as well? While I haven’t read it (yet, it’s on my to-read list), I’m told the book “100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith” tackles these issues with thought-provoking adroitness.

A couple years ago I made the decision to pursue a career I loved, versus succeed in a job (that started out as a career) I liked. Now, as I draw inspiration and guidance from those living and sustaining their dreams, like Margaret Atwood, who at 72 is working with the online writing community at Wattpad to encourage new writers, I look towards the future with an unexpected optic, one that answers “I hope so” to the aforementioned question: Will I be living my passion at 80 years old?  

Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, Margaret Atwood

On Labor Day, as we pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers, it seems appropriate to reflect upon on our laboring futures, with farsighted lenses.

Businessman and author Harvey Mackay is touted for coining the phrase: “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” While this feels exceedingly trope-ish, there is a distinct difference between a labor of love, and just laboring, with the former presenting a much more sustainable, and fulfilling, future.

*Enjoy Handplanes turns bodysurfing into art

*Enjoy handplanes set themselves apart in the bodysurfing industry by turning their creations into one-of-a-kind art. It is amazing, the creativity and beauty they put into these little planes, with everything from DIY craft to pure artist illustrations, simple coloring and classic lines.

Of course, one has to mention that all of these handplanes are made from recycled and reused material. They use old, trashed surfboards and environmentally responsible resin for glassing. Definitely a part of the Zero Waste mantra.

Take a look and you might just be tempted to buy one. You can also join the *Enjoy community by visiting their vibrant Facebook group.

 

**All these photos, and more, can be found on the *Enjoy Facebook Photos page

 

 

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Communist propaganda posters from the Soviet Union, 1917-1991

An amazing set of 1,500 posters from the U.S.S.R., via Ben Perry on Flickr.

Since their propaganda, and slightly foreign, you will have to guess their intended meaning.

What does the government want you to think/feel/believe?

 

 

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Creativity, an equation for success: Obsession x Voice

Here is a post from John Gruber about creative success. For publishers or anyone with a deep interest in something, “obsession times voice is a pretty good stab at a simple formula for doing it right.”

Obsession x Voice

  • What’s my obsession?
    • Surfing, sustainability, creativity, and technology.
  • What’s my voice?
    • Haven’t found that yet, despite being a loudmouth rambler. I do know I prefer positivity over controversy, brevity over run-on sentences, and quality over quantity, but it still feels like an amorphous blob to me.

A better definition from Merlin Mann:

“Topic times voice. Or, if you’re a little bit more of a maverick, obsession times voice. So what does that mean? I think all of the best nonfiction that has ever been made comes from the result of someone who can’t stop thinking about a certain topic — a very specific aspect of a certain topic in some cases. And second, they got really good at figuring out what they had to say about it.”

 

I think that gets us into the Malcom Gladwell 10,000 hours of practice territory.  You know the claim that real expertise in any topic takes 10,000 hours or anywhere from 5-10 years.

By my own arithmetic, I figure to be about halfway, 5,000 hours, into blogging. Give or take a few hundred. There is still a lot for me to learn and, indeed, every few weeks I learn something new that completely blows me away. Usually, a lesson that hits me like a punch in the stomach, but after each recovery I emerge better than ever.

A cycle that many of my creative readers will completely understand. Still, it’s good to hear other successful creatives come back and explain to us that “obsession x voice” is the equation for future success.

 

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Why doesn’t brainstorming work?

From an interview with Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Why doesn’t brainstorming work? What should we do instead?

I think the failure of brainstorming is inseparable from its allure, which is that it makes us feel good about ourselves. A group of people are put together in a room and told to free-associate, with no criticism allowed. (The assumption is that the imagination is meek and shy — if it’s worried about being criticized, it will clam up.) Before long, the whiteboard is filled with ideas. Everybody has contributed; nobody has been criticized. Alas, the evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of these free-associations are superficial and that most brainstorming sessions actually inhibit the productivity of the group. We become less than the sum of our parts.

However, in recent years, scientists have shown that group collaborations benefit from debate and dissent; it is the human friction that makes the sparks. (There’s a reason why Steve Jobs always insisted that new ideas required “brutal honesty.”) In fact, some studies suggest that encouraging debate and dissent can lead to a 40% increase in useful new ideas from the group.

You talk a lot about the benefits of cultural mixing. What legislative changes would encourage more of this?

More immigrants! The numbers speak for themselves. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Patent Office, immigrants invent patents at double the rate of non-immigrants, which is why a 1% increase in immigrants with college degrees leads to a 15% rise in patent production. (In recent years, immigrant inventors have contributed to more than a quarter of all U.S. global patent applications.) These new citizens also start companies at an accelerated pace, co-founding 52% of Silicon Valley firms since 1995.

Many of the anecdotes in Imagine have a disconcerting common theme of drugs or mental illness. Are creative people all doomed to be addicts or mad men?

I don’t think so. (Yo Yo Ma, for instance, is a very nice guy.) But I do think the prevalence of such stories reminds us that creativity is damn difficult, which is why those in the creativity business are always looking for every possible edge. That’s why many great writers experimented with amphetamines and why performers have always searched for compounds that let them get out of their head, silencing that voice that kills their spontaneity. In the end, of course, these chemical shortcuts rarely work out — there’s nothing creative about addiction. And that’s why I remained convinced that the best creativity booster is self-knowledge. Once we know how the imagination works, we can make it work better.

More Q&A at Mashable

 

Thx to Jesse Newhart

The idea board – what to do with all these images around us?

Da Vinci would carry around a sketchbook for those everyday genius moments and fill it with drawings, notes, and ideas.

I create a wall of images. Dare I say print objects! They creep up the wall until the whole surface is covered like a mosaic.

Wherever I go a wall of images trails me. I think I do it because it completes my half-photographic memory, but also because it encourages me to be creative in a way I cannot explain.

Which is why it’s awesome to see this commercial with Ron Howard using an image wall.

I’m totally copying his set-up: ginormous black board on a stand. It looks so much more sophisticated than my scotch tape wall, plus when it fills up I can replace it with a fresh one and save the old one for future ideas.

You might be a futurist if…

You find the now so yawn…what’ll be hot in a few months from now meh…transporters and nanobots and the singularity can’t get here soon enough.

In all seriousness (not that I was joking in the previous paragraph), I think futurists, and futurism, scare a lot of people. And it’s not because futurism challenges deeply held precepts of traditionalists.

No, I think it’s because people can barely handle their current reality, let alone the idea of ones in the future. Of course you’re going to think Ray Kurzweil is a kook if you cling onto the past or even worse, can’t come to terms with it.

Futurists are not people who live in fear, who aren’t so mired in reality they can’t envision what the future looks like. Futurists are dreamers and even more, they are believers in their own dreams. They are inventors and they are creators and they are problem-solvers.

Wikipedia defines futurists as “scientists and social scientists whose speciality is to attempt to systematically predict the future, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.”

But I don’t believe futurists are so much predictors of the future as they are drivers of it. Thomas Edison was just as much of a futurist as Martin Luther King. They had an inherent, insatiable need to create change based on an undying discontent with their current surroundings and circumstances. To quote Edison, “Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.”

So does future make the man or does man make the future? I think futurists make the future. One is able to predict the future by creating it. So the real question is, what kind of future do you want to create?

PS – Tomorrow (Wed, Apr 20) I predict a large group of people will gather at Public Bar in DC to talk about futurism, the future and Japan: dcfuturists.eventbrite.com

DC Art and Inspiration

Yesterday, I purchased the first piece of art that will belong to the “1×57 collection” – art dedicated to the precepts of 1×57: innovation, inspiration and social value creation. It’s a whimsical creation by Maggie O’Neill, who I consider one of the most talented artists in the DC area. I discovered her through, wait for it, Facebook. She’s a friend of friends and as soon as I saw her work, I friended her. I quickly discovered she’s the mastermind of some of the most stylishly decorated and designed restaurants in DC, from Oya to SEI to the soon-to-be opened Lincoln.

Steve and I made a visit to her studio in Kensington, MD and Maggie’s talent is unmistakeable. She paints and creates with such a vision for life, light, color and texture, it was easy to fall in love with the painting that’s now hanging over our office work table. It’s a rendering of the Capitol building and when I look at it, I see the ideals and energy of liberty, of people and values as varied, mixed and diverse as a painter’s color palette, but with an overlaying foundation of democracy that unites and elevates us all. There’s also a fun secret hidden within the painting which compelled me to name the piece, “The Cover-up.”

Capitol Cover-up

More important than it’s pure aesthetic appeal, the piece is reminder of my most favorite period of art history, the shift from a formal, non-secular, constrained style of painting (the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neoclassical periods) to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism, which completely turned the world on it’s head. When the group of artists now known as Impressionists came onto the Paris art scene, they were viewed as seditious, crude and a threat to the very existence of traditional art.

A fraction of the group were deemed “Intrasigents” – an expression that borrowed it’s name from the radical political party that attempted to overthrow the constitutional monarchy in Spain. Now these revolutionaries – Monet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh, Picasso – are known as some of the most talented, revered and brilliant artists in the world.

So a big thanks to Maggie for making DC such a beautiful place to live and a bigger thanks to all the artists, creators and visionaries of the world for challenging the status quo and inspiring the unimaginable.