this & that: edition 2

What we’re stumbling on, thinking about, and working through this month.

We’re paying more attention to how our mental and physical health are connected, our changing relationship with ideas, the extraordinary power of placebos, how politeness is affecting our authenticity, why millennial men want stay at home wives, whether you can take your baby to work and how public art can expose class tensions

More and more how-to’s on changing your life, losing like a winner, being kind to everyone, dealing with our ever evolving work lives and meeting someone in real life. There’s probably a whole how-to’s link newsletter that we could write.

Read this extraordinary piece about Chef Daniel Patterson. Then get around to those other people you haven’t managed to read like David Foster Wallace, J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy (listen to Ezra Klein’s excellent podcast with the author) or these many books on equality being discussed on Our Shared Shelf. As the news has become more depressing, and now even frightening, we’ve been ending our day with Positive News. If you are stuck for what else to read here’s an advice column for readers.

We’re looking forward to Ted Cinema in May, the Bay Area Book Festival Berkeley in early June,  and new SF space Parlor, “part community living room, part art house, and part greenhouse”.

Over the next couple of weeks, go Old School and actually write to your senators with new stationary designed for resistance and find your Key Trait with The School of Life (ours, "Lyrical", in an aspirational way of course). Civic innovator? Apply to this. Civic minded? Apply for this

More in a couple of weeks...

Doing things a bit differently

There's an abundance of wellness and well-being in the Bay Area but we don't think we're that. We’re kind of to the side of that. We take the ambition of those industries to do good, human good, but we strive to do some different things with it: to rethink that language (no north stars or true selves here), to look across disparate disciplines to see what they can offer a narrative of life (not just therapists but artists, writers, designers, chefs), and to position the thinking right next to the doing, so if you do have a realization, an epiphany, we’ll figure out what to do with that. 

We’ll make sure that whichever program you are attending actually speaks in a language, and is delivered in a form, that you can actually, and will want to, use in your everyday life. We’re trying to avoid being too workshoppy and too self-helpy, and also those other pitfalls of this world, too esoteric and too highbrow. 

We’re a bit too cynical for that other way of working, perhaps. But we also believe those models of care are evolving and we want to explore that too.

We're working on new programs, new collaborations, and new ways of thinking about being in the world. Just hold on a bit longer. We'll have more to tell you soon!


this & that: edition 1

What we’re stumbling on, thinking about, and working through this month:

We’re learning that America’s new epidemic: deaths of despair is worlds apart from our over-abundance of self-help. We’re shifting our understanding of how children grasp the mental lives of others. Teenagers are taking on coping strategies for the adult anxieties that they have to deal with. We need better ways to define mental disorders, approach our working lives, and structure our time. Writer Jeanette Winterson has been questioning our idea of modern marriages and another writer Colum McCann has been giving out advice to young writers that we all need to use (including 1. Don’t be a Dick).

We’re still obsessed with Podcasts. Did you see that the NYT has a new Podcast Club – kind of like a book club but with podcasts (we need one at Storefront). The Guardian has a great piece about podcasts by women. And we’ve been spending some time with the girls over at The High-Low (personally stealing the idea of Life Lilos) and new podcast Making Ways, recently featuring our friends over at Case for Making.

We’ve discovered and are now using Resistbot and Daily Action; have found a way to be ok with Trump’s tweets (well, almost) Make Tweets Great Again; and we’re catching up as much as we can with What the Fuck Just Happened. Look at what therapists advise for dealing with the stresses around our contemporary situation. We are still (always) lobbying for the support of the arts – because of this Creative Expression and American Greatness; this on the benefits of the arts to mental well-being; and this new report on the value of the Creative Economy.

We’re looking forward to seeing Jerome Reyes at YBCA, reading new magazine Anxy, and finishing Bee Wilson’s fascinating book on why we eat what we do, First Bite. For those over in the UK, did you see that M&S is launching Frazzled Cafes? Brilliant idea, very much needed. 

Playing in Shortform


This week we're playing around with taglines and thought we'd share our brainstorming with you. There are some real gems and groaners here, but we're having fun figuring out how to tell you what it is in one line that we do. We're not known for brevity, so this is a real challenge for us. What's interesting is how that syrupy self-help language can easily creep in. We have such brilliant ways of talking about culture and learning but add in wellbeing and you're into the trap of not really saying anything at all. 

Let us know if any leap out at you! We have our favorites - you'll see which in our big reveal coming soon!


A new public space for the common good

Change the conversation

Making the big ideas personal

A public think tank about our personal lives

A maker space for our personal lives

Public discussion about our personal lives 

Making learning personal, making learning public 

Grad school for real people 

Be the change you want to see in the world 

Helping you be the change you want to see in the world

Where ideas come to life. 

Where life comes to practice. 

Thinking. Being. Doing. 

Ideas to change how we think about ourselves and the world

Cultural Work for Change

Discover new ideas about yourself and the world

A think tank for life practice

A laboratory for life practice

A workshop for life practice

Practice your life 

Ideas and practice for well-being

Possibilities for your life practice 

Possibilities for 21st-century life practice

A laboratory for practical life 

 21st Century Life Practice 

 A learning community for the 21st century 

 21st-century life matters 

 Explore being human in the 21st century 

A space designed for the human good 

Ideas for everyday life 

Curating for everyday life

A new cultural institution for the human good 

Thinking finds company

Thinking in company

People-centered, design-minded, socially conscious. 

For a life less ordinary. 

A well-examined life

For life’s situations / For all of life’s situations

What you need, when you need it, at any stage in life.  

We need to talk. 

Learning for Life’s sake. 

Building a community around ideas 

Build community around ideas

Build community around an idea 

Creating community around ideas. 

Life. Practice. 

Real ideas. Real time. Real life. 

The Thinking Room. 

Thought-full [ok, we'll add the groan ourselves here!]

Life. Learning. 

Lessons for living. 

Come together. 

Because living takes practice.


What is it? 

It’s OnBeing in physical form; it's Brainpickings in physical form; it's a great magazine in physical form.

Its 18 reasons about life not food 

It’s the cool Aunt to therapy’s Daddy 

Its maintenance, checking in, coming up for air. 

It's personal and playful 

It's not taking too seriously those things to take seriously. 

It's saying, going, doing, before you are ready. 

It’s a year before x

It's all of the above.


What do you do?

What do you do?

Isn’t that the essential first question? Not only on websites but when we first meet and greet someone? In short (because hopefully, our website does some of this) we program around ideas for living, developing classes, workshops and office hours with a variety of practitioners from the breadth of culture, the humanities, and therapeutic practices. 

We’re about building an infrastructure of values that both make sense (no self-help gobbledygook) and that you can actually implement in your everyday life. We touch on ideas such as compassion, mindfulness and loving-kindness, creativity, connection, and meaning, but we'll also question some of the received wisdom we’re getting around these. Happiness, really, what is that? And positive psychology, how does that help me? Does all this thinking actually get me anywhere real?

At Storefront we place the stress on learning in company – yes it's an individual’s journey to figure out who they are or what they need, but you actually need to do this with other people, for it to be effective, meaningful and fun. We spend so much time now in our own heads (or displaced in various technical media), and less and less and less with real, actual people, in conversation and in relationship, and that’s actually the vital bit. We’re about reviving some of that real-world connection and content.

What else? We’re about bringing together the personal and examining and mulling over ideas of self, but we also want to connect who you are on an individual level back to that wider idea of society. We're interested in you and we're interested in what’s actually going on out in the world around you. 

We look at those larger factors that are shaping much of what’s happening today, and probably in your own life too. So if we talk about work, and your personal relationship to it, we’ll also bring in how the culture of a workplace and the working day are shifting. And if we talk about relationships, we’ll figure out the emotional space, as well as how evolving ideas of time, place, technology, even language, are affecting how we talk, and love, and friend.

And finally, we ask serious questions, but as playfully and lightly as possible. We think a lot about the content of our program and as much about how it’s conveyed, delivered and brought to you. If you get nothing of the above heady stuff out of it, we want you to at least have had a good experience.

But we need you as we shape our program. We're planning our next series on the urgent subjects of our everyday lives. Help us think about what's coming up. What would you like to see us cover - curiosity, participation, integrity, change, distraction, attention, creativity, activism, or something different? What are those big subject questions that overlap with your personal life? What are you thinking about and what do you need help working through, in company, with great people.  

We've created this space, but it is with you very much in mind. 

So what do we do? Whatever you need us to.

Why San Francisco doesn't need to be the loneliest city.

Our latest post on Medium looks at how San Francisco is building out of itself all those accidental meet-ups, of human contact and varied social interactions. And how that leaves San Francisco susceptible not just to loneliness and social isolation, but also depression, stress, anxiety, and dare we say it boredom and disconnection. Read the full article here.




Subscription Service

Here on the blog, we’re starting a new (occasional) series of things that we’ve found in our constant research, sometimes travels, and diverse experiences, that we love. Things in which ideas for living take on object form, or that do some of the work that Storefront aims to do around connection - social, intellectual and practical – in material / physical forms. (There’s that curator bit coming out.)


As we’re embarking on a new collaboration with Case for Making (see here), we thought we’d start with their studio subscription. Each quarter, Alexis Petty & her team of practitioners handpicks items from their shop collection roughly arranged around a theme (with their own stories and advice added in). So far in 2016 they’ve had sets around Grayscale / Drafting (Jan, Feb, March), and Ultramarine / Watercolor (April, May, June). They are about to send out Gold / Additive & Subtractive (July, August, Sept) and are currently working on the theme for the Oct, Nov, Dec set. It’s $45 for a three-month subscription, which is kind of a bargain.


We love the idea of this studio subscription for the amateur or the expert; they encourage dabbling and experimentation, but also build on knowledge, craft, and talent where you have, and if you have, it. Plus, it’s personal, because it’s the creative obsessions of Alexis and her team taking material form and being sent to you, so that you can have your own in whatever shape or form makes sense in your own life / practice. It's like an intimate dialog, that takes place over a year, one finely-curated package at a time. 

A few things we wanted to tell you

We have a few things going on that we're super excited about:

1. We've just announced our next day of programs: on June 12th we'll be over in Point Richmond for the day with potter Jered Nelson, poet Sarah Kobrinsky and friends, and artists Napoleon Dargan and Hugh Shurley. Details here on the website and over here at Eventbrite. We hope to see you there!

2. We just sent out our latest newsletter. If you are on the list, brilliant; if not, enjoy!

3. We're over on the Good Therapy Blog today with Claire's latest piece on why it matters to talk, and write, about our mental health.



Pajamas, pot and pie: our practitioners on creative rituals

Richmond-based poet Sarah Kobrinsky will be part of our Point Richmond pop-up on June 12th. She’s invited friends and fellow writers John Oliver Simon and Stacy Carlson to join her in facilitating an Open Classroom on the life span of creative rituals.  We think you’ll want to be part of the conversation – if you don’t believe us, just see what they said when we asked the trio to tell us a bit about their own current creative rituals:

“I write best first thing, anywhere between 5:30am & 7am. On an ideal day, I get up before my family, make coffee, light a candle, and set to work. Yes, in my pajamas. Coffee is a major part of my ritual. I boil water in an old battered kettle on an old Wedgewood stove, then pour it over fresh grounds into my cafetiere. I listen to music on my headphones so as not to wake said family. My go-to is The Brandenburg Concertos. It is a fail-proof way to get me going – mentally, creatively. And I work until my five year old wakes up, comes down the stairs, and blows out the candle. I write entirely by hand, and I am very attached to my notebooks.” -Sarah Kobrinsky, Poet (Point Richmond)

Sarah Kobrinsky writes in her pajamas

Sarah Kobrinsky writes in her pajamas

“I’m a morning person, so this process starts between 6 and 8 am. I generally eat a small sliver of medically prescribed marijuana, fill my tall mug with coyotes howling at the moon with strong coffee, and walk out to my bench in the garden which I have been tending for 40 years. I contemplate the plants: tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, kale, lettuce, collards, chard, and the herbs, echinacea, tarragon, comfrey, valerian, skullcap, feverfew, all-heal…always something that needs to be done in the garden, but now I’m looking for a poem. Or the poem is looking for me. I may do some breathing meditation. When an 11-syllable line comes through, I write it in my blue notebook, currently the 276th in a format going back four decades. The poem might start anywhere, be about anything (I’m not sure poems are ‘about’ anything). Once it begins, it will follow its own course. I write an unrhymeschemed hendecasyllabic sonnet. I’ve written hundreds of these. I read it aloud, make some changes. Each time it changes I say it aloud again. When this draft is finished, I go inside and type a second draft of the previous day’s poem on the old Sears typewriter I have on long-term loan from Sarah Kobrinsky. Then I go to the computer and type a third draft of the previous day’s second draft. I usually find some good energy remaining either for translation from the Spanish or working on a manuscript or sending poems out… it’s a whole cottage industry.” – John Oliver Simon, Poet (Berkeley)

John Oliver Simon practicing Grandpa's syllables

John Oliver Simon practicing Grandpa's syllables

“As a novelist, I create rituals that serve as portals into the deepwoods of my imagination – there lies the source material for my fictional worlds. Over the years my rituals have taken many forms, from Jungian dream work to book making, collage, and seance-type communions….and I've drawn from various traditions, including body awareness and shamanic practices, poetic mindfulness, vipassana meditation, and free writing. Over the years I've eliminated my need for ‘inspiration’ in order to write, but I rely on my arsenal of tiny rituals as tools of my craft.” – Stacy Carlson, Novelist (Oakland)

Stacy Carlson on a pie break

Stacy Carlson on a pie break



We've found our Medium

We love to write (you've probably noticed that already), so we've just started our Medium page. Here we'll talk about all those things that are currently on our minds, whether that's how to narrate the most important relationships in our lives, bring our private lives into our public spaces or find those individuals and organisations who are collectively focusing on why people matter.  We're just getting started, so please follow us, read us, connect with us here: Storefront on Medium.