modern life

this & that: edition 5


This week has been overwhelming. Too, too much is happening. Too, too much to find our feet. We’re holding onto wise words from last weekend’s Art + Race Conference at Impact Hub Oakland - a rare smart, insightful gathering that also centered on kindness, empathy, and love: “Be kind. Be Careful. Be Uncomfortable.” 

"I want people to be ok with feeling something", stated co-host Holly Murchison at the start of the day and we’ve thought often of her words as we negotiated the last few days.

In amongst the major shifts and happenings in global, national and yep, still, personal events, here’s what we’re been thinking about, reading and stumbling on over the past couple of weeks.


The wellbeing piece:

I feel like we know this in our heart of hearts, but it’s interesting to see the evidence coming out to support this: The lasting mental and physical adverse effects of the 2016 Presidential election.

 “A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” 

The hard truths of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, and the best way to change someone’s mind.

Apparently, there are two types of popularity, one based on status, the other on likeability. Care to guess which is better for you? As you read this keep in mind that Popular People Live Longer

This is not a piece on lipstick, but you should read it anyway.

Vox’s take on Brian Resnick’s widely disseminated idea of the power of placebos.

As our mental health landscape changes, AI has just entered the field with Woebot. More like a 'choose your own adventure self-help book'. Still, need something IRL, we’re huge champions of the movement in the UK around Happiness Cafes. Or you could check out Cup of Comms if you need help with communication and your EQ. Or for a much deeper dive, check out 1440 Multiversity – learning about life while hanging out in the redwoods near Santa Cruz.


The culture piece:

A wonderful way to bring together music and neuroscience, in intentional collaborations that can impact people’s lives.

Can we weave museums more closely into our urban landscape? See what’s happening with The Shed in New York and consider the responsibilities of our arts philanthropists to address both funding gaps and social justice.

There’s an interesting program around Tools for Resistance at the Queens Museum, and another one around the Art of Change at the Aspen Ideas Festival

We are loving Molly McLeod’s Analog News Feed and intrigued by The Analogue Foundation’s Listening Station.

Like everyone else, we’ve been obsessing over 13 Reasons Why too and wanted to share this resource guide from Teen Vogue in case it’s triggering anything for you. “Tell someone how you feel.”


Catching our attention:

We didn't have a big plan, we just wanted to help feed our neighbors…” A community cupboard out of Winnipeg.

Our latest political crush (did we have those before?): Maggie Haberman

And a long-time one:

“I couldn’t help but wonder how things might have been different if we hadn’t all moved West to write magazine articles and select the music for Apple commercials and design websites. What if we’d stayed in our hometowns and cast our lot with—and our votes in—the counties that raised us?” Ann Friedman

Love this idea coming out of Oakland: Try Studio  “Try something creative taught by someone local.”


A little transparency, what we’re learning to make things happen in our world:

We’re learning all the time about how to straddle our worlds of culture/mental wellness, and that of entrepreneurship. Looking to these resources at the moment for advice, advice, advice. 24 best podcasts for entrepreneurs


And planning ahead:

Some summer reading:

E.M. Wolfman’s new publication Black Aesthetic comes out on 23rd June.

Female essayists telling it like it is:

And some positive psychology for on the beach, by the pool, or just in your-not-quite-long-enough lunch hour:

We’ll leave you with this: Get together on one of those hot days (who are we kidding – foggy) and summer (read chilly) nights outside in the Bay Area.

More soon.


this & that: edition 4

We’ve been struggling to get going this week. The Manchester bombing threw us. Not just because it was aimed at children and their parents, and because it was aimed primarily at girls, but also because this is my hometown — I grew up in this diverse, proud, ever-changing Northern City. In the last few days as I’ve talked to family back home, I’ve been struck by the city’s resilience, and how it came together to help its own. Its tentative rendition of Don’t Look Back in Anger. Its sense of place. Its humor. The Mancunian Way.

“What is safety anyway? Genie seemed to be conceding that there is only randomness — only chance. And if everything beyond us is chance, maybe the only force we have to survive a world like that is connection. By then, it must have seemed so obvious to her: it’s a good idea to hold on to each other.” — Jon Moallem

These three podcasts had us grasping for soothing ideas around safety, connection and resilience (99%Invisible), loss, violence, and forgiveness (TedRadioHour) and bringing empathy into more aspects of our lives (Ezra Klein Show).

Some of this edition was written before Manchester, some after, but I hope you’ll get something out of what we’re been thinking about, reading and stumbling on over the past couple of weeks.


The wellbeing piece:

Though it’s a couple of years old now, this article from The Atlantic is still one of the best takes on anxiety that we’ve read in a while. Here’s an even older idea for how we might better live together.

In the mental health world (though doesn’t that denote everywhere and everything now), there’s an ever-widening gap between talk and action, an expanding concept of accepted treatments, including psychedelics and increasing public platforms for discussion, including Instagram’s support of users affected by mental illness. People who are depressed are definitely not werewolves or villains. Though maybe one of them is a retired WWE superstar.

What we think is driving happiness isn’t. Is this the other side of meditation? We still struggle with this: focusing only on what’s within your control. But we’re coming around to this: curiosity is better than knowledge. We need to get back to the importance of emotion. And shift our self-worth to one based on purpose and not professional achievements.

The humanities still have life lessons to teach us but not through traditional lectures and preferably by Alain de Botton.

There are clear reasons for this we won’t go into here: Women are least optimistic about America’s future. We also get why this was one of the most read pieces on the NYT: Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?

Laughter, ideas and ‘our shared fictions’: they spread.

In approaching your week, try to add this simple shift into your routine. We’re not sure what we think about this yet: an app for grief. Or this new addition to the wellness scene.

“Day by day, hour by hour, my Instagram feed became more manic, nasty and petulant. Posts that were once meant as romantic gestures became tiny, pixelated middle fingers.”

A painfully honest piece about how social media contrives to undermine our real-world selves and relationships.

A piece of wellness from our friend over at Captain Blankenship.


The culture piece:

We are becoming increasingly aware that art contributes to our mental wellbeing, that we need to find new models for funding creative and community development and that we need to stand by our artists and those who support them as they are increasingly under assault.

We’re still thinking about last weekend’s Oakland Book Festival, in particular, Jeff Chang’s question about what our responsibility is to the culture that has given us a voice? “What are the debts we owe each other? What are our responsibilities to each other? What commitments do we owe each other? Where does an ethics of responsibility begin?”

While thinking about your answers, remember to focus.


Catching our attention:

Have we now satiated our appetite for personal essays? Virginia Woolf’s and a contemporary seem to think so.

“My hope for the world? Human beings are all equal. These word can’t be empty. They have to be reality.” — The Forger. One of the most mesmerizing and impactful videos we’ve seen in a while. A reminder not to forget. 

Chicago’s new 10,000 Reconnected Campaign that aims to get 10,000 “opportunity youths’ ages 16 to 24 back to school or work by 2020.

Just discovered Brand New Congress


A little transparency, what we’re learning to make things happen in our world:

We’re still in early stage mode, so thinking about start-up conditions and the case for moral leadership.


And planning ahead:

Catch Tucker Nichols, Flowerland in LA and Designed in California at London’s Design Museum.

Next weekend, there’s the Bay Area’s Book Festival and a Conference on Art and Race at Impact Hub Oakland.

YBCA’s new performance festival to be looked forward to this Fall, Transform.

The fantastic Luna Malbroux’s How to Be a White Man at San Francisco’s Piano Fight very, very soon.

Wish we could get over to the east coast for this series: How to Construct a 21st Century Feminism.

A disconnect between a child’s outlook and the parent’s reality. We just ordered Richard Ford, Between Them from the library.

And finally, you may not have graduated recently but you can still take advantage of all that advice that’s around.

More soon.