this & that: edition 6

This is a shorty, as we’re about to head into summer break and that means this collection of links and ideas is going to be put on hold for a while. For now, we hope you’ll enjoy what we’ve been reading, reflecting on and just getting excited about over the last couple of weeks!

Also, as a very excited aside, I’m joining the Public Imagination Fellows over at YBCA for the next year. We had our first retreat this month and  I'm looking forward to updating you as things take shape!

Ok, here we go…


The wellbeing piece:

We’re now seeing that failure as a syllabus has a place on US campuses:

“Nearly perfect on paper, with résumés packed full of extracurricular activities, they seemed increasingly unable to cope with basic setbacks that come with college life: not getting a room assignment they wanted, getting wait-listed for a class or being rejected by clubs.”

We’re now able to capture the human brain in portraiture of sorts.

We’re learning the value of emotional labor for our future work situations. All across the economy, technology is edging human workers into more emotional territory. 

We’re now realizing that behaviors, emotions and even thoughts are highly contagious. This one’s disconcerting.


The culture piece:

We love, love, love what Douglas Burnham and his team at Envelope A+D are doing in Hayes Valley and Hunters Point and now West Berkeley:

“Architects, by training, are able to see these multiple simultaneous futures. But most people need to see it and feel and touch it,” Burnham says. “It’s like a rendering, but it’s one step further.”

Building creativity and hope with Build: Not Impossible, a mobile maker station for refugee camps.

Need an Exercise in Listening? Get to Montalvo Arts Centre this summer.

The Designer’s Fund has opened their application for their new Design Management Bridge Program. Apply.

We’re intrigued by Katrina McHugh’s latest adventure The Question Everything Project

There’s a new Museum of Capitalism in Oakland’s Jack London Square.


Catching our attention:

“Things are not subjective. There’s good and there’s bad, and those things are not negotiable. It’s not my good versus your good; there’s a good that’s larger than us. And I think that’s something that people are longing for.” 

So many good things here: delve into this conversation between Ann Friedman and Chris Kraus

Modern day philosophers, “living people with ideas worth learning about”

“Britain has a cultural aversion to spelling out techniques for success; it’s considered vulgar. That must change. The convention serves brilliantly to preserve wealth and power for those born into it.”

Social mobility is on the decline not rise in the UK.


Planning ahead:

This summer: take action in the great outdoors

Pick up Teju Cole’s Blind Spot

“I see it as a unified story,” he explains, “but one in which each fragment of prose is dense in the way that a poem is dense. There are thematic breadcrumbs scattered throughout the text, but, yes, it is oblique. It’s not meant to be obvious, but a more psychologically resonant series of fragments that detonate on some deeper level.” - Teju Cole

Attend a Literary Death Match!

Can’t get to Wales (!), buy a live-streaming ticket for Do Lectures.

Planning way ahead, there’s a conference on meaning in Brighton this autumn:

:"At Meaning, we bring you bold ideas from unexpected places. We bring you thinkers and do-ers from business, activism, academia and the arts. We bring you the pioneering purpose-driven businesses innovating to disrupt not only their sectors but whole systems."

And Creative Time is hosting their 10th Summit in Toronto – the theme ‘Of Homelands and Revolution


As it’s summer, we’ll leave you with a bright spot: this month’s newsletter from The Awl. It's a gorgeous, heart-warming list of people noticing other people being kind to each other.

‘My toddler and I were waiting in a long line at Russ and Daughters this morning, and a guy gave me a much earlier number. He'd somehow ended up with an extra number right after his, and waited until he saw someone he thought needed it. I gave my number to the last couple in line, and if they did the same, it might still be going. — Annie

More soon.


Claire Fitzsimmons is the Director of Storefront Institute, a creative space for life, and has written widely on contemporary culture and mental health.



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.