Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The league of awesome possibilities

So, yesterday I confessed my newfound love for Richmond, my city. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a project that was born from Melanie Kahl's love for her own city, Chicago. The project is called The League of Awesome Possibilities. The name alone conjures up a sort of giddy nostalgia – little league, big league chew, a league of their own – all of it's just awesome possum.

Through public installations, an online presence and community-based events, The League of Awesome Possibilities hopes to "compile findings into a resource for the community to begin building from."

Successful endeavors include...
  • frequent "Neighborly Chats" with local business owners, featured on the tumblr here
  • the Local Business Valentine Project, encouraging locals to tell their favorite local businesses just how much they love them.
  • an interactive art installation at a local coffee shop displaying "possibilities" for the community
I'm also very happy to say that the group received a grant just yesterday from GOOD Maker to fund their newest endeavor, Possibility Potlucks. Read about it and all of the other totally awesome goings-on here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

GOOD Ideas for Richmond

My only goal after graduating from VCU was to pluck my shallow roots and get the heck out of Richmond. However, fate intervened and I was offered an amazing job that kept me around.

Since then, I've experienced life here through many different lenses and I'm not ashamed to say that I'm really starting to love this city. – which is why I was so excited to participate in GOOD's new initiative – GOOD Ideas for Cities when it landed in our humblest of laps.

Participants were divided into 3 teams that tackled issues of Business & Development, Culture & Tourism, and Education & Economy. My group was tasked with bringing more money (and therefore people) to the James River, an under-utilized feature of the city. RVAnews and Richmond.com both posted great reviews of the results here and here.

Beyond the positive notion of this entire initiative, I have to say that the simple act of getting together with other active Richmondites and building ideas together just felt really good. The enthusiastic energy of the event itself made me feel so fuzzy inside, I'm ready to do this full-time!

Tentative plans have been made to meet again and push these ideas to reality.

I have to thank the awesome people on my team, GOOD and especially Alissa Walker for making this such a rewarding experience and catalyst for my own participation in the Richmond community.

Monday, February 6, 2012

When We Build

"We make our world what it is and we become the kind of people who live in it." –Wilson Miner on why Designers have such a great job.

Designers & programmers – WATCH THIS TALK by Wilson Miner (Head designer of Rdio, Designer & cofounder of EveryBlock, and former designer and developer at Apple). The talk took place at last year's Build Conference in Belfast.

Design is important. As designers, we know this. But, there are people who explore this statement and put it into such eloquent words, it obtains new and more profound meaning. Wilson Miner is one of those people. I took so much away from this talk and I encourage anyone interested in design to take the time to watch it.

Thanks to The Post Family for sharing!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Advocacy through Industry

7 years after its inception, Apolis has opened Apolis:Common Gallery, a space to host exhibitions, collection releases, film screenings, and any other means to promote their mission. And what an inspiring mission that is...

Apolis is a platform for a network of global citizens who are empowering people through opportunity. Apolis co-creates products with manufacturers and we allow the market to determine the future of each item we produce. We know that donating proceeds can be effective, but we believe that advocating for access to opportunity and creating that opportunity is even better. As the line between development and business is becoming blurred in the marketplace, consumers are beginning to see their integral role in the process as they demand to know how, where and by whom their products are made. With select products, Apolis connects developing economies to the global marketplace through seasonal stories and tracks our tangible social results. –Apolis

Workers are empowered through opportunity instead of charity and customers act as benefactors, providing more possibilities for growth. Such a positive model for business.

You can give AND receive for the holidays by shopping the dapper fashions of apolisglobal.com!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

natural selection and altruism

I love Radiolab because it's "a show about curiosity" and as it happens, that's just what I'm about. After listening to a recent short titled Mapping Tic Tac Toe-dom, I decided to peruse through some of the older seasons and listen while I worked.

I think The Good Show (Season 9, Episode 1) is particularly relevant to this blog AND it's an interesting seed of thought for anyone in the good-doing business.
"In this episode, a question that haunted Charles Darwin: if natural selection boils down to survival of the fittest, how do you explain why one creature might stick its neck out for another?"
The episodes are an hour long, but worthy background conversation for time that would otherwise be spent in silence. Of course, I also highly recommend Car Talk for these purposes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Floating Islands too!

Seriously people, floating is the best. Personally, I love it because it feels like the closest we'll ever get to flying, naturally at least (our bodies are not yet built to sustain flight, though successful gravity modification could be in our future!)

Anyways, animals like this little guy like to float too, even if it is on a manmade floating island. Looks pretty cozy to me.
"What do you do with a “severely impaired” body of water and an unsightly shoreline park that is riddled with invasive species? Launch a series of luscious floating islands! In an effort to improve water conditions and restore natural habitats, the American Society of Landscape Architects has designed a series of seven floating islands (aka floating treatment wetlands). The islands, which mimic native wetlands, are constructed from non-toxic, post-consumer recycled plastics and then injected with inert polyurethane foam (the kind of stuff found in Memory Foam mattresses) for buoyancy."

The launch of these clever cleansing islands is set for August 17th in Spring Lake, Missouri. I love that these people got creative and were willing to take a risk. I wish them lots of luck on their upcoming launch!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the queen of rage?

I'm not a huge fan of Michele Bachmann (less of a fan of the Republican party at this moment and even less of a fan of the Tea Party ), but I respect her as an elected representative of my follow citizens.

The last time I posted about Newsweek, the Stephen Colbert cover had me grinning from ear to ear. This time I'm a little sad to see an ambitious and dedicated woman portrayed in such a negative light.

Could I design for a company that asked me to produce this?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Mindlab is a design agency/government innovation unit. WHAT?! I was thrilled to find these two seemingly independent themes wrapped under one creative umbrella.

Since its inception in 2002, Mindlab has evolved into a vehicle for bureaucratic reform.
"We work with the civil servants in our three parent ministries: the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, emplyment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address.

MindLab is instrumental in helping the ministry’s key decision-makers and employees view their efforts from the outside-in, to see them from a citizen’s perspective. We use this approach as a platform for co-creating better ideas."

You can find some great case studies on their website, many concerning the Danish government's "Away With Red Tape" plan. It's interesting to read and compare the citizen/government disconnect in Denmark to that experienced here in the US.

In the June 2011 issues of Monocle magazine, Mindlab's Christian Bason gave some insightful advice...
"The key to longevitiy is having the self-awareness to ask yourself a difficult question: 'Are we still relevant?' If not, you must take your own medicine."
(They have a MindBlog too!)

via Monocle and MindLab, all images via MindLab

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


This weekend was heaven. I spent (literally) the entire day at the beach with my sister/best friend, had a perfect taco dinner with the whole family, rode in my dad's vintage firetruck – in a parade, enjoyed a refreshing mug (or 2) of birch beer at my favorite local festival, fired a shot gun (terrifying) AND spent another blissful day in the sun – in an inflatable lounge chair in a beautiful lake. If this is any indication of the rest of this season's activities, it's going to be the best summer ever. It's also going to be the sunniest summer ever, and that means we all need to start taking care of our skin.

Yesterday I was a lobster, today I am peeling from head to toe. However apathetically, I DID apply sunscreen. Though, I may have been better off without it, according to the Environmental Work Group's 2011 Sunscreen Report. Apparently a lot of sunscreens in today's market contain harmful chemicals that could be doing us more harm than good. For instance, did you know that...BOTH UV radiation and many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging and cause skin cancer? We could be unconsciously encouraging the health issues we are working so hard to prevent! Very scary. For a quick reference, check out their list of best sunscreens here, though you'll find the rest of the site to be a great resource as well.

via free range

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Plus Pool

I don't want to taint this post with grumbles about how one of my favorite ideas was somehow realized by another party, but here goes. My hopes of inventing the world's first floating pool are dashed...(and not just because the clever people at Family and PlayLab have beaten me to the punch...it seems this idea has been around in some form since the early 19th century!) I am happy, though slightly dispirited, to be posting about this outstanding new campaign for a floating pool in the rivers of New York City.

Plans are still in the beginning stages, so there are a lot of important unanswered questions at this point. For example: What affect will this have on the local flora & fauna? How will it be maintained? Is it secured to the riverbed...stable and safe for members of the community? The pool water is filtered river water, is the water that re-enters the river then contaminated by cleaning chemicals or the users of the pool? How could this object be used to better the environment it occupies, can exiting water be filtered in a way that helps to purify the river and reverse the effects of earlier pollution?

You can visit their website to find out more or get involved. It is an ambitious and innovative project. I'm excited to see how it develops and how it inspires the design community.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I think it's safe to say that designers love office supplies. Organizing is one of my favorite hobbies and now we can all feel a little better about the products we buy to rearrange our clutter. RECYCLED binders, composition books, covers, tabs, pockets, media storage, and labels!

Each year, over 500 metric tons of toxic PVC ends up in landfills as the result of vinyl binders that people use. Today we should expect more. Products should be made in our country, with our workers, out of responsible materials with the intention that no landfill be required. ReBinder meets that demand.

ReBinder is the only true zero waste office supply manufacturer and the brand of choice for customers looking for sustainable, quality office supplies. Assembled by a local, AbilityOne certified disabled workforce, all ReBinder product materials are sourced from responsibly managed forests and verified FSC and SFI certified sources. With each purchase of ReBinder products, solid waste, greenhouse gas, energy, tree and water consumption are reduced.

And some food for thought...If you already have some of these items, you don't even need to use the ReBinder products, you can make even less of an impact by using the supplies you already have around the office!

via swiss miss and rebinder

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bracket – Hunger

The second issue of Bracket features 16 visionaries who have pursued their hunger to create change in the world.

“Emerson wrote that a man’s ambition is proportional to his abilities, that “the height of the pinnacle is determined by the breadth of his base.” These are the words of a hungry man. And if we follow their logic, then what we have in this issue are snapshots of sixteen motherfucking mountains.”

Excerpt of foreword by Jack Cheng

I found out about Bracket (published by the Republic of Singapore-based think tank Anonymous) while reading the STACK blog today. That foreword excerpt has me so curious. They even interviewed Heydays for this issue! You can purchase the PDF online here, but if you are like me, you probably want to hold (and smell) this beautiful signature of newsprint. I wish I could afford the $25 to ship it to my American doorstep, but I cannot. I will probably buy it anyway.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Design Revolution

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Emily Pilloton
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

I had never heard of Project H until Dawn of Firebelly mentioned their work last year during camp. A few months ago, I ordered Design Revolution:100 Products that Empower People, only to find that it was authored by Project H founder, Emily Pilloton! The book is completely inspiring and I recommend it to anyone interested in using their design skills for good.

I just stumbled upon this clip of Emily on The Colbert Report and thought I would share.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yub Nub

They forgot to include the Ewoks. I give them an A+ for being the rolliest polliest, and consequently cuddliest, species to grace science fiction thus far.

If you're wondering, Yub Nub means freedom in Ewokese.
Need to brush up?–you can find an up-to-date dictionary of terms here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

war movie backwards

"American planes, full of holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England. Over France, a few German fighter plains flew at them backwards, sucked bullets and shell fragments from some of the planes and crewmen. They did the same for wrecked American bombers on the ground, and those planes flew up backwards to join the formation.

The formation flew backwards over a German city that was in flames. The bombers opened their bomb bay doors, exerted a miraculous magnetism which shrunk the fires, gathered them into cylindrical steel containers, and lifted the containers into the bellies of the planes. The containers were stored neatly in racks. The Germans below had miraculous devices of their own, which were long steel tubes. They used them to suck more fragments from the crewmen and planes. But there were still a few wounded Americans, though, and some of the bombers were in bad repair. Over France, though, German fighters came up again, made everything and everybody as good as new.

When the bombers got back to their base, the steel cylinders were taken from the racks and shipped back to the United States of America, where factories were operating night and day, dismantling the cylinders, separating the dangerous contents into minerals. Touchingly, it was mainly women who did this work. The minerals were then shipped to specialists in remote areas. It was their business to put them into the ground, to hide them cleverly, so they would never hurt anybody ever again.

The American fliers turned in their uniforms, became high school kids. And Hitler turned into a baby, Billy Pilgrim supposed. That wasn't in the movie. Billy was extrapolating. Everybody turned into a baby, and all humanity, without exception, conspired biologically to produce two perfect people named Adam and Eve, he supposed." (74-75)

In Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five, he describes what Billy sees as he watches a World War 2 movie on rewind. I adore the scene because it has this lovely, optimistic undertone in spite of the documentary's unfortunate reality. When I read about the potential signing of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty yesterday, I immediately thought of this scene and its relevancy. Isn't it amazing that reality is now somehow reflective of Billy's ethereal vision?