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In the pause: I eavesdrop and observe for the sake of my writing

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The Astor Chinese Garden Court at the Met

To be a writer is to first be a listener and observer. I often go somewhere—a coffeeshop, a museum, a store—and just tune into the conversations of others. I don’t take out my phone or notebook. I don’t have any purpose other than to listen to what people say, how they say it, and then how people respond to them.

I tried this experiment recently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I went to their Astor Chinese Garden Court and sat there for a while as people wandered in and out. It’s a bright and peaceful place in the museum. Good for clearing the mind and opening up the ears.

It was fascinating to see such a diverse set of people come into the space and have a similar experience, of peace and contentment and happiness. It reminded me how hurried and cluttered our lives can become. And it made me more conscious of the power of places that give us time to just be. The expression of “wow” on everyone’s face when they entered the garden made me smile.

As we edge toward 2018 and the cold weather takes us indoors for a few months, I’m looking forward to more of these listening and observing activities. We have so much to learn from each other.

About Christa Avampato

The short of it: Writer. Health, education, and art advocate. Theater and film producer. Visual artist. Product geek. Proud alumnae of the University of Pennsylvania (BA) and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia (MBA). Inspired by ancient wisdom & modern tech. Proliferator of goodness. Opener of doors. Friend to animals. Fan of creative work in all its wondrous forms. I use my business skills to create passion projects that build a better world. I’ve been called the happiest New Yorker, and I try hard to live up to that title every day. The long of it: My career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, entertainment, technology, and financial services. I’ve been a product developer and product manager, theater manager, strategic consultant, marketer, voice over artist, , teacher, and fundraiser. I use my business and storytelling to support and sustain passion projects that build a better world. In every experience, I’ve used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, programs, and events. While building a business career, I also built a strong portfolio as a journalist, novelist, freelance writer, interviewer, presenter, and public speaker. My writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, PBS.org, Boston.com, Royal Media Partners publications, and The Motley Fool on a wide range of topics including business, technology, science, health, education, culture, and lifestyle. I have also been an invited speaker at SXSW, Teach for America, Avon headquarters, Games for Change, NYU, Columbia University, Hunter College, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The first book in my young adult book series, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, was acquired by a publisher and launched in November 2017. I’m currently working on the second book in the series. A recovering multi-tasker, I’m equally at home in front of my Mac, on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I also cut up small bits of paper and put them back together as a collage artist. My company: I’m bringing together all of my business and creative career paths as the Founder of Double or Nothing Media: • I craft products, programs, and projects that make a difference; • I build the business plans that make what I craft financially sustainable; • I tell the stories that matter about the people, places, and products that inspire me. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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Regarding Nadia, the tiger at the Bronx Zoo who has COVID-19, this is the official statement from Wildlife Conservation Society (who owns and operates the zoo) with all the factual information that's known at this time. https://newsroom.wcs.org/News-Releases/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/14010/A-Tiger-at-Bronx-Zoo-Tests-Positive-for-COVID-19-The-Tiger-and-the-Zoos-Other-Cats-Are-Doing-Well-at-This-Time.aspx A couple points: 1.) Some people are saying this is a hoax. It's not. Period. 2.) Some people have also asked why a tiger would get tested when not all people can. Nadia did not receive the same type of test that humans receive. A sample was taken from her to find out why she was sick and that testing was done in a veterinary lab in Iowa. Animal and human testing is never done in the same lab and the procedure is different so a human test was not used to diagnose Nadia. 3.) Finding out that Nadia was positive helps to protect all of the zookeepers, staff, their families, and everyone they come into contact with as they commute to work as essential workers (including public transit). 4.) Studying Nadia provides an unprecedented opportunity for scientific research and to discover how the virus behaves in different species. Almost nothing is known about how this virus behaves because it is so new to us. There are no approved, scientifically proven treatments. There is no vaccine. There is no prevention for it except social distancing. The zoo is committed to sharing all of the information they learn and the discoveries they make as they care for Nadia and help her recover through this illness. I have my weekly Central Park Zoo volunteer call this afternoon. (Central Park Zoo is also owned by WCS and I'm a volunteer there.) As I get more information and updates about this situation and others at WCS's zoos and aquariums that are approved to share with the public, I'm happy to share it here with all of you.

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