So thrilled to tell you that my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, is one of 25 finalists in ScreenCraft‘s Cinematic Book Competition. My heart is overflowing with gratitude and excitement. So honored. Grand Prize Winner will be announced soon. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I’ll just be over here smiling so wide my face hurts. And again, thank you to everyone who has been so insanely supportive during this whole ride. It means everything to me. Announcement here: https://screencraft.org/2019/02/27/2018-screencraft-cinematic-book-competition-finalists-announced/
I’m so incredibly excited to share that my storytelling show about secret New York City history returns on Tuesday, April 9th. We have an incredible lineup of storytellers, a stellar special guest, and a fun, timely theme of MONEY!
“Money makes the world go ’round” is a widely used saying invented right here in New York City so this month New York City’s Secrets and Lies is getting into the wheelin’ and dealin’ that’s been flying around this city since it began. Corruption! Extortion! Bribery! Organized crime! Greed! But there’s a catch: one of us has completely fabricated the story we’re going to tell you. Can you spot the lie that’s just too scandalous to be true? If so, we’ve got a big, fat prize with your name on it from Untapped Cities. Join us and test your knowledge of NYC secret history!
Tickets on sale now at https://www.caveat.nyc/event/new-york-citys-secrets-and-lies-4-9-2019.
“The wilderness holds answers to questions that we have not yet learned to ask.” ~Nancy Newhall
I’m pretty jazzed that my final assignment for one of my biomimicry classes is giving me the opportunity to lay down the very first tracks for the invention company I’d like to build with biomimicry when I finish my graduate degree. At first, I was so excited about this prospect that I was actually afraid of it. This felt like a big commitment to make to myself. And once I put these dreams and hopes out into the world, I couldn’t take them back. Once I had to admitted what kind of business I really wanted to build in this field, I could unsee it. Sure, it could morph, but there would be no denying my dream. There would only be choosing to do the work to make it happen, or not. And so, I went for it.
The assignment was to imagine my career in biomimicry 25 years from now and the business I would build with a sustainable framework. Here is what I came up with. What do you think?
25 years ago in the winter of 2019, I took my first class in biomimicry. At the time it was a burgeoning field and in many ways felt like the Wild West, a new frontier. Every day there was a new discovery, a new way of seeing and being in the world.
At the time, our planet was racked with difficulty—climate change deniers, enormous and growing islands of plastic in our oceans, rampant habitat loss, and painful species extinctions. This is not to say that we don’t still face difficulties today; it’s just that now in 2044 there is no denying our role as the chief contributors to climate change. We wore out the planet’s welcome and her resiliency; now it is common place for most people to consider the environmental consequences of their actions and purchases. We simply don’t have a choice to ignore our responsibility now as we so often did in 2019.
After graduating from my Master of Science in biomimicry program at Arizona State University, I put together my 20-year career in product development with my passion for science and started The Green Atelier, an invention shop that reimagines, patents, produces, and commercializes sustainable products, systems, and solutions that mimic the deep design principles found in the processes and structures of nature. We work with for-profit, nonprofit, and local and international government agencies. We are a small and mighty team with skill sets in product development, business, science, design, and engineering. We determined that we must begin this business as we wish to go. And so from Day 1, we fearlessly put a stake in the ground and committed to create conditions conducive to life.
Zero waste and maximum resource efficiency
We operate as the planet operates, taking only what we need and returning as much as we can to the greater communities where we work and live. This conservative approach to resource management means we have what we need for today and also ensure that we and others have what we all need for all of our tomorrows.
We do not and never will use any type of toxic chemicals in our products, processes, and operations. When we must do activities such as travel, which is now much-improved with high-speed trains but still has a long way to go in terms of air travel, we make sure to pay a monetary contribution that covers our cost to the environment for that activity.
Locally attuned and responsive solutions
Context matters to us. Before we take any action in our product development process, we thoroughly research and incorporate all of the environmental factors in which our solutions must exist. We use locally available resources—including physical goods, labor, and mindshare. Community-involvement in our co-creative processes is always top of mind and a part of every project. We are guests in the areas where we work, and we act accordingly—with gratitude and grace. We listen much more than we talk.
Integration of development with growth
We recognize that progress can and must coexist with conservation. Indeed, the two can feed one another in a symbiotic relationship so that everyone wins. There is a level of give and take that fluidly happens in the course of our work. However, it is not without effort and consciousness. Every player is aware of every other player, and respectful of their right to survive and thrive in the same space. The investment of our time, attention, and action with this mindset is crucial to our success, and the success of our clients, customers, and neighbors.
Respond and adapt to changing conditions
In the past 25 years, our planet has become more diverse than ever. This diversity has driven a compassion, curiosity, and resiliency that has become the backbone of our strength as a species and as a cohesive, cooperative biosphere. Relationships are the cornerstone of everything we do. We experiment, expect the unexpected, make changes based on new information and learning, and then replicate that work. We are committed to continuous improvement with every breath.
While all of these operating principles of our business seemed aspirational 23 years ago when we officially opened for business in the first days of 2021, to us they were an absolute necessity. We could see what our planet would become without this unwavering and sincere promise to operate and build in a sustainable, healthful way. A world without a sustainable ethos was not a world we want to live in. Indeed, it was a world none of us would actually be able to live in. Without exaggeration, we were on the doorstep of extinction and we were the only ones who could pull ourselves back from the brink. We had seen the problem, and the problem was us.
And so we set about becoming our own saviors, our own solution, and thereby the saviors of our elders in the natural world who were counting on us to make amends and drastically change our wasteful ways for the benefit of all beings. We would not, and could not, disappoint them. They needed us to be successful in our pursuit, and so we did everything we could to live up to our potential and responsibility while taking on the genius of nature as our wisest teacher and guide.
23 years on, we have no regrets at The Green Atelier about our brave and bold choices to build a business on the foundation of a sustainable framework. Our only regret is that we did not do this sooner, that our society had to quite literally be on a burning platform before we would make the necessary behavioral changes to survive.
We cannot change our past, but now that we are awake, we will never go back to sleep when it comes to the consciousness with which we make all our decisions, as a business, as a community, and as individuals who are but brief flashes of light in the landscape of deep time. We are privileged to be here in every sense, and we’re grateful for the opportunity that life affords us to support life.
I’m studying sustainable coastal resilience strategies in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. Seawalls don’t provide sufficient protection, harm wildlife, pollute waterways, and are difficult and expensive to maintain. Artificial walls don’t work in nature. What works is building longer buffet tables and larger homes that make accommodations for all stakeholders—coral reefs, mangroves, oyster beds, and salt marshes. This idea is much more than a metaphor or allegory. Seawalls are a cautionary tale of what happens when we exclude beings who have all the same rights that we do to survive and thrive. Sustainable solutions have successfully played out over the course of 3.8 billion years of natural history’s R&D lab. We would be wise to follow its example.
Spent the day at the birthplace of our NYC subway system. Had such a spectacular time learning secrets of the NYC subway on an Untapped Cities tour! Justin’s an AMAZING tour guide & I’m so excited he’s teaching me to give this tour. There are so many secrets that we pass by every single day. Once you know them, they’ll change your view of our city forever. I can’t wait to show them to you! MTA New York City Transit is a treasure trove, time capsule, museum, and living archive all rolled into one. The stories are endless.
Jeff Goldblum blew my mind with his spoken word on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when he recited this passage by George Bernard Shaw as the way he keeps his hopes up during the Trump administration:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.” ~George Bernard Shaw
I was lucky to see Jeff Goldblum live with his band a few years ago at Rockwell Table & Stage in LA. My friend, Trevor, pointed out to me that Jeff Goldblum was playing here with his band on a regular basis. A couple week later I wandered in with a date after dinner in Los Feliz and it was a magical experience. (The guy didn’t last mostly because he didn’t enjoy Jeff Goldblum as much as I did, but my love of Jeff and his music certainly did.) I’ve been listening to and loving his music ever since, all thanks to my friend, Trevor. Give his new album, The Capitol Studios Sessions, a listen. It’s wonderful.
“We can only ask questions that we have imagination for.” ~Toby Spribille, Lichenologist
This quote makes my heart grow three sizes. Grow your imagination. Ask bigger questions. It’s the only way we’ll evolve.
I love that we have a holiday about love. I just wish it were more inclusive. Today, I hope you love the heck out of everything that makes you happy—friends, family, pets, animals, your city, books, your work, your creative projects, history, science, travel, art, curiosity itself. And I hope you get in some serious self-care and do something extra nice for yourself. That’s the kind of Valentine’s Day I’m into.❤️
Opportunity’s last words from Mars: “My battery is low & it’s getting dark.”
May we all have lives as rich with discovery and a final chapter as peaceful. We’re lucky to have known you, Opportunity, and to see this world through your eyes. Thank you for your service.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” -Rumi
We’ll be disappointed. Things won’t go as planned. Try another route. Another idea. Another pitch. These failures are all material. The detours are the journey.