creativity, writing

Write every day: My feature on biomimicry is in The Henry Ford Magazine

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 9.10.27 PMI’m so excited to share that the feature I wrote about biomimicry, Making Mother Nature Our Muse, has been published in The Henry Ford Magazine‘s latest issue which is all about sustainable design.

The Henry Ford is an innovation museum in Detroit, Michigan, that I’ve admired for years. I’m so pleased to be able to speak to their members through this piece.

Big hat tip to Lex Amore at the Biomimicry Institute, Jennifer LaForce, the wonderful editor of the magazine, and James Round for his beautiful illustrations.

You can find my stand alone feature here: Making Mother Nature Our Muse by Christa Avampato

The whole issue is fantastic and is available for free online here: The Henry Ford Magazine—June-Dec 2020


Write every day: 9/11 art grows hope from tragedy

Around the 9/11 Memorial in the Financial District of NYC, brightly-colored street art in the pop art style is surprising and joyful. I went there this weekend during my first trip out of my uptown neighborhood in 3 months. The colors are so electric and unexpected on a sunny day that the whole scene looks like an Edward Hopper painting.

It’s usually a very busy area of the city. On Sunday, I saw less than 10 people in these few blocks.

I worked in a building next to the 9/11 site for 4 years while it was under construction. To see it now, so different and vibrant, fills me with hope.

We can rebuild from tragedy. There are seeds in the wreckage. It takes a lot of work over a very long period of time, and it can be done. We’ve seen it. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again.


Write every day: I rode the NYC subway for the first time in 3 months

This weekend marked 3 months since I’ve left my neighborhood. Now that NYC’s infection rate is low and we know a bit more about how to protect ourselves against COVID, Phin and I rode the subway down to Battery Park City. We walked through the Financial District, Canal Street, and SoHo. I took a ton of pictures to share with you this week.

First up: the subway transformation!

The subways are empty. Not just less crowded. Empty. In some cases, I was the only person in the subway car. They’re so clean I can see my reflection in the surfaces. And that famous subway smell? Gone.

The signage is clear and everywhere. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet away from others, and use hand sanitizer.

Thank you to @weratedogs for the hat & @comscicon for the mask!


Write every day: 30 Days of Reconnection with the Biomimicry Institute

20200607_185701When COVID-19 started to spread across the U.S. in March, the Biomimicry Institute started 30 Days of Reconnection to help people stay connected to one another by reconnecting through nature. Each day they sent an email with a nature topic, resources to learn more, and a prompt. Then they asked people to reflect on the prompt with something creative and share the reflections on Twitter and / or Instagram with the hashtag #30DaysOfReconnection.

I was finishing my Biomimicry graduate program in March and April so I didn’t have time to participate then but I do have some time now. Luckily, the 30 days of prompts are all available on the Biomimicry Institute website. I started yesterday and will be doing a prompt each day for the next 30 days with the lens of building back better after COVID and to create equity and justice in our society.

I’ll post my creations each day. If you’d like, please join me and share your creations with me. I’d love to see and hear them! Here’s my Day 1:

Day 1 was about the topic of regeneration. I created a word map about what regeneration means to me and drew a sketch of the Eurasian Wolf. When wolves return to an ecosystem, their presence is a sign that we’ve turned the corner from regeneration to restoration. I also included what I think is my superpower: an endless supply of joy and curiosity that keeps me strong, hopeful, and active even in tough times like the times we’re facing now.

Destruction and ruin are often heartbreaking to witness. Destruction is now visible in every corner of our country. Some of that destruction is causing intense pain and suffering among people who were suffering even before the pandemic—job losses, hunger, and intense fear about our democracy and the future. Some of that destruction is tearing down structures that have grown brittle with efficiency—our food supply chain, education system, healthcare, and housing to name just a few. It all hurts.

The only hope I can find in all of this wreckage is that through regeneration we have the opportunity to build back better, with more justice, more equity, and for better mental, physical, emotional, and economic health. I’m committed to that process, and that commitment is what’s getting me through the pain, fear, sadness, and uncertainty I have faith in our will to collectively choose to create a braver, brighter future for all us.


Write every day: Ways to stay safe from COVID during Black Lives Matter protests

The solidarity in the Black Lives Matter protests gives me hope. Though COVID-19 has moved to the background in the past two weeks, I’m still thinking about it. Here are my thoughts about it:

– WEAR A MASK. They work. Remember that Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID with infection rates as high as 40% and very high unemployment. Please wear a mask to protect others and yourself, especially since social distancing at protests is difficult.

– GET TESTED if you’ve gone to a protest. This data will be a very important part of how reopening may shift. And if that test is positive, please don’t go to future protests even if you don’t feel sick. You don’t want to get other protesters, friends, and family members sick and hurt the efforts. There are lots of ways to support Black Live Matters right from home—talk to your friends and family about racism, educate yourself on racism, donate to causes, and virtually volunteer.

– COVID SPIKES. Yesterday we saw the largest protests yet so in terms of COVID spikes the day to watch for is 2 weeks from now. Have spikes happened by then and where? I hope the national and local media cover this.

– PROTEST ORGANIZING TIP. I went to a relatively small vigil yesterday and distance was tough to maintain. I had to move across the street to get more space, which wasn’t ideal due to rain and an audio system that wasn’t great. Protest organizers need to be mindful of space. Get the street or space blocked for the time of your event so people can attend and feel safe.

More to come…


Write every day: Take action

Hope and tragedy are not mutually-exclusive. We’re seeing this now in literally every state in the union. But the thing about hope is that you can’t just have it. It’s not going to knock on your door. It’s something you have to actively make and seek out.

Change isn’t going to happen all on its own and it’s not some else’s job. It’s everyone’s job. We can’t just say we’re watching the news and crying over the pain and heartache we’re seeing. Yes, cry but then get a tissue and get to work.

Yes we need to vote but voting isn’t enough either. This has to go far beyond politics, elections, and the ballot box. We need more activism.

Yesterday, I took more action. I signed up for a policy working group with Campaign Zero and made a donation to their work. I signed up for and made a donation to Color Of Change which creates opportunities for online activism to fight racism and advocate for the civil rights of Black people. I went to a webinar hosted by Facing History and Ourselves titled Working for Justice, Equity and Civic Agency in Our Schools: A Conversation with Clint Smith. Facing History provides resources and training to history educators. The event was fantastic. I made a donation and signed up for more of their events. You can do all these things right from your home. I also donated to the First Nations Development Institute to help native tribes on whose homes we all live—a donation that is long overdue. The five largest hotspots for COVID are all tribal lands. New York would be number six behind all of them.

Some people say they feel powerless in these times, that they don’t know where to start. We’re not powerless. We’re never powerless. But we’ve got to have the will to do more.

We can’t just look away. We have to show up and do something whether that’s in-person or online. There are millions of Black people who live this terrifying reality every day and have for centuries. Look at these protesters. So many of them have no safety and no security of any kind in any part of their lives. All they’ve got is their presence and so that’s what they’re giving. If they can give so much while having so little, then there’s something we can all do.

Anger, rage, and grief are powerful tools. Don’t bury them. Use them.


Write every day: Bright spots in the world and a tense moment of my own with a neighbor

Some bright spots in the world, and a tense moment of my own with a neighbor:

– Hello and congratulations to new Mayor Ella Jones, the first Black mayor and first woman mayor in Ferguson, Missouri. More about Ella Jones here:

– Iowa’s Republican voters told Republican Congressman Steve King his services would not be welcomed for a 10th term as he lost his state’s primary. He is infamous for his racist actions and views.

– Most of the protests in NYC were extremely peaceful yesterday. There were some tense scary moments that were terrifying (for example, a standoff on the Manhattan Bridge and in the South Bronx) though dissipated without violence

– COVID numbers keep dropping here, and I’m hoping mass gatherings don’t cause any spikes.

And a tense moment of my own:
– At 11pm last night, a neighbor yelled in my face that my mask wasn’t necessary while I walked Phin because COVID’s over, European virologists say the virus has weakened, and the US totally overreacted. (PS – not one word of that is true.) I mentioned to her that over 100,000 people have died from it, one being my uncle, and that number is still climbing. Her response: “Yeah in a country 3 times the size of Germany.” Science-illiterate, ignorant white privilege from a senior citizen who doesn’t have to work and lives in a rent-controlled apartment that I subsidize with my market-rate rent. The work we have to do is literally all around us.


Write every day: Still hopeful

I keep reminding myself that the brightest lights shine during the darkest times. I’m working hard to be that light and to recognize that light in others.

Tonight in NYC is the first night of the 8pm curfew. People are marching uptown, downtown, and across the boroughs, pleading for change. Some shops in my neighborhood started to board up their windows. We don’t know what life will bring moment to moment and so we’re living in the present as best we can.

We are standing on a ledge where anything is possible now. I constantly ask myself, “and then what happens?” as I run through different scenarios in my mind of what life will be like in an hour, tomorrow, or next week. I just don’t know. No one does.

A lot of people have given up believing that any change is possible. I understand why they feel that way. I have my moments of hopelessness, too. Most of the time, I’m still hopeful. I’m here and I’m listening. I’m committed to healing and improving my city.

I go to bed late and I wake up early to stay informed and stay active. I show up and I’m present. For equity, equality, support, community, solidarity, peace, and progress. I still believe in you and in us. I still believe we can be the change.

Goodnight from a tired city that has a long hard road ahead and will become better and stronger for having done the work that needs doing.