Curating a Creative Life as a Storyteller, Scientist, and Business Leader
Author: 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.
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.
The Vertical Forest in the Porta Nuova area of Milan is an understated marvel and an innovative prototype for how modern cities with deep historical roots can help humans, animals, and plants cohabitate for everyone’s benefit.
The two residential buildings create space for 800 trees, 15,000 plants, and 5,000 shrubs. This is the same number of plants you’d find on ~90,000 square feet of woodland on just ~9,000 square meters of urban space. The Vertical Forest reduces heat when it’s warm, regulates humidity, provides insulation when it’s cold, and cleans the air. And by the way, plants help humans by lowering our stress and anxiety. This greenery has provided a home for 1,600 species of butterflies and birds. An added bonus—if we building our cities vertically, we prevent them from sprawling horizontally which saves more land and the species that call that land home.
This kind of living architecture is a financial and health win for people and nature, and one we cannot afford to ignore. Cities across the world can adopt the ethos of the Vertical Forest and we will all benefit.
A lot of my writing life revolves around science, environmental sustainability, and biomimicry. This Fall, I’m starting a graduate program in Sustainability Leadership at University of Cambridge. As I prepare for that program, I’m researching different programs around the world that are restoring land and protecting species from the effects of climate change.
I recently learned about a project called the Great Green Wall. From their website:
Growing a World Wonder The Great Green Wall is an African-led movement with an epic ambition to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa. Once complete, the Great Green Wall will be the largest living structure on the planet, 3 times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.
A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.
The Wall promises to be a compelling solution to the many urgent threats not only facing the African Continent, but the global community as a whole–notably climate change, drought, famine, conflict, and migration.
Improving Millions of Lives The Great Green Wall is taking root in Africa’s Sahel region, at the southern edge of the Sahara desert – one of the poorest places on the planet.
More than anywhere else on Earth, the Sahel is on the frontline of climate change and millions of locals are already facing its devastating impact. Persistent droughts, lack of food, conflicts over dwindling natural resources, and mass migration to Europe are just some of the many consequences.
Yet, communities from Senegal in the West to Djibouti in the East are fighting back.
Since the birth of the initiative in 2007, life has started coming back to the land, bringing improved food security, jobs and stability to people’s lives.
A Global Symbol The Great Green Wall isn’t just for the Sahel. It is a global symbol for humanity overcoming its biggest threat – our rapidly degrading environment.
It shows that if we can work with nature, even in challenging places like the Sahel, we can overcome adversity, and build a better world for generations to come.
Growing More Than Trees More than just growing trees and plants, the Great Green Wall is transforming the lives of millions of people in the Sahel region.
The Great Green Wall makes a vital contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (known as the SDGs)—a global agenda which aims to achieve a more equitable and sustainable world by 2030. It’s rare to find a project that impacts all of the SDGs and the Great Green Wall does just that.
It’s almost the weekend so here’s something fun. I was interviewed for the They Had Fun podcast. Hear how my ability to wax poetic about New York City pizza in The New York Times sparked my friendship with the host, Rachel Josar, why my pandemic was a little extra, and the fun I had on The Drew Barrymore Show. It’s been a long 2 years for all of us. Let’s have more fun together!
On this week's episode, Lori Zimmer tells us about attending the fanciest party she's ever been to… with an unexpected guest of honor!Check out Lori on InstaBuy Lori's book, Art Hiding in New YorkIf you want to have fun like Lori?Donate to Historic Districts Council
In this episode, Carolyn shares her journey and joy behind the microphone as she lifts up the stories of her guests.
At the end of the episode, I share the tools I use to create JoyProject: Zencastr for interviews, Otter_ai for transcripts, WordPress for the website, Headliner Video for audiograms, Unsplash for photos, Anchor for podcast hosting and distribution, Canva for quote posters that I share on social media, & Twisted Wave for audio editing.
I’m under contract to write the third novel in my Emerson Page trilogy. I’ve struggled to find my footing with this one. I’ve written out over half a dozen concepts and nothing felt genuine. It all felt like a forced narrative. This has been going on for months.
I had a hunch that the book should begin in the Arcade near Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain. I wasn’t sure how or why, but that space has called to me for years. I have a huge photograph of it hanging in my apartment, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of art. For months I’ve been looking for interesting aspects of the arcade and the fountain, hoping to find some link to Emerson’s story. Nothing.
So I went back to the primary source—Greensward, the original plan for Central Park written by Olmsted and Vaux in 1858. Bethesda Fountain and Terrace, along with the Arcade, are considered the heart of the Park. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Nature had an enormous influence on the design of Central Park. Both Olmsted and Vaux admired him. My protagonist, Emerson Page, is named after Emerson.
From there, I did more research on Emerson, Olmsted, and Vaux and found a number of links to the muses of Greek mythology who figure prominently in Emerson Page’s story. All the pieces I’d been struggling to find fell into place one by one and before I knew it, my outline of the third book was humming after so many false starts.
If you find yourself stuck in your writing, I highly encourage a detour into research and into primary sources. The answers to our present challenges often have roots in the past. Our job as writers is to uncover them and bring them into the light.
This year marks 25 years since the release of Janine Benyus’s book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. The Biomimicry Institute is marking the occasion with a set of videos from biomimicry practitioners about how they got interested in biomimicry. I’m honored to be asked to participate and have them share my journey in this short video. Learn why I decided to pursue biomimicry and how storytelling can help us build a more sustainable world.
Joyful News is a set of stories I’ve gathered from around the world that spark joy. Listen wherever you get your podcasts. You can also listen here, along with viewing a transcript, extra links, and resources: https://christaavampato.com/joyful-news-5-3-22/
In this episode, I talk about: – my 15-year business school reunion at UVA Darden School of Business – a Brooklyn bookstore crawl – roads in India made from plastic waste – a parade of planets – a new orchard on Governors Island with a historical twist – Don’t Hesitate, a poem about joy by the beloved poet, Mary Oliver
My podcast, JoyProject, launches its first interview and joyful news episodes TODAY. Historian and teacher, Ashley Semrick, talks to me about The Joy of Old Things. Listen at the link below or anywhere you listen to podcasts. This link also has a transcript of the episode, photos, and links to extra resources.
In this episode, Ashley and I talk about our love for history and its relevance in society today. We explore the history and stories held in objects, and how anyone can get started doing historical research about any topic that interests them. We especially focus on teaching history to young people and getting them excited about digging into the past as a way to understand the world around us.
Topics discussed in this episode:
– The complexity and necessity of joy in difficult times, and how to find it and create it
– How and why to teach history to young people
– How to conduct historical research about any topic of interest
– The important role of museums, media, and cemeteries in historical research
– Ashley shares how her parents sparked her love of history at a young age
– How Ashley found and returned a 100+ year old diary to the family of the man who wrote it thanks to Ancestry
– The joy of found objects and discovering the history behind them
– NYC’s Sanitation Museum—a collection of found objects curated by a NYC Department of Sanitation worker who collected items that New Yorkers threw out for 30+ years
I started making audiograms for the JoyProject podcast that launches on Tuesday, May 3rd. They are easy to make with Headliner.com and provide a fun way to get a bit of conversation out into the world. This is the trailer that tells you what the podcast is all about. What do you think? All the details about the podcast are available at https://christaavampato.com/joyproject