Visualizing the Creative Process

Bird by Bird-Sketchnotes 1
shortassignments-birdbybird--sketchnotes

I've been a "creative" person my whole life---I've created multimedia dance performances, co-created site specific theater productions, won a citywide poetry competition, accompanied world famous musicians with my video projected animation, created animated and live action videos, created comics, performed standup comedy, told stories accompanied by my hand drawn illustrations, hosted interactive video talk shows, helped make an award winning radio show, and of course in my current work, I turn conversations into illustrated info murals. But what drives creativity? And what techniques and approaches are helpful to people who make creative work? I'm diving into a stack of creativity books right now, and I'm translating what I read into sketch notes to help me remember and understand them better. The notes above are from a couple of chapters of Bird by Bird, the excellent book on writing by Annie Lamott. Other books on my list include The Creative Habit, by choreographer Twyla Tharp and Creativity by psychologist Csikszentmihalyi Mihaly.

Whatever sketchnotes I create are by no means meant to be comprehensive, or a replacement for reading the book. But they help me recall, understand, and assimilate the ideas in the books better. I'll keep posting these as I make them.

Visualizing a Mural

When I was offered a commission to create a mural on three adjacent walls at Liminal Studios half a block from the Empire State Building, I was very excited. Instead of coming up with something out of thin air, I browsed my sketchbook and found the doodle below which I created while riding BART from San Francisco airport to the East Bay a few months ago. It inspired me to create a mural of several fantastical flowers, pollinated by various creatures. I shot a time lapse video action video showing me painting the mural. I did it all freehand, without penciling anything in on the walls. The flowers are mandalas, combining simple shapes that add up to complex forms. I accompanied it with a track from my friend John Sully's new album, This Music Is Broken. Hope you enjoy this little peek into my mural creation process!

Sketchbook-Flower

Visual Listening at the Obamathon Social Media Hackathon at NYU

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I'm having so much fun doing graphic recording during the ideation phase of the Obamathon Hackathon at NYU's legendary Interactive Telecommunications Program. Using datasets from the Whitehouse and many other sources, students and faculty are tapping into data from the 1st social media presidency from the last 8 years. Can't wait to see what they come up with! Here's a blog post the White House did about their release of Social Media data from the Obama administration. 

 

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Visualizing Good at the GIV.NYC Philanthropy Slam

Cartoon interviews of attendees of giv.nyc

Cartoon interviews of attendees of giv.nyc

visual listening notes from giv.nyc

visual listening notes from giv.nyc

audience contributions to "Draw a better nyc' popup gallery

audience contributions to "Draw a better nyc' popup gallery

It was a delight to contribute to the awesomeness at GIV.NYC on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The event was a celebration of scrappy philanthropic initiatives geared toward making NYC better. 10 organizations pitched their projects, and the winner won a 10K cash prize. The event featured great comedy, emceeing, live music, and more. I did my bit by doing cartoon interviews of several attendees, doing large scale visual notes of the pitches, and producing a popup gallery where attendees drew pictures of their visions of a better New York City.  Congrats to philanthropy slam winner, the Leave it Better Foundation!

Mozfest/Code for America Summit Recap

 Mozfest/CFA Summit recap at Civic Hall, NYC

 Mozfest/CFA Summit recap at Civic Hall, NYC

 MOZFEST/CFA SUMMIT RECAP AT CIVIC HALL, NYC

 MOZFEST/CFA SUMMIT RECAP AT CIVIC HALL, NYC

Had a fabulous time capturing some of the big ideas people brought to NYC from the Mozilla Foundation's annual festival in London, and Code for America's Summit in the Bay Area. Mozfest is "the world's leading festival for the open internet movement." The CFA Summit is "...a roll-up-your-sleeves conference that brings together government innovators, civic-minded technologists, and entrepreneurs." Both events are about using technology for the public good, an intersection that is near and dear to me, especially in the light of the recent election. The event also was a sendoff party to Civic Hall, NYC's hub of civic tech, which was about to move to a new location. 

Visualizing Good at GIV.NYC 2016

Come support people helping do things in NYC at our city's premier philanthropy slam, GIV.NYC on Nov 29!

I will be supporting the event with visual listening and by helping folks create an impromptu vision gallery of how to make NYC an even more wonderful community.

Register here!

Here are the details:

 

#GivingTuesday is a globally recognized day dedicated to giving. The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it builds on the momentum of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but with a mission to ignite generosity.

GIV.NYC 2016, hosted by Givkwik, is aligned with #GivingTuesday and it’s our take on the day - New York City style! It’s a live event where companies, causes, and communities will meet up for personal connection, giving, and to create a meaningful social impact in this great city.

This year's theme, Building Bridges, is intended to share stories of impact from nonprofits in all 5 boroughs of the city. Representatives from 10 selected nonprofits will each give a 2-minute pitch about their respective missions. Attendees will then vote for their favorites to receive a grant from the event's sponsors. Check out our video from last year's event.

This isn't your average, everyday meetup. Interactive games will be played, helping you get to know your fellow philanthropists. Delicious refreshments will be served. Prizes will be rewarded. Impact will be made. Join us and bring your friends!

Your registration fee is tax-deductible (consult your accountant). 100% of all fees will go to the grant pool that’s awarded to the nonprofit finalists.

Mozfest/Code For America Summit at Civic Hall

I'm looking forward to doing visual listening at a special event at Civic Hall in NYC today this evening, Nov 18.  To attend, visit this link.

Details:

Join us as we discuss how this election will impact the future of the open internet, civic tech, government, and our communities.

The open internet and civic technology communities are fighting to improve access to information, social equity, democracy, and our connected future. After two monumental events, we bring these two communities to forge a tighter relationship and celebrate our worlds.

Following a tradition started three years ago, we have invited NYC metro area presenters and participants who attended Mozilla's Festival (#MozFest) or Code For America's Summit (#CfASummit) to share their insights, highlights, and reinforce the local connections made around the planet. You will get a best-of even if you could not make the trip.

Additionally, this event will serve as a pre-holiday celebration of our communities. Drinks and light snacks will be served. Expect ten speakers to recap their personal highlights and reconnect the discussions to the work our community's doing locally.

Catch my talk at Reboot Workshop: Cultivating Friendships on Emerging Platforms in an Age of Disconnection

Catch me speaking at the Reboot Workshop about how I cultivate real world, face to face friendships in this age of disconnection using hyperlocal web platforms. Like a lot of people in the USA who move around a lot, are self employed, and new parents, I found my friend network in dire need of help. Come check out the story of how I took the initiative to improve my social life! The day will include a bunch of other inspirational but more career and entrepreneurship focused talks, along with some good old fashioned participant driven conversation, sharing, and socializing. Join us! 

When: Saturday, Nov 5, 2016

Where: qLabs: 16 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10010

 

 

Visualizing a Documentary Film About a Unique School

I do a lot of my work behind closed doors with my promise to keep my visualizations confidential. Luckily, that’s balanced out by the public facing work I get to create, like the visual listening piece above, facilitating and documenting the discussion about funding and creating a short documentary film delving into the history of a unique school in NYC.  

The proposed film will delve into the history of the Ella Baker School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The conversation included a twice academy award nominated filmmaker, and members of the school community--teachers, principal, parents, and more. 

The school was named after Ella Baker, one of the key figures in the civil rights movement. She worked, largely behind the scenes to mentor changemakers like Rosa Parks, Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses, as well as cofounding SNCC, The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the most important organizations in the movement.

The Ella Baker School is celebrating its 20th Anniversary, and is a rare example of a public school which which is driven by student interest and is project based where students “learn from making and doing with a range of materials and media, in collaboration with peers and through the support of adults.” It takes the opposite of test driven learning. In keeping with its namesake, the school has a strong social justice focus. It is open to all children in NYC and is an oasis in a sea of overtested, overcrowded NYC public schools.

In making a movie like this, there a lot of factors to consider---timeline, access to students and school, production crew, and of course, budget--who is going to pay for what. Participants told me that the graphic recording I created helped them understand the issues involved better and think about next steps “That is so cool!  It does make it easier to grasp what went on” wrote one parent.

Visualize Your Career Success at Reboot, Sept 10, 2016

Feel like getting a little career inspiration? Join me and a cast of fine folks the Reboot Workshop. It's a 1 day gathering focused on growing your career. I'll be adding some visual thinking goodness to the mix. Whether you are a freelancer, own your own business, or just want to be more entrepreneurial in the way you think about your career, this is for you.

Sign up here!

When: Saturday, Sept 10, 2016

Where: qLabs 16 West 22nd Street Floor 6

What: If you understand how important learning is to keeping your career or business healthy, you will have a blast at the upcoming Reboot Workshop. I will be infusing the event with visual thinking to get you drawing, visualizing, and imagining. There will be a host of excellent speakers to get your brain moving, and then there will be break out groups where people learn from each other. Here's the official description:

"Reboot Workshop is a hybrid event with talks and an unconference. The event starts with a group of short-format ignite talks followed by community proposed topics. Sessions are led by participants as well as speakers. Come with questions, knowledge, and an appetite to teach and learn. Lunch will be provided.

Unconferences are a format where the audiences chooses the topics for the event. We’ve hand picked a small group of thought leaders in fields such as art, technology, and entrepreneurship. This is a one of a kind opportunity to pick the brains of professionals working in these diverse fields and add your two cents to the dialogue. As an audience member you can suggest topics for breakout sessions and you vote on which topics are covered.

The theme for this Reboot Workshop is Education. Each speaker is involved in some aspect of education and learning. We all believe in the mission of lifelong learning and making learning fun. If you believe in this too and if you have something to teach or to learn, you’re encouraged to bring your thinking cap and get involved."

Speakers:

 

How To Pitch Like a Superhero

Pedro Torres-Mackie

Venture Capitalist, Managing Director Quotidian Ventures,Quotidian Ventures

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Building Community at the Intersection of Art and Technology

Marco Castro Cosio

Manager of MediaLab,Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Start Here: The First Step to All Successful Communicating and Deal Sealing

Kelsey Crouch

Speaker Coach, TEDxGramercy

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Negotiate like a Bosslady: How to be the Beyonce of your career

Alison Taffel Rabinowitz

Writer, Startup + Marketing Consultant, The Finishing School

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Making Learning to Code (or anything else) Fun and Easy

Nate Cooper

Author, Web Dev Instructor, Simple Labs

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Rapid Learning: How to Mastering Online Dating, Become Marc Maron or Anything Else

Jeff Ramos

Engagement Editor, Polygon

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WTF is a life strategy? Creating the steps to transforming a life that you actually want.

Jennifer Ekeleme

Freelance Strategist/Consultant

 

 

Info and sign up

 

Visual Thinking for Collaboration

Visual Thinking for Collaboration Workshop

(Photo: Jo Ladzinksi)

Had a great time leading a mini-workshop on Visual Thinking for Collaboration at Civic Hall in NYC. Civic Hall is:

"...a one-of-a-kind community center for the world’s civic innovators. We are a space where social entrepreneurs, change-makers, government employees, hackers, academics, journalists, and artists can share knowledge, build tools, and solve problems together."

A few comments from participants: "Very cool workshop!" "Helpful for organizing" "It was useful to put an image with words. Most of the time images are easier to understand." "Gave me a new way of looking at what my plans are in life." The participants varied from a librarian turned civic tech consultant, a documentary film maker, a startup founder, and PR company owner.

I use Civic Hall as my home base when I'm not on-site with clients. I want to foster an even more collaborative atmosphere at Civic Hall. This was one of my contributions to that goal. I building more collaboration skills for the civically inclined is in line with the Visualize Good mission of creating a better world through visual thinking.

 

Visual Thinking for Collaboration Workshop
(Photo Credit: Jo Ladzinsky)
Visual Thinking for Collaboration
Visual Thinking for Collaboration