Visualizing ActLocal 2017

It's a great privilege to help people create the kind of gathering that works toward creating a better world, or just a little corner of that world. I had this privilege as a visual listener at ActLocal 2017, NYC event. Here was the billing of the event.

"ActLocal will bring together hundreds of community organizers, faith leaders, and citizen leaders in cities across the country to build local power and promote allyship across the progressive movement"

I was happy to  help participants think over strategy, learn from each other, and weave a tighter fabric among NYC's progressive coalition.

Got this nice note from one of the organizers after the event:

"I can't tell you how many people commented on your work, and how much it added to the experience."

It was my pleasure! Let's go improve politics in NY State and beyond!


The event started with a few thoughts: 1) After great trauma, there is an opportunity to create positive change, as after the 9-11 attacks in New York.  2) The goal of the day is to support and amplify each others work. 3) Even though we are discussing serious issues, let's mix in some lightness and creativity. The we had a couple of quick presentations to kick off the day, one on creating better access to voting in NY State, and the other on the NY Yemeni bodega strike in response to the attempted travel ban.


Next various organizers discussed challenges and triumphs of the last year, of which there were many.


NY State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, weighed in with "When they go low, we go local," meaning states and municipalities need to pick up the slack when the Federal Government is behaving in ways that are not working for us.


In another session we discussed major players in the NY State progressive ecosystem-Labor, the Working Families Parties, deep-rooted community based organizations, and a constellation of single issue groups.


Travon Mayers of Common Cause New York led an in depth conversation about next steps to remove barriers to voting in New York State. Finally folks wrapped up with a single word each including (picked at random from a long list) hope, opportunities, energized, determined, trust, and action. Here's to a powerful 2018!

Visualizing a Progressive Strategy for NY State

Like a lot of people, since the last presidential election I've gotten more involved in politics. Recently, at the True Blue Summit I helped grassroots New York State progressive leaders visualize their progressive strategy for New York, which has a woefully unrepresentative state government. The visual above synthesizes a conversation with Arthur Schwartz, Susan Kang, and Josue Pierre. They agreed that focusing on hyperlocal issues, contesting every office, and focusing on economic issues are the path  to getting a progressive foothold to better represent New York to reflect the will of it's voters, who are about 70% registered Democrats. 

Drawing What Equality Looks Like

I had the pleasure of leading a drawing activity for 250 people at the Asian American Community Development Conference in NYC last week.



First I did a quick drawing lesson showing people how to draw just about anything using simple shapes.

Then I challenged them to draw a picture of what equality would look like in their communities. 



Once they finished their drawings, they took a few minutes to do a show and tell with their neighbors, explaining what they were trying to communicate in their drawings.



Finally we created a popup gallery of their art! Just another way to engage your conference participants. 

Visualizing the Future of Cinical Trials


The clinical trials process is expensive, time consuming, and often disappointing. The DPharm conference exists for people to share ideas and stories with the goal of radically improving how we do clinical trials. I was honored to capture many of the talks at DPharm 2017 in Boston as a visual listener.  Here's a link to all the visual listening charts I created. 

Visualizing the Creative Process

Bird by Bird-Sketchnotes 1

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.