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Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Feelin’ It

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Connection. Is. Everything. As perfectly imperfect human beings, we crave experience and energy that comes from connection. And we get it through our experiences – either directly or indirectly – with other people. We also get it from connecting to a place inside ourselves. There’s a balance between the two – an edge we have to walk in order to fulfill our intellectual and emotional needs.

The difficult part about the inner world is that it often feels incomplete until I connect it to another person’s energy, one who can mirror my own thoughts and desires. Yoga teachers need students, and  want to connect with other yoga teachers. Musicians and artists need an audience – and they need other musicians and artists. Even our everyday experiences carry the desire to be shared. (If you doubt this, spend a little time on Facebook.)

Just like anything, walking the middle path can be tricky, as addictions apply to just about anything. But, I’m enjoying the ride and hoping that we can keep pushing ourselves to that idea of oneness and all that goes with that.

Here’s one music video, called, YES!– that got me thinking about all of this (along with a few other more personal experiences). It comes from Colourmusic, an OK-based indie rock band as part of the Oklahoma Creativity Project and directed by band member, Nick Turner. It’s really simple. It’s kind of sweet. It will describe everything I tried to to say above, but a lot better. You’ll be feelin’ it.

It’s Not About The Hat – an ode to Billy Jack

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

It looks like the legend of Billy Jack lives on in the West today! I am reminded of my recent discovery of the re-release of this iconic movie and its anti-hero’s hero of an important civil rights movement. Read below.

The 1971 movie, Billy Jack and it’s prequel, Born Losers, will be screened by Cinefamily in Los Angeles on July 2nd. Director, producer, and star, Tom Laughlin will be in attendance.


by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I watched the re-release of Born Losers over the weekend, the 1st of a series of 4 independent films featuring the character of Billy Jack, released between 1971 and 1977. I had seen the better-known three that followed this one the week before – for my full report, go here. It was then I found Born Losers and decided I wanted to complete my viewing experience.

This film is definitely more rough than the sequels, but what can I say? It was still the peaceful but fierce Billy Jack in his full but quiet glory. Despite the dated tone of all the films, I have had Billy Jack on the brain, complete with some intense episodic dreams. This morning, I woke up with this in my head – sort of my “ode to Billy Jack”:

Billy Jack fights quietly and steadily against what is unjust, with just a bit of swagger in his stride and a steely glaze in his eye.

Billy Jack knows when it’s too late, but it doesn’t ever stop him from tilting his hat to the sun and squinting, as if there is something he has missed.

Billy Jack doesn’t need to be liked, loved or revered. Because of this, he is liked, loved and revered.

Billy Jack owns many demons – they are internal warriors who protect rather than torment him.

Billy Jack always, but always, knows exactly what to do.

Billy Jack knows a good fight when he sees one and knows when to turn and walk away (cue swagger).

Creativity, Work, and Music

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

What comes first? The music or the muse?

Music is in our souls. I believe we tune in to music not just for the art, but in the secret hope of your own creative passions and talents being awakened through some kind of energy exchange. The allure of musical performance is as much about the seer as the doer. We don’t want to be them or possess them as much as we want to be own creative selves.

If you want to know more about the creative process, watch and listen to Jack White. I relished his 2007 documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights. As the White Stripes trekked across Canada, we are given clues to this “strange and dirty work” and allowed a peek into a creative process where “passion and desperation” are everything. Still, Mr. White insists that “creativity and work ethic walk side by side” and sometimes you have to simply go in and do the work.

The documentary release last August of It Might Get Loud blurs the lines between work, play, passion and talent as three musical artists bring their stories together – Jack White, Jimmy Page and The Edge. These men all eat creativity for breakfast, but it’s younger Jack that appears to approach the entire process with “aggression and attitude”, saying that playing the guitar is a battle between the man and the instrument, one in which the musician must emerge victorious.

Fight for your creativity. Your soul could depend on it.

Of, or pertaining to, Life.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

by Tao

“of, or pertaining to, life” …this is the definition of “vital”.

I admit it. Maybe it’s the planets stirring things up, maybe it’s Spring, but I’m starting to feel lured off into a new landscape. And there is not a hemp, organic, or recycled product anywhere. But it holds a part of me I need.

For simplicity, I’ll call it artistic Inspiration, though a musician and friend I came to know recently said it better. It is that pull towards, at all costs, what is “vital” to your very being. It comes in many shapes and forms but always involves our creativity and our passion. And it sometimes creates chaos in an otherwise orderly life.

I’ll tell and show you more about my recent inspirations. But in the meantime….

Share in the joyful chaos of Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, producing, directing, performing, and documenting the group’s work – “causing scenes of joy and chaos in public places” – for over eight years. He is also a teacher and performer of improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC. This guy has found “vital” and I am inspired.

His missions involve just a couple people or sometimes thousands. There are dozens of videos to watch on his web site and you’ll get the idea. I especially enjoyed, “Invisible Dogs” (2000 of them!!) and “No Pants Subway Ride”.

Larry’s Beans Turns the Caffiene Business Cosmic

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I’m always looking for inspiration and when I met my now long-time friend, Larry Larson, I hit the motherlode! Larry is founder of Larry’s Beans, which started out as a coffee company and has since evolved into a living, breathing sustainability whirlwind – with coffee at it’s core.

Larry is the perfect role model for sustainability because he understands what it takes to marry his environmental principles with his business ones, and does it with aplomb. The renovated warehouse – the “Bean Plant” – is so eco-smart and fun, he has opened it up for tours – Willy Wonka style. (Really! He is thinking of getting a velvet suit!)

This isn’t someone who has much down time, yet if you sit with him for dinner – like I have – expect a 2 or 3-hour meal with stimulating and far-ranging conversation. He is as good a listener as he is a communicator. Larry is a bon vivant who loves hiking, dancing and wine as much as he loves coffee – and composting.

Are you inspired yet? You should be! Find out more about Larry’s Beans at this recent news story, or visit the website at

photo by  (That’s Larry on the right!)

Life Box – Save the Planet One Cardboard Box at a Time

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

This is what I’m talking about! People following their passions – living their heart’s desire, but working and molding those desires to move us ALL towards change. There’s so many role models out there now – it’s hard NOT to be inspired!

What am I onto today? Let me fill you in. Working in the nutrition industry for the past several years has allowed me privy to the lastest and the greatest health news and supplements. In the past, it was all about SELLING, but in recent years, I’ve seen a shift towards mission-driven ideas and actions. Many people and their companies are looking both forward towards innovation and science as well as “back” to basics, towards nature and common sense – for instance, more and more supplement choices are coming from REAL FOOD, albeit packaged to be convenient for consumers. Well, now the packaging itself is part of the plan —

Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti, loves mushrooms. So he studies, harvests sells them and their healing powers for humans and for the planet. But there’s more. This from his recent press release:

“PAUL STAMETS ANNOUNCES THE LIFE BOX SOLUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE ONE CARDBOARD BOX AT A TIME. Paul Stamets, founder of Fungi Perfecti and author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, announces the Life Box. The Life Box re-invents the cardboard box. Within the corrugations of the Life Box are hundreds of tree seeds and thousands of friendly spores of mycorrihizal fungi. Once a customer receives whatever is shipped inside, the box is torn up, planted and tree seedlings emerge….Of the ten species of trees each Life Box hosts – approximately 25% will survive in 90% of the continental United All the space you need for the first two years is that of two lap tops.

It takes up to two years for a transplant ready baby tree to emerge, so you have that time to decide where to plant them. The Life Box Company also hosts a web site where you can enter your GPS coordinates – Wow. Cool.

We’re a smart, motivated a passionate species. Full steam ahead everyone.

Cold, Creative, and Happy

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

With the exception of the location of Winter Olympics, many of us have been in a long, cold Winter. I like to think I’m a tough native Minnesotan. I know how to dress for the cold – inside and out – I keep my thermostat between 55 – 65 degrees most of the time. We also have a wood-burning stove and do our best to huddle around that when possible. But I’m beginning to see the light on this whole heat-cold/comfort thing through some really creative, enduring people of all ages and avocations.

I recently met someone in Vermont who is currently living in a tiny cabin w/o any heat and he shared this story of other cold lovers up North. “Chilled By Choice” profiles people embracing the cold both indoors and out, for reasons ranging from frugality, to environmentalism, to creative inclinations. We’re talking about full-on Winter here, and I admit I’m somewhat astounded and admiring, but also strangely, a little envious – I’m not sure I have what it takes to be in their shoes – or thermals.

I’m mostly drawn in by their matter-of-fact enthusiasm over the whole thing. No heroic claims in the bunch. There’s the 56yo sculptor in NY, who says he could insulate his roof for more warmth, but it would hinder the acoustics of the place and he listens to a lot of music. There’s the 21yo artist and his five roommates who love their unheated warehouse where they live and perform on their own stage. Then there’s the author in Pittsburgh who opened the Cyberpunk Apocalypse Writer’s Co-op and retreat – heat not included. His house has a furnace, but it mostly stays off. Another 53yo woman lives in a stone house at 7,000ft, and embraces the seasonal temps by opening the windows year-round – and dressing right.

Cold House Journal follows the story – and the temps – day and night up in Maine, where a couple humans and a few cats live furnace-free and light the wood stove when necessary. Their thought-provoking and informational blog sheds light on the whole experience, while including a hard look at the cultural and political influences when it comes to heat. This curiously cold guy makes a case for adaptability, acknowledging our “heat addiction” and in general, looking for a way to “dismantle the Home Heating Industrial Complex”.

There seems to be an common thread here – I hear a creative and committed voice in these people – and a kind of detached contentment. Like when one of the roommates in the Baltimore warehouse admits that they sometimes miss a warm Winter house but, “Then we remember how wonderful it is to be living with five other best friends and making art and how it will get warm eventually.”

Can’t argue with that.

First Suburbs Come First

Friday, February 5th, 2010

by Tao, Carrboro, NC

I love my neighborhood – it is quiet, but close to the action and amenities of town. I grew up this way, and I’ve continued to be drawn to these familiar, convenient and vibrant areas. I live in an “inner-ring” suburb, also referred to as “first” suburbs, or “early” suburbs.

These are the first areas developed at the fringes of inner cities several decades ago. The inner suburbs were the quieter but connected neighborhoods of the working class – the places our newly wed parents and grandparents went to raise their children. These areas provided escape from the grime of the city, but proximity to jobs, schools, stores, entertainment, and, each other.

The evolution of these areas made a lot of sense – allowing public transportation to flourish, more parks and recreation, as well as a convenient pedestrian lifestyle – where more people were more fit (really – look at the old black ‘n whites in your grandmother’s attic).

But we somehow lost some of that common sense when we began to focus our time, energy, money and attention on these lavish developments in the outer suburbs fueled by economic interest of developers, highway builders, oil companies and the auto industry who all, of course, feed on a more car-dependent lifestyle. Unfortunately, despite what we’ve learned – or relearned – about the benefits of urban life, sprawl continues at an alarming rate.

As a result, the inner-suburbs are deteriorating both by age and neglect with outmoded housing and commercial buildings. As neighborhoods decay, pockets of poverty soon follow, marring the image and desirability of once thriving communities.

Some areas manage to adopt a “cool” factor, attracting a hip crowd of well-to-dos, but also bringing a gentrification which quickly eliminates both diversity and affordability. Many other inner-surburban areas suffer from lack of political support, considered to be in a policy blind spot as local governments compete for the spotlight.

Alex Steffen, futurist, founder and editor of, (interviewed by Johnathan Hiskes on says that this political conflict will define the next decade, becoming a critical factor in the future of urban life. He also regrets being at war with the ‘burbs: “But there are so many more winners than losers in this fight that it’s a smart fight to take on…When you add together cities and inner-ring suburbs and allied small towns, it’s a solid majority of Americans.”

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