Transparency, Privacy and Competition

The way we live now is wild. Reality television has mushroomed into a massive social media explosion. What people show on Instagram is sometimes as fake and scripted as what happens on produced reality television programming. At the same time, people are also sharing too much real information online a lot of the time in ways that professional media outlets wouldn’t, and for good reasons. When does transparency go too far and become a total lack of privacy? What guidelines should we be establishing to safely and effectively use social media? How is this dynamic driven by competition?

Is there any chance that we can work our way out of this mess and back into simpler times? Are we hunters, farmers, doctors, soldiers, influencers, cyborgs or what? People have taken on varied roles in different periods of history. Right now, we are in a period of historical transition and it is especially important to experiment and to envision new ways of doing things. Sometimes, those experiments and periods of growth might best be done in privacy for the sake of going through the process of trial and error without an audience. 

Is it possible to grow and change for the better in a world dominated by social media culture? Or do we just have to change our attitude about cultural productions and the value of making mistakes in public. This might sound strange, but it happens all the time with podcasts. Sometimes a certain amount of dysfunction makes it more relatable to listen to. It’s more like real life. Some podcasts are so polished and produced you feel like you should brush your hair and put on some nicer clothes before you listen. Oftentimes we want something a little more relaxed.

Maybe competition is a normal human response, and the way it’s happening online is simply an extension of how we compare and debate the merits of each other’s lifestyle points in analog life. Martha Stewart was an influencer before there were lifestyle blogs. The number of people who are now able to create content and connect with an online audience is radically and exponentially increased. The Internet adds scale to lifestyle marketing in a completely new way. When it becomes interactive, it becomes much bigger and more differentiated. There is a lifestyle influencer for any imaginable cultural niche. 

While this new media has also created a new economy, we are still working out how all these new forces function. We are in the infancy stages of social media and haven’t developed enough best practices to know what we are doing. It can be a wild and dangerous combination when businesses experience massive scaling through the internet and people are suddenly thrust into positions of immense power and responsibility. Since these massive fortunes have been created within our lifetimes, there is a learning curve like never before. We have new money, oh boy do we have new money.

Bezos, in talking about the infrastructure bill said that he hopes the initiative will help to keep a competitive advantage for the US. His official statement reads: “We look forward to Congress and the Administration coming together to find the right, balanced solution that maintains or enhances U.S. competitiveness.” In that statement you can grasp something of our reality. We don’t live in isolation; we exist in competition. We have to remain aware of external threats to our security. If we don’t do this, they might do that. Businesses may be multinational, but they have national roots. Lifestyle might be the focus of a majority of social media, but it is made possible by macroeconomic and geopolitical concerns.

The policy of the US has historically been isolationist, but in a world with internet and nuclear weapons that is absurd. We are interconnected, and we have to figure out how to make that reality work best for the common good. With the Internet, that means business and social networking opportunities. While we strive to grow and connect to more people, the sense of our identity comes into play.

As long as our interconnectedness comes with the threat of violence, with an attempt at domination, then we will continue to make decisions that give us a competitive advantage. There are some situations, even in a world with hostile threats, where being competitive is counterproductive. If we want to enhance our competitive advantage, then we should be working on creating a stronger sense of team spirit and camaraderie, but we should also look for opportunities for cultural exchange. We most likely have more to gain from transacting with each other than we have to fear from losing our competitive advantage.

Why the Future Belongs to Stoners part 1

There’s nothing wrong with cannabis. It’s a beautiful plant with amazing flowers and effects. As with the pineapple, the pomegranate and the papaya, Cannabis is a naturally occurring living organism with many properties beneficial to health and wellness for humans and even for other animals. 

Sometimes people complain of feeling anxiety or sleepiness when they consume THC. This could be for a number of reasons. Different strains can have different effects, but also farmers are not equally good at growing weed. Cannabis is not like apples. It is a boutique crop, a difficult flower to grow well. The difference in the experience of consumption between top shelf flower and run of the mill boof is night and day and the pricing in dispensaries reflects this reality.

The quality of the crop is what matters most about cannabis, and one way cannabis brands are marketing the quality of their flowers is through high THC numbers in their testing. While the cannabinoid percentages do matter, they are no clear indication of the quality of the flower or of your experience if you were to consume it. In order to really use cannabis effectively, you have to find a farm that grows flowers that you enjoy. It’s really that simple. You have to just experiment until you find the right farm and usually that will keep you connected to the best benefits that cannabis can offer.

Besides the quality of the flowers, though, there is a big reason why people feel tired or anxious when they consume cannabis. This is because it is pointing out the problems they are not dealing with. When people get stoned, it often causes introspection and analysis over the problems, especially social situations, that are on your mind. It brings those things you are worrying about to the front of your attention. This is one of the reasons why stoners will win in the end. It causes self-reflection and that is the gateway to self-improvement and that is the gateway to being a better member of a community and that is the gateway to security and happiness. So yes, it is a gateway drug.

Why We Shouldn’t Hate Hippies

Hippies get a bad name, man. In order to understand why this group is so reviled, you don’t have to look at history. You only need to go to your local farmer’s market and not be suffering from Covid. The nose knows. These people don’t care what you think at all. But are they really hippies, or are they stinky fakes?

That’s like seeing someone in line at the liquor store wearing a wetsuit and then thinking that all surfers are idiots. That’s not a surfer; it’s a kook! Kooks are notorious for glomming onto the limelight, since they are interested in surfing not for how it makes them feel or how it challenges them to grow, but because they want to be cool. It’s the same with hippies, brah. The funk is real, but the character is not.

Now we all know wanting to be cool immediately makes you uncool. Some clever marketers, clever but not wise, have seen how widespread this tendency to be unreal is and have started marketing to kooks, blatantly. Instead of taking surfing seriously, they fully embrace the flail and celebrate this ineptitude with puns and ironic hairstyles. For some people, surfing is a religion. For others, a way to try and get laid.

Surfing attracts people from all walks of life, but most of the surfers I have known who really deserve respect are nothing like the stereotype. Surfing is a magical activity, but one that is full of ironies. When a human synchronizes their movements with the natural energy of a breaking wave, it is truly something astounding. To be good at surfing requires a lot of time studying the water and taking it seriously, like any other art form. But you can get a wetsuit and a soft-top and someone somewhere will mistake you for a surfer.

It’s the same with hippies. There are fake hippies galore, and they are the ones replicating the negative stereotypes. There are real hippies, too. There are sincerely optimistic folks out there working to make another way of living a reality. They are too busy doing the hard work of regenerative farming to be clowning around downtown. 

Every lifestyle has its serious practitioners and its superficial fakes. Since these lifestyles are not mainstream, the public is easily misled about them. They see the fakes and don’t know better. How would you? It takes time to understand the authentic article hiding among the counterfeit. 

Who gets to say who is real and who is fake in any particular lifestyle? We don’t have the hippy Olympics. Maybe we should, though. Professional surfing puts any doubts to rest about the levels that people can take that activity. If you could watch the dude who wears his wetsuit to buy his craft beer you would see his inexperience within about two minutes of being in the water. Meanwhile, any of the pros or even just competitive surfers in this region are able to milk the last drop of potential out of every swell that rolls through town. The difference between their performances is unmistakable.

Same goes with hippies. We aren’t really seeing the awesome ones. They are cross breeding landrace heritage cannabis cultivars with regional genetics that have been tried and true somewhere rad up in the mountains. They are planning psychedelic voyages and growing their own food. They are making advances in sustainable development. We don’t hate hippies; we don’t know them. We only see their imitators.

Who are these people who invade a lifestyle and make it so lame? Let’s be honest. They are techies who have enough fuck-you money to not care that they are being absolute douche canoes in the water or at a health food store. Horrible insecurities that are buttressed by financial success is a recipe for the fake hippy, the kook or the wannabe artist. How many people buy a dream for a couple of years, but never put the work in to make it a reality?

The truth to life is that anything you want to do well is going to take a lot of hard work for most people. But the people who are doing the hard work are not usually looking for attention. They may want to do business, but they are fulfilled by the life they lead and aren’t hungry souls siphoning attention from curious tourists eager to see a real Santa Cruz hippy. They will be tending to their work, helping their families, being valued members of their community.

We are only seeing the surface of things and in this state of oversimplification we are not only seeing a caricature of reality, but we are seeing a fake caricature. The connection between the stereotype and the reality is ingenuous. It is only when we begin to realize what a horrible version of subcultures we have received that we will start to see the world for what it really is. The good parts are oftentimes not going to be the most obvious.

We shouldn’t hate hippies for their followers.

Creativity or Discipline?: Art Matters

What is the relationship between discipline and creativity? On the surface, these things seem to be opposites. Discipline implies consistency and regularity. Creativity suggests variety and spontaneity. What is the image of discipline in the US? What is our idea of creativity? What is the reality?

Creativity comes from a variety of places, including trauma. Art is sometimes a response to an emotional need, to a state of shock. The thing is, not everyone who experiences trauma creates art, and not all experiences are equally traumatizing. 

Will power, or the continuity of choice, is one of the factors that transforms traumatic feelings into creativity.  What is the difference between someone who is damaged by a traumatic experience versus someone who is able to transfigure their pain into poetry? It is their willingness to practice. Of course, not all art comes from traumatic feelings.

Another aspect of creativity is choice. Creativity isn’t found in one thing or another. Creativity is the ability to choose.  Art can be any combination of aesthetic qualities. There are no rules as to what can qualify as art. Making a creative decision, a decision to go in a creative direction and to practice a formal constraint, is definitely one of the ways to look for creativity. 

What decisions have been made? What choices can we make now? What is the basis of a creative choice? What makes up an art direction?

Creativity is the conception of form.

Discipline is sticking with a program of work designed to create growth. To be disciplined is to possess self-control, to know one’s limits, to act within a safe and measured sphere of possibility. It is also to act consistently. When disciplined practice creates strength, there is more control in the execution of decisions. The strength gained from practice brings the line drawn by the hand closer to the mind’s idea.

Creativity derives from passion. Deeply caring about anything leads to opinion and the repetition of opinion creates style. A passion for form leads to the discipline of style. 

The subject of a work also has a lot to do with the interaction between creativity and discipline. The loss of a love can lead to a loss of passion, and instead of being productive creativity becomes cathartic. Instead of being driven by a desire to make great work, the artist who is heart-broken uses creative expression to cope with the feelings. 

Imagine Jeff Koons versus Mark Rothko. Koons is an artist who conceives of ideas and blueprints for the making of a spectacular visual object. His work is not expressive but conceptual. He is not using art to express something personal as much as he is performing for art. He is making aesthetic and conceptual, formal, choices to create something for the world.

Expressionist artists, like Rothko or Pollock, use creativity to vent their anguish, to express their tragic sense of time. Both routes end up creating something new, something valuable. The expressionists, however, ended up killing themselves and Jeff Koons is one of the wealthiest artists of all time. 

The value in art is derived from the desire of collectors and institutions to preserve the work of artists for future generations. Once an artist reaches art historical status, their work is almost immediately valuable.

People get too serious about art when money is involved, and it is always involved. It takes discipline to keep a sense of humor. You have to stick to your decisions. 

The tragic artist seems more authentic to us in some ways. There is very little sense of discipline in the tragic artist because they are fueled by trauma, not will power. The tragic artist is living on borrowed time. Creativity is a drug for the tragic artist, and it is just a matter of time before it becomes impossible to re-up.

The pop artist doesn’t use their public work to express their private feelings, but instead takes the task of making an art object as a kind of engineering challenge. 

Discipline and creativity are never neutral forces and so it requires an understanding of an individual and their context to really get down to the nitty gritty. What is the purpose of discipline and creativity in your work? Do you tend to feel more creative when you are emotional or does emotion come out of doing the work?

The purpose of the discipline is to earn trust. Through the repeated performance of a task, we inherit an artist’s belief in their project. 

Why do we need creativity? Where do we need it? 

You would think that making pretty things to look at wouldn’t be super high on our list of priorities in a world that has so many serious problems. 

Creativity always starts with a question about form. How would it look if we did this…? What would a viewer feel if we did that…? How do we make this art object feel a certain way? How can we inspire certain feelings in an audience? The questions create the context for formal experimentation and an artist will use their discipline, their media, to create some answers.

In Cannabis We Trust

During the pandemic, the cannabis plant and the industry surrounding it have become more valuable than ever before. State by state, we are creeping towards federal legalization as the evidence continues to grow in the places where it already has been made legal for recreational use. Legalizing weed is the most SENSIble thing to do. With one stroke from a pen, a switch would flip that could empower hundreds of thousands of people with work, liberate tens of thousands from incarceration, and would potentially provide all of us with the therapeutic tools we need to heal and grow stronger.

Canada legalized recreational cannabis with the Cannabis Act in 2018. Mexico in on the verge of passing their legalization bill. Just as California couldn’t stand by and watch Colorado capitalize on legal weed, it seems beyond inevitable that the US as a whole will finally abandon its stance against cannabis as history continues to show that legalizing cannabis is not just an experiment, but a full-fledged transformation of global drug policy.

Cannabis users who have experienced legalization may have varying views of what legal weed looks like for the people who care most about the plant, but there is a widespread consensus among its advocates that cannabis is a beneficial plant and that making access to quality bud safe and affordable would be a good thing.

When will the US recognize its potential for leadership in the embrace of cannabis and hemp products? If cannabis is federally legalized, will that speed up the process of incorporating hemp commodities into our agricultural and industrial plans? When will we see the ascendency of Hempcrete as a building material? How soon can we phase out plastic and replace it with hemp alternatives?

These questions have urgent importance, and the more we elevate the topic as a priority the sooner we can start working on these powerful problem-solving practices. It is perhaps understandable that people are still resistant to legalization as it shows the power of the anti-drug campaigns that have ideologically backed the drug wars. If you didn’t have personal experience with cannabis, it might still seem like a dangerous or negative thing.

The truth is, cannabis is beneficial to many many people.

When you listen to leaders in the cannabis space, a common story you hear is one of conversion through injury or illness. Oftentimes, these folks will have been extremely conservative people who were anti-cannabis and believed the propaganda against the plant. After being recommended cannabis to deal with seizures, pain, or the side effects of chemotherapy, a great number of people have converted to become stoners who sing the praises of the plant and advocate for it.

One of these people was Jack Herer. He is one of the most iconic examples of a conservative converting to cannabis after trying it for the first time in his 30s. Herer opened up a head shop and started researching cannabis and hemp and became a spearhead for legalization. His book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is a cornerstone work in the legalization movement. Herer became one of the legends of cannabis during his time and he started out starkly against the plant as a Goldwater conservative.

Just as Jack Herer changed his mind about cannabis, we have seen a major shift in attitudes. The more states legalize cannabis, the less the stigma against cannabis users is able to stick, and lots of people you may not have thought were cannabis users have stepped out of the closet. We no longer see cannabis use in the same way. We are getting experienced. Jimi Hendrix would be proud.

Erin Schwartz: Executive Assistant Extraordinaire

We are in a weird spot as a culture. I think most people would agree with that. Things have shifted in ways we don’t even understand yet. Major world historical events like the Covid-19 pandemic are formative for the generations who live through them. Your age and your social position have a lot to do with how you are able to navigate those challenges, how the times affect you. This is a generational event.

One year of involuntary widespread unemployment is going to have major psychological effects on people. This has to be expected in order for us to be able to help, in order to survive. We need to be ready. We need to actively be finding ways to assist ourselves and others to adapt. What do we need to focus on? 

In order to climb our way out of the economic and energetic abyss into which we’ve fallen, we are going to need leadership. We need collaborations. We need positivity. We have to think about the situation critically and work creatively to find solutions. What is the new need, how could it be a new market? How can we address it? What positive energies can we summon to help us overcome our despair?

Enter the alpha executive assistant, Erin Schwartz. The pandemic has restricted so many of our movements, but some personalities are indomitable. Some people have overcome tough situations before and are emotionally equipped to face uncertainty without falling apart. Erin is one of these people. She has that warrior like strength that you need in times like these.

During the restrictive months of lockdown, Erin took charge of her own work life by basically creating a job for herself as a virtual executive assistant. Erin is talented at networking. She thinks of other people and wants to involve them in projects. She has the instincts of a producer. But, she is also a very clear communicator who is not afraid to ask the hard questions or to be strong in her requests.

We are in an era where small businesses are experiencing existential threats, but also where there is a rise in entrepreneurship. It is when we effectively combine the usefulness of the new category of entrepreneur with the needs of businesses to adapt to changing times that fruitful synergies can occur. I have seen it happen so many times in my own work, and this is a time where the opportunity is there for lots of other entrepreneurs.

I became a full-time entrepreneur out of necessity back in 2011-12 and found over time that it is something that I love. I enjoy thinking about business and marketing as much as I do art and literature. I now see them as all so connected there is no way to separate art from business from politics. It’s all intertwined and there is a middle path you can follow, a way to sanely and productively interact with others despite the seemingly divisive times.

I started working with Erin as a model probably three or four years ago. When I work with models, I care more about the results of the collaboration than anything in particular about the person. I’m never looking for a specific look in terms of gender or ethnicity or age. I care about energy and results more than anything. You have to keep it moving and get stuff done, so whenever a collaborator brings that go -etter energy to a project it more often than not leads to more work. 

Momentum is a powerful force in creativity, so when you find someone who is stoked to get pictures, who brings creative energy to the project, it adds to your momentum. The same thing is true in running a small business. You need team players.

Everyone has things they can’t do, but that are important to their work. I work with models because I need subjects for lifestyle and commercial photography. I can’t do that by myself. When I work with a model and have a successful shoot, I am able to deliver lots of great content to a client and that often leads to more work. Their positive energy adds to the overall process. So, I end up working with the people who bring the best energy most consistently. Over the years, Erin has proven to be a reliably positive collaborator.

As I mentioned, Erin brings a kind of alpha energy to her life. She is not one to let circumstances stop her. As a result, she managed to get married during the pandemic and I was honored to photograph the ceremony in beautiful Carmel. With her own wedding as I have seen her do in her life in general, she found the will to bring people together and to accomplish a big thing together. 

This is Erin’s knack. She has an indomitable will and an awareness of how other people could come together to create a larger team to tackle a project, to accomplish a goal. With all that is happening in the world, it is refreshing to be reminded that the human spirit will find a way. Artists generally make their way to the stage one way or another, and we are living in a world more entertaining for their efforts.

I strive to create the best content for brands, which is why I work with people who bring the best energy to the project and Erin is one of those individuals who responds to the potential of a situation. We are all collectively building the future as we go, and this has been a time of rethinking and reimagining what that will be.

As we move into Spring and whatever that brings, it will be good to add new entrepreneurial ingredients into the mix. Now is the time for young people to initiate internships, to look for mentors, to figure out how to get experience in business. It is also the time for businesses to find ways to work with content creators, influencers, virtual assistants and anyone who is able to bring value to the table.

Why Blogs Matter More Now than Ever

The internet changed the world. When it began to be used widely by the public in the early 90s, the World Wide Web connected us irrevocably. No other invention has had as much of an impact on human culture. A tech revolution has ensued and the collective effect of the advance of technology and its meaning for the human race is staggering to try and comprehend. 

Part of what has changed due to this massive cultural shift is our attitude towards time. How humans change is one of the most interesting topics to study, as it requires a tricky kind of self-reflective sensitivity. As we collectively work to understand how to use the new modes of communication to our advantage, old habits and desires wait to be fulfilled in new ways. Narcissus looking at an iPad.

The word Blog has never struck me as attractive in any way. All of the connotations it brings up for me are negative: a bog, a log, blah, swampy slimy nerd shit. I have never wanted to be a blogger. That always sounds like an insult. This is where technologists have failed miserably: in the poetry of tech. Web log becomes blog, a broadcast you can listen to on your iPod becomes a podcast. Do iPods even exist anymore? It doesn’t matter. Once a name has taken hold, it sticks.

Why are the most profoundly powerful aspects of this new technology so badly named? Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass. The blogosphere should be a place where masterpieces of literature are being created experimentally. Instead, it comes across as lower level than a local editorial column. 

I remember at one point jokingly naming my own blog a bjournal. My thinking was that if we had someone who cared more about words, then it would have been called a web journal or a bjournal. That never really caught on, partly because people don’t understand that blog is web log shortened, so when they see bjournal it doesn’t make sense to them. The inside joke is all there, but nobody catches on or cares.

This is because we are still getting used to the idea that the gatekeepers were wrong a lot of the time. We relied upon a system of cultural production that forced creators to work in a system that perverted their visions. Now that we have the ability for a creator to go directly to the public, we are seeing better and better results.

The people who saw the opportunities provided by the blog space took advantage and have created some amazing media conglomerates. The Huffington Post began as a blog. There was an era when blogs were able to turn into full-fledged media empires. Fifty Cent didn’t give two shits about the name blog, he turned his site into a hub of culture.

Joe Rogan started out on the Internet as a blogger. There is a natural progression from blogger to podcaster, but I think that they both are still incredibly important. Rogan is an advocate of writing, but he doesn’t publish his thoughts anymore. Still, that might be what he could bring back into rotation that would make his program even more compelling. 

When it comes to creating content, there is no replacement for good writing. The writing is fundamental to the form, the content to the design. A blog is just a place to share writing. It is an idea generator, a conversation starter, and a repository of your thoughts and work.

Every brand, every content creator, every organization should be using a blog to publish their ideas. This helps to keep new ideas coming into circulation, and it keeps the public aware of the vitality and originality of the brand. Whether you love or hate the term blog, the function of publishing your ideas on a regular basis is a stimulant to growth and an invitation to positive networking. Not to mention the SEO. 

More important than getting noticed, however, is the work it takes to improve and that can show more clearly than anywhere else in the archives of a blog. Leave your trail of breadcrumbs, create your own routes through this digital forest and inspire others to form their own sense of creative agency. It’s all about the blog, baby.

Train for the Change You Want to See: GYB Strength

We have the occasion, during this period of life interrupted, to think about one of life’s great questions: how do we create social change? There are so many ways to approach this topic and I think that one of the great things about contemporary culture and social media is our ability to see plenty of examples and to learn from our peers. 

When you stop and look at the flow of history with the objective of seeing how social change occurs, it becomes clear that most of what we see as social equilibrium is merely an angle of repose that has resulted in a dynamic balance from ages of struggle and collapse. Beneath that image of stability is a violently churning reality. There are multitudes of groups pushing for their own interests and it is some vast turbulent ocean of conflict and cooperation that is keeping things dynamically the same and allowing for some change in certain moments.

We have professional activists who study the situation looking for nodal points of leverage where force or support can be applied to some effect. We have career politicians actively transforming ideas into reality through the drafting of legislation, the execution of mandates, and the judgment of actions. Politics is much bigger than a business or even an industry. Politics are the official and often arbitrary outcomes of power struggles. It is the public story power writes.

It is the people who are doing the struggling, though. In many cases, this struggle results in a form of work that is like existential hysteria, an outward expression of the ultimate grief. The display of displeasure, the story of true human suffering becomes a work, a narrative that can be replayed, retold, reconfigured as evidence supporting our cause. In other words, the people who are publicly hurting are providing us with the ability to discuss our underlying problems. In doing the work to understand how to change the conditions that lead to such unnecessary suffering we are honoring their sacrifice.

In many if not most cases, the people who become national topics of debate do not do so intentionally. Our great change makers often are not volunteering for the job, but people who simply suffer the consequences of an unjust system and who inspire other people through the expression of their suffering. It is through phrases of sheer terror that a truth is illuminated: “I can’t breathe.” It is in the extreme vulnerability of a human being involuntarily brought to the edge of life itself asking for their mother or their father that we see something true about our condition of being. How do we become more humane humans?

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to work with one of my favorite artists, Gillian Young. She is too many things to name, which is why the title of artist is really the only label that fits. She is a fitness coach, a food influencer, a writer, a fashion model, a social activist and a community builder as well as many other interesting things. One thing she is not, however, is quiet about the change she wants to see.

Whenever I see Gillian in person, I have the feeling that I am in the presence of a superhero. She is an exquisitely beautiful woman, with a fashion forward style, flowing with feminine grace and elegance but accented and accessorized with an edginess that speaks to her strength. Her bright and warm demeanor are offset by a tattoo of a knife, by her shoes. This is a woman, one thinks, capable of being a great friend, a valued collaborator, but also one you do not want to fuck with.

Gillian, like anyone mentally fit enough to pay attention, is on a path of awakening to more of the world’s truths and, as we come to understand the depth of the problems we collectively face, it can be daunting to engage. How do we speak up for what we believe effectively? How can we be positive influences of change? What does that look like? 

For Gillian, as a fitness coach and personal trainer, the answer is through training. You don’t achieve fitness goals overnight. They take work and dedication and discipline. Well, why would we think it would be any different or easier to create a healthier society? It’s not. 

It has often been said, attributed to Ghandi, that one of the best ways to effect change is to be the change you want to see in the world. Gillian is taking this idea to its practical level by training to create the change she wants to see. After all, we can’t just be anything we want without doing the work. We have to practice any art or skill we want to improve.

Taking the discipline and the technique of working towards fitness goals and applying them to building a diverse community, Gillian is modeling an effective approach to changemaking. This is a kind of proactive model of protest. It is about building coalitions and sharing stories so that we can coexist more happily together.

But don’t mistake this movement as a superficial and doomed to fail because overly optimistic flash in the pan. This is not fool’s gold, it’s not gold at all. It is good. The common good. Enlightened self-interest. The social agreement. But remember the tattoo of the knife. In order to build community, you also have to have clear boundaries, and you have to establish a seriousness of your intent to preserve the integrity of the group. We are not fucking around, her smile seems to say.

We are here to do the work, her back states, to create powerful social connections and to articulate our vision of equity and friendship to anyone willing to try. Gillian’s brand name is GYB, the acronym for her full name Gillian Young Barkalow, but it also stands for her motto, her mantra, her mission statement, her mandate: Give Your Best.

Certain people are inspiring to be around because of their verve, their spark, their drive for living and this electrical aura is what makes Gillian such a powerful coach. Following her on social media is witnessing a woman building a movement. If you are looking for motivation in your fitness journey, you should consider an interview with Gillian the Great if you are ready to train for the change you want to see.

The Work of Landscape Photography

I like to earn my photographs. I don’t think a robot could ever feel that way, but maybe artificial intelligence will include emotional dimensions. Maybe we are not special as human consciousness. Still, I feel better when I do something hard that leads to a great photograph. 

A lot of it has to do with timing. You have to synchronize your life with the light and the landscape. You have to be in the right place at the right time, and if it is hard to get to that place then you have the added reward of achieving something that is difficult. It is not just what the camera can see, but what the body operating the camera feels and why. 

Riding my bike through the mountain trails gives me a ton of physical challenges and a lot of satisfaction. It feels good to climb up to a ridgeline with the power of your own legs and the view is that much sweeter. It also means knowing the trails and how long they take and how fast you can go. It means having enough energy and physical comfort to be able to stop and compose your shots despite the fatigue or the hunger you feel. 

It also adds the element of the unknown. You have some extra elements of chance at work. Getting yourself in the right spot at the right time is much harder when you are riding a bike, but it is also much more rewarding. 

Photoshoot Magic

These are strange times and if we are to be honest, we could use a little magic. Every day, we do the best we can with our circumstances and sometimes all of that hard work pays off in a moment of magic.

Tenisha Hill and Gillian Young are no strangers to hard work or magical moments. It was an honor to have the opportunity to photograph them wearing Synergy Organic Clothing.

On this evening, there was a brisk wind making the cool temps feel downright chilly. We had a short window of light and we made the most of it.