Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Food, the City, and Innovation

Roundtable conference about the global food system. February 1 & 2, 2013

From The Food Lab's website:

The Food Lab at the University of Texas at Austin presents “Food, the City, and innovation,” a two-day roundtable conference at the E.A. Smith building – just west of the Blanton Museum in Austin, Texas. The Food Lab at UT and our co-host Boston University believe that the climate for innovation in the food industry could not be better.

New food startups led by engineers, artists, scientists, and architects are responding to the challenge to re-invent our global food system. This conference will explore the opportunities for innovation and seek those that will benefit from the collaboration between universities and our cities.


You can register to attend here. I definitely think the time has well come for us to explore new approaches to our food system that bring together communities and different industries. It's time to reclaim our health and disrupt our current mass produced chain that is often unclear about where our food comes from and the ingredients in it. 

Visit the conference website for more information, keynote speakers, etc. Also, find them on Facebook to keep up with up-to-date info. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

An Old Portrait of Ohio

You don't think of much when you hear "Cleveland." Obviously, it's not a top destination but there is a lot of history there - Danny Green and major mafia activity, it was the location of "A Christmas Story",  it's home to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the esteemed Cleveland Symphony, the art Museum is wonderful, there is incredible architecture and a historical urban landscape, and at one time it was a booming industrial city. 

I love hearing my mom reminisce about Cleveland in it's prime - a veritable Americana. Old neighborhoods were defined by race and ethnicity. There was the black neighborhood, the Catholic neighborhood, the Italian neighborhood, Polish, Jewish, Slovakian, and then there were the summer homes of wealthy white people along the lake. On every corner there was a neighborhood bar where blue collar workers would stop off before coming home to their families. The neighborhoods are still divided but now those local bars are more ghetto sketchy than colorful dive bars. And many of the homes that were big, beautiful, and well-kept are falling apart or drug houses.  
At the same time, there are some areas that are growing and becoming trendy, like Tremont, home to the house where "A Christmas Story" was filmed and where celebrity chef Michael Symon has a few restaurants. The Great Lakes Brewing Co. lives in Ohio City, a hop, skip, and a jump from Tremont. Nearer to my mom's house is B Spot Burgers at Eton Square on Chagrin Boulevard. One of. the best. burgers. I've had. in. my. life. And a craft/local beer selection on tap. Heaven.

Whenever I fly into Cleveland to visit my mom we pass by the old steel mills on the way home. Many are abandoned but still standing and the large plot of land the buildings occupy is like a huge graveyard, slowly exhaling white clouds from the top of smokestacks of the factories still functioning. It's easy to imagine a lively picture of workers at the mills, machines cranking, the sound of steam escaping, and people talking loudly over the noise. It's this very culture that Obama and Romney both tried to win over during visits to Cleveland and talks at the factories still holding on. It must have been pretty eye opening for them to see a picture of what a struggling economy looks like, a middle-America portrait fading as time, high tech, and outsourced jobs rub away it's lustre.  

The general state of Cleveland is pretty depressed. There are innumerable abandoned buildings. The political climate is corrupt and the economy is bombed. As I mentioned in a post where I talked about selections for my exhibit at E.A.S.T., there are still nuggets of beauty tucked deep in Cleveland - like amazing fall colors and gorgeous countryside. But for someone like me who loves abandoned buildings, things left behind and urbania, and the darker side of society, it's a photographer's playground.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

En Route to Sedona, December 2012

I have no idea why I feel compelled to share this. I mean clearly I sound like a songbird while chirping along with David Lee Roth (I still have a vivid pre-teen image in my memory of him shirtless over my friend's older sister's bed) "Hot for Teacher" so I should be really proud. But I promised in my first post after returning from Arizona over Christmas that I would put up this video. This is the part of the road trip right before we reached the snow covered high plains you see in the photos I shared on that post. Things have been really interesting since my return.

Want to see another lame, self-indulgent video? Here, I try to explain why I love hotels, motels, and horror films, which turned into like 3 blog posts. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Moon

It has been a very enlightening week for me. I've been extremely focused on current projects and made a few decisions and plans for future endeavors that are dear to me and about which I am passionate. Excited!

Today I had a random and meandering conversation with my sweetie about the spirit of giving and to me it's clear as day - if you give with the expectation of getting something back you will forever be disappointed. You can't give to just be nice or to keep up appearances because, in this way, you are only fooling yourself. It has to come from your heart and in that way you are being honest with yourself. If you are honest with yourself you will feel less conflict.

So, funny thing - after that conversation my sister calls later in the day and tells me a story about something nice she did for a coworker. She put detailed thought into what she did and concertedly chose this woman to make an effort to help out because she knew she had been having a difficult time recently. Didn't expect anything back but the lady didn't as much as offer a "thank you." Those words and "I'm sorry" are two of the most important courtesies we can offer one another in life to give something of ourselves and gain an understanding of and connection to someone else. And when you get used to doing it or find someone who teaches you through example (ahem, Mike) and reminds you of these two basic things we were taught by our mothers as children, it's really pretty easy. But they seem to be the most forgotten or hardest phrases for people to muster up. "Thank you" seems easier because not as much ego or frustration is concerned where "I'm sorry" is but still not used often enough. Anyway, point being, it really strikes a chord in me when these sorts of "coincidences" in life happen...living examples of intense moments or thoughts or ideas you recently had. And my sister felt as passionately about her given situation as I did about the broader concept of giving.

While talking with Mike about the truth of giving I was thinking about how that can manifest from a real openness and sincerity - a sincerity that is an understanding of yourself - again, truth. Another coincidence: I come across a blog called the Resting Nomad (shared on Facebook by The Cosmic Collage) that expands on the notions of truth, purity, and openness, as the writer shares her personal experience of the process of writing with "Ink & Paper" as well as her hopes for the new year.

New year, New Moon. Soo, also this week I decided to go ahead and order a moon calendar and learn more about the moon cycles because more often than not these days when I'm wondering why I am this or that or things are happening with me that seem uncontrollable (yes, I'm talking about the female cycle and at times freaking out!) I discover there was a particular change in the Moon. It's beyond coincidence at this point. Everything seems to be aligning for me right now - acceptance (after some fear over next steps where my career is concerned), decisions as to next steps and moving forward with new, deep-rooted and exciting projects I mentioned I'm planning, making a conscious decision (during the week of the New Moon -- coincidence? ;) to learn more about the Moon and astrology, and finally, I'll be doing a sweat lodge tomorrow.

For years I've been curious to do one but have always been afraid. Rather than fearing the heat or any physical discomforts, I think the fear is more about having some sort of emotional breakdown in front of strangers, as I hear lodges are intense and release toxins, offer realizations, and cleansing. Well, after doing some research I learned that the traditional Lakota sweat lodge signifies a transformation to a new you. An opportunity arose to participate in a sweat lodge during the time of the new moon and in the midst of all these discoveries and revelations and feelings of openness, freedom, bravery and acceptance. Coincidence, really? Well, another "coincidence": the same lady, where I discovered the link to the blog post from the Resting Nomad who discussed truth and openness, happened to share a blog post referencing a Lakota prayer. Now, I realize not everything I point to as "coincidence" (and if you haven't figured it out, I quote "coincidence" to express when things seem to me more meaningful than mere coincidence) is not always a magical or cosmic phenomenon but rather the simple fact that people with similar or the same interests and/or beliefs run in the same circles or seek out certain information. Birds of a feather... However, ha!, that warrants some thought, too - how those people find one another.

Anyway. Alignment. Moon calendar, focus, overcoming fears, coincidences...turns out it's a New Moon today. So I can't help think this is not all coincidence but that I have been led to this point by somehow being in tune ... with the moon. One last "coincidence": I also came across another blog post by The Sphinx & the Milky Way, where she talks about how the new moon brings focus, space, and freedom. And is about "being in the darkness" (darkness pertaining to a particular phase of the moon when, "at the moment of conjunction in ecliptical longitude with the Sun, the Moon is invisible from the Earth"). I'll keep it simple and just say that I deeply relate to what she wrote. She also talks about how the New Moon is about what ... truth -- and that's what started this dang blog post. And one final note - I discovered all these new people and blogs this week.

P.S. I  realize in my last post covering our Arizona road trip I said I would post a video of the forest we drove through in the high plains of Arizona but as the Resting Nomad said in her post I linked to: ..."Till that subject arises, I can only allow what is moving within me in the moment of NOW to flow out of me and flourish."

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

From the Sonoran Desert Through the Mountains and Forests to the Northern Verde Valley in Sedona

I've talked about the magic of the Arizona desert before. It is magic and it is dangerous. It is quiet and like being inside of a living painting. It is the perfect place to space out. The wind just seems to carry off any stress-inducing thoughts and dissipates them into nothingness. Once your head is clear then you have space for creative ideas, pure positivity, and the time and gumption to ponder thoughts until the cows come home.

We started in Fountain Hills and road tripped our way through small towns Black Canyon City, Payson, Pine, and Strawberry (among others) to land in Sedona a few hours later. We hit a couple small snowstorms along the way, expanding on the magic and power of nature. It is humbling.

We went from desert lowland in the valley, etched with cactus and gritty, pebbled sand to climbing mountains, furried green and round. For a stretch it seemed that we were in the real America -- whatever that is but it seemed like a more innocent time and unwithered place where most people had a strength of character and respect for life. The mountains formed a barrier and ruled the roost. The road was narrow and long and the land on either side of that stretch was occasionally dotted with cows.

When we reached high plains we could look out over plateaus in a distance that was immense. It was a history lesson. Traveling higher, we wound through a forest (video to follow in the next blog post) and reached what I know now as the peak in our adventure. It looked and felt like I was literally level to the horizon. An untouched blanket of snow formed a panorama around us and the landscape was similar to that of the Texas Hill Country area.

Eventually, after numerous stops to photograph what caught our eyes and a visit to a wonderful antique shop we landed in Sedona, a 360 degree view of multi-colored and jagged red rock sandstone formations and deep southwestern colors.

The change in the landscape from the Sonoran Desert through the mountains and forest to the Northern Verde Valley in Sedona is powerful.


Death in the desert. I love it.

Crazy - a dead Saguaro cactus. Looks like a deflated cartoon character.

A white horse! A freaking magic unicorn high up in the distance! Mustangs! Wild, wild horses. Could drag me away.

El Encanto. Great Mexican in Fountain Hills.

We look forward to seeing Stephanie each time we visit Sofrita, our favorite restaurant in Fountain Hills. Lovely tapas. Stephanie is also a talented singer/songwriter. Check her out at kniffinmusic.com 

Yes, there is a lake in the desert.