The Creatives

The Creatives

bakerArtist KSPwC_DSC5353_©KeithSpiroPhoto

The baker of USA has a website, a craft and a portfolio

When I look back on five years of connecting urban & rural Business, Art & Technology in a monthly column called The Boston & Maine Connection,  I clearly see both the power of tight communities and the vibrancy of large cities.  As my connections have expanded globally so too has my sense of how to utilize technology for the good of community.  Rapid technological changes have impacted both our sense of what makes up a community as well as how we approach communication and commerce.  Today, certain aspects of small town living apply across the web. People in small towns have always known that your personal history follows you forever. The locals never forget who you were and what you did and now – neither does Facebook nor Google.

The opportunity for global cooperation and competition has never been greater. As the Gregorian calendar turned the page to 2018, I took note that Gujarat India had already celebrated Diwali and it’s new year and Brisbane Australia & Dublin Ireland leapt  into 2018 fifteen and five hours respectively ahead of the USA. Whether you think of the world as competitive or your opportunity as collaborative, know that Australia is ranked as #1 for what I see as the most pivotal of all groups – the Creatives. The rising Creative Class is an area for intense but oftentimes overlooked opportunities.

The Creative Class includes the digital native who is comfortable around technology as a skillset as well as others who have learned to merge art and creative skills into the technology marketplace. Quite frankly, not many tech people can grasp the intangibles and boundary-free thinking that true Creatives have and in today’s fast paced world, Creatives are more important than ever.

Richard Florida wrote a book in 2002 positing the rise of this socio-economic class in a post-urbanized age. The battle for world class cities vs. the rest of the population will continue to play out on the ground as well as in the cloud. You may have heard of the “gig economy.” Well, it will be the Creatives who become the glue binding together our humanity and the machine world.

Here’s a quote from Steven Jobs in his introduction of the iPad2 in 2011:

“Technology alone is not enough—

it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Business cries out for new markets and new customers and laments the difficulty of being heard in a digital world full of noise. With our “swipe left or swipe right” attention spans – it will be the visual and the creative that catches and holds our attention.

As brands seek to dominate and capture new clients and as technology moves people into a sales funnel and as artificial intelligence tends to predict your choices, the opportunity to succeed may very well come down to the human element of – that which catches your attention, – wins!

Australian writer and brand strategist Jess Thoms defined Creative Tech as the combination of Technology with Art and Design to create better experiences, products and brands. She goes on to say  “Working in creative tech doesn’t mean you need to learn how to code, or suddenly become a robotics engineer. It’s about the application of your creative skills and ideas to a technical platform so it performs better. Technology is made for humans, after all. So who better than storytellers, artists, poets, and psychologists to make this technology more personable?”

Perhaps the name Mark Cuban is more familiar?  Jess quotes him as saying liberal arts degrees are the future. And indeed, I agree.  I have long been an advocate of liberal arts education in a science driven world. Our humanity depends on it!

If you are a Creative, you need to find your way onto tech teams – those AI and robotics people need you to insure the inevitable future will function better.  Humanities shape language, psychology colors empathy, and trust comes from repetition, consistently, of the best experiences.  Starving artists are a thing of the past. The future belongs to those who can bring understanding to the rest of us and you will be paid handsomely for doing so.  #BAT2018

creatives CRYER header cut for blogs SM

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My Three Words: 2018 Going to BAT

Going to BAT in 2018  – My Three Words – Business Art Technology #BAT2018 #my3words

Continuing a long standing tradition started by Waterville Maine native Chris Brogan, I have been starting out each year with three words to guide my success in the year ahead rather than a series of New Year resolutions that are too easily broken. There is genius behind Chris’ process in having three words always there to focus attention and minimize distraction.

Last year my words were Focused, Filtered and Fluid and they each played a strong role in keeping me on my plan and not getting overly distracted by all the incoming noise of today’s internet experience.

photo by Keith Spiro poet for hire NYCFor 2018 my words to navigate by are Business, Art and Technology and in a unique twist, I will be mindful that all three are intricately interwoven in any successful endeavor in our tumultuous cultural and political climate.  They fit well with my personal goals of learning, sharing and enjoying the use of my creative skills and my art daily for family, friends and business.  Previously, my three words could stand alone and reflect totally different considerations but with the news streamed across our devices, 2018 is the year where the best way for an individual to be seen, be heard or be found will be to employ and deploy the best of skills, design and technology in everything we do.  I truly believe that we each can accomplish nearly anything we set our mind to more easily than ever.  While strategy and community building is the methodology, it will be the business mindset along with technology and a creative arts touch that will permit great achievements.

Whether you are acting as an individual on a mission, or on behalf of a marketing agency, a small business or a big brand, you need to recognize the significant change in human information gathering and activation.  We have less power to sell but more power to influence with best results occurring when someone self-activates for your cause because they have accumulated enough information and desire to take action on your behalf. Word of mouth sharing by friends and other trusted influencers is what drives the bus these days. Marketers spend a lot of time and a lot of your money to measure and track influence but the reality is much simpler than the experts want you to believe.

How you make others feel combined with being part of a community will determine your true ability to get things done.  You don’t need 10,000 “followers” you only need a small core group who have been touched by and affected by you to take action to a dramatically powerful result.  “Me too”  is a real emotional trigger for more than just today’s firestorm. In calmer times, the inclusive nature of a group will be just as powerful for a wide range of changes that can be brought to the forefront.

By moving beyond the disjointed nature of communications today and focusing on nurturing a community of like-minded souls, you can turn most any cause into a movement and be seen, heard and found. For me, 2018 represents my concerted effort to insure that my business acumen and my human story blend well every day.

Business – including the business of life, is getting things done in an organized and team driven manner. You don’t have to do it alone. There are others who share your thinking and will help if only you reach out and ask.

Art –  We humans are influenced by our emotions. We take action because we are happy, angry, sad, excited or a whole lot of other nuanced emotional feelings. The arts are a sometimes overlooked but fantastic way to draw attention and engage support. Long before the internet, humans depended on creative and artistic skills to communicate to a broader audience. People of letters and visual artists galvanized us into action through visual and oral storytelling. Stories move us.  Art is an integral part of what makes a society whole and art is powerful in creating dialogue and change. The winning organization is one that captures our imagination and moves us to action.  Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes not. But, always – it is the artist who crafts a vision in ways that first cause us to stop and take note.  Hire an artist and be amazed at what can be accomplished by rising above all the noise.

Technology – is no longer an option, it is an integral part of most every set of actions. Rather than be lulled into the passive “swipe right/swipe left” mentality of the followers, take action and use technology to gather your community, inform them and move them to coordinated action. We don’t have to go it alone. We don’t have to be the product being sold. As social media matures into social business, we too can use the tools and compete with the Goliath of big funders with the deft creative skills of a David. Time to use our voices and our creative talents and make a difference.

BAT2018perfect JaxMiceWarholTweetHere’s my first pick for an organization going to #BAT2018- The Jackson Labs make a huge difference in global health – and I have both intersected with & followed their work for years. They are a best practice example of integration of Art & Technology, Social media and Community, Outreach and Diversity in everything they do. Check out the client calendar they offer. Creative – compelling. Follow them.       Support their work!

Now its your turn – Pick any three words share them with me if you like (I’ll publish them online https://keithspiro.wordpress.com/ ) – but be sure to spend a few minutes daily insuring that your beacon and path is clear and make it a great year.

Raspberry Harvest

3 raspberries
It’s the perfect childhood memory I didn’t have. Now living out in the country it’s raspberry picking season and the bramble scratches my skin as I work my way through raspberry canes that tangle as they always seem to do. No matter. The lure of ripe juicy raspberries just out of reach beckons and I push further getting ever more mired in the bramble
Despite the sharp tearing at my clothes and skin, here stand I in the midst of it all, selecting the ripe raspberries discarding the shriveled ones. Mother nature is amazing in providing raspberry look alike bugs and I’m occasionally startled when the raspberry I go to pick suddenly has moving parts. Yuck, I think as I make these now adult memories with the child within me still.
I give today a three raspberry rating – about all that might make it in the house if I don’t turn over the quart box soon enough. Here we go with raspberry mush all over my fingers and all over my face and only the sweetness of a second childhood’s shadow in the distance.

Fly the Friendly Skies – Big Wind Day

Big Wind Day.  #231wind  No, this is not about an airline and the problems they run into with a long history of customer satisfaction issues and overbooking.

The post came about after seeing this meme passed along this morning from friend Lennox Chase.

” Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do better. Much better. Rise above.”

stunning first day end broadcast

So, yes, let’s talk Big Wind and a big mountain, affectionately called The Rock Pile. Let’s also talk about the world’s worst weather. The strongest gust of wind ever recorded in a manned weather Observatory. April 12, 1934. Today is the 83rd anniversary of the 231 mile per hour gust of wind recorded at the top of the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. Sure, another record was set more recently but it was an unmanned location in a typhoon. Sorry Australia, I am talking about everyday conditions. Snow and other stuff – every month. No other location of human activity has seen a recorded speed such as this.

So instead of angry airline meme’s, I prefer to focus on a fun event taking place on Mount Washington today where friends John Donovan and Dan Szczesny are completing their week of volunteerism at the Mount Washington Observatory.  They have been attending to basic human needs by providing food, housecleaning, companionship and other services for the brave men and women who staff this station 365 days a year including those days and nights in the long cold dead of a New Hampshire winter.

john with 231wind cake

John takes the cake

On this, the 83rd anniversary of the Big Wind, Dan and John cooked up a big wind Day celebration. Cake to support the efforts of the people manning the station.

cisse hot cocoa New Heights TWM sign

Dan’s selfie with Cisse

 

 

Perhaps served with the hot cocoa from my favorite fair trade cocoa company, Cisse.

After all, it must be nice to kick back with a good cup of hot cocoa when the outside temperature is below zero and the wind is at the higher end of the charts. Hence, we have found another community of all good people doing good things for others.

 

Dan has published several books including NH 2017 non fiction Literary Award winner, the Nepal Chronicles about his wedding in Nepal and The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie – hiking, with his foster child, now teenager, New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with a view. Atop the Rock Pile, he is creating an interesting year for his book in progress to be published by Hobblebush in June 2018. Indeed it is part of his 365 days of mischief and adventure on the mountain.

My role as cheerleader and Community Builder is to help them with some amplification of the messages. Adding value where I can because what Dan and John are doing is a lot more beneficial and enjoyable than much of the other stuff we read about online these days.

Want to fly the friendly Skies? Take a look at their video atop the mountain.  Having your feet lifted off the ground by wind forces in excess of 100 miles an hour with temperatures considerably below freezing is the real test of power.

You can help make a difference:

John Donovan is raising funds for the Observatory. You can add to his fund drive supporting the work of the Mount Washington Observatory here; Seek the Peak 2017.

Dan is modest about his need for funds but spending time and travel driving to and from the Mount Washington area isn’t without its expenses.  I convinced him to put a PayPal site so we could all help him out by buying a tank or two of gas and provide some spending money for his research. I like his writing style and I would encourage you to send him $30 to help pay for a tank of gas or two that it takes to get him up there!

Now that you’ve found you way to #231wind day, take a look at these two people making a difference in the lives of others.  And now, when you go online and see all that big hot air out there take a moment to make a donation to things that provide comfort and make a difference.

Please share this post because this is a BIG WIND that matters

Evelyn Dunphy – First Lady of Katahdin

eevelyndunphyportrait_hrclick this photo of Evelyn for a short video where she answers my question “What does Katahdin mean to you”

With the National Park Service celebrating its 100th anniversary,  I commented that I thought Maine Watercolor Artist Evelyn Dunphy was the real First Lady of Katahdin. What I meant by that was, quite simply, of all the people I have come across connected to the mountain, no other person had done more hands on, up close, community driven work to make modern day Katahdin real. Sure the President and his wife declared The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument on August 24, 2016 on the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. And yes, land was accumulated and donated, but fractious conversations emerged. Residents, people from away and politicians of all sorts got involved. Yet, long before celebrity and notoriety, Mount Katahdin was quietly enjoyed, shared and championed by many, enjoying the wild spaces as Governor Percival P. Baxter envisioned them.

When these spaces were threatened, it was individuals like Evelyn who became active in raising awareness of the beauty and the need for preservation. She painted and donated artwork and was recognized and awarded the First Artist in Residence in Baxter State Park. Ever.

She has shared those watercolor images in shows around the world. She leads art workshops and engages people, mano a mano – hand to hand – brushstroke to brushstroke as she shares her love of the Katahdin region and her art of watercolor. To me, this makes her the First Lady of Katahdin. A true ambassador for the wilderness preserved by Governor Baxter for the people of Maine.

“But Katahdin in all its glory,

Forever shall remain

The Mountain

Of

The People of Maine.”

Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument

1-16September2016.indd

Happy 100th Birthday, National Park Service. How fitting that on the centennial of the National Park Service, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was declared official by the President of the United States.

I was so pleased to have The Cryer select one of my images of Mt.Katahdin and the surrounding area for the September 2016 cover of the monthly newspaper.

I had the pleasure of kayaking around Millinocket Lake and attending renowned watercolor artist Evelyn Dunphy’s workshop at Frederic Church hundred year old camp in the Shadow of Katahdin.Rhodora_©KeithSpiroPhotoDSC_2870 Evelyn, a dear friend and world class artist has led workshops all over the world- Italy, Provence, Ireland, France and most recently, Cuba. But it is her annual visits to the Katahdin region and her activism to protect the area that her earned her a fierce local Maine loyalty and she was awarded Baxter State Park’s First Visiting Artist (2009). She is truly the First Lady of Katahdin in my eyes.

Congratulations National Park Service, Katahdin region and artist Evelyn Dunphy for your modern day successes in preserving the natural wonders of our little piece of the world in Maine.Church camp E Dunphy_©KeithSpiroPhotoDSC_2740.jpg

 

Magical Marketing of an Epic Eggplant

The Magical Marketing of an Eggplant of Mythical Proportion

Art ©Maria Castellano-UseryPhoto ©KeithSpiro

Art ©Maria Castellano-Usery      Photo ©KeithSpiroPhoto

Yes, folks, this is truly an eggplant love story that started many decades ago when I first met my then future father in law.  He was a meat and potatoes kind of man.  When I first started dating his eldest daughter, I was quickly under suspicion for all kinds of unimaginable reasons that came down to just one thing.  “Was I man enough to take care of his girl?” (in the event that we ever decided to run off to get married. That was the liberal side of him).

And so, I was invited out to many a family dinner. Theirs was a house where, when you were called to dinner, you grabbed your coat and stood by the door – awaiting the destination for the evening’s feast. Big name steak places. Corner diner, blue plate beef specials. Always meat. Always potatoes.  I fit right in – mostly vegetarian – always Eggplant when it was on the menu.

It didn’t take long for him to ask my future Mother in Law, “What’s the matter with that guy? Does he think we’re poor?  Does he always have to order the cheapest thing on the menu?”

Try as she might, I don’t think she ever really convinced him that I really, really did like eggplant.

Fast forward a few decades. My father in law has passed-on and my Mother in Law resides in the warm climates to the far South. She worries about costs and sees travel back our way as both a hassle as well as an expense. We’ve had ongoing discussions about spending the time together now and don’t worry about the money –  but – sometimes – money still lurks as a background obstacle to more frequent visits.  Lurked, in the background, that was, until I had an impassioned conversation recently about us paying her way, anytime and every time she wanted to visit the grandkids and the great grand kids.

The secret stash? The magic source of this limitless bounty of generosity?

The long held special EGGPLANT SAVINGS FUND, I told her.  Her husband was right. And after nearly 40 years of marriage – all that money I saved, eating the cheapest thing on the menu has transformed into this special fund that we could call upon to pay for her travel – anytime she wanted to visit.

The first set of tickets was in her hands in minutes. The laughter has never ceased. My father in law – of blessed memory –is a guest at most dinner conversations along with the requisite plate of eggplant.

And then I found Brushstrokes With ImpactTM   Art by Maria Castellano-Usery. Her program for having community impact while making the art she loves is wonderful. It’s a way of giving on so many fronts. You can follow her delightful blog here. Her psychedelic eggplant became my obsession as the gift to deliver to my mother in law. A birthday present, yes, but also a powerful reminder of the power of love, art and humor!!!