Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Make Your Own Experience…a New Year’s Promise

December 21, 2011

2011 was, for me, a year of much volunteerism, all of which I greatly value and appreciate.  The people I’ve met, the groups I’ve learned about…all of it.  And it came from being open to invitations and trusting people, but then carefully selecting.  As we near the eve of 2012, a fresh year, with fresh perspective, I thought I’d share something about being involved in something greater than ourselves.  And yes, it always take a bit of effort.  But that’s what also makes it worthwhile…


I believe that you make your own experience….and your own community.

So I admit it would annoy me when some high school friends would come home from college for their breaks and say to me, “How can you really get anything out of such a big school?”  You see, many of them were attending Ivy League universities (smaller classes, smaller campus) and I was attending UCLA (with a mere 35,000 students).

My response?  “Do you go visit your professors’ office hours and get to know them? Have you sought out an activity that you can embrace that gives you satisfaction in return?”  Often the answer to the first question was “uh, no”, but I had, and that made the school ‘smaller’ to me.  Some had done the latter.  For me, the latter was what made my college experience and played a major role in forming my approach to life.

My major was fantastic and I use every day what I learned.  But as it was more theoretical, I found the perfect practical complement, the college radio station at UCLA, where I became an on-air personality, head of the mobile DJ unit, and most importantly, the Director of Operations.  I ingrained myself, learning how things ran, how we worked with the administration to get funding, hiring/firing, and creating an alumni fundraiser…and I made a handful of lifelong friends.  Also key to my life (and to this discussion):  we were the underdog media outlet on campus, and we all banded together with a determination that everyone else should know about and respect what we offered.

Fast forward to today…

Those of us involved in the world of sustainability like to think that everyone around us is, too, and that everyone in the country is at least aware of the concept or the importance.  Of course, that is so not true, and we are certainly ‘the underdog’.  Just walk to your local convenience store, or go to a school meeting or art show, and see what the level of awareness is in displays or in talking to fellow attendees.

So become an active underdog and find a community that resonates with YOU (not your friends, not your spouse, but YOU first) and ingrain yourself.

My special focus happens to be green building.  I discovered that the Los Angeles Chapter of the US Green Building Council was opening a Westside branch (where I live) by wandering into a presentation.  I then offered to come and help where I can.  Now, not only am I fully ingrained in our branch and help create programming and support our team, but I’m more active in the overall Chapter and have met some of the smartest and nicest people I know.

A+D Museum

I attend events through Green Drinks or Women of the Green Generation, and support Global Green, Rock the Boat film and Pipe Dreams film, but committing myself to one group solidly that resonates with me daily has served me (and hopefully them) well.  This has lead me also to involvement with the great A+D Museum, and even aligns with some of my clients.

Find a group that resonates with you to walk in to or go online and get involved with?  Some ideas…

  • Get involved with the Charlotte Green Team – go-to source on sustainability efforts within the Charlotte, NC, community.  What’s your town’s equivalent?
  • Help toward expanding the green workforce through Green for All.
  • Fight the Tar Sands.  Here is a link with a wonderful list of resources from Burbank Green Alliance and Wilder Utopia.
  • Do a search in your community for green organizations and pick one.  Detroit, MI, has Greening Detroit, for instance.
  • Help a person or community rebuild with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Engage kids in learning and advocating for a sustainable economy and education: Teens Turning Green or Green Works in Kansas City.
  • Industry specific?  The furnishings industry has formed the Sustainable Furnishings Council.
  • Get active on your school’s PTA and if remodeling is being done, help guide it sustainably; or help initiate an organic garden on campus.  Become the green voice for your kids.
  • Understand and learn to work with native flora at the Theodore Payne Foundation; start with a class, and you might find you do more!
  • Help organize locally worldwide through  

I met a recent college graduate a few months ago at a LOHAS event and he was overwhelmed with the green group choices in Los Angeles alone.  I bet you can imagine my response…

Would love to here from everyone about your local opportunities, YOUR interests…please share!  What will YOU get involved in and try out for 2012?

Is Foursquare the new Diary?

January 25, 2011

I’ve kept a daily hand-written diary since I was 14.


I’m turning 46 next month.


As I was driving home tonight listening to “Mexican Home” by John Prine, not sure of the connection but my mind wandered to the last few days and how many different art events I had attended (it’s LA Arts Month here in L.A.).  Because I’ve been so busy, I’m a day or two behind in writing up my diary—and yes, I do “catch up” so I have daily entries.  Obsessive?  Maybe so; but it also provides a sense of completion for me, as well as a wonderful way to recall what I did and when.  Some people have that instantaneous memory that can relay where they were on what date, doing what and with whom.  Not I.


When I’m this busy, the days seem to run into each other, and suddenly I realized that my regular check-ins on Foursquare would be providing me that memory trigger to be able to accurately document my days in my diary.  And then it hit me further:  these two conduits through which I keep track of my world could not be more different.  One is utterly private; my penmanship is so messy and small, I’ve never had to have a lock on my diary to protect either against my little sister (as a teen) nor potentially nosy mates (as an adult).  The other could not be more public. (And just to address it:  yes, Facebook could be used the same way, but I personally don’t use FB as much for where I am as for posting articles, sharing photos, etc., with the periodic–hopefully relevant–post about what I’m doing.)


Everything is shorter, more compact these days when it comes to information.  Complex thoughts or bits of information are consistently “dumbed down” to the simplest catchphrase.  Foursquare is a perfect example of that.  You don’t even NEED a catchphrase, you just find your location when you are someplace, and click “Check In.”  Yet I’m hooked.  Maybe because I’m a marketer; maybe because I know I have the counter-response to it in the evening, when I sit down and review the day.


I’m not declaring my diary entries as scintillating as ones would be from, oh, Lindsay Lohan (if she had the wherewithal to write one) or Bill Clinton (who did).  Admittedly, after 31 years of notebooks that range in style from flowery teenage diaries to “Composition Books” to the current recycled notebooks, the process often is quite rote (“Woke up, went to gym, worked at desk most of day…”).  But inevitably, as I quietly let the pen take over and enter a stream-of-consciousness mode, a nugget may creep in, something I did or read that I hadn’t realized had much significance at the time; or very personal reflection to an emotional event.  The privacy of my one-woman dialogue also periodically encourages snarky running commentary on any ridiculous personalities or situations I’ve encountered that day—a la Ricky Gervais at the 2011 Golden Globes.  Better here than ‘in public’.


You just don’t get this with Foursquare (and hopefully on Facebook, you don’t go overboard either).  There is something magical about a personal, thoughtful relationship with oneself; I treasure it.


I love that I can check in on Foursquare, earn my points that will someday get me a free Starbucks coffee or make me Mayor of my gym.  It’s a hoot!  But in our days that are inundated with information from every corner imaginable corner—phones, iPads, radio, TV, YouTube, eNewsletters, newspapers, etc. etc.—that quiet time with my own diary, my own reflection (even if you do it on your iPad) is a valued, and PRIVATE outlet, even when it feels periodically like an obligation after this many years…one I just can’t seem to let go.