Simple Moments with Maori Sakai

The saddest part about Maori Sakai's animated gifs of simple life moments is that you can't print them and hang them on the wall.

An animated gif illustration of a woman sitting at a desk in front of a big window. The movement comes from the rain outside and steam rising from her coffee cup.

An animated gif that is an illustration looking out a window with leaves gently falling. Inside the room are books and a telescope. It feels cozy and maybe a bit lonely.

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A New Way to Talk About Racist Acts

I think this is a very useful reframe of the language around calling out (or calling in) racism. Whenever I say something "is racist" the conversation almost inevitably shifts to being about whether or not the person who did it has racism in their heart, which is, of course, besides the point. The point is that the action had an effect that supports racism.

I don't know if saying, "X supports racism" is actually going to result in a better conversation, but it's sure as heck worth a shot!

Tap the arrow through the whole thread, and read the full Instagram caption quoted below!


"The way in which the word “racist” is used can often derail productive conversations (most often when we allow our emotions—defensiveness, shame, guilt—to get in the way). It reminds me (@thewildsister) of how as a parent, when my kids did something problematic, I would say they DID something bad, not that they WERE bad. This put the focus on the behavior, not the person. Thank you to Rutgers professor Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, who helps us consider how we can use language about racism that focuses on actions and impact. Note: You may know Dr. Kumanyika from Scene on Radio’s Seeing White podcast..."
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Misty Coupland Recreates Degas' Ballerina Art

The ballet studio where I studied as a child had the Degas ballerina paintings on the walls. Now imagine it with Misty Coupland instead. She paired up with Harper's Bazaar and The NYC Dance Project to recreate the paintings and it's stunning.

Ooooof, take my breath away.

See them all at Harper's Bazaar.

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Kids Know Grown Ups Don't Always Get it Right

A photo of a boy sitting at a table doing homework.
Photo by Santi Vedri

I love love looooove this! A research study about grown ups, designed and run by children! (With the help of some adult researchers, of course.)

The kids asked questions like "What have adults done to make you feel happy/upset?" and "Is there something you think adults get wrong and why?"

The main result? That adults think they should know everything but kids know that they don't and they don't care.

They also know that adults were the ones who invented social media and gave it to them, and then they are also the ones who always complain about it.

They also revealed that they think they have to be perfect, and maybe that's why they seek a lot of validation.

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The Real Issue for NIMBYs Isn't Necessarily That They're Heartless

A photo of a person sitting on the side of a building in a downtown, commercial area - it appears they are homeless.
Photo by EV.

Last week, I sat at my desk at work, feeling hyper-aware of the little spots on my feet where water containing soap and some diluted amount of someone else's pee had splashed.

It was in that moment that I decided to write about this. About how I, a bleeding heart liberal socialist, have begun to develop sympathy for the NIMBYs of the world.

NIMBY, if you don't know, stands for "Not In My Backyard." It's the people who agree that we need things like homeless shelters, just always in a different part of town. In Vancouver, there have literally been protesters in the wealthy parts of town with signs that say, "Right idea, wrong neighbourhood."

I have always thought these people were unmitigated selfish jerks who care more about their property value than another human's suffering.

Then, during the pandemic, the homeless guy who hangs out on the property of my workplace lost most of his other options for places to go and all of his other options for places to go to the bathroom. Which means exactly what you might think it means.

Suddenly, we went from having someone around who we have a decent rapport with and generally moves along if we ask, to an almost-permanent camper, leaving garbage and human waste to clean up every day. And just to be clear: when I say we have to clean it up, that means us. Like, one of the five people on staff, not some magical sanitation team.

It's not healthy, it's not our job, and it's not entirely safe. But it immediately became clear that our options were to let it sit there, pay exorbitant rates for a cleaning team to come sometime between five hours and five days from when we called, or do it ourselves. In the meantime, children often play around our building.

The fact is that the official "solution" in most cities to issues like this is to call the police, or maybe a bylaw officer, who can do no more than issue tickets or ask the person to move along. That, or try to get the person into a shelter where they may or may not want to be.

Which is the real problem: when NIMBYs complain, they complain about things like this. They complain about needles, human waste, and garbage. They complain about noise, fighting, and people having mental health crises in the middle of the street.

The issue is not necessarily that these things (which are all signposts of other unmet needs) happen, but that there are no real supports or services to deal with or prevent them, in the moment or the long-term.

You may be able to call the City's sanitation department about a needle and someone comes by sometime later that day or the next, which doesn't really help the fact that you're out right now wondering if it's worth the risk for you to just pick it up (and put it... somewhere) because your kid or pet or neighbour may step on it.

In the case of a mental health crisis? You are supposed to call the police, which at best criminalizes them in their moment of need and at worse may end up with them killed.

And the waste? Nobody seems particularly equipped to deal with that.

Herein lies the real problem: it isn't that people with different lifestyles and needs and problems move into a neighbourhood. It's that cities are built to accommodate certain lifestyles, needs, and problems, and there is a huge, gaping hole in supports for anyone who doesn't fit that mould.

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Facing Nature with Aniela Sobieski

What's not to love about Aniela Sobieski's surrealist portraits?

Aniela Sobieski portrait
An Aniela Sobieski portrait

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Recommended Read: White Guilt vs. White Responsibility

Through the years, I have heard some of my white friends and family complain about feeling so guilty all the time when it comes to racism.

My friends, my family, my people: to put it bluntly, nobody cares (except, maybe, us). Feeling bad is not the point. Guilt helps nothing unless it motivates action, and action is what actually changes things.

Toku at The Unexecutive writes about this very well in his post, White Guilt vs. White Responsibility. Go read it!

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Book Club: The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole is a MUST!

Book Club response to The Skin We're In by Desmond Cole

First of all, can we just take a moment to admire the gorgeous cover to this book? It's eye-catching, the colours are stunning, and the closer you look, the more you see in it.

The Skin We're In: A Year of Black Resistance in Power is a non-fiction book by Desmond Cole that details racism and activism in Canada. Structured around the events of the year 2017, each chapter represents one month and tells the story of a major issue or event that happened that month, from the police beating of a Black gallery owner on New Year's Eve to the battle to get police officers out of Toronto schools.

The content may be tough, but in many ways, it is easy to read because Desmond Cole's writing is fantastic. He is smart, incisive, and knows how to tell a story that is information-heavy, yet captivating. He paints a stunning picture without bogging the narrative in descriptions.

For me, The Skin We're In took issues I have been vaguely uneasy about, such as Canada's immigration and deportation practices, or areas where I was sure Canada had racism problems but didn't really know the extent of it (like policing), and gave a wallop of information about their racist past, present, and (unless we change something) future.

Since Canada is so inundated with American news and culture, it's easy with issues like this to know more about the American problem than the Canadian one. This is the antidote.

It also provides a little glimpse into what it's like for him to live as a Black man in Canada. There are just enough drops of his own personal experience to see the toll it all takes on the simplest life experiences.

For example, the chapter "deep breath (may)." It is a little bit of respite near the middle where he describes his love for spring flowers and a joyful day in a botanical garden. Right in the middle, however, he and his friend encounter a sign: "This area patrolled by police." It gets just enough attention to know that it's a sore spot in the middle of a beautiful day. He makes it clear that he can't have a simple day of freedom and beauty, unmarred by threats of violence.

Some quotes:

“This idea that Canada's racial injustices are not as bad as they could be, this notion of Slavery Lite, of Racism Lite, of what my friend calls the "toy version of racism" is a very Canadian way of saying: remember what we could do to you if we wanted to. Passive-aggressive racism is central to Canada's national mythology and identity.”

"If we can't imagine a different outcome than the police's violence, that's on use. We have to imagine something less violent, less reactive and reckless. Daring to imagine kindness and fairness for Abdirahman [a man beaten to death by multiple officers while he lay on the ground] is a true revolutionary act in a country that offers no alternatives."

"Canadians who do recognize historical injustice seem to understand it in this way:
- Bad things happened.
- Bad things stopped happening and equality was achieved.
- The low social and political status held by Indigenous peoples is now wholly based on the choice to be corrupt, lazy, inefficient, and unsuited to the modern world."

"Canada says 'look how far we've come' without defining who 'we' is, how we've arrived where we are, and from where we came, and in what condition we've arrived."

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book! I also recommend you read it more slowly than I did. Do one chapter at a time, and let it sink in. I read straight through and now feel a strong need to go back, re-read, and absorb the information a little more deeply.

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Energy Management is the New Black

What balances out your energy? Have you tried energy management instead of time management?
Photo by Praveesh Palakeel.

A friend of mine, Alexia Gillespie (brilliant person and founder of Strong Healthy Kids), recently posted on Facebook that she is shifting her focus from time management to energy management.

"This shift is requiring unlearning & repatterning but it's freeing and life-giving. In the process of releasing my self-imposed expectations, I've started to see how my sense of self-worth has been tied to busyness and productivity, which often leaves me feeling drained and depleted."

I haven't had a chance to ask her about how she is approaching this yet, but I looked up the idea and came across a bunch of articles about energy management:

- One from the Harvard Business Review that's all about using energy management so that you can continue to churn 12-hour days into the capitalist machine of your job without hating your life (okayyyy, I mean the not hating your life part is good). The good tip from this article is the reminder that our energy comes from four places: body, mind, emotions, and spirit.

- Another one from a coaching website breaks down the process of shifting to energy management a little more: 1) learn what energizes you, 2) increase your breaks, 3) reward yourself along the way, and 4) schedule in the activities you love (which lines up very well with my recent post about putting the hobbies and other fun things you want to do on your calendar or to-do list).

- Another article, dramatically titled "Time Management is Dead: Long Live Energy Management" details a more rigid approach to energy management with the 50-10-50-30 rule. You do 50 minutes of focussed work, take a 10-minute refresh and do something energizing, then 50 more minutes of focus, then a 30-minute full recharge.

All of this is pretty heavy on the "I still need to be a machine of productivity, I'm just going to approach it slightly differently," which doesn't seem to be what Alexia was talking about, what with the talk of uncoupling her self-worth from productivity expectations. But there are some good tips in there.

One thing I got really good at during lockdown life was paying attention to what my mind/body/spirit needed. Did I need to go for a walk? Exercise? Lie on the ground and have my cat walk all over me? As life began to return to a version of normal, I lost some of that. Time to work on bringing it back.

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Kit Layfield's All-Natural Custom Face Masks

Don't like wearing a fabric mask? No problem, Kit Layfield's got some incredible prototypes for more natural styles.

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Tawny Chatmon's Redemption

I was already taken with Tawny Chatmon's artwork and then I found out they are photographs! Or at least, that's where these incredible pieces begin. Stun-ning. These are from a series called The Redemption, but there is more - SO MUCH MORE from her available.

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What's the REAL Goal Here?

A bird's-eye-view photo of a woman reading a book, holding a mug of coffee.
Photo by Thought Catalog

When we set ourselves little, personal goals, what metric should we choose?

We say we want to read more books, and then wind up (without even realizing it) choosing a lot of shorter books so that we can get through more books in the same amount of time.

That's fine if we genuinely just wanted to a bigger list of titles we have read, but maybe what we really wanted was to spend more time reading, or to read more diverse types of books. In that case, we're not meeting our goal!

You always wind up with more of whatever it is you're measuring, sometimes at the cost of the thing you really wanted.

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When a Great Idea Works a Little Too Well

Same Gallery in Tokyo had an exhibit specifically meant to be stolen.

Their intention was to ask questions about the relationship between artist, art, and audience and how that changes when everyone knows the art will be stolen. The plan was that, following the opening night reception, they would have the gallery open 24 hours a day over 10 days for people to come in and steal what they wanted.

It worked, but not how they intended.

200 people showed up to their opening night reception, eager to engage in some sanctioned thievery and get free art. It took mere minutes for the space to be cleared out, and the gallery wound up apologizing that no one got to actually see the art.

It's kind of the perfect outcome, isn't it? They thought they could have a slowly dwindling art show where people come back day after day to see what's been stolen and reflect on the meaning of thievery and ownership and art and artists and audiences.

Instead, they get a 10-day exhibit of blank gallery walls that give new flavour to those ponderings while the art is (hopefully) joyously on display in someone else's home.

What happens when our great ideas are seized with wild abandon? When they work a little too well?

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