Outlining some ideas for my typography class at Parson’s, for our book making projects.
For class, we will be creating 2 projects, which will turn into books. One is a psychogeographical map and the other is a little cooking memoir. I need to come up with idea for each.
The cooking book is to teach us about book binding and selecting type options for recipes, which can have many options. We need to pick a somewhat personal story/recipe. I think I will write about both my hatred of pot pies, as well as my love of Gordon Ramsay’s shepherd’s pie recipe, which I first made during Hurricane Sandy. This was also the week I adopted my cats, only kittens at the time, only 8-10 weeks old. At the time, the subways had been shut down, so I couldn’t go anywhere for a week. Luckily, because I was living so far north in Manhattan, there was no flooding and basically we didn’t lose any power. (In the East Village, it was another story.) I think there’s enough there to write a good story.
For the Psychogeographical Mapping…I’m drawing a blank. Some ideas:
Japanese grocery stores
Walking down the street listening to Rhapsody In Blue and taking note of what’s around me. (If you haven’t done this, while taking a walk in NYC, you’re really missing out.)
Mapping the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a good place to read. Maybe the benches.
Maybe some better ideas:
Map movie theaters in NYC that aren’t chains, up to 96th St. Meaning no Regal, AMC, or Imax theaters. City Cinemas is OK.
Map Goodwill Donation stores. I do go to Goodwill and the Salvation Army a lot.
I’m leaning towards the theater idea. Now to do some write-ups.
Wisdom from “Advancing The Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W)” New York 2017 Conference
Or How a Woman’s Tech Conference Saved My Butt
Kind of on a whim, I decided to attend the Advancing The Careers of Technical Women (ACT-W), 1-day conference. The purpose was to provide career advice for women in all parts of the tech world, not just for developers. Overall, it was incredibly inspiring and energizing, which I really needed. Job hunts can be very depressing.
In an upcoming post, I will share detailed notes from each speaker. But for now, I will share some highlights and how I’ve applied the advice I learned from attending.
Highlights of Wisdom, Summarized
build a community; don’t network
create an objective panel of reviewers
tell your unique story
diversity of opinions and experience is important
ask for help
Examples of how I applied the advice I learned by taking action:
1 – BUILDING A COMMUNITY
I immediately started applying the concept of community building. I got some business cards and names, from a few attendees, and I connected with them on LinkedIn and sent emails. I’ve even been reaching out to complete strangers on LinkedIn!
Coincidentally, this was kind of happening in real life, too, which made everything a little overwhelming but also provided another opportunity to try out these new ideas.
2 – ASKING FOR HELP
I decided to ask for help from people I haven’t tried before. For instance, I reached out to employers that rejected me for a job, to ask for help. Either to ask what they look for or to ask for career advice.
3 – BUILDING TRUST
I’ve been working on redoing my website (again) and this time, I included more information highlighting my expertise. Not to brag, but to build trust.
4 – TELLING MY STORY
As a part of redoing my website, I’ve included an About page. I’ve used part of that page to go into more detail into my background and how I got to where I am.
My next post will include detailed notes from the speakers.
It seems like every few weeks I see a tweet, essay, or article mention about storytelling. Many of these articles seem to be written with the idea of using the concept of a story to convincing others to trust your business idea.
Storytelling is a very old art form that serves that has also served as a cultural communication tool. I find it somewhat disappointing that “storytelling” has been co-opted for the purpose of selling a business plan. As a kid who got lost in stories but gave verbal book reports that started off strong, but finished off weak, I could actually use some tips at telling a good story. One thing I don’t see from these posts is info about how to tell good stories, or what the components of a good story are. I am cynical that these storytelling articles are really about storytelling.
How to tell a good story
To learn how to able to tell a good story, I should learn from the best, right? Enter Pixar in a Box, The Art of Storytelling, a lesson series by Khan Academy. Can you believe it? One of the best contemporary storytelling companies on the planet is giving free lessons on how to tell a good story.
Available right now is Lesson 1: We are all storytellers. This lesson is broken down into 6 videos and 4 activities. The first few videos explain what story telling is, and then a few people from Pixar talk about their own inspirations and how they got started.
Here’s a breakdown of the videos and activities/exercises:
Intro to Storytelling
Your Unique Perspective
Exercise 1: Expressing memories
Your Favorite Stories
Exercise 2: Your three favorite films
Exercise 3: What if?
World and Character
Exercise 4: Characters & worlds
Yes, but will studying how to tell a story actually make me better at storytelling for business?
That is a good question. I don’t know about putting video clips from Finding Nemo into presentations, but I am going to participate in this course. I mean…who doesn’t want to learn from Pixar? This is going to be fun!
Hold on, here we go! Next stop, knowledge!
Activity 1: Expressing memories
The first activity is about using written words, drawings, or telling a story to someone to describe a vivid memory. This activity follows a video in which Pixar artists talk about their own experiences as storytellers. They’ve obviously been doing this for a long time.
I chose to draw an emotion.The instructions say to use only lines and shapes to draw the memory. Here is a link to examples of shapes that describe emotions. As you can see, it’s OK to be abstract.
The overall emotion to the memory I chose is sadness. It’s a strong emotion. I chose a very simple sketch. Hopefully the isolation of sadness comes across.
You may think that the Pixar folks, being animators, stuck with sketches and expanded on this initial start into memory and emotion….
But no! They went on to explore inspiration!
Activity 2: Desert Island stories
Part A: Identify the three films that you would take to a deserted island….
Part B: Why do you think you connected with these stories? Come up with at least one reason for each.
Part C: What, if anything, do these three films have in common? How are they different?
Gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh!
This was the question after a video with Pixar storytellers talking about stories that made an impression on them as children. What would I pick? Why did I connect with them? Here are some movies that came to my mind and why I think I connected with them:
I used to watch this over and over. Given the unique drawing style, I came to realize later that this was the start of my appreciation for anime. It also has great songs by the band America.
Why I connected: I loved the animation and the fantasy setting – and the songs! I like that it’s a story about innocence…or, rather, the loss of innocence. It is a movie about about growing up. The price of knowledge is the loss of joyful ignorance. I like that it rewarded the goodness in the characters, and the creatures, even scary monsters, get justice. In this movie, almost everyone gets what they deserve.
I’m not sure any girl of the 1980s survived without crossing paths with Anne of Green Gables. This was a great story about imagination and youthful spirit. Sometimes when I watched this, I would get so lost in this story that I didn’t notice when my friends actually showed up…and left.
Why I connected: It’s a movie about growing up, about using your imagination and being creative. A big part of the story focuses on Anne trying to fit in, even though she’s different. And, I especially liked that friendship and goodness were so important in this story. (Who can forget Matthew?)
As an adult, I watch this often. I think it’s a funny story about how the king loses his mind, yet instead of treating him like a true patient, the pressures of court life still require everyone to behave like nothing’s wrong.
Why I connected: This is a movie I return to again and again, when work gets overly hectic. I use it to find the humor in what can be the absurdity of everyday life. It helps me laugh when trying to do what’s expected doesn’t seem to be working, because what’s expected is wrong or absurd. As a fan of history, I appreciate the historical context of this movie, and as an Anglophile, all the great English actors.
Also based on a true story, I really enjoyed the historical context in the movie. The change of the emperor over time in embracing new ideas and people is both entertaining and tragic.
Why I connected: I again love the historical context, and this movie introduced me to Asia. It came out in 1987. My father took me to a “Son of Heaven” museum exhibit at COSI in Columbus, Ohio, that was all about imperial China. We looked at real artifacts, such as the yellow robes the emperor wore, as well as bells, and other artifacts from China. I even got to buy music – a cassette tape! I also appreciated that so much of the story was about growing up and losing innocence.
…Wait! There’s something missing!
I got so caught up in thinking about my childhood that I forgot to write what I thought was the connection between these films. So:
2 of these films were books before they were movies
2 of these films are based on historical events
3 are about growing up
All four have a thread about losing innocence
They all focus on the importance of friendship and companionship – something that’s so easy to forget.
Having written all that, and having reminisced about my childhood, this gives me something to think about for a while. So this is a good place to pause until jumping back on the story wagon.
The next part of Lesson One on Storytelling is called: “What if?”