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Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

Wendell Berry’s poem “Santa Clara Valley”

I watched a documentary on Sundance Channel last week called The Unforeseen. The documentary was bleak and mostly boring, but I was completely stirred by the opening scenes of West Texas fields, farmers spliced between unfinished skyscrapers and grid-line streets. You can see an overview here. These interspersed images were backdrop to a poem that captured me. Research showed it to be “Santa Clara Valley” by Wendell Berry. Excerpted below, I hope you enjoy!

From SABBATHS by Wendell Berry

III. (Santa Clara Valley)

I walked the deserted prospect of the modern mind
where nothing lived or happened that had not been foreseen.
What had been foreseen was the coming of the Stranger with Money.
All that had been before had been destroyed: the salt marsh
of unremembered time, the remembered homestead, orchard and pasture.
A new earth had appeared in place of the old, made entirely
according to plan. New palm trees stood all in a row, new pines
all in a row, confined in cement to keep them from straying.

New buildings, built to seal and preserve the inside
against the outside, stood in the blatant outline of their purpose
in the renounced light and air. Inside them
were sealed cool people, the foreseen ones, who did not look
or go in any way that they did not intend,
waited upon by other people, trained in servility, who begged
of the ones who had been foreseen: ‘Is everything
all right, sir? Have you enjoyed your dinner, sir?
Have a nice evening, sir.’ Here was no remembering
of hands coming newly to the immortal work
of hands, joining stone to stone, door to doorpost, man to woman.

Outside, what had been foreseen was roaring in the air.
Roads and buildings roared in their places
on the scraped and chartered earth; the sky roared
with the passage of those who had been foreseen
toward destinations they foresaw, unhindered by any place between.
The highest good of that place was the control of temperature
and light. The next highest was to touch or know or say
no fundamental or necessary thing. The next highest
was to see no thing that had not been foreseen,
to spare no comely thing that had grown comely on its own.
Some small human understanding seemed to have arrayed itself
there without limit, and to have cast its grid upon the sky,
the stars, the rising and the setting sun.
I could not see past it but to its ruin.

I walked alone in that desert of unremitting purpose,
feeling the despair of one who could no longer remember
another valley where bodies and events took place and form
not always foreseen by human, and the humans themselves followed
ways not altogether in the light, where all the land had not yet
been consumed by intention, or the people by their understanding,
where still there was forgiveness in time, so that whatever
had been destroyed might yet return. Around me
as I walked were dogs barking in resentment
against the coming of the unforeseen.

And yet even there I was not beyond reminding,
for I came upon a ditch where the old sea march,
native to that place, had been confined below the sight
of the only-foreseeing eye. What had been the overworld
had become the underworld: the land risen from the sea
by no human intention, the drawing in and out of the water,
the pulse of the great sea itself confined in a narrow ditch.

Where the Sabbath of that place kept itself in waiting,
the herons of the night stood in their morning watch,
and the herons of the day in silence stood
by the living water in its strait. The coots and gallinules
skulked in the reeds, the mother mallards and their little ones
afloat on the seaward-sliding water to no purpose I had foreseen.
The stilts were feeding in the shallows, and the killdeer
treading with light feet the mud that was all ashine
with the coming day. Volleys of swallows leapt
in joyous flight out of the dark into the brightening air
in eternal gratitude for life before time not foreseen,
and the song of the song sparrow rang in its bush.

Notes on Directing

[slideshare id=1214538&doc=notesondirecting-090328113859-phpapp02]

There’s a bit of connect-the-dots required for interpreting this book thru the eyes of a leadership seminar, but they’re there. Many great excerpted quotes also typed into the comments area under the video on this page… I think you’ll like. (Don’t tell me if you don’t—I enjoy a certain amount of blissful ignorance).

Here are a few of my fav quotes:

• “You are the leader, but you are not alone. The other artists are there to contribute. Use them.”
• “Actors and others will follow you even if they disagree with your direction. They will not follow you if you are afraid to lead.”
• “Directing is mostly casting. There is not a more important single decision you will make during the production than who you will put into a role.”
• “Rather than correcting your actors all the time, get in the habit of frequently telling them what they’re doing right.”

The New Supremacy of Design Thinking (DT)

A recent contact and long-distance cross-twitter-commenter shawnrstewart just twitted (or tweeted? What is the past tense form of what one does on Twitter? C’mon Wikipedia, ante up!) just posted about this recent article on Brandweek.com.

Really and truly amazing, if you’re a designer. Especially if you’ve ever had to justify the (high) cost of design to a client (a.k.a. yes, you need to pay me more because this now looks good and what you had before looked like my dog swam in vomit, rolled around on your desktop and then froze it in an industrial freezer for the last 2.7 months).

Enjoy.

Ensuring Design Success

I’ve designed and freelanced for over 10 years now. In that amount of time I’ve worked on everything from biz cards to multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns, and the most important phase of each and every project was at the very beginning, when I asked questions, questions, questions of the client to get their thoughts, feelings, likes, dislikes, etc. That info is the most important step in any good design project. Design doesn’t happen in a vacuum and too many designers make things for themselves (I’m at fault here), not for the client. They design for designers.

Anyway, I saw this interview on allgraphicdesign and loved what Lauren Peone said. Quoted here, linked to the full article.

Before I begin any project I require the client to provide some basic art direction (its right in the contract). Who is their target market? Who is their competition (who will they be on shelf next to)? Do they have a specific look/feel/theme in mind? Colors? Typeface styles? Description of café…tell me a little more about you? ­In the case of large corporations, do they have a style guide I need to follow?

From here I also have the customer send me designs that they like AND dislike along with a detailed description of why. The more details that you obtain from the customer, the easier it will be for you to create a smashing design. Sure, I’ve received push back and comments such as, “you’re the designer so you should have all the creative ideas”, but I’ve found that 9 out of 10 clients are more then willing to provide some basic direction to get the project started on the right foot.

Go read it all.

Vacation Time

This stuff hearts my heart. I work too hard/much…and only think in terms of work. What am I doing with this LIFE I’ve been given. sigh.

A Human Being Should…

Quote for the day is from Robert Anson Heinlein:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

(via IndianByDesign)

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I think this blog will die…

…but before it does, I have an appropriate quote to share.

Add up enough urgencies and you don’t get a fire, you get a career. A career putting out fires never leads to the goal you had in mind all along.

I guess the trick is to make the long term items even more urgent than today’s emergencies. Break them into steps and give them deadlines. Measure your people on what they did today in support of where you need to be next month.

If you work in an urgent-only culture, the only solution is to make the right things urgent.

Direct Marketing Mission Statement

This is totally inconsequential, but poignant and well-written nonetheless. Hence, it’s copied here:

Direct marketing is all about response. Based on communicating an offer directly to targeted prospects, direct marketing provides a clear call-to-action with a goal of generating measurable responses. Whether online or off, direct marketing in the form of mail, email, package inserts, magazine and newspaper ads—you name it—is governed by the same principles, with sometimes minor changes being all that’s required to significantly increase response.