High Concept Labs

I’m excited to announce that I’m now a board member for High Concept Labs! We’re an arts service organization based in Chicago with a mission to support artists and facilitate dialogue between artists, audiences, and staff. This increases access and transparency to the artistic process and fosters transformational experiences in an environment of experimentation and discovery. Check out the full press release at BroadwayWorld.

It’s my first-ever board position and one made possible by the OnBOARD training and matching program of the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. OnBOARD not only provides you training for what’s involved in being a board member at an arts organization, but it also matches you with small- and mid-sized nonprofits looking for new members.

This is just another way for me to continue serving both the arts and business sides of culture in Chicago. Check out the HCL website to stay updated on all the great stuff we have coming up.

Full Nerd: 2017 in Books

I’ve almost always kept a running list of the books I read, but this year I decided to go Full Nerd.

I used Google Sheets to log each book I’ve read since October 2016—66 books in total, spread over 384 days.

I tracked titles, authors, author genders, copyright and publish dates, genres, page counts, format, dates started and ended, days between books. Starting at this new data year, I’ll also begin tracking author race, to hold myself accountable to hearing equal voice.

Accountability is one of the main reasons I began tracking this data. For example, based on the names on my bookshelf, it was clear I wasn’t reading enough books by women. And the data don’t lie. It was only through conscious intention this past year that I read the women I did; Rebecca Solnit, Jane Goodall, Janna Levin, Hannah Arendt, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In most cases, their work was also the most urgent and profound. My goal is to keep building up this percentage. Hearing, listening, and understanding more.

I also used a five-star ranking system for the books I read. I usually thinking rankings are bullshit, so I didn’t put much thought into the rationale. If the book affected me or prompted me to think differently, it got more stars. This helped me identify what were my “favorite” books from the past year, and which ones sucked.

Continue reading “Full Nerd: 2017 in Books”

We should hold ourselves responsible for “fake news”

I have a new article at the Center for Digital Ethics & Policy on the ethics of fake news:

In our Orwellian mediaverse, where doublespeak masquerades as hashtags and trending topics, #FakeNews provides good content fodder and the occasional straw man, but the term also muddles the truth that it’s nothing more than propaganda with a Google AdWords account. Intentional or not, obfuscating the specter of propaganda through these doublespeak strategies distracts from the ethical implications of “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” (That’s a dictionary definition of propaganda, by the way).

Read the full piece here.

Two-week trip to the Balkans? Count me in

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(Not the actual lagoon, but close)

World Nomads is currently running a travel writing contest for a two-week trip to the Balkans. Comes with free flights, €1000 for a 10-day tour, apparel, a train pass and mentoring with travel writer Tim Neville of Outside Magazine.

I’ve entered in past WM competitions, with no success…but maybe this year will be different? Either way, go here to read my story on the contest them of “a place I’ll never forget” – in this case, the place I call the shaman’s lagoon, in Haiti.

Applications close on March 21 and winners are announced April 12.

Buzzfeed posted my Donald Trump tweet. Life goal accomplished.

Recently the New York Times wrote this great article about all of the problems in Donald Trump’s White House©, as evidenced by a continued torrent of leaks and gossip from disenchanted staffers. The article included this colorful line: “When Mr. Trump is not watching television in his bathrobe or on his phone reaching out to old campaign hands and advisers, he will sometimes set off to explore the unfamiliar surroundings of his new home [emphasis added.]”

Normally that’d be throwaway color, but Trump’s skin is thinner than Betsy DeVos’ resume, so of course, as the leader of the free world, he felt slighted by the bathrobe comment, and forced Sean Spicer to go on the record for him during the White House’s daily comedy hour: “I don’t think the president wears a bathrobe, and definitely doesn’t own one.”

Fortunately, I saved my favorite picture of Führer Trump for this very moment:

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And then I tweeted about it, and then Buzzfeed included it in its wrap-up of sick Twitter burns. So, after all these years, I’ve finally made it to the big time.

Signs and wonders at Pine Valley Bible Church

Today I posted the third installment of my series on leaving Christianity, “Signs and wonders at Pine Valley Bible Church.” I started writing this well before last week’s national disaster of Donald Trump’s nomination, thanks in large part to the type of people I met at “Pine Valley,” a pseudonym for a rural Wisconsin church I went to as a teenager. There was a revival on at Pine Valley, with all the exorcisms, elations and infighting you’d expect.

Read the full essay @ Medium