Year: 2014

The Camunico Annual: On Cultural Leadership

“… by taking a more post-modern approach, we have tried to bring together a series of articles that initially may seem unrelated but which, we believe, all contribute to offering perspectives from which readers are invited to allow their own ideas to develop; ideas about the nature of change around us, and how we, as individuals, organizations and institutions might thrive within that change.” – Camunico Annual, p.7 I was recently asked to contribute an edited version of my essay, Playing to Tie, to the inaugural issue of the Camunico Annual. Camunico is an Amsterdam-based leadership firm exploring “the cultural changes of our time, and how [they] influence individuals, businesses and leadership.” The short publication is now available free online, and my piece is accompanied by the following features: Joe Zammit-Lucia argues for the need to redefine leadership for the 21st century; Renowned artist Anish Kapoor speaks about lessons artists can offer the business world; Rob Wijnberg speaks on the future of journalism; An exploration of ancient tea ceremonies and their relevance to contemporary leadership. Each article is an intriguing …

Silver Fox with Crows by Ellen Jewett

Animal Sculptures by Ellen Jewett

I’ve recently been taking pottery classes at the local community centre. Recalling fond memories of lessons growing up, I went into the first session brimming with enthusiasm, confident that I would be spinning out pots and vases and plates in no time. No such luck. I soon discovered I had no aptitude for the wheel. Class after class, clay balls wobbled off centre and flung apart, overzealous hands warped promising cylinders, and palms grew raw trying to coax shapes out of an alien medium. No muse or intuition came to me, and I realized I had a lot to learn. After grappling with futility, I decided to take a break from the wheel to work with the clay by hand.  Something clicked, and frustration gave way to the freedom of unfettered play. I found myself making figurines of flora and fauna as I did when I was a kid, back when clay gave my restless hands something solid to work on. From failed pots emerged mushroom landscapes populated by miniature elephants. Coils grew into dolphins …

Ursula K. Le Guin at the National Book Awards

Ursula K. Le Guin accepts the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 65th National Book Awards on November 19, 2014. “I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality… …Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.” – speech excerpt Copyright © 2014 Ursula K. Le Guin

Earthbound Banner

What Earthbound Means to Me

Update: I would like to dedicate this past entry to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who suddenly passed away in July 2015 at the age of 55. The game discussed below would not have existed without his herculean programming efforts. The videogame industry has lost one of its greatest and kindest visionaries. In memoriam. Before delving into the next Ekostory, I want to take a brief side trip. I want to share a work is a major touchstone to my childhood. It’s one I regularly revisit over the years, and one that’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It’s a video game called Earthbound. “What is the video game, Earthbound? Even today, it’s so hard to answer that question. It was like a group of children taking dolls from a toy chest. Old dishes no longer used in the kitchen. Nuts and bolts found inside a toolbox. Little flowers and leaves from the backyard. And they were all laid down on the carpet with everybody singing made-up songs. Ready to talk all day about that world they just …

Margaret Atwood Journeys to Earthsea

“I would call [A Wizard of Earthsea] a fantasy book for adults. You might call it young adult or fantasy, or one of those categories—which are really just there to help people put things on bookshelves. But because it is really talking about life and mortality and who are we as human beings, and what is the relationship between our darker side and the rest of us, I think it can be profitably read by anybody over the age of 12.” – Margaret Atwood

Bold Peak Chugach Mountains Alaska

Nature and Music: The Work of John Luther Adams

I am probably one of the few who looks forward to my commute. Not because I get on far enough away to grab a seat on the train, or that my mind requires the extra hour of warm up to function properly; both are true, but more important is that the commute allows me to enter the world of radio podcasts. Daily I have time to listen to stories from CBC’s Ideas and Wiretap, and from This American Life and RadioLab. Steeped in narratives of art and science, psychology and philosophy, anthropology and history and everything in between, I find myself constantly awed by the power of voice and ambience to build imagery. I listen and feel inspired. A recent Radiolab episode tuned me into the Pulitzer-winning work of composer John Luther Adams. Excerpted from a longer interview on another program called Meet the Composers, hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich delve into Adams’ compositions – music that is more akin to a primal and elemental force. You can listen to the fascinating half-hour podcast HERE – I’ll be …

Science Art Wonder

Art and Science, Wonder and Wisdom

If there’s one website I never seem to tire of, it’s Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings. “A subjective lens on what matters in the world and why”, Popova’s curation of articles are consistently thought-provoking and inspirational (to the point where my Twitter feed is replete with pieces from her site!) A place of intellectual, creative, and spiritual exploration, Brain Pickings is what I aspire Ekostories to be. While I write through an environmental lens, I am striving to emulate Popova’s approach, to draw insight from a range of disciplines and convey a connective whole. One recent article that caught my eye was titled Art & Science: Leonard Shlain on Integrating Wonder and Wisdom. As someone who has spent his life moving between these two modes, I was naturally intrigued by what Shlain, a surgeon, had to say. Popova highlights a series of illuminating quotes from the book – I would like to share some of them with you today: