Celebrating my way to learning to ride the unicycle

Jogging was killing my knees, so I decided to find a lower impact (and more fun) way to exercise. To that end, I decided to learn to ride the unicycle. To make sure I associated positive feelings to the inevitable slog of learning a new skill, I made sure to work in little celebrations to my practice process. Every time I mounted the unicycle, I gave myself a little silent cheer. I repeated the cheer when I got my feet and pedals in the right position. Then at the end, when I dismounted (or bailed out), I celebrated, sometimes silently, or sometimes out loud as I did in this video. Why the celebration? BJ Fogg, the celebrated psychologist maintains that celebration is key to accelerating the formation of new habits. In my case, adding these celebration moments made me crave getting on my unicycle, and made me feel good whether I went three feet, or three hundred!

Subway Series Exhibit

Thanks for everybody who came out to the opening for Subway Series! It was so fun. These are cropped versions of what was on display. The first three canvases shown at top left are for sale, the subway rider/map collages were all sold out, but I can make more should you want one. Please get in touch if you are interested in taking one of these to your home or office.

Subway Series-Art Opening Featuring Work by Jonny Goldstein and John Kitses

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John Kitses and I are going to have a two person show based on our subway sketches at E77 in Jackson Heights, Queens. The opening is 6-9PM on March 16. Come celebrate art and the NYC subway system with us! E77 is a creative space in Jackson Heights which combines art gallery, music venue, and restaurant/cafe. The owners are architects, and one of them is a painter, so it's set up to display visual art.

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We're calling the show Subway Series. In this case, it's not a series of baseball games between the Mets and the Yankees, it's a series of artworks based on drawings of people on the New York Subway. That's John's head down at the end of the train as he sketches while standing.

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Yesterday, we rode the 7 train starting in Jackson Heights to the end of the line at Hudson Yards, then back into Queens to Flushing, and ending up back in Jackson Heights. The whole way we drew people we saw. The subway is a natural subject for us. It's the circulatory system of this metropolis, the place all of us come together, and it's a place we spend significant chunks of our lives. Might was well turn it into art, both to celebrate it, and to give us something interesting to do while we ride, right?

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John and I use different approaches. He starts sketching in pencil, and then lays ink down over the graphite. I work directly with ink, using whatever marker I've got with me. Above is a sample of John's pencil sketching.

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Here's an example of one of his inked drawings (this one of me, as I sketch him!).

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I'm going to collage my drawings (or prints of them) onto painted textures like the above canvas. John is still figuring out how he's going to show his work.

 

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People are often so lost in their own worlds on the subway, it's usually easy to find someone to draw. This one is one of mine. You may wonder why John and I are doing the show together. When the co-owner of E77 offered me  show awhile back, I asked him if I could include John---I love his work, and I like collaborating with people. See you on the subway! And I hope at E77

Zzzzzzz...This show guaranteed to keep you awake. This guy could use a little wakeup in his life! Don't be like him! Come to the opening!

Reboot Talk: Cultivating Friendships on Emergent Platforms in an Age of Disconnection

In this video, I show my personal response  a widespread phenomenon in the USA, the shrinking number of close friendships for adults. In our diverse, geographically mobile, individualistic, technologically mediated society, people are becoming more socially isolated, with an average of two close friends per adult. If two is the average, that means a lot of people have less. Whatever the national reality, a few years ago, after having moved around the country multiple times in a short time period, I found my network of close friends had shrunk, and I decide to take matters into my own hands to see if I could improve my situation. Watch the video to see what happened in this illustrated talk.

Notes; I gave this talk at the Reboot Workshop, an adult career exploration workshop produced by Nate Cooper at qLabs in NYC.

What a Visual Sensemaking Workshop Looks Like--Rocked Out Edition

It's one thing to describe what a visual sensemaking workshop looks like,it's another to see it. In this time lapse video, you can see what happens once you put markers into peoples' hands and visual frameworks into their minds and let people start interacting to help them communicate, understand and plan complex projects.

Notes: Absurdly rocked out music by John Sully, timelapse photography by Scott Stead, video editing by Jonny Goldstein. Workshop was hosted at Independents Hall, Philly's premiere coworking community. The URL at the end of the video no longer exists, but that's life on the Internets.

Visual Listening at the ITP Obamathon

This is a video features footage of me creating large scale visual notes to capturethe background information and ideas for creative projects at the NYU-ITP site of the Obamathon. The Obamathon was a hackathon to create interactive art projects using social media datasets derived from the use of social media by the Obamas and the Obama White House during the "First social media presidency." The Obamathon was one of series of official efforts for organizations to make use of these datasets. Here is the official White House Statement.

Viva la mess!

A polished creative project often starts with a big mess. In my experience, I have to get a lot of ideas out there, and only after I've done that, edit, select, and sequence to make the final product. In this case, this is a whiteboard where I'm working out how to present my past work and proposed future work for an artist fellowship at an NYC based organization which looks at how the explosion of data and technology to exploit that data is influencing our society. The final product will be a new portfolio page, a summary of a project proposal , a full length project proposal, a cover letter, and a resume. If I am accepted to the fellowship, this will fund several polished pieces (which of course will be prefaced by a lot of messiness). Pardon my French when I say, "Viva la mess!"

Fun with visual metaphors: what is data?

Lately I've been getting interested in data. It's all around us, yet intangible. What is it? Ones and zeros don't help me much. So I turned to spilling out a bunch of possible visual metaphors that could help me think about it. Some are more related to the way data moves around, some how it can be used, and some just maybe get at what it is...

Shot with my android phone and the LapseIt app at Civic Hall. Enjoy!

Introducing the Creative Spaghetti Podcast. Episode 1: Take a Tiny Break From Your Phone

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To listen to my first (brief) podcast on the topic of creativity, click here.

I'm old enough to remember life before smart phones. Remember how boring that was? But it turns out that boredom is key to your creativity. When we get bored, our brain does a lot of important processing under the hood. Like when you are in the shower, or walking the dog and you get that great idea out of seemingly nowhere. Don't take my word for it, somebody I and respect actually wrote a book about it. In short, your phone is robbing you of that precious boredom! Take a break! Easier said than done. I explain trick I use to get some away time from my phone in the debut episode of the Creative Spaghetti podcast above.

I am intrigued by creativity. What is it? How does it work? What creative processes are the best fit for me? And of course I'm interested in the same questions as they apply to you and everyone else. By creativity, I'm mostly talking about personal expression, not "Out of the box thinking to sell our new widget," although that's a neat topic too.

One creative method I like involves "throwing spaghetti against the wall" to see what sticks. Thus the name of this podcast and blog. So I hope when you interact with the pictures, text, and video there's some good creative sustenance for you, with or without marinara sauce. So again, welcome, or welcome back. It's a pleasure to have you here.

Jessica Ramos for NY State Senate

Like a lot of people, the election of 2016 got me from a passing interest in politics to actual involvement. To that end I've supported some political gatherings with visual listening. 

While there's not much I can do on the national level, there's a lot happening locally where I can have more impact. I was delighted that one of my neighbors has decided to run for NY state senate. 

Jessica Ramos kicked off her first official campaign event last night in her mission to replace NY state senator Jose Peralta. Peralta is part of a group of state senators who were elected as Democrats but supported Republican leadership, thus preventing passage of the progressive legislation his constituents want. In this video Jackson Heights resident  Honor Mosher gives Jessica a fiery intro, and then Jessica introduces herself to this packed house of enthusiastic neighborhood voters. She talks about a few issues that are important to her: renter protections, getting funding owed to NY schools from the state, improving NYC's transit system and representing the progressive views of her neighborhood by replacing Jose Peralta. Ramos is a Colombian-American, Queens born and bred, energetic, mother of two, who worked as an aid to Mayor Diblasio. I will be supporting Jessica in the 2018 election. Her main challenge is name recognition---she wants to meet you! Feel free to reach out to her campaign if you want her to speak to any group you are part of---your building, community group, etc. She is @jessicaramos on Twitter if you want to get in touch.

HODL ON!

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I've been enjoying immersing myself in cryptocurrency culture, which has as any culture, it's own lingo. "Hodl" means, roughly "Hold," as in, hold onto your bitcoins no matter if the market value is plunging or skyrocketing. Like the term "Pwn" (own) from gaming, it was spawned by a typo. Bitcoin has bucked like a bronco on its way up and down and up and down through the last few years. As I type this it's on a downward slide, but I'm sure a lot of people are still "Hodling."

Learning about blockchain

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I first started hearing about blockchain and bitcoin about 4 years ago and filed it away as something interesting but didn't dig any deeper. Recently blockchain has broken into the public consciousness, largely due to interest in cryptocurrencies and their meteoric rise in value. I started listening to Laura Chin's Unchained podcast at Forbes where she interviews interesting people in the blockchain space and found myself falling down the rabbit hole, absorbing as much as I can about the history, present, and possible future of blockchain and how it may (or may not) change our lives. As usual, when trying to make sense of new information, I like to spill what I'm learning on to paper. So above is a quick braindump from listening to Laura's podcast. It's very high level---a bunch of individual words and phrases, each of which represent complexity which I'm just beginning to explore. And why explore this topic at all? Partly it's just the pleasure of learning something new, but it's more than just that. This may be a massively transformative technology, akin to the internet, so it makes sense to jump in while it's still relatively early days.

Learning from Anne Lamott

How do you write a novel? One word at a time. Or one bird at a time, according to Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

 

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I don't know about you, but I find it very  helpful to translate written words into pictures to understand it better. Sometimes those pictures are in my head,  like when I'm reading a novel, but when I'm trying to learn actual techniques, I like to draw out my understanding. So here are some key nuggets pulled from Lamott's book on mining your childhood and creating a writing routine tied to a specific workspace at a specific time of day.  I do not currently have a place where I sit down and pour (or trickle) out my creative thoughts but I think I'm gonna give this one a try. I'm going to try this cafe a block from my home with the backup of a cafe near my kid's school for days that I drop her off.

Hey there!

Hi folks! If you've ever visited jonnygoldstein.com, you will notice a different look, and you will wonder where all the old blog posts are. They still exist over here.

The version of the site was too hard to maintain without frequent bugs, so I moved over to a new website management platform and that's what you're reading this on right now. As before, the site will feature my thoughts and explorations of whatever interests me at the moment. And what I'm really intrigued by these days is creativity itself. What is it? How does it work? What creative processes are the best fit for me? And of course I'm interested in the same questions as they apply to you and everyone else. By creativity, I'm mostly talking about personal expression, not "Out of the box thinking to sell our new widget," although that's a neat topic too. One creative method I like involves "throwing spaghetti against the wall" to see what sticks. So I hope when you interact with the pictures, text, and video there's some good creative sustenance for you, with or without marinara sauce. So again, welcome, or welcome back. It's a pleasure to have you here.