Leave a comment

Make Your Own Scene

Andy Warhol Museum: A bike in front of a wall covered in flowers

I snapped this at the Warhol Museum when we were in Pittsburgh last month.

I’ve really been thinking about Austin Kleon’s post, Find a New City, which I also included in the last Lunchtime Reads link roundup. In it, he references Patti Smith saying that New York has priced itself out of being an option for young, creative people who want to do something weird and potentially not lucrative. His and Patti’s advice? Find a new city. One where the rents are low, and you can afford to live while still having time to work on whatever it is that gives you life. “Stay out of debt, live somewhere cheap, make something happen.”

I recognize that I’m privileged enough, especially working in tech, to know that I could move to New York or Austin or Portland or Nashville or Seattle if I wanted to, but we chose this. We chose owning property for a fraction of what it would have cost even in Philly. We chose to be near farmland, and a little nearer to family. We chose this sweet little city that often feels more like a neighborhood to us, post-Philly. We chose this as home for now.

It’s got me wondering what it would look like if I made my own scene here in my new little city. I think it seems like a worthy goal, but I am a little hesitant as the new kid in town to roll up and declare myself a scene maker. It’s more my nature to lay low for a bit, meet interesting people doing interesting things, and see how I can be a complement to what already exists. And, since Lancaster has officially been declared the new Brooklyn (in the New York Post, so take that for what it’s worth), maybe the scene has already been made, and I just need to find it and find my place in it.

Of course, there are some things that aren’t here that I wish were here, and I could help shape. There are generally no more than two women at any given tech meetup, for example. While I do think we’ve done a good job of making lots of loose connections and casual friendships in the past five months, I still want to meet some more people and spend time with the people we know already. Finding besties is hard as an adult. Maybe impossible?

I think part of it is that people outside of major cities don’t tend to live on the internet as much. For example, there are People to Follow on Twitter and People to Follow on Instagram in Philly. I haven’t figured out who those people are here, and the scant research I’ve done on this so far has yielded the fact that it might not be so much of a thing in Lancaster.

P.S. New York friends, I don’t think I’d say Lancaster is the new Brooklyn. It’s its own thing, for sure. But the quality of food and life are incredibly high, and the level of pretention is still incredibly low. Please come visit. We can walk to all the best restaurants in 15 minutes or less. There is no sweating in the subway stops. I only smell that eau de metropolis on the very hottest of days. It’s pretty charming, really.

Leave a comment

Lunchtime Reads 5.16 Edition

Centre Hall, PAI hope everyone is having a lovely week! I finally feel like I’m a little bit back on track after a particularly trying month or so. I got to go back to the farm last weekend for my little brother’s graduation, and I’m looking forward to heading back home this weekend for a family wedding. It’s such a quiet and calming place. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading around the web over the past few weeks.

This is a great reminder from Jo Pincushion that came across the Indy Hall Groupbuzz a few weeks ago. It’s especially relevant to the blogging world and creative fields: If You Like It, Share It

As a follow up to my last post, I really love what Bethany has to say about creativity, scarcity, perfection, and abundance. I want to read this post over and over again until it’s how I live: What Creativity Really Demands.

I’ve been getting lots of questions lately, even from people I haven’t met yet (but I’ll get coffee with anyone who emails me!), about how to go about learning web development and landing your first job. Zoe handles this really well in a blog post she wrote after a conversation we had at a meetup awhile back: The Things You Really Need to Become a Front-End Developer (Hint: Not Just Code Skills) 

In the same vein, I wrote a guest post over at Studio 404 about some of the things I did to learn and get enough experience to get hired: Five Non-Technical Traits That Helped Me Land a Technical Job   Bonus: Angel of Studio 404 also featured an interview with Chad & me last month! Check that one out while you’re at it, too!



I am a Contributor: We Are the Contributors Project

We Are the Contributors

Credit: We Are the Contributors

I’ve been so busy with starting my new job, working on contract projects, and trying to stay warm the past few weeks (perhaps the most difficult task of all here in Philly!), that I neglected to share a really wonderful project that I got to be a part of last month!

Melanie Biehle and Sandra Harris joined together to start We Are The Contributors, an online community and publication that exists to showcase art in all its forms and to highlight makers across different media.

I participated in the most recent project by contributing an essay. You can read that and see amazing work by 11 other people at We Are the Contributors.

It was a really valuable experience for me to have a low-stakes venue, supportive community, and deadline that forced me into creative writing again. I’ve had a very fraught relationship with writing (and, tangentially, any really creative work) for the past ten years, so it was a powerful opportunity for me to throw a piece of writing out into the world. Not only that, but I also met a new Philly friend in the process!

1 comment

Lunchtime Reads 12.23.13

Taste of the Valley Latte

Are you working the Monday before Christmas, which awkwardly falls in the middle of the week this year? I’m sure your mind is wandering from work anyway, so here’s some lunch break goodness to help you take your mind off the hustle & bustle.

Ever feel like the really successful artists, writers, & hyper creative people have some hard mental ish going on? Scientific American takes up that common misconception & shares the  real link between mental illness & creativity: “It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible. Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas.”

This is a really great reminder, especially during this season when baked goods & other deliciousness abounds: What People Really Look Like

Soon after I signed up for a Skillshare calligraphy class, I found this. What a rad idea. Plus her lettering style is brilliant. I’m super tempted to try this in the new year: Modern Day Snail Mail

I don’t have a daughter (yet?), but if I did, I’d want to teach her all of these things, too. Except the bit about Springsteen, maybe: 34 Things I’ve Learned in Life That I Want to Tell My Daughter

Elizabeth Gilbert had a significant writing life before Eat, Pray, Love. This interview makes me want her to adopt me as a mentee. She’s got so much wisdom regarding working cycles, creative blocks, and straight up hard work: Here’s How Elizabeth Gilbert Writes

And, perhaps my favorite of the bunch, Erin Loechner kills it yet again. This one writes in such a way that I feel she’s crawled inside my soul & spent some time there before coming back out and addressing what ails me. This time, it boils down to the fact that we are all so much more than who we are online. We are complex souls with stories, and we choose to share or not share certain pieces of our lives in a very public sphere. I’m not even on the radar compared to the audience Erin has, but these are questions I ponder daily and I’m so grateful she shared this: Life as a Blogger


Are you an idea hoarder?

I have a confession to make: I hoard my own ideas.

I keep running lists of things to make, projects to start, dreams to pursue, blog posts to write. (In fact, this was one of them.)

Rather than make a plan to execute these ideas, I collect and save them. I check in on them now and again to be sure they’re all still there and haven’t run off anywhere. Assured that my previous ideas are all still around, I add to the growing list without refining and executing any of them.

There are myriad reasons why I (and maybe you?) do this:

  • Fear of beginning.
  • Thinking I’ll have more time or resources to better execute the ideas in the future.
  • Not wanting to “waste” the ideas on my inexperience — If I wait until I’ve gotten more experience, have more followers, etc, my projects will be more successful.
  • Fear that my ideas are finite — if I execute them, I won’t have any more ideas.

Here’s the thing: Making begets making. Creation begets creation. Generosity begets generosity. Waiting is a Catch-22: If I wait to do things until I have more experience, I’ll never gain the experience I think I need. Fear is a lie: Ideas are not a limited resource, and frankly, they aren’t ours to claim. The only thing we can claim is the work we’ve done to make our ideas real.

Keeping shiny plans or ideas or knowledge or skills to myself does nothing except speed up the rate at which my ideas get stale. My idea-hoarding problem stunts my creativity, productivity, and contribution. Your idea-hoarding problem robs the world of your gifts and unique story.

What ideas are you hoarding? Why be so miserly?