Change. Community. It's happening.

I've been a little overwhelmed lately with ideas, but without the clarity - the vision - to get them into words. My personal life lately is sailing. It's filled with beauty and love and hope and change and happiness. I've always felt less motivated to write when things are just dancing along so gracefully.

Last week we gathered and watched the swearing in of President Obama. It was a beautiful thing. We were able to host an event at my work and it gave me chills to see all of these faces. To hear the applause. To witness such a moment in our nation's history, while surrounded in community.

As it should be.

I was struck by how many people, most who had heard of the event through the Move On website, felt they needed to be there. Many hadn't visited the space before. Most didn't know another soul present. But all stood. All clapped. Some hissed at Bush. Everyone smiled at Obama. A little one squealed. Cheering. A hush during his eloquent speech.

It was the ones who didn't know anyone, but needed to be there that struck me most. They needed to be in community. They could have watched in isolation. In that stereotypical Seattle-freeze-fashion. Curled up, alone, hibernating. But they couldn't.

It was real at that moment. I felt the chills. He's our PRESIDENT. And I'm proud.

I realized that the next time I travel abroad, I'll be representing. This has been such an international story of our lives. People will ask me, inevitably, about him. About what it's like now in our country. And I won't cower in shame. I'll be humbly proud of my country for the first time in a long time. Childhood fed pride isn't the same though. Learning about our nation's history from biased textbooks isn't the same.

This is real now.

I'm going to be a mentor.

I found out I was accepted into the program on Inauguration Day. Not that I was worried about being accepted. But the timing was still perfect.

I will mentor a 9 year old girl. She sounds great. I will meet her soon. It dawned on me what an exciting time it will be to be doing this. Because she can look at our leadership and think to herself - that could be me. Although I think she wants to be a doctor. Not president. But I changed my mind about what I wanted to be when I grew up about 100 times between the age of 9 and 18. And then another 1000 after that!

It's our call to action to become engaged. And we don't need to travel to remote corners of the world to make a difference. I've had amazing experiences making change happen in New Orleans. Helping to rebuild. Feeding off the amazing spirit of that city.

But I need to focus that energy closer to home. I have roots here, and I'm committed in my current situation. Committed to work that I love. Friends that I love. A home that I love. A city and a neighborhood and a building that I love. I've found a place in my life that is so right it makes me want to cry with joy. I need to take that joy and share it. And I'm excited to share it with a little 9-year old girl very soon.


Call it a symptom of The Long Tail. Call it a symptom of web 2.0. I am a sucker for unique and custom things. And it's easier and easier to make things that are all the more "ours." Like a photo book. Or shoes. Or a t-shirt.

A decade or so ago (maybe more maybe less) I consciously stopped wearing shirts with logos on them. No GAP, Nike, Adidas or whatnot. I've had a few exceptions over the years, but we were coming out of a time where it was popular to wear a sweatshirt that had Abercrombie and Fitch scrawled across it. A friend recently told me when he started seeing Hollister shirts that he thought, "Wow, everyone's into this cool band." And then he realized that they were a silly mall store.

It's partly about not wanting to be a walking advertisement. My first reaction was to buy solid colored and bold shirts without slogans of any kind. But after several years of this, I wanted to express more. I was annoyed by the ironic thrift store shirts - and then even MORE annoyed by the retail chains creating their own versions of "vintage shirts." I'm sorry, but it just doesn't count when you buy your "1981 track team" t-shirt from Old Navy.

So, I was a fairly early adopter for Threadless. Mostly because it was the first time I'd heard of this concept. Now there are many, many similar sites that have popped up, building upon the idea of crowdsourcing. There's a similar site for the skateboarding community. Another for shoes. And now, my dear friend points me over to Spoonflower. was recently featured in the New York Times. It's a perfect idea, really. You can buy someone else's design, or upload your own. That's the future of it all, really. A blend between designs by other aritsts and your own inspirations. And on FABRIC nonetheless. It's so basic and can be applied to so many ideas! They're working on coming up with a fabric durable enough to be used as upholstery. I love the idea of making your own comforters, curtains (both window and shower), pillows, etc. I don't sew (although it's something I often think about) - but I know enough people who do. The possibilities are endless! I love it.

Customization of space is a way to really, truly reflect who you are, what you value, what you love, and how you want to live. It's become a theme in my own life and I hope it becomes a theme in your own.

On Community

1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2. a locality inhabited by such a group.

We had our first HOA meeting last night. Details aside, I was speaking to a neighbor afterward who said her career is related to building community and she's hoping to see that happen in our building as well. I am not sure what she does specifically, but no matter - I felt kindred to her cause. I've seen it in a lot of neighbors. A free exchange of contact info, Facebook friending and groups have already been established. There's a noticeable openness to the social aspect of living within proximity.

I've been thinking a lot about community lately. The different ways it seeps up into our lives and we utilize it, embrace it, revel in it. The lines blur between friend groups, acquaintances, colleagues, teammates, roommates, neighbors, family and networks.

Our culture stresses independence and self-sufficiency. We are encouraged to leave the confines of "the houses we grew up in" to explore further education; to live independently; to pay our own bills; to be fit and fashionable and strong and beautiful and successful all on our own.

Which is good. Don't get me wrong. I think people need to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. And their own happiness.

But to be able to draw from one's community can be incredibly beneficial. Humans are social by nature and, as unique as we all are from one another - we share common experiences.

I have several examples to reference - including, but not limited to: book clubs, moving/airport runs, financial accountability, fitness and healthy lifestyle choices, home decor and renovation, career advice... but I'll save these for future posts.

Where do you find yourself grateful for community? How do you define community?

This is "why Seattle."

The Boston Globe starts the year with an article entitled, How the city hurts your brain ...And what you can do about it. As a huge proponent of an urban lifestyle, the title gets to me. Although the subtitle helps my cause.

I grew up in rural-suburbia. Unincorporated King County. Winding roads in the foothills. Just off Highway 18. Covington, WA. There were signs protesting the development. "Don't turn Covington into the next Federal Way." Have you been to Federal Way? Strip mall after strip mall. Huge streets. Design that discourages walking. Encourages driving. Running errands becomes a series of hopping in and out of one's gas-guzzling vehicle. You hop into your car to drive 15-20 minutes to the nearest gym.

It's this classic:

(Not actually taken in Washington State, but you get my point.)

Covington now has its own Wal*Mart. And Costco. And Petco. I go there now and think about how different my school years would have been. Even more consumerism. More of an addiction to coffeehouse coffee. I do appreciate the additional third places. I will not deny that there is beauty in the rural nature of a place like Covington. But in the same beauty, there are design aspects that I do not appreciate. My neighborhood didn't have sidewalks or streetlights. Nearby neighborhoods were generic and the definition of sub-urbanity.

Whenever we came into Seattle, whether for a field trip, to see a play, or to show some family visitors the sights - I fell in love with her just a little bit more.

I choose to live here now, in an urban setting. I am inspired daily by the chaos. The variety. The choices.

I choose to share my backyard with my neighbors.

And Seattle has nature. Our (unfortunate) city slogan is metronatural. Last week was a perfect example of this. A friend, her brother and I went for a hike. In the snow.

About half an hour outside of the city. Fresh air. Beautiful. And I still got phone reception. Posted this to Facebook:

(My attachment to technology is another issue altogether!)

And this is where I do agree with the article. The fresh air was rejuvenating. The natural sights were refreshing. It cleared my head. It was quality. Social and yet full of quiet solitude.

I love nature and this is why I live in Seattle.

Last year alone I was able to camp on Camano Island, on the coast, at Mt. Rainier national park and spent a weekend in a cabin in Leavenworth. I took 3 snowboarding lessons. (Although have decided with the new mortgage to stick with cheaper sports like hiking and snowshoeing.) I've been taking public transportation and walking more - especially after moving.

Beyond the proximity to so much natural beauty, Seattle is adorned with some amazing park infrastructure. Frederick Law Olmsted is referenced in this article. John Olmsted left his own legacy in Seattle.

When a friend I met this year talked about walking her dog around Greenlake, I suggested she try Discovery Park.

From Seattle Sketcher.

She loved it. So did Hops (her dog. She's a beer-aficionado - the name is perfect.) Trails, beaches, solitude. All in the city.

Beyond major parks, Seattle has beautiful tree-lined streets - over 130,000 trees in the city's inventory.

It's planning like this that gives us the best of both worlds in Seattle.

...the very same urban features that trigger lapses in attention and memory -- the crowded streets, the crushing density of people -- also correlate with measures of innovation, as strangers interact with one another in unpredictable ways.

Like yesterday, when a homeless woman told me she'd tell me how to make a fire hydrant. Her words,

"You get a piece of paper. I think they call is a schematic. Then you get some wood and you make an X. Then you make it with that... what do you call it... the hot thing. It's really hot. But that's how you make a fire hydrant."

The key, then, is to find ways to mitigate the psychological damage of the metropolis while still preserving its unique benefits.

Take long walks. Get away for the weekend. Visit your closest parks. Breathe slowly and find the quietest streets in the busiest neighborhoods. And the busiest streets in the quietest neighborhoods. Plant a tree. Volunteer outside. Play. The city offers you anything and everything. Don't be overwhelmed by it. Embrace it. Consciously choose not to get swept up in the distractions. Leave your house without your wallet. Or iPod. Or cell phone. Just take it in. Find solitude within the density.

Fall in love with her all over again.


the property of having a definite location at any given time; state of existing and being localized in space.


1. of, pertaining to, or designating a city or town.
2. living in a city.
3. characteristic of or accustomed to cities; citified: He She is an urban type.