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  • Writer's pictureSean


"If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one."


Do you consider yourself a good storyteller? Admittedly, I don't think of myself as much of a storyteller, but it's an area that I like to work on. Perhaps it comes in the form of photos but also here, in the captions. All of these spaces are opportunities to tell our stories.


Austin Kleon's book Show Your Work will help you find ways to uncover your own storytelling. I always appreciate Austin's straightforward approach to writing, and these books are as clear as they come. His previous book, Steal Like An Artist, is also worth picking up if you haven't already read it.


This book, in particular, highlighted a few areas I need to continue to improve. Consider this: "By letting go of our egos and sharing our process, we allow for the possibility of people having an ongoing connection with us and our work..."


Letting go of our ego, especially when we are always on the hunt for status, can be the most challenging thing. What will others think if I post this? Why should I even bother posting this if no one cares? What if I feel posting this will make me look bad? The ego pops up in all of these questions and sits there "trying" to protect us. Even after five years of running this account, I still find these questions popping up, especially when we allow comparison to creep in!


This is a helpful book for creatives, especially when trying to figure out a path forward. I'll leave you with this one last quote: "The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others."


In The Glass: A Brett Saison with Sour Cherries!


 

Are you a creative looking for more inspiration? Consider this post on Darren Hardy's The Compound Effect which looks at building in small increments to help you achieve your goals. Often distraction can be one of our biggest detractors from the creative path! Consider this post on Cal Newport's Deep Work.

  • Writer's pictureSean


"Whenever we make changes in our surroundings, we can too easily shortchange ourselves, by cutting ourselves off from some of the sights and sounds, the shapes or textures, or other information from a place that have helped mold our understanding and are now necessary for us to thrive. Overdevelopment and urban sprawl can damage our own lives as much as they damage our cities and countryside." - Tony Hiss, The Experience of Place.

Those words, a reflection of Tony Hiss' previous work writing about our place in the world, is a fitting introduction to his newest book, Rescuing the Planet. An optimistic look at potential ways to shift the discussion away from merely destruction and hopelessness to one of change and hope. We've watched the overdevelopment, and urban sprawl take hold, not to mention the environmental disasters that loom large around the planet and in our minds. The daily reminder that we've perhaps already gone too far. Every hint of natural disaster somehow linked back to the climate. It can be difficult for many of us to find the answer to what we can do.


Tony Hiss' book tries to find a path forward for many of us in ways that perhaps we haven't even considered. Carbon emissions garner the lion's share of attention alongside corporate greed. Hiss doesn't neglect these items but instead focuses more closely on nature and how our connection to, and space within it, needs to be healed. E.O. Wilson, and his Half-Earth Project, are one way that this is being done. A continued focus on growing protected lands around the world to allow for biodiversity to not only stabilize but thrive. Hiss spends much of his time speaking of how we as a species have only recently begun to understand how interconnected the planet truly is. Weather patterns starting in one corner of the earth, impacting those halfway around the world. Or consider Hiss' deep dive into how deforestation in the boreal forest, whether man-made or through large-scale fires, can lead to imbalances in wolf populations because elk and caribou behaviour changes with the fauna changing, more open land and less area to hide.



I'll pause for a moment and also recommend Merlin Sheldrake's book Entangled Life on how we are still trying to figure out how the world works and how seemingly innocuous Funghi may be interconnected throughout the planet. A brilliant and eye-opening book on how much we don't understand about the earth.


Hiss seconds this notion recognizing that we have catalogued roughly 2 million species to date but understand that the actual number is likely north of 10 million based on statistical inference. Therefore, the need to protect more lands is vital to maintaining this biodiversity and work being done specifically on climate change.


Another project referenced is the work being done to protect the lands along the Appalachian Trail. Tens of thousands of people walk along parts of the Trail every year with its beautiful landscapes, incredible hiking trails, and ability to connect to nature despite being close to cities in certain areas. The project aims to expand the protected lands beyond the trail as a barrier to any encroaching industry or development. This is something that could happen anywhere as hiking trails become more popular. Why not protect all of the lands around trails and create formal parks around them?


The appetite to do this in economically prosperous countries is obviously greatest, and so it will continue to be essential to work with developing countries to do the same. To recognize that their own biodiversity is far richer than the products coming out of the ground or converted into pastured land. Cities as well can work to grow their green footprint. Many buildings in certain cities now come with green space on the roof to allow birds and insects to live. Forward thing architects are even building the exteriors of some buildings with greenery to help beautify the cities but also do their small part in carbon capture.


This book is part environmental, part science education on biodiversity and what is going on globally. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the natural sciences and those interested in better understanding how the world is connected. Entangled Life is another recommendation, but I'd also throw in Richard Powers' novel The Overstory. A fictional tale that weaves in beautiful references to the world around us and the connection that forest and nature have with humanity.


"People aren't the apex species they think they are. Other creatures - bigger, smaller, slower, faster, older, younger, more powerful - call the shots, make the air, and eat sunlight. Without them, nothing." - The Overstory.

For additional information, you can check out E.O. Wilson's project, The Half-Earth Project as well.


  • Writer's pictureSean


Have you read any good war stories looks or books on war lately? I don't mean just a history book; I mean the kind of book that keeps you on your toes and buries itself deep inside of you.


Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is that book. It's the book you may not have heard about but contains some of the most brilliant writing of any book I've encountered, let alone a book on war. It's hard to even describe this book. What seems like one man's story on the Vietnam War becomes more. It becomes a meditation on what war actually means to the individuals fighting while also containing storytelling components that knocked me off my seat.


This is an easy candidate for the Top 10 books I've read this year and likely in the top half, if I'm honest. Once you've read this book, you can see what so many after have tried to capture in their own war stories. To capture their own stories while stripping away the fluff and leaving you having to decide on your own what to think. You will grimace in disgust, feel anger at times, and the next page might be despair and sadness.


After picking this one off the stack to read on a Friday night, I found myself finished that same night. It didn't even make the #currentlyreading list. It was just over.


One of my favourite quotes from this one (note the tabs because I didn't even have time to set up a proper note page in my notes app!) was this:


"A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. ... You can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil."

That quotes sums up the book quite well. Don't expect to feel good about this one or that morality wins. In fact, don't even expect to relate to the characters because you will soon find that most struggled to relate to what they were doing as well. It's a book about real people going off to fight a war with no sense of what war is or why they are fighting. I think Tim O'Brien captures that essence brilliantly in this one and it deserves a read.

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