Thinking Architecture

Dr. Tracy Ann Essoglou wants you to stop trying to be a “thought leader” and get ready to practice “thinking architecture” instead.

Dr. Essoglou is a culturescaper, thinking architect, and founder of Situation Design. We connected online through my previous post about #WeWashing in the so-called “sharing economy” and decided to meet up over coffee, where we discussed topics ranging from art and activism, to philosophy, wisdom and design.

One key takeaway from the conversation that really resonated with me was her use of the term “thinking architect” rather than the well-worn buzzword “thought leader.”

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Thinking Architecture

An Awkward Cyborg: The State of Healthcare User Experience

Check out my latest post on Medium about my take on the state of UX in the American healthcare system:

While sitting in the the waiting room this morning for a routine medical lab test, I applied my designer’s eye to what I was experiencing and started thinking about the state of user experience in American healthcare.

From my perspective as a designer and a patient, I characterize the state of the industry today as “an awkward cyborg.” On one hand, we have the shiny veneer of technological innovation, but on the other, we still have a lot of work to do to address the human emotional elements of the healthcare experience.

Read more on Medium.

An Awkward Cyborg

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Reviews of my Wisdom Hackers Dispatch, “The Thinking Body”

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How do we go beyond office ergonomics and liberate our full kinesthetic creativity in the information economy?

Preview my Wisdom Hackers dispatch, “The Thinking Body” on Medium, and subscribe to read the full piece at The Pigeonhole.

“Good stuff!” – Eamon Kircher-Allen

“Descartes would be scandalized.” – Alexa Clay

“Superb essay that will transform your experience of that office chair you are sitting on right NOW” – Tom Kenning

“This article really got me thinking. As I get deeper into my meditation practice and have taken up ballet as a form of exercise the body has been on my mind (pun intended). It also reminded me of my English teaching days and thinking about how Japanese schools did a much better job of giving elementary school kids time to move. I definitely want to bring the body more into my work and have been wondering how to do so? Check out the piece! And share how you learn from your body?” – Liz Gallo

“Lee-Sean’s contemplative, well researched piece is a manifesto for office workers caged in both body and spirit. Weaving quotes from rare literary gems with firsthand interviews, he makes a convincing case for the integration of kinesthetics in the workplace as an antidote to both physical stress and intellectual torpor. A must read for anybody with a 9-5 job and a stiff neck.” – Kris Hartley

Art & Activism Lessons with André Cymone

0003777389_10Last week, I had a chance to talk about the intersections of music and activism with André Cymone. André is Prince’s childhood friend and original bass player. He later went on to build a musical career as a songwriter and producer. In his recent work, André is working to revive a rich American tradition of socially conscious music. We discussed ways we could all could use our creativity and talents to improve our communities and country.

Start with your own story

When I asked André why he does what he does as an artist and activist, he turned to his life history and that of his family. Talking about “art and activism” in the context of civil rights and social justice can be a big and abstract topic, but André grounded things in his own lived experience. He grew up in Minneapolis in a family of six children at a time when the black community was mobilizing for equal civil rights. His brother fought in Vietnam. His mother was a housekeeper who put herself through school, became a social worker, and was able to move the family to a better neighborhood. For André, music became a way of finding a voice and strengthening social connection.

I learned from our conversation that biographical details matter. As artists or activists trying inspire action and incite action, our own personal stories explains the “why” behind what we do. It helps to situate the abstractly political into the concretely personal. It helps us relate with others in our communities, and others that we are trying to reach. A movement starts with a personal story.

Be an ‘Artist’ that challenges people (rather than just an ‘Entertainer’)

“Maybe it started with Elvis. He started out as being Elvis the artist and being kind of daring and risky, but when he put on that rhinestone suit, he became Elvis entertainer. That changed the way people looked at music, artist, and all of that. People started just going after the entertainment factor. People don’t want to hear songs about trouble and strife, they just want to drive to work and be happy.”

But some people want to be challenged. They want to hear the truth. They want to hear ‘art’ as opposed to ‘entertainment.’

We also talked about artists like John Lennon, who started out an entertainer (a good one at that) in the original boyband, the Beatles, and later transformed himself into an “artist” and an activist to speak out for peace and against the Vietnam War. The world still needs artists to step up to the plate, now more than ever.

Use your gift and be a conduit

“The hope is in people like you. We all have a role in making the world we want to pass on to the next generation. My gift is storytelling and songwriting. It’s up to people like me to step up and do what you were put here for. Music is a healing thing. Music is a spiritual thing.”

Sometimes, realizing one’s role in the world means being a conduit for something greater than ourselves. It means surrendering to some higher force and inspiration, reinterpreting somebody else’s story and struggle, and just letting go of the ego.

“If you are an artist and you have a gift, you will write songs that you didn’t really write, because you are just the conduit. This happens to me and to other artists that I know all the time. You will write a song and then say, ‘I never meant to write that song, but before I noticed it was done, music, words, everything. Take the pain and suffering from the world and turn it into music or art. Take other people’s stories and struggles and elevate those stories.”

We all have an individual gift that we can put forth. What is yours?

VOTE!

“Vote. Make a difference. If you don’t vote, you don’t count.”

Cymone has been devoting his time to encouraging eligible voters to register and vote. I got to preview his upbeat new track called “Vote,” which sounds like a cross between early Prince and School House Rock.

While art and technology has opened up many new channels to organize, to participate, and to make change, there are still some old-school forms of political power that we must not forget about. So if you are eligible, register to vote, and show up on election day.

Here are some online resources to help you register and vote:

Also check out André Cymone’s interview with Mike Ragogna on HuffPost Entertainment (just after Barry Manilow)

Originally published at the Huffington Post