TAoN No. 54: Something(s) to Praise
Plus: Searching for today's date, a new icebreaker, and more
The Art of Noticing: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover Joy In the Everyday offers exercises, prompts, provocations, games and things you can actually do to build attention muscles, stave off distraction, pick up on what everybody else overlooked, and experience the joy of noticing. Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Knopf. This newsletter offers related news and ideas and noteworthy projects that have come along since I finished the book. ****Subscribe or unsubscribe at: robwalker.substack.com.****
Something(s) To Praise
I’m late — two days late — in sending this newsletter! I feel behind on work for all the boring reasons. I hope you’ll forgive me. I’m going to keep the opener short & simple today, partly to make room for some fun reader contributions.
I often give students or workshop participants a double-sided assignment: On your next walk, or over the next week as you go about your business, make an effort to notice a problem that can be fixed — and (other side of the assignment) something, anything, that desrves praise. Obviously I mean non-obvious things; stuff that nobody else seems to pay much attention to.
Honestly the “problem” examples are usually more interesting. I often address design folks, and they’re wired to find and solve problems. But I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’re awash in problems these days. Problems we have to face, and solve.
So I’d now like to suggest an altered version of the assignment:
On your next walk, or over the next week as you go about your business, make an effort to identify as many things as possible that quietly desrve praise, that others seem to have overlooked.
I’m not suggesting living in denial. I’m suggesting a bit of balance.
Let me know what you come up with.
Something To Notice
6, 7, 8
“Something To Notice” is a simple suggestion for something you might want to make an effort to notice in the weeks ahead. That’s it. Here’s this week’s suggestion:
Numbers that align with the current date
Back story: Reader Judy Crockett told me about several of her noticing projects, but this one stands out to me. There’s an item in The Art of Noticing book on “counting with the numbers you find” — when you’re out, on foot or bike or car or bus, look for a 1, then a 2, and so on. Well it turns out that Judy did something similar a few years back:
“I looked for a number corresponding to the date for an entire month, and took a photo. The rule was that I could not use the same type of number twice. For example, only one address number. I made a photo book of the images.”
I love this challenge! (And to clarify, I think you can start any day — if you read this on October 8, look for an 8; tomorrow, look for a 9, etc.)
I also enjoyed several of Judy’s other enterprises, including her documentation of “the lesser bridges of Portland,” and walking “the entire length of my street … from the suburbs to the Columbia River, sketching and then painting anything of interest to me. Thirteen miles, 14 neighborhoods, +/-120 blocks, 53 pages of drawings. A slice of the city. It took over 2 months.” Here’s her Instagram.
Have a suggestion for Something To Notice? Tell me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Neighborhood Calendar Challenge Update
Back in July I wrote that I’d started taking snapshots around my neighborhood with an eye toward compiling enough (12 decent ones) to create a 2021 calendar, and issued an invitation for you to join me:
Make a neighborhood calendar. This could mean personal neighborhood landmarks (spots you’d miss if you moved), or a recurring category: flowers, architectural details, birds, trees, even just a particular color, anything you want. Document all the interesting mailboxes or fence ornaments or store banners or the backs-of-stop-signs or whatever it is — good, bad, indifferent-but-interesting — that you have noticed recurs through your neighborhood.
Here it is October already, and I’m realizing I need to wrap up my image collection soon. I have a lot to choose from already, but I’m really going to miss this silly project when it’s over. One of my more recent snaps above. A reader correctly deduced my calendar’s theme from an earlier sample. Can you guess from this one?
And of course I’d love to hear about it if you’re working on a calendar. As I said earlier: I like having a goal associated with the end of 2020. Keep me posted email@example.com
Icebreaker Of The Week
This week’s icebreaker is a recent submission from reader Andi Foster.
If you had to survive as a fruit, what would it be?
Couple of notes about this one. First, I adore this kind of question. I know there are those of you who will find it too weird. I find it just weird enough.
Second, Andi attributes this to “my college roommate.” Credit noted!
Third, Andi clarifies some important extra parameters: “You are just surviving, you cannot move as the fruit. I heard [my roommate] ask this question many times and I always end up changing up my answer. Currently I want to be a banana, because then I would be with friends!”
I’ll get back to the backlog of submissions next time, but as always, I still want more:
Send your favorite icebreaker (whether you made it up or found it elsewhere) to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Other News
“The Nap Ministry … is an organization that examines the liberating power of naps.” More.
“Behold the zonkey. It’s part zebra. Part donkey. Weird? You bet. That’s the point. The Zonkey Project™ aims to help innovation leaders, and indeed all people, learn to embrace and celebrate the wonder of the world’s oddities. Not ‘fix’ them.” From friend of TAoN Earle & Co.
Okay that’s it! Next issue in (less than) two weeks.
As always, I value your feedback (suggestions, critiques, positive reinforcement, constructive insults, etc.), as well as your tips or stories or personal noticing rituals, and your icebreakers: email@example.com.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. If you enjoyed this, share it and/or sign up here: robwalker.substack.com.
All this by Rob Walker PO Box 171, 748 Mehle St., Arabi LA 70032
Unsubscribe Here if you wish.