Better with Pets 2014

Last year, Imprint’s founder, Julia Huang, spoke about our Architecture for Dogs project at the first Purina Better with Pets conference in New York City. You can revisit our posts about that event here and here. I was lucky enough to attend this year’s Better with Pets summit earlier this week, at the impressive Skylight Modern in Chelsea. Much like last year’s event, it was a fascinating line-up of primarily dog and cat experts of all stripes, with some entertaining interludes for very good measure.

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The speakers included 14-year-old inventor Brooke Martin, creator of IC Pooch; the founders of Minneapolis-based Cat Vid Fest; TV host Victoria Stilwell, who champions positive training; and several noteworthy veterinarians and psychologists. The performances included hip-hop from youth program B.E.A.T. NYC, a clever spoken word poem about pets as poets by the Mayhem Poets trio, and live piano accompaniment to the talk from the founders of music therapy for dogs, Through a Dogs Ear. There were also some short video screenings such as Henri Le Chat Noir (scroll down for this, seriously) and an powerful film about pets and PTSD from Purina.

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In this midst of all this incredible content, I think my favorite must have been Mark Deadrick of 3Dyne who talked about 3D printing prosthetic limbs for dogs. Mark cleverly brought along his first and totally awesome patient, Turbo Roo, a tiny Chihuahua born with missing front legs who has been the recipient several evolutions of a cart for highly improved mobility at an amazingly affordable price. I’m not giving away any secrets here as Purina have promised the talks will all be available online in a few weeks. In the meantime, you can check out some of their initial coverage here.

How it’s made

How it’s made, I’m sure we’ve all seen at least one episode of the show that seems to captivate audiences with the process of how things are made. But even more so now people have been creating their own content that follow the “how it’s made” concept. I thought I’d bring two interesting examples that keep me glued to my screen for hours at a time.

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Tested
I think the best thing about finding an awesome youtube channel after it’s been around for years is that you can binge watch. Tested happens to be one of those. They do all kinds of interviews with people that produce cool things in the tech/comic etc. industry. Here are two examples from the site.

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At the School of Visual Arts in New York Jimmy Diresta teaches 3D design, he’s also had a TV show and he has an awesome youtube channel. After you watch a few of his videos all you’ll say is “He can make anything”. Note: Lots of videos are in timelapse and the sound may make you crazy. But it’s enthralling to watch the process.

Ciclavia: Heart of the City

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I’m not a longtime cyclist or even a good one. My wife and I purchased bikes after my daughter learned how to ride one without training wheels this summer.  So our participation in Ciclavia two weekends ago was also our introduction.

It’s a cool concept, blocking off streets so that Los Angelenos (and anyone else) can check out various neighborhoods on bicycles in a car-free environment. The previous event included Miracle Mile and Korea Town, and this time we went from Chinatown to Downtown’s Theatre District. These spots weren’t new to me at all but they were very different out of a car.

Take the 2nd Street Tunnel, for example. I see it regularly in movies and commercials and during the drive from Echo Park toward the Disney Hall. It always looks cool but it how much cooler is it when you’re with a hundred other cyclists whooping and hollering to hear the echo?

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From our starting point in Chinatown, we took a detour through the tunnel and then went further down Broadway to Grand Central Market. Everyone loves Eggslut but hates the tiny spaces in the adjacent parking lot. During Ciclavia, that was not a problem since there was a free bike valet service next door.

Across the way, the Bradbury Building was open to visitors. It’s a legendary old landmark that has appeared in Chinatown and Blade Runner as well as architectural guidebooks. So why not finally check it out and take some pictures? It’s not like we were in a car jetting across town.

Going down and back up Broadway, the streets were fairly empty and it was easy for us to navigate even with a little girl in tow. Crossing 2nd Street, it seemed a little more hairy with a lot of cross-traffic but we weren’t going to traverse the city with a six-year-old anyway.

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But I do like the idea of being able to ride a bike from Echo Park all the way through Boyle Heights and into East L.A. without worrying about getting run over or slamming into a car door. And I saw people on skateboards or just on foot going for it as well.

The streets are turned into parks. The blocks into neighborhoods. It’s fascinating that the concept came from Bogota, Colombia, and one wonders if the money and awareness being raised to pay for these one-day events can ever be leveraged to do something more permanent in the city.

In an automobile-centered place like Los Angeles, I don’t see something like Ciclavia happening for real in the near future. And to me that makes the events especially cool. Hope to see you in the streets on December 7.

8 Questions With: Jordan Price

When I knew Jordan Price he was living in New York and living as a fine artist, weening away from shoe customizing. He had been a graffiti artist before that. A few years ago he moved back to San Francisco and has been working as a UI/UX designer. He’s recently been featured in various news outlets for a piece he wrote about his experience working at Apple which can be read at Medium.com and last month he released a much anticipated photo sticker app Super Cool. I was able to wrangle him from his busy schedule to answer 8 Questions.

What are you currently working on?
I just launched a sticker app for iPhone called Super Cool. It’s basically Hello Kitty meets Bape meets Jeff Koons meets 80s Lisa Frank at an Apple Store in the projects. I designed, developed, and created hundreds of stickers for the app, and now that it’s out, I’m continuing to grow and improve the app. I’m adding more stickers and working with other artists so they can get their artwork in the app too.

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How has your experience been launching your new app?
It’s been an absolutely incredible amount of work. I know from the outside, it seems like a really simple little app, and in a lot of ways it is. But considering I’ve done all of this alone, it’s a very large project to take on. I’ve been working full-time the entire time that I’ve been building Super Cool. I also have a young daughter. I’ve sacrificed a lot to get this thing out: sleep, money, social life, weekends, etc. etc. At one point I was so overworked that I ended up in the hospital. I don’t think people will ever know or care how much energy has gone into this. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I do things like this, because it makes life so much more complicated. I am glad it’s out though.

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What have you learned as an app developer?
I’ve been designing apps professionally for a number of years now, and I’ve designed apps for bunch of different startups and tech companies including Groupon and Apple. It’s been great, but I always felt a bit stifled creatively when working on someone else’s product and vision. There are so many more skills needed to launch your own product beyond just design: development, marketing, creating partnerships, management. It goes on and on. Am I an expert in all these fields? Hell no. But I know a bit more about them than I would have if I hadn’t pursued this.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
I really didn’t know. I used to wonder what I would be. I do remember there was a point in time that I thought being a Coast Guard would be cool. I’m not sure why. Obviously that didn’t pan out. When I turned 13 I decided I wanted to be a graffiti artist. That turned out a bit better, but it never paid well. I did it for the love.

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Where do you find inspiration?
Japan has been the most inspiring place I’ve been recently. It’s awesome. It has the urban vastness and sophistication of a place like New York City, but it’s better designed, cleaner, and there are awesome cartoons and mascots everywhere. Even the police force has a cute mascot. It totally energized me creatively, and I think you can see a bit how it’s inspired my artwork.

How would you describe your job?
At my day job I design interfaces and user experiences for mobile apps. I work with a large team of engineers, designers, project managers, etc. It’s pretty cushy compared to other shit jobs I had when I was younger. Super Cool is a whole other thing. I wear lots of hats. It’s art and technology and business all smashed into one. It’s basically like running a small startup.

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What is your favorite post-work destination?
Bed. I usually work too late. I’m actively trying to stop that.

If you could give some advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
I don’t know what I could tell myself that would be useful. I was having a great time when I was a teenager doing graffiti about 5 nights a week, so I would’t really tell myself to change that. I’d say that what you learn in school is way overrated, and the real learning happens by doing things. Working for big fancy brands is overrated as well. Getting internships and good mentors is super important and useful to figure things out quickly.

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POW! WOW! x Flexfit School of Music

You might have picked up on the fact that we’re pretty huge fans of POW! WOW! I was fortunate enough to attend the Hawaiian artist summit back in 2013. Our very own founder Julia Huang checked out POW! WOW! Taiwan more recently, which we posted about here. And you might have noticed we worked with POW WOW in bringing Aaron De La Cruz to Long Beach recently. The POW! WOW! x Flexfit School of Music is a super cool audio/musical component to the POW! WOW! events, a youth education program which encourages local kids to learn, create, and collaborate musically. The School of Music takes place concurrently with the main art summits and this video explains it very nicely. Shot by our friends at 0484 Creative. And while we’re on the topic, check out our 8 Questions interview with POW! WOW! founder, Jasper Wong.

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NY Times : 36 Hours Series

The New York Times recently launched a new travel video series, called 36 Hours, that guides you through a city’s “most delicious, adventurous and fascinating must-see destinations.” They have covered nine cities so far with many, many more to go. The series is actually done quite well and in a much shorter time span than any television travel channel offers, averaging around five minutes or so. Restaurants, activities, hotspots, and even interviews with both locals and owners of these establishments are thrown in, offering you a pretty good preview of what it would be like to experience that particular city’s culture. The most recent 36 Hours video (below) is my lovely alma mater’s town of Berkeley, California.

Thug Kitchen cookbook release and book signing

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My friend Una Kim can do no wrong, so how could I say no when she invited me to a cookbook release party and book signing at her Keep Company shop on Fairfax. She knows I don’t eat meat and thought that I might be into what the folks at the Thug Kitchen blog do and dig their brand-new publication. And, of course, she was right.

The Thug Kitchen crew doesn’t just encourage healthy, simple eating. They cuss you out for eating lousy, unhealthy processed food: “Your lack of fiber is going to cause serious problems for your asshole. Yeah, wake the fuck up and take this seriously. Do it for your asshole; you two have always been close.” But then they use the same over-the-top NSFW language to encourage you to change your diet for the better. Their slogan is “Eat like you give a fuck.”

Of course, the Thug Kitchen blog is intended to entertain as much as instruct and the tough-guy persona is a hook. I think it’s funny (and intelligently written with flawless grammar and spelling) and appreciate that the writers are having fun with subject matter that usually comes across as new age, hippy dippy, or anything but thuggish.

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The creators have received some heat from a small-but-vocal set that interprets the “thug” voice as blackface. The connection between cussing and blackness seems like a stretch to me–and an insulting one for African Americans. I personally don’t find the book to have racial undertones but it is clearly not for everyone and definitely not for impressionable kids or sensitive souls. My wife Wendy and I brought our daughter anyway. It wasn’t a book reading but a party.

Pure Luck had prepared jackfruit tacos and sliders, which were hearty and delicious. I love how jackfruit falls apart in your mouth and there was just enough spice to lend real character without burning our tongues off. Also, I thought it was cool that there were piles of farmer’s market produce to go along with our signed books in our Keep/Thug Kitchen gift bags. We tried the recipe a couple of nights later, and it was tasty!

The cookbook itself features a lot of the usual suspects for vegan fare (tofu, seitan, soba, beans of every kind) but keeps the ingredient list in check as well as the preparation. “Cooking isn’t fucking rocket science,” they say and they mean it. To me, the variety of dishes has a Los Angeles feel, as well, with recurring themes of Asian, Southwestern, and comfort food. It’s right up my alley.

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Una told me that she was approached about hosting the event because the authors were big fans of her vegan shoes. Talk about a perfect fit, and I saw so many friends from the worlds of art, video, skateboarding… Some of the most selective people around. But who wouldn’t love meatless food, especially when it’s so yummy? Actually, I kinda wish the Thug Kitchen team would do some more swearing about the environmental benefits of eating low on the food chain. If most people cut back on eating meat even just once in  a while, how much water and grain would be saved?

With full stomachs and a hefty gift bag, we made sure to meet the authors before leaving. They were as polite and gracious as could be and then signed our book “Eat more fucking tacos!” Perfect.

If you can handle salty language and flavorful food, visit thugkitchen.com. And follow Imprint Culture Lab via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more articles, events, and announcements…

 

Beachwood BBQ and Brewing Taking Home The Gold

Being a beer head, I was excited to hear about our local neighbors Beachwood BBQ and Brewing, for being awarded as the Best Large Brewpub and Best Large Brewpub Brewer by The Great American Beer Festival. They also took home the gold in the coffee beer category for their custom roasted Mocha Machine. They will have a booth this Saturday (10/11) at the Downtown Long Beach Beer and Wine Festival hosted by our sister company interTrend and Imprint. There will also be other local restaurants, breweries, wineries and live entertainment so come check it out if you are in the area and appreciate good beer!
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via LA Weekly

8 Questions With: Katrina Spade / Urban Death Project

Intrigued by the Urban Death Project, I reached out to founder Katrina Spade to learn more about the solution she created in response to the overcrowding of city cemeteries. She developed a sustainable method of disposing of our dead and a new ritual for laying our loved ones to rest. The Urban Death Project utilizes the process of composting to safely and gently turn our deceased into soil-building material, creating a meaningful, equitable, and ecological urban alternative to existing options. While death is an often undesirable topic, Katrina is approaching this cycle of nature in an strikingly practical way.

Katrina has focused her design career on creating human-centered, ecological, architectural solutions. Prior to architecture school, she studied sustainable design and building at Yestermorrow Design Build School, with a focus on regenerative communities and permaculture. While earning her Masters of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to build and monitor a compost heating system, a project which helped initiate the Urban Death Project. Katrina earned a BA in Anthropology from Haverford College, and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is an Echoing Green Climate Fellow.

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Describe how you concepted Urban Death Project to solve a significant problem in burial sustainability.
I was in graduate school for architecture, and I’d been thinking a lot about how decomposition is generally feared and avoided in our culture. Without decomposition – where microbes break organic materials down into soil – we humans would be toast. It’s an amazing process – turning dead stuff into soil – and I began to think about how it might intersect with architecture. At the same time, being thirty-something, it suddenly dawned on me that I was actually going to die someday. I began researching the options we have for the disposal of our physical bodies, and I found that both conventional burial and cremation are wasteful and polluting processes. So I set out to design a new method, using the process of composting as a basis for the design.

Where do you hope to take Urban Death Project in the long run, after the successful prototype?
Right now, we are working on the design and engineering of the system that will compost bodies, and we plan to build a prototype in the next few years. At the same time, we are creating a franchise kit to help others – municipalities, individuals, and organizations – build Urban Death Projects in their neighborhoods in cities all over the world. We’ll provide the specifications of the system itself as well as a framework for ritual and the programming requirements for each building, and different architects will design each Urban Death Project. That part is very important – each project should be specifically designed for the community which it serves.  I liken it to a library branch – each is unique to its neighborhood but you know what to expect when you enter one.

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What are some of the milestones achieved that you are most proud of?
Becoming an Echoing Green Climate Fellow was a huge accomplishment, and has really propelled the project forward in an exciting way.

What does your typical workday look like? Do you work on other projects?
I only work on the Urban Death Project, and it is more than a full time job!  On a typical workday, I will respond to requests for press information or potential collaborations with others. I might take a few hours to work on our strategic plan, or think about how to inspire people to get involved. I’m usually working on a grant proposal at any given time. Today, I’m working on memorizing my four-minute pitch for next week’s SXSW Eco Startup Pitch Competition.

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As an entrepreneur of a not-for-profit company (with the intention to disrupt the $11billion funeral industry), what are some of the challenges you have faced and associated learnings?
Fundraising is a huge challenge for us as a not-for-profit. I believe in my gut that there is money out there to support this type of audacious, game-changing project, but finding it and asking for it takes some time.  Right now, I am setting up the organization to be as efficient, lean, and effective as possible, so that philanthropists will be excited to partner with us.

How do you approach changing consumer behavior and building acceptance for the concept?
The currently accepted methods for the disposal of the dead have come to us almost accidentally – part historical convention and part funeral industry mandate – and I think that our society is ready for a change. In popular media, we are seeing evidence of a movement to own our own deaths and to simplify them, as well as to make them more sustainable. There is no reason that we should be turned over to a for-profit industry once we die. Our bodies are full of potential!

We are also seeing evidence that urban dwellers desire a deeper connection with the natural cycles, and that they want to be part of the solution to our environmental dilemma. The rise in popularity of urban farming, permaculture, and the use of city infrastructure to produce food and energy (such as rooftop gardens, aquaculture, urban green space and solar power) are examples of this. The Urban Death Project goes hand in hand with these movements – it is riding an enormous wave of momentum. Together, we will create an ecological, equitable, and meaningful alternative to death care.

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As a kid, what did you aspire to be?
As a kid, I thought I’d probably become a doctor, since so many of my family members are in medicine. We had plenty of conversations about death and dying at the dinner table. I guess it makes sense that I am doing this work, but from a design perspective. I love this work, but it definitely never occurred to me that I’d be doing this when I was young.

Where do you personally find inspiration?
I am excited about the work being done in my community right now around prison abolition and the dismantling of immigrant detention centers. Talk about an amazing design challenge – envisioning a world without prisons or borders!

Permaculture and whole systems design are also passions of mine. Beautiful design – the kind that is elegant in its simplicity and completely accessible – inspires me.

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Print The Legend

I recently watched Print The Legend, a fascinating documentary on the race to produce high-quality, affordable desktop 3D printers. The Netflix Original by Luis Lopez & Clay Tweel follows the rise and transformation of MakerBot, from open source startup community to privately-owned closed source corporate giant, and also looks closely at Kickstarter phenom Formlab and its record-setting Form1, a serious competitor to MakerBot, backed to the tune of $3M. It’s a fascinating segment we get to continue watching develop in the next months and years. Check out the Mashable review of Print The Legend for a second opinion.