Drawing in honor of an old friend
I recently learned that one of my favorite mentors from graduate school, Dave Swift, had died when I was invited by the Natural Resource Ecology Lab to a symposium in his honor. Dave was one of my GK-12 advisors during my doctoral program at Colorado State University, but he was so much more. I first met Dave when I bounded into his office to inquire about being sponsored by the NSF GK-12 program, which paired graduate students with K-12 educators in Fort Collins. We hit it off immediately (which I attribute more to Dave's affable personality than to mine) and had a great conversation about my research in Latin America, camping in the Southwestern US, and the value of getting students into the field when teaching ecology.
Fast forward three years and Dave was knee deep in Hall's Creek in Capitol Reef NP helping me with my field research. He and another NREL employee offered to help me with my fieldwork, but they preferred to help me in a location far, far from a vehicle than with anything "easy." The park biologist at Capitol Reef was more than happy to have us hike into Hall's Creek and sample aquatic invertebrates there, so we loaded up our backpacks with waders, sampling nets, and a couple of nights' worth of gear and headed for the hills. We had a wonderful time sampling the creek, telling stories around the camp stove and exploring the Narrows.
Dave and his colleagues inspired a significant shift in the way ecologists think about arid grassland ecosystems.
Much of the early work in ecology took place in the eastern USA, which is a relatively stable place, so many ecological models are based on the idea that ecosystems are generally in equilibrium and disturbance pulls them away from equilibrium. However, arid grasslands are rarely in equilibrium because of the highly variable climate. Dave and his colleagues suggested that aridland ecologists just stop assuming that everything starts from equilibrium. It gets a little bit more complicated from there, but hopefully these visual notes will help you get a sense of his work and, perhaps more importantly, the way that he mentored and inspired other people to think and live outside the box.
Sent et al. 1987. Large Herbivore Foraging and Ecological Hierarchies: Landscape ecology can enhance traditional foraging theory. Bioscience.
Breaking News : Moline Creative Creates Doodle Pack App!
To help you better express your whims and desires, Moline Creative released an iPhone sticker app this fall. The app features a small collection of adorable emojis so you can share the love - or the pain - with the ones you love.
Download it for free at the Apple App Store.
I think a lot about comfort zones. When we went into COVID lockdown, the entire world was asked to step outside of its comfort zone. We left offices, schools, day cares, bars, restaurants, movies - our normal everyday lives - for a slightly scary, lonely, uncertain existence.
I have been reflecting on the lessons I learned from my students when I taught wilderness expedition courses. On expedition, the people who embrace discomfort and step fully into the experience are transformed into bigger, better people. In fact, I intentionally create disorienting experience in order to allow participants to have a transformative experience.
Welcome to your expedition
We don't have a choice about whether we want to join the Great COVID-19 Wilderness Expedition. It is here and so are we. We can embrace the uncertainty and allow it to make us better people or we can hide out and miss the experience. This what I learned from my students about how to embrace the expedition.
Wilderness expeditions are unforgettable - and transformative. People learn to embrace uncertainty. They make lifelong friendships. They notice and accept the significant accomplishments that they make each day. They also persevere and realize they are stronger than they ever imagined. Welcome to your expedition. You've got this.
Please share how you and your community are growing during the COVID-19 Wilderness Expedition in the comments below.
I had the good fortune this week to listen to Erin Bisenius of Sassypants Coaching talk about her work with neurofeedback, which can provide stress relief, ameliorate PTSD, help people sleep better, and reduce a person's perception of pain.
Erin gave a basic neuroscience lesson - neurons receive bajillions of bits of information each second and pass it along to one another as electrical pulses. Our brains are complex, nonlinear, and "dynamical" systems that are constantly adjusting to stimulus and rewiring themselves. Our brains adjust so thoroughly that sometimes when we experience changes in our mental state, we don't even notice!
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback is a specific version of biofeedback, which just means collecting data about your body and providing feedback based on that data. The example Erin shared was that you could weigh yourself and use the data about your weight to adjust your eating and exercise habits. Neurofeedback collects data on your brain activity by sensing the electrical shift of neurons in your brain.
The system that Erin uses - Neuroptimal - interpret the complex information collected by the electrical sensors attached to your scalp and senses phase shifts in your brain activity. "Sensing shifts in your brain activity" is the complicated part of that sentence and the short explanation is that there is a complicated algorithm in the computer that detects the shifts. The Neuroptimal system provides feedback to your brain through music. When your brain activity shifts, the music stops for a brief second to alert your brain to the shift. Your brain then decides what to do. That's it. You sit and listen to music and little skips in the music remind your brain to re-orient to the now, and respond in the optimal way for you. Amazing, right?
Neuroptimal sessions consist of sitting (or laying down or moving around gently) and listening to music for 30 minutes. There is no minimum number of sessions, but many people start to notice results after 6-10 sessions. Because there are no side effects associated with listening to music (albeit with lots of skips in it), there are no side effects to Neuroptimal.
How do I learn more?
If this sounds cool, it is. Scoot over to Sassypants Coaching and send Erin an email to learn more. She does in-person Neuroptimal sessions and also rents the system for take-home use for 4 weeks at a time.
April 7 session
April 8 session
Like everyone I know, I have spent the past couple of weeks doing my part to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (washing my hands, working from home, staying six feet from people who don't live with me), but I can't stop thinking about the healthcare workers who don't have these luxuries. They are voluntarily stepping into the fire every day. And now we hear that there isn't enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to go around. There aren't enough masks, gloves, gowns to keep healthcare workers safe.
A friend of mine who is a nurse posted a message on Facebook that was originally from Reddit. The message resonated with me, so I wanted to share it with a broader audience. The message to healthcare workers is simple: there is no emergency in a pandemic. Don't go in without your PPE.
I enjoy strategic visioning. It brings me a lot of joy to unroll a clean sheet of paper, pull out my markers, and use my listening, drawing, and improv skills to help a group see their future more clearly.
Recently, I was asked to speak at the 1st Annual Northern Arizona Center for Nonprofit Entrepreneurship Conference, which was hosted by Northern Arizona University, Moonshot, and your Part Time Controller. It was attended by dozens of nonprofit leaders, so I used this as an opportunity to share my love of working visually with a talented audience.
Sometimes the most effective tools are the simplest, which is why I keep coming back to visual timelines for strategic planning. Visual timelines allow a groups to see where they have been and envision where they are going. They allow a team to celebrate their recent successes and study recent failures, so they can set realistic goals for the next few years. Visual timelines are a valuable map of the orgnizational landscape that meeting participants refer to throughout the planning process.
After we draw a historical timelines during a strategic planning session, I like to ask the meeting participants to describe the future of their organization for me. This is a bluesky conversation. A brainstorming session. Then I draw their vision as quickly as they speak, so they see their ideas unfold. Once we have a sketch of the future, we discuss the big ideas and set priorities. Future priorities become future goals and an implementation plan. For some organizations the implementation plan is a concrete, step-by-step plan and others it is just a promise to follow the vibe that takes them towards their goals.
What are the steps to create a visual timeline?
Note: If the thought of drawing in front of a group scares you, you can always pre-print clip art or bring magazines that are relevant to your organization. Use scissors and glue to have fun creating a timeline collage.
Of course, you are also welcome to email me for support. I love to draw and have assistance available for non-profit organizations who can't otherwise afford my services.
I stumbled onto the concept of Conscious Capitalism when I attended a Local First AZ event in Tucson in a few months ago. Since then, I have had the opportunity to clarify my higher purpose (to inspire people to take more creative risks that matter), meet dozens of conscious capitalists from around the world, and capture many, many big ideas as visual notes. I have to admit that I am a bit skeptical of anything with the word "capitalism" in it because I spent so many years teaching about the damage that big business has done to people and the planet. However, after attending the three-day conference and a couple of evening events in Phoenix, I think these capitalists are on a different path. I really do.
First, many of these people introduce themselves by starting a conversation about their passions, such as plant-based foods, sustainable banking, or teaching organizations to think consciously, rather than trying to sell you their product. Second, it feels like they put relationships first and their egos second. Nearly everyone I have met at the local chapter meetings and the national conference is so excited about the future of business - of elevating individuals, communities, and supporting the environment in some way - that the conversations flow really easily. Third, the process of defining a company's higher purpose and building a culture to support it is not an easy or quick task - so they are hard workers who are in it for the long haul.
If you're intrigued by the idea of Conscious Capitalism, you should check out three things:
I was invited to draw for the Conscious Capitalism Stakeholder Event in Phoenix in May. Ten Conscious Capitalists from around Arizona shared five-minute stories of building connections among businesses, universities, suppliers, customers, and neighbors. Some stories were funny and others were heart wrenching, but all were worthwhile! Each of the talks was too short to capture completely, but these highlights show the network of businesses that make up Conscious Capitalism AZ.
I attended a Local First AZ workshop last week in Tucson that was partially an excuse to drive deep into the Sonoran Desert during wildflower season and partially a great opportunity to meet local business people. Who knew that sitting in a furniture showroom for two hours with strangers could change my perspective on capitalism? Let me explain...
The event was focused on Conscious Capitalism, which is a business philosophy that was articulated by John Mackey (the founder of Whole Foods Market) and Raj Sisodia in a book of the same name. In my words, Conscious Capitalism is the idea that free trade is good for communities, individuals, and the planet when it exists to serve a higher purpose - such as helping people eat better foods or supporting local communities or making the world a more creative place - not just to make money for shareholders. Conscious Capitalism proposes that business should seek a higher purpose and consider how business decisions impact all STAKEholders (customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, mama earth), NOT just corporate SHAREholders. The book is a quick and interesting read.
As an entrepreneur with a background in ecology and 10+ years teaching university students about sustainability, Conscious Capitalism seems like the kind of business philosophy that I would have taught if it had occurred to me to teach about business at the university (maybe I'll go back and do that in a few years :). While I had not articulated a clear philosophy for my business, I find myself moving towards more conscious business decisions as I become more profitable. I'm giving away my time through the Contagious Creativity Awards. I try to treat my best customers like dear friends. I use the most environmentally- and human-friendly markers that I can find (refillable Neuland markers) and draw on recyclable surfaces whenever possible.
I am planning to attend several Conscious Capitalism meetings in Arizona over the next month and I look forward to learning more! If you are curious about this philosophy - and the people who are turning it into a movement - you can watch this TEDx talk by Adam Goodman and attend the international conference in Phoenix at the end of April.
I attended the science talks during the Grand Canyon Hiking GTS on February 15, 2019. My big takeaway from the seminar was that the guides and visitors love the Grand Canyon deeply and yet the wildlife, forests, and landscape face more challenges now than ever. Climate is changing, water resources are increasingly scarce, helicopters and planes regularly disturb wildlife, and dedicated park scientists and managers work with limited staff and funding! Another takeaway was that the guides and visitors love the Canyon and support it through contributions to the Grand Canyon Conservancy.
I captured as much information as I could during the short talks in these sketchnotes about the forests of the Kaibab Plateau (Dr. Peter Fulé), Grand Canyon soundscapes, karst hydrogeology (and caves), bison on the North Rim (GRCA Science and Resrouce Management Division), and Grand Canyon maps (Matthew Toro). Enjoy!
What is the Hiking GTS?
The Grand Canyon Conservancy (formerly the Grand Canyon Association) hosts a Guide Training Seminar each year at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hiking GTS is takes place in mid-February and is geared towards hiking guides, tour bus operators, and people who lead backpacking trips in the canyon. It is distinct from the slightly better known River GTS, which is hosted by the Grand Canyon River Guides Association so it is geared towards river guides and takes place at the Hatch River Expeditions warehouse in mid-March.
my visual notes from the 2019 Hiking GTS
Angie B. Moline
Dr. Moline is an ecologist and visual process facilitator who draws pictures to help clients think. She is currently on a quest to understand why live drawings are so compelling and how to make them as sticky as possible in order to improve communication, understanding, and memory. Follow here journey here!