Resolve. It isn’t a dumb numbers game.

Serious about the health of your business? What if you gave your people what they may not realise they’re crying out for – purposeful engagement with their planet. And encouragement for your sustainability champions that they are not alone.

 

Nobody makes new year resolutions. It’s just a very tired media twitch, isn’t it?

Or did you vow to recover from Christmas Beige Shock and eat only raw broccoli for January? A post new year changing room mirror can elicit this response – standing in the harsh downlight of reality by the swimwear spinner – but shame has very shallow roots.

Back to work, I wonder whether this is the time for some true resolve.

Natural England’s People & Nature Survey, published last summer, supported the idea that more of us are going looking for nature to help our all round health since Covid; “68% of people said they were taking more time to notice and engage with every day nature” it said. I know I say hello to birds a lot more than I did – I couldn’t have identified a Stonechat a couple of years ago, though I am a long way from the full twitcher.

A significant problem with any wish to unplug from algorithmic life regularly is finding access to the great outdoors. It’s a mental health challenge we will all be bringing to work, of course, but at a deeper level I’m actually wondering this:

If some bracing blustery January walks begin to help our all-over wellbeing, might we feel increasingly open to sense what nature is trying to say to us?

 

Zero sums.

 

Environmental news org Edie published some general findings from its readers about new year resolutions – specifically for their work as environmental professionals – and it’s an interesting temperature test for what’s going on out in the cultural weather.

Sustainability champions may have even more reason to be weary after Christmas than the rest of us. They’re trying to defend the right to opportunity for everyone – the opportunity to live well and build all sorts of positive things together for people and planet futures. Not just survive pandemics, politics and appalling poorly paid essential jobs.

The challenge to their hopes is the same thing challenging all our mental health – economics. We’re part of climate and nature, and both are in crisis because of the way we value everything. By turning everything into empty numbers.

What we humans need to face challenges well is fuller hearts.

This isn’t something we leave at home when traveling to work. And work and home have never been more blurred in our minds.

None of which is helped by billionaire UK chancellor vowing to force young people to study maths right into A-level. Not a hint of understanding – while also passing legislation to reduce people’s protesting and striking rights – that young people will need creative tools and senses better tuned to the natural world to re-imagine a world so wildly fucked up. The skills to imagine, test and embody change.

The current maths does not add up. And current leaders have not been truly running the numbers of the consequences.

But if you’re a leader, where are the clues about what to do instead?

I’d say be sure that everyone is getting more sensitive to the smell of bullshit.

But if you’re sensing the need for greater resolve about changing up your response to your world, I’d suggest Edie’s findings align perfectly with what climate communicators and creatives like me are wanting to help people with.

It’s time to get practically real about new vision – for the year and coming years. Do you know what you want your work to stand for in an era of crisis and change?

I’ll say this: Imagination is liberated by new experiences. And new experiences can put resolve into the heart.

Sustainability champions are trying to keep you in business – by challenging you to consider: What is the nature of it? And in it.

They will want you to explore nature-based solutions more deeply to get actively net-positive while upskilling your people in the process to live that brand consciously in their context – the context of a planet with lifesystems crying out for a change of values in how we do business. Businesses populated with people who are part of those lifesystems and part of a culture struggling to find the language for new stories of us. But people who are – you bet, like you – feeling something of nature’s call to action.

Defending the bottom line will take more than truthful accountancy. It will take storytellers and creatives to bring alive the alternatives – including where to start.

The time to go beyond risk management and face what needs changing is now – but this is the real opportunity for your work and your life doing that work: To start getting excited about the possibilities. And move into living them.

It’s time you went looking for the people who can help you take new steps – and strengthen your resolve to do so.

Photo by Veikko Venemies on Unsplash.

A hot pink year? Let’s hope we can finally unsee it.

How can a colour speak to a point in time? Timo Peach suggests it all depends how you wear it.

 

“An idea of a color magicked up by a science never exposed to nature… a hyper-vibrant alternate reality”

I am about to dramatically repaint.

When I ventured out on my own twenty years ago, I just knew Momo was orange.

Very specifically, Pantone 172. Vibrant but warm, with a hint of peachy-pink that seemed bang on brand for a creative business literally named after the fruit.

And a colour I could in no way live with environmentally, not if I didn’t want daily headaches. So I turned a painful blind eye to the inconsistency of it for a bloke trading on being a brand developer and tried tens of other oranges on the walls of the studio. The friendly, fruity dusty equatorial hue I eventually found had a frequency so nice to work in I even painted the new studio in the exact tone when I moved into it ten years ago – which means every piece of music, design, copy, every idea, every essay, every studio film was created surrounded by that comforting colour.

But somewhere around 2016 I simply found myself turning Momo magenta.

Everything. And I don’t know why. I did it on brainless instinct, which isn’t something I do anywhere near as much as you might think.

Each of the three parts of my creative life today bear it – consultancy, Momo:zo HOT PINK; research, Unsee The Future HOT PINK; music, Momo:tempo HOT PINK.

It stemmed from the project that turned me towards a whole new life as a creative – The Shape of Things To Hum. Ostensibly my third personal album of electro-beat tomfoolery, playfully exploring the many worlds of science fiction, I felt it grow into something else quickly. Something very pink.

So I made a brand bible of it. A crafted scrapbook thesis of sci-fi visions, moments, visual languages… all seen through a bright cerise filter.

Now at last Tracey Follows is telling me this is going to be my year.

Pantone’s colour of 2023 is “Viva Magenta.”

 

With great hotness comes great responsibility.

 

Her article on this news, below, had me frozen at the story. And in it she identifies Viva Magenta as essentially a colour of gad-awful un-nature.

“Magenta and magic. There is certainly something to that. Magenta, like a virus, may well have been created in a lab, released into a world it is not part of. More experimental than experienced, more printed than lived” she says.

In the iterations of music and experiences Things To Hum has so far led me to, that total hot pink has not lost its resonance with me. It still feels right in all the branding still coming out of me for the plans I have for it in 2023 – including the new logo for the whole project, revealed in a special UTF episode out this week. And there it is, the words drawing themselves over the whole of space… washed with Viva Magenta.

Viva Magenta “writes a new narrative” Pantone apparently declares; “The shock of the artificial… something that feels alien” as Tracy puts it.

So I’d already decided, put it in my diary.

To step up – and repaint the studio from that beloved old normal orange. To hot pink. To disturb me sufficiently every day into new work for our disturbing times.

And amid my plans, I had been already been sketching out and researching my costume for the central character and voice of all the creative pieces coming, the Ghost of Future Shock.

All I can say here is, expect to see pics of me dressed very much as the Queen is below.

Magenta and magic? The meaning is in what you haven’t seen.

NB: For me it’s not Elvis, it’s Dana International – but Vive la differénce.

#vivamagenta #unseethefuture #futures #nature

 

Pantone’s Viva Magenta Heralds The New Artifice >

Read the article by futurist Tracy Follows,

Timo shares at TEDx Cowes

Oceans apart, the bloke from Momo joined speakers from across the world virtually convening on the Isle of Wight to share his perspective on how the oceans can connect us to creativity – and to facing crisis.

 

The platform for good ideas worth sharing may be globally well established, but the Covid pandemic encouraged TED to try some new formats for its well-understood independently organised shows. And so founder of TEDx Cowes, Leonardo Zangrando decided in the event’s second year to put his speakers where his mouth is – keeping them right where they were, around the world.

“We believe we can avoid the environmental cost of 50 to 100 people travelling to the event, while retaining the same positive impact by sharing actions worth taking to hundreds of thousands people” he says.

It is a move of solidarity with the oceans, which ties all of this year’s talks together.

And Mr Peach was delighted to be asked to join the virtual roster.

 

 

Momo is, of course, based around the bay in Bournemouth – but he has a sense of connection to Cowes.

“I have a big soft spot for the town and its incredibly rich maritime life” he says. “I’ve put in with crews a few times, joining dear mates there for rum and Isle of Wight Blue countless other times and I find the West Cowes promenade a place I could sit and watch a whole world of sea-going human life all day. I also increasingly feel an interest and energy in South Central as a region and the island is quietly emerging to me as a fascinating potential futures test bed.”

So it felt to him like a lovely fit to be asked by Leonardo to join this year’s line-up connected so the Solent.

The theme for the 2022 event is “One and the same” – which is really an invitation to use the human sense of connection with the oceans as a way to rediscover our connection with all nature.

“In my talk, I share a core personal perspective on this” says Timo. “I suggest something that I believe is a vital and mostly missing part of our response to global crises that connect us to nature – and I also ask up front just who we want to emulate as archetypes to inspire our often helpless-feeling place in the middle of it all.”

“I will miss a live stage” he adds. “I AM planning a Tropey-Rangey one-take walk and talk version of this for my own channels too – but Leonardo felt strongly about honouring our connection to nature by not burning lots of carbon to bring us all physically to the island this year. So I share my thoughts from the Momo studio, mere pottering distance from my daily view of the Isle of Wight where I live on the coast in Bournemouth.”

 

DRAWING THE TREASURE MAPS:
Art’s vital place in facing crisis and change.

Discover all the speakers at this year’s  TEDx Cowes at: tedxcowes.com >

The best possible place to find yourself right now.

In the era of permacrisis, knowing where to begin seems vital in tackling the challenges unfolding in our lives around the world. As Timo discovered in a recent guest lecture, grasping context properly is going to help you do this.

 

How do you hope to rebel?

Or at least, how do you imagine you engage with the world? You know, that stuntingly terrible looking place and time you find yourself in, you poor sap. ..Are you shrewdly paying attention for signals of some kind?

Paying attention is exhausting for too long, obviously – not helped by how easily depressing classrooms are; the spaces we are educated in to cope with the world often look designed to reduce all sensory input except the drone of something academic down the front.

But out in the noise, how you pick out signals and pearl them together is personal sensemaking. And how did you learn that?

This week, I couldn’t help noticing the protests in China. Because how could anybody.

Nodding gravely at the bravery of these public anti-government sentiments against the Communist regime’s Covid lockdowns, the actual expressions of those feelings are also quite something.

The blank white placard. Looks like an oversight and really isn’t.

A Chinese colour of mourning or a space held for statements that dare not speak?

Turning up ominously in lots of the protests, I actually immediately thought these a practical bit of art direction for photoshopping in anything you like in post, but I don’t think protestors were planning to add vulgar doodles on the pics from IP addresses afterwards. That’s not how they seem to do this.

Some placards were written on. With a mathematical formula from theoretical physics.

Protesters at Beijing’s Tsinghua University were photographed carrying signs displaying the Friedmann equation. And this is so clever it outsmarts Einstein – literally, because in the early 1920s Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann was trying to fix Albert’s patch, the Cosmological Constant, for his own brilliant theory of General Relativity, to show that the universe isn’t static but in constant flux.

In fact, the universe is very much expanding right now.

The name does also sound like “freed man” which seems more like the zinger on the cake than the main dish.

Then there are the alpacas.

Paraded by someone down the high street of Urumqi, it refers to a protest in 2009 as internetty as it is Victorian boys boarding school.

The Ten Legendary Beasts of Baidu were, it seems, mythical creatures inserted into the Chinese tech giant’s editable encyclopedia pages – illustrious animals such as the Dafei Chicken and the Chrysanthemum Silkworm and, most relevantly here, the Grass Mud Horse, which supposedly looked much like an alpaca. Inserted simply because all of these beasts were Chinese homonyms for vulgarities – in this street-paraded case Mandarin for “go fuck your mother.”

Man. The Chinese are not just brave they are boldly brainy.

And really seem to understand context.

 

 

“Holding different emotions in tension”

 

Rina Atienza teaches context and signal reading to students in the slightly freer capital of the UK, London, at Kingston School of Art. In fact, as I have said to them on the couple of occasions she’s invited me to guest lecture, she is handing them a cultural studies curriculum so rich it is a cypher to unlock our times.

But turning the key means finding the right lock; the context for teaching matters, like any storytelling. And context partly means theatre.

Up with her last week, she suggested we try a new bit of theatre with them.

Rina I would say gave one of the most fascinating conversations with me on the first series of Unsee The Future: The Hopeychattybits earlier this year. She can answer philosophical questions about media, art history and ways of seeing our worlds with engaging intent at every turn.

For her term 1 lesson looking at Globalisation, she wanted to turn the whole classroom into a live episode of UTF, with everyone there a guest in the conversation.

We took my simple little Streamyard session on a laptop into the classroom and set me up with a second camera, for fun, on one side of the room, with Rina logged in as a guest on her machine on the other. We also set up a couple of laptops as guests in the middle of the room. Then I introduced myself with a little context about how an artist found himself looking at the state of the world quite as I have, before getting to the brief – researching the Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDGs are a technocratic sounding thing, not an artistic one.

But they are also an invitation into complexity. Where to start understanding them? And why?

Why is because the SDGs represent a widely shared framework for global response to global problems. Where we decided was a combination of tombola-ing the goals randomly to little teams of the students and simply reacting with what struck them honestly first.

The brief was to explore a first impression of the Goal you found yourself with and bring your honest reaction to it – feelings, notable examples of the challenges or of potential solutions. Then we’d chat together in the format of the show. That was it.

For a first ever go at this, we didn’t produce a slick media event technically – we just had an efficient first go at creating an experience that was enough of a new format to bring out thoughts in a very unclassroomy way.

“The ability to hold more than one emotion in tension while looking at crisis is vital” Rina told them. It’s an obvious MO for Momo – we can laugh and relax our uptight minds even while looking squarely at impossible seeming problems.

Especially then.

Creating a dash of theatre energy in the room and getting them to move into groups and then move to the cameras to “appear on the show” with their thoughts was following some basic principle of embodiment. A basic hint of drama class we all need to learn well.

What they said was the beginning of a good conversation about how complicated and inter-related all the Goals quickly seem. The students found different emotional connections to challenges, some chiming with personal passion and some fairly trying to couch the only reasonable first reaction: Jeeez.

Given that many of Rina’s students are Chinese, their perspectives implied that they get context, alright.

It also showed all of them them in a much more alive way why we think the Goals are missing a vital goal – as I outline in my little TEDx Cowes talk. For theatre here, I shall let you watch that to get what I mean.

A mere introduction, scrappy like inhabiting the first scribbles on a layout pad, it showed Rina and I as much as it did the young folk trying to make sense of life in the era of crisis.

Context brings alive connection.

At the end I went momentarily dad preach on them.

“Rina and I want you to understand that the very best possible place you could be right now, to make sense of an era of crisis and transition, is right here – in a classroom together at Art School.”

I left wanting every young person – and you – to study a year of cultural history and theory with Rina.

It might unlock the world around you so well it would hone your rebel skills.

 

——

 

Venturefest South 2022: Smooth Jazz radio cutting through the noise?

A simple format change to an experience can transform it, but to work into opportunity it’s the stories we’re putting into our ears every day that need a switch, says Timo.

 

I hadn’t thought about live silent podcasting before.

As I and my first panel of guests stepped up to the stage, all of us holding our indiscrete headphones, preparing to place them over our heads, we looked at each other like baby hedgehogs facing an A-road.

“What, we really do put these on while we’re speaking? ..Up there?”

They looked at me like daddy hedgehog had lost his mind. Shouting over the traffic. We really are doing this, then in other words. I said yeah. We put on our indiscrete headphones and stepped on stage.

I looked back at a sea of audience faces all wearing their own headphones and awaiting the experience.

And then we just enjoyed a great set of introductions and a good chat. Like it was normal. And like we could actually hear what was happening.

 

VentureFest South grows in my affection a little bit every year. It’s a coming together of business folk from various sectors in South Central, helping us find can-do ideas and support to do them, and also define a region that doesn’t officially exist, caught between the south-east and the south-west.

I have now hosted a number of stages, talks and discussions around principles of innovation, always a privileged invitation to join in with such can-do community. But, y’know – trade expo halls are noisy. So in the past, competing with stand chatter, our modest PA couldn’t fairly drown out all other business by being loud enough to comfortably sit and listen to live, unless you were streaming it from home.

This is where events legend Shirley Wynne-Jones quietly opened the door to a new experience for me – “We’re going to try doing it as a silent disco” she said with no drama.

“Kay…” I replied quizzically. Cut to me and my momentary image of snuffling hedgerow babas by the busy roadside.

I hosted three panels during the day, and the experience of silent disco-ing the discussions produced an odd effect. I found myself slowing my heart rate down to a smooth jazz radio guy’s pace; being intimately in everyone’s ears while on a stage was not a normal day up front at an event. But it felt, in the end, like a live podcast experience – absorbing and intimate.

And intriguingly, where audiences in the space are normally a bit patchy, this year every seat and pair of headphones was taken.

Which was fitting. Because It meant more of us could tune into the implication and tone and essential message of Venturefest South – tune out the noise of crisis and hear the possibilities. There is support, funding, networks and opportunity to make new things happen if you want to. And if you want to, you won’t be completely alone in the endeavour.

Driven with grounded passion and a notable degree of showbiz by ED GOULD from agency Carswell Gould, it is a chance for creatives like him and I to help businesses not just tell their stories but write new ones. Yes there were wooden bikes, jet packs, battery packs, VR startups, scary robot vehicles from the DSTL and all manner of businesses sharing shiny capabilities. But my interest is the human energy that creates all this – so, yes, I did get the finance panel talking about art and storytelling.

And I think, therefore, it’s interesting in our time of crisis and deepening economic chills that all of the five main pitches for a financial support prize at this year’s festival were concerned with enabling healthier ways of doing business.

Taking a chance on an idea is no smooth venture. But the story you surround yourself with can change everything for you.

Time we all cancelled a lot of the noise and tuned into the possibilities.

Catch the news story about this year’s VentureFest South right here >