All the best laid plans blow up. Especially when you get sick. For a week. Or two.
That’s my story. I’m going on week number two of being sick. This has to be the third or fourth time I’ve gotten sick this winter. Bleh. I’ll spare you the details (nothing worse than reading about people’s medical symptoms online—unless of course you’re looking for an online diagnosis by strangers, which can be loads of fun), except to say that I think the sinus pressure has blocked the hearing in my left ear. Feels like I went swimming and can’t get the water out. Otherwise I’m actually feeling better. And losing your hearing can have its benefits. Milo has an ear infection and has been pretty crabby—but his tantrums are that much quieter now.
On the plus side, Foursquare.org published an article I wrote yesterday. “Advocate for the Invisible” tells the story of homeless advocate and InvisiblePeople.tv founder Mark Horvath. I talk about him a lot, so it was fun to tell his story. It was also a challenge to do it in under 800 words. That article easily could have been twice as long. When I interviewed Mark for the story we talked for over three hours, so you can imagine the material I have and couldn’t possibly use. Good stuff.
Mark is a constant inspiration. The way he continues doing what he does despite all odds is incredible. As he says, he’s not called, he’s forced. He has no choice but to do this. He has a choice all right, but I’m not sure he could live with himself if he walked away from the homeless people he serves. I could use that kind of heart.
For those who don’t know, I have a long history with yo-yo’s, going back to a high school yo-yo ministry. I also spent a summer as a yo-yoing street performer, which paid the bills (sort of) while I worked the unpaid internship that really started my career (a story explained on the little cards I included with the yo-yo’s). We even gave away yo-yo’s at our wedding. Needless to say, I’ve wanted to get Monkey Outta Nowhere yo-yo’s since I started the company. It’s a testament to my frugality that I waited this long.
The front covers the basic Monkey Outta Nowhere info and the red monkey will actually be applied by hand with a rubber stamp. The back will cover three major side projects I’m involved with, the church communications blog Church Marketing Sucks, the public art site Start Seeing Art and this here personal blog.
After the UnSummit I complained about the difficulty of handing out separate cards for my various endeavors. Somebody suggested I go with a combined card and my designer friend Michael Buckingham of Holy Cow Creative came up with the idea of putting the side projects on the back of my Monkey Outta Nowhere card. It’s an ideal solution since Monkey Outta Nowhere is tied to all three and is really the over-arching brand. It allows me to focus on my main company while still mentioning the assorted side projects. It also means no more juggling multiple cards.
Michael updated my old card and worked within my limitations (don’t touch the logo, don’t touch the monkey) to come up with this new take. It’s very much in the same vein as my old card (same logo, same monkey, same colors), but it’s a major boost in quality. I know how important designers are and how much they can bring to the table, but it’s cool to see it firsthand. I ordered the cards from Uprinting.com today and I’m excited to get them in my hands and see if they’re as cool in reality as they are on screen (that step is always a little scary).
Major thanks goes to Michael Buckingham for the design (I should also give a tip of the hat to Matthew Taylor who gave me advice on the original design five years ago and helped me solidify the logo and the monkey), Jeffrey Martin for the Start Seeing Art logo (we’ll be rolling that out to the Start Seeing Art site soon) and Gabe Taviano for mentioning Uprinting.com as a good (and cheap) source for business card printing.
Unlike Taviano, I managed to order my new cards just in time to miss the only major out of town conference I’ve attended in five years. Oops. On the plus side, they’ll arrive in plenty of time for Christmas.
And the best part? No more using a sharpie to cross out the three-year-old mailing address.
My little side project, Start Seeing Art, made it on the Twin Cities blog MNSpeak today. I’m pretty excited about the exposure. And a little frightened–though so far no one has mocked the rudimentary design, and for that I’m thankful.
Last week I was all excited to announce that Start Seeing Art had mapped 100 works of public art across the Twin Cities (if ‘across’ means primarily in St. Paul). But in the past week alone we’ve added 25 more works of art. Along the way we’ve identified some previously unknown artwork, explored local history and started branching out into Minneapolis (including work by John Grider, one of City Pages2007 Artists of the Year).
It’s been a fun little project. I’ve really enjoyed discovering local art and finding some of our own local artists. Folks like Alvin Carter, Seitu Jones, Craig David, Ta-coumba Aiken, Marilyn Lindstrom and others–their work is all over the Twin Cities. I think Craig David pretty much owns St. Paul’s West Side (the West Side Citizen’s Organization named him “West Sider of the Year”). I’ve mapped nine of his works, seven of which are on the West Side. And I know of a few others I haven’t covered yet.
It’s also painfully clear that I have a long way to go. I’ve focused on St. Paul because it’s closer and I know it better, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of public art in Minneapolis. And they’ve probably got a lot more public art than St. Paul.
To celebrate the holiday season Monkey Outta Nowhere adopted a Spider Monkey from the nearby Como Zoo. And no, that doesn’t mean a primate is doing light office work at the Monkey Outta Nowhere headquarters. It just means we’re supporting a local urban zoo that’s a great, low-cost attraction.
We hope you and your family–and the spider monkey’s–have a happy holiday.
About a week ago Monkey Outta Nowhere launched its first independent project, a local art site called Start Seeing Art. The site is all about finding and identifying public art in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, so it can be enjoyed and appreciated.
Too often I’ve either not known a work of art existed in my neighborhood and missed out on it entirely, or I’ve known about the work but I can’t find any information about the artist or the name of the work. So the site is an attempt to find that local artwork, identify it and chart it using a Google Maps mashup so others can more easily find and enjoy it. You can look at the map and see all the works of art across the Twin Cities.
So far Start Seeing Art is in the very early phases (only 11 pieces of art so far) and isn’t much to look at. I’m focusing on content and the technical side before I worry too much about design. In general, I’m trying to follow 37Signal’s Getting Real approach and building Start Seeing Art quickly and cheaply. I’d rather get the content out there and get it working now, even if it doesn’t look so hot, rather than wait six months for a beautiful backend system that costs thousands of dollars (which I don’t have).
We’ll see where it goes and if it turns into a self-supporting media empire. If you know of anyone interested in advertising or sponsorship, please contact me.