Back at it

general // Uncategorized

It was almost 3 years ago (August of 2010) that I last wrote here.  It was an article about how, despite not writing much, I needed to – to express much of the random thoughts, opinions, & musings constantly streaming through my mind.  It’s ironic that after writing such an article, I failed to write for the past three years.  I guess I wasn’t as ready as I thought I was.

But the past is the past. And while I’m not making any grand commitments to write a lot, I want to start again.

The past three years have been strange ones for me.  Up until the summer of 2010, I had life pretty well figured out (or so I thought). I was at that time leading an experimental faith community, communitasPHX, in downtown Phoenix.  I was running my small web/print design studio, MethodLab.  I was working to expand both.  I had dreams of building communitasPHX into a more established non-profit exploring spirituality in the developing urban space where traditional faith and church structures aren’t embraced.  We had opened a community art/event space known as fractal (at some expense to my personal finances & without any real business plan).  CommunitasPHX hosted events such as the PHX Brew Party & Taco Day had grown to include larger numbers of people that we knew what to do with. We were in process of bringing on our first paid staff member to pursue new sources of funding and to develop the organization.  As for Methodlab, known as MethodLab Media at the time, we had new office space housed within the fractal space.  My work as Methodlab was becoming more and more public.  As a designer, I was involved in the local design community which offered some amazing relationships & partnerships that benefitted my endeavors.  Business was growing.

And just as quickly as it all happened, it all fell apart.  Fractal quickly became painfully expensive and exhausting to manage.  Some serious miscommunication (I’m sure mostly on my part) caused the relationship with the new communitasPHX staffer to disintegrate. Volunteers we relied on moved away. Trying to develop my design business bored me.  Instead of renewing the lease on our rented 1910 bungalow, Kelli and I decided to purchase a bankruptcy property in Uptown – adding the chaos of moving and a house renovation into the mix of our lives.

Somewhere in all of the chaos and life change, I lost my faith. It wasn’t a complete loss, but enough to shake up my entire world. For the past 3 years, I have been simply existing as a spiritual person, little, if ever, nurturing that part of myself.  But it’s time to reconstruct a faith using the pieces that remain and combining them with pieces that have been newly discovered.

I hope to rediscover a part of myself that has never ceased to exist, but has instead been misplaced. I’ll detail some of it here, but more in depth posts on spirituality can be found at the Open Abbey.

For now, I just needed to get this first post (as jumbled and all over the place as it might be) written as a first step.

July 16th, 2013

my-hipstaprint-0

Why I haven’t been writing, but need to NOW.

creativity // musings // rhythm

my-hipstaprint-0I am an external processor.  I need to get my thoughts outside of my head and heart to be able to, with any sense of accuracy, decipher them.  For my entire life, I’ve used the generous ears of others to intellectually and emotionally wrestle with myself. With this incessant, outloud-thinking, I’ve burned a bridge or two – exhausting the patience of some and fully completely running off others. Despite this disease of the mouth, my wife remains by my side and I still consider myself in the good graces of at least a handful of close friends.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been extremely insecure with my identity as a verbal processor.  It’s not normal, at least in the, “most people don’t do this” sort of “normal test”.  I hate burdening people with my circular thoughts and rhetorical questions. I am keenly aware of the moment a friend has “had enough” of my rambling and their eyes “gloss over” in mental exhaustion. It would be so much easier to have simpler and more focused conversations with my wife, instead of problem-solving, thought-explorative, or introspective ones.
But I’ve come to terms with this part of who I am.  I need to let the chaos in my head and heart escape from their confines and breathe the open air of the world – if even for a few moments. I realize that having these “conversations with myself” have the potential to be damaging.  What emerges from these sessions are often unfinished and less than fully matured. Processing externally means I will often say things I don’t mean. I will inevitably be guilty of staking claim to concepts that I haven’t had sufficient time to ponder.  I will make responses without considering the depths and complexity of emotion or experience. Above all, I will be wrong….and often.  But, this is how I best understand myself – through the public, yet honest exploration of what is really going on inside myself.
For so many years, I’ve dabbled with writing as a medium for this self-discovery, but have never given it the effort or applied the discipline necessary to make a real go at it.  I wonder if it might be a more healthy way to get my thoughts out. When I verbally process my thoughts, the other person serves as a mirror, reflecting the beauty or horror of my thinking so that I may become aware of it.  For some reason, no matter how well i thinkI understand the thoughts in my head, seeing their impact on the expression of a friend is so much more exposing.  But perhaps the words on a page can serve me in this way.  On the page,  I can see the ideas as if they came from someone else.  Once the concepts have been submitted, I can react to and judge them as if they have been somehow divorced from my possession. And then there’s the possibility that this “thinking outloud” might resonate with others who come across it and provide a sense of comfort, of challenge, or of solidarity. This is the most I can hope – that in the selfish need to understand myself, that someone might come to better understand themselves.
So I will try to write. I get over the hill of excuses and self-doubt.  I will write for myself and, in doing so, hope that it extends beyond myself.

August 24th, 2010

a conversation

community // Spirituality

I’ve recently been in a conversation with a friend about the possibility of expanding the “brand of communitas” (his words, not mine) to a larger circle of folks in the Phoenix area.  While I’ve back and forth about how I feel about this conversation, my biggest fear has remained that I don’t want to get in the way of the communitas ethos and dreams if they must move far beyond the little band of us who live these ways out in downtown Phoenix.  Below are excerpts from a my most recent response to this conversation.  I’m not sure why I feel it important to document some of my thoughts here, except for the fact that they represent a clear sense of what I’m/we’re here to do.

“I’ve always imagined communitas being a counter-cultural voice among an already counter-cultural people.  I think it would frustrate me to try to bring the ethos we carry to the larger public.”

“The suburbs need this stuff (communitas). They need initiatives that invite them to dream bigger about how they can care for “the other”.  They need to imagine a God that is not just their God, but also the God of the atheist, the lesbian, and the homeless man.  They need to learn how to be present to the places where God is most present.  But I left that world for a reason.  At first it was because in my impatience I couldn’t handle the shortsightedness of it’s people of faith.  But I’ve realized that it’s much more than this. I’ve realized that my place is to be a voice among a different people.  My job is to be a symbol of the kingdom of God in the spaces and places of the forgotten empire and among the simultaneous messiness and authenticity of the city.”

“So I hear your dreams and ideas and get excited for them, but unfortunately not in the ‘I’m in, let’s do this’ sort of way, but in a ‘I believe this needs to happen, so please do it’ way.”

“I feel called to keep things simple, accessible, authentic, honest, and real.  You feel called to expand, to develop, to make better, to make more efficient.”

I am convinced that I will continuously wrestle with what my specific role is in the redemptive plan of God.  I am also convinced that this constant wrestling is much better than never asking the question at all. Far too many of us settle into roles in which we were never meant to fill, and find ourselves far too comfortable to move on.  What is clear (for now), is that the best thing I can do is pay attention to those who have chosen to invest their lives in the work and efforts of communitas.  I must learn to better pay attention to the personalities, stories, and experiences of others as opposed to the multitude of initiatives (read “programs”) we can give birth too.  I can (and have in recent years) get far too busy with activity that I fail to be present to the people that these activities were meant to serve.  I will not do that anymore….as least I will do my best to try.

July 26th, 2010

Harmony + Health Acupuncture: Website

design

Harmony and Health Acupuncture is a new acupuncture clinic in Central Phoenix where the ancient art of Traditional Chinese Medicine  is combined with modern medical science to treat a broad range of conditions. Owner Ann Rea consulted MethodLab Media to design a website for her new business that was clean, modern, and pleasing to the eyes.

For H+H, we developed a website built upon the WordPress platform giving the look and feel of a traditional site, but with the administrative ability for the client to log-in the backend of the site to make edits and changes herself. The site makes great use of the identity and color scheme we developed for H+H, and has just the right amount of movement at the top of the page to create interest, while keeping the site uncluttered. We’re excited to be partnering with Ann and Harmony and Health Acupuncture as they bring there terrific services to Central Phoenix.

Services:
Web Design, WordPress development

This article was originally posted at www.methodlabmedia.com

May 4th, 2010

Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship

design

The Collegiate Match Play Championship is an annual tournament organized by our client, The Golf Coaches Association of America. The Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) is a professional association representing collegiate men’s golf coaches and their student-athletes throughout the country.  Established in 1958, this non-profit organization of more than 700 members is dedicated to educating, promoting and recognizing both its members and the student-athletes who participate in collegiate golf at all levels. The Collegiate Match Play Championship is recognized as having one of the top collegiate fields annually and has been held on some truly great venues including Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas; Reynolds Plantation the Oconee Course, Greensboro, Georgia; Mission Inn Golf Resort, Howey In the Hills, Florida and in 2009 The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

We developed the Collegiate Match Play site with the GCAA in mind, building the site on a Content Management System that allowed them to easily add and edit content during the event itself.  After each round of play, the GCAA team loaded news articles, picture galleries, and scoring updates to the site to inform fans, as well as friends & family members of the participants.

The design highlights the content, while keeping the aesthetic minimal and complementary.  We’re proud to work with the GCAA and the great events they host around the nation.

Services:
Web Design, CMS Development

This article was originally posted at www.methodlabmedia.com

May 3rd, 2010

ReWire: Marketing Brochure

design

ReWire is a new initiative of Church Resource Ministries that works with existing church leaders to help them better engage the culture around them.  They wanted a look that represented their interest in urban environments and the messy reality of our world, yet would still resonate with leaders in local church contexts.

We designed an identity for ReWire that balanced the two worlds that their work represents. We then developed a tri-fold marketing brochure (7″x7″) utilizing gritty, urban imagery and clean typography.  Finally, we used elements of the identity & the brochure to design a few header images for use in CRM’s existing website.

Services:
Identity Design, Print Design, Web Design

This article was originally posted at www.methodlabmedia.com

April 30th, 2010

What is Taco Day?

mission

The tweets are circulating, the facebook event page is up, and the website is online. Taco Day 5 is nearly upon on us. Taco Day is a 12-hr taco party where you bring something to drink, some money for charity, and you eat free tacos, this much is clear.  But what’s isn’t always clear for folks who come across the event, is the concept behind Taco Day.  Who is this communitasPHX group that puts it on?  What is it about? Is it really free? What’s the point?

To be honest, for most Taco Day participants, answers to these questions aren’t that vital.  The combination of the words, “party” & “free tacos” are enough to secure their participation. But for those unfamiliar with Taco Day and those who haven’t been to one of the 4 previous Taco Day’s, these questions linger.  So here’s a behind the scenes look at Taco Day – a glimpse into the what and why behind the annual event.

The Story of Taco Day:
IMG_6502For my wife, Kelli and I, Taco Day began about 7 years ago.  While living in Southern California, some friends invited us to an all day Taco Party. Apparently, two buddies who had birthdays close to each other, decided to celeb rate their birthdays together by throwing a party for all of their friends.  They decided that instead of people giving them gifts, they would instead “give” their community of friends tacos – all day long.  This crazy but brilliant idea became an annual excuse for all their friends to be together and to celebrate the sense of community between them.  It was a simple, but powerful expression of what human relationships could look like.

As we moved our family back to Phoenix-metro area 5 years ago, Taco Day was something we knew we had to start in the desert.  So in 2005, we hosted Taco Day Uno at our home in Mesa. Opening up our house for 12hrs and having all our friends of our friends a hundred or so tacos could have easily been an overwhelming and exhausting experience.  But it wasn’t.  Something was beautiful about all of our friends stopping by, about us making tacos for them, and about connecting friends from different circles with each other.  The whole event was life-giving to us and gave us a new purpose as a family who wanted to promote and model new, hopeful, and generous ways of human interconnectedness.

As we enter our 5th year of Taco Day here in Phoenix, we’ve moved the event (and our family) to Downtown Phoenix, a vibrant and developing part of town that’s know for it’s counter-cultural people and creative expression. At Taco Day Cuatro, we had over 170 friends eat over 800 tacos and helped us raise $1200 for the Laundry Love Project – a local initiative serving the working poor.  Even with all of this growth, we can’t shake the feeling that Taco Day is just getting started. We hope to soon give the idea away to others looking to host Taco Days wherever they live across the country (or world). For now, though, we’ll focus on making this year’s event as special and as unique of an experience as any previous Taco Day.

So What’s the Point of Taco Day?:
IMG_6503

What’s not to like about friends, free tacos, and supporting a good cause? First and foremost, Taco Day is an experiment. In a world that seems to be increasingly isolated and individualistic, we wanted to get people together for a common good. There is something deep inside each of us that enjoys connecting with those we share our city and neighborhoods with. There is something inside each of that is interested in getting to better know those who see the world a bit differently than we do. This diversity of perspective challenge the ways in which we relate to one another and demand that we live more hospitable toward one another. And as we better understand each other, we learn how to exist and to work together to meet the unique challenges of our city.

Who is communitasPHX and what is their role with Taco Day:
CommunitasPHX is a local non-profit based in Downtown Phoenix that seeks to cultivate spirituality, community, justice, and creativity in the city. With initiatives ranging from a collaborative art/music/workspace (fractal) to grassroots work with the working poor (The Laundry Love Project) & the homeless (On Bikes with Love), communitasPHX hopes to offer fresh and creatives alternatives to the way in which we live and relate to one another. For the communitasPHX community, Taco Day has become a way in which we can model radical hospitality and inclusive generosity. Those involves with the movement help plan, pay for, set-up, and clean-up Taco Day each year. Our hope is that this simple gesture illuminates a new path of community, hospitality, and generosity for our neighborhoods and cities.

What else you need to know about Taco Day:

  1. YOU are invited – all are welcome to this event and the more the merrier. So bring some friends with you as well as some drinks to throw in a cooler to share with the the Taco Day crowd. If you can, bring a few dollars to support the work and efforts of communitasPHX.
  2. It’s 12hours long (10am-10pm) – you really don’t have a good excuse not to come. Your cousin’s wedding doesn’t last all day. You aren’t scheduled to work the entire time between 10am-10pm. You can stop by for 5 minutes or you can stay for 12hours – it’s up to you. Eat tacos for breakfast – we don’t care when you come, we’d just love for you to be a part of Taco Day.
  3. ALL money donated will go straight to the various initiatives of communitasPHX. Donations help us dream of new programs to run out of our community artspace (fractal) and will help us start new LLP’s and OBWL’s around the city. It’s good stuff that’s making a difference in the City of Phoenix.

We’d LOVE to have you join us for Taco Day 5.  You’ll find all the specifics of the event on the Taco Day website (http://www.tacodayaz.com) or on the Facebook event page.

This article was originally posted on the communitasPHX blog

April 19th, 2010

a creative week

creativity

As the new year rolled around, I made a commitment to better document aspects of my life, not because I’m arrogant enough that think that my life is all that interesting, but because I want to intentionally leave behind a trail of my existence that gives my kids (and their kids) a narrative and understanding into who I was and more importantly, what was important to me. To see my original post on this, click here.

On another note, I’ve taken vows with a few others who are a part of The Symbol Collective, to create as a regular rhythm of life.  Last week, I had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time creating things and wanted to post them all here:

Monk Rawk Custom Taphandles:

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Monk Rawk Business Cards:

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4 Homebrewed beers (a wheat, an IPA, a Pale Ale, and our PHX BrewParty-winning Whiskey-barrel porter)

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First Friday Exhibition at fractal (in living…. we have ceased to be alive)

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February 8th, 2010

Dwelling in the Cracks; Filling the voids

mission

After two years of life & work in downtown Phoenix, there is so real momentum behind communitasPHX. We’ve built a great deal of social capital & relational credibility, and our initiatives and events we’ve hosted have been well received by downtown dwellers. Now, with the opening of fractal, an art, music, & workspace in the Downtown Phoenix arts district, our opportunities are endless to make an even bigger impact on the people & culture of our city. At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, it’s quite remarkable that we’ve been given such a voice and such influence here in such a short amount of time.

Don’t get us wrong, this influence hasn’t been easy. We have worked hard for the past two years to gain the trust of neighbors. We have had to overcome the stigma associated with Christianity that young urbanites carry. We’ve promoted and participated in the agendas, hopes, and dreams of others. We’ve had to prove to folks in downtown that we love and care deeply not just about Jesus, but also about the city, her problems, and her people. Any voice we’ve been given to speak into the challenges of Downtown Phoenix has been because we’ve chosen to dwell in the places where we find voids.

There are numerous factors that play into the development of any city. If a city is young in it’s development cycle, or if it is far from reaching it’s full potential, many of these factors are being neglected. These “voids” could be anything: the lack of enough art spaces or music venues, a lack of social services to care for the poor and under-resourced, or the lack of a good bar or coffee shop. These voids are like the cracks of an old concrete sidewalk. They represent that which is keeping the city from being whole and they need to be filled. Filling these “cracks” help us “play a significant role” in the neighborhood we live in. They allow us to weave ourselves in the fabric of the community. And they give us a voice in the development of in our city.

Unfortunately, most communities of faith don’t realize the power of filling these voids in their cities. All too often, they come to their cities with a pre-conceived plan and agenda that fails to be sensitive to the real needs of the city. Our commitment is to dwell in the cracks of our city, to look for God there, and to join in whatever we find Him up to. Here’s how we’ve been able to fill these types of voids recently:

fractal as an art & music venue

Recently, the premiere downtown small music venue for independent and local bands announced it would be adjusting it’s format and would no longer be hosting these small concerts. With fractal, we can open our space up to these events and invite a whole new creative community in Phoenix to participate.

To view an article that our local entertainment magazine wrote about fractal, click here.

fractal as a community resource

As in any city, the needs of the under-resourced are numerous. Fractal gives us a home base for our justice initiatives (Laundry Love Project and On Bike With Love), but it has also allowed us to invite other groups doing great stuff in downtown Phoenix to join us in the space.

The Rusty Spoke Community Bike Initiative – the Rusty Spoke is a community bicycle shop that “provides space and tools for people to come to learn how to repair their bicycle and can also work towards getting a new bike by doing work trade at the shop or buying the bike outright at an affordable price”. These guys are recycling bike parts, promoting alternative forms of transportation, and providing transportation for those living on the streets. We’re excited and honored to partner with these guys.

To see the Rusty Spoke in action, view a recent video we’ve made

Rapid ReBrand – With another partner of ours, the Dojo Collective, we’ve developed an initiative that provides free design, web, and marketing solutions for local non-profits we believe in. Tapping into the graphic design community around us, we lock a group of designers and web developers in our space for 6hours once a month and don’t let them out until they’ve created a logo, website, print material, and whatever else our chosen non-profit needs to moves it’s efforts forward. It’s a great way to get the creative skills of the design community interfacing with the non-profit community to initiate change.

spiritual space

Many of our friends in downtown Phoenix don’t feel comfortable in church settings. Others have significant baggage that keep them from exploring God in the ways of Jesus. So we’ve starting a every-other week gathering for people to explore and interact with God in creative ways. This “space” is meant to be open, inclusive, and free-form. We hope to create environments and opportunities for people to have genuine interaction and connection with God.

Each of these are ways in which we’re dwelling in the voids that exist in our city. They are unique to our context and our experience. These can’t be duplicated elsewhere with the expectation of the same results. They have come as a result of us listening to those God’s put us in relationships with. We’ve chosen to get involved in each of these because we’re convinced they each represent a way in which we can be living symbols of God and his Kingdom.

This article was originally posted on the communitasPHX blog

February 1st, 2010

How life should be lived

Uncategorized



IMG_7028, originally uploaded by znewsome.

I wish everyday was like this.

January 11th, 2010

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