Brain Pickings

Search results for “optimism”

Invisible Children + La Blogotheque + You

What child soldiers in Uganda have to do with good music and your hands.

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who helped, Invisible Children met their goal and are now bringing three fantastic artists to Uganda. They’ve just revealed the third, another epic favorite of ours: Lykke Li. You can follow the project’s progress here.

It’s a special occasion when three things we love are coming together for a world-changing cause. Case in point: Invisible Children, the fantastic social and political global movement using storytelling to empower and change lives, is partnering with La Blogotheque to take The Polyphonic Spree and Yeasayer (two of our favorite bands, so that technically takes it up to five favorites) to Uganda.

And they’re using the brilliant Kickstarter platform to crowdsource funds for it.

The project will only be funded if it raises $20,000 by 11:59PM EST on March 11. Right now, it’s at a little over halfway. Please — and we say this with our biggest, most hopeful optimism — help this absolutely life-changing cause by pledging a donation. Even if it’s as little as $10.

You know what they say, many hands make light work. And it’s a heavy burden Invisible Children is fighting. Lend a hand today.



Live Now: In-the-Moment Inspiration

A true exercise in art therapy, or what all motivational posters should aspire to be.

It’s still January, and 2010 has already provided no shortage of loss, tragedy, and challenge. But amidst all of this digital distemper lies a website we love for its seemingly infinite supply of authenticity, hope, and optimism.

Live Now! is an art project whose mission is “powerfully pursuing the notion of ‘living now.’ Engaging participants to live meaningful lives & be happy!”

The homepage greets you with a lovely image reminding you of the importance of living in the moment. With messages like True happiness is giving it away and Practice happiness rendered in winsomely quirky typography, each click-through leads to another picture and message.

The images’ style varies, but they all share the kind of handmade energy in response to which you can’t really help but smile.

What confirms these sentiments as so much more than pablum — besides the artistry of their rendering — is the personal story of Live Now!‘s creator, designer and illustrator Eric Smith, who conceived of the project after being diagnosed with three different types of cancer.

Cancer changed the way I ate, slept, and most importantly the way I live. Before cancer I was like most folks, just cruising along. It was during my treatment, when starting to discover what cancer could give to me — the ability to absorb every moment as if each one were my whole life.

Since Live Now! launched, Davis has opened the experience to a host of other talented artists and designers (David Gibson, CD Ryan, and Kate Miss, among others); he also continues to take submissions. We were even more excited to learn that the project’s various messages are available in print form, allowing you to curate a changing rotation of inspirational messages for yourself.

Live Now! reminds us of another fantastic typographic project around personal growth and happiness, Things I Have Learned In My Life, by Brain Pickings favorite (and three-time TEDster) Stefan Sagmeister. Such collaborative initiatives augur an emerging pattern in graphic design work — call it the aesthetics of authentic life principles.

So put down the newspaper, close that Firefox CNN disaster report tab, let go of the earthquake hashtags, and swap them all for an early-morning shot of motivation and encouragement — because you can rarely have too much of either. To experience beautifully crafted messages of Carpe Diem visit Live Now!, well, now.

Kirstin Butler is writing an adaptation of Gogol for the Google era called Dead SULs, but when not working spends far, far too much time on Twitter. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA.


The Wall In My Head: Words & Art from the Fall of the Iron Curtain

What fallen checkpoints have to do with a generation of artists.

Twenty years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall changed the course of world history as November 9, 1989, marked democracy’s most politically and socially consequential win. When the checkpoints between East and West Berlin burst open, two world that had been kept apart for nearly three decades finally came together, each with its unique tradition of art, ideology and cultural heritage.

Today, Words Without Borders, the international nonprofit working to promote international communication through translation of the world’s best writing, celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with the release of The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain — a gem of an anthology of fiction, essays, images, and original documents, tracing the evolution of this revolutionary spirit from its 1989 origins to the present day.

Unlike traditional historical accounts of that era, The Wall in My Head goes straight to the grittiest, rawest source — the generation of artists and writers who witnessed the fall of the Iron Curtain first-hand. Shaped by this monumental event, their life and work offer profound memories, reflections and insight into that incredible era of frustration, optimism and epic change.

Through this incredible spectrum of stories, voices and accounts, The Wall in My Head paints a rich and powerful portrait of the event that made possible so much of what we take for granted today.

You can read about the project on the book’s blog and sample it with this free chapter [PDF].

The Wall in My Head is out on Amazon — who made the book possible with a charitable donation — today.


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