Intuition Is Key to Innovation in Creative Business

creative business

Kim Chestney, founder of CREATE! Festival, says a thriving creative business depends on intuition. In 2017 roughly 3.5 million people in the United States were employed in the Creative Industries by over 674,000 businesses, ranging from museums and symphonies to design and advertising firms — and this is an extremely conservative approach to documenting those currently employed in creative fields. In contrast, the political and economic juggernaut Walmart employed only 2.3 million people globally in that same year. Still, why should we care about the Creative Industries at all? Because as we move from the information age into an age of imagination, creative businesses and artist entrepreneurs may become the driving force behind an automated and mostly digital economy. And the key to harnessing this power comes down to our intuition. At least that’s how Kim Chestney, the founding director of Pittsburgh’s CREATE! Festival and recent addition to the advisory council        …read more

Why Does My Cat Look Like That? Adventures in Cat Genetics!

cat facts

Impress your friends with these cat facts based on genetics research. I come from a whole family of cat people. A month after moving into my first solo apartment, I walked into my local Humane Society and scooped up an orange-and-white kitten, a male, out of a pile of otherwise all female kittens who looked just like him. When I told people the story, more than one responded with “I thought all orange cats were boys!” I was soon fielding questions about Jonah’s (yeah, that’s my cat’s name) family of origin. I thought I was pretty knowledgeable of cat facts, but there was an area of feline culture where I was severely lacking: genetics. A little digging plunged me into a fascinating world of cat genetics. It turns out that cats, especially their coat colors, have been used as an example to teach genetics for years. And because cats are        …read more

4 Strange Rituals Practiced around the World

strange rituals

From sky burials to infant dropping, these strange rituals may shock you. Throughout the world, many countries have long been known for their strange rituals and traditions. Whether it’s simply a peculiar marriage custom or a bizarre funeral rite, cultural rituals vary widely from place to place. Assembled below are some of the most bizarre traditions and rituals from around the world. 1. Sky Burials, or Celestial Funerals (Tibet) Though “sky burial” may sound like some form of elaborate ceremony involving a helicopter or plane, it’s actually a practice involving the exposure of a corpse to natural elements (typically in an elevated location on a picturesque mountainside) until the corpse has been eaten by vultures and condors. Referred to as jhator (“giving alms to the birds’), the custom stems from Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits. According to jhator, because life is inherently connected to nature, bodies are        …read more

A Closer Look at Media Representations of Jewish People

media representation

How Jews have been presented in film and TV, and why media representation matters. In an episode of Master of None, the characters talk about media representation of Indian people and other marginalized groups. Their conclusion is that there have been great strides recently, if you’re Black or gay. Now, growing up Jewish in the Midwest, I spent a good portion of my life looking at how we were represented. That is, not too well. There are three basic problem areas in media representation of marginalized groups: invisibility, conformity and stereotypes. Let’s look at how these have affected Jews through TV and movie history. 1. Invisibility One problem area in media representation is what I call invisibility. This is the erasure, through omission, of a culture or race. The whole point here is to hide something uncomfortable. I remember the hullaballoo created when Ellen had a lesbian kiss. It was        …read more

12 Times We Set Aside Differences and Showed Human Decency in 2017

human decency

Last year, division dominated our newsfeeds. But there was so much human decency to be found. Take a look. The year 2017 was turbulent both in America and abroad. After the most divisive election in modern history, our newsfeeds were dominated by heated (and often hostile) debates about everything from economics to social issues. As the year came to a close, it was easy to feel disheartened because it seemed we were divided beyond repair. But not so fast! Although these divisions were deep and painful, there were multiple occasions in 2017 that people of all backgrounds, races and political leanings came together to display extraordinary acts of kindness and respect. Here’s a look back at some of the most beautiful, inspiring displays of human decency and unity in 2017. 1. Joe Biden comforted Meghan McCain, whose dad is battling brain cancer. Former Vice President Joe Biden lost his        …read more

Communal Living Is Back — For Some, It Never Went Away

Communal living opportunities are popping up nationwide, appealing to everyone from singles in their 20s to retired couples. Sky Blue loves communal living. And, yes, that’s his real name. “My parents were hippies,” says Blue, 37. And he appears to be following in their footsteps, quite literally. Blue’s parents met at Twin Oaks Intentional Community, a 350-acre piece of land stretching a mile up from the South Anna River in Virginia. The community currently houses about 90 adults and 15 children. Ages range from newborn to 80 years old. Here’s where it gets unconventional: they share everything, from clothing to the residences, which house 10 to 20 each, to their 18 vehicles. They also share income, which goes to a collective. They’re all dedicated completely to communal living. “In some respects, it’s like a 100-person family,” Blue said. These strangers-turned-families who live in intentional communities are popping up throughout the        …read more

9 Festive & Quirky Christmas Traditions from around the World

Christmas traditions

From crashing your neighbors’ homes to noshing on KFC Christmas dinner, maybe it’s time to add some international Christmas traditions to your celebrations. All across the globe, people celebrate the holidays in creative and some downright quirky ways. As you prepare your own holiday festivities this year, take note of these nine unique Christmas traditions from other countries. 1. The Gävle Goat in Sweden In 1966 a man named Stig Gavlén decided to build a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat. Ever since then, the goat has become a symbol of Christmas in Sweden, and it has even been crowned the world’s largest straw goat in the Guinness World Records. The goat is over 40 feet high, and it’s inaugurated every year on the first Sunday of Advent. However, the most interesting aspect of this tradition is another ritual that accompanies it. Every year people try to        …read more

6 Strange Jobs around the World

If you think your line of work is hard to explain at parties, imagine having one of these strange jobs. Want to make a living shoving people around? Maybe you’re looking for something more service-oriented, like helping people evade traffic tickets. One of these six strange jobs just might be for you. 1. Toqueros (Mexico) Looking for a job where you can shock people? In Mexico customers line up to pay for a shock (or toque). All you need is a box with six rechargeable AA batteries, an inverter and a transformer that controls the voltage, and you’re in business. The shock can reach up to 100 volts, and the toque is a more controlled version of sticking your finger in an electrical outlet. After having their victims grasp one handle in each hand — the positive and negative charges — the toquero flicks a switch, keeping the dial at        …read more

8 Gift Ideas for the Minimalist in Your Life

The minimalist in your life may not want much, but a unique gift will show how much you care. What do you get that person on your list who has everything? Easy. More things. People who have lots of stuff tend to crave more stuff. But what do you get that person who has nothing and wants nothing? No thing (not to be confused with “nothing”). Most people know gifts don’t have to be tangible objects, but with minimalism on the rise, especially among millennials, it can be challenging to think of meaningful presents. Here are some thoughtful, creative gift ideas for that minimalist in your life. 1. Experience Would your beloved minimalist enjoy going to an Escape Room? On a hot air balloon ride? Zip-lining? Parasailing? Skydiving? Or perhaps something slightly less adventurous, like going to see a musical, a sporting event, concert, comedy routine or public speaker? Take        …read more

Feeling Like an Old Dog? 5 Tricks to Learn Music as an Adult

learn music

It’s never too late to learn music! My piano student Jane is nearing a nervous breakdown. To help her learn music intuitively, I’ve just explained that I’d like her to experiment by holding down the sustain pedal and improvising with random black keys, which form a pentatonic scale. In an attempt to inspire her, I suggest the dulcet, though accidental, harmony of wind chimes in the breeze. She tenses. Her fingers curl into fists. She narrows her eyes at me. “I hate wind chimes!” she says. Did I mention that Jane is 54 years old? Most children don’t have a problem improvising, perhaps the purest form of “playing” piano — until they’ve taken formal lessons from a teacher who doesn’t emphasize or even touch upon improvisation. My unfortunately uninspired 54-year-old student had taken lessons from such a taskmaster as a child, and when she came to me as an adult        …read more