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Diversity + Serendipity | An Interview on Life By Me

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My childhood was very diverse. I was raised in the United States, England, and Italy. Those different cultures and my interactions with diverse people planted a seed of great appreciation for diversity. I would hang out with the rugby team, the science nerds, the theater crowd, and everyone in between. In some ways, that made it complicated for me to find my own identity. Now I find great comfort in being a little bit outside my comfort zone and I love to seek out connections with diverse people. I find great value in them.”

Thanks to Life By Me for the write up! Read the full article here…

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The Tuxedo Tyrants Charitable Soirée @ Steve Glenn’s ‘LivingHome’

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Since 2008, The Tuxedo Tyrants have dressed up in their fanciest garb and terrorized numerous neighborhoods of LA, with decadent behavior and tall tales of their exploits.

In an effort to win back some community kharma – while still infusing their legendary brand of fancy hedonism – the Tyrants have teamed up with LivingHomes founder Steve Glenn to raise funds for The Enterprise Community Partners, focusing on their supportive housing programs.

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The venue will be one of Santa Monica’s most gorgeous – and most environmentally newsworthy – modular structures from LivingHomes. After Steve kicks us to the curb around 10pm, we’ll be populating a nearby Santa Monica bar to continue the festivities.

* 6pm-10pm | Drinks and Hors d’Oeuvres Provided *

* BY RSVP ONLY | ADDRESS PROVIDED UPON REGISTRATION *

* All Proceeds to go to The Enterprise Community Partners *

FINAL REPORT FROM 2/19/2011 Event:

“For every dollar that is gifted to Enterprise, we are able to leverage an additional $15 in support. Therefore for the $840 raised with the Tuxedo Tyrants, we will be able to direct approximately $12,600 towards community development in low-income areas. The funds raised from the event you sponsored will go directly towards Enterprise Green Communities (www.greencommunitiesonline.org) initiatives in the Los Angeles market where we are actively engaged in retrofitting multifamily affordable housing properties. Over the past 14 years, Enterprise has supported the construction or rehabilitation of 7,500 affordable homes in the Los Angeles area – effectively touching more than 20,000 people with low-incomes in southern California.”

  

More on LivingHomes, featured in Wired Magazine:

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February 2011 / Updated Website & Very Late New Years Update


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(Excerpt from most recent ProjectFresh mailer…)

My freshest of friends both near and far; Mindsharians, Syyners and Tuxedo Tyrants everywhere; I salute you!

It’s been many moons since I sent a ProjectFresh update, much to the chagrin of spam-free inboxes everywhere. Of course if you’d rather not hear from me a few times a year, feel free to click ‘unsubscribe’ at the bottom – no hard feelings :)

And now, the update you’ve all been yearning for! After returning from South America in late March 2010, I spent most of the year in sunny California, working on projects surrounding Mindshare LA and Syyn Labs. By late 2010, I decided to turn ProjectFresh away from being a vessel of unabashed self-promotion and toward the community, offering a new series of Los Angeles events called ProjectFresh Presents. Each month we gather people from around our vacuous city for a night of focused, action-oriented discussion; it has already garnered large crowds and a syndicated article from the LA Times. Accordingly, I have updated the ProjectFresh website and clarified its mission and projects – also listed below. My one egoic allowance is a single link to my own bio pageso if you’ve ever wondered about my checkered past and questionable present, I’ve outlined it briefly there.

As for my loving family: my sweet sister and NYC yoga guru, Sissy, got married to the handsome and charming Craig Stanton while my wildlife hero sister, Victoria, continues to fight for animals’ rights to a happy existence deep in the woods of Ithaca, NY. My eccentric mother, Jojo, and husband Ed Osgood continue to prove to us all that age is no barrier to high-energy, and even my dear father, Willard Jr., keeps me posted with email jokes and Glenn Beck tirades. I send you all my love.

Finally, the tardiness of this 2010 update is indicative of the tsunami of activity that early 2011 brought in; besides the large response to ProjectFresh Presents – prompting many new collaborations and a second night of cause-based movie screenings – Syyn Labs exploded into the New Year with a Fast Company article highlighting our recent Google project, the cover of BrandX, a local LA newspaper magazine and even a interview on CNN.

What will the rest of the 2011 bring? Of course I have my goals, but when the course is set with compassion and positivity, there is little need for a detailed map.

In striving to be the most compassionate and positive of shipmates, I send my fondest regards,

Dougie Fresh

Douglas Campbell
Community Builder, Experience Engineer & Tuxedo Tyrant

www.projectfresh.com

ATTENTION ANGELENOS! How will technology affect future government?Are you happy?Do you like tuxedos?

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Goodbye Master Cleanse! Hello Probiotic Course and Intense Green Juice!



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Day 10 came and went of a perfectly executed master cleanse (OK, maybe I missed a couple of the salt water flushes – gaack!) – and so it’s time to break the fast. (And that sausage, egg and cheese omlette that you’ve been craving is not the best idea!)

After 10 days of nothing but water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper your body needs to ease back into solid foods. In the past, I’ve found the best method is to start with a course of probiotics that will repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria – setting you on a good digestive course. Juices, light soups can accompany this and help you ease back into solid, complex foods.

I decided to begin with a High C + wheat grass mega juice and accompanying probiotic (each of these little shots contains 50bn bacteria and I’ll take one a day for 6 days..)

After such a period of caloric restriction it doesn’t take much and after half hour later the juice is making me feel energized and amped… I survived the Master Cleanse! Time to blast into the day, and then to Mindshare LA tonight ;)

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Master Cleanse Day 7 vs. The Great Chili Cook Off

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The Master Cleanse. Trusted and endorsed by Beyonce, so it’s gotta be good.

Most of us in the west are privileged to live in a time in which we don’t experience anything near true hunger. In fact, our next meal is so assured that we can be ultimately choosy with what sensation we want to chase. Much of what we ingest is well beyond what we actually need to sustain ourselves – and the rush of sweetness, comfort of fullness and jolliness of inebriation can become slippery slopes of addiction. Paul Graham, has written extensively on the ‘acceleration of addiction‘ in the modern world, and concluded that ‘we’ll increasingly be defined by what we say no to.’ This is very inline with the teachings from the Vipassana meditation courses that I’ve attended, which teach you how to become a master of your mind, and more aware of your blind reactions. Meditators have found that the ability to control your reactions to cravings and aversions has great effect on their level of happiness and fulfillment.

From an early age, food was my ultimate object of comfort; I could always turn to cookies and pie to take me away from uncomfortable or unhappy times. This crutch has been ingrained in me since childhood and is a very hard cycle to break. Even when I’m on a good path, old habit patterns easily take hold, aided and abetted by the trickery of my own subjectivity: “Oh you’re doing fine, it’s just a slice of cake before bed.. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow!”. Left unchecked, my decadent character can take hold and I have certainly been wary of a somewhat addictive personality. I live a very social life and I find myself around alcohol almost every night; it takes strength of character to say ‘no thanks’.

So once in a while (and typically after the December holiday month) I find it very helpful to challenge myself with a serious test of will. And the Master Cleanse is a serious test of will! So, what is the master cleanse? Some people conjure up an image of a muscular dominatrix, smiling and holding an enema kit. But it’s not that malevolent. You can read more about it here but in short: for 10 days you do not eat any solids – the only thing you consume is around 3 liters a day of a mixture of water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup (apparently this grade is more nutrient rich). Add to this, daily ‘salt water flushes’ (made up of a liter of lukewarm sea salt dissolved in water’) that zips through your body and out the other side within 30 minutes, carrying with it any final intestinal junk. You get the idea – it’s not very pleasant.

The master cleanse mixture itself is not too disgusting – it’s like a spicy lemonade, and actually quite effective at staving off hunger. You always keep your juice bottle nearby and whenever you feel that familiar pang of hunger – just take a big swig. The first couple of days are tough, and then it gets easier (around Day 5 I feel super energetic) until you close in on the finish line and then time seems to slow down. This is my 4th time in about two years; the shortest has been 6 days and the longest time I’ve done is 14 days. The first time, the 14 day stint, was instrumental in resetting my intestinal flora, which subsequently enabled me to digest lactose. My scientist friends love to debate with me about how it’s a hoax and actually has no physiological benefit – and in fact it could well be quite detrimental to the body. And they may be right! On a level of bodily processes, the master cleanse might not be the best thing for you. And perhaps any fast would have reset my intestinal flora with the same result. But for me, the effect goes beyond the physiological – it’s a test of will, patience and perseverance, and no more so than when you’re friends all decide that it’s a great Sunday for a chili cook off. I had started on Monday, it was only Thursday when it was announced, and I wasn’t due to end the cleanse until Wednesday; it was going to be a truly terrible experience.

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By Day 5 my dreams were becoming guilt ridden, anxiety-mares, tearing through bakeries with mouthfuls of cake and cookies, cursing myself for ruining the master cleanse. I’d wake up clutching a ball of blankets, almost still tasting the warm chocolate and sugar, being thankful that it was only a dream. But working at home during the week made it pretty easy to avoid temptation. On Friday we had a party and it was actually manageable. I clutched a club soda ‘on the rocks’, and blended in with the drinkers enough for it not to be a regular topic of discussion. But I knew the Great Chili Cook Off would be the real test.

Sunday morning came and I was already pretty miserable. It was Day 7 of the cleanse and I was beginning to get pretty bored of spicy lemonade. I felt that I deserved a break – but I know this feeling of ‘deserving’ is the very thing that takes hold of me at the edge of every addictive precipice. I’ve seen those ‘deserved’ treats often become more of daily norm: “Thanksgiving pie for breakfast anyone?” Now it’s been said that it only takes a few days of hunger for groups of people to start acting with primal instinct, looting and stealing – even cannibalism in sever situations, I grimly thought to myself. I was beginning to get a little edgy. I decided to go for a walk in the botanical gardens near my house to take my mind off things. It didn’t really help but I was determined to come back and have fun – or at least vicariously enjoy the chili cook through the enjoyment of my friends. This was the plan.

When I returned there was four different varieties of chili were simmering on the stove, a couple of chunky beef versions, a chicken and white bean chili and even a vegetarian option – all filling the house with a rich aroma. Guests had already arrived and brought a slew toppings for the chill, as well as a table of homemade cakes, pies, cookies. I smiled and reached for my juice bottle. Perhaps if I take a big swig, and then smell the chili – it might convince my brain that I was full on chili! It was a mediocre success.

As I moved through the house, chili bowl-less and somewhat forlorn, I tried to stay positive, but of course everyone knew I was on the master cleanse and either had a question or comment to add. Of course I didn’t mind, this was to be expected, but it kept reminding me how nice it would be to have a bowl of chili with sour cream and cheese. Or just a slice of home mad carrot cake, dammit! As the evening went on, people got more full on beer and chili so eventually I busied myself making a fire, rather than watch people return for more pie. The master cleanse was tough enough, maybe I should have made myself scarce for this party, I thought to myself.

Today, Day 8, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. The truth is there will always be more chili – and more carrot cake. The ability to control craving has profound effects on how you negotiate the numerous temptations of life. Of course my ideal situation would be to find a sustained balance, but when you feel you’ve slipped off the boat, sometimes there’s nothing more effective than a sharp habitual hack. Come Thursday, I’ll have to ease back into regular food with a course of probiotics, soups, juices and raw food but after that, I’m pretty sure than the two bowls of chili I secretly froze will still taste good.

But until then, I’ll just keep reaching for the bottle.

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2011 is off with a bang!

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See all of December’s Mindshare photos here…

Happy 2011 to all – and what a blast into the new year it has been! Nexus NYE was a sold out success, and even the Fire Marshall commented on our wonderful crowd as he made room for the final people in line!

Just to keep you in the loop, here’s some upcoming events and press from some of LA’s most dynamic groups:

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Projectfresh Presents: Conscious Capitalism and the Brain

TOMORROW, January 11th, 7pm (More info & tickets…)

RECENT PRESS IN THE LA TIMES…

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Mindshare LA

THURSDAY, January 20th, 7pm (More info & Tickets…)

PICS FROM DEC EVENT…

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Syyn Labs

NEW PROJECT: Their Google Science Fair RGM was just unveiled. (See Video…)

The Fast Company wrote and article which dropped TODAY!

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Nexus New Years Eve 2011 SUCCESS!

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I’m used to hosting brainy events – or at least events where some sort of presentation sits at the core of the experience, such as Mindshare and Projectfresh Presents. Full on parties have so far not been my MO, with the occasional exception of Tuxedo Tyrants and Science Meets Art Soirées, both of which fall on the more intimate scale. But this New Years, I delved into new territory as a full scale party promoter – and this wasn’t any hidden underground party, this was a fully permitted and legal event – how progressive!

Nexus NYE 2011 was to be a unique celebration in downtown LA – combining the forces of a handful of community characters including the “always in the center of the action” Curious Josh, as well as Blue InSomnia, Project Alma and Ninja Skillz. The vision was to combine various disparate LA groups into a big 1500 person event for a night of art, music, culture and creativity. Nexus NYE 2011 was billed as “The Union of Tribes” .

And what a night it was! Fantastic interactive art installations from the minds of Syyn Labs (and others), four colorful stages, including a dark and secluded ‘Kundalini Lounge’, highlighting the DJ talents of 30+ DJs and keeping the dancing crowd entertained until the sold out venue finally had to announce ‘last calls’. I watched as throngs of people left with smiles on their faces, ready to continue 2011 with the same sort of spirit that they launched it with… Quotes from the Facebook page were filled with euphoria:

“An amazing night. Drove home to San Diego at 2:30 so full of love and energy from all you wonderful people! Best New Years ever!”

“Thank you NEXUS crew for an awesome start to the new year!!! Wishing ALL OF YOU good things from heaven in the 2011!!! >=iii=<()~~~~2011!”

and the gushing:

“Now come on for realz…..I’m been simmering about this for a few hours now…… THAT WAS AN EPIC NYE……(and I’ve been to plenty of disasters) NO DETAIL WAS LEFT UNTURNED…….. wow….. enough music, enough effects, enough bartenders, enough coziness, enough furiness, enough ENOUGH ENOUGH…..freaking brilliant!!! This is my fi…rst NYE in LA so I am so thankful for *BLUE & CREW* for producing such an awesome event…….kudos are coming out my arse right now….. oh yea, and freaking SOLOVOX was at the top of his game boy, 2 words….bou and ya!!!

THANK YOU THANK YOU, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, 5 STARS ***** xxoxoxxoxoxo”

While I was putting on the 500th bracelet (and trying not to get any arm hair stuck), the Fire Marshall turned to me and said “What a nice bunch of people you’ve gathered – I think I can let in another 100 – lets try not to leave anyone outside…” Even vice came by and apparently told the venue “Wow, great crowd here – looks like we won’t need to be coming back later…” WHAT SORT OF BIZARRE REALITY IS THIS?! A legal and permitted one apparently… And that feels nice :)

Massive thanks to 613 Imperial, all of the talent and crew and of course to my fellow promoters, Josh, Chris, Travis and Saynt – looking forward to more fun in 2011! You can see the full line and credits here and pics from Curious Josh here.

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The Promoter and the “Reply All” Vote

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Yesterday, a local LA club promoter emailed me about his New Years Eve party… and CCd entire list on the email! In other words, each and every email address was visible to each and every email recipient. I decided that it might be time to teach him a lesson – after all, this was not the first time it had happened. I clicked “Reply All” with the devious plan to email the list with my OWN New Years Eve party details!

Before clicking ‘send’ however, I decided to take a public vote and to put it out on Facebook and Twitter. Within half an hour, 8 votes were in – 7 confirmed that it was a good idea to send the email, and only 1 person said I should not. I went back to the email with my ploy validated, and once again thinking I would press ‘send’.

However, I thought about it one more time and even with public support I chose NOT to send the email. Instead I just sent my cheeky response to the promoter to which he promptly replied with embarrassment and gushing thanks. I told him to have a great NYE and that I was “looking forward to combining forces in 2011″ A far wiser move which creates new avenues for opportunity rather than resentment or hurt feelings.

The lesson here is that first of all, be very aware of what kind of energy is behind your actions. Perhaps I wanted to pump my ego, or was feeling greedy for sales of my own. At the very best I would have annoyed him, probably appeared like a spammer to those on the list and maybe got a sale or two. Hardly worth it. Another important lesson is to always be wary in heeding the advice of others – especially those who have the time to partake in votes like this :)

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Thanksgiving Worst Side Dishes: Egoism and Selfishness

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A pompous male turkey at Farm Sanctuary, in upstate NY.

As has become customary, Thanksgiving was spent at my sister’s house / wildlife sanctuary in the woods of Ithaca, NY. Recovering patients this year included a crippled raccoon and three flying squirrels that had been kidnapped and mauled by a cat. The latter would often escape their cage and jump around the kitchen from person to person, until they were finally recaptured.

The week was spent primarily eating far too much, as well as discovering a sanctuary for abused farm animals, and having some good times with the family. At least most of the time was ‘good times’. As is regular in many families, no holiday can be truly complete without some sort of explosive episode.

Near the end of the trip, in a rather dramatic display of frustration between two family members, one family member kicked over a table and wildly swung a laptop in the air before being restrained. Was it simply too many sugary pies? Was it an act inspired from the recently watched History Channel’s documentary on “The French Revolution”? Perhaps, but at least on the surface, the issue was that the recipient of the fury had indicated that they didn’t want to go to Sunday church, to which the other had reacted rather strongly.

As my bus back to NYC cut a curvy path through the woods of upstate NY, I considered the accusations of egoism and selfishness that had been tossed around a couple of days earlier. When such accusations are directed my way, I like to try my best not to react defensively but to objectively explore them and try to empathize with the accusatory party. Why? Stubbornness and inflexibility are weak traits – and very counter-productive to growth. I view my life as a design project and am not afraid of being wrong or not knowing something – I just try to get better with each iteration. The situation got me thinking what the ego actually is, and where the line of selfishness gets drawn.

The ego is an interesting thing and you should monitor its effect in your daily actions. I like to think of the ego as a parasite. As self awareness, thought and language emerged in human beings, so did a formless entity that constantly tries to prove its physical form through collection and display of objects. Of course we are perfectly complete beings without it but it does a pretty superb job of both convincing us that it IS us and that we’ll be far more complete with designer clothes, sexy lovers, shiny objects and in general a better set up than those around us. Now I don’t want to completely rebuke the ego – when properly handled, it can be a very useful tool to aid us along our journey. For example, being aware of your social skills, financial influence or position of power can truly help you leverage these assets into positive social action. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum that ranges from egoic freedom to egoic control but it’s crucial to acknowledge that the ego is a guest in our homes, and we’re in charge of it – not vice versa.

Inevitably the young ego leads much of our development. It’s interesting to note that my two sisters, as well as myself, have all structured our lives around giving our energy to others. One of my sisters teaches pre- and postnatal yoga, while the other rescues wild animals. I like to foster community engagement and give people the forum to shine. This is most probably a product of an emotionally charged childhood and learning from a young age to deal with highly erratic family situations. How is everyone feeling? Why can I do to help? Should I get involved or run for cover? How can I display that I’m working hard and doing a good job? Personally, I know that while much of my energy is spent creating socially beneficial opportunities, it’s also probably quite outwardly apparent how much I enjoy my life – which might appear ‘selfish’, especially to those who are less happy with their own lives.

I also always enjoy exploring the grey areas between selflessness and selfishness. On one hand part of me looks at the very make up of our beings, systems of opportunistic, mutating biological processes and I wonder if perhaps ‘being out for self’ is just built into who we are. On the other hand, exploring this more deeply, we see nature, as well as or own natural systems work in a harmony, apparently synchronized in ways that we can only comprehend in a very basic way. And so, as the ego took hold, we began to lose the ability to feel at one with the larger system and developed far less accurate methods of superficial communication to take it’s place. Of course our current existence comes with many pros and cons and while it can be blamed as the very thing that is tipping our relationship with the world around us out of balance, intelligence and logic are also tools that if used wisely, can help to get us back in balance with the system. Of course, like ego, a certain amount of selfishness is inevitable and even beneficial in our lives; after all if you cannot sustain your own existence then no matter how grand your outward efforts are – they will not be sustained.

So even if we are just scaled up versions of our own opportunistic root system, we don’t have to react blindly and emotionally as we move through life – instead we can intellectually, and experientially consider what is good for ourselves, others and the planet and act as true to that as possible. The sweet spot seems to be in learning how to create a positive impact on the planet while living an enjoyable, sustainable life in the process. It’s inevitable that along this path you will meet those who’s own personal frustrations manifest outwardly in explosions of blame or anger – but it’s important to see these projections for what they are and not to get disheartened with your progress. In fact, instead of reacting with fire, offer as much compassion as you can to whoever attacks you in order to help them out of their misery and along on their own journey.

In the late 18th century, Maximillian Robespierre had radical vision and was integral in launching the French Revolution – but by the end of his career, his ego and selfishness (which he had previously been leveraged for good) had all but consumed him, in a terrifying display of megalomaniacal control an self idolization. Eventually it got so bad that he was beheaded. In conclusion, while some level of ego and selfishness an inevitability, we must develop our awareness in order to keep ourselves and our visions in check. Perhaps then we can avoid, both personally and on a greater scale, the same metaphoric fate as Robespierre.

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