Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Steve Jobs, TED and thinking different…

Beach plastic necklace. Crosses made from crate embellished with seed pearls

Today the ether is atwitter with quotes from Steve Jobs to “think different”.

Everyone is encouraging everyone to think different.

(A paradox I think)

The TED movement is based on this Steve concept, in fact TED has branded thinking different with “Ideas Worth Sharing” and encourages people from all over to share their ideas, their ways of different thinking, around the globe.

Many people are asking about my TED talk, “How did you get in? How did you do it?”

To be honest it had not occurred to me until I was invited by TED to share my recent work at their next event in Miami.

The evolution of my relationship to what I find on the beach and what I do with it has been organic and compared to the speed of my previous life on 7th Avenue where a new collection was due every six weeks, it was slow.

Very slow.

Slow is good. Slow gave me more time to think . But, because the thoughts happened over an extended period of time, they no longer feel different. They have become part of who I am.

So when I talk about my passion for beach plastic it does not feel like I think different.

Different may well be in the eye of the beholder and it’s in constant flux.

For instance.

Sixty years ago plastic was a “different” material. It was introduced as the material that would give nature a break because we were depleting wood, bone, ivory etc. Now there is not a moment in our life when we do not interact with it. The entire planet is awash with plastic. Oceans carry plastic particles around like cells in a bloodstream. Plastic has been found in tens of thousands of living species, including us. Single use plastic is no longer giving nature a break, it is suffocating life.

In the past I put my creative work out there, but not the thought behind it. I have always been more interested in the outcome rather than the explanation of the creative process and believe that authenticity resonates on its rightful frequency.  But because my work now has an element of activism I succumbed.

Still

I’d hate to preach. I am not here to make any individual feel guilty. I can inspire but I cannot tell you what to do.

(Corporations, hell yes, I’ll make them  guilty all day long, as well as government and policy makers).

But as individuals we have free will. We are in charge of our own destiny. We can inform ourselves and choose to act. We can decide to  bring our own bags to the supermarket instead of using 20 plastic bags instead. We  can recycle, reuse, repurpose and refuse. We have the choice to take responsibility.

in between the lines

My personal transformation started  in Eleuthera 8 years ago.

On my first beach walk  I noticed,  in between the lines in the sand,  bright flecks of color. My initial thought was how pretty but then I realized these specks of plastic were  not supposed to be there.

By the end of that first walk I had encountered everything that mankind had ever made in plastic.

Crates, chairs, brushes, lids, containers, barrettes, flip flops and sneaker and endless lengths of nylon rope.

Even on this remote “pristine” beach I realized that we live in a man made world.

Being a designer I look at almost everything as shape, color, texture and inspiration and what I saw that day I’d never seen before.

The beach plastic had been tumbled in sand, salt and coral. and was bleached by the sun. It had been in nature for so long that it had taken on a natural patina. Some pieces looked like stone, like little colored gems.

I started picking them up.

My love hate relationship with plastic started in that moment .

Back  home I tried to find out more.

I learned that we each consume roughly 300 pounds of plastic a year of which a mere 7% is recycled and 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into the ocean every day.

What could I do?

I had an ever increasing “collection” of beach plastic in my studio and I started making earrings.

Eventually I had an awakening to the possibilities of this material that was never really owned but had been thrown to the mythical place called away.

To make jewelry was a transformation, not just for me, but also for the material.

Think of a water-bottle top. Does anyone ever feel that they own a plastic bottle top? It just keeps the liquid inside the bottle, right? Which you don’t feel you own either. Does the manufacturer of your water feel he owns that bottle?

Nobody owns single-use plastic.

I like finding weathered bottle tops. They make great earrings, and I love selling single use plastic, beach plastic, into ownership.

If plastic is made to last forever then maybe, like diamonds, it can be loved forever.

I got this comment yesterday:

“Keep cleaning up the beaches lady.. but what are you gonna do with all those balloons with the plastic string ties and can you make something with all the garbage those people in Miami leave on the beaches while you’re at it???”

He does NOT think different!

I am not cleaning up the beaches for him or anyone. I do it for me. Creating beauty with beach plastic makes me happy and by getting your attention I implicate you in the tragedy of our single-use throw-away culture.

I hope I make you think.

Not just different.

Different is fleeting.

But think.

All the time

About everything.

website:

http://www.plasticisforever.net/

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How to prepare for a TED talk with the Seinfeld method….

Almost four weeks later and my TED talk is not online.

I practice my ZEN patience and wonder if:

When one does a TED talk and nobody can see it,  is it still is a TED talk?

As I write this I have not seen myself TED talking.

Still.

I am glad it is over.

Was it fun?

Did I do good?

I did terrible in the dress rehearsal. Like really awful, like I wondered if they could fire me.

It was the clock. Right in the middle of the audience, at perfect eye level, is a monitor. It shows the slides or video that is projected behind the speakers so we don’t have to keep turning around to address our images. Its about 3ft by 18″. But I could not really see  because over my pictures there was a giant fluorescent 13 that took up the entire screen. 13 minutes for my talk. Seconds and minutes passing backwards, like the proverbial bomb in James Bond movies and I was James, responsible for saving the world in 13 minutes.

photo: Ilmar Saar

So.

At 8 minutes I thought.

As I was talking my dress rehearsal TED.

I thought. 8? 13 minus 8? Thats is 5 minutes done. Is that all?

Seriously, I did math while I was still speaking. Isn’t it amazing? The gymnastics of which the mind is capable.

Then I worried. Could I fill those 8 minutes?

I lost my train, my momentum and I blanked.

Bluh.

Mouth and head full of cotton wool.

Bluh.

Nothing came to mind. Nothing came out.

Nada.

Was I stupid?

I had felt really stupid late August when I had written my entire talk and started practicing. Almost 2000 words. I did not really memorize, which, as I was told by both husband and Gina from TED, was a bad idea, but I did have an order and a rhythm for what and how I would TED talk.

Besides I had a 13 minute multi-media show which played behind me.

Not that I would talk to slides.

Like manually click them.

I hate that format.

“Oh, and here we have me, at the beach, finding my beach plastic…”

Too much like those family vacation slide shows of our neighbors that my parents sneered at as ever-so bourgeois.

Anyway I was stupid when I started working my TED.

Unable to memorize anything more than one paragraph.

I got advice from everyone.

Do it in the mirror. In the car. Film yourself and play it back. You will be fine, wing it, you  know your stuff , just make it up as you go along…

Right.

I felt so dumb that I bought Gingko.

I almost overdosed on Gingko.

I still felt stupid. I am too old I thought.

I have an old brain.

Then I worried about what to wear and I felt shallow.

I had my roots done, but did hair dye kill more brain cells?

I told husband who was still in Milford.

I had not seen him in weeks but he was coming to Miami for my talk.

He sounded sharp, bright and cheery.

“Not to worry, you’ll remember when you’re up there.”

Hmm.

Then I remembered.

(Yes, at least I did remember this!)

The Seinfeld Theory.

Do you remember?

Put to the test and proven in episode 143.

My problem?

Husband was away. But husband was coming to Miami three days before my talk.

That would give me enough time to clear my mind.

And he would love it.

As soon as he arrived I started clearing my mind.

Wow, he said. This is great. I should stay away more often.

The next morning I practiced my TED and could remember four minute spans. I had two days left to dress rehearsal, three to actual night. That was four to five mind-clearing sessions.

It so happened to be our 21st anniversary.

An excellent excuse for siestas. Back rubs. Jacuzzi’s and what may ensue…

By Monday morning, driving back from Iona’s school, I remembered my entire TED in exactly 13 minutes. What had been the big deal? I could do it backwards…

But then.

There was the clock.

The unknown factor.

That screwed me up.

“Its why we have dress rehearsals,” Gina said. “Now go home and forget about it. Do not look at your speech again. Relax. You’ll be fine tomorrow.”

I did relax on Tuesday the 13th of September. I had a pedicure and told husband I was having a nap at 2pm.

Afternoon delight, he hummed rather absent mindedly.

But happy.

Afterwards I confessed that I had been using him.

“What do you mean?” He asked.

“You know, the Seinfeld Theory?” I hinted.

Wha’? he said.

You know that episode where George thinks lack of sex makes his mind sharper and he feels smart, then Elaine  uses this abstinence method  but she becomes more stupid. So she begs Jerry to have sex with her  just so she can clear her mind.

You know? No? You don’t  remember?

Nah. I don’t think so. What day is it again? shall we go and see a movie tonight or something…?

Yeah, something!