I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the incredible people in my life who have made this year truly incredible. This was such a big year of transformation and growth, and I absolutely would not have been able to evolve without the incredible humans who have blessed my life. I can only name a few here, but there are literally thousands of people who I’ve connected with this year who have transformed my life and brought me hope in humanity. I am you, and you are me.
Most importantly, I want to acknowledge and express my overwhelming love for my partner, Carson Linforth Bowley, who is my greatest muse and creative partner in every piece of this reflection, of this year and moment. My words and actions are deeply inspired, complimented, and compounded by his. Words cannot express my gratitude and respect for your beautiful soul, your wisdom and beauty that you share with me every day, that helps reflect my light out to the world. 2016 was a year about our love story -- deepening in partnership, learning from one another, creating and laughing together, and witnessing the beauty of the world as one. This exposé is truly an integration of our experiences, perspectives and reflections. We hope it inspires you to live every moment with presence, intention and atunement to the sublime, and to shine your light brighter, to reflect more deeply and to give more generously.
Ting & Carson
moments of wisdom and truth
We are intensely tribal by nature. My gravitational pull has been towards truly creating community this year, which has led to the co-founding of the Emergent Collective (launching in Jan 2017). I believe that what we need in the world are more intergenerational, intercultural and interdisciplinary tribes, working together in a decentralized, hyper-transparent and proaction mindset — weaving people together on a project-basis for their expertise to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges. Learn more about our current thinking here.
- Relationships are our best mirror, where we can discover our edges. The key is to hold a relationship as your greatest teacher, and encounter challenges with a student’s perspective, willing to learn and delve into self-inquiry and observation, in order to grow, empathize, take responsibility and find solutions together, as collaborators. If we can continue to hold this intention and mindset, relationships suddenly become a constant, dynamic adventure and journey of mutual discovery, lightness and depth. Thank you Carson for constantly reflecting me and teaching me about
- We are living in the experience economy. Those are able to not only “consume” experiences, but create them for themselves and others will learn and improve the human experience. Designing experiences is one of the hardest arts, but if you can really empathize with human behavior and emotional needs, than you can will succeed. It starts with understanding human psychology, and the behavioral curves and needs that emerge. Group dynamics are some of the hardest to predict, and so you have to create a plan that can emerge with the group. One of my goals for 2017 is to master this art by teaching a course on Experience Design as well as make every day a practice of intentionally designing each moment and sharing my experiences with my community.
- How we start our morning, is how we live our life. The role of morning practices can dramatically change the course your life. We started this year by practicing The Artist Way, a 30 minute writing practice of brain dumping words on a page in order to push through to our creative genius first thing in the morning. Once we got to a dropped in state, then we just let whatever wants to emerge come out — whether that is expressed through dance, painting, photography, writing, etc. I adapted my morning practice throughout the year, refining day by day to achieve a peak flow state first thing in the morning. On average, my practice includes 15 minutes of yoga or 20 min of cardio (running or cross training), 10 min of visualization or concentration meditation, tea, journaling and a healthy green smoothie.
- The true test of our yoga practice is how we behave when we’re off the mat – when we’re jet lagged and traveling, when we’re under pressure from several deadlines, or we are triggered from a conversation with a loved one. We do these daily practices and asanas so that we are in a better state to handle and manage these moments of intensity and challenge.
- Necessary structure helps create the space for more creativity. This year, I became disciplined about my calendar and file organization, which has helped me to be more effective and better at both my time and energy management. Carson and I implemented a system using color schemes to categorize different aspects of life. Each week we would review my calendar and visually check to make sure every color was represented and balanced. Our thinking has been heavily informed by Integral Life Practice, by Ken Wilber, and all the research I have done on habit design, behavior change and developmental psychology (thank you Tiago Forte for helping me get more serious about this!) This life philosophy inspired the founding of Ritual Living Systems, a new brand that we will be launching in 2017 which will include tools, stories and experiences to help people live in flow and in healthy, integrated moments everyday. (stay tuned for more updates here).
- Movement & Wellness
- Personal Creative
- Focus & Flow
- Community & Learning
- Meetings & Connecting
- Client Milestones
- Travel & Transit
- Living in the Tao is the key to living blissfully, without suffering. This means sailing instead of steam plowing, being ready for change and spontaneous for anything. It also means non-attachment, which leads to suffering. Attaching to an idea of the future is what leads us to pain when it doesn’t come true or doesn’t satisfy our desires. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t desire and dream, but not being attached to that as the truth or way is the key. Reading the Tao de Ching every morning as part of my morning practice and being part of the #dailytao message thread has helped me remember this every day, and stay fluid and supple.
- Follow the natural cycles of the moon. Especially as women, this is one of the keys to finding vitality. Listening to our body and the somatic intelligence already within us is the best access to wisdom that we have. Breath is the best medicine for any ailment in our body. When we feel a slight tightness or rigidity someone in our body, consciously breath into that area for 10 breaths. Just by putting our attention to that area, we are able to start to heal and release whatever is stuck there.
- I am of the Earth, of the ocean element. Swimming in water at least once a day brings me the deepest joy and sense of peace. If I don’t have actual water nearby, “be like water”. Go through life as water. I have discovered this element within myself when I dance, when I paint calligraphy and watercolor, when I move through cities like the river, when I dive in the ocean, and when I speak poetry and prose without inhibition.
Atlas of 2016
- Produced the PowerShift conference: Produced and helped the core team with the overall experience design, guest experience, hospitality needs, and branding and messaging.
- Led the outreach and research of APAC region for COMPASS, previously the Startup Genome Report.
- Helped Carson facilitate a new form of brand strategy immersion to help design and launch Acre Fund's new brand. They are a progressive and innovative venture capital firm dedicated to the future of food in LA and Ojai.
- Joined the team at Burning Man in April part-time to complete the fundraising and strategy for the Fly Ranch project, which closed in June this year. (Deep bow and acknowledgement to the real champions of the project: Daniel Brand, Bear Kittay, Katiyana Kittay, James Milner and Zac Cirivello)
- Supported Carson with the creative direction and modeling for videoshoots for Meetup.com in Japan and San Francisco, as part of their rebrand.
- Worked with Apple on their rebrand on their Supplier Responsibility site — this was the first time I've been hired to focus on copywriting
- Creating the 5-year marketing plan to rebrand the Delta California region to increase ecotourism and agrotourism, as part of an initiative by Visit California.
- Served as a designer and facilitator for several immersions with Factory for clients such as Nike, Virgin Sport, Campells and Standard Bank.
- Traveled to London and Tel Aviv to conduct design thinking workshops for two clients in pop-up innovation spaces.
- Starting working with the Kauffman Foundation to lead the experience design of their first ever global E*SHIP Summit, which will host over 2,000 "ecosystem builders" from all 50 States.
- Started serving as Assistant Director for The Culture Conference (taking place next April 1+2, 2017) , leading the brand strategy, experience design, guest experience and overall execution, sponsorship and planning for the event. (Thank you Jenny Sauer-Klein for being such a rockstar!)
- Starting working with BOS Investment to launch a content-focused dinner series to explore “What Matters Most” through highly-curated and facilitated dinner formats as part of their rebrand, which will launch Feb 2017.
- Went to Patmos island in Greece to scout and plan the next Meraki Xperience retreat in summer 2017 focused on social impact and creating an innovation lab for the refugee crisis in Greece and Turkey, in collaboration with Weezie Yancey, Mike Zuckermann and Mustafa from InnoCampus in Istanbul.
- As The Emergent Collective, we hosted 40 global luminaries for a week in Ibiza for the first time&space retreat, in collaboration with the creative director and founder of Cirque du Soleil, Guy Laliberté. (Thank you Guy, the EMCO team and the incredible human beings who showed up so generously and beautifully).
- Inspired by many conversations and explorations with Carson and many friends, we started The Emergent Collective, a community of leaders on the frontier of space x culture. We are dedicated to experimentation and exploration of the future of creativity, immersive cultural experiences, and ecology. We are also starting a global networked consultancy arm, called EMCO (inspired by early days of GBN).
- Burning Man 2016 // Da Vinci's Workshop: We contributed to early set up to help make Deep Tea Haus happen, and participated in Early Man for the first time!
- Long Now x Fly Ranch collaboration: We led a site visit and facilitated dinner conversation around the future of land ownership and “flat” community-building over the long-term, with some of the founders of Burning Man and the Director of Long Now, Alexander Rose, plus his team.
Speaking + PRESS
- Spoke at TEDxShanghai (with CLB and Mike North) at the opening of Shanghai Tower with crowd of 2,000, plus live streamed across Asia to audience of more than 10,000+.
- Spoke at TEDxTokyo about my 4 years of research on innovation ecosystems in Asia
- Spoke at Kinnerlat in Antigua, Guatemala about emergent design
- Presentation to Taiwanese Parliament government with CLB
- Presentation to 40 top cultural influencers in Taiwan at the Red Room
- Verizon Wireless Innovation, Interview, "The Future is Wonderously Human"
- Interview for book, The Neo-Generalist, by Kenneth Mikkelsen & Richard Martin
Emergent Collective retreat in Occidental, CA (Jan)
Santa Barbara for Ben Henretig’s film international screening (Feb)
Kyoto, Osaka + Naoshima Expedition (March) - exposé above- exposé above
Shanghai + Hangzhou Expedition (May)
Detroit + Movement Festival (June)
Essouira and Marrakech, Morocco - exposé above
Barcelona + SONAR Festival Expedition / CLB's birthday (June)
Greece scouting trip (June)
Ibiza, Nice, Monaco scouting and sailing trip (July)
Kinnerlat Expedition in Antigua, Guatemala (August)
Asia 5-city Creative Expedition (Oct) - exposé above
Bodega Bay + Invernes retreat for Ting's 26th birthday (Nov) - exposé above
Winter solstice date in Sonoma, CA (Dec)
Creative collaborations in Los Angeles (5 trips)
San Miguel + Mexico holiday expedition with the Kelly family (Dec)
Community Gatherings & Experiences
Hosted Open Studios every Sunday at the Metatalier with Carson
Hosted monthly salon dinners at The Embassy after Long Now Seminars (w/ Daniel Barcay, Tyler Willis, Carson Linforth Bowley and Josh Elkes)
Bi-weekly Coffee + Crags climbing at sunrise (thank you Daniel Barcay)
Weekly group meditations at Juniper Foundation (thank you Lawrence and co!)
Saturday morning spin classes with Kai and Rob (thank you Rob!)
Janet Stone yoga classes @ Yoga Tree Castro
Stacy Overby's Yin/Yang yoga classes + Fall Nourishing retreat @ Green Gulch Farm
Helping Rachel Rossitto with Magnetic retreat with 8 incredible women
Dancing with the local creative Ibizan community at La Granja and Can Soleil
Cacao ceremony and Full Moon circles with Mill Valley family (thank you Maria Molfino and Rachel!)
Safehouse gatherings // Deep Tea Haus & more (thank you Matt Wiggins!)
Burning Man costume design, research, scouting and creation with Annu Yadev
On a process level, as part of my new years creative retreat, I went through my calendar month-by-month and inventoried in detail every key moment into three categories: personal, community and work. This became my 2016 Inventory of Time document. If you're curious about the process, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you a breakdown of my process!
our Favorite Reading list of 2016
Ideas and Integrities, by Buckminister Fuller
A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander
Wabi-Sabi, For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by Leonard Koren
Neo-PreHistoria, by Kenya Hara and Andrea Branzi
Wabi Inspirations, by Axel Vervoordt and Tatsuro Miki
The Red Book, Carl Jung
Integral Life Practice, by Ken Wilber
The Bhagavad Gita, by Eknath Easwaran
What Technology Wants, by Kevin Kelly
The Book, by Alan Watts
The Meaning of Human Existence, by Edward O. Wilson
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, by Sogyal Rinpoche
Essays by Ralph Emerson
The Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondō
Rebecca Solnit’s Atlas of San Francisco
Woman Code, by Alisa Vitti
The New Nomads: Temporary Spaces and a Life on the Move, by Gestalten & Michelle Galindo
GENESIS, by Sebastião Salgado
Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, by Paul Pitchford
In Praise of Shadows, by Junichiro Tanizak
The Alphabet vs. The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image, by Leonard Schlain
(Talk) Valorizing the Sphere, by David McConville
(Article) SFMOMA on Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools
(Article) “Does Design Make Us Human?” Istanbul Binneal 2016 - One of the best accounts of human-centered design
(Video) “The Story of a Spoon” - Tickles my curiosities around the comprehensive design of everyday objects. Have you ever wondered where the objects around us are made?
(Video) Greenpeace: Inspire Action - Especially given the election, its time that as civilians, we take action and responsibility for making a difference for climate change.
(App) Google launched its new time-lapse of Earth since 1984. Incredible to see these data being made accessible to a general public to educate and for some, see the evolution of Earth for the first time.
The Pleasure of Sound
My very existence experienced a deep paradigm shift when I learned about sound healing on a sunny afternoon having tea with the magical Ivy Ross. She opened me up to the world of possibilities about the wavelengths and vibrations that govern life itself. Like like, these invisible, almost indescribable forces make up the constitution and energetic bounds of the universe itself. As a fellow designer, Ivy used her knowledge of sound to guide her in building creative teams at Google, during sessions at her sound studio in New Mexico, and in setting the mood in her home. Thank you Ivy, profoundly!
Thus, I embarked to play with music as a medium in my daily rituals and creative practice this year. I created a 2016 // Mixtape on Spotify for you to enjoy and help you move through different rhythms and flows of your days in 2017.
If I'm craving a deep NYC sound that allows me to enter deep into creative flow and pulsating rhythms, I tune into Tobias Van Schneider's custom mixetapes (+ beautiful album art).
When not on Spotify, I am mostly listening on repeat to the mixes from the tribe, Deep Tea Haus, which are sublime and so beautifully and consciously crafted. Tune in here.
captured in the field (distilled neologasms from CLB)
"I want to help people grasp the magnitude of their moment."
I travel so I know where and when I live in context.
Coming home is the new traveling.
"We are cosmographic artists."
Art as a gift, to remind people of their humanity.
Design is the adaptation of means to ends.
Deduction. Less is more.
Having a regular, consistent dance, movement and nutritional rhythm is vital to our vitality.
We are as gods. We are more powerful and beautiful than we even know.
Sobriety is the new psychedelic experience. Treat it that way — its that magical.
Reflections on 2016, and looking forward to 2017
2016 was a year of TRUST. Trusting the emergent process.
2016 was a year of many unknowns and perpetual change. It was a year of many deaths, which have seeded rebirths in new and unexpected ways.
- I consciously separated from a very serious partnership with Bjorn, and in turn, a new, beautiful partnership with Carson emerged.
- I withdrew myself from the company I co-founded, and began consulting independently as a sole proprietor, taking on several part-time roles with incredible teams.
- I moved out of my shared community housing, and manifested and designed a beautiful apartment and sanctuary for myself.
- I started my dance practice and finding my inner joy and creative expression.
- I reclaimed my feminine power and explored the question of "what does sexy and healthy mean to me?"
2017 will be a year of BUILDING. It is about compounding creativity.
We can already feel the momentum building and the feeling that our tribe is building together in a synchronized weave and vibration. We have a beautiful feeling about The Emergent Collective coming to life in a powerful way (read more about our current thinking here).
My resolution is to put my ideas into action in more significant and leveraged ways. Every project I decide to put my energy into must follow these criteria:
- Civic impact — whether global or local, the work has to make a difference on a citizen level and the human experience
- Working with a team of world-class, talented players
- Less projects, but much deeper and longer-term focus (1-3 year horizon)
The two key projects we will be focusing on:
(1) Launching Ritual Studio as a lifestyle brand and company
(2) Growing The Emergent Collective (and my experience design and strategy practice within it) toward civic consulting on a global scale.
specific GOALS for 2017
- Build out a more comprehensive brand and operating system for Sunday Open Studios
- Host another time&space in a unique location with the Emergent Collective
- Successfully host the second Meraki retreat, working on social solutions to the refugee crisis.
- Publish my Atlas of Gatherings and Global Innovation Hub Index as public catalogs. Share the “Best Of” at the end of the year.
- Write and publish articles on the future of emergent community building for the 21st c. (to be published online, PDF and print)
- Teach a course (with another teacher) on The Art & Science of Experience Design
- Create more pop-up innovation spaces around the world — starting in Asia, US and Europe.
- Plant deeper roots with my clients and partners in Asia — starting with Taipei and Changsha.
- Launch the Ritual Studio brand in Q1 and prototype products and business models to optimize for learning and quality. Build into a profitable business by Year 2.
- Officially launch the EMCO consulting arm and build the minimum viable structure to support it.
- Learn a new skill that can be integrated into my work.
- Deepen in conscious partnership, and design more integrated living systems that compound and optimize for deep connection, intimacy and joy.
- Do at least 30 minutes of movement every day (yoga, dance, pilates, running, spin, swimming)
- Morning practice every morning. Jet lag and travel are not excuses!
- Train for and complete an Olympic triathlon (or longer)
- Participate in a Vipassana meditation retreat
- Take a part or whole yoga teachers training somewhere outside the US
- Visit at least 5 new places, focusing on the rural, craft, rustic, weird, heritage cultures vs. cities and well-traversed places.
- Visit India to explore textiles and leading arts and culture
- Go to a country in Africa and design a ethical safari
- Complete the Southwest Expedition to reignite love and connection to the USA
a humble bow of gratitude to you.
thank you for making this year so special!
Onward to 2017!
- TK & CLB