Letting Go a Little

October 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Letting Go a Little

Sketchbook: Sneak Peak – September 11

September 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sketchbook Sneak Peak

Keep the Super in the Bowl – Make it an Indy “Legacy”

February 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Super Bowl 2012 Indianapolis IN

Arts and Athletics: A Perfect Pair

‘What does football have to do with art and creativity?’

Response – “Everything!”

Most recently Indianapolis, Indiana hosted the 46th NFL Super Bowl!! The city was jam-packed with Giants and Patriots fans, locals, out-of-towners and your random picketing evangelist (just for good measure). The atmosphere was energetic and engaging! Perfect strangers shared tables when grabbing a bite to eat and passersby offered their apologies when walking through your photograph. Small thoughtful actions were seen everywhere.

While the crowds became more dense as game day approached, generally people remained pleasant. There were Super-dedicated volunteers around every corner directing you toward the excitement! It’s easy to spot them, just look for the handmade Super Scarves. That’s right, all 8,000 Super Bowl volunteers were kept warm and toasty with donated time and talent from others. Not to mention it was much easier for those travelers not familiar with the city to find their way! The event would not have been complete without all of the community initiatives that were implemented by the Host Committee: Legacy ProjectSuper Cure, Baskets of Hope, 2012 Trees, XLVI FACES and Super Learning in a Super State.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It did not matter that I normally experience American football as silly and confusing, 0r that I absolutely despise crowds of that magnitude.  Rather my appreciation for the sport grew. I became an enthusiastic Giants fan for an entire week and even have a custom embroidered cap to prove it! Visits to the Super Bowl Village were often, the weather was mild and walking helped to keep you warm! Celebration was (and continues to be) in the air. The trick now is in capturing all of the remaining energy to keep the Indy spirit thriving! Lucky for us, Indianapolis has community organizations and partners city-wide, ready to take on the challenge.

The Heart/Art of the Matter

January 4, 2012 § 4 Comments

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

Custom Constellation Hand-stamped Copper

The start of a new year often brings an overall sense of reflection (and often-times) change. We look back at our past accomplishments, sometimes dwell on what we experienced to be failures and hopefully begin to create and develop new goals. While reflecting on times of joy and hard lessons learned, there seemed to be a common connecting thread – Heart! Without People, MagpieTree would not be what it is today. I am privileged and honored to have customers who are willing to share their personal stories and trusted memories with me. It seems only by grace that our paths have crossed! Each and every time I am grateful for the authentic connections and honest exchanges.

Sincere gratitude to Ella’s family for allowing me to share her story.

Exact Location of Ella's Star

Exact Location of Ella's Star

It was back in October of last year, when I received a request from 800 miles away in Florida. A Custom Ordered set of Constellations. I had created this style of jewelry before, but this seemed a bit different. The customer expressed that she had named & dedicated a “REAL Star” to her friend’s baby girl-Ella. She then sadly informed me that Ella had unexpectedly died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) at 5 months of age, only 1 week prior. We worked together to design a set of bracelets that would be given to Ella’s parents in memory.

Connecting the Dotts

Ellas Star Parents Bracelets

Leather and Ribbon Bracelets for Ella's Parents

Upon learning of how Ella’s story had reached Indianapolis, Indiana, Ella’s parents offered to share an educational video showcasing informational (and surprising) facts about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. You may also note that the STAR of the show is Ella herself!!

If you would like to make a donation in honor of Ella, or anyone else you may know whose lives have been touched by SIDS you may do so HERE.

For additional information on SIDS:

American Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Institute
Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
SIDS Center of Indiana
SUID/SIDS Resource Center

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Investigations – Resource offered by a fellow reader and Investigation Specialist in Seattle.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

― Albert Einstein

Driving on Oily Sands: The Future of the American Dream

November 15, 2011 § 1 Comment

We live in an America that primarily runs on dirty fuel. We find ourselves floundering in an economy reliant on the acquisition of expensive commodities. We drive our gas guzzling SUV’s and commute extensive distances, without even considering the energy needed to make that single trip. Often, we overlook the cost of the very resources we rely most heavily; most of which are non-renewable. The time to reconsider the future of American ethics and energy is HERE & NOW.

An Oily History

Alberta Tar Sands Canada

Alberta (Tar) Sands, Canada

On February 9th, 2005, a corporation known as TransCanada proposed a plan to construct a 1700 mile underground oil pipeline. This pipeline would cross 6 states (Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas), several major rivers and a critical Aquifer. It would allow U.S. BIG oil to purchase and pump low grade crude oil from Alberta (tar sands), Canada to Texas refineries along the Gulf Coast. Russ Girling, President and CEO of TransCanada, claims construction of the pipeline will alleviate some of America’s interactions with unfriendly oil controllers in the Middle East. These claims are unlikely since the oil produced from “strip-mining” is of such low quality. The 500,000 barrels a day of cheap oil will most likely be resold to oversees markets, making strained relationships with the Middle East still necessary.

The Bigger (Oil) Picture

The Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) is the primary trading floor upon which all oil transactions are traded. ICE is owned by big oil companies and big banks and is not at all regulated by the U.S. government. In April 2010, ICE acquired control over Climate Exchange (CLE) which operates the European CLimate Exchange (ECX) and the Climate Futures Exchange (CCFE). That same year the Chicago CLimate Exchange (CCX) crashed. It was the only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse gas trading and carbon “offset” project in North America and Brazil. In short, American oil companies and big banks will answer to no one regarding their ecological decisions. To top it all off, the world’s six largest publicly traded oil companies reported a combined $38.1 billion in first-quarter profits. That’s a pretty huge profit for such a craptastic economy?!

TransCanadian Keystone XL Oil Pipeline

The projected cost of the Keystone XL Canada to Gulf extension was $7 Billion. The project is said to add $20 Billion to U.S. economy. However, by the year 2020, oil-sands operators and their partners will have invested more than  $100 Billion making this pipe dream come true. The construction and manufacturing of the pipeline was projected to create 20,000 permanent U.S. jobs – permanent because America’s reliance on fossil fuels  will increase due to this new “reliable” and “affordable” energy source. Don’t get too excited! The gasoline prices are not expected to see much relief; resting right around $3.90-4.10/Gal.

Further Reading: Tyranny of Oil BY Antonia Juhasz

Don’t Drink the Water

Nebraska Aquifer

Pipeline Protestors

One of the most frightening concerns regarding the pipeline was the initial decision to navigate it directly through a portion of Nebraska where lies the Ogallala Aquifer. This source of water provides drinking and agricultural water to over 2 Million people across 8 states. The Sierra Club reported the pipeline would “ONLY leak once every seven to eleven years.” But they neglected to include the pipeline’s pumping stations, which have already sustained 11 reported spills in their first year of operation.” The question was not IF the drinking and irrigation water-table would be contaminated but WHEN.

TransCanada, as of today, will be forced to re-direct their route around the Sandhills area of Nebraska (where the aquifer lies). President Obama delayed the decision of a permit to go forward, given all other areas of re-routing had been discussed. The new route has not been established as of yet, but it is said to require 30-40 additional miles of pipeline and one more pumping station. State department officials say the final decision and alternative route could take another 12-18months to determine. A decision is said to be made following the next Presidential election. Truth be told, if U.S. does not exploit Canada’s Tar Sands, Asian markets will.

An Ethical Decision

Keep the American Dream Alive

A member of the Occupy Wall Street movement shows his sign as he protests on 5th Avenue while marching through the New York against economic inequality. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

This conversation (however lengthy it has been) is about more than just oil and BIG banks. It’s about preserving the core values that are nestled inside that great package we call “The American Dream”. It’s about teaching our children the important things in life; the value of a dollar, the importance of good work ethic and the general sense between Right and Wrong. The future of this country (much like the past) will be grounded in the morals and standards that we set forth today.  Our strategy as a people should not be to build, drill, & take all in our power. Instead, we need to become a culture that empowers youthful innovative leaders to be responsible, teaches respect for people, and sustains on renewable resources. It’s time to build a new American Dream!

“A long habit of not thinking

a thing is wrong

gives it a superficial appearrance

of being right.”

~Thomas Paine

{Magpie Pics} 9/11 A Day of Remembrance

September 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

9/11 Memorial Wall 2001

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. ~ John F. Kennedy

NYC Ground Zero 2001

We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us. ~ Winston Churchill

Times Square 2001

It is not length of life, but depth of life. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pan-ists in NYC

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object. ~ Thomas Jefferson

NYC Ground Zero Clean-Up

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

NYC Ticket Seller Times Square

Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

NYC

Liberty is the right to choose, freedom is the result of that choice. ~ Unknown Source

NYC Chained Bicycle

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. ~ Anaïs Nin

NYC Fire Department

The law will never make men free, it is men that have to make the law free. ~ Henry David Thoreau

NYC 9/11 Wall Memorial

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Walmart: Evil Big Business or Partnership Genius

August 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Supporting Local Farmers

Born in the U.S.A. Cucumbers

Wal-Mart, Wally-World, Mal-Mart, the Evil Force driving out small business. . . Whatever you choose to call it, it’s still a shopping center that evokes a mixed bag of  emotions including skepticism. Ridiculously low wages, sexual discrimination and disturbing work conditions make it difficult to swallow the idea of an Eco-friendly Walmart. That being said, it appears that this Darth Vader of grocery super-centers is making a concerted effort to clean up their act. Keep reading. Even if you disagree, I’ve included lots of informative links!

Perfect Partnerships

On July1st of 2008 Wal-Mart announced its commitment “to source more local fruits and vegetables to keep produce prices down and provide affordable selections that are fresh and healthful”. This translates to cheaper produce for the average shopper, healthier food options and fatter pockets for local farmers. The perfect strategy to bring this plan to fruition was to collaborate with local resources. A silent program known as Heritage Agriculture would soon be created. The program would bring together the Wal-Mart Headquarters (in Arkansas) with the University of Arkansas’ Applied Sustainability Center (the Wal-Mart Foundation happens to be a chief financial supporter). Consequently, the Applied Sustainability Center is part of a national partnership called Agile Agriculture. All partners that make up Agile Agriculture work to produce sustainable benefits for producers, distributors and consumers alike.

Potential Benefits

FOR PRODUCERS

  • Increased profitability from new marketing opportunities
  • Transitioning to large-scale marketing may allow producers to focus on operational efficiency

FOR FOOD DISTRIBUTORS AND RETAILERS

  • Meet consumer desire for local and regional products
  • Reduce transportation costs and GHG emissions
  • Provide fresher products to customers, potentially reducing waste
  • Potential to develop local economies and create business opportunities

FOR CONSUMERS

  • Consumers know that buying local is beneficial to local economies
  • Forming connections with agricultural supply chains increases confidence
  • Increased availability of healthy, fresh, affordable products

    1941 Case VC tractor

    Photo Courtesy of Sid Johnson

Wal-Mart vs. Whole Foods

Although these plans began in 2008, it was not until last month that I noticed the single crate of “locally grown” zucchini in the neighborhood Wal-Mart. Two weeks later there were cucumbers next to the zucchini! It seems that Wal-Mart managed to roll out the red carpet at the perfect time.  The strategy appears to be in competing with Whole Foods stores whose focus is natural and organic groceries. As Organic sales and oil prices increased, locally (and often organically) grown produce would decrease the length of distance traveled from plant to plate, therefore decreasing cost to seller (in this case Wal-Mart). Some Wal-Mart stores are even offering locally sourced milk. The Heritage Agriculture program would be capable of benefiting more small and medium American farms than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign.

Read the full article entitled The Great Grocery Smackdown for more detailed Mal-mart info.

Benefits of the Heritage Agriculture Program

Identified in The Washington Post and The New York Times

  • Introduction of  hybrid 18-wheelers that use less fuel when transporting goods
  • Increased reliance on renewable energy sources
  • Reduction of packaging waste among suppliers will cause a “Green Labeling” ripple effect
  • New environmental standards for its suppliers in China
  • Increased collaboration with environmental advocacy groups
  • Recycling of Wal-Mart’s used plastic bottles into dog beds sold at its stores
  • Reduce the distance that food must travel to increase freshness and nutritional value

U.S. Wal-Mart stores plan to increase the percentage of locally grown produce to a whopping 9%. Canadian Wal-Mart stores are much more ambitious; expecting to buy 30 percent of its produce locally by the end of 2013, and increase that to 100 percent when local produce is available.

I have difficulty acknowledging that Wal-Mart may be capable of providing some relief to the currently struggling U.S. economy, but I would also like to think that any move toward sustainable living is a positive move in the right direction.

Check out the links page at the Applied Sustainability Center. They are chock full of useful info pertaining to green, sustainable and responsible living.

Now, if only I lived closer to locally grown avocados!