Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Speech

I am currently interning for an awesome organization that is all about bringing technology and opportunities to people who might not other wise get a chance to experience those things. Read an article about Irwin of W2 below.

Free Speech

Irwin Oostindie is nothing if not a man of vision. We are both sporting hard hats standing in a dust-filled rectangular room separated from the Woodward’s atrium by a thin layer of glass covered in brown paper. But it’s clear the two of us are gazing at very different scenes.

Whereas, to me, the future home of W2 Community Media Arts is a mere run-of-the-mill construction site, Oostindie, W2’s 44-year-old executive director, is in another world entirely.

Gesturing excitedly to the exposed drywall and heavy steel beams looming overhead, he lists the technological bells and whistles that will eventually enliven the space: multiple TV screens; interactive touch-screen computers; DJ booth; and, casting a glance at what is currently a fairly mundane staircase, a multimedia portal he calls “the video cube.”

“You’ll walk up the stairs and the sensors know — there could be a piano note or your movements could trigger video or lighting in the space,” he says, a little breathless. “So it’s meant to show people what is typically in a university research lab and bring it into public space.”

The cool factor will hopefully draw people into W2’s social enterprise cafĂ© on the main floor of its 8,800-square-foot space in the Woodward’s complex. This is to be the permanent home for W2, which for the last year has been occupying the city-owned Storeyum space across the street. While the cavernous former museum has been a popular venue for W2-hosted conferences and parties, such as the Utopia Festival earlier this month, it will be here, at Woodward’s, where the organization can finally start delivering on its mandate: creating a space where everyone — Downtown Eastside residents, immigrants, students, working-class people and other marginalized individuals — can access communication technology and learn how to use it.

Once completed, Oostindie’s “video cube” will lure visitors up the stairs to a public common area flanked by a technology suite, public washrooms, admin offices, editing bays, free phones and computers, even an original Woodward’s letter press. In the basement, construction is underway on a community TV and radio broadcast centre with satellite stations for SFU’s CJSF and Co-op Radio. It’ll also double as a 200-capacity event space.

“W2 believes communication is a human right,” says Oostindie, a Gen-x-er whose salt-and-pepper hair picks up the silver glints in his multiple ear piercings. It’s that philosophy, blended with a bit of a punk-rock edge, that led Oostindie — along with W2’s co-directors Lianne Payne and Will Stacey — to conceive of a drop-in media centre back in 2003 when the then-unbuilt Woodward’s development was Ground Zero for class conflict in Canada. Not a day went by when squatters weren’t clashing with city officials, developers and police over their tent city, a protest against the gentrifying influence of development. The ongoing saga provided regular fodder for the mainstream media. Oostindie and many other anti-poverty activists felt — and still feel — they didn’t portray the community fairly.


Finding A Niche - Tips by Crafting an MBA

I came across this article on finding your niche and it really made me think about focusing my jewellery on a specific and unique aspect of design or materials. So the brainstorming begins.

4 ways to make your products more niche

I hear it at craft shows and trade shows all the time, “You’re so lucky you make X, because I make Y and so does everybody else.”

Regardless of whether you’re a jeweler, potter, or photographer, you probably feel the same way – like you’re in a very crowded product category.

{image via The Great Northern on Etsy}

The great thing about sites like Etsy is that the barrier to entry is so low that you can start a business really easily. But the bad thing is that so can anyone else.

With each passing day, more and more people throw their hat in the ring when it comes to running a craft business.

And as your category gets more and more crowded, it can be a struggle to get your products to stand out.

But getting your products to stand out in the sea of jewelry, soap, photography, or screen printed t-shirts is essential if you want your business to be a success.

So how do you stand out in a crowded product category?

By focusing your products on a niche.

Focusing on a niche means picking out a specialized corner of the market and diving in. It means making products for one special person, instead of making average products for average people.

Diving into a niche can be scary. It can mean alienating a lot of people. But it can also mean endearing yourself to a small, but passionate group of fans.

Making your products more niche doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon everything you’ve designed. Instead, you can make your products more niche by focusing on one of four areas – material, subject matter, aesthetic or style, and branding.

Niche by material

When you look at your product category, are you working with the same material as everyone else? Is there a dominant material in your product category?

While I understand that some categories (like pottery) are more limited in their material options, for others, like jewelry, the sky’s the limit.

And picking one signature, and unusual, material can be a great way to build a niche for your products.

Juliet Ames, who studied craft and jewelry in college, has a wide range of techniques in her repertoire. But she’s built a business working with one unusual material – broken plates.

By embracing an unusual material, Juliet has created plenty of buzz and recognition for her jewelry.

Niche by subject matter

Can you sum up the subject matter of your designs in one sentence? How about one word?

Or does your product line span a dictionary’s worth of topics?

A great way to create a niche product, regardless of the materials you work with, is to focus on one unique subject matter.

At the Etsy Success Symposium a few weeks ago, I was introduced to The Great Northern. After struggling to sell embroidery on Etsy, the designers decided to only create pieces that pertain to the cult classic TV show Twin Peaks.

Now, they have a clear focus for their marketing efforts, and a group of loyal fans.

Niche by aesthetic or style

Is there a dominant aesthetic in your product category? Does your work have a similar style to just about everything else on the market?

Another way to get your products to stand out is to find the dominant style in your niche, and do the opposite.

A quick browse through the photography listings on Etsy reveals soft, vintage-y images. It’s not surprising – the photographers who originiated that style saw a lot of early success, leading to a wave of copycats.

But if I was a photographer looking to stand out, I would focus on dark, hard-edged images.

Niche by branding

Even if you love everything about your products, and don’t want to change, there’s still a way to carve out a niche for yourself through your branding.

On the surface, the I Believe in Myself bracelets from Pincurl Girls are just simple beaded bracelets. But paired with fun characters and informational booklets, they become tools for empowering pre-teen girls. It’s not the product, but the message behind it, that gives the brand a definitive niche.

Standing out in your product category doesn’t mean you have to niche your products in every way I’ve just described. In fact, niche by all of them is probably overkill.

Instead, look at your current products and skill sets and ask yourself if there’s a way to dive deeper into a niche in one of these areas.

As makers, we have a seemingly infinite number of skills, techniques, and ideas at our disposal. But as business people, it’s critical that we focus our attention on something a little narrower in order to make our products stand out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

OOAK Pink Jasper Necklace

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coyote Alert

A photo I took last Sunday at the park with my son.

I love walking around the city on a nice sunny day just seeing the sites. When I find a treasure like this coyote sign it makes the walk even better. Instead of looking at the cars and the street signs and what have you else to look at while walking down the street I am looking out for graffiti, checking out the art on the back of street signs and finding treasures. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Shock Doctrine

It is shocking some of the things that go on in this world and even more shocking that some of us can go about our daily lives without showing any concern.

The Shock Doctrine is a documentary and book that covers both man made and natural disasters around the world ad how political and economic changes are forced on the week when vulnerable.

Watch the full movie at Think Tank Documentaries.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Beauty Within Hip Hop

The following are songs from some of my favourite hip hop groups. I not only like them for their amazing beats, but for what they have to say!

Dead Prez - The Beauty Within

"Just keep doing you baby!"

Jedi Mind Tricks - Trial of Lies

"In the land of make belief"

Immortal Technique - No Me Importa

"If you don't respect your self don't expect it from anyone else."
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