Looking back, looking forwards

We did some good work together, in 2018-2019 in creative circles in S P A C E.

Pretty neat.

Four 12-volume sets:

  • S P A C E | Winter 2018-2019, ‘A Philosophy of the Moment’
  • S P A C E | Spring 2019, ‘The Book of New Things’
  • S P A C E | Summer 2019, ‘In the Vernacular’
  • S P A C E | Autumn 2019, ‘Trust the Process’

The issues so far are all in our online store.

Sketching a schedule for S P A C E | Winter 2019-2020, ‘Project Epicurus.’ It’s here.



Issue #46: S P A C E | Huế, ‘An Art of the Moment’

The artists gathered for this co-created zine are four very curious people.

Art, natural patterns, and words intertwine in a collaboration between them.


The nature of art

Lee Moore Crawford, a floral designer and artist, once struck up a conversation about the Japanese art of ikebana when DK happened upon her arranging flowers at a coffee shop in Durham, NC, circa 2011. We never forgot it.

So when DK collaborated with another creative person who takes inspiration from nature to make the cover image of this issue (Dipika Kohli took the original photograph in Huế, then forwarded it to digital processing artist Nils don Sihvola in Finland), we wanted to ask Crawford what her feelings would be. Lots came of this interaction, including a short piece, ‘Bloom.’

To give the collection continuity, we then circled back to former culture editor Michael Bridgett, Jr., whose article, ‘Why I Art,’ opens yet another fresh perspective.

Order it here.


Thanks ;)


How to be part of New Chapters

Alright, it’s starting to get interesting now.

I did this before, with a clunky start, in 2014. Cojournaling.

That was fun, but also, that was a little bit underdeveloped. Naturally.

Who wants to overdevelop something that’s going to be a fail? Let me talk about agile publishing another time with you. For now, I’m just reporting that we are underway with a very new approach to creating new things. With people. In S P A C E.

Talk to me about digital publishing, the use of interactive tools, and even real time conversations online and on calls. And of course in real life. How could I ever pass that up? Yet… somehow… it’s happening. People don’t come to the events I suggest these days, even fewer than before, and it’s not because they don’t want to, I think. It’s… anxiety.

But that’s not my problem to solve. I’m making papers. I’m writing books. I’m sharing stories. I’m doing S P A C E. So I had to adjust.


We are here, are we? At the point in the modern era where it’s too hard to even show up in real life. That’s definitely very depressing, in a big way, for me, because I love the improvisation of real life and the jam sessions associated with them that just, emerge, !*, on the spot. But I’ve decided something recently. I’m not going to let that self-stunting that other people may have get in the way of my moving forward and continuing to make. I just have to be a little more resourceful, now. Can’t just show up and see who’s there and make something on the spot, necessarily. (It does happen, but… yeah. Less often. And with less focus. Because everyone has a silly little computer in their pockets. I don’t have one, if you were wondering).

I write. Lately, more private writings, in more secluded sharing-spaces. Still discovering, still learning. Still at it. But, selectively, quietly. In S P A C E.

If you want to know more the best thing to do is subscribe.

More from there about how to get involved in the ‘Trust the Process’ adventure that is turning into quite the ride. I’m jazzed. Thanks to a small group of you, who have helped me learn how to do all the things I needed to do in order to understand this, it’s about to get really good now.

Here we go.


Making and doing and making again

I MUST BE GETTING PLACES. I have been conversing in real time and also asynchronously in the cloud. With amazing people who inspire me.

To keep going.

To keep doing this thing where we show up, see what happens, and put together an issue, somehow.


Arts and letters

I really can’t quite believe I am talking and making poetry with IK, jeez I’m lucky. I can’t give you all the details now because that would be too much, but suffice to say, it’s a fascinating jam session and I’m delighted to be able to explore it.

Cell memory, poetics

A living poet. Light with words, light with the style, letting me approach and say, ‘Shall we do this?’ A conversation in S P A C E, too many words already. I will stop here.

But yeah.

The things are evolving.

Which is good.

What would DK be if it didn’t change every so often completely?

What is that thing about how your cells renew, every seven years?

Unstuffy, unpretentious, realness

I did go to a couple of stuffy literary conferences and festivals in my life, but not a single one of the people I met really felt like they were doing anything truly creative, if you want to know my honest opinion.

They just kinda… seem to get caught up in the recognition-seeking thing. Not innovating in the form. Which, to me, is far more exciting. And takes effort to go to the edge, look and, well… leap. Status quo-happy people like to hug the mainstream lines. Art can’t be art, though, if you ask me, if you do that. Just, no.

Which is exactly why the people who are actually exploring and experimenting… well, they catch my ear, and eye.

This post is for SY and IK


Trust the Process, Section D

Co-create a mini-mag, S P A C E, with Design Kompany.

This is a conversation space that is available for subscribers of S P A C E to also have a chance to get to know one another, in DK’s online forums. International. Asynchronous.


Sometimes conversations get very interesting and we invite people to collaborate to make an issue of our mini-magazine, S P A C E.

  • This is our online store.

DK are seeking people who want to write, and connect, meaningfully and in new ways, with one another.

Experience it.


{Note: As of October 1, 2019, we are *only* inviting members of S P A C E to co-create with us.) Learn more  and register by signing up for ‘Trust the Process’. There is a new line item, ‘Trust the Process,’ at our crowdfunding page: subscribe to S P A C E and learn more about what we are making–> Learn more and sign up.

Issue #40: S P A C E | Haapavesi, ‘Proprioception’

Writing a story in the north of Finland

space-haapavesiThis issue. Has taken me more than a year to wrap my heart around. It’s centered around a brief exchange that I had in a blustering white night all-night escapade that began as a foray to Haapavesi. 

‘You go to peculiar places!’ said a writer in Oulu.

Despite my usual antisocial nature, I went. To… Haapavesi.

What I found is wrapped into a short story, which is the lead story for this collection. It, and the issue itself, are called ‘Proprioception.’

It’s a mashup of conversations from Finland over the summer in 2018, as well as more recently, in the cloud. Internet and real clouds… mixing and sharing and discovering and writing. Stories and poems. People give me so much to think about, and, I’m told, I do the same for them. What we discover when we make space to converse is, of course, the whole entire point of S P A C E. So I decided to share that very sweet, summer and lighthearted story today. Starry constellations and jazzy connections, but over karaoke, rounds in bars and ‘filled croissants’ at home.

And who is Soile? Well.

Let me think how to describe this… well, okay, it’s difficult.

Some things are for sharing.

Some things are for folding into art, and publishing, as zines.

Those who are used to my writing and creative nonfiction will not be surprised, but it’s pretty much a combination of three people. Soile… Whom I met on the bus, whom I met at a bar, and whom I met at somewhere I can’t say because this is a public post and not one of the protected ones. [Long stories deleted]


Order this issue of S P A C E

Today’s release has a bunch.

  • New graphics.
  • A new short story.
  • Two poems including ‘Step a little closer,’ from 2014, which I wrote about the work of art, mostly, in a collaboration with M.


Order here



7 Oct | S P A C E Saigon, ‘Miniparty

In Saigon, soon.

To gather just six, and their guests. And talk about learning. And share from this new book.

Discover the journey, in S P A C E.

A very special evening.

Quiet. Low-key. No loud yelling, no spilling of drinks, or fakery, or drunken mobbery.

Just… art.

Light, simple. Experience it.

Specially hosted by both Dipika Kohli and BOSS.




Issue #39: S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’

Every Tuesday since December’s start last year I’ve been sharing a new issue of our online magazine, S P A C E.

Today’s is S P A C E | Hà Nội, ‘Paper Funnel’.

Collected bits from the road, including wisdom from people I run into, like this 80-year-old man who wanted to talk about life and give me advice, on a tour last year in Melakka…


‘Don’t hurry through things, don’t disappear on people. Wait for the miracle. That’s a Grateful Dead song, “Looking for the Miracle”, but I edited it. Anyway, life advice? Be honest. With yourself, and with other people.’
–80 year-old guest of a guesthouse in Melaka, Malaysia, in response to DK’s question, ‘Do you have any life advice?’


For those who like travel writing, this is the issue to get.

I worked super hard on the lead story, a longform one called ‘Paper Funnel’.

Order here


Writing the story as I find it

As always, it’s still creative nonfiction, but it’s getting tighter, thanks to editorial input and proofreading and copywriting and just general advice from those who know my writing, and me, pretty damn well, by now.

The story inside will be published in October’s issue of Saathee Magazine, which is in Charlotte NC, and for whom I’ve been writing a monthly column about where I am, at the moment, on the spot.

Get everything in this edition of the printer-friendly S P A C E.

Download it, fold it, and sew it to make your own at home.

Order this issue of S P A C E

S P A C E | How to co-create with DK

For the spring of 2019, DK and friends are co-creating the zine series, ‘The Book of New Things.’ Everything that we made so far in S P A C E has been a collaboration with people who have *shown up* for: events, ateliers, online programmes, and conversation parties—for at least two years. It takes time to develop. To progress. To build trust, rapport, and find continuity in a theme and give it enough space to grow. We learned through trial and error about this, because sometimes things go really well (but that’s just 1% of the time). And by ‘really well’ we have a pretty high bar: you have to be able to feel great about the collaboration, which means, being able to trust each other and say ‘this isn’t working, let’s improve it?’ and not worry if that means they’re going to get annoyed, offended, cry, spit at us, or go away. But of course those things happen too. Including spitting. Yes. Sometimes people just really don’t like it that you are doing your own thing, impolitely going against the grain and bucking the status quo. They really have a problem with that: and you know what? It’s not our problem. Frankly, it’s, well…it’s drag. In basic high school physics we learn about the coefficient of friction. Kinetic friction, static friction, whatever it is, it’s friction. And drag. Letting go is a thing. Letting. Go.


Lighter load, quicker step

ATTENTIVENESS. With this attitude, especially of late, I have personally lost a number of acquaintances and ex-friends along this journey: mostly due to a lack of alignment in vision. We are seeking S P A C E and quality, connexion and meaning-making, discovery and much, much more–see the ‘why’ in the outline below.  But sometimes you have to let go of things in order to invite the new and next. FOMO has an opposite: I will be sharing about that, when up to 16 guests will join us, for the orientation session for ‘The Book of New Things.’ Starts 5 March. Read more about how to get started.



‘Let’s make something’

Crowdfunding page with full details of the back story of S P A C E the zine

S P A C E MAKERS. Some of the people we co-created with to make Atelier S P A C E and the 12-set zine collection ‘A Philosophy of the Moment’ are acknowledged on our contact page. Many special thanks also to all of our fiscal supporters, whose names are at our crowdfunding page. To KIT with DK about co-publishing books, join this mailing list for a short overview of what’s coming up this year.

The invitation

Atelier S P A C E | Finland, 2018

MOVEMENT. New and different. Fresh and original input. Wide perspectives. As DK continue to find out more about new places, new people, and unearth as best we can the very stories that connect us all, we are ready to invite new guests to join in the co-creation journey. But… one step at a time. This is why we’re starting to invite new and different others to connect with us in a meaningful way, and this new project is a light first step towards doing that. It’s called ‘The Book of New Things.’

‘Fade’ // DK // Northern Finland // 2018

Here’s how it works.

WHAT IT IS. A digital mini-magazine, published every week and shared with DK’s international network of creative people in the community called S P A C E. The idea is to create a platform for a self-selecting, highly motivated set of people to work on: developing a piece of writing; finding a way to connect with editors, photographers, illustrators and designers; networking; working in collaboration under the artistic direction of Atelier S P A C E at DK in order to create a finished piece that has real depth, complexity, meaning, and… art. An example of something co-created in this style is the poem about New Year’s in Vietnam, which you can read (in Vietnamese only) at this page.

WHERE. This is an online conversation.

WHEN. The online conversations begin on 5 March 2019.

MEMBERSHIP IN S P A C E. For those interested in developing a 1:1 conversation with DK’s creatitve team for advice, customized feedback, and tailored direction and consultation as we go, we invite you to become a member of S P A C E. The membership signup page is a crowdfunding one, and you can find it here.

WHO WE ARE. So far the creative team and co-hosts have been an international set of people that love to converse, connect, and talk over time to get to know each other and to find introspective moments, both individually, and together, too. Big thinking, big picture. You’ll be invited to any real life events taking place near you (we will be in Tokyo, Hanoi, and Riga). Here is the contact page at DK that tells you more about our team and collaborators.

WHY. Because some of us are still interested in depth, quality, conversation, connexion, and… meaning-making. Because some of us can see through facades and are bored with them. Because some of us love collaboration, whereby something better than we each could have made together gets made… in S P A C E. To KIT with DK about co-publishing books, join this mailing list for a short overview of what’s coming up this year.

‘The whole is something other than the sum of its parts.’


How we’re making S P A C E on the road

Best part of making S P A C E is the chance encounters, stories-in-the-field, and finding out of things that happen when you simply create a bounded box of ‘where’, and ‘when.’ To show up. And see. What the things that are there (and also within, and so many more things to say about this), can tell you. ‘See what making S P A C E can reveal to you about… you.’ That’s what I had once written and shared on a website page that existed far away from this one, in another time, another moment, when I still believed that most people want to do the hard work of reflection. And trust me to help them do that. But what I found is it’s far too hard to do this, let alone subscribe to someone else’s method, and when all that happens, you also have these moments of deep metaphysical questioning, and sometimes that gets a little tricky because we have a lot of things to bring up and some of the time it’s not comfortable.



Talking about business and talking about ‘tasks’ and talking about ‘things to do in order to reach success’ are more often toted into the public spaces of conversation. (Which I find terribly boring.) Rather, what if we could make more S P A C E for connexion, on a different level. Talking about ‘purpose,’ for example. ‘Values,’ and ‘drive.’ Where this picture was taken is where for a little more than two weeks Design Kompany designed, hosted, dialogued about, and conversed deeply about things related to these latter. Who we are and why things matter most to us, in these instances of sharing in the bounded box of time and space, for the Atelier S P A C E that invites us to look at things but also to let go of the looking, and just engage and enjoy whatever falls into the space, too…


Quieting, stillness

This one was really good. I’m going to write about the things we uncovered in a future zine, set in the town where this picture was taken, and made in this very space. Writing. Designing. Editing. And most importantly, thrashing ideas about. But then, letting go of them, too, and feeling the way towards the rightness of the things to share. Sharing.

More is awaiting. In the ateliers to come. And in the conversations shaping up through the online zine S P A C E, and its attendant small circles of communities too. To the journeys, then. The near, the now, the next.

About DK

‘Art, at its best, is a conversation. One in which sender and receiver are locked in a timeless, wordless space, the quality of which only they can know:’ –Dipika Kohli, S P A C E | Palo Alto, 2014, in a conversation with the people who inspired S P A C E the zine.

As consultants, DK’s work is about discovering a strong concept of ‘why’ one does the work that one does. We use a lot of techniques to uncover that exact main idea, but the biggest tool we put into practice is dialogue. On a more personal note, DK’s founders and collaborators are generally curious, and interested in the art of conversation, so together we host events to gather in one moment those whose paths might not have otherwise crossed.

ART OF CONVERSATION. Central questions of identity, possibility, and search are the points from which DK’s inquiry takes its departure. Who are we becoming when we venture to places, and engage with cultures, the rules and shape of which we do not yet know? Dialogue is at the center of DK’s take on leveraging the best of the creative process, and it lies at the heart of all that we do. Whether we are in a client meeting or getting acquainted with a potential new friend, we are listening as best as we can. Through time, and sharing, there comes a moment when we arrive together at a conceptual ‘a-ha’. This is the breakthrough, and from here, the poetry of the connection becomes refined, nuanced, developed, and… more interesting

DK was founded in 2004 in Seattle, WA, USA. Since that time, DK has worked with 100+ business owners of companies both large and small, as well as international development organizations. See what people say about working with DK.


‘Anything is possible’

Dipika Kohli
‘Let’s get started.’
TEDx | FQP | NPR | Review

Jas Plac
Operations Manager

A. Spaice
Experiential Design
instagram | twitter | facebook

Akira Morita
Innovation & Human Centered Design
‘It’s a practice.’

‘S P A C E quests and designs itself, in the pursuit of more and better S P A C E’

About Atelier S P A C E
Online store

Contributors, 2018-2019

Michael Bridgett, Jr.
Zafar Imran
Alexis Jokela
Karin Malhotra
Quân Nguyễn
Aske Pedersen
Nils don Sihvola
Rastislav Somora
Kan Tomizawa
Reijo Valta
Veena Vera
Jānis Žguts

Learn about Atelier S P A C E popups in Vietnam, Latvia, the United States, and Finland

‘Experience this’

Be a part of things to come

Are you ready to take part in something very new, and very much about exploring the ways to connect, and interconnect, new and different others? The best way to be part of DK is to support our work, first. To do that you can become a subscriber of S P A C E for USD $7/week, or make a donation, at
our crowdfunding page. Or, show up in real life at any of our events. New projects ahead for 2020. KIT when you support this work to make more and better S P A C E.


S P A C E | Rovaniemi, ‘Arctic Circle’

‘… published books…’


‘Wait. Have you published a book, DK?’


‘Well, is it on Amazon?’

‘No! I don’t like that company ! The way they treat people and–‘

‘Listen. Amazon’s not going to change and people are still going to use it, whether or not you have qualms with the way they treat people. So why not just use it? Why not make money on the side while you’re doing these other things?’

‘Nobody buys my books ! Hardly.’

‘Well somebody does, right? Somewhere, sometime.’

‘Usually if I meet them, then yeah, it’s so… interesting… it’s like this one-click thing and…’

‘Well, yeah. And why not let yourself benefit from that, instead of just keeping everything on some obscure website in a hard-to-use way, because you disagree on principle with Amazon?’


‘The man’ vs the individualist

‘I see your point.’

‘You do?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Selling isn’t bad. But I just don’t wanna use Amazon. I don’t like how they put me next to the other titles and I totally don’t want to be in those pigeonholed categories. So I’ll just make S P A C E. Every week, and see what happens and get to know more about it and see, you know? See.’

‘But, what you really need to be doing is writing another book.’





‘I feel like just making more zines though.’


‘A book is a commitment. And no one reads my books.’

‘You don’t know that.’

‘That’s, um. That’s true.’


‘So what are you going to do?’

‘Write. And let it happen. Whatever it is, it is.’

*winging it*

Order this issue.

Get our weekly zine S P A C E, sent directly to your inbox every Tuesday at 7AM USEST. Subscribe here.

Beam me up

WHAT IS ‘The Work of Art?” Conversations that began in an online forum, The Mirror, opened the discussions about this in early 2018.

After a year of ruminations,  one key reflection is this.

If you don’t show up for the chance encounters in the places where you have no idea what’s going to happen, the art you make isn’t ever going to get to any place of real depth. Because it’s still in your own little bubble that you are working, and no one is going to make you ask the hard questions about it, to make it better.


Showing up

A LOT OF PEOPLE talk about how you have to ‘get inspired’ if you want to write or make art. That’s not true. Anyone who does this in a serious way knows that it’s really about showing up and practicing, over and over. The whole ‘get away for a week and just write so I can finally get my novel written’ is so…’ [a segment of this has been deleted because it’s really personal and long-winded and not really a good idea to put in a public-facing post, erm]… optimizing for the things that you want. Knowing what those are. All that.


I had the idea to make ‘zines’ because I wanted to do something that would be short, sweet, made on the spot, and easy to put together and assemble and quickly share. I had this gigantic multi-tab spreadsheet and color codes, columns, sorted pages, unsorted pages, and so many exclamation points that I can’t even tell you how fun it was. My dearest friends know that it was, for me, a time of ‘crunching the data’ and seeing the ‘a-ha’ as and when it showed itself. You just can’t do it any other way. You have to get in there and muck around with a thing if you want it to tell you anything interesting. This is why we are doing ‘agile publishing.’ And ‘experiential writing.’ And, and, and. I wonder what F would say about all this.

But yeah. This thinking came after years of trying a lot of things (I do mean a *lot*) including salons, workshops, client gigs, lots of doodling about, some forays into showing art work, exhibitions at places that did open calls, artist residencies, actual 9-5 gigs for multiyear stretches (yes! not kidding!), and doing what people in agile development like to call ‘pivoting’ when it comes to regrouping and redesigning and adusting to market forces.

Atelier S P A C E | Melakka, 2018

There are times when I wish that the market forces would evaporate and people would just see and know what ‘quality’ is, but then again, Robert Pirsig wrote all those bunches and bunches of words lamenting this same phenomenon and I can see that he only made peace with it when he accepted that just not all that many people in the world are gonna care about what you care about. Happily, I found Lila, his sequel to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, in a guesthouse in Melakka in Malaysia, and toted it with me back to Phnom Penh, and now have it here, with me, in… *somewhere else*. Somewhere new.

(On the way from ‘before’ to ‘next.’ And then… Riga.)


Rescuing Lila

IT WAS FORTUNATE and disappointing  to discover that someone I had imagined would find it very interesting to read Lila had not picked it up from the place I had left it for him, a small lobby of a place with staff who were wondering why I kept popping in and out, bicycle-helmeted, in my falling-apart outfits, asking about an obscure hardcover book. But it is an important book to me. It is for sharing with the people who are interested in the things I am interested in and that Pirsig was. Quality. Seeking it, questing for it. And when something or someone comes along that lends you a new angle on how to approach it (books can do this, people, places, travel, the scent of fresh rain after a few days of humidity, all of that), you know that it’s the most imperative in the world thing to do to sit up and listen. At least, for me. I’m questing S P A C E. And S P A C E attracts S P A C E. It’s like that. Abundance. Et cetera. But for me, subtracting things also helps me make space. Editing out what doesn’t work helps me better see the picture of the more important substance that attracts more of itself to make the whole. That is pretty esoteric. I should ask PH to comment, somewhere. I will. In S P A C E.

Does everyone want to hear about these things? No.

Does it matter to me that they don’t? Hmmmmm. *conflicted*

What is the role of the artist? To make art, but then, what the hell is the point making it, all alone?

‘Things come together, things fall apart.’ –Edward Albee, The Adding Machine


Choreography, S P A CE

Talking with Susan Yeung How Wah in Singapore, a choreographer, helped a lot with starting this new thinking. (I ran into her by chance in November 2017, after hanging around that city wondering if there was a way to really make a ‘go’ of Atelier S P A C E | Singapore. I was wandering about the city staring at my feet, wishing it could all work itself out like magic. Then, boom. Into my life walked the expression of magic, herself.

I managed to meet her by the by, and talk with for a full afternoon at La Salle’s Lowercase Cafe, because it was there, and so were we and why not, isn’t this the stuff of art and design and making? Conversation starts it all, doesn’t it?

So we made a time and we showed up.

That was when things began, in a large way, with setting the stage for the seeding of S P A C E. I’m dramatizing, of course, but she is really full of brilliance. I can tell. You always can, right?, when you meet rare gems amongst our lot who are also asking questions, going out on a limb, and showing up to try the experimental, and the new. (Thanks, SY!)

Who would know better than a choreographer about how to get people to work together artfully? The more we talked, the more I saw the beginning of a pattern I’ve been seeing now for a few years when I show up with a big list of questions and ‘ask the expert.’ Like it’s an interview or something. It never works like that, now. It turns into a conversation. I hear people say, ‘DK… This sure is… different. You’re doing something I’ve not seen, but it’s making me think.’

I ask for advice.

‘No, I don’t have anything. Keep going. That’s all I can say.’



NEW 2019 FORUMS BEGIN. Such conversation spacemaking is exactly what S P A C E is designed to invite. Curious? I was thinking we could talk about ‘Statics & Dynamics’ this coming month. Who wants to know more? Ask me through the form here. Or, just subscribe to S P A C E to get both our weekly digital zine + the passcodes to our ongoing forums. These are the active spaces.


Data are data. It is the intellectual framework which one deals with the data that is at fault. The fault is with subject-object metaphysics itself… what Phaedrus was saying was that not just life, but everything, is an ethical activity. It is nothing else. When Quality postulates they’ve done so because it’s better and that this definition of ‘betterness’–this beginning response to Dynamic Quality–is an elementary unit of ethics upon which all right and wrong can be based. When this understanding first broke through in Phaderus’ mind, that ethics and science had suddenly been integrated into a single system, he became so manic he couldn’t think of anything else for days.** The only time he had been more manic about an abstract idea was when he had first hit upon the idea of undefined quality itself. The consequence of that first mania had been disastrous, and so now, this time, he told himself just to calm down and dig in. It was, for him, a great Dynamic breakthrough, but if he wanted to hang on to it, he had better do some static latching as quickly and thoroughly as possible. —R. Pirsig

**Can so relate!

Warm tones

IT IS EVENING. I’m supposed to be finished. Packing. The things to come are already starting, and I can feel the pull of the magnet that is calling. Towards the next. Whatever it is. I remember this feeling: five years ago, I was writing about getting new passport pictures, for Charlotte, NC editor Samir Shukla‘s Saathee Magazine. This would have been in North Carolina, and this was the kind of Indian diaspora magazine that, really, never usually crossed my mind to write for, but I had queried about writing a piece and it had been an easy thing to pitch: ‘I’m going traveling: taking to the road. No idea what’s gonna happen. A story?’ I had a hunch my father would read it, if I got it sent in there. I figured, too, later, with the column that started there and then and went on for a year, then two, that I had a way, in this mode, to keep in touch with my dad.


Art and the story

That’s how it starts, doesn’t it? You have a person you want to write towards. That time, it was my father. The story, ‘Passport Pictures’, ran as the first of a series of a column that we called ‘Just Being Honest.’ I never expected the kinds of twists and turns that this series would take, or that I would expand into other stories and other features, writing another column, over at Assung Ng‘s Seattle-based community paper, Northwest Asian Weekly (a newspaper that DK rebranded on their 25th anniversary). That was called ‘The Village Report.’ In 2016, everything that seemed interesting to me from these conversations got somehow turned into the eBook, Breakfast in Cambodia (Kismuth Books  // 2016).

Today I was thinking I should put it online, so people could read it. Download it. Not for $$$, but you know, for free. Because it’s not a bad story, I don’t think, and it sums up a lot of the feelings that someone who is on the road indefinitely for you-don’t–know-how-long, on their way from ‘not quite’ to ‘somewhere else’ but not sure what that looks like would have. I remember the feeling: people were like, ‘You’re going where? You don’t know? And you’re gonna do what? With no plan? OMG WTF you’re crazy.’ Despite the pull towards the status quo, in those days, I felt that there was something far more compelling in the ‘out there, wherever it is.’ I don’t know why. Was it because I had studied abroad in Kyoto, and in Ghana? Or taken my first solo trips to India and the United Kingdom in my early twenties all alone without predictable plans or a reason or something ‘to be done’ in those places? Or lived in Ireland for three years? If people could have gotten inside my head, maybe they would have seen that I was interested in ‘other people, other places, and other ways of thinking.’ I remember this. I remember that look: ‘but… why? And how will you make any money?’ Um. Right.


Next stop: wherever it is

Fast forward five years. I just got new passport pictures. My passport is back from the Embassy, a place I had avoided for the whole time I’ve been in Cambodia (four years). This time, I got my passport pictures done in Johor Bahru. I had no qualms whatsoever about the fact that I had been up until 3AM the night before on a very intriguing call across the world, or that my clothes were rumpled, or that I wasn’t gonna be wearing something that I picked out carefully because, hell, this was your passport. No. I just saw this place, went in. It was hot. It was air-conditioned inside. No big deal: got the pictures. Sized for the passport for the United States of America.

Today I got the first visa for the new passport. I’m gonna try to get longer visas this time so the book doesn’t fill up before it’s expired. It’s really amazing: the fresh feeling. I was reminded of ‘Passport Pictures’ and I compared my old self and my current one. Staring into the lens, this time, there is different person altogether. Not worried about ‘not knowing.’ And not caring one iota about who thinks what about it, besides. Because the going is the point of it; the transition happens there. I’m writing and talking with people I really admire, now, with the internet circle in S P A C E and the very close set of friends and collaborators who, along with me, have been on this wide quest. Towards quality: not just making something that works or turns around dollars, but something that opens the heart. I mean, it sounds crazy. But art. Is now. Actually. Needed.

The poets will help us get through this weird time of change and transition. Suffering: there are volumes written on coping, and dealing with the feeling of not knowing how to cope when things are abstract and far. There are egos. There is therapy. There are people who work on themselves, and get to a point where they are strong enough to share with close fiends how to grow. I remember thinking ‘grow’ was a funny word. I remember my cousin saying that Atlanta ‘really helped me grow.’ And I wrote four or five pages in my diary about that, about that whole idea. At that time, I had thought that growing was just about gathering more of something. More is more philosophy. But now, I think, growing is finding your way towards the things that really matter: to you. It’s subjective, of course. Looking inward, noticing deeply, attuning to what people around you feel and think and don’t-say, but which, if you’re awake enough, you can sort of read with a sixth sense… that’s important. That’s big work. I’m seriously writing this, now, on my blog?, I’m a little nervous about making this one public-facing. But yesterday and today I had one of those conversations that was like, ‘Whoa.’ Big thanks to my friends in Phnom Penh, who might not want to be called out publicly here, because… well, the kinds of conversations we have… are not the kinds that you want everyone to know about. But one day, when I’m ready, I will find a way to share back with them my gratitude and the layers and layers of learning that have come of our shared explorations. I hope we’re all growing and changing, all the time, as we all move through this thing: a kind of real time play, an improvisation that always moves, it’s an act but it’s the real thing, and like they say, there are no rehearsals.

Life. Is here. Is real. Is now. Where am I going?

I don’t know. I just know that tomorrow, my visa for Cambodia expires. That I have some vague outlines of things to do, elsewhere. That there will be people, I’m convinced now, along the way who will open me up more. I’m ready for that kind of trip. It’s a fissure: I’m no longer looking back (the ‘where I’m from’ question ceases to be relevant), nor up, into the infinite. I’m being here, right here. Now.

Where it all begins.


‘Hey. What’s this post coming from, DK?’

‘Well. I’m just being honest.’

S P A C E | ‘6N’

DK ARE QUIETLY in the conversations that always happen at the start of our ‘N’ salons: online, indefinitely and tentatively, and with a whole lot of gumption. If we manage to get 16 strangers to convene in a city, around a topic that starts with an ‘N’, what might happen? What magic could we make? It might look like this. But what about redesigning? After ‘N’ Helsinki: NEUROSIS, the program which we are currently writing a short story about for the zine S P A C E | Helsinki, ‘Coat Check,’ there’s a lot of scope for making it… simpler.

Hard, the original design. Which involve this… Writing to the internet blindly and seeing if people will respond to the query, ‘Do you want to meet new people? In your city which has an ‘N’ in it, right? At a venue that starts with an ‘N’? It costs, by the way, and we’ll choose a date together amongst only those who’ve registered.’ It’s a miracle we managed to do this 4 times.

Whose job is it to create quality public spaces, or active the ones that are there but being used in boring ways like people doing digital nomad stuff that really means they’re staring at their laptops and not actively connecting with the ambient wisdom of the right-around-me-right-here-right-now? Okay, I’m editorializing, but I think you know what I mean. We all know what it feels like when the conversation moves, is great, and people are smiling and enjoying themselves and even learning something at the same time. Had a few small glimmers into the future, while beginning the hard slog of querying total strangers about doing the next one, the next ‘N’, with DK. In S P A C E. A work in progress. As all great pieces truly are.

Special thanks to Khiang Hei yesterday for co-hosting with DK the small salon-party, ‘S P A C E | Phnom Penh.’ Was really good to reconnect after several years and talk shop, talk art, talk art circles, talk failing art circles and exodus of the people who make things, talk about the opportunities and critique and politics and documentary photography and his upcoming show at Rutger’s University, and what it means to be an artist, and the work of work (well, that didn’t get totally discussed at that space but we did bring that party on into the late late evening with F. at, um, a bar. I try to stay away from these places on Friday nights, but you know. Sometimes you gotta see what else is happening in the world besides your own little forays into internet composition and discovery and all that jazzy jazz. Speaking of jazz: this is a topic I love to write about, but, like ‘N’ and things at DK, in general, am finding it’s a very select group that actually also loves free and bebop jazzification of musics. Erm.)

F., if you see this, this is what I was talking about…

[Renownked comic artist] Hal Foster warned in the mid-1990s, ‘the institution may overshadow the work that it otherwise highlights: it becomes the spectacle, it collects the cultural capital, and the director-curator becomes the star.’ More about relational art.

Comments are open, for a bit.

#relationalaesthetics #jazz #play16n

S P A C E | ‘Strange Geometries’

LET’S TALK ABOUT learning. How we discover, find, and make new connections. Ideas, shapes of thinking and the input that comes from places that might not be the ‘usual’ ones. No more boring meetings: What are the containers that make great conversations *happen*? Cnversations that lead to better collaboration and better work? Those are important. Let’s not waste time. Let’s make things better, together.

Better and more enjoyable: that’s the key. How do we design the S P A C E that lets fresh thinking flow?

Let’s consider. Let’s discuss.

‘Strange Geometries’ is our first invite-only salon on this topic. Min 4. Max 7.

WHAT YOU’LL GET. DK will share:

  • Grice’s ‘Maxims of Conversation’, as introduced to us by Eric Chuk, who studied narrative ontology
  • Six Thinking Hats, a method of opening dialogue.
  • The Open Space Technologies how-to.
  • Free eBook, ‘SELF’, by DK’s Dipika Kohli (a USD $95 value).

Application required. Apply below.

This workshop will be hosted by DK’s Dipika Kohli. She has delivered seminars at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on the topic of Design Thinking, a series caled SELF as a 9-week experiential program at Stanford University, and for an architects circle in Seattle DK was invited to present, ‘Just Be You.’


DipikaKohli.com | Processed Identity | GOOD | TEDx | Ignite Raleigh | NPR | UNC-Chapel Hill | ThisBigCity

#innovation #design #designthinking

APPLY. To request an invite, first apply here: