In Việt Nam

Covid fourth wave in Việt Nam: Mini-report from Hồ Chí Minh City

Nguyễn Mỹ Hà‘s lede in a story in the Vietnam News hits the note, exactly. It’s this: ‘Hồ Chí Minh City is not feeling well.’


From the article: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/993809/united-viet-nam-fights-covid-19-as-outbreak-in-hcm-city-worsens.html

‘The most vibrant and economically wealthy city in Việt Nam has offered financial aid* to help people whose incomes have been slashed due to the city’s 14-day lockdown.

‘When HCM City coughs, the whole country feels the cold. Its daily number of positive cases this week has been consistently above 1,000 and topped 2,000 on Wednesday.

‘The Ministry of Health continues to send medical teams with doctors and other health personnel to help HCM City fight the pandemic. More than 7,000 medical students have been added to the health force to start work in the city’s quarantine camps and hospitals.’


When a horse is sick, the whole stable feels the pain, goes a popular saying,” writes Nguyễn Mỹ Hà.


Read the full story: https://vietnamnews.vn/society/993809/united-viet-nam-fights-covid-19-as-outbreak-in-hcm-city-worsens.html

***


*Friends tell us how hard it is to do the paperwork to actually get to any package that might come out, and some people are waiting and waiting for previous similar things to come to fruit, is the word on the street, to our knowledge. Meantime the need for cash is real. So here’s what’s up…. Social sustainability-shaped things, up next, in S P A C E. This is where DK has been taking shelter since the outbreak of the virus, and thanks to help from friends and neighbors, gotten by with… being in a foreign land, unplannedly. Now, this. Support DK’s own effort to create small, paid writing and design commissions. These would be for people whom we have gotten to know and whose work we value and even cherish, at Atelier S P A C E Ho Chi Minh City. See ‘Book of Feelings’ at our recently updated crowdfunding page. Here is a link.

http;//chuffed.org/project/spacethezine

Help me make it *happen*.

Thanks!

'S' is for Sincerity · Experiments in Expression · Ideas of Curiosity

I <3 New Cuizines

Today we share an update about #NewCuizines..


I told you about it? About #newcuizines? I’ll be curating here and there some of my favorite food-related [various media pieces] and original stories from the kitchen-atelier of our studio itself. Atelier S P A C E, because. Cooking. Is happening. It has to. There are no take-aways allowed and so, um, you have to prepare things.


I’m glad I have a kitchen, to do that. I’ve made some [deleted]… but these look pretty good…



Yes, you know I am not a foodie. But I do like good food. I mean, eating it. How could I not after three years in the gastronomic paradise of West Cork, Ireland (thank you lads). Well. After all that, I am in Vietnam, one of the most brilliant places to be for food especially if you want to see how creative everything can get with texture, color, composition. Style. I’m enjoying it. Continue reading “I <3 New Cuizines”

'S' is for Sincerity · Found in the Field · Ideas of Curiosity

A life of Authenticity & Social Sustainability

Researching today for a post sometime soon about social sustainability, especially in Vietnam, I found this on Wikipedia about ‘LOHAS’ lifestyles.


It reminded me of 2006 in Seattle, when DK had just gotten started and when we had, way back then, as we aim to now, I feel, patronized other labels that also support environmentally (and especially socially) sustainable ideals. Truly and sincerely doing this, I mean. Not greenwashing or BS or nonsense. Just. Doing. Good things, in good ways. No one is perfect and of course we all have to make money to live; but that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice things. Things like, for example, taking the time that it requires to nurture relationships that add value to our lives in other ways, or do the work it must require to foundationally, and bolsteringly, build the communities we want to be a part of because they help us grow. You need to have a structure in place for a form to work well; the structure is the engineering bit. The form is all image-y these days and lacks substance, I feel*, which is why I’m getting back to my core work in Engineering and related fields (environmental work, sustainability, et al). It’s not something I can talk about publicly yet, but maybe, maybe I can later.

[*Aside: For further reading, refer to Guy DeBord’s Society of the Spectacle.]…

But yeah.

If LOHAS came about in the mid-2000s, what about ALOASS. A Life of Authenticity and Social Sustainability, for 202Xs? Hrm.

Much, much more to say about this. Soonish, or whenever it makes sense to share, I’ll get to it. If I want. For now, this is this. Here is this snippet, a kind of footnote for my future post. This bit’s from Wikipedia…


Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) is a demographic defining a particular market segment related to sustainable living, “green” ecological initiatives, and generally composed of a relatively upscale and well-educated population segment. The author Paul H. Ray, who coined the term Cultural Creatives*:“What you’re seeing is a demand for products of equal quality that are also virtuous.”[1][2] Included in the cultural creative demographic are consumers of New Age goods and services.[3][4]



*Cultural Creatives”[edit]

Just under half of the CC population comprises the more educated, leading-edge thinkers. This includes many writers, artists, musicians, psychotherapists, alternative health care providers and other professionals. They combine a serious focus on their spirituality with a strong passion for social activism.

Green “Cultural Creatives”[edit]

The more secular and extroverted wing of the “Cultural Creatives”. They tend to follow the opinions of the core group and have more conventional religious outlooks. Their world views less thought-out than the core group and less intensely held.

Characteristics[edit]

Ray and Sherry Anderson created a questionnaire to identify “Cultural Creatives” in Western society. The characteristics below were identified as qualities of a “Cultural Creative”. Agreement with 10 or more indicates status as a “Cultural Creative”.

  • love of nature and deep caring about its preservation, and its natural balance.
  • strong awareness of the planet-wide issues like climate change and poverty and a desire to see more action on them
  • being active themselves
  • willingness to pay higher taxes or spend more money for goods if that money went to improving the environment
  • emphasize the importance of developing and maintaining relationships
  • emphasize the importance of helping others and developing their unique gifts
  • volunteer with one or more good causes
  • intense interest in spiritual and psychological development (personal growth)
  • see spirituality as an important aspect of life, but worry about religious fundamentalism
  • desire equality for women and men in business, life and politics
  • concern and support of the well-being of all women and children
  • support spending more money on education, community development programs, and the support of a more ecologically sustainable future
  • unhappy with the left and right in politics
  • optimism towards the future
  • involved in creating a new and better way of life
  • concerned with big business and the means they use to generate profits, including destroying the environment and exploiting poorer countries
  • unlikely to overspend or be heavily in debt
  • dislike the emphasis of modern cultures on “making it” and “success”, on consuming and making money
  • like people, places and things that are different or exotic

Ray and Anderson: “Values are the best single predictor of real behavior”. The list below outlines the values dictating a “Cultural Creative”‘s behavior:

  • Authenticity, actions consistent with words and beliefs

  • Engaged action and whole systems learning; seeing the world as interwoven and connected

  • Idealism and activism

  • Globalism and ecology

  • The growing cultural significance of women

Core “Cultural Creatives” also value altruism, self-actualization, and spirituality.


In business[edit]

The concept of “innerpreneurs” to denote persons who create a business that focuses mainly on their own inner goals and development was first introduced by Rebecca Maddox in her 1996 book Inc. Your Dreams[3] The “innerpreneurs” concept is also central to Ron Rentel’s 2008 book Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs, in which he identified the “Cultural Creative” subculture in entrepreneurship. Rentel named entrepreneurial “Cultural Creatives”, “innerpreneurs”.



While entrepreneurs use their business for monetary gain, “innerpreneurs” use their business to find personal fulfillment (creatively, spiritually, emotionally) and create social change.


“Innerpreneurs” have the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur:

  • high need for achievement
  • high need for independence
  • low need for conformity
  • internal focus of control
  • love of ambiguity
  • propensity for risk-taking
  • obsession with opportunity*

[*Editor’s note: Super true, for me, here. Ahem.]


In 2008, there was much discussion in the Western media on the ‘creative economy’ and the importance of the ‘creative class’. Richard Florida published a series of books on this identified ‘creative class’ and their upcoming economic importance. Bill Gates spoke at the World Economic Forum 2008 on the need for ‘creative capitalism’ as a solution to the world’s problems. They theorize that being creative and inventive will be the key to business success in the 21st century and that a country’s economic success will be determined by its capitalists’ ability to mobilize, attract and retain human creative talent. See Douglas Rushkoff for an update on how this evolved.

Use of the term integral[edit]

Ray gives the term “Integral Culture” to the growing subculture. He also refers to this as transmodernism, which he refers to as the “Cultural Creatives”. They are concerned with ecological sustainability and in the case of a core group have a commitment to personal and spiritual development. These are individuals who can meld the best of traditionalism and modernism to create a new synthesis, having a cognitive style based on synthesizing varied information from many sources into a big picture.[4][1] This term can also apply to integral theory, a conceptual framework expounded by Ken Wilber.


Products and services[edit]

The marketplace includes goods and services such as:[citation needed]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Cortese, Amy (July 20, 2003). “They Care About the World (and They Shop, Too)”. Business Section. New York Times.
  2. ^ Everage, Laura (October 1, 2002). “Understanding the LOHAS Lifestyle”. Gourmet Retailer Magazine. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on 2015-02-21. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  3. ^ Jump up to: ab Judith Rosen (2002-05-27). “Crossing the Boundaries:Regardless of its label, this increasingly mainstream category continues to broaden its subject base”. — Publishers Weekly.
  4. ^ David Moore (June 17, 2002). “Body & Soul, yoga w/o the yoyos”. Media Life. Archived from the original on November 13, 2002.
  5. ^ Cohen, Maurie J. (January 2007). “Consumer credit, household financial management, and sustainable consumption”. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 31 (1): 57–65. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2005.00485.x. S2CID154771421.
  6. ^ Halweil, Brianink =; Lisa Mastny; Erik Assadourian; Linda Starke; Worldwatch Institute (2004). State of the World 2004: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress Toward a Sustainable Society. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 167. ISBN0-393-32539-3.
  7. ^ http://www.lohas-asia.org/about-us/

Continue reading “A life of Authenticity & Social Sustainability”

Desk Notes

Hello Seattle

Well, it’s been a while. I’m writing a letter to Seattle. Yes, I do that sometimes. Care about my cities that used to be part of my life; in some way, some important way. Sometimes. This

Design Kompany’s Kornerhaus | Salon for ‘Launch’, Photo: Victor Ng, Seattle 2008

is a picture VN took for us when he was part of our team in Seattle in 2008. It was a salon. I was eavesdropping today on a conversation in a place downtown in Ho Chi Minh City (which is lately where I’m parked), and the word ‘salon’ came up. I swore they were going to talk about hair, but nope, it was salon the way I know salons. Talking. Together. About a topic that matters to all of the people who are there. This is something I love to make space for, S P A C E was born out of those things, those conversations and myriad twists and turns that led us to the cloud to interconnect. SinceI kept moving around, meeting people everywhere, the spaces became more and more international–virtually–from about 2014 til now. I’m still engaging there, but with fewer invitations now than ever. It’s simple this way. Keep it quiet, keep it close to you, personal, and real. Reality. Sincerity. Trust.

These are the things.

Where is LT these days, I wonder? Making lovely portrait photos? I wonder how the whole group of people I knew have found their way, now. Is MA in Seattle or somewhere else now? How about MW? I wonder if she knows how much I appreciated that run to that store to buy that thing for me that time. It was lovely. [deleted]..

‘Home’ is the lead story of today’s issue of S P A C E, by the way. S P A C E | HCMC, ‘Airport.’

Here’s a link.

https://gumroad.com/designkompany#Jtdre

Thanks.

Wherever you go, there you are.

Desk Notes · Experiments in Expression · Found in the Field · Ideations · Publisher's Diary

‘Festival of the Photocopier 2021’ | ‘Open to zinesters located anywhere in the world’

update: 29 December 2020

Here’s a quick update with some more information that we gathered via email in a conversation with Beck, one of the three coordinators of the Festival of the Photocopier. The three coordinators and twelve volunteers together make this program. Beck told us about the history with the festival and the way it grew. ‘I started visiting Sticky in high school, back in 2002, and when I hit university there was an opening in the volunteer line-up, so I’ve been with Sticky for about 12 years, since 2008!’

 

New opportunities in a virtual setting..

A. Spaice talks with Beck, one of the organizers of Sticky Institute’s Festival of the Photocopier..

A. Spaice: What’s cool about the festival, to you?

Beck: The cool thing about FotP is that the growth has been very organic. Every year we offer the same thing – a free table to sell your zines on – and people come and they sell their zines and make some friends and have a nice time. So the next year when the fair rolls around again, those seasoned individuals want to come back which means we have to add on some new tables for people who have never been a part of the fair before. The community has really made the event what it is, 2020 was our 10th FotP, if no one wanted to come to the zine fair it wouldn’t be a two-day event held across two huge rooms. 2021 FotP will be our first online zine fair so it will be a different kind of fair, but we’re hoping people are as into it as the IRL fair.

A. Spaice: Any opportunities you foresee?

Beck: I think being able to open up the fair to zinesters globally, in a realistic way, has been a really nice side-effect. Normally we’re happy to take applications from people from outside of Melbourne if they’re happy to travel, but travelling from Adelaide or Perth to Melbourne is way more affordable than traveling from New Zealand or Japan.

The further away you are from Melbourne the more expensive that trip gets, so it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend thousands of dollars to attend a two-day event to sell a $2 zine. If they want to, and can afford to make that trip, then we’re extremely happy to have them, but it’s not feasible for a lot of people.

We’re seeing a couple of names we don’t recognise submit applications, so I think we might be getting a few more international entries.

A. Spaice: Yes! That was our situation, exactly! When we applied from Cambodia. I seriously thought about going there [in February 2020] but ike you said, a $2 zine doesn’t cover the cost of flights, and staying there.

Beck: We were glad to hear that you were able to find someone to table for you…! But yeah, we totally get the financial side of it. We get invites from interstate fairs and often it’s a matter of who is available to go and also can afford to? We’re all really aware that you aren’t really making money with zines, you make zines for the love of it, not to turn a huge profit.

So sometimes you can make a go of an out of town zine fair and sometimes you can’t, the good news for Australians is that there are more and more zine fairs popping up all over.

A. Spaice: And… Covid?

Beck: There was no resistance to making the FotP digital in 2021 because of the pandemic situation. As I’m sure you would have seen in the news, Melbourne has been through a pretty intense lockdown this year because of COVID-19, so for us it wasn’t really something that needed to be debated.

Our top priority is the health and safety of our community, so moving the fair online seemed like the best way to keep FotP alive and not have to cancel it or push it back to an undetermined point in the future.

Moving the fair online will also make it more accessible to people who might not have been able to make it down to the physical fair, so in a way it’s allowed us to open up applications to people= who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to participate.

We start planning FotP around September normally, so this year we were doing that while we were still in the hard lockdown here in Melbourne.

With the way things were changing for us at that time, we weren’t sure if we could legally have a 500-person indoor event in February. Even if we could have it, we didn’t know if our state borders would be open, or if the transmission in the community would still be in such a way that no one would want to risk the chance of exposure to come. The good news is that the lockdown worked and Melbourne is well on the way back to regular programming. But we know this isn’t the case everywhere, and that we could hit a third wave and go back into heavy restrictions if something were to go wrong.

It also means that people with physical or health restrictions are able to attend as well as people who are located interstate or overseas who can’t travel.

FotP is the largest zine fair in the southern hemisphere, and while it’s always free to table at the fair we know that if you’re traveling to Melbourne you’ve got those associated costs to cover while you’re in town. fotp.online is removing those costs for a lot of people so they can attend without having to worry about travel and accommodation and everything that goes with it.

Success, for us, would be to see people excited about the digital fair, come to the virtual events we have planned, and return to the site throughout the year to keep checking back in on artists they were interested in!

A. Spaice: Does it cost ?

Beck: The online nature of the event means that it’s literally cost-free for people to sign up from other locations now, so we’re hoping to see a few applications from people a little further out than usual.

All you need to do is visit www.fotp.online to apply!

A. Spaice: Thank you for the time you’ve taken to help us learn more. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?

Beck: How do we pay for the fair? We get funding from the City of Melbourne! We were just approved for a two year grant, starting 2021, via the City of Melbourne’s Arts Creative Investment Partnerships so we are both appreciative and grateful to them for their support of us and zine culture!!

A. Spaice: Great! Thanks !!

//

 

A virtual zine fair..

 

We just got this really cool piece of news. The Festival of the Photocopier, which is run by the Melbourne group Sticky Institute, will be online in 2021.

DK had participated in this festival in 2020, which was a cool moment for us as it was our debut with S P A C E in real life. We’ve since also been at the San Francisco Zine Festival, which took place in September of this year, as it was virtual. Was cool. HT MB.

Now, we just learned, Festival of the Photocopier 2021, will be virtual.

So I wanted to let you know about this, because anyone anywhere can join for next time. Very excited about this.

I just submitted my application–sent!

Here’s my idea, for if we are accepted. I am going to angle the next few issues of S P A C E’s December collection, ‘Trust’, to an international audience. Of course they will be co-created with our friends and guests in Atelier S P A C E popups here in HCMC, so look out for some cool new bilingual issues to share in real life here, and also, hopefully, on the virtual international stage at FOTP 2021.

Excited!

So, our agenda for December is this..

  • Discover new voices here in Vietnam to make S P A C E with
  • Design and publish 4 new issues of S P A C E in Vietnamese & English
  • Distribute them virtually to everyone who contributes to our crowdfunding campaign in the month of January.
  • Tell the world about our S P A C E programs in Vietnam if we get selected to participate in Festival of the Photocopier in 2021’s virtual event
  • On the same day as the festival, we’ll host a real life event. A reading. It will be from the issues we make here in HCMC this month. We’ll have an Atelier S P A C E // HCMC launch party. It’ll be a chance to share our printed zines with the friends here who are creative, imaginative, able to think out of the box, and ready to try new things who have helped us so far to make some cool and fun issues already. I have a good feeling about the series to come.

I’m excited about the potential to launch the Atelier S P A C E // HCMC creations at the Festival of the Photocopier in Melbourne next year. Hopefully we’ll get ‘in’ and get to put on a great exhibit for people to see just how unique a hyperlocal perspective on ‘art from Vietnam’ can really look. [Aside: Ask us about ‘decolonization sometime!’. No, wait, ask AD! A zine about that, being art directed by AD, a member of ‘Papers‘.]

Cool.

Here is a pic of our Phnom Penh reading from issues of S P A C E. I hosted this on the same day as our debut at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020:

Atelier S P A C E Phnom Penh did a reading from these zines on the day that  S P A C E debuted at the Festival of the Photocopier 2020 in Melbourne. Was neat. HT NDS & ND.

Memories!… <3

And here’s the bit about how you can apply to be in the Festival of the Photocopier in 2021…..

If you make zines

Apply for the Festival of the Photocopier! It’s free to apply, so I just wanted to share this with those out there who might be wondering if they qualify. If you make zines, you qualify, is my understanding. Here, I’ll just paste in what I got in the email from Sticky Institute earlier this week… 

 

Our digital fair will be hosted at http://www.fotp.online and applications are currently open for stallholders … facilitated by Sticky Institute!!! 

As this is a digital fair, applications are open to zinesters located anywhere in the world. If you have a pen pal located outside of Australia, feel free to forward them the link so they can apply! There is no cost to have a digital stall on fotp.online and the website will be live for at least a year.

This has been a bit of a spiel but we’d really love for you to check out fotp.online and submit an application to be a stallholder or join FotP-Swap!. Applications will close on the 10th of January, 2021 and we don’t want anyone to miss out!

We know this is going to be a very different kind of zine fair but we’re hoping you’ll be there with us, on the other side of the screen!

Stay safe,
Sticky 

‘Thiếu’…

The value of a thing is the amount of life we are willing to trade for it.

Let’s discuss ‘lack,’ or ‘thiếu.’

But softly, quietly, and comfortably.

 

//

Hi.

I hope to find at least 4 people to make this *happen*. If we can, I will do this. I think it’s a big, big topic and worth exploring.

If you think the page is ready to share, I’ll be grateful if you can help me discover some new people to invite…

Here is the detail.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thieu-tickets-127583821645

'S' is for Sincerity · Found in the Field · Ideas of Curiosity · Publisher's Diary

Dear I

That was cool, getting in touch and sharing, and hearing from you. Thanks! Been fun, conversing as we do, now and then, all this time.

When we met, I was in one of my many, many borrowed rooms assembling this issue of S P C, (left), which was the first of the series from Latvia, Poland, and Slovakia.

So many cool people, and connexions, and conversations happened on those roads, and I was grateful for the opportunity to get there, HT AM!, and to enjoy them. A different world now, right? Difficult to move about so freely. Guess I got lucky, going when I did.

Something told me… why not just go now ? Some timing though, really. Those were places that sort of left quite the impression. I was a little surprised with myself to prepone my trip by like a year (the writers’ residency I’ve been invited to be part of in Ventspils at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House was due to happen in November 2020). Not sure when I can get back for that, or if, so yeah. Glad to have gone and met you and others ! Lucky timing. (HT, another friend whose first initial is I…)

Who knew we would all be dealing with lockdowns in various spots around the world and a pandemic, at this time ?

I’m in Vietnam.

Currently in Vietnam..

Well, here I am, doing exactly the same work as I was when we had met. Good people are around me, here, too, and I’m lucky as heck to get to assemble new writings from their points of view, and images, too, which some have shared (like this cover!), and this time, some cool stuff: spatial organic design. I’ll put together all the credits, for sure, on the day we launch, and share more about each of our contributors, then. ;)

That’ll come out on 30 June, with the issue, ‘Start with Something Simple.’

Always happy to reconnect with you, I.

[Moving the rest of this to a protected-page.. I’ll post it tomorrow. Will send passcode then!]

 

100 Conversations · Found in the Field · Ideations · In real life · In Việt Nam · The Muse

A Q&A with author Michelle L. Stephens: ‘Venturing into the unfamiliar’

[Update: Before Design Kompany became a roving atelier to gather people’s stories on the spot in real life, we were gathering perspectives in our online community, behind protected-pages at this blog. This post was originally an exclusive for a forum, ‘The Village,’ on work, life, and relationships.]

TODAY I INVITE you to read a short email conversation with Michelle Lynn Stephens, a poet I’ve been in touch with since the time we met at a fun open mic. We share roots in Durham, NC, and recently reconnected when I hosted a tweet chat about self-publishing. That opened a space for an entirely new conversation, in which I got to know more about where things have gone for Michelle since we met. Here’s our interview, which took place over email through the spring of 2017. This piece was originally published as an exclusive for our online community, S P A C E.

 

Venturing into the unfamiliar

DK: We talked in our email conversation about journeys. And leaving, and how that can inspire us. Can you talk about this a little bit?

Michelle L. Stephens

MS: How interesting that you should ask this question, as I met you at the beginning of my open mic journey! I am definitely the adventurous type. I love trying new platforms and traveling to different venues. I have met so many wonderful people who have been very supportive and eventually became my creative village.

DK: Can you tell us about what you’ve written, so far?

MS: My book is The Divorcée Chronicles. And I co-authored an anthology, Single Mama Dating Drama.

DK: OK. Besides writing and traveling, I think we also talked about family. And… dating? 

MS: The sequel to Diary of a Divorcée Diva is all about dating, but nowhere near finished. There is a tad bit of dating adventure in the first book and my short story in the anthology is about getting back out there after divorce. The anthology is focused on single mothers, so that may be where you are remembering the parent thing.

DK: But then, there is the massive adventure of parenting right? The ultimate adventure into the unknown? 

MS: Kids are fun and inspiring! The only downside is losing sleep sometimes when they are young and finding courage to let them go off own their own when they are older… While my toddler is my only biological child, I have had a plethora of little ones in my life and don’t feel particularly new to parenting. I have always taken care of children and it feels very natural to me.

My mom tells me that I wanted to do whatever she did with my baby sister, such as feeding her, combing her hair, rocking her and such. I took care of my baby cousin, I have several godchildren who call me ‘Ma’, I volunteered at daycare and after school care programs as a teen… I once had stepchildren who I adored and I take my niece and nephews around with me quite often.

DK: After we met in Durham, where have the journeys taken you?

MS: My circle in Durham encouraged me to share my talents with so many others. I may have been afraid to venture back out after my California dreams faded into the working world, if it were not for my arts experience in Durham. It is a place that embraces and supports the arts tremendously. The path from Durham led me to the next town over, then to major cities like Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia to share my words. I gained the confidence to submit my work to some heavy hitters in African American literature and became a part of a book project that turned into a #1 National Bestseller. My territory is ever increasing and I dream of seeing my work on the big screen someday, but I would also like to remember where I came from and remain a part of the circle that started me on my way.

DK: On your way… to where? Curious.

MS: I have back and forth from the DMV area often, as my significant other takes on mostly government contracts. I love the arts up there as a spectator, but unfortunately have not been able to participate much as an artist. I have no support system there, as far as babysitting goes. There’s always a book festival, library event, or museum to stop by in DC and the scenery is quite inspiring…

DK: Venturing out seems important to you.

MS: I am a firm believer that venturing out into the unfamiliar serves to strengthen your creativity. It opens your eyes to things you have never seen and expands your worldview. I have not traveled as far as you have, but testing the waters up and down the East Coast has been very fulfilling. Even before I began doing poetry and publishing, I was off to California and exploring the performing arts world. I experienced being among the best performers, in the audience of great theaters, in studios, filming for television on Hollywood sets, at casting and modeling agencies and briefly attempted to form a singing duet. My time there was amazing and continues to influence my writing and stage performances today. There is, however, a time for stillness when it is time to gather your thoughts on the page.

DK: Who are your favorite artists?

MS: My favorite artists are two alumni of North Carolina Central University, my late aunt, educator Barbara Tuck Ebron and the incomparable Ernie Barnes, a Durham native.

DK: Art venues?

MS: My favorite museum is the Smithsonian American Art Museum. They have very diverse exhibits with everything from presidents to Native American experiences to African American musicians and writers on grand display.

DK: Can we share an excerpt of one of your books?

MS: Yes…

From The Divorcée Chronicles: Diary of a Divorcée Diva… 

I never felt so free as I did on that flight to LAX. The sky was the limit and I was literally on top the world, looking down on it from Cloud Nine. No one could tell me anything would ever go wrong ever again at that moment in time. After chatting it up with Darren a little bit about my hopes and dreams as always, he suggested that maybe I should look into moving to Cali, too. It would be the perfect place to start a totally new path in life and get away from all my troubles. I daydreamed myself about it right on to sleep.

“Good evening, passengers. This is your Captain speaking. I hope you have enjoyed your flight. We are approaching our destination and fully expect a safe and uneventful landing. Thank you for joining us. Have a good night.”

Waking up to stare out the window at the stuff that dreams are made of was surreal. The view of the Concrete Jungle, with all that water surrounding it, was amazing. I saw nothing but miles and miles of highway and bright lights! I had on my cute little sleeveless cotton dress that was hit just above the knee and got a rude awakening when I stepped onto the tarmac. The cold, sweeping air hit me right in the face.

“Whoa!! How can it be freezing in California in the middle of July?!”

“Kay, this ain’t Cackalacky. Ain’t none of that humidity out here. Don’t you know this is the desert?” Darren was always so thorough in his ex-planation of everything. Always had been, even back in the days when he was trying to tell me why we needed to break up and just be friends.

“You gone love the way it feels outside tomorrow when the sun is out, though. I’m telling you, Kay. The wea-ther is addictive.”

“Ok, I’m just gonna have to trust you on that one ‘cause it’s just freezing my legs off right about now!”

That night as I looked out the 12th-floor window of the hotel at all the lights that put the dark, tree-lined streets back home to shame, I was hooked and my mind was made up. If the rest of Cali was like the view from here, I was gonna call it home and soon.

The next day, Darren and I headed out to paint the town. He was right about the weather being gorgeous and we checked out the usual tourist traps like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater, then watched the many talented hopefuls acting out at Venice Beach. We toured the star homes and rode past all the famous places like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Capitol Records, and the Hollywood sign. We even checked out South Central and in the words of Ice Cube himself, I gotta say it was a good day.

“Tomorrow we’ll go look at the apartments I found online”, Darren said.

“If you decide to move here, you can just find something when you get to town because people move in and out around here all the time. It’s not like back home.”

DK: Thank you! Last question: What’s the best advice you ever got?

MS: Never give up!