Found Magazine

January 31, 2007

FOUND by Danielle in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

FOUND by Danielle in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

“This was lying on the ground at the park. I would have totally disregarded it but it was too cute to pass by.”

I was listening Davy Rothbart on the PopTech 2005 podcast. He is the founder and editor of Found Magazine. He’s spent a number of years collecting the ephemera of our culture and through Found Magazine, he shares lost or discarded letters, birthday cards, kids’ homework, to-do lists, and other scraps that he collects from people all over the United States.

As someone who keeps years of postcards and notecards in a shoebox in the closet, I think there is a certain transient beauty about finding a little piece of paper that tells you something about another person’s life.

Go have a surf around the website and take a look at some of the FOUNDs – some of them are really great!  🙂



January 29, 2007

Recently, I’ve been thinking about story-telling and how it is a powerful means of communication – especially when you want to put your point across at a gut-level, not a cerebral level.  Add a camera into the mix and you can take story-telling to a whole new level.


I was watching Phil Borges on TEDTalks today. He does amazing work taking portraits and interviewing people around the world. His photographs are deveoted to the welfare of indigenous and tribal people, with the intention to help bring attention to the value these cultures represent and the challenges they face. One of his projects, Bridges to Understanding, “is an on-line classroom project connecting students from indigenous cultures with their urban contemporaries. Central to the program is interactive photographic storytelling mentored by professionals and created by the students”.


I would love to do something like that. Just me, my camera, a bit of paper and a pen – documenting the wonderful lives of people who are in many ways like us but in many ways fascinatingly different. But as much as I would love to go out there to tell their story, I really do wonder what is a way to do it that is non-exploitative.


(Maybe this is something I should seriously consider for my next mission trip.)


The power of metaphor

January 29, 2007

I recently finished reading the book “Blue like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality” by Donald Miller. I was especially challenged by the remarks in the book about the power of metaphor and how telling they are about how we view things – like how we typically use war metaphors when talk about cancer (battle/fight/defeat etc) and economic metaphors when we talk about relationships (invest into a relationship, withhold affection etc).

Now I am particularly susceptible to this because I’m an economist and I remember telling a friend years ago that she should break up with her jerk boyfriend because her return on investment was very low. I’ve been known to describe relationships in terms of game theory and Nash equilibriums. The revelation (and implication) that I tend to view love like a commodity was quite astonishing to me.


On a slight tangent, I was listening to National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis’ TED Talk in 2003 on preserving the “ethnosphere,” which he describes as “the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.” He spoke of how the metaphor that defines your relationship with the natural world would make you a different human being. In his words, this means that a young kid from the Andes who is raised to believe that a mountain is a spirit that will direct his or her destiny would be a profoundly different human being and have a different relationship to that mountain than a young kid from Montana who was raised to believe that the same mountain is a pile of rock ready to be mined.


Now, here is a thought: I would probably be a profoundly different person if I viewed love a little less like a commodity and a little more like fresh air.

I am a crazy idealist.

January 19, 2007

The 10 dollar challenge. I have $50 that pretty much fell from the sky. I will give you $10 and a month to raise funds. You can do whatever you want as long as it is legal. I will let you recover all your costs from whatever revenue you raise. At the end of the month, you give me your profits (which I will expect to be more than $10). The fund will just continue to roll over till such a time when I say stop. The money raised will go to Habitat for Humanity’s building projects in Batam (more about that evil plan later).