(Can’t Live) With or Without… Inspiration?

It’s easy to get sucked down the ‘rabbit hole of inspiration’, as Bri and Katie of Designlovefest note, gathering more and more inspiring examples and never making anything of our own.

I have mixed feelings about seeking inspiration.

On one hand, I worry that I’m taking in too much content, losing my originality in the onslaught of media I digest every day. Last month, I put myself on a mild media diet, slimming down my RSS feed to a few essentials. I find myself missing that easy dose of inspiration, and desperately looking for something to read or look at I’m addicted to junk food for the brain.

On the other hand, how can we create without responding to something? Creations are our interpretations and commentary on the world. No one works in absolute isolation. There is no escaping the influence, positive, negative, or neutral, of your environment and your community. Our thoughts are guided and shaped by what we experience and what we need to respond to.

And yet, we need not respond to another person’s creation. There are different types of inspiration.

Just like there are primary and secondary historical sources, there are primary and secondary sources of inspiration.

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Is location a self-fulfilling destiny?

I’m in the process of buying a house – something I’ve been putting off for quite a while, now, as my partner and I debate where to live.

Sure, we know we want to live in Washington State. But where in Washington?

There are so many possible ecosystems in which to make our home. Do we belong to the sea or the mountains? Given we can only travel so far in a day, we must choose our daily habitat.

Where we live is a framework for the structure of our lives. What is nearby? How long does it take to get to the places I go frequently? Where do I want to spend most of my time?

Is location destiny?

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Environmental Lessons, Past and Future

Passenger Pigeon in captivity

Passenger Pigeons were driven extinct by hunting and habitat destruction over the 19th century, plummeting from a population of 3 to 5 million pigeons in the United States when Europeans arrived.

As the Earth’s population and our consumption of material goods have skyrocketed since the Industrial Revolution and before, man’s impact on the environment has kept pace. Each century, we seem to follow a pattern of environmental mistakes until finally we learn a new lesson about how our individual actions can cumulatively have major environmental impacts.

As we realize our mistake, we generally take responsibility and take steps to prevent or minimize that problem. Through restorations and cleanups, we’re atoning for the environmental sins that our ancestors made unwittingly. But some mistakes are not undoable; some are permanent.

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The Perils of Being a First Time Visitor

The first time you visit a new wild place is ripe with opportunity and fraught with high expectations. You don’t know when or if you’ll ever be back, so there’s the temptation to “do it all”, to cross it off the checklist — but nature’s not something you can cross off. It’s never complete, never fully understood.

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Reassured by Life’s Resilience

Every day, I watch humanity exploit, exploit, thanklessly exploit the planet’s resources, and helpless tension burrows deeper in my mind. I fear that humanity will utterly destroy the planet through our entitlement and laziness. We show utter disregard to the planet’s non-human denizens, refusing even modest accommodation for the sake of profit and convenience. We blink not an eye at the extinction of a species brought about by habitat destruction from human development, shrug our shoulders at the daily destruction of rainforest to accommodate grazing land for cheap beef.

We ignore the big picture and permit the erosion, piece by piece, of habitat. What’s one more house, one more street? What difference can one small wetland make? Our perceptions cannot encompass the compounding effects of development on a county or watershed scale, and certainly not at larger scales like the country or continent. Continue reading