.The Art of Living

Finding inspiration through collaboration and imagination

This summer, my partner and I hosted our first art salon. It’s not as pretentious as it sounds! Gathered in our backyard on benches and pillows, friends sang, played guitar, recited poetry and epic limericks, acted, danced and executed other feats. At the same time, a family member sketched every performer in real-time. More than anything, it was life-affirming. A celebration of creativity and community.

Those ideas guide this issue as well. I’m charmed and inspired by the playful ethos of Richmond artists Annie Owens and Daniel “Atta Boy” Seifert. Their commitment to subversive art is not only admirable but vital. For many of us, it’s therapeutic. Now, especially. 

Latching onto that idea, albeit with literature, is yet another “only in the Bay Area” endeavor: BART’s book club, where bibliophiles commune on trains for readings between stops. This is quite the upgrade from other passenger-led activities usually seen on public transport.

We often think of jewelry in terms of material value or ethics. But its art form can be as evocative and powerful as a painting or a poem. Look to April Higashi’s Shibumi Gallery as an example.

As we use artistic expression and communion to heal, so do we use learning to evolve. Bioneers is expanding their annual conference’s environmental advocacy leadership with an online educational platform. It’s encouraging that more of us can learn from today’s greatest thinkers in sustainability, hyper-locally (i.e., from our living rooms).

Not all brains are alike. Thankfully, more local schools now offer programming to meet “differently brained” (or neurodivergent) students where they are. The future will need all kinds of thinking.

And then there’s honoring our past. Mosswood Cottage is a historic representation of Gothic architecture in Oakland. Its preservation conflicts with other municipal needs—but also time and bureaucracy. 

A few months ago, Chez Panisse alum Claire Sullivan and Devin Hohler opened Banter Wine in El Cerrito, after the pandemic prompted the couple to reconsider the direction of their lives. 

Considering all of these East Bay acts of creativity and community, sustainability and legacy, I can’t help but think of Maui, my former island home. May their slow but steady recovery build upon these ideals and remind us how connected we all are, in profound tragedy and determined triumph.

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