Category Archives: life change

minor personal shifts

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although the idea of a ‘title’ in my professional life never quite gets me to a phraseology i am ever personally satisfied with, i do think that i may want to adjust my own personal, interdependent brand to something more aligned with who i really am as a creative individual

i typically come into a corporate organization in roles like:

  • experience designer;
  • Senior UX Designer;
  • UX Visual Designer;
  • UX Lead;
  • or UX Architect

marketingfacts

my own little tweaks to my titles in the past include phrases like:

  • Lead Designer;
  • Senior User Experience and Innovation Architect;
  • interdependent artist and user experience design consultant;
  • and most recently, just DESIGN

through these improvised and hyperbolized adjustments to who i am as a designer within the context of a company or contract, i can definitely now see i have been having an identity issue over the years — through my title, i guess i am striving, in some way, for a better-empowered and more-important contributing role within the organizations i engage with as a designer

 

pay-as-you-drive-300x243on the drive into work today i took a photo of the sky

less than a mile from the office i noticed a particular patch of clouds, the sun burning a brilliant white hole through the darker, floating materiality and wonderment suspended in a slow crawl across the sky ( as shown at the top of this post )

i tend to look up when i need inspiration or a meditative moment to bring me back to me in a calming, reflective way

i guess i couldn’t help but thinking about all the nonsense of titles and roles and the sort of self-bending, -twisting and -shaping we put our minds, behaviors and speech through just to fit into the context of our work environments

you play a role, after all

and you can never ever be truly honest ‘out loud’ regarding your thoughts, expectations and desires in the workplace — even those honest aspects that directly pertain: to the surface veneer around your particular skills and expertise; and the growth, direction and potentially improved capabilities you can drive to through your daily work, collaboration and training, thereby increasing the value and integrity you ultimately offer the business and it’s clients and customers

believe me — any sense of pure honesty can easily offend your work colleagues in an off-putting and detrimental way

 

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i’ve been let go on a few occasions for cutting through the bullshit in several of my efforts to guide teams and businesses through:

  • revelatory critique;
  • honest assessment of distracting dysfunctional dynamics residing within teams;
  • questioning the status quo around processes and workflows;
  • and suggesting hypotheses that could re-direct group dynamics to more fruitful interpersonal behaviors and smoother, more collaborative ways to work together

anyhow

 

long story short

with a subtle personal shift to thinking of myself as lou suSi DESIGN, i wanted to establish a mood and mindset for myself that consistently stayed with me from job to job along my career path, regardless of what company i chose to engage with for either full-time employment or consulting-based work

i also used the personal title shift to simplify who i am for myself and for the people i interact with in my career and in my personal life

 

This confusing diagram could probably use a bit of a re-design

UX design is difficult to explain to people outside of the industry

hell, its even difficult to discuss UX with other professionals working in the field as there are so many varied titles that overlap with one another and that provide all of these implied niche-variations that just feel utterly confusing and meaningless to me at this point

as a human-centered designer — and as a designer that primarily focuses on story to drive and guide every part of my process — its more direct and honest to simply say i am a designer and then go into the details about what and how i design if the conversation goes to a deeper place

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — as an actual embodiment of a character: a persona, if you will — i can properly position and center myself around who i am within my daily workaday context

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i clarify my thinking about: what i do and how i do it; as well as how i relate and communicate and collaborate with people in the most human way possible within the set-up and on the stage of these corporations

by thinking of myself as DESIGN — i can also better focus who i am on the job as well as the perspectives, and the value of those perspectives, i bring into all of my collaborative work

 

here come the clouds again

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because i make my living ( meaning the money that supports my family and i in this capitalistic world of democracy, consumerism and darwinian daily social survival ) almost solely through design ( i also get to teach design, which is a wonderful way to share and deepen what i offer to my profession ), i oftentimes forget that at heart i am really an artist

i began to draw every day as a child of 3 or 4 and i have always cherished creative and expressive work across any medium

so to better suit who i am in the world — and how i am in the world — both professionally and personally — i want to assume a new role and a more honest, holistic description of myself, mostly for myself

instead of all of those complicated titles prescribed by corporations and business and UX and design, i instead will now think of myself as a practical dreamer

of course, this might not be what i say to people i meet at a professional networking event, at least not on the first handshake introduction

but maybe in curatorial and art-affiliated circles — that community might get it and accept me as i am

to make this stream of subconsciousness a little less passive-aggressive-wishy-washy, i want to end on this set of statements for today

i am an artist and designer

i am a practical dreamer

and its so nice to meet you

have a wickid fun weekend!

hope to see you again soon

in honor of Thumbullina

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Thumbullina passed away last Friday, June 17th

we will miss her so much

she was an important and very dear part of our family

blessings and love to you sweet Thumbles

you are with us in our hearts and in our souls

Stand-Up

onStandUpi just wrote and posted some of my recent thoughts On Stand-Up Comedy and UX up on LinkedIn — go gander a bit and read if you’ve got some minutes to spare, i think i’ve bumped across a lot of interesting similarities between the 2 fields by taking Amy Tee’s Stand-Up Comedy course out at North Shore Community College this Summer and some of the work i’ve done by learning about stand-up — through the process of writing and refining a set of stand-up comedy — enlightened me about various aspects of my life ( both personal and professional ) on SO many levels

its been a fascinating journey

that said — in less than a week i will perform my very first serious set of stand-up comedy out at Timothy’s in Danvers — here’s a link to the Facebook Even Page in case you’re interested in seeing more about the event or maybe even purchasing tickets for dinner and the show — its gonna be a lot of fun with over 10 comedians breaking out their material to friends, families strangers and frenemies, i really can’t wait

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after this week’s debut stand-up performance i will most likely head back to Laughter at the End of the World, Outloud Open Mike and other similar, wonderful events to perform and test my material and hopefully augment this initial 6 minute set into a fuller body of work to keep pushing my comedy

after that, i gotta get back to focusing on building out and working with the team of Comedy Catalysts i’ve rounded up for TEDxBeaconStreet this November — SO many amazing TED Talks goin’ down for a big weekend in midNovember, and SO many talented comedic professionals expressing interest and comin’ on board — ‘sGonna be SO much fun!

 

 

live long and prosper

Leonard Nimoy

on the importance of directionality

what's inside ( our machines )?

i sometimes get annoyed by the hype surrounding innovation

the word innovation has become assumedly synonymous with the concept of new technological advancements — which i know can be really exciting for business and the economy and anyone else that might have a special fervor for bright and shiny toys that go ‘beep’ in the night

introducing new technologies, new information and new devices into our ever-evolving technoHumanic ecoSystem shifts our perspective and sometimes opens up new economic opportunities for us — and discovering these new opportunities is exciting, exhiliarating really, even potentially producing the same internal chemical high we get from laughter and sex and other extreme sports activities

but i think we sometimes forget that we confound our technological progress with these biopharmaceutically-induced feelings as well as the opportunities they always seem to open up for us

we over-focus — we hyper-focus — on these new technologies, and specifically on whatever new thing might be coming next

we forget sometimes that developing new technologies is really just one side of the coin — just one aspect of what we should be working on as a social species

these technologies are external advancements — our efforts, too, to develop newer and newer technologies are activities and work expended upon improving something external to who we are as people in the world

its what i like to refer to as outer innovation

and outer innovation can be very helpful to humanity, of course — we can do truly miraculous things with our inventions, with these computing technologies, so we definitely have cause to celebrate how smart and wonderful we are to have facilitated series upon series of advanced tools and toys that hopefully promote new comfort, deeper meaning and increased quality for our human experience of life

sometimes, just sometimes though, i wish that at least some small faction of people would refer to innovation outside of our technologies — i know that our current semantic affiliations do not allow for a more inclusive stance for our use of the word innovation — but i would like to also read about our advancements through inner innovation

what's inside ( human beings )?

what do i mean by inner innovation?

well, i think we have a lot to work on as human beings regarding that side of Science Fiction we dreamt up so, so long ago where we encounter an advanced society of people — the people we meet in this sort of future-forward-looking speculative literature not only have strange, new devices and interesting, unusual ways to travel and speak, but they also seem more at peace within themselves and can even somehow magically communicate through subtle, silent gesture, telepathy and other unexplainable means — i’m almost certain an evolution to this imagined, advanced and intelligent state didn’t just automagically come about through ultra-modern pharmaceutical prescriptions from CVS or by downloading the new Cartwheel app for those hidden extra savings at Target, there had to be some hard work put in by at least a small group of inner innovators

don’tchya think?

 

how do we start to work on inner innovation more? how do we promote this concept of inner innovation in a way that might at least start to establish a better balance with our outer innovations? how are we really going to advance as a society, as a humanity?

return of the stumpheads

please forgive me

its just my inner cyberSurrealist escaping me for a bit

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for a pocket of tiMe i wrote more freely — almost straight from the subConscious to the interwebz

the content seemed to come from some other place & far more directly published itself to some other place all of its own volition

my creative flow, back then — which i actually considered to be an uncreative process of sorts — felt inspired by the automatic writings of the original Surrealists with their delicious parlour games, these wonderful ways of tapping into the subconsciousness we all contain in very public environs like The Cabaret Voltaire — i almost felt as if i too could go back there, not only tapping into my own inner elf but also somehow simultaneously sip from the poetic well that surely continues on in this strange afterlife the Surrealists left for us as their rather trippy legacy to our modernday culture

its so obvious, too, to see — & it needs to be very publickly declared from the wifi-connected rooftops at the top of the overpopulated hilltops of every major city skyscraper … yes, yes, indeed …

the Surrealists win!

and now, in this New Age of Surrealism — an age in which we are all individual cyberSurrealists conducting our own little semi-fictionalized movements of one — we continue in the tradition of revolution of the unconscious

mission accomplished!

with our new over-mediated & over-technologized culture of technohumanity we walk around with heads held up high, the vast societal assumption is our augmented humanness puts us as a people at such an advanced competitive edge against The Animal Kingdom and against Nature — we, the thinking animals with our special, clever tools — we will surely afford ourselves an almost self-created ability to live beyond our natural lives, to smartly achieve our lives everlasting here on Earth, due to our superior intellect & our ability to trick our found systems, these systems of Nature

we somehow think we can game the rules of Nature to thereby, somehow live eternally, leveraging our technologies as the tools to get there

but these beliefs { & yes, our over-trust in Science & technology — this so-called STEM kind of bullshit — are merely a new set of Belief Systems a la Religion }, that we will somehow overcome the limits of Nature Herself, are utterly preposterous, of course { so obvious to those of us who proudly keep our heads amidst the powerful encouraging forces to adopt the newest, latest, bleeding-edgiest of the latest, newest, bleeding-edgiest of our technologies }

these technologies cannot really extend our lifespan

these technologies cannot really further advance our intelligence or our competitive advantage { since we are merely competing with ourselves at this point anyways — and really only solving the challenges our new advancements present in a reverse evolutionary manner into the cybernetic aftertrail of all of this Progress }

these technologies are not really good for these things — the things that our leading technologists & neo-futurist thinkers actually aim to accomplish

instead — i would like to humbly suggest we take a few steps back & re-evaluate what our technologies really help us do as a supposed civilized society

our technologies, during this transitional point in history { as we continue to move from a manufacturing, industrial-focused era — deeper & deeper in to The Information Age } — these technologies become far more effective devices for self-analysis

yes, in the continued tradition of The Surrealists with their fascination on our extremely human & mysterious aspects, our technologies bring that tradition of psychological self-analysis into the twentyfirst century — with our new found, readymade cyberSurrealism we can more deeply understand a far more honest sense of who we really are as individual people & as a more holistic social, world organism

unfortunately, for us,
we are far less advanced
than we believe ourselves to be

because we’ve been so hyper-focused on innovating our external reality as both individuals & as pockets of society, we’ve neglected the vastly more important aspects of innovation for our inner beings — technological advancement gives us an amazing ability to turn our subconscious out into the external world around us, but sometimes the most nasty internal energies usher out reminding us all of the intoxicating and ofttimes dangerous dualities existent within us all

we are capable of extreme good & extreme evil

& we know that the tools we develop cannot be held accountable on their own as inanimate & beloved manifestations of our genius in building communication platforms that, for the most part;

  • do absolutely nothing to facilitate any better sense of real communication;
  • do absolutely nothing to optimize our abilities to survive { or even bloom or flourish } the techno-humanic ecosystems we self-invent & evolve on a near daily basis;

the fact that we’re still so insanely focused on conquering Nature in the more Darwinian framework of natural selection by shifting our context instead of more rationally & wisely discovering new ways to better live within our given, natural context & to, hopefully, start taking better care of the more holistic, collective organism of humanity — shows how ultimately unadvanced we are on so many levels { psychically; emotionally; ethically; intellectually; socially }

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we need to somehow get better focused — we need to get back on track to evolving our species in a better way for not only all of humanity, but also for the natural world & for the future of the natural world & our existence within the context of where we really live, not just where we imagine or invent as our artificial accoutrements, our little playSpace pretend world that cozily sits on top of the underlying real nature of the planet we live on { the universe we live in }

its a life or death kind of thing, actually

isn’t it?

don’t get me wrong — i enjoy the inside-out cyberSurreality of our advanced societies — its all extremely entertaining & it usually reminds me that i’m not such a bad person at the end of the day { at least by comparison to what makes it to mass media televised reality } — its also interesting to see the sort of trainwreck status updates our social web affords my friends & family via Facebook, Twitter & these amazing new, evolving platforms for human communication { please note the facetious italicization } — once again, our iPhone { or other connected mobile devicery } transforms from our all-purpose, standard Swiss Army Knife for modern wireless communications { which most-times feel like mere echo-locative blips to self-affirm our relative importance to the people we love & care about } into a mystical, mini Pandora’s Box, a fascinating open container of sorts, tapping into the inner workings of the real human mind, the real psyche { noxious energies & borderline behaviors that we all somehow previously kept politely tucked away prior to these amazing new technological advancements }

we need to innovate our insides again, my friends

& we can also keep innovating our technologies, too — don’t take my lil’ rant the wrong way — please don’t see me as some sort of neo-Luddite, i don’t want to smash the machines & set them on fire { well, i do pretty much fucking hate my printer most of the time, though, hmmmmm }

i think i just see a need for better balance moving forward — we’ve been focused on innovation as a strictly external, object-based force for new business direction & all of that — but we also need to bring a newfound concentration on re-building our sense of inner innovation before it gets too late

some notes about the social web

Smiling Asian woman taking a selfie

our lives changed a lot with the advent of the social web

but the social web alone isn’t the sole force behind the major shift in our cultures and our behaviors as this brand spankin’ new, always-on society of netizens take the social web and add the personal portability of our mobile devices PLUS the embedded camera technologies that make instant photoSharing as easy as peasy-ness and them’s the 3 magic ingredients that made for some major changes in the world { at least in the Americas } the mobile phone also cracked open the world to this sort of constant tower of babble that we’re all exposed to ‘out there’ in the multiverse as well — and you know what i’m talkin’ ’bout here Willis — the aural patina of constant chatter in public places like our big chain convenience stores, malls and other previously semi-polite spaces now fall victim to the ubiquitous right we all now enjoy as carriers of mobile technologies — anyplace, anytime you like you can make a call and unleash the oftentimes mindless detritus of your daily proclivities upon your publicSpace neighbors around you — and, of course, you can snap a selfie or totally lifeStream just about any part of your day, no matter how ultra-trivial it might feel { or actually be } to create those special instaMemories { complete with orange-faded photo filter effects and cutesy captionings }

of course, as a cyberSurrealist, i completely understand some untapped potential for all of this self-oriented social media broadcasting goin’ on in the world all around us

as annoying as it sometimes feels, its interesting to think about our photo-documentiatic obsessions and just how much of our human experience — whether its considered to be an actual reflection of the mirror-life we’re all creating or some sort of simulated performance alter-egotistical manifestation of what we want our lives to be projected as — gets uploaded to the interwebz …

a transitional shift

from a user-centered experience designer’s point of view, and as a self-proclaimed ‘transitional’ { mentally living somewhere between our current, over-mediated lifestyle and the previous all-analog lifestyle that came before the advent of these myriad new technological advances }, its psychologically fascinating to see the show that’s being put on and to understand the subconscious outlet that’s being documented and curated every single day — these communication channels and our usage, whether intentionally used for the purpose of cataloguing the transition or not, totally capture the immense changes we’ve all been dealing with, and the results of our introduction to these new avenues of output and interaction have tremendous and very telling influence over who we really are as a society and what we desire and what we’re becoming

these telecommunication technologies, like drugs and alcohol and other addictive consumer products, reduce our inhibitions and allow us all to behave the way we were born to behave sans our previously semi-polite social standards — walls and windows in the previous social structure remain cracked and broken open and the little Freudian Pandora’s Boxes residing at the core of our psyches have been picked open with all of our interior monsters now unleashed upon the new world of more honest { but unfortunately not nice } human behavior through the stage of our social media we see the performance of our subconscious selves acted out on an hourly basis — we share, we like, we comment with the tips of our sublingua straniera interiori — our inside-out existence technologically augments the subconscious beasts within us all, unless, of course, you’ve figured out a way to get some conscious control over what you so choose to tweet and share and instaPost to these supposedly social broadcast mechanisms

read more at cyberSurreal on tumblr

shazbot

robinWilliams

now you are free, my friend, finally free — and you are with all of us, in all of our hearts and thoughts and in the energy that feels good and alive and light and happy

thank you

you gave us so much

a little game

info_art

my art can sometimes feel a little ‘all over the place’

i don’t like to limit myself too, too much when it comes to my vehicles of expressive delivery — that combined with my natural tendency toward a scattered but exciting sense of ADHD plus my rather lengthy and continually-expanding collection of influences and inspirations makes for a rather eclectic body of work that i sometimes try to organize into threads or streams of my work

in my design thesis from Dynamic Media Institute, ‘confounded: future fetish design performance for human advocacy,’ i purposely chose the term ‘streams‘ for a few reasons:

  1. i feel like my subconscious is a far more present and powerful force in my creatively expressive, personal work;
  2. i enjoy following my subconscious — my streams of subconscious — to archeologically mine for the deeper, personally-symbolic inner significance that i’ve accumulated like a patina over the course of my life;
  3. i know that i naturally tend to bury certain emotions, memories and stories in the strange style that a chipmunk saves away little morsels for the long winter ahead — these might be feelings that are far too shocking and powerful for me to handle in any conscious manner in the current moments i am living in, and i am almost certain, for the most part, that a significant amount of people partake in this similar activity as a mere means of surviving the ‘day to day‘ dysfunction and chaos we all encounter along our life’s journeys;
  4. i also tend to hide away from time to time, sometimes for large spans of time, greatly depending upon my mood and certain life events — i can nicely attribute this behavior, to sort of tuck myself away inside my shell, to being born under the sign of Cancer — the symbol for Cancer, of course, is the crab — and after spending many an afternoon tide pooling with my wife and son, flipping rocks along the shallow shoreline out at Lynch Park in Beverly among other beautiful Atlantic coastline seaside retreats, i’ve developed an observational understanding of not only the ‘tough, outer exterior’ of the crab and the notion of ‘crabbiness’ that might be somewhat symbolically mapped to the drastic shift in moodswings i experience on a fairly regular cycle, but i also now better ‘get‘ how these little pinchy critters live — tucking themselves away, a bit under the sand or between the rocks as the tide ebbs and flows — its an interesting lifestyle to study and reflect upon, especially knowing that there are definitely some similarities between my own behavior and that of these amazing little moody crustacea;
  5. i guess i’ve veered away from exploring why the term ‘streams‘ so nicely captures the nature of my work and certain categories of recurring episodes in my work — this last enumerated bullet point, to get back to the concept of these streams of subconscia, pertains to the rather interesting evolution within certain streams of my work — as i tend to, at times, act more like a chess player than an artist, as i move and follow both the journey of certain objects and installations from literally geopolitical ‘place to place’ as well as the state of its existence into the next, and sometimes even beyond itself out into the metaphorical afterlife of the piece or its sub-componenture

today’s update on the information kiosk i purchased from Border’s Bookstores prior to the closing of the bookseller chain brings us just a few yards away from where it previously resided over the last 6 to 9 months or so — i don’t think this will be its final destination, by any means, however, i can see an interesting new stage in the piece’s evolution coming together in my mind’s eye

i original purchased the kiosk to build out a prototype for my Laugh Observation Library back at DMI @ MassArt — the LOL included a bookcase collection of 100 bottles containing a variety laughter samples per bottle along with this oddly orange information booth housing a laughScan Station to actually activate each sample for further faux-scientific research into humor and the human phenomena behind laughter

the original and only installation of the Laugh Observation Library appeared in The Pooka Lounge in Bakalar Gallery at MassArt as part of forensicEvidence — the name of my final showcase of work in the 2011 MassArt Thesis Show from my DMI @ MassArt experience

in retrospect the statement that my micro-installment made perfectly fit the bill regarding my discoveries around both MassArt and gallery exhibition in general — and this particular piece, although not exactly aesthetically matching the clinically sterile environment of a traditional scientific laboratory setting, especially that of a forensic investigation crime lab, really seemed to appropriately comment on my personal feelings regarding what Brian O’Doherty describes as the ‘white cube‘ controlled context of the gallery space associated with High Art

in fact, this installation and my personal aesthetic not only provided a silent and polite, subtle sociological commentary on both Art and Science as rather haughty professions, but the rather organic, make-shift style of my work also appropriately mocked the institutionalized aspects of high formality associated with not only Art and Science, but even with Design itself for encouraging a somewhat exclusive attitude within its highest of the high socio-professional, pseudo-political circles

the pieces i presented in forensicEvidence were the dead remains from my work at MassArt — the physical evidence of my work, but also of the pretend criminal activity i either partook in or witnessed while researching and working on my art at MassArt — now, of course, art-making is not exactly a criminal activity, although sometimes it can feel like such an endeavor when living and working outside of the inner protected sanctum of academia and its related artedness, but in some ways i felt like i definitely witnessed what i came to call ‘Crimes Against Creativity‘ — i won’t elaborate too, too much here on these crimes i witnessed, but i definitely felt a bit disappointed in some of the people and vibes i encountered while working toward my graduate degree at MassArt and unfortunately these were events, policies and behaviors that i will not soon forget and nor would i ever expect an institution of higher learning to simply grin and bear without pursuing some follow-up activity to properly set the record straight and rectify unacceptable, malicious and ignorant behavior

… anyhow …

following forensicEvidence — the kiosk remained in the back of my truck, nicely sheltered from the elements, but definitely getting in the way of any sane semblance of life

a month or so after i took the information booth out of my truck and left it at the head of my driveway — although a bit silly-looking in its now more ‘natural’ surroundings in this highly wooded area of Boxford, i actually loved seeing this ugly, orange desk-like fixture from a typically highly-corporate retail environment now planted in the midst of trees and lush, green ferns and other fertile elements of the great outdoors — and i was extremely happy not to have followed my original bad instinct to just leave the kiosk in a nearby cemetery { after, of course, taking some choice photodocumentation of this potentially-strange, satiric gravestone tribute to The Information Age — which would’ve certainly been bound to be an entirely illegal but hilarious act of vandalism or refuse disposal in the eyes of the court, i’m sure }

but now, many months later, after surviving an Autumn, Winter and Springtime out in the driveway, i decided to drag the information kiosk up the steps into our backyard and set it out just at the edge of our deck

here i hope to festively decorate the kiosk with some simple crushed stone around its base — maybe arranging some beautiful potted plants on the tabletop and around its stable and heavy periphery — perhaps this Summer and into the Fall, this will be our funerary preparations for the kiosk before finally allowing myself to emotionally let go of a piece that never quite got beyond the prototypic stage — this might be a truly wonderful way to commemorate the short lifespan of this mysterious object that i’ve carried around with me from place to place, an object that has come to symbolize the weight of the personal information we carry around with us in life

its time for me to prepare

these are the last few months i will live with this bizarre physical manifestation of my memories, feelings and unnecessarily burdensome set of heavy experiences i still find myself hanging onto

i will be certain to document these last arrangements i make with the kiosk — i hope to focus on growing something positive and beautiful on, around and through the information booth — to evolve some of the confounded emotions and energies that remain into / toward a blossoming garden of new vegetal information for further maturation and growth and positive seed for the future