Category Archives: Action

Team Shout Outs! (Romperoom Styles)

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So this month has gone by very very VERY quickly. Where do we start!?

  • Daniel Trinh came by and took some GORGEOUS photos of the band last weekend and we now have some amazing photography for the site. It’s soo easy working with Dan and we are soooooooooooo excited to do a formal, stylized photoshoot in the coming months.
  • Our website is still in the works! I made it a bit more difficult than it should have been for our website producer, Chris Mallon, by not transferring some name servers recently……SO SORRY CHRIS! But he’s on it and the first version of the site should be up very very shortly. Had a great Mobile meeting with Nik Papadakis – omg – so super informative. Mobile is a medium that is definitely on our radar.
  • We are so lucky to have some amazing mentors/advisers and we had a chance to chat with Fleur Leslie, at Small World Music (Chair of the Board of Directors).  She sat down with us and helped talk us through some business planning with engaging teams, building robust contact database and focusing what our core business will be and how it might expand in the next 3 -5 years (always daunting especially when you’re only really 2 months in – but vision helps steer this creative ship!).
  • We have a real space to work out of at the Centre for Social Innovation down at Queen and Spadina.  AMAZING energy and people in that place – super stoked to be working out of there!

Which brings us to the time for Marco’s vlog – we’ve met with our growing MineOwn Media team over the past month and Marco wanted to send out some love – in song form and highly inspired by Romperoom – “and I see Timmy and David….”  they never saw Bandana or Tanuja or Nik Papadakis for that matter – but in Marco’s vision of the Romperoom Shout Out – he sees us all!

Works in Progress!

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Hi Friends,

First month down – 17 to go……September is a new year for many students – but really aren’t we all students of in the school of life?  (hahahaha)….September has always felt way more like the beginning of a New Year to me than Jan 1st- and in that regard here are some of our new school year resolutions……

New songs, New shows, New website.….NEW FULL LENGTH ALBUM!!!!

Check out the “vlog” (video blog) below for details!  VIDEO DISCLAIMER:  I am almost always in “muppet mode” when on any kind of film based medium – photos, videos, etc… it’s a known fact.  You will notice many a “muppet moment” throughout the video.  Enjoy! (This is the first one – so it’s fairly ranty/rambling…but it’s full of rainbows and unicorns with a low dose of marshmallow bananas).

It’s been 1 month since we’ve have moved into project mode.  I had an amazing chat with Marco Adamovic (our fantastic drummer) – and he’s also on board to help build the label – how very very exciting!!! He’s simply an amazing dude with a great history in youth facilitation and artistic programming.  So we are soooo stoked.

We’ve finally come up with some real launch dates for our upcoming works!

  • Sept – New Band Photography!
  • Oct 1  – New Website!
  • Sept/Oct – Questions and Answers (we have tons of questions about how you interact with music and really would love to get your thoughts and ideas on distribution, shows, videos – details coming in the next post)
  • Nov – Shows in the US!
  • Mar 13 2012 – New Album Release Date! (Hazah!)

We’ve got a lot of stuff going on and it’s all being brought to you by the letter W.  Well no, it’s actually being brought to you by a set of helping hands (Christine, Tanuja, Daniel, Chris, Nik!).  Live events, websites, grants…this team is going to rock some socks this fall.

Oct 1st will be the launch of a new website as well as Marco’s  turn to do a Vlog – his Vlog will be soooooooo much more together because he’s a pro! 🙂

The El Mocambo and Me

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What a lovely break I had over the holidays – a whole week off from the 9-5pm.  It was simply fantastic!In that time I ate, drank, danced and booked a show!

Thursday Jan 13th at the El Mocambo in Toronto – It seems to be a very enigmatic place.

I always like doing shows/events in unusual places – now El Mo (as it is lovingly called in Toronto) is not an unusual place per say – it is a licensed bar that hosts live music.  BUT – it’s been around FOREVER! It was the first bar to get a liquor license in Toronto!

The history of the building goes back to 1850!  This is crazy for a city that is infamous for having very few historic buildings. Oh – and you know a little band called The Rolling Stones played and recorded Love You Live at the El Mocambo back in 1977.  No biggie. 🙂

But what I find most intriguing is the current owner.

Now – I’m getting all of this information from the El Mocambo website, Wikipedia and newspaper articles – so take it as you will.  Abbas Jahangiri, the owner of the El Mo is a serial entrepreneur who has taken a vow of poverty.   His previous professional history includes leading an engineering team, CEO of a real estate development company as well as being a principal for a national dance company  (when you are on the El Mo site – click on History and Owner).  In 2003 he took a vow of poverty and has dedicated his life to helping the most vulnerable in society.  Including daily 2am-6am service and distribution of food and survival needs for hundreds of Toronto’s homeless. Very intriguing no?

I’m most intrigued by his conviction in his change of lifestyle.

Rock n’Roll isn’t a selfless industry – it is fueled by narcissism and vanity……..

Shameless Self Promotion

 

…..so it’s super interesting to come across people who try to find balance with the rock n’roll attitude and the gravest societal needs around them.  These are two extremes and Mr. Jahangiri seems to live at both ends.

I wonder if he will be at the show?  It would be awesome to grab a conversation with him – what couldn’t you talk about?!

Music is about great stories – I have a feeling that the El Mo has more than a few good tales to tell.

—–

Sing Bandana Singh performs Thursday January 13th at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina Ave. Toronto).  Performance at 7:30pm  $10.  19+.
Music: http://myspace.com/singbandanasingh
Twitter: http://twitter.com/bandbandana
A Heroic Entertainment Production.
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B is for Blog is now ‘The Workrooms’

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Hi Guys!

Hope you have all had a great long weekend (if you’re in Canada you’ve been enjoying a lovely Monday off!)

This image is from my phone

Tomorrow people will be going back to school, back to work, back to the grind – and yet – it will be new; a new school year, a new work week after a long break; a bit of a fresh start.

We at B is for Blog are thinking about doing the same – September is a great time to make change! We have changed the name of this blog to simply:

THE WORKROOMS

This is happening for several reasons:

a) This space is a workroom – there are bits and pieces of stories, ideas, essays, conversations; this space is being used as a working studio not as a publishable magazine
b) It’s not really about just B anymore (to be honest it was kinda creeping me out)
c) We hope the change in name will also make it more appealing for everyone to join in the creation of the page! It’s a work in progress and always will be – this is a testing ground, a playground, a stomping ground for all!

I personally love September – it feels more like a meaningful change than New Years to me. The season’s are changing, the weather is changing, we get new chances at things we’ve tried before; we get second chances at the things we’ve tried again and again – there’s just something really lovely and fresh about September.

You can now find us directly at http://theworkrooms.com

(The old address –https://bsingh83.wordpress.com -will automatically re-direct you to the correct place too! – there’s no missing out!)

Isn’t it just a lovely time to make change?

Your pal,

B

What’s a post about environmental capital have to do with Art?

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Finally here is the interview that I had with Manu Sharma from the Natural Capital Project!

Disclaimer:  I have known Manu for a very long time.  We’ve been friends since we were kids.  When we were little we always said that we wanted to do good in the world.  He recently moved from Toronto to Paolo Alto to work on this project with Stanford.  When I learned what the project was all about – I had questions.  This is not a random encounter – nor was I approached to do this interview by the project.  I was just sincerely intrigued.  I still have questions and will likely have a follow up post.

This interview in total lasts about 15mins. It’s been split into 3 pieces for easier consumption.  The 1st and 3rd part are audio only.  The 2nd part integrates the video desktop recording I’ve always been so curious about.     Also note that ‘B is for Blog’  is a work room so our contributors like to muck about with new ideas and new ways of presenting ideas.  Like, Social Return on Investment,  natural capital and trying to capture value in processes that have traditionally not been valued,  is a very tricky business.   It’s a project with huge scope, great hope and amazing minds working behind the scenes. (The first post we did was titled “The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?”)

Part 1: The Basics (6.5 mins)

http://naturalcapitalproject.com

Part 2: The Model (6 mins)

Part 3: Why Manu is a part of this project (2 mins)

Now back to the question posed in the post….What does a post about environmental capital have to do with art?

Lots really  – if you think about it.

Something that’s always bothered me about many disciplines, (in particular, art,  science or engineering based disciplines) is the weird way we compartmentalize what we do and keep it far away from those whom we deem simply too inept to understand what we are all about.

That was so 1990.  Welcome to the new age and the world of the ‘interdisciplinary.’  These interviews with amazing people I’ve met are a way to stimulate discussion in and between the disciplines we, artists or otherwise, belong to.

The environment is what we all live within.  FStop10, our resident photog, has utilized the landscape around us, animals and their natural and not so natural habitats as inspiration and muses for her work.  Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most influential photographers, utilizes his perspective and use of the lens to bring  us into a part of our world that is so daily and yet so hidden. (You totally need to see this video that describes his collection titled ‘Oil.’)

The beauty of having an interview with an environmentalist or learning about a discipline outside of your own is that integration aspect – that integration aspect is what I think has been missing from problem solving and addressing the world’s most devastating issues. The world is three dimensional – there is no single discipline that will save us.

Artists are amazing critical and creative thinkers.  We can bring a completely different or complimentary point of view to any issue.  Moving from compartmentalized disciplines to interdisciplinary thinking is like moving from 2d to 3d in the films;  it helps to make the picture fuller and more detailed – it brings life to the perspective.

B is for Blog Updates and Randomness

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Hey all!

I usually blog and have something new every Monday but this week I have been tardy.  It’s unusually warm this summer in Toronto and I have to say the heat got the better of me at the beginning of the week.  I’ll be sure to keep hydrated and I’m sure it won’t happen again!

We have some new stuff coming along and wanted to keep you in the loop:

  • More awesome content from FStop10 (you guys really like her stuff and she’s hoping to post more often! yay!)
  • More new bloggers who will be posting once a month! (Quil4 – keep an eye out, and one more 90% confirmed blogger [I was just too excited])
  • Mon July 12th we will be uploading our interview with Manu Sharma from Stanford University regarding the Natural Capital Project (we finally got some time together and now I’m just editing down a 3hr long conversation into lovely bits of nutritious info!)
  • More technology + art based blogs from me…..I’m taking a bit of a break from my own art and doing a bit of research about all the new models for media, art, content distribution.  There’s just sooooooo much going on!

In the meantime here is one more addition to my last post about working with virtual teamsAction Method Online….I have the “offline” organizers but the new online project management system seems to be pretty rad so far.  I love the interface and the ease of use – and you can even ‘nag’ or ‘appreciate’ your team mates! Ha! I love it!

Action Method has been developed by Behance – an company that helps to keep creative people organized. I very much have enjoyed perusing their many sites however I have found that their creative network (where you can upload and share your portfolio of work) is geared especially towards creatives in the visual fields, such as graphic design, animation and photography.  They also have CREATIVE BASED JOBS listed! How exciting! Even artists need to work!  Artists and Entrepreneurs aren’t all that different you know…we both attempt to move our passion from concept  to reality, all the while attempting to find funding or financing for our endeavours.  I feel a new post coming on!

Stay hydrated this summer and try not to exhaust yourself! If you are working hard – take a break! Have a cupcake with a nice cup of light tea and find a buddy to chat with about your passions and dreams. (Lord knows I’d probably have gone mad by now if I didn’t have other artistically minded people to interact with!)

If you don’t have a buddy to chat about such things – you can chat with us!

Working with Virtual Teams – Everybody’s doing it. You want to do it right.

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This blog, you will notice,  is made up of many people from different places contributing their original works- that is nothing new – now.  But some 2 or 3 years ago when we first really started to venture into the virtual workspace we had little idea what any of us were doing.  Things have come a long way in a short time and many of us are becoming more comfortable with the idea of collaborating and even creating online in groups.  Here are some of my thoughts about leading and motivating these awesome virtual entities into healthy and organic places to create and work!

While volunteering at the Millennium Network I was able to experience the new way of working – virtually.  Once I was in the thick of a project working with a team virtually, I began to understand that I needed new tools and resources to adequately make this virtual workspace successful!


Failures (aka Learning Opportunities)

The first thing I noticed was that all of my years of leadership and management training – were failing me. The techniques relied heavily on face to face communications, including visual cues and vocal tone – there is so much that can be said just by the intonation of your voice.  Secondly, once you’ve electronically met all of your team, managing the varied individual schedules and meeting times was a difficult task; multiple timezones, multiple job types and task schedules -it was a real learning curve. Also the temptation to work or create at all hours of the day because you know someone somewhere is awake needs to be addressed: these tools are supposed to actually free up more personal time – that was how they were originally sold to us!  Just because you and your team can work 24hrs a day doesn’t mean you should be.  Stress, fatigue and members dropping out of the project can be the result! Finally, interpersonal relationships and team dynamics required individual attention, ie: we would have to allocate time with each individual member on a regular basis for one-on-one meetings to ensure tasks were being completed.  Also – I wanted to actually get to know who they were – they weren’t autobots on the other side of the screen (could you imagine? Bumble Bee on my team?!).  The level of accountability definitely changes working virtually – especially when you are volunteering your time (as everyone in this example had been).

Successes! (aka here are some thoughts and tools that might help you keep your sanity):

Virtual leadership for me meant that I had to be incredibly organized.  My beautiful articulate ornate and precise language was counter-productive via email, or Google Docs or even conference calls.  This is where my media writing background finally came in handy.  I had to be concise.  I had to be direct.  I needed to clearly understand the scope of the project and how each individual member (members of committees) fits in the final picture.  I was honest about time-lines and ensured that the team recognized how important those time-lines were to the greater project. I had to motivate them to contribute in ways that were an efficient use of  our time:

Google Docs – great, free, interactivity allows for each member of the team to easily view, contribute and share information in documents, spreadsheets and presentations; not every member has to have gmail to access the documents created by the team lead [though it sure helps!] and you can export documents as needed.

Personal Brain – I LOVE this software for brainstorming, strategy building and mind mapping. It’s free [although I’ve been using it for years and recently upgraded to the pro version].  It allows for a visual respresentation of your thoughts and allows for tangents like documents, webpages, contact information or notes to be added to each thought – so the links between the thoughts are realistic and I just love the way it works! You can print and export parts of your ‘brain’ however you should note that you will only have full functionality for a short while with the free version.  You will be able to retain, change and save all of your future mind mapping – you just won’t be able to export it after the demo time expires.

Basecamp is a pay service which is really professional choice -I have yet to  use this platform specifically but it’s the choice of many small businesses and large enterprises alike.

Applications: My ‘smartphone’ is particuarly inept and hates to function properly so unfortunately I don’t have any insight into mobile apps currently [except for ones that don’t work well – which may be a representation of my phone not the application- I have a 2yr old phone running windows mobile – says it all doesn’t it] but if you have any suggestions please share I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have some insight on these.

Meetings and Time Zones and Schedules Oh My! Pavinder Tut (from the Millennium Network) introduced me to Doodle which I love. I think it’s a great tool and it puts the accountability not only in the hands of the team leader but of each individual as well.  Lord knows I’ve probably spent hours of my life in the past attempting to hunt people down, wait for their responses, reorganize if there’s an issue – Doodle helped make the virtual meeting scheduling much more efficient! (it’s great for regular meetings too!)  Mac Entourage – I also really enjoyed this application as it allowed for so many of my email accounts and project specific information to be pulled from separate external places;   it did a lot of the heavy sorting for me after I had set preferences. Heap CRM was also handy – I used it mainly for storing contact info on the go – but it’s a great simple interface and easy to use.

Individuals Make the Team: I couldn’t understand  personality through the virtual world. .  When you’re meeting anyone for the first few times in person it can be awkward – let alone when they’re not even a real person but rather 1’s and 0’s in your inbox. I would have individual phone calls with the team members just to see what was going on in their world – work related or otherwise.  I needed them to understand that I was actually genuinely interested in their skills and experience.  The internet is a hard place to come across as genuine!

Skype is the obvious cheap and cheerful choice: free calls over the internet from Skype to Skype accounts;  cheap international calling rates, great audio quality; fairly good video quality; chat on the side – we all know how great it is! Mac and PC friendly.

Also Pamela (PC only platform – sadness) is my new friend.  Pamela is a software that allows for Skype video and audio to be recorded! Who knew! As someone who works in media, being able to record interviews or team ideas is a great boon! (Although please do let the other callers know that you are recording the conversations – not disclosing that information makes you creepy not clever)

Also if you are working as a member of the team – give the team lead a head’s up if something’s not working for you! If you don’t feel comfy in how you communicate, create or complete projects – then the entire idea of the autonomy behind the virtual working team is lost. None of the examples above are super original discoveries but I just found that when I was trying to figure out how exactly to function in this new working environment there was little in the way of direct links to tools or resources that worked.    If you have others, let’s add them to the list!

A baboon on the roof

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It would be a crying shame to veer completely off the engaging and relevant train of thought sparked by my illustrious fellow floggers (first time bloggers…just trying the word…I know, I am ignoring the “t”…but it just doesn’t fit!…now I am wondering if it sounds rude, mmm).

So I won’t…veer off that is. I like ellipses…you will get to know that about me…

Anyhoo…career choices and all the various considerations that go along with that topic occupy my addled mind daily. Like John Malkovich, my brain has a 9th and a half floor (in my case this is where the slightly off thoughts go to procreate). And though my anxiety does not take the form of a walrus (fabulous imagery inkling7)…it does do an admirable job of turning my plump and shiny creative drive into a raucously deflating whoopee cushion, taunting me with self-doubt and derision! Is my art good enough? Can I monetize my passion? Which one of my lovingly fostered obsessions is most marketable. (the one I can charge the most for, of course!) Oy!

Luckily for me, the clear winner in that dubious contest is an abiding, lifelong preoccupation of mine. (I will expand on my beginnings in a later post) I am almost afraid of admitting what it is…as every man and his dog claims the same pastime as their own. Somehow the proliferation of this art form makes it difficult to admit to doing it – for fear of being lumped into some mediocre, pedestrian, meh group of blahness. I make images…with an SLR…I am a photographer.  (and yep…my name, if you know about aperture, is kind of messed up…there is no fstop 10 – it just sort of happened, OK!)

It isn’t my day job…yet? (I am so excited…I have successfully pulled Sachin and inkling7’s musings into my first contribution. Holy, preamble!

So, to clearly state my humble intentions – due to my walrus (© inkling7)/whoopee cushion conundrum – I would love to use this space to share my art…with you. Instinct kicks in and I feel compelled to blurt out an excuse about not being a pro, or utter “I know I am probably not worthy, but!” That would do a disservice not only to me, but to the bravery of my co-conspirators (gave up on the word floggers…it definitely sounds dirty!).

In our midst here we have the brave and inspiring muso (who puts the B in our blog at the very least!), an undercover creative writer (who I am yet to meet, but am confident is a genuine mensch) and our courageously thoughtful (yes I know it is another word for brave…but inkling7 is that too!) writer and philosopher and all round tremendous individual. And photog (me) makes 4.

My first share: An image I am rather pleased with. I took this with my 70-300mm lens, from across the road. He was sitting on my neighbour’s roof…surrounded by his marauding troop. These guys raid the gardens and kitchens of any house in their path. Their only there for the snacks though…no one usually gets hurt. (unless an idiotic human makes the wrong move)

Guarding the troop is tiring work – and my choppers can be pretty threatening!

My thanks…

The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?

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In my own work and art I have been very interested in trying to bring value to things that have been helping us along in life but never really get the recognition they deserve.

Our communities have had to endure environmental degradation and exploitation for commercial purposes. Let’s not be too smug – we need businesses to employ our communities and provide us with goods and services. But over the past little while we have finally collectively recognized that the ways in which we do business currently are not sustainable.

Lake Louise, Alberta Canada ~ We undervalue our natural resources and the commercial market is not the only place where these resources derive value.

THE NATURAL CAPITAL PROJECT is moving forward with research to develop tools that will allow business leaders to make more informed decisions about the environmental resources they use and how they use them.

“Ecosystem Services” is a phrase you are going to start hearing a lot more often.  It’s a concept that proposes that nature is doing a lot of work that is simply not being recognized; if we can provide a way for the work nature does  (that we rely on) to be recognized,  we can consider the implications of our actions.  It’s an interesting idea which is much along the same lines of SROI (Social Return on Investment) – where the value being created by non-profits and other social ventures is not wholly represented by a monetary return. For the true value of the work to be undrestood the monetary and non-monetary values (i.e. social good or ecosystem service) needs to be recognized together in a holistic manner.  For a more “official” definition of Ecosystem Services click here.

From my understanding the good people at The National Capital Project have been creating “demonstration projects” at sites where changes to the environment can have drastic consequences.  These sites are where models are being created for leaders from other organizations to SEE  how the models and tools work and more importantly how to integrate these new ideas into their own decision making processes (all links are from The Natural Capital Project):

This is a joint project between Stanford University, the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy.

I’m pretty interested in this concept as it does relate to my own readings in SROI.  I’m going to try to do an interview with Manu Sharma  – an engineer who is currently working on the project who is based at Stanford. (He also happens to be one of my dearest friends ever in life – when I learned about his work I was pretty awe-struck).

Until my interview with Manu – If you have 60 seconds (which I know you do)  take a listen to this podcast from Scientific American about ecosystem services (I found the link to this via The Natural Capital Project website)

PS: Keep up the good work in your life!  I know sometimes it may seem like you’re not making a recognizable contribution – so tell us what you are up to! We can’t recognize you and your awesomeness if we don’t know what you’re about! Monetary value is only one point on the value spectrum – you are awesome – your work is bringing value into the world – share your passion!  Take comfort in the stories of others and know that you are not alone.  Work hard and fight the good fight my friends.