Category : General Posts

MOMENTS FROM BLAVITY’S #EMPOWERHER17 | DETOUR

Some of the great insights I was able to capture at Blavity’s EmpowerHer conference. Inspired by all the women who shared time and space while there.

Some highlights:

Fireside chat with Zim (TravelNoire)

Zim on time management: “Distractions are the enemies of progress.”

  • Here are some shared tips on how to live a distraction-free lifestyle:
    • Check email in the afternoon, not the morning. Preserve your morning energy doing things that fuel you and not drain you.
    • Master your iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” setting during core work hours and time span when you seek to focus.
    • Use the Google Chrome plug-in, FB Purity, to clean distractive posts from your newsfeed.
    • Measure time in pomodoros.
    • Use a project management app to help keep you on task.
      My recommendations: Basecamp, Asana, or Dapulse

Zim on teambuilding: “The key to keeping really great people is by being a really great person.”

  • Here are some teambuilding tips suggested by Zim:
    • Set 10 “culture values” for your company, and recruit by those, not just skills and “fit.”
    • Adopt an “everything is figure-out-able” group mentality.
    • Be a doer/executor. If that’s not you (aka if you’re like me, and you are great at ideas), recruit doers to balance the idea mavens, researchers, and strategists.
    • Use Slack for team communications to keep conversations out of your inbox.
    • Build a positive family and supportive tribe for your team members.
    • Take significant time off to keep your energy in balance for smart, productive work.

Dawn of Birthday 29: In Remembrance & Celebration of Life

On this day 9 years ago, I gave a eulogy at the funeral of my best friend (and high school sweetheart), Santez Walker. The next day, June 1, was my 20th birthday.

I remember returning from Memphis back to St. Louis on my birthday–heavy-hearted–and entering my apartment where Erin and other friends had prepared a surprise cookie cake to try to cheer me up.

I still get emotional when I think about those moments. At the time, I thought celebrating my birth and life was unfair when his was unexpectedly and suddenly lost. I didn’t know how to appreciate my friends in the midst of my own jadedness about losing him. But in following years, I learned to honor the creative, daring, and loving spirit of Santez through my birthdays. I committed to making them a little more meaningful, a lot more creative (like him), and as full of love and friendship as possible. And for most of these recent years, I have kept this commitment because of you–my friends.

Thank you all who have celebrated past birthdays with me. You are my tribe, and your presence has meant more to me throughout these years than I have ever admitted.

I look forward to tomorrow, and I’m grateful for the reminder it brings to celebrate life, cherish friendship, and fill our lives with love/gratitude.

🙏🏾

DE/tour Mailer 01

Did you know that I’m on a “tour” right now? 

Me neither, but I’ve entered a deep wave of public speaking and travel that lasts now through July, and one of my mentors, Roseann Weiss, proclaimed it as the “The DE(TOUR)” (get it?). She’s pretty wise, so I ran with it.

On this detour from life in St. Louis, I am making stops through Baltimore, Chicago, DC, San Francisco, New Orleans, Houston, and more to engage with creative changemakers across the nation and make magic happen, and now you can come along with me to capture some of the moments through my YouTube vlog channel and Instagram Stories.

Learn more about it at denichols.co/events, and
check out moments from the first city (Baltimore!) below:

The Day I Talked about Sticky Notes and Mental Health in Baltimore | DETOUR
The Day We Used Sticky Notes to Talk about Mental Health
I was welcomed back to speak at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and I chose to share about how activism has affected my mental health as a creator.Watch moments from
Designing Civil Rights.
The Day I Got Lost in Baltimore | DETOUR
The Day I Got Lost and Found a Mural Haven
When I travel, I love moments when I get the chance to explore space, culture, and creativity within a city.Check out some of the graffiti
and art murals I stumble upon
in Baltimore
.

And Over on My Main Channel…

I’m making (semi)weekly videos that take you through the inspiration, stories, and reflections around some of the most popular notes from my project, Sticky Note to Self. Watch the latest video, “See It, Seize It,” and be sure to subscribe for all the upcoming videos, posted on Sundays.
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De Nichols Selected as a Kennedy Center Citizen Artists Fellow

De Nichols was selected as one of five fellows for the 2017 John F. Kennedy Center’s Citizen Artists fellows program, which recognizes artists across the country who utilize their art form for positive impact on communities.

“The recognized Citizen Artists Fellows will be mentored by Yo-Yo Ma, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor at Large, among other Kennedy Center artistic partners. Additionally, they will receive national attention for their impact in their local communities and opportunities to showcase their voice and work on stage, through exhibition, and at national convenings.”

To commence participation as a fellow, De will join thought leaders from the arts and related fields together for the Kennedy Center’s Art Summit to explore how the arts can propel our thinking towards new ideas and actions, including the leaders we look to for guidance and inspiration.

Learn more at https://www.kennedy-center.org/pages/specialevents/summit.

On Speaking: Women’s March

On Monday I re-read Rep. John Lewis’s speech from WashU’s 2016 Commencement. I also read my own words that I’d spoken nights before at WashU’s commencement ceremony for art students.

From his words, I kept courage.

“If you see something that’s not right, not fair, not just, do something about it,” he said. “Say something. Do something. Have the courage. Have the backbone to get in the way.”

From my own words, I was reminded to “start breaking the rules of what you’ve been told.”

I’ve been often told that if I don’t like something, that I should disengage with it. Don’t be in any way connected to it.

But I’m encouraged by Rep. Lewis’s notion that disliking something is sometimes the very reason to show up, the very reason to disrupt and break the rules/paradigms–to get in the way–and fix the issues or replace them with something better.

A lot of people have asked my thoughts on the women’s marches that are happening nationwide and if/why I was asked to speak at the one in St. Louis. One person even expressed, “why you let these white women set you up like that? It’s a trap.” Or why are you giving them your energy? What are you doing this for? Are you selling out?

None of the above.

My reason is not to feign unity–I still don’t personally feel that sentiment embodied in this effort locally or nationally, and I think we should not tell ourselves lies otherwise.

It is not to pacify white women and their or anyone’s post-election guilt (with over half voting for Trump) or their fears/tears, as it is not my role to fix those myriads of issues they must work out amongst themselves.

It is also not to speak on behalf of all WOC (or any other womxn/femme demographics that are constantly forgotten/silenced/sidelined/policed/ignored) and our numerous/complex issues, as I have not been given that authority, and it would be narcissistic to think I could.

My participation is, however, to hold space and be unflinching in addressing the tension and discomfort that circulates between us.

It is also to hold a mirror and a window up to our collective selves and challenge–force us to see–who we might become if we strip internalized egos/traditions/lies/stereotypes/privileges/grudges/biases/entitlement/prejudices/oppression/racism/complacency/supremacy/absentmindedness/fears for the sake of forging a more equitable and just experience for the most marginalized and disregarded of girls, women, and families in this country…and who we become if we do not.

It is indeed to hold the door and usher the possibility of finally actualizing intersectional womxnhood and womanism and not throwing any demographic of womxn/femmes away to fend for herself/themselves in this political mayhem and battle. I personally feel so many of these “marches” cater to non-radical, white, Christian, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied, cis-het women, and that irks me because this battle is deeper and more vast and more complex than the needs/concerns/issues expressed by “wealth gap” and “reproductive rights/women’s health” alone.

But like Audre Lorde, I believe in the embodiment of Gamba Adisa (warrior: she who makes her meaning known), and I’m not afraid of working through the tensions and cultural divisions that womxn face. For many, these marches are a starting point and Saturday is a first step. For me and many others, it’s another check point on a long journey, and I think we make a gross mistake of repeating history and its oppressive cycles once more if we don’t forge a different path forward.

So in short, yes, I will be present.
No, I will not march.
Yes, I will speak.


Image via AM Network