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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Be still my beating NYC HeART

I lived in New York City for a few short-but-long-enough years in the “early 2000s”.  My renovated-but-still-affordable apartment was on (as we told my girlfriend’s conservative suburban mother) the “upper upper upper East Side.  Otherwise known as east Harlem.

I was in anthropologist heaven but quality-of-life hell.  While I appreciated joining a neighborhood (even if it was as a friendly and respectful interloper) with a vibrant and sometimes very dark culture, I also spent much of my time keenly aware that I had no business being there.  It was the kind of place where most people growing up there strive to get out and then see well-meaning but naive “upwardly mobile” young white folks moving in BY CHOICE and just can’t understand.

My brother lived (and still does) near Union Swuare and so I spent a lot of time commuting to the “bottom half” of the island.  When I lived there I rarely took the time to look up and out from my immediate mission of self preservation.  But now when I visit (often for work but this most recent time for “liesure”) I was focused on allowing the outside in and making a point to see all the writing on the wall (or wherever else the writing is).

What I found on this most recent expedition to the concrete Empire State jungle was a lot more love than I had seen before.   I think I had chosen not to experience the city as a place that required armor to keep the darkness out.  But lately (and maybe it’s been there all along) I have been finding the light.  Here are some of the “not so scary” pieces of art and life that I spied on my weekend trip in late June.  Somewhere near Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and some pavement in between:

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Categories: Anthropology, Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Beer Lovers Guide To Travel

This post in it’s original form can be found on Let’s Grab A Beer’s Tumblr Page, where I contribute content as “The Beer Behaviorist” to help the world appreciate beer through a culture-focused lens.  Points of view are based on ethnographic fieldwork i have conducted / am continuing to conduct among beer lovers!

beercation

As a professional anthropologist who studies popular culture and brands, traveling to a new locale and getting to know its people are part of the gig. Since diving into beer culture, it dawned on me that among the best, most rewarding travel experiences, there was a common denominator– grabbing a beer at local bars and brewpubs.

Whether traveling for work or play, exploring a new city from a beer lover’s perspective can lead to great experiences. Why? Because beer lovers are innately social adventurers who make a point to stay positive and connect with communities. So, do as local beer lovers do with these three simple and fun tips.
1. Bond with locals over a beer.
A great place to start your travel adventure is at a neighborhood pub – because let’s face it, everything is better with beer. There, you can get a flavor of the local scene and its inhabitants to get the inside scoop on their city. The best thing about beer appreciation is that it’s always a great conversation starter.
According to my cultural research, beer lovers are social types who are often more open and generally down to earth. That means they’ll usually be more than happy to oblige in conversation about favorite local beers and best beer styles. Not only will you have an instant friend, but you’ll have the opportunity to experience your vacation destination like a local, adding a layer of connected authenticity not found on Yelp.
2. Swap wine with beer for a new foodie experience.
Experiencing the local flavors is one of the best parts of traveling. From my conversations with beer lovers, they like to experience all what life has to offer. So, instead of asking your waiter (or even better, a cicerone) for wine recommendations to go with your locally-sourced meal, kick off your experience with a beer pairing instead. Beer is just as versatile as wine to complement a meal.
Another option is heading to the local brewpub for a great culinary experience. You’ll be hard pressed to find a brewmaster that doesn’t also take pride in his or her culinary palate. Local brewers tend to source their influences from a variety of places that relate not just to their local culture and seasonal influences, but the heritage of beer brewing in their location. Chances are those influences are present in both the beer as well as the food.
3. Learn the history of a city through a beer lens.
The traveling beer lover is more inclined to go with the flow as their natural curiosity always drives them to dig a little deeper to get the most out of their experience. That’s what makes the historical pub crawl a perfect way to round out a city visit. There, you can get a unique perspective of a city’s history and hear tales connected to the social drinking places, all while enjoying a cool brew at the same time!

Here are some examples of historic bar crawls in popular travel destinations:
Boston:
http://www.thefreedomtrail.org/book-tour/group-pub-crawl.shtml

Chicago:
http://chicagohistory.org/planavisit/groupvisit/history-pub-crawls/

Greenwich Village New York:
http://www.cityroverwalks.com/ny-tours/greenwich-village-pub-crawl-walking-tour/

So remember, when you travel, travel like a beer lover and seek them out as well. To quote one of my new bar friends, “A beer lover will never steer you wrong.”
*Jamie is a professional anthropologist who has been studying consumer culture as a strategy consultant for brands and businesses for the past 15 years. Lets Grab A Beer is sponsoring her deep dive in to the social life of beer so she can bring beer lovers and newbies alike points of view all the interesting and fun ways beer has become a part of our culture.

Categories: Consumer Culture | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Getting Down To Business By Letting The Love In

Framed-Art Print-11707-Business Love-Urban-Giclee Paper-A

I originally posted this article on LinkedIn
but felt compelled to share here as well, since the Narcissistic Anthropologist in me is certain you will want to read it.  😉

Most humans will readily admit to wanting people to like them. While it’s a mild demonstration of vulnerability to do so, it’s one a good amount of people are okay with disclosing, even if they never say it out loud.

All we have to do is look to social media. We affirm one another with “thumbs up” on status updates, selfies and pictures of our dinner. But we all know that this is a more surface-level way of engaging with the world: toe-in-the-water assimilation to norms and mores in hopes of ensuring we belong.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Humans are social creatures. It is encoded in to our DNA to belong to one another so we can ensure our survival. But in a big world that seems to keep on growing, with so many people who focus on differences more than similarities so we can more easily define “us” versus “them, it’s difficult to go really deep with our social relationships. After all, we have been trained not to let the “wrong” person in lest one rotten apple spoil the bunch. Better to be liked so we can ensure we belong somewhere safe and feel a sense of social security.

But why do we want so badly to belong? Why is our security as part of the social structure so terribly important? Not so shockingly, it is because ultimately what we actually want is to be loved – not just liked. We know deep down that it is our highest calling to truly belong to one another in a way that makes a deeper commitment our common good; to sustaining momentum on the journey to finding our potential and embodying our highest visions of success in this world.

We are beginning to awaken to the idea that maybe there is no such thing as a “them”. We have begun to consider that, as mother Theresa said – “the problem with our world is that we draw our circle of family too small”. It’s a testament our evolution as humans that we are seeking to own the responsibility we have to one another. It’s time to move past the “like” phase and really start sharing the love.

So then, if we are to seek to be loved versus just liked, what does that look like? What does that really mean? What is the difference between “like” and “love”? I recently “liked” a Facebook post that shared the following response as attributed to Buddha:

“When you like a flower, you just pluck it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily. One who understands this understands life”.

Essentially, love means paying attention. It means acting in the best interests of others as you would your own. It means caring enough to be present and experience the world on common ground. It means accepting that it is our responsibility to tend to the care and feeding of all of our humans and not just pluck the ones we think are pretty.

That’s a lot of work. But labors of love are the ones that bear the most fruit. We see it in the relationships that stand the test of time. We see it in the success of die-hard entrepreneurs. We see it in the rapid growth of those companies and businesses that operate from the basis of ideals.

As an anthropologist and sociologist who works as a cultural strategist in the business world, I also see it in the way my clients internalize the deeply human insights around their best customers’ highest common denominator values and light up when they begin to see the possibilities for evolving their brands, products and their business strategies. On a regular basis I see executives make powerful reconnections with their “human” side in a business context in ways that always create change for the better.

Love belongs in business. Love belongs in strategy. Love should be a core competency in our work. According to www.anybusiness.com.au, because our work – especially in businesses that have a global footprint – has a profound impact on people. It touches more humans every day (especially in the global brand space) than we can even fathom and in a number of ways we may not even be aware of.

So, consider this a call to action to all those who don’t just want to settle for “like”. If you really want your career, your brand, your company or even just your “self” to achieve its highest potential then you absolutely must remember: we have unrivaled power to succeed when we make a choice to belong to one another and let the love in.

Photo credit: http://www.wallart-direct.co.uk

Categories: Business and Culture, Consumer Anthropology | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Humans of The Willamette Valley: A Celebration of Life

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Portland, Oregon for the very first time and take an unexpected “side trip” about 90 minutes north to a town called Jefferson – which is located in the Willamette Valley.  To the hipster-come-borgeois bohemian “metro area” dwellers (not unlike myself), the Willamette Valley is the place where “those awesome Pinot Noir’s” come from.  A haven for wine lovers.

To my friend E and her family – it’s home.   That place she grew up playing in the blackberry bush brambles, living in a kid-paradise of both tamed and untamed nature and watching her Mother tend to the many plants and flowers in her greenhouse while her father worked in his.

E puts together a living as an Artist who does freelance design work.  She is an introvert by nature but you can tell she is retaining an intense light no doubt nurtured by the natural beauty she grew up in and parents who took great pride raising all kinds of living things – from plants and flowers to children – to bloom bright in whatever way nature intended.

E’s mother passed about 4 months ago; several months after E had moved back out there from the East Coast with her partner to care for her in her final battle with Cancer.

When I arrived in Portland for my conference (The World Domination Summit – which will absolutely be featured in another blog entry) – I got in touch to see if it was possible to get together while I was in town.   As it turned out – E’s entire family (all the brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins) would be arriving in just a few days for a planned Celebration of Life that Sunday to honor her Mother.   They hadn’t had a memorial service and – as it turns out, in the true spirit of her family – the preferred method of commemoration was that of a joyful gathering in the place and with the people her Mother loved most.

E and her partner extended an invitation for me to join them Saturday afternoon and evening for a family BBQ in advance of the big Sunday celebration – to let the Anthropologist in me see some more of Oregon and experience ” the native way of life”.  I think she actually used that term. 🙂  But I was just happy to see my friend and also secretly excited to see E’s Dad’s farm – where he has been growing organic medical marijuana among his other crops.  I had never seen anything like that except for on television and my curiosity was beyond peaked.  I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to the subject matter of  anything related to deviance (i even got a degree in it – of sorts and even if Marijuana is now technically Legal in Oregon and therefore no longer defined as “deviant” by law).

What I experienced that night was nothing off-the charts on an “indigenous ritual” scale.  Just a collection of loved ones grilling dinner and catching up – enjoying the comfort and discomfort of family interaction in anticipation of what would surely be an emotional day to follow.  But I did experience off-the-charts love oozing out of every person I encountered.  They welcomed me  – a stranger for all intents and purposes – in to their home with so much warmth during a very special and private time in their family’s journey together.

I am grateful for the reminder of my love for humankind and the reason why I chose this calling of observing, capturing and trying to make sense of the human experience.  Over the years I have learned that despite our many differences based on geography, demography, ethnicity, etc. that we have so much more in common than we know.

So I would like to share a celebration of life via a photo journal of  E’s family’s big heart-space in a relatively small part of the world.  As a gesture of gratitude to Honor E’s mother and the love in all of us, here are some captured images and moments from my “native experience” in Jefferson, Oregon:

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Categories: American Culture, Anthropology | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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