Walking a New Routine

Walking and sleep and creativity, Urban forests & climate change, Schutmaat Interview plus more!

I started a new job at Printique (an Adorama company) a few weeks ago which means I’ve had to develop a new walking routine. Change always brings about new insights and an opportunity to work on new ideas. I’m confident at this point in my life that I function best when I start the day with a healthy walk. So I’ve been waking up early and walking for 45 minutes to the Court Square station. It was going well, then for a two days I was running behind in the morning (it happens!) and had to get on the subway right away.

The change in my mood and productivity was striking. The stress levels went up and I started my work day with a cloudy mindset. It took a bit to shake it off. I realized I absolutely needed my morning walk for optimal performance and productivity. I know why too. The walk allows me to organize my day and work on higher level ideas. It gives me time to meditate and not feel rushed. The endorphin rush I get from the walk lasts the rest of the day, keeping me energized.

When I jump on the train, I’ve been reading ‘Born to Walk’ by Dan Rubenstein and thus far it has been phenomenal. Definitely worth taking a look at if you are as fanatical about walking as I am. If you pick it up, drop me a line and let me know your thoughts!

Walking and sleep and creativity

In fact, the relationships between moving and dozing turned out to be consistent and strong. In essence, the more steps people accumulated over the course of the month, the higher their self-rated sleep quality was during that time. Ditto when the researchers looked at the number of minutes they had spent moving; the more time someone was in motion during the month, the better they rated their sleep over all. - New York Times

I get my best sleep on the days that I walk 12-15 miles. It’s remarkable. I recommend it. And I can relate to Michael Stipe’s relationship with sleep and creativity:

My sleep is a big part of my creative work. I go somewhere really different from here, and it’s consistent, and it’s not scary, and that’s good. It’s the future, but it’s not frightening. I mean, what do you call creative? Because a lot of creation is work — it’s the mundane. But within the mundane, you find those moments that are mistakes, or you find something that was misheard, something that was misread or misinterpreted, or just a bad print. And from that, I find grace and God. That’s where I find holiness is — usually in the mistakes.

The entire interview is illuminating. If I’m struggling with a creative challenge or want to synthesize new ideas, the formula is clear. Meditate on the ideas and challenges, get a good night of sleep, and then walk for a couple of hours in the morning and the solutions will arrive. Solvitur Ambulando!

Fighting climate change with urban forests

A study released by Park People in September identifies three significant ways increased parkland addresses climate change. First, an urban tree canopy provides shade and shields heat-absorbing pavement and concrete from the sun. Trees absorb water from the earth and release it as a cooling vapour – think of dewy grass in the morning.

Second, adequate urban green space is critical to controlling the effects of severe storms and costly flooding by absorbing water that would otherwise cause sewer and drainage systems to overflow. Root systems can also prevent erosion and landslides.

Third, trees and greenery absorb carbon from the air. According to a study by The Global Tree Restoration Potential, published by Science magazine in July, there’s enough land around the world available for tree planting to cut carbon emissions by 25 per cent. - Fast Company

This is a topic I find endlessly fascinating. Part of my new project is ritually walking the green spaces in New York City to better understand how they are connected through pedestrian infrastructure. I firmly believe we need to build more green spaces. We need to transform our cities through biophilic design.

Bryan Schutmaat Interview in ASX

I’m a believer in the photobook and see the form as somewhat of a savior of photographic meaning amidst the never-ending deluge of images in our digital age. Putting a cohesive, well-considered sequence of strong pictures between two physical covers and saying “This means something” has become more important as photography is oversaturated in so many aspects of life. The poetics of the book — the turn of the page, the reveal of the image — as well as the material choices of the book and what they communicate are all very consequential and affecting when done right. Gallery exhibitions also levy meaning, but it’s often a compromise because the physical space of the venue limits the number of pictures included as well as the way the pictures are looked at, plus they go up then come down over the course of a few months. Books are permanent. You can look at them over time, returning at different stages in life, and they mean something new, like revisiting a novel, music album, or film.

There are a few good moments in this interview on ASX. I’ve been following Bryan’s work since back in the Flickr days. It’s interesting to see the arc of his career and how his work has evolved over the years. I’m certain that evolution will continue. One to keep an eye on for sure.

Further Reading

“Walking can do more than boost confidence. It has been shown to promote new links between different parts of the brain, and to stimulate the growth of neurons and their ability to transmit messages. This can improve our memories and our ability to focus on complex ideas - it helps our brains navigate the intellectual puzzles of daily life.” - Dan Rubenstein, Born to Walk