Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Magazine as conceptual vehicle

So much attention has been given to social media - monetizing it to justify the time and attention investment...and meaningfulness of networking.
The sustainability of the work has been an obvious consideration from the start and in that nailing down a simple to understand service serving a market that is growing was not as easy as I initially expected.

On one Side: Helping Luxury Service Providers advance relationships with women who want responsible luxury goods/services. Product - Podcast production with strategy - I produce purposeful conversations and create an engaging context for sharing them.

On the other side: I provide value to my social network by selecting people and their brands to be featured or introduced to a new market.

For obvious reasons I am interested in both all this personally and as sign posts of social evolution. I love exploring these ideas and will continue to do so, but unless I am only interested in conversing with myself I have had to do a better job of connecting with others.

The concept for Context Magazine is an experiment in Magazine as Interactive Art and exploring the potential of social media as part of an inclusive value creation infrastructure. The artworks are Art-i-facts in an Art Based research series about inclusion, social responsibility and women supporting each others highest expression...especially finding mediums work to engage more change agents across typical demographic divides.

For quite some time in the research aspects of Art Based inquiry I struggled to find a media that inspired me, allowed me to bring those ideas together and was accessible to the people I wanted to engage. I think we are making similar use of social media to move ideas forward and so I am curious about what our inquiries have in common.

Big ah-ha was realizing the magazine as a conceptual vehicle facilitates bringing together groups that are sometimes socially conditioned to resist each other.

Plenty of idealism boiled down to a conversation about using flip-page magazine channels as alternative distribution to replace the function and eliminate the barriers of the gallery. Very much the way that other artists are exploring how to use the internet and social media to disseminate public art...I am interested in defining Art Based Solutions as part of a model for community change.

In Context Magazine I want to embrace the opportunity to develop accessible collaborative artworks that help the business agenda and the BIG dreams...allow women to feel inspired and supported by sharing stories of the journey that give our lives Context.

The Free eCourse builds on helping people make better strategy decisions by learning to better understand the context of their problems and Solutions. I am really happy about this progress in being able to show how this Art Based Solution emerged.

Stay tuned....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Economic Stimulus from the bottom up:Art, Questions and a TEDTalks video

Project:Forgive postcard#3 by Yvette Dubel

Despite the rhetoric, most economic policy is designed to preserve the status quo rather than address the deep rooted sources causing the problems. There are some things policy can not dictate, like your desires. You have immediate desires and Big Desires. A big desire would be embodied in your hopes for hopes for the world and yourself in that context.

So often businesses, especially smaller enterprises, don't want to take on big issues or develop BIG VISIONS. Remember your business and consumer habits exist in a context we call the world.

One of the reason I had to reconnect my work to my artist practice was that I couldn't help but connect the moving pieces that kept the bigger picture in view for me.Source: Economic Stimulus from the bottom up:A Question, Art, and the Business of Life

In my artist practice, the interconnectedness of the projects I work on is easily visible for me. Wearing my artist hat, I am able to summon greater wisdom than wearing the "strategy consultant" label.

By allowing the work to lead the way, an awesome journey has continued to unfold. One of the things most people have a hard time with is connecting the moving pieces to see the interconnectedness showing them their innovation opportunity. Are you paying attention to your discovery process? Instead of being overwhelmed we can learn to make sense of our interconnectedness and make better strategy decisions.

The postcard from Project:Forgive that I included in this post is part of a series that evolved from Project:what-is-peace? that kicked off Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy back in 2006. The first collaboration was NGO Art Studio in the Republic of Macedonia where I had my first up-close lesson in how international aid can go horribly wrong. Some of the funding for the Peace Day event came from an organization that required that certain speakers be included. Little did I know that these "suggested speakers" were considered war criminals by the residents. It almost brought the peace celebration to a halt as it stirred issues that were never really resolved after the Balkan War.

If meaningless activities can exist and be accepted as performance art then why not meaningful action? Just as any other artist's history shapes their work, so to does my background in advocacy, community development and as a business consultant.

As part of the Art:Works solutions are an integral part of the completed works to advance a peace economy and improve communities.
(Go to to learn more)

Do you find yourself making statements like these?

I need a long term strategy not just a marketing blitz.

Things are changing so fast, and trying to keep up is exhausting me.

What used to work isnt’ working anymore, and now I don’t know where to turn.

I don’t know what information is meaningful for innovation in my business/organization or industry.

I know we need to make changes, but I don’t know how to recognize innovation.

[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cultural Fusion collaboration with NGO Art Studio in Macedonia"][/caption]

In the absence of Peace - things like profit take a nose dive in value. I guess we can call that part of the Business of Life. How do we know this? Because if there is a lack of peace within you, it makes it difficult to enjoy business success. If there is a lack of peace around you, it creates a very difficult environment in which to attain your goals.

So the question of "what is peace?" persisted and raised its head again during a collaboration with a county history museum and a few community leaders heading up the project locally. It was a collaboration that made me question what was really possible given the partners involved. I knew it would be a long term project based on the amount of resistance it encountered early on. Collections for the large scale work continue now, but were halted for a time. As a community project, the objectives were not driven by attainment of profits. Instead this project was focused on developing an open knowledge resource. Lines were drawn in the sand and alliances fortified - making the IT part of the project easy in comparison to the people problems.

Then I began to question the role that forgiveness plays in finding peace. That's when a line from the play Rent grabbed my attention.
The opposite of war isn't peace, its creation!

While politics has historically dictated economic plans and policy, it is important to remember that the political is personal and the personal political. For a number of reasons (which I look at more closely in the book), this became very clear to me after my father's death. I turned my attention again to the personal motivation for aspiring to see Project:what-is-peace? to a satisfying conclusion. For those that don't know, that series is connected to several Regional Economic/Community Development partnerships and initiatives to serve businesses and communities. Economic stimulus from the bottom up takes a quantum leap when we answer the following question.

How do we transform resistance?

[caption id="attachment_532" align="aligncenter" width="188" caption="From Bloodtrails by Yvette Dubel"][/caption]

As much as that is a communal experience of self in relation to - it is also a deeply personal one. It goes to the heart of personal responsibility as the foundation of any social responsibility program or objectives.

It began to seem like a flower sprouting new branching out with new stems which grew new blossoms. Project:Forgive was certainly one of them. Bloodtrails - which spawned the picture above, is a darker piece (deals more with pain and disappointment) that relates to both those projects. However, it is itself part of another collaboration called Touchstone Learnings that generated as its first completed work "Guided by blood trails: Political revelations in learning." That collaborative piece has been accepted for publication so will share more about that when the book is published as part of an anthology later this year.

In addition, exciting progress has been made in defining the scope of the next Touchstone project. While it looks at issues of teacher identity within institutions, it simultaneously informs my personal inquiry. My interest is to increase understanding of the life teachers who bring not just lessons to get students gainful employment, but lessons aimed at living better lives and being better glocal (global-local) neighbors.

No doubt that Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy is an ambitious undertaking, but it is worth the effort....and because I LOVE it, it doesn't feel much like work :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Social Innovation as Modern Art

I recently started play Empire Avenue and shortly before that I was re-visiting post-it note tabs in Michael Heim's "The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality". I was having a conversation with someone about selecting an Index because my indecisiveness on that had kept me from claiming a profile on Empire for awhile. We had just finished talking about Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy, when I mentioned the book - that's when the documentary in my next post was shared with me.

Our conversation provided more support for contextualizing the validity of the work (Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy) but isolating components for specific conversations is another matter.

As art it is inspired by what I have shared previously in this blog and written about in other documents - as an alternative to protest art: development of a socio-technical infrastructure that achieves the public and market objectives described at the commencement of the series. The basis of my work as an art movement based on research, discovery, creation/development uses collaboration to achieve results toward the goals of public and private sector. This is the source of the Community Change Model developed. Before reducing outcomes to practical results like increasing customer retention or creating more economic opportunities for more people, the bigger context for the enterprise is seen as part of the socio-technical infrastructure and its design/refinement.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="720" caption="TimeLine abstract (i)"]TimeLine abstract i[/caption]

There are different Art:Work projects associated with various components. Different kinds of art lend themselves to specific types of objectives, but there is also an impressive amount of overlap. The concept map showing that reduces some of the complexity by focusing on organizing for action planning includes some attached sample material - will be shared exclusively with my subscribers (Sign-Up is FREE, see subscription box on the right

This concept map is a vital part of understanding how the this work in Art Based research can benefit your specific goals and objectives. For the right businesses and collaborating partners this can mean simply maximizing marketing investments, to increase visibility, sales and brand value...or this can be the move that helps increase your enterprise's capacity for innovation.

And to help put the value of this kind of endeavor to develop a more evolved concept IT infrastructure into perspective I share with you this excerpt from pages 38-39 in Heim's "The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality":

"...In contrast with literate cultures of the past, we face an enormous volume of stored information. Our ancestors face the task of slowly learning from experience, of gleaning from life whatever they could discover. They then tried to amplify whatever they could confirm. They learned how to pass along an expanding knowledge base. They stored knowledge impersonally in writing and eventually learned to automate knowledge so that it could become information.

Today our task seems to be the reverse of that of our ancestors...Our task is to hold onto the anchor of our own experience to find meaning in the sea of information...

Hypertext helps us navigate the tide of information. In skipping through hypertexts, we undergo a felt acceleration of time..."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Evolution of Institutional Critque

Postcard Artist:Yvette Dubel

Thought I would share some thoughtful insight on alternatives and the evolution of institutional critique...

"But again, how do we as an audience register, and participate in, the exploration of institutional site? In Los Angeles, the small storefront Machine Project offers an extraordinary example of “ideological insertion.” A performance and installation space that investigates art, technology, natural history, science, music, literature, and food, Machine’s enterprise relies on “hands-on engagement” to make rarefied knowledge accessible. Recently, the Hammer in Los Angeles invited Machine to create a new kind of interactive museum, and last November, Machine was invited to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “orchestrating ten hours of performances, workshops, and events experimenting with LACMA’s expansive grounds and enormous collection of stuff.” If the practice of institutional critique reflected critically on its own place within galleries and museums and on the concept and social function of art itself, Machine has leapt into this territory, but, instead of merely unmasking the “institutional membrane,” invites us to experience the institution anew."
Some Alternatives to Institutional Critique, Laura Fried. (Art21 blog, April 30th, 2010).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take Heart - Confessions of a Change Agent

Today is a good day so I am not feeling like the woman in the picture above at the moment, but I have been there. Being a change agent is part choice and part obsession. The commitment has been a choice for me, but the drive to part of leading change has been a life long obsession - it is a core part of who I am. I honestly can't say I know how to be anything other than who/what I am and I wouldn't be happy being otherwise.

Now having said that, let me confess something to you - it can be exhausting, not just for me but for people around me. That's because I eat, sleep and breath Art Based research (Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy) and Community Change Management.
I talk about it, I read about it, I dream about it...

But life work balance is something we all have to pay attention to if we want to avoid burn out. Before I embraced this reality, I experienced burn out when I was working as a community development consultant. The main reason was that my obsession was tainted by persistent frustration. For me the solution was to break free of the community development box, although I am still very much concerned with community development I found that sphere as a sector to be very resistant to change because of its entanglement with politics.

Coming back to my first true love, art was healing for me. Developing Cultural Fusion as an A/r/tographic model for community change answered a call from my soul - it expresses my deepest calling to serve and create. It puts me pack in touch with the way of being that I find is most conducive to supporting those interested in and willing to change.

Re-Thinking the Way We Think About Social Impacts

People who know me are aware that I have been exploring linkages between CRM (customer relationship management) Strategy and CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs for a number of years. Mostly I have met with a good deal of frustration but I’ve come to far to give up now, so when I find enlightening or encouraging news it helps put the wind back in my sails. Lately my attention has been on programs to assist survivors of violence but I also remain engaged in crime prevention and reducing recidivism of ex-offenders.

Recently I was introduced to Social Impact Bonds and it is definitely an encouraging step in the right direction. The paper I am going to link you to shows how the model can be applied to reducing recidivism and government spending. What is inspiring here is the financial investment model – certainly helps address parts of the problem, risk management for socially motivated investments. What they’ve done right….There is no doubt that employment and community support are huge issues in reducing recidivism. In addition to the model discussed in that paper, there is also a need and space for broader understanding based on open research (such as Art Based research) and event sponsorship funding models are worth considering as a less restrictive alternative. Is there an opportunity here for new approaches that tackle multiple dimensions of the problem to be explored and developed? I find that what is missing is support of innovation whereby there is space for discovery and open participation of those impacted.
Read the rest of this post here

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Emotionally Engaged with Technology

New Video Project coming soon....

Just as advertising in its modern incarnations have been summoned by the needs of business as usual...I wonder what remains to be discovered to serve the needs of newly defined contexts of social enterprise and the commons. I think the concept of interactive public art that can be accessed in private spaces a paradox worthy of some Attention.

Recently a friend of mine shared with me that he has found the love of his life using an online service. While we were hanging out one evening, observing the way text messaging technology has allowed them to nurture this emotional bond, I thought of all the ney-sayers of fifteen years ago who warned that email was destroying the human connection.

What many people failed to consider was the ways that we would be changed by this new technology. Technology is not a wall to be scaled it has been transformed into an enabler. One of my early Attention experiments was about using music to consciously share raised more questions.

This had me thinking about the way perception of the computer voice has been humanized...for example, think of what that computer voice means when it is communicating with or for someone for whom that door would have previously been closed? The man who could not speak to those closest to him without the computer enabled voice that converts his text to speech. In that kind of context the computer voice takes on an unfamiliar intimacy.

For this video project (it may be the first of a series of them) are interested in exploring how to make sense of this paradox - how to make it practical while at the same time going into the artistic inquiry rabbit hole.

Obsessed With Being Practical

Interesting that I chose something like article marketing to play around with since it does related to the Cosmic Tree Memorial Art series and the memorial art planter business. After pondering some of the market research findings - namely the strong appeal of the memorial art concept for pets.

Using an article I done to increase traffic to to create the first audio track for the video "Not All Memorial Planters Are Created Equal". Next to interject supportive content for a contrasting experience I am adding an instrumental track for "My Heart Will Go On". I am definitely using some text from the article in the visuals with the memorial planter header as the static background...

It should be interesting...certainly it is an interesting experiment to think and work through.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Driving Custom Cremation Keepsake Trends

Driving Custom Cremation Keepsake Trends

By Yvette Dubel

If you are researching funeral services, funeral alternatives or custom cremation keepsakes, how happy you are with the result options will depend upon your reason for looking.

Customers, can I have your attention please?

Yes, I'm talking to you.

If you are doing research as a customer you may be looking for:

  • Immediate help that you don't have to think too much about - a death care package

  • Service or product solution that meet your requirement for thoughtful traditional death care service according to what you and your guest expect

  • Personalization of the expected - including attention to budget management

  • Personalization that is ecological and open to fluid expression

  • Primarily budget conscious alternatives

Most of the options you will find are very conservative and formal. Certainly there is nothing wrong with that; it serves those who want it.

On the upside you will find the number of providers offering green services has increased substantially as ten years ago virtually nothing of the sort existed as a personalization option. Of course, this is still a vague term since what that means seems to vary from one context to another. The difference now is that you as a customer, are empowered to direct "green standards" through your spending choices and provider selection.

Now what if the service experience you want is what most people would consider a bit exotic or unusual?

When I was researching for my father's memorial service, I knew I needed an experience that felt authentic. That meant it needed to express the specificity of our father - daughter relationship. And this is how the funeral alternatives industry emerged. They provide a customized service, often at lower costs, that do not sneer at creative expression as part of the memorializing experience.

Our connections to deceased loved ones are unique, sometimes complicated and loving but always personally specific so ultimately that is what you are probably really looking to express through the service or custom cremation keepsake you select.

"For decades, the cremation rate in the United States was less than 4%... in 2000 nearly 25% of the deceased were cremated; and in 2006, the cremation rate was projected to be 33.53%. As a result, the market for traditional funerals with traditional caskets has actually declined and in 2007, CFSA estimates that about 1,729,500 of 2,380,926 deaths resulted in the use of a traditional casket." the Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America reports.

As cremation rates have seen increased - it was being driven by more subtle social shifts. One being more value being placed on creative attributes in funeral alternative services, cremation keepsake and cremation urn alternatives. Instead of "put your name here" personalization, new product trends emphasize a more authentic personalization product experience. As these type of customer need grow, simultaneously death care providers are struggling to figure out how to respond with less access to monetary capital and limited staff resources.

These products may not be as easy for a customer to find, but they are worth the effort of digging a few pages deeper in search results to discover. There are also tools like the funeral alternatives and crematory directory listings where you can find growing resources being developed to address these gaps in information connections. Unlike old gate-keeper models that control customer access to information, Look for resources developing free to access services such as validated listings where contact information has been verified and confirmed. When you have a unique concept for what you want, the way you want to remember your loved one - whether it was a family member, a pet, or a friend you have every right to find help getting what you want.

Yvette Dubel is an artist, researcher and community change management consultant. She specializes in innovation, art based solutions, social capital, social responsibility, meaningful marketing, customer retention program development and seeing the connections between the seemingly unconnected. Dubel the artist+ founding-partner in SoulFood Studio originator of the #1 Original Memorial Art Planter from the Cosmic Tree Memorial Art Series The co-founder of Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy Series & Research Project, and you can read her Community Change Management blog at

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