Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

How do you Evoke when your cup runneth over?

It's only the second day of Evoke, and already my colleagues have ten, two dozen, or even more blog posts. I know it's not a race, but it's hard to feel like I'm pulling my weight. And yet, a busy life with a full-time job and all the usual chores has made it hard to give Evoke as much time as I think it deserves.

And hey, I have it easy in the larger scheme of things: I have my evenings to myself. Some of you have spouses, kids, dogs, or all of the above. And yet Alchemy will need you, too. So this raises a larger question: How do we stay aware and active in the problems of the world, ready to serve a greater cause, when Marcia needs to be picked up at 7 and you have to watch the baby and wake up at 6 in the morning tomorrow?

One thing we can do is look for "dead space" in our daily life, time that feels wasted. For me, that's cooking dinner. It doesn't keep my brain occupied, so I've been carrying my laptop to the kitchen and watching TED talks when I'd otherwise be bored.

TED is a regular conference that hosts some of the finest thinkers in the world, everyone from writers to actors to mathematicians. These are fine and polished speakers, distilling the great passions of their lives into twenty minutes. You can learn about the 1918 flu while waiting for onions to caramelize, or folding laundry, or brushing your teeth. Every speaker is trying to change the world. And they're doing it in all different kinds of ways.

You want a good place to start? Try the talks filed under Bold Predictions, Stern Warnings. And here are a few of my personal favorites:
Liz Coleman's call to reinvent liberal arts education
Paul Collier's new rules for rebuilding a broken nation
Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves

But like I said, I have it easy compared to many of you. How do you do it? When you're already cramming 30 hours into a 24 hour day, how do you keep working to change the world? How do you keep your mind elastic? I know I could learn a lot from you, and I'm sure others feel the same.

Views: 36

Comment by Jen Shaffer on March 5, 2010 at 3:43am
I think you've asked some really valuable questions Monica - about how we use our time and how we stay informed. I like how you watch TED talks while cooking. I usually watch them during dinner myself. Like you, I don't have the responsibilities of kids, pets, or a significant other. And I still can't manage to get done everything I need to do. *fist bump* I'm with ya!
Comment by Ian Tuck on March 5, 2010 at 3:50am
I hear you, Monica. I've written two blog posts. Having said that, I've been trying to read as many blog posts by other people as possible, and I think that the race for points has obscured the point of trying to write thoughtful, interesting, thought-provoking material like you have here. Keep it up. I'm going to follow you.

Quality, not quantity. It may be a game, but no matter how much we post, I think we're all going to emerge changed people, and that makes us all winners.
Comment by Amanda Jeffrey on March 5, 2010 at 3:51am
Identifying 'dead time' in the day is quite important - commuting time is another good one for those of us who work or travel a lot. With the proliferation of media players, I'm sure there are hundreds of interesting podcasts out there - just one I found was the BBC Africa Today podcast for those wanting to learn more about that continent. http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/africa/
Comment by Robert Hawkins on March 5, 2010 at 4:31am
Hi all, Ian -- I share your views. I was happy to see Alchemy introduce a new process for evidence and the awarding of powers by his team. Hopefully the most thoughtful submission will rise to the top.
Comment by Monica Toth on March 5, 2010 at 4:43am
Jen: it's terrifying, isn't it? Knowing we're already busy and scattered, and knowing that today's responsibilities are only a fraction of what's to come? I'd like to start preparing early, getting in the right habits, wresting myself away from the lazy indulgences of pundits and webcomics. I want to live life deliberately, as I'm sure you do. But there are so many things to fix, I hardly know where to begin.
Comment by Monica Toth on March 5, 2010 at 4:46am
Ian, thanks for your comment! I'll do the best I can to keep writing, and I hope you'll do the same.
Comment by Monica Toth on March 5, 2010 at 4:49am
Hello Amanda! Thanks for your note about podcasts -- with podcasts and mp3 players everywhere, the daily commute can be something you look forward to! I'll try to check out your link when I have a moment.
Comment by Monica Toth on March 5, 2010 at 4:50am
Robert, hello! I must say, I don't mind the race for points if I can just surround myself with stunningly intelligent people. That's why I joined Evoke, and I already feel like I'm winning.
Comment by Brandon Snyder on March 5, 2010 at 5:03am
I second your feelings about not pulling weight... I am always reminding myself that I have opportunities to Evoke in my daily career. In your profile you say you work for Sapere, are there opportunities there for this kind of Evoking? Even something as simple as a meme or an idea (TED for example) is an effective way to affect change, if only in the mind. Even when we are all doing everything we can, the job is never finished, there is always more to be done. I don't know if that came out right but I like your thoughts.
Comment by Jenn on March 5, 2010 at 5:08am
Hi Monica! I really admire the thoughtfulness you've put into structuring your day, and quite frankly, I'm totally going to steal your idea of cooking to TED talks. :) I just hope that you also fill your need for quiet, centering down-time. I think everyone needs it, just in different amounts. I often find it difficult to allow that space, and I think it can be tough for other people who are interested in create change in the world as well. Like you said, there's a lot to be done! But in terms of sustainability, it's important that we take care of ourselves. I just wanted to add that to the discussion. Thanks for posting!


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