That Crisp New Blog Smell, My Brain Fricasséeing 2018 To-Do List, and What I Read in 2017

And a bonus affirmation!

09 Jan 2018

Welcome! After the 47 trazillionith time of getting this advice, I am finally setting up my own dang blog on my own dang website! I’ve been writing on Medium for the past few years, and I love the design & UX there, but it’s time to branch out. My focus here is going to be dispatches from my corner of the Imagination Battle, the phrase that Adrienne Marie Brown borrowed from Terry Marshall that about perfectly ties together everything I’m working on.

A quick nerd-note: this newfangled site is powered by Jekyll, a technology that us geeky sorts call a “static site generator.” It’s like a geekier version of WordPress. It’s a fabulous tool for mocking up simple sites (it’s what the Always Forward demo site is built from, too). You need to be familiar with version control and editing text files to use it, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet with that. If it sounds interesting, I’m happy to answer questions about it!

2018 Projects

It’s better to have too many projects than too few! But this may be getting a tad ridiculous. One of my big challenges for 2018 is going to be focus.

Placeworks Civic - For the past few years, building this civic engagement platform for the urban design firm PlaceWorks has been my top client. The platform has evolved into a set of highly customizable tools for encouraging scalable and democratic design thinking about land use. Last fall, it took a big step towards closer to the “SimCity for Real Projects With Real Data” vision, with a project in Livermore that got some fabulous coverage on the local TV news. (I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve seen camera angles pointed at a screen running my software. At least since the 90s!) This is one of the most fascinating projects I’ve ever had a chance to work on, and it’s aimed right at a vexing, complicated and strutural problem, the housing crisis. I’m really excited about the plans we have for this year for it, starting with a big new client, and next building a marketing site so that I have somewhere to link to and you can read more!

Venus Shrugged - Part one came out last April, and I have the deep, time-consuming structural edits for part 2 on my desk. I’ve learned a lot about book marketing in the past year, but it basically all boils down to: keeping writing and participate in conversations. There’s too many variables to say when part 2 will be out, but I swear, it’s happening.

Always Forward - This is a new grassroots PAC and provider of accountability and tracking tools for elected represenatives. This is either going to take off in the first quarter or so, or I’m sticking it on the back burner. It’s moving on three tracks: the first one is the accountability, targeting & tracking tools, the second one is the messaging/PAC side of it, and the new but long-term third track is around building distributed AI tools for activists. The first step is applying to New Media Ventures new open call on shifting the story.

Democratic Future Club - This one hasn’t gotten past the pile of notes stage, but I really miss being involved locally. When Jenifer and I were involved years ago locally in Santa Barbara, it was some of the most deeply satisfying work I’ve ever done. And there’s a big gap for a local club that would be diverse and accessible to people who can’t regularly make it to meetings, either because of their work, or because of kids or disabilities. Not sure I’ll get to this one!

Home and Fun - Jenifer is still rocking her role at WDN, so I’m still primary parenting. (If you don’t believe how much she rocking it, listen to rising mega-superstar consultant Jessica Byrd talking about their work on Kamau Bell’s podcast - the good stuff starts around 6 minutes in) This includes cooking dinner for the mini-cohousing every night-ish, pitching in at school periodically and my second season coaching little league. And as foolish as it sounds, I might have a fun side project popping up, but I can’t say much about it yet.

2017 Books

One of the best parts about (maybe!) becoming a writer is that it’s been a great excuse for reading tons of books. Almost makes the gnashing of teeth around book marketing worth it! Sorry I didn’t bother with links for all these; I got too much stuff to do! But these can all be found ideally at your friendly local bookseller, or easily delivered to one via IndieBound! (And they can also probably be found via giant conglomerate with disturbing labor practices, but, you’re on your own for that.) I’m not really getting into recommendations or not here. (beyond what’s in the parentheses - again, too much to do!) Honestly, all these were pretty great, and you should be showering their authors with money.


  • Mobilizing Inclusion: Transforming the Electorate through Get-Out-the-Vote Campaigns
  • Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All
  • Creativity, Inc.
  • Encounters with the Archdruid (reread of just part 1)
  • Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work
  • Trekonomics
  • Log from the Sea of Cortez
  • Twitter and Tear Gas (still reading)
  • The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair’s Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics (partial)
  • The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing (meh)
  • If You Don’t Like Capitalism or State Socialism, What Do You Want?
  • Assholes: A Theory (didn’t finish, too real)
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail (reread)
  • Battlecry: Winning the battle for the mind with a slogan that kills.
  • Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception
  • Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, Too
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (didn’t finish, too depressing)
  • Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time


  • The Hate You Give (omg)
  • Iraq + 100
  • Crossing Hearts (romance via smart bitches trashy books)
  • Sandman Slim: A Novel
  • The Expanse, books 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • Infomocracy
  • Lock In
  • Walkaway
  • Neon Fever Dream
  • The Snarl
  • The Portable Veblen
  • Stories of Your Life and Others
  • The Lumberfox (Geekrotica Book 1)
  • An Amazon hard SF category best-seller that had an interesting premise but was too awful to include the title of here

Now That Is An Affirmation



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Oakland, California.