Why We Need to Exercise Responsible Parenting In Our Creative Process

At the easel, painting a live portrait, First Saturday Arts Market a few years ago.

At the easel, painting a live portrait, First Saturday Arts Market a few years ago.

Responsible parenting is the magical ability to teach and impart self-managing skills to our children in a gradual and masterful way that fits their learning abilities and level of maturity. You will note that my definition does not assume anyone is an expert as there is a degree of immeasurable wiggle-room and ongoing opportunity for improvement. Perhaps that is why they say you become more of a master with grand-parenting.

If grand-parenting gives us room for improvement because we can stand back and look at our “creation” and learn from our mistakes then perhaps we can use this example in the practice of our creative works as well.

So how do we impart self-managing skills to our creations?

A key element that I find missing from many creative processes when it comes to the production phase is the consideration of what it takes to power your production, maintain it, and the plan for its obsolescence or posterity. In other words, the consideration of its full life cycle.

When we consider the full life cycle of a product we are giving it life skills for self-management. We are making a sustainable product.

What is a sustainable product? This definition is like the one for “organic” products. What is truly organic and what is acceptably “organic”. It depends on who is measuring. Our job is to consider every aspect of the product from its reason for being to its design, use, and end of life. Is the product necessary? What purpose will it serve? Does it enrich, communicate, serve? Is it unique, is it an improvement, is it a copy of something else?

Mitch model

Mitch posing for his Character Sketch at the First Saturday Arts Market.

Over the last few decades, we are again paying more attention to the aesthetics of a product but we are forgetting about its production and operation. We need to maintain the balance of quality control in all aspect of the creation’s life-cycle. Just as we look for the optimum design, the right raw material, the most effective and efficient production process to deliver maximum operation capacity, we also need to consider how it will be maintained and how it will ride off into the sunset…because if we don’t, then someone else will have to pick up the slack of our lack of planning and incur costs that we ultimately should be accountable for as master creators. Ineffective design fails to consider these elements in the rush to get the product out to market before its time.

One of the key elements today when it comes to sustainability of a functional product is how it will be powered. If this is an after thought then we will be incurring potential retrofitting costs to the owner when finding the most effective, efficient, and environmentally responsible source of energy. Operation, maintenance and planned obsolescence are critical to sustainable design.

So when considering birthing your next purposeful design, be mindful of what will go into it, how it will go into it, how it will operate, how it will be powered, how it will be maintained, how it will seize to exist, and how it will reintegrate as raw material for other creations.

Now if we could only write the ultimate parenting guide with that!

Sprouts – Part 3

Lilibeth Andre - Lentil sprouts - Day 3

Lilibeth Andre – Lentil sprouts – Day 3

Today is the third day of the vegetarian protein project. My job has been very simple: rinse and drain the sprouts twice, two times a day, and put them back on the window sill. Nature does the rest.

You’ll notice how much the legumes begin to grow and take up space in your jar. This is why you want to work with about 1/4 full jars. The roots grow beyond the length of the bean. You can also begin to see tiny leaves sprouting on the opposite end of the fruit. All this growth takes more space and the netting gets a little bulgy, especially in the lentil jar because I added a bit more than 1/4 full of lentils.

Lilibeth Andre - Bulging sprouts - Day 3

Lilibeth Andre – Bulging sprouts – Day 3

You can begin to harvest your sprouts and let the rest continue to grow if you want longer roots and more leave growth. Just open your jar and pull some of the sprouts out. They are clean and fresh, and ready to eat. Leaf growth uses up some of the sprout energy so this is a good time to get higher nutritional content. I harvested the lentils to make room for the rest of the sprouts. They were getting pretty tight in there.  I added them to my Greek salad for dinner.

Once you reach the stage of growth that you prefer you can refrigerate them to keep them fresh longer. I usually put them in the frig in their bottle to allow them to breathe through the netting. You want to use them fairly soon so they don’t dehydrate in the cooled air of your refrigerator. You can also put them in a sealed container to preserve them a bit more but try to eat them while still fresh for more nutritional value.

You’ll get a better feel for the quantity you need for your personal or family use after the first time you sprout a bean. You’ll see how it grows and expands. You can keep a healthy and fresh ration of sprouts growing cyclically to fulfill your needs. It only takes about three days to get a new batch.

Lilibeth Andre - Mung bean sprouts - Day 3

Lilibeth Andre – Mung bean sprouts – Day 3

So there you have it. Delicious sprouted legumes. Fresh, crunchy and a good source of easily digestible protein, just to name one of the great nutrients they provide. And they taste nutty great.


What Came First, People or Business?

Each element of our society has essential value and deserves the respect of being sustainable. In this manner, each individual will contribute positively knowing they are a valued element of the whole. They will be more susceptible and able to contribute to the overall outcome, and their own perveyance.

People are the most valuable asset. Without people we have no need for products or services.

In a recent Forbes article by Laura Shin, “Why McDonald’s Employee Budget Has Everyone Up In Arms”, Shin points out that the budgeting tool became a detonator to the open acknowledgement that minimum wage does not support a person. It was right there on the internet!

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10x8, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Denzel, 10×8, watercolor

This inability to make ends meet has been a long-known fact to anyone living on minimum wage or even without it. For example, one who has been in a position to know what it’s like to pay the bills with less money than is required can easily spot the fallacy of an attempt to support ones standard needs. In fact, the budgeting tool is clear to demonstrate that minimum wage doesn’t even support basic needs. And that is the whole point.

When we remove the ability people have to support themselves we take on a tremendous responsibility we are not well prepared to support. And when we bring someone on board requiring full-time (or more) attention from their life, we need to be able to give them what it takes to provide high quality attention.

What does high quality attention from an employee look like?

If I want to capture my employee’s high quality full attention, as a society, I want to be able to give him what he needs to be able to deliver that. Starting with the ability to have the peace of mind to be able to focus and providing the skills, knowledge and training that will allow him to maintain that optimum performance.

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11x8.5, watercolor

Lilibeth Andre, Drew, 11×8.5, watercolor

What provides peace of mind? Not having to worry about borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. This compromise is never more prevalent than for a working parent. In order to work, one must allow for care of the kids. Minimum wage does not provide the means to afford care for our children that merits their value as the investment in our future–yours and mine–because we don’t know what that child will be able to achieve and we want him to be the most balanced and prepared he can be. Does that include allowing the parent(s) to be more involved in their life? Does that mean providing the time they will need to do that? Does it mean that their work and school schedules will mirror each other? Does it mean valuing parenting years to raise the pay of one working parent?

The high quality comes in the education and training. An education system that provides ongoing knowledge and training to meet the needs of the workers and the employers. The guarantee that it will be affordable because we recognize the value of an education and its relationship to the quality of life of all of us. If we don’t invest in providing top education and training to our children, what will our future look like if those who become our leaders and service providers are less prepared that we were when we started? Will we be providing the enrichment that the arts offers to expand creativity and innovation as well as our appreciation for our own culture and that of others?

This minimum wage awareness focuses on those who work for others but what about those who work for themselves? Are we providing the liberties and environment that fosters sustainability by someone who sets out to support themselves or provide a product or service to others? We must not clip the wings of people or take away their independence. We must honor people’s essential value and deserved respect to be sustainable.


Just to bring you up to date on my latest news. First of all, I am very excited to have been selected as one of the visiting writers for the Kroger ‘Writers in the Stores Program’. This is a fantastic opportunity to share my book with more people. I am having a blast and since I am just starting out in stores near me, I am running into people that I know in a whole new different environment. A great way to say hello and to get to tell more people about my book.

I have to make special acknowledgement and thank Kroger for their initiative to help promote the arts and literacy, as well as local talent. The managers and staff have been great to work with. Kudos for your awesome customer service. I get to see it in action.

Along the same lines, I finally launched the Facebook Page for my book: The Lady of The Turquoise Pendant where you can read about my book adventure. I hope you LIKE it.

That’s all for now.


Sustainability vs. Sustainable Development

Not that these terms are adversarial but I do see them as a bit different from each other. So what are the differences that I see and what does each one mean to me?

I see sustainability as the things that we do to keep us viable on a ‘personal’ level. These may be the processes we follow to produce what we create or the service we provide or how we live. Do we use the most efficient method? Do we avoid creating or discarding waste? Do we use materials that promote the sustainable performance of our vendors? Does our product or service help others be more sustainable? And in carrying out this work, do we do it by creating the least impact? Do we create the smallest carbon footprint we can?

So I see sustainability as the work we do at the ‘individual’ level as a person, company or organization, to help maximize the work of others and expand on the work we do ourselves.

Sustainable Development on the other hand, I see is the collective effort. It is the work we can do together to create an environment that provides for a good quality of life for more people by looking at the future through many and multiple points of view. The future is what we build today but if we are not good stewards, there can be little future. Our task then is to find better and more effective and efficient ways to develop sustainably, and satisfy more people now and tomorrow. An exciting challenge.

How can we develop more sustainably? We have to work together. We have to look to the future and see what we would like that future to look like. It will not be a complete picture but it will help spark our collective innovation and creativity. Perhaps not just on an individual basis but more on a group basis. In other words, my ideas may help you improve yours, and his may help me improve mine, and hers may help improve theirs, all in a more open and contributing effort so that we can learn and improve exponentially, as time is of the essence.

When we look at things through the lense of sustainable development it is to our best interest to pool our human capital and financial resources together to improve our outcome. No one has the total resources to make a single decision to create total change. However, if we use our desired outcome to light the path we want to follow, more people, groups and communities will be able to align in the same direction and we will be able to reach the ‘destination’ more rapidly and with greater economies.

There will be change. There will be casualties from the current point of view. As we advance, we will begin to align in our objectives so that we can measure our decisions with the least detrimental outcomes and most rapid and precise movement for greater collective results.

How will we measure these results? Perhaps we can look at happiness and well-being.

Will that destination be our ultimate goal? I hope not. I hope it is only the marker to our next stop, the next turn of our ongoing cycle of evolution. I hope that as we continue to grow toward meeting that new stop, we are already creatively innovating ways in which we will reach the following destination along the way.




My Definition of Sustainability

The standard definition of sustainability:

Utilizing resources in a manner that will allow future generations to continue to capitalize on them.

This definition reflects one train of thought. The focus on capitalization of resources supports that sustainability is non-attainable because our purpose in life is not to consume finite resources. Our purpose in life is broader and therefore to be sustainable or to continue to develop in a sustainable manner requires that we consider other aspects important to our development as well.

I once again bring Maslow into the picture of sustainability.

As human beings we have physical, mental and emotional needs. Maslow shows us that as we further our development we can achieve higher levels of satisfaction. These needs begin as physical and primary but cannot diverge from the mental or the emotional needs. As our needs are met, we can say we leverage the ability to achieve higher levels of sophistication such as philanthropy and philosophy but this ability towards depth is present at every level. We are always free to give and to ponder.

The narrow definition of sustainability brings to mind a silk worm but our needs are greater than a life of consumism and production. I also remember the saying, “who ever dies with the most toys wins”, and I wonder why lack of fulfillment leads to the consumption of ongoing ‘solutions’ of instant satisfaction.

By understanding what sustainability truthfully entails we can begin to look at what we have not addressed to truly develop our life in a sustainable way.

With these thoughts in mind, a venture at defining sustainable development to include the creation (invention) and preparation (education) of resources (ideas and people) in the mental, physical and emotional realm (economic, environmental, and social) to allow for the proper utilization of natural or created resources (tangible and ‘intangible’) in a manner that will allow future generations to pursue and achieve happiness and quality of life for more people without exhausting the environment we live in and jeopardizing humanity.

With this definition, life purpose can focus on purposeful and incremental peace, enjoyment and sharing.

How do you see it?




Sustainability and Infrastructure

Why is density in the urban environment considered to be more sustainable?

It is all part of economics. It is easier, because of cost and affordability, to create an installation of any sort in a reduced space than to extend it out to multiple distant destinations.

If a tree has to nourish tall and extensive branches, it needs a broad trunk and deep roots set in fertile ground. The alternative would be that branches that break away from the main trunk generate the ability to nourish themselves independent of the trunk and root system.

If a city needs to tend to demanding and growing needs within its core and supply for the needs of ever growing outlying areas then it’s “trunk and root system” need to be bedded in very fertile ground. That is rarely the case anymore.

Density is a solution that localizes resources for efficiency purposes and generates a greater and more beneficial impact on the investment. Services can be enhanced. Design can be more sophisticated, anthropometric and utilitarian, and the sense of community can be greater as more and more people condense in an urban area that is warm and inviting because it works with the natural assets of the terrain. This in itself enhances sustainability.

Are we ready for ‘densification’? Or a better question to ask would be: Is our infrastructure ready for densification?

In Houston Engineers Give Roads, Water Lines Barely Passing Grades, a Houston Chronicle article by Dug Begley, we seem to have the perfect opportunity to prepare for densification. If our infrastructure is nearing obsolescence then let’s not spend our money creating new and farther infrastructure. Let’s revamp what is reaching its term and create an infrastructure that can manage greater and expanded need. That way, when we increase the density of urban living with business and services to support it, we won’t have to ponder what will happen when more and more people head for the shower or flush at 6:00 am, what kind of traffic we will face at 5:00 pm in our neighborhood streets, or whether we will be able to catch a frequent and dependable bus or rail on infrastructure that has shady tree-laced streets with interconnected bikeways, sidewalks and sidewalk businesses welcoming walk-in traffic.

Perhaps a ‘bad grade’ is only a great opportunity to focus on rebuilding a better and denser city core before the crowds get here.

  • May 2017
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