Go fuck yourself 2016… But moving forward…

That’s where I want to be looking. Forward.

This year I think we’ve all been shedding some tears, and taking some deep breaths after more than a few events that have passed.

We have had a rough year. Losing artists, poets, musicians, maybe also some family or friends, but more than that – people who have reached us. Touched us, and inspired us. People who have made music or poems that have comforted us and made us feel a bit less alone in our thoughts and emotions in our times of grief.

We have seen some epic changes to government, and many of us have been sick in shock and saddened in the aftermath of how individual citizens have supported and made public their views. Racists, sexist, bigoted, hateful views.

I, as I think many of you, have felt deep emotions over reading headlines about attacks, violence and repression. Headlines of protestors being shot at, given hypothermia. To all my friends – Whoever you are, whatever ethnic background, gender, non-gender, sexual preference, left or right wing, happy, sad, angered or depressed… I encourage you to keep sharing your thoughts and keep the debate going, for I feel we all need to fight for what we believe is right.

I have seen a lot happening in this world that angers and saddens me. 2016 was personally a hard year for me for other reasons as well (which I will not get into). However, as long as I stay in my left-wing bubble of friends circulating news and stories that make me more sad and angry, I feel that I will not enter the new year being any happier or healthier, or ready to make the necessary changes that I feel I need to make to keep moving forward, and try to do my small part to make this world a better place.

I have been meditating. I need to start doing yoga again. Today, I had to turn off the radio as the sexist holiday ads about “buying your lady a diamond whatever because she does all the cleaning and your sorry male ass does nothing” pissed me off. I’m tired of hearing holiday ads to “go and buy things”. I never have really felt the holiday spirit much around this time of year. I do love to spend time with my family, and my friends. I am quite tired of how consumerism has been taking over all things though, and really hope that any or all of you that read this will consider cutting down on gifts and focusing on spending quality time with those you love, and donating to a good cause. There are plenty of good causes that could really use our help right now. And if you’re in a place to give, this may be a good time to do so.

I realize though, that turning off the ads, radio or television is not the answer for everyone, nor should it be for me. I also realize that we can’t ignore what’s going on. Nor can we ever let it be ok, or the norm. I, for one, do not accept hate. I will not let this be the new norm. It’s not ok. It’s far from ok, it’s regression. And we should never go back.

That being said – I do want to remove myself from the circle of negativity, false news, and sea of comments online. I want to move forward in a positive direction.

I have decided to look, REALLY look, and ADAPT – not only my own life and personal choices, but also my subject matter, projects, and lectures for my students next year.
I’ll be careful about choosing my freelance clients. And my hosting companies.

Many people are talking about climate change and the environment right now, as they should. I feel this is one of the biggest issues that we can all start to address on a personal level. I can, and will, keep signing petitions, as our government and the corporations still need us to push back to make sure that our voices are heard.
But for now, I need to focus on what I’m doing.

I can purge. I can donate. I can use less, buy less. Drive less. I can recycle more of what I have and turn it into something new. I can create, give back.

Stop streaming endless shows and movies that keep me sitting on the couch, keep me distracted and compliant.

Bike more, walk more, mediate more, breathe more. Think more.
With no distractions.

When was the last time you sat in silence for 30 minutes with your own thoughts?
No music, no tv, just silence and your own mind.

20 minutes?


The things we make and do can seem like small things in the big picture. But everything creates ripples. Everything we do affects others, our world, everything around us.

I want to learn, and also to teach, what each of us can do to adapt and make this world better. For designers, as with any profession, there are ways that we can create our projects in a more sustainable way.

Many people realize that books are made of paper and are concerned about trees and forests. What many people don’t realize is how much our digital consumption affects the environment.

Man overboard is a design and web company in Winnipeg that has recently launched a project called Serving Green to create awareness about the facts surrounding our data, online, video and app usage and how it contributes to a large part of fossil fuels and emissions.

“Every time we click, upload a file or download an app, we make use of huge data centers that are mostly powered by dirty energy.”


The other way that we can create, and give back at the same time, is to think about each project, each client, and how they are contributing to this world.
We, as designers, have a duty to think about how we can create projects that will keep people educated, engaged, and interested in – not just consuming products they don’t need – but solving some of this world’s problems.

“The internet will soon be responsible for nearly 1 billion tonnes of CO2 or 10% of global electricity usage”

We can engage ourselves in creating websites and apps that will help people stay healthy, choose organic products instead of ones pumped with GMO’s. Think about the products they are purchasing, see if they are fair trade, or made in a sweatshop. We can be the next innovators of products that can use less energy, and be more effective. Help us to manage our use of water, food waste, fuel, and lessen our environmental footprint.

So that is my plan. My plan is to look forward with a small glimpse of hope. Hope that we can help the next generation make the right choices. Choices maybe we wish we would have, could have, or should have made ourselves.
Choices that we still can make.

I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but this year has changed something in me.

Let’s not be paralyzed by our sadness, our anger.

Let’s not distract ourselves with photos of kittens on the internet.

Let’s get motivated. Let’s think. Let’s work together. Let’s create something GOOD. Let’s DO something.

Who’s with me?




  1. Neil Dec 03, 2016 - 03:04 PM

    Oh and also if you haven’t been following Humans of New York, he’s been shooting photos and telling stories of people in Macomb County, Michigan. https://www.instagram.com/humansofny/

  2. Neil Dec 03, 2016 - 03:01 PM

    Highly recommend you look into Chris Hedge’s writing, especially “The Empire of Illusion”. It talks about how western society replaced education with spectacle, and how the educated class (us) and neoliberal kowtowing to corporate interests directly lead to things like Trump. Also, there’s this: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_revenge_of_the_lower_classes_and_the_rise_of_american_fascism_20160302

  3. Nigel Dec 02, 2016 - 12:13 AM

    Well said, I definitely feel the same. I truly believe that it is a burden to be aware of the world’s problems. Some times I wish I could take the blue pill and be blissfully ignorant but given the choice I always pick the red. Likely for a sense of altruism or moral obligation but it gets tiring always being on the losing team. The problem is that we forgot we need each other. It takes a village not just to raise a child but to build a healthy community. Yet how many of us know our neighbours? We are better and stronger together but our society keeps aiming to divide us, keeping us constantly distracted from the real issues. We feel alone in a crowd and yet while the weight of the world is bearing down upon us, we hear whispers like yours. A glimmer of light, a spark of hope and a calling for change. I’m with you.

  4. ec Dec 02, 2016 - 12:02 AM

    always with you Ilse (or maybe it’s you that’s always with me).
    Whatever, good rant.