Posts Tagged ‘art’

Swetsville Zoo – Amazing Backyard Sculptures in Fort Collins

Bill Swets spent the last 25 years using car parts, farm machinery and scrap metal to build what has to be the most amazing backyard in the world.

The “Swetsville Zoo” boasts hundreds of metal sculptures of all shapes and sizes, most in the shape of animals or dinosaurs. I stumbled onto this cool description of it a while ago and last week we visited. My pictures are below- if you’re in the Colorado area, you definitely need to check it out.

It’s impressive to see what a dedicated life can create. From what I could tell, Bill Swets didn’t do this as a job and there’s no entry charge. He just liked doing it and so kept doing it- for 25 years. It’s pretty incredible.

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Daily Innovation

Don’t worry, this isn’t a try at some deep definition of innovation where I wax philosophical for thirty paragraphs. There have just been a few items over the past few days that made me think a little differently about innovation.

  • Seeing new uses for what already exists: Watch the amazing video below, “Inspired Bicycles” –  it features Danny MacAskill riding his bike all over Edinburgh, doing tricks. I saw it a few months ago, but when I saw it again this week, I realized the unique vision that  bikers/skateboarders have of the world. Walkways, trees…these things are different to them than they are to me- they represent a canvas on which the athlete is free to innovate on. I have looked at streets very differently this past week, considering the angles and physics of them.
  • Taking something further, to a new purpose: I used ChatRoulette for the first time today. It’s a website you go to to speak with strangers from across the world through live audio/video. You go to the site, click play, and you are linked with a random person through your computer camera and microphone. It gets pretty crude, as the class of people on their ain’t great, but it is a new iteration of social networking that uses the internet to immediately replicate meeting someone at random in a bar…only they’re halfway across the world. It uses simple existing technology, combined with a new idea…and is very different than what’s out there. (Note: It feels really weird to be on this site; although it’s people who choose to be on there, it still feels like some kind of weird spying.)
  • Finding a different or new way: The fiancée and I were walking around Charlottesville last Saturday, and stopped into a nice looking store on the downtown mall. She spotted a pretty designer chair and we checked out the price – a shocking $2,400 for what looked like a child’s easy chair with a colorful quilt woven on. Now, we both liked the style, but we don’t have that kinda money. Knowing that she’s an artist, however, and that I can occasionally figure out how to use a tool, I suggested we look into doing it ourselves – within a day she found a way for us to do that. This is probably the most common innovation of them all- finding a different or new way to what we want.

All in all, a lot of different thoughts this week!

Find 30mins and watch this now. Do it.

If you have time to do one thing for yourself tonight, watch “Lemonade.”

It’s only 30 mins long, but it is so pertinent, so on-target right now, and so right for this moment, that I think everyone could take something away from it. Maybe you’ve heard of it- I just did today (via Seth Godin’s Blog), but don’t wait to watch it.

The tag-line is “It’s not a pink slip; it’s a blank page.” A 37-year old copywriter got laid off from a large ad agency and started a blog for other unemployed ad professionals. After it launched, they created this promotional video for the blog featuring the faces and stories of other laid-off execs. I’ll admit some of the “lemon” visuals up front are a little tedious and bang-me-over-the-head-with-your-subtlety, but give it 10 minutes to really get going- once you get to the stories, to the real people opening and sharing stories about their lay-offs, it is absolutely spellbinding.

The stories told by those who were laid off are very moving and at times profound, because each of them was able to discover something they had lost- and they only discovered it by being laid off. Cliched or not, failure is a fear- a limiting fear. Jerry Colonna writes a cool blog called “The Monster in Your Head” – he had a nice post about those fears. When they were laid off, each of these people were able to discover something they had lost because their fear; their fear of mortgage payments, their fear of ridicule; their fear of failure. This movie is so good because each of these people, when faced with that fear, found the way to something they love.

Obviously a lot of this is easy to say because I’m 28 – I don’t have a  mortgage (yet :)). But I’m not saying people should quit their jobs and start a company, “bills be dammed!” I just happen to agree with what one of the speakers said in the movie about finding more time and more ways to integrate the things you love to do into your life. And if you can monetize that and make a living doing it….well, all the more power to you.

It’s amazing to think that, out of the 29MM or so businesses in the US, 21MM of those were self-motivated and without employees-like those in the film. That’s pretty incredible.