From the Creative Mornings archive

“One person can make a difference.” We hear that a lot. Well, I’d like to introduce you to designer and innovator Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka SwissMiss. 

Tina’s philosophy: “Don’t complain, make it better.” So, being put out by expensive and unwieldy design conferences, she re-imagined the whole experience as Creative Mornings: a free breakfast lecture series run by volunteers. Launched in NY, so far it’s spread to 34 cities around the world. Everything happens for free: producing the event, the space, the speaker, the breakfast, the videotape archive. All volunteer driven. And because each session is videotaped, she wanted to create an evolving archive for all that creative energy.  So she went to Kickstarter, hoping to raise $35,000. Here’s her campaign video:

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Her goal was reached on the first day of the campaign. And Creative Mornings is thriving, with interest in expanding it to new cities. 

So how did Tina evolve from designer-for-hire to innovator and entrepreneur?  Here’s an in-depth interview from a blog profiling creatives: The Great Discontent. And you can see what else she’s up to on her website. So, I’d say yes, the efforts of one person can make a difference.

And what kind of difference can two people make?  If the two people are Eli Pariser, former exec. director of MoveOn and Peter Koechley, former managing director of The Onion, more than you might think. Tired of how the news has been homogenized and trivialized they longed for something else. Their solution: a mashup of Eli’s political passion and Peter’s sense of humor. They’ve dubbed it Upworthy and it flings the news they choose throughout the social network, using headlines and visuals to pique your curiosity.
 Their mission: “to make important stuff as viral as a video of some idiot surfing off his roof.” The NYT calls Upworthy “serious news built for a spreadable age, with super clicky headlines and a visually oriented user interface.” Here’s an example of what you might find in their daily flow:

And video grabs, like this one of Bertrand Russell’s message to the future:

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Upworthy launched in March and seems to have the right formula. According to the NYT, it’s off to a faster start than the Huffington Post with 2.5 million unique visitors in just its third month. 

Finally, one other little tidbit I found that shows that the life of the mind still burns brightly. At least in Brooklyn. Check out this video from the NYT.

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So here are people who’d rather light candles than curse the darkness. And I hope their efforts will inspire us, too. Because, if you just think about one thing you can do to satisfy that urge to create, innovate or show a little vision and just do it, we will all be the better for it.