Next Boston speaker
Growing up in Roxbury “character was everywhere,” explained artist Moe Pope at last month’s CreativeMornings Boston where we gathered around September’s global topic, MUSE. “If you are in the projects it’s a little bit of a box, everyone is packed in together. The music is kind of colliding. You have Latin music on your lefthand side. You’ve got the cat with the turntables playing music upstairs from you. You’ve got reggae downstairs and somewhere in between you are in there catching a little bit of the elements of everything.”
These early musical influences bleeding through the walls laid the foundation for the creative portfolio he has built today as an indie hip-hop artist, songwriter and contemporary artist. But the neighborhood as a whole shaped him too, not just its soundtrack. “If you are from Roxbury you are like family. You’ve been through the storm a little bit and if you are from Roxbury you know what that means.”
Moe shared with CMBoston host Sophia Moon that his personal playlist grew when his aunts from Rockland on the South Shore would pick him up and be listening to a range of music - one played jazz like Coltrane and Miles Davis, another aunt would be playing The Smiths, The Cure, and a third would have on Marvin Gaye or Al Green. And his uncles expanded his backseat musical education too by adding punk music into young Moe’s ear when they were the ones behind the wheel.
At 13, when “there’s lots to put your hands into as a kid,” Moe’s mom decided he should move to Rockland. “On the South Shore I only had to think about the small things that kids should worry about, not who’s been shot,” Moe remembered. “I had a pretty good life where I was like good grades, but she thought I’d get up to trouble.”
As he learned to navigate a new school and faced a culture shock, Moe discovered that the possibility of “better is a strange thing.” The early days of standing out in ways that had only blended him in before eventually gave way to teen years in which he “got Nirvana, keggers in the woods and riding my bike freely without my mom worrying what was happening to me.”
In the end, Moe says he had the best of both worlds and spending his youth in Rockland meant learning from his grandfather’s legacy of social justice work and his aunt’s legal career. “I had all these really cool elements of what it was to be brown in America during that time and we were poor and so you have to be creative.”
His creativity was also fueled by late night foreign films on PBS and he started drawing the images he saw on screen. He turned to Disney for inspiration, but when he didn’t find characters that looked like him, his Grandfather said, “Be better than Disney.”
Today Moe is heeding his grandfather’s advice across mediums. He and his recording partners The Arcitype, Christopher Talken and Jonathan Ulman, known as STLGLD, were named “Live Artist of the Year” at the 2018 Boston Music Awards. Earlier this year, they released The New Normal. As he closed out the event with the title track and another titled Action, he asked the CMBoston audience to raise peace signs high reminding us that we each have a choice to strive for peace.
Asked what he’d like his legacy to be, he replied, “Being a good dude, trying to grow, being a good dad, listening to what people taught me. At this point in my life, creating to make the world better is where I’m at.”
Karen Elliott Greisdorf partners with non-profit, educational, business & arts leaders to nurture change through photography, multimedia, writing & design. Visit her at
Wonder is the key to living our lives to the fullest, embracing experiences with our whole heart. It unlocks our creativity, a deeper understanding of ourselves, and ultimately paves a way for overcoming our fears. The experiences that take us to those awe-struck moments in life all start with wonder— to me wonder is all about being curious, seeking out challenges, breaking routine, and getting uncomfortable.
Over the past 3 or 4 years, I developed a habit of submitting to things where I didn’t have all the pieces exactly in the right place, details were unplanned, or some risk was involved. It sits somewhere between “this could be completely awesome” and “this is could go horribly wrong.” I’m here to tell you that the space in between is where the magic happens. From my first solo trips along the California Coast and the Pacific Northwest to camping alone in Utah’s National Parks, my sense for adventure grows everyday. More significantly are those moments of the journey when the unexpected strikes where I discover something new or have to navigate a difficult situation.
The biggest shift in my life was when I brought home a motorcycle last year and then earlier this month joined a ride to an all girls moto campout in the Catskills, Babes Ride Out. Motorcycle rides are an exercise in uncertainty. And vintage motorcycles like mine, a 1973 Honda CB350 Four, are one more degree above uncertainty. I wondered if my bike could make that long ride.
In 2 months leading up to the trip, I put as many miles on as I could, getting faster and more comfortable, “listening” to the bike, doing whatever maintenance was needed, and reading up on others doing long distance bike trips. It felt more mental preparation than physical or mechanical. The negative voices in my head ran through all kinds of scenarios of “what ifs” and “shoulds and should nots”, almost talking myself out of going. I was taking a chance on myself as a new rider, with little knowledge of mechanics, and a 46 year old bike riding about 300 miles on roads I’d never seen to Narrowsburg, NY. I packed lots of tools and some replacement parts, crossed my fingers, and took off.
185 miles on the first day and I was amazed, it was a completely different bike. ‘You gotta hear this thing!!!’ I kept telling friends back in Boston. 90 more miles across the Hudson River and into camp I was astounded. It was incredible to me that we both made it that far. Then all day blasting through The Catskills with a group of ladies on the most scenic roads and my heart was full.
On Sunday it was time to make the ride back to Boston and at mile 16 I burnt out my clutch on a hill and broke down. Julie and I stranded on the side of the road in Monticello NY, a whole day away from home.
Whether it was sheer exhaustion from the weekend or my practice from other crazy situations, I didn’t go into a panic-stricken meltdown. With our quick decision making, some luck (ok, a lot of luck), and the wonderful help of a group of neighborhood guys, we were on our way an hour or so later— me piloting a rented pickup truck with my bike tied in the back following Julie on her Harley—making it to Boston before dark as planned.
I learned more about myself and riding a motorcycle and came out a little more proud. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As I continue a personal documentary project about women and bikes, I am flooded with ideas just from this experience. If it’s possible I think I was inspired by myself this time.
We don’t always have to know every where, what, and when. There is no value in worrying about a million things that “could” happen, those “what ifs”, they limit us from truly enjoying and experiencing life. There’s 10x more that comes from leaping than sticking with what you know. We all have the capacity for wonder we just have to keep after it. Have faith, choose wonder and you will find nothing but joy.
Kim is a photographer, director, and designer based in Boston. Follow along @kmaroonfoto
CMBOS | WATER
“What I ask of you is to think about your creative process - the product that you’re making, think about the inputs that go into it and the outputs at the end of life, what’s going to happen to it.”
-Monica Nakielski, CMBOS WATER
For our March installation of CMBOS on the global theme of WATER, we were privileged to have Monica Nakielski, Director of Sustainability and Environmental Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield as our guest. Her talk was informed and passionate—full of facts and figures that made the water crisis very real to all of us on both a global and local level. She presented the perfect combination of fear/reality and motivation/hope for us to all think and rethink about how we utilize, conserve, and protect our water source.
REMINDER: in the spirit of #CMIMPACT and WATER, we started a community fundraiser for charity:water, an organization dedicated to bringing water to the remotest communities around the world. It’s not too late to support the cause. The campaign runs through June and we have raised $240 of our modest $300 goal. Let’s make a #CMIMPACT together! We want to show how a cascade of small splashes can make a waterfall. 💦
The resources below were curated and provided by our March #CMWATER guest, Monica Nakielski, highlighting some interesting facts about our local water source, resources to learn more about environmental sustainability efforts and sustainable principles that they can take back into their process and practice at work and home. (Thank you, Monica!
The 12 Practices for Artists to go green came from BLICK Art and having practiced environmental sustainability for over ten years, this is a solid list for folks to gain ideas and the rational, ‘the what and why’ behind the recommendation.
The water quality testing facts is a grouping of facts and resources for individuals focused on improving the quality of their water.
Did you know?
1. Not all Massachusetts residents get their drinking water from the same source. It depends on where you live.
2. In some communities, drinking water comes from a reservoir fed by rivers and streams, while others use wells to pump from underground aquifers.
a. To learn more about where your water comes from, contact your local water supplier. You can find the name of your water supplier on your water bill.
3. The Environmental Protection Agency and the MA Department of Environmental Protection require your public water system to test for 80+ contaminants on a regular basis, and to report on their findings.
4. Some households source their drinking water from private wells, which unlike public water systems, are not regulated by the EPA or MassDEP.
a. If you use a private well for your drinking water, make sure to have your water tested once a year by a certified laboratory.
5. Your water supplier is required by the EPA to issue an annual report about the quality of your drinking water by July 1st.
a. This report is called a Consumer Confidence Report, and includes information about where your water comes from, contaminants, and additional sources with information about your water.
b. Your Consumer Confidence Report will be mailed to your residence, but you can view many of them online by visiting the Environmental Protection Agency website.
6. Environmental Working Group keeps a tap water database where you can view the drinking water test results from your water supplier. It also includes information from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database. Access the EWG tap water database here.
How can I get my water tested?
1. The MA Department of Environmental Protection keeps a list of state certified testing labs on its website.
2. For residents with private wells, consult the following MA DEP testing guide.
Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.
A big thanks to everyone who made it out to our March event. We especially want to thank our sponsors, partners, and volunteers for making our event a smashing success every month.
IMPACT HUB BOSTON - We loved being with you in your gorgeous space for the last 3 months. Thank you for being such wonderful community partners. Special s/o to Alexis Orellana and Katie Schultz.
CMBOS | SURREAL
It’s fitting that my topic for my January 2019 Creative Mornings talk was “surreal.” Because that’s exactly what my experience was on Friday, January 25.
The passion in the room at Impact Hub was evident even before I began my talk, but as I spoke, I could feel it in the air: reverberating throughout the room, building and uniting all of us. And while I was the one onstage, the passion wasn’t mine. It was all of yours.
I spoke about how there is an appetite for going beyond the highlight reels with each other. There’s an appetite for real, an appetite for authentic and an appetite for messy. Life is often beautifully, frustratingly messy. But too often, we hide those pockets of our lives neatly behind filters, curated content and witty captions.
We forget that there is an appetite for a real, human connection.
In my talk, I shared that there is a power inside all of us that is born when we share our stories when we share our complicated, hidden experiences. I shared that the power is internal – that one finds oneself becoming stronger through pulling back the curtain and beginning the conversation.
I almost made it sound like this was a benefit to be entirely reaped by the singular person. That sharing the moments beyond our personal highlight reel was a moment of opportunity, a moment of strength, just for us.
But the real power here lies in human connection. I was reminded of that in the minutes after my talk when so many of you approached me as I stood at the front of the room. Over and over again, you pulled me aside to share your personal, hidden triumphs over pain: the injuries you’d fought through. The friends and family you’d lost. The heartbreaks you’d suffered.
It was incredibly humbling, connecting with all of you. And it reminded me of the most important lesson I learned throughout my fight to recover my strength: that there are similar fights raging within nearly all of us. That we all have an incredible, powerful story to share.
The appetite for human connection is real. The power of what happens after we connect is surreal.
At the end of January’s talk, you were all given some homework. And even if you’re out of school, I urge you to complete it: take a moment and share something surreal with someone in your life. It can be as simple as telling a friend in confidence, or as big as writing about it and posting it online. (And if you do, tag me and Creative Mornings Boston in the photo!)
The connection that happens next will take your breath away.
By Steve Molter
Ideally, we all live deliberate lives. Lives in which we make sound decisions based on deep insights and thoughtful consideration of all the possible outcomes.
In reality, we live lives based on quick decisions influenced by many external factors like family, friends, society, career, money, fear, among others.
At November’s CMBOS event, guest speaker Katie Boyd shared stories about her time chasing degrees, sports accolades, fame, and acting rich, all because she wanted people to like her. She was driven by her ego. “When anything is tied to your ego, it’s never a good thing,” she opined.
As her career progressed into the pageant industry, then into reality television, she felt that something wasn’t right within her. Then she had a profound realization that she wasn’t taking part in these things for the right reasons. “I wasn’t doing it to serve. I wasn’t doing it to help people.”
After her reality show was canceled, she fell into a depression. But through her newfound introduction to meditation and a lot of deep-diving within herself, she was able to find her five core desired feelings: Free, progressive, vital, abundant, and fearless.
Katie encouraged all of us in the audience to stand up, consider our five core desired feelings, and led us through a Kundalini exercise using the vibrational energy of the universe to align ourselves with those feelings.
She left us by encouraging us to consistently consider those five core desired feelings—and adjust when necessary—and be sure to use them in every decision we make.
What are your five core desired feelings?
3 Events | 1 Day
Coincidence? We think not.
If you have stored up vacation days that need to be used up before the year is out, in a use it or lose it kind of situation, December 6 would be the day to take! We thought this warranted a separate and dedicated post.
In the morning, we are co-sponsoring an event with our good friends over at General Assembly. CMBOS Host, Sophia Moon will be moderating a rockstar panel of Brilliant Designers. Visit the event page for the backstory of our amazing panelists! If you can’t take the entire day off… maybe just take the morning? Or… take the afternoon….?
Our friends over at Impact Hub are hosting their annual Gifts That Do Good Holiday Market in their beautiful event space on the 20th floor with amazing city views… and 20 local entrepreneurs will be selling giftable products that address important challenges and create positive social or environmental impact. What’s not to love about that? You can stay on for the Holiday Party afterwards or head over to…
a free networking event hosted by our buddies over at Vitamin T featuring an hour of apps + beer/wine followed by an intellectual discussion with Jen Kramer and Heather O’Neil, co-authors, Before You Code.
So much excitement in one day…all free (sans the holiday shopping, of course) and we hope you make it to one or all of these amazing events!
Inside the Minds of Brilliant Designers
R Dec 6 | 8:30-10:30 am | General Assembly | Free
125 Summer Street 13th Floor
This inspiring panel event series invites key players in Boston’s design community to offer a rare insider’s look at how they work and create. From branding to user experience to city planning, panelists will discuss how they approach projects from a design point of view, how design thinking methods help with problem-solving, and much more.
Join us for a discussion with some of Boston’s design leaders and get acquainted with the Boston ecosystem. We will give you the inside scoop on key events/Meetups to attend, people, companies, blogs, resources, and more. Meet fellow designers and leave feeling empowered to continue learning and pursuing your career in design.
Gifts That Do Good Holiday Market
R Dec 6 | 3-7 PM | Impact Hub | Free to attend
50 Milk Street, Boston,MA 20th Floor
Spread good cheer and positive impact with your holiday shopping! Boston’s favorite destination for cause-conscious gift giving, the Gifts That Do Good Holiday Market is back! The market features merchandise and services that you can buy for loved ones this holiday season with the knowledge that you are supporting sustainability, equity, empowerment, or inclusion. Twenty companies started by local entrepreneurs will be selling giftable products that address important challenges and create positive social or environmental impact.
How to Build a Better Product: Networking Event
R Dec 6 | 5-7 PM | Aquent | Free
501 Boylston Street; 3rd Floor
Join Vitamin T for an evening of discussion with Jen Kramer and Heather O’Neil, co-authors, Before You Code as they share their insights for successfully planning, building and launching products.
Jen is a Lecturer at Harvard University Extension School in the Master’s of Liberal Arts in Digital Media Design, teaching at least five courses per year, advising students, and assisting in curriculum design. She is a 2018 Shattuck Award winner, presented for excellence in teaching.
Jen’s most recent book is Before You Code: Validate Your Idea, Build a Better Product, and Plan Your Way to Success, co-authored with Heather O'Neill.
5-6pm - Networking, Appetizers, Beer & Wine | 6-7pm - Presentation
OCT | HONESTY
By Steve Molter
Meeting people can be an intimidating experience. It takes a lot of vulnerability to open yourself up—even just a little bit—to a stranger.
The lengths we go to in the name of self-protection—staying home instead of going out, putting off that phone call to a friend when you’re feeling like you’ve got nothing noteworthy to share—often belie the vulnerable truths within ourselves that seek companionship, acceptance, and love.
When we’re able to be honest without judging the negative thoughts and views we may hold about ourselves, we’re able to tap into our internal truths and see ourselves for who we really are: humans deserving love and honesty. And when we get to a point when we see ourselves as a human deserving love and honesty, we’re then able to see those around us in the same light.
October’s speaker AK Ikwuakor spoke about just this in his moving and heartfelt talk. “Everyone is a book,” he said. “The pages of your story is what makes you who you are. We each have our own story, our own why, our own motivations, and we owe it to ourselves to read each other’s stories and learn to understand each other.”
He conducted a simple and powerful exercise in which each attendee received a piece of paper and a pen, and was asked to write down as many words, feelings, descriptors that define who they are as a person. After a few minutes of scribbling, we all pondered our list and patted ourselves flatteringly on the backs that we were pretty awesome people. AK then had us cross off half of that list while bringing focus to determine what truly defines us.
Groans and nervous laughter permeated through the crowd when he asked us to whittle that list to only five items. And as you can imagine, he didn’t stop there…he instructed us to get that list of five down to one item. One item that encapsulated who each of us is as a human being. Not an easy task. A task in which each person in that room had to be brutally honest with themselves.
During the Q&A portion of the event, an attendee asked AK what his one item was on his list. This elicited applause from the crowd and laughter from AK. He explained that he whittled his list down to two items, his daughter and getting out of his own head, and ultimately chose getting out of his own head as his one item. He felt that without that focus, he wouldn’t be able to be the best father he could be to his daughter.
Finding the focus for ourselves is a key component of growth. That focus will change as we do and acknowledging that inevitable and wonderful change begins with honesty.
Host Thank You’s:
Every month, our goal at CMBOS is to design experiences that inspire, delight, and create opportunities for our community to connect with one another in an authentic way.
This month was no exception. In addition to a bountiful breakfast spread and goodie bar, we had The Danger Booth provide head shots as well as silly group shots, Blick Art Materials set up a mask making demo, Printi USA printed our fun name tags and signs designed by our very own Anna S, we featured a Collaboration Station, had Charlestown AV live-stream and document the event via Facebook, and last but not least, a very engaging and intense guest speaker, AK Ikwuakor on Finding Your Why.
If you haven’t already had a chance to thank our sponsors and partners, please do! They make this all possible with generous funding, discounts, donations, and man power. We love you, sponsors/partners - thanks for always looking to take things to the next level on this wonderful journey with our fabulous community of creatives
And a big thank you to our amazing core team and event day volunteers for all of your hard work and selflessness.
Big Hugs and High Fives,
SEP | CHAOS
Written by: Steve Molter
September’s theme was Chaos, and boy did the Universe deliver.
Pouring rain greeted the monthly CreativeMornings folks with a crush of precipitation. My thought as I arrived (soaking wet due to my disintegrating umbrella shielding me from its last drops) was that the rain might impede some folks from joining us at LogMeIn’s super awesome venue. I mean, who really wants to trudge through downpours?
A lot of people apparently. The rain stopped no one. Including our guests Janos “The Arcitype” Fulop and Jonathan Ulman who are both highly accomplished Boston-based musicians and genuinely kind-hearted gentlemen. Each is up for Boston Music Awards this year, and both are back-to-back Boston Music Awards recipients 2016-17.
Our host, Sophia Moon, asked deep and thoughtful questions of Janos and Jonathan for close to 45 engaging minutes. The producer and drummer, respectively, regaled the audience with stories and thoughts about how they found their way to music, how chaos and adversity are unavoidable, and how good you are at your craft is only 5% of why people will hire you.
Janos shared: “Chaos is unpredictable. It can change at any point. Embrace the chaos because they are potential opportunities.” Opportunities in the chaos are what led Janos to understand his capabilities and consistently seek out others whose skills complement his own. Which led him to form a friendship and musical partnership with Jonathan who added, “If you lose sight of the fun and love of what you do, what are you doing? It’s all chaos in the beginning, but there are areas for control in the process.”
These two guys represent very clearly the flexibility, openness, and mindfulness that makes our CreativeMornings community so powerful. There is no one answer, there is no one way. There are infinite iterations of creativity and its effect on the world.
Thank You Notes: Sponsors and partners help us bring amazing experiences to our community for free… fuel the engine of generosity with gratitude. It’s never too late to say “thank you.”
LogMeIn - thank you for being a splendid host for our events this quarter and keeping us powered with caffeine in the mornings. ☕️ To the amazing facilities, barista, and planning team at LogMeIn - THANK YOU SO MUCH!
EVENT PARTNERS, thanks for helping us create amazing experiences with the products and services you provide!
The Danger Booth - Find your photos below! :)
Printi USA - fun name tags and signage
Blick Art Materials - cool art and craft experiences
AUG | COMMUNITY
by Sophia Moon
Last month’s event was so inspiring. In the short allotted time, the panelists (Mickey Cockrell, Executive Director of Catie’s Closet; Chuck Leddy, B2B Storyteller; and Paula Garcia, Global Society Program & Partnership Manager at Wolters Kluwer) really brought home some invaluable points about building and being a part of a community. Some points that really resonated with me personally were:
Stay informed. You can’t care about what you don’t know.
Find a cause that is near and dear to you and get involved in a way that is meaningful for you.
Say hello. Be authentic.
Pay it forward. Don’t expect anything in return.
Care about the person next to you. Be compassionate - everyone is going through something.
As folks walked in, we asked the icebreaker question, “Why do we gather?” We got answers that ranged from “bacon” and “coffee” to “making new friends” and “to build a tribe.” We want to challenge you all to continue thinking about it… you can be sure that we, the CMBOS team, think about it all the time.
What is the true reason we get out of bed earlier and make our way to a CreativeMornings event?
Is CreativeMornings truly a community or are we simply a fun networking event?
Are we here for the free donuts, bacon, and coffee? Or, are we here to fulfill a deep and innate longing for connection?
What are we each doing to build CMBOS into a stronger, kinder, warmer, and more connected community?
We did something new at the last event - we abridged the “thank you” section but the love and gratitude are no less felt. So, allow me to gush for a little bit about our CMBOS community of volunteers, sponsors, and partners who make it all happen.
Special thanks to LogMeIn for being such wonderful hosts for Q3 (we’re looking forward to our last event with them on September 28). A special shoutout to Liz, Katelyn, Jeremy, and Alina (COFFEE MASTER) for helping our team make everything come together.
This month, we were grateful to have our sponsors, Catch and tonneson + co for arrive early and helping us set up the breakfast and welcome you beautiful people on your way in. Thanks to Printi for bringing our cute coffee cup name tag ideas to life.
In the spirit of community and breaking bread together, we had a special breakfast guest, Sam Cohen of The SABABA Kitchen with her delicious pull apart Babkas. We enjoyed tasty honeybars from honeygrow; a bacon bar and bacon hushpuppies from The Bacon Truck; refreshing Hubert’s Lemonade; and Skinny Pop for an afternoon snack. Yum Yum. Good food is, after all, one of the most compelling reasons for people to gather, right?
As always, we had The Danger Booth at our event with their magic box that makes it easy to selfie #IWOKEUPLIKETHIS. We had our newest sponsor, Charlestown AV join our awesome team of Event Day Volunteers and core team members that make everything work behind the scenes. Photo credits: Kim Maroon
A big thanks to you all… couldn’t do it without you! <3
JULY | INTENTION
by Steve Molter
I intended to get a good night’s sleep before CreativeMornings/Boston’s July event. That didn’t exactly pan out though. I was tossing and turning from 2 a.m. until 5 a.m., never fully asleep and barely awake. I just couldn’t get comfortable or find my sleep-groove. I was unable to manifest that very pure intention of a good night’s sleep into an actual good night’s sleep. Weak sauce.
But I made it bright and early to what was an unsurprisingly lovely CMBOS event. As I descended the three-story staircase into LogMeIn’s huge event space, it was filled with buzzing conversation and the fresh aroma of coffee, fruit cups, donuts, and bacon. Oh, yes, there was bacon. That’s how we roll.
We had a ton of fun stuff going on: The artists who took part in the #100Days art challenge displayed their dynamic work, we served donuts and bacon along alongside Hubert’s lemonade and fruit cups from Honeygrow, we sneakily attached some free goodies to the bottoms of a handful of seats in the audience, and most importantly we had a deeply personal talk from Erin Pearson, Manager of Product at LogMeIn.
Erin spoke at length about her struggle to create space for herself when she and her partner decided to move the middle-of-nowhere Canada. She ended her talk by asking the audience: How are you creating space for others in this community? A poignant question for us to ponder for sure as we move into August’s CreativeMornings theme of Community.