4 Reminders About Curiosity & Creativity
From the Greenest Building in Berkeley

My beautiful friend the hat maker and I were strolling around Berkeley after a sushi lunch recently when she pointed out an impressive new place on the corner of Allston Way and Fulton Street, The David Brower Center, the greenest building in Berkeley.

We lingered in front, admiring. Did we have business in the building? No. Did we have an invitation? No. Know anybody inside? No. Have any reason at all to be in the building? Nothing but our curiosity.

"Let's go in," we said.

When we're interested in something, why not check it out? We can look it up later, sure, which I did, but I was right there right then.

When it's right in front of us, why not go ahead and open the door?

"One of the Bay Area’s most advanced green buildings, the nonprofit David Brower Center is an inspiring home for environmental and social action, combining both offices and program facilities in a 50,000 square-foot space," the website says.

On the ground floor was an exhibit of fascinating pieces of natural-fiber art on the walls, with explainer plaques. We wandered and wondered and read them aloud. Most pieces were examples of functional waterway reclamation devices, eco-art created by Daniel McCormick. Willows, reeds and tubes woven together to prevent erosion, for example. Beautiful and useful at the same time.

Around one corner a fellow was standing high on a ladder, hanging a big, naturally fibrous thing against a glossy, white wall.

"Are you Mr. McCormick?" we asked on a hunch. "Yes," he said, smiling, and he stepped down the ladder to answer our questions about his restoration artwork.  Voila! Impromptu personal interview.  He was charming, and his ecological work is phenomenal. Read more here.

When people are standing right in front of us, it's OK to ask questions.

Most people's days and weeks are booked solid with work, school, family, homework, housework, events, parties, tasks and errands. Who has time for leisurely lunches and wandering aimlessly afterward in search of discovery and delight?

Nobody except those who schedule downtime for themselves.

Easy for me to say -- I'm in control of my own schedule these days. But even when I worked 70 hours a week (especially then), I carved out weekly solitude to see something new for myself.

Think of it like a sanity savings account. Pay yourself first. Making time for solitude or down time fills an emotional well that otherwise is likely to run dry. You don't want to go around all ... withered! Get some creative juice. A change of pace and scenery is a surefire ticket to new energy and ideas.  

When our jammed calendars are right in front of us, it's not just OK, it's imperative to schedule ourselves some time out.

The hat maker and I spent an incredible, inspiring hour roaming the floors and hallways, peering into the glass windows of three floors of offices -- The Redford Center! The Green Jobs Network! The Darfur Stoves Project! -- and saying hello as we encountered people here and there. Nobody objected. Everyone smiled. Most said hello. What an unexpected delight in our day and upturn in our learning curve. My whole week was changed for the better.

Give in to curiosity. Get inspired. It's good to nurture ourselves. If we're learning, we're thriving. If not, we rot.

For Earth's Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower


  1. I loved reading this article. Would that I could be there right now. Thank you Kelly. Joanne Lobeski-Snyder.

  2. Thank YOU, Joanne. Stay warm. :)