S P C | Rīga, ‘There is No Back Button’

Today in S P C, we released the 69th issue of our weekly e-zine, S P C. I want to take a step back and reflect.

What got me here? Why do I make this magazine? What is the point of it, and who wants to read?

With some time set aside to mull these questions, I found myself returning to a moment when I had just come ‘home’ to the Triangle, which is a part of North Carolina that includes Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. I had inquiries to make, then.

The very inquiries that would lead to new people, new adventures, and a year on the road looking to ‘practice the new, uncertain, and different.’ Before those things, there were questions. Unresolved at that time. Here’s how I got from that point, to this one, where I make a magazine every week for the express purpose of sharing that which I find curious with the exact, small, and self-selecting set of people who also find the same things curious, too.

Before I got to here, I asked these questions:

‘What is the creative process? Who uses it? What changes as a result?’

Those were the questions I posited to my internet friends and those who told their real life friends so that we could all get together for two sessions of a free roundtable that I hosted in Durham NC, called MAKE, way back in 2011 or somewhere therein.

My design studio was already flowing nicely, as we seemed to be attracting a specific set of highly process-oriented people who, looking back, I see this now, who saw that I was a ‘creative visionary,’ or, there were other compliments that [deleted]

How things morphed, from MAKE to S P C

So yeah. Back in the day, before I got going on the road, which led to ‘N’, and then to Atelier S P C and all the zines that were born of that, I was younger, and still in ‘research mode.’ Still asking questions. Important, at a particular point in the creative process. You go until you ‘see’ it, then you zoom in. This is what we learned together, in part, at MAKE.

Let me tell you about how MAKE came to be.

I wanted to explore with new and different others about the making of things, the creative process, that is, which I felt strongly about. Depth and exploration and looking widely for concepts, instead of just going with the third idea you came up with. I found most people in the creative fields around me were interested in the idea of exploring but didn’t know quite how to do it. That’s why I did the conversation salons.

Me being me, I had a wide range of people that I could invite as special guests, because of my work and also the fact that I had gone to both high school and college right there in the Triangle. (It was weird to run into someone who remembered me from elementary school, for example!, because of all the suddenly-remembered things, which made me feel like I was like 11 again).

But cool, too.

And at the reception for a group art show I was part of, People You May Know, curated by Barclay MacConnell for the Durham Arts Council in those days, very good things happened: my old professor from college came, along with friends from that era I had not seen in so many years. They saw it in the paper.

This was nice. This was a good feeling: being somewhere that people know you. Why not tap the network and make roundtables, to discover together, whatever we might?

That’s just me.

That’s how I think.

Variety, and discovery. In-situ, and on the spot.

Could it work?

It could.

It did.

Many times. Some of my favorites were the #DurhamTweetup and The State of Publishing. Close to my heart: twitter (or well, it used to be, I’ve long since quit twitter, largely), and of course, all the ways we can publish.

Because it was the Triangle, I had local knowledge, and could reach out easily to people about collaborating and hosting events with us. Truthfully, though, it was the new network that emerged, through simply blogging at DK, who brought us closer to the more important and growth-making works that we would then use to build the portfolio that won us more and better gigs, elsewhere in life.



I had imagined that ‘being home’ would lead to ‘connecting up with people I know already and making new work with them.’ But it wasn’t. It was ‘finding people who value all that I have already done, already built, and already published in life, before coming here.’

It was the knowhow and knack that won DK gigs, after that. And trust. More about that in a second.

So what does this mean?

Just that things are shifting again. I don’t need to be where people know me. I don’t care much about ‘home.’ Whatever.

And, gigs are not my beat, anymore.

I’m going to work with people who want to work with me. Who aren’t afraid to say, ‘What is this and can I do something with you?’ So far so good. Some of them are subscribing to my digital magazine, S P C.

Today, we release this issue:


‘I became a fan of Rīga instantly.’

Just like Phnom Penh, and Kyoto, and where I am writing from right now… *Secret Location*. When I find a place that makes me situ and pay attention to it, usually its architecture, or the people that casually pass you on the streets and how they receive you if you’re the wanderer, then, yeah. I like to stick around a while and take a lot of notes. Sometimes the notes are poems, sometimes they are creative nonfiction stories based on real conversations (I was a reporter, so, I can remember stuff), or sometimes the notes are visual, like this photograph and all the images inside the 16-page A5 zine. Right. The zines. I pack the notes into collections, juxtaposed combinations or just reflections from different points in time about a place, and put them into stories. Every week. In S P C.

Engage backstage with S P C

Me and a few others are discussing the ideas behind it in the online version of my salons and roundtables that I used to do.

The virtual community is called S P C. It’s one of my favorite interactive projects, to date, perhaps because the design of it was informed by twenty years of past explorations, mostly fails!, in how to bring people together for the kinds of conversations that have a ‘center, and not sides’, HT William Isaacs, author of Dialogue and the Art of the Thinking Together. Through email exchanges, I got some great advice from him while we were still in Durham doing the Year of Dialogue roundtable series and, more in depth, when I was in Gangtok and dreaming up the idea of Modern Sikkim. I asked, ‘How do you do this in the context of a foreign country? How do you make space for great dialogue?’

Very helpful conversation ensued online, and I was grateful to have the background of already having been in earlier exchanges of similar things.

For context, and progression. These things are important; they are requisite for mutual trust. (Trust = ‘firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance.’)

I have so much more to say about that. Trust. Oi.

Which I’m going to do, as in, I’m going to continue conversations about trust, but, there’s a catch. I won’t do it publicly. I will only do it for my community, in S P C. Why? These are the people who show up to be part of things, with me, with each other. Why not make something great, just for them? Who cares about ‘fame.’ That’s just not my agenda, here. I want to pursue more of what I want to enjoy. Quality, for one. Art, for another.

So I’m talking with a small set of 2020 guests in S PC who also feel this way, in protected-page posts at DK.

Are you curious?

You can discover it. You can be a part of things to come when you become a member of our community, S P C.

Here’s a link.