Bringing Optimism to our Cities: One Color at a Time

Over the last several weeks, a lot has changed in our daily lives. We’ve gotten more familiar with our own four walls than we may have ever thought possible (seriously, has that rug always been that color?!), and when we do venture out, things look pretty different. In many places, our neighborhoods are empty and plywood covers the doors and windows of our favorite local bars, restaurants, and shops. But amongst all the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings, our optimism is one thing that continues to propel us forward.

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When our Lizard Lounge store in Portland, OR, had to shut its doors due to the pandemic, it was boarded up and no longer gave off those feel-good Toad vibes that we know and love. So when designers from architecture and design firm Gensler reached out to us about sprucing it up, we couldn’t have been more excited. To brighten the canvas around our cities, these designers have volunteered their time to partner with small business owners to create vibrant and inspiring murals that reflect the distinct personalty of each business – and the promise of better times to come.

Color Speaks — a research project spearheaded by Gensler’s Seattle office — was initially created to study how color can bring hope and optimism to the future of our cities, and how applications of color in the urban environment affect our behavior and collective well-being (and if we weren’t already excited enough, this research is right up our alley — this spring, we too drew inspiration from the psychology of color).

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These designers are using this initiative to encourage others to join them in revitalizing storefronts and transforming abandoned streets into beautiful splashes of uplifting colors and positive messages of resilience and hope. To date, the Gensler Portland team has painted murals at four locations around the city, and conversations are underway with even more business owners. Since initiating this project, more Gensler offices around the nation are joining in to beautify their own cities. And until Lizard Lounge reopens, passersby get to experience some seriously good vibes from the outside.

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Feeling inspired? Here’s how you can get involved. The team has created a free tool kit (containing a list of necessary supplies, “paint-by-number” guide, and helpful tips) that walks even non-artists through the process of painting their own murals. Just contact the team through the Color Speaks (@colorspeaks_) Instagram page to get one.

 

 

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Q&A with Artist Jazmin Harms

There’s no such thing as a “disability” when it comes to creativity or work ethic. A sense of purpose runs through all of us, and that force is strong with Jazmin Harms. Jazmin is a resident artist at the SlingShot Art Studio and Gallery in our hometown of Santa Barbara.

We’re big fans of SlingShot since it’s not your typical gallery: The art on the walls is created by 40 in-house artists with intellectual disabilities. A branch of the mission-driven Alpha Resource Center, SlingShot provides a sunny, open studio space to encourage creative expression and a modern gallery for artists to sell their art in the heart of downtown.

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Jazmin Harms is this month’s featured artist at SlingShot’s latest gallery show, ROAR. Her use of graphite on paper brings life to the animals she loves. SlingShot Teaching Artist Mike Blaha sat down with Jazmin to ask her about some of her favorite things.

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Where is your favorite place in nature?

Jelly Bowl in Carpenteria. I walk to the Beach. It takes about 20+ minutes but I like the journey to the beach. I bring my phone to take pictures. My favorite subject is the sunset. I look for the “golden hour” when the sun just disappears and there are dolphins. 

What kind of art do you create?

I draw only animals all the time. I pick pictures that I can depict honestly and are true to their forms. Big predatory animals are the most interesting and big cats are my favorite. 

What medium do you use?

I use graphite because I like the way the shades of graphite renders the animals. 

What time of year is your favorite? 

I like summer evenings the best because I can stay at the beach for longer. I time my arrival to catch the “golden hour.”

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Taking photographs of the sunset seems challenging, how do you do it? 

I like using foreground objects like rocks, driftwood and surf to accentuate the sunsets. I love seeing whales and dolphins. My favorite colors are the oranges and yellows. 

What else do you like about the beach? 

I like to go alone to feel a strong sense of nature. I hike up and down the beach to collect sea glass. Finding blue is my favorite. I have quite a large collection of sea glass. I get a calming effect that lasts the rest of the evening. I go as often as I can.

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To see Jazmin’s amazing work, check out the ROAR show at the SlingShot Studio. We held a pop-up fundraiser for March First Thursday (which is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, btw), and we can say firsthand that all the art is stellar!

For more on our mission to create and support opportunities for people with disabilities, check out this letter from our CEO. A portion of every Toad&Co purchase directly contributes to our mission.

A Moment In Mexico

When it comes to feeling inspired, different forms of inspiration resonate with different types of people. For some, a motivating speech by an elite athlete is enough to inspire a gym membership and new workout clothing. For others, photos from a globetrotting social influencer are enough to purchase a plane ticket to a far off land. We could go on, but the bottom line is this; inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere.

For our design team, a favorite form of inspiration comes from immersion into foreign cultures. In preparation for designing our Spring/Summer 2019 line, our women’s design team landed on the vibrant art and design scene of Mexico. A week of extensive shopping, museum visits, and people-watching in the mercados turned out to be just the inspiration they were after.

When we sat down to chat about their trip, Tonya Humiston and Guin Ganzel were most excited by the use of color throughout Mexico’s capital, from the street art housing to the extensive greenery of city parks. Bright blues, soft yellows, and sunset oranges blanketed everything from haciendas to women’s blouses. Mexico City’s unique palette seems to mirror its eclectic population. Soft hues of blue seem ushered in from Scandinavia, while warm pinks and yellows made their way to Mexico courtesy of eastern influence. As a melting pot of culture, the colors found in Mexico City are a great representation of its worldly inhabitants.

And like color combinations and flavor profiles, time also seems to change when you cross the border. Guin and Tonya often found themselves lost in time (and space) as they trekked between neighborhoods and followed their noses. The result? Stumbling upon local boutiques, stunning buildings, and one cinnamony, sugary, bliss-filled ‘churrero’. Fun travel fact of the day: a churro shop is called a churrero. Have we inspired your trip to “The City of Palaces” yet?

There’s nothing quite like traveling to spark a fire in the brain. Throw in warm weather, foreign languages, and spicy street food and you’ll really get the juices flowing. Exactly the goal for Guin, Tonya and our Spring 2019 collection.

Wild Ideas Worth Living with Shelby Stanger

 

Have you ever had a wild idea but were afraid to act on it? Or maybe you started, but then self-doubt crept in, someone told you that it wouldn’t work, or you talked yourself out of it? Shelby Stanger is no stranger to both the fear of the unknown and the bliss of operating outside of her comfort zone. From deep in the world of corporate execs and renowned brands, Shelby took a plunge into the unknown to pursue her love of freelance journalism, photography and podcasts (spoiler alert: it was a total success). Her latest podcast,Wild Ideas Worth Living, is all about pursuing the dreams that live in our imaginations. Shelby interviews people from across the globe who have taken a leap of faith and just gone for it. From new business models to climbing rocks all over the world, Shelby highlights inspiring individuals who have followed their passions and transformed their lives. We’ll be adding a new episode every week, so sit back and get inspired. 


Weekly Episodes:

Week 1: Sarah Robb O’Hagan, Author of  Extreme You – Sarah is an adventurous business woman who has worked for Gatorade, Atari, and other notable organizations.

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Week 2: Norah Eddy, co-founder of Salty Girl Seafood Norah is the driving force behind a sustainable seafood company with an innovative way of doing business.

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Week 3: Mark Lukach, Author of My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward  In his new book, Mark details his wife’s struggle with mental illness and its affect on their marriage. Through sacrifice, commitment, and courage, Mark boldly shares the often untold story of mental illness and it’s impact on the families involved.

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Week 4: Brogan Graham, founder of the November Project With the November Project, Brogan has disrupted people’s idea of fitness by creating awesome free workouts that build community around the globe.

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Week 5: Devyn Bisson, Documentary Film Maker As a lifeguard, Devyn worked to save lives in the ocean. Now, as a filmmaker, Devyn continues to help others through the art of film production.

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Week 6: Gretchen Bayless & Taylor Hood, founders of Roamerica Rentals  By starting Roamerica Rentals, Gretchen and Taylor have pursued their dream of being able to travel with ease while building and maintaining a successful business.

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Week 7: Izzy Tihanyi, founder of Surf Diva Surf School  Surf Diva Surf School was born out of Izzy’s determination to build a thriving business in her bikini. Now in it’s 20th year, Surf Diva continues to build a community around teaching women of all ages to surf.

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Week 8: Angela Davis, Fitness Evangelist and Motivational Coach As a former member of the USA track and field team, Angela Davis knows a thing or two about getting fit. These days she motivates all types of people to realize their full potential, both in fitness and in life.

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Week 9: Rebecca Rusch, Endurance Athlete and Adventure Racer Rebecca has sent a first female ascent on El Capitan, river boarded the Colorado River, and set records for endurance mountain bike racing. Aside from her impressive outdoor accomplishments, Rebecca exhibits a contagious spirit of positivity.

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Week 10: Grant Trebilco, Creator of One Wave Is All It Takes  After overcoming his own mental health struggles, Grant created One Wave Is All It Takes to help people cope with their own mental health issues through surfing and awesome, shared group experiences.

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Week 11: Emi Koch and Becky Mendoza, Environmental and Social Advocates Emi and Becky learned at a young age that you gain far more from giving than getting. With this mindset, they embarked on a mission to give back to communities around the world and create social and environmental change along the way.

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Week 12: Eric Wolfinger, Award Winning Food Photographer Growing up, Eric had the goal of creating his own dream job. But how to combine his love of cooking and traveling? Answer; Photography. Tune in to find out how Eric made his wild idea a reality.

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Make sure to check back next week for the latest episode of Wild Ideas Worth Living.