Bridge Together Golden Gate a Success!

We did it!

Thank you. Most of us here at Beyond the Rectangle/satoriteller are still reeling from the success of Bridge Together Golden Gate. We were in awe to stand amongst our participants, our volunteers, government officials, and all who helped us bridge together. It was truly our privilege to stand with you, to hug you, to shake your hands, and watch as you exemplified togetherness. From peace signs at passersby, to your decorated ponchos, your embodiment of inclusion, unity and love left us stunned. Thank you for teaching us that kindness will always be underrated and that we, as citizens, have power to effect change. Again, thank you and you’ll hear from us soon.
Take care.
—Bridge Together Organizers

Check out the BTGG official page here!

ABC News Coverage

Happy Holidays!

This is always the best part of the year; smack in the middle between the gratitude fall brings, couple with the hope that comes with a new year.

For us, that looks like reflection of our year. Last season came with efforts that pushed us to think creatively and work collaboratively. We pushed boundaries: We projected on origami, we created an opening experience in less than two weeks, we used live motion tracking to “paint” on a not-normal screen. We collaborated with MINI to reveal the new Countryman, and highlighted some of our favorite California spots along the way. We paid homage to UCSF and in doing so transformed the SF MoMA Atrium. We went national, then international, then came back home.

We met beautiful storytellers along the way, we formed new relationships. We’ve ignited our own nonprofit which will benefit women and girls’ aspirations within arts and technology fields. We grew closer—who knew that was possible?—we’ve made our studio our home.

Like many others, this year brought losses and sadness. We watched the news, we saw the heartbreak, the violence. We saw some rise up, we saw the miracles, we watched the rescues. We laughed at the memes, we yelled at the injustices, and we swore to do better.

A new year brings optimism and aspirations. Along with launching our nonprofit, we are currently working on a performance art piece taking place on The Golden Gate Bridge. We’re yearning for humanity to remind us of the good that’s in the world, by doing a simple act of holding a stranger’s hand. Sometimes, we’ve been reminded, it’s the small gestures that amass to a greater version of us. If you’re interested and would like to join us, you can check out bridge.beyondtherectangle.org or https://www.facebook.com/groups/bridgtogetherGG/.

In 2017, we’re looking forward to continuing our work with Eldorado Resorts and BMW. We’re hoping to do more stand-alone art installations, along with permanent installs. Continuing to learn about the role of media art for marginalized voices ranks high on our new year’s resolutions.

As 2017 dawns, we’d like to thank you for sticking with us thus far, and we look forward to what’s still in store for us! Happy holidays, and happy new year!

We Need Some Good

On January 20, 2017 (Inauguration Day), from 10AM – 12PM, we are hoping to form the first (ever) human chain across the entire Golden Gate Bridge (and beyond), as a collaborative, grassroots, community-based demonstration and performance art piece. We will stand together in unity and love in the face of divisiveness and hate. Our goal is to be a shining beacon of inclusiveness and democracy to prove that we are stronger together, that love trumps hate, and that the hateful rhetoric of the in-coming president & his administration will not be tolerated..We will stand together, hand-in-hand and holding lengths of purple fabric as a sign of unity and anti-bullying. Bring a yard of purple fabric, ribbon, or scarf. We are not blocking traffic. We have been granted an Expressive Activity Permit for this.

We Need Some Good

Some have asked why we’re doing this. “It won’t make a real difference,” and “Why won’t you protest instead?” continue to fill our inboxes. At the risk of sounding preachy, this is my take on it; hopefully it provides some clarification.

One thing I’m trying really hard to work on is this concept of “othering”. It was one of the biggest lessons I walked away with from college. It’s the blame game, it’s excuses, it’s the elimination of one’s own responsibility. Here’s an example to put it in perspective: As a white person, when I’ve said something problematic, my POC friends call me out on it. My immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to assure everyone I’m not racist. “Whoa, I’m not one of those white people.” Instead of looking at how I contribute to and benefit from the astronomical problems racism causes, I distance myself from the skinheads, the KKK, “the ignorant.” While those groups are problems in and of themselves, it’s everyday citizens that have a real opportunity to either affect change in our values as a society or perpetuate harmful rhetoric. Rather than dismiss my behavior, I should address it and uncover reasons behind my own socialized, trained racism. From there, I can figure out how to change my actions to ones that are productive. By recognizing my privilege, I can use my privileged standpoint to lobby for those who don’t have as much or any at all.

I’ve noticed that as a society, we do this in our political systems. These days it doesn’t seem to matter what political party we belong to as long as it’s not the other one, the bad one. ‘We’re better than those other guys.’ How is this productive?

Divide and rule is a very real strategy used by people in power positions. By turning people on each other, they are no longer focused on the problem—the leadership. They turn the focus to our differences, our religious backgrounds, the color of our skin, what jobs we have, which gender we are. When we other ourselves and those with opposing views, we’re feeding into the strategy of divide and rule. We are becoming easier to rule over.

Rather than turn on each other, we’ve decided to embrace each other. Despite our differences, we choose to stand together, we choose to love each other, we choose to be open to our different perspectives. It’s with this mindset that Bridge Together was borne. The Golden Gate was a natural choice for togetherness.

There is deep symbolism we’ve come to associate with the Golden Gate. The bridge itself unites two land masses inaccessible to one another by nature. Defying nature, it’s construction hosted bravery and fear, immigrants of multiple nationalities, miracles and catastrophes. Humankind created something beautiful, an American icon that connects people, both physically and symbolically. Living in hostile conditions, it’s faced earthquakes, fog, cold, tides, wind, and weight. It’s home to both births and deaths. Despite so much against it, it stands tall and strong. It is unity personified.

Furthermore, some have equated it to the Western version of The Statue of Liberty, a gateway welcoming immigrants—these “others”—to America. Immigrants—especially Chinese workers—contributed to the Western economy through the establishing of Chinatown, the construction of the Pacific Railroad, and even the building of the Golden Gate Bridge itself; San Francisco understands the true value of its immigrant population. Culture and diversity are reflected in San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city and the many immigrant-friendly programs it offers.

What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t matter which side you’re on—there’s space between for all of us to come together. We all tend to have similar drives anyways: we want to feel respected, we want to feel like our opinions matter, and we want to be loved. We can choose to fulfill each of those if we quieted down and started to listen to one another. Each of us holds an invaluable learning opportunity for one another.

I’m so grateful to have had a mom who has always taught me that the only thing we have control over in our lives is our reactions to what is thrown our way. Sometimes people are mean, sometimes life isn’t fair, and sometimes—even when you think you’re right—not everyone will agree with you. Sometimes the only thing we have control over is our reactions—and often how we react is what has the biggest impact on others. It’s not always easy, but each of us has the power to take the crap and smile back, or to not react at all. (Thanks, mom—also, hi, mom!)

Sure, maybe holding hands on a bridge won’t end systematic inequality in our country, but it’s sets precedent to how we wish to see the world. Each of us alone has a role, but all of us together is what truly embodies the essence of who we are. That’s what makes it art—we strive to engage with emotion, with reaction, with each other.

There’s a whole range of emotions that have been unearthed by the election. Perhaps you’re inspired, maybe you’re afraid, maybe you’re hopeful, angry, depressed, confused. There isn’t a correct way to feel, and it’s okay that we all have different experiences that have led us to these feelings. For me, my emotions have caused me to feel powerless. Rather than do nothing, rather than spew hate, rather than hide, I’m choosing to meet at the Golden Gate. I’m hoping to make new friends; I’m hoping to utilize new relationships so that I may better see the good in our world.

I choose to need the good.

Milo.

My Pronoia Success Story

I have a confession to make: I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. Writing, for me, has always been a tool; a release of sorts, a way to be articulate, some sappy poems that impressed past partners, an A on a paper. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Um, Milo, a blogger is a writer.’ Sure, but hear me out.

The winter before I completed my degree, I was a satoriteller intern. I like to think of myself as the satoriteller intern, but as my grandma would say, “I’m getting a little too big for my britches.” (Side note: currently petitioning to bring “britches” back into our vocabulary. Classic.)  I knew a job offer was on the line, so I tried to work hard and impress the team. But I must admit, I didn’t really know where I would fit in. You see, satoriteller is a group of brilliant individuals. They’re great at what they do: technology, art, and ideas. Where would I fit in those categories?

I was eager to prove myself, and when discussing what satoriteller stands for, I explained pronoia to the group. This is the idea that the universe is conspiring for you, rather than against you. Work hard, surround yourself with good people, and somehow life seems to work out. It’s applied to my life since I discovered the term, and this is just one of many examples:

Before hiring me as an intern, our Chief Dreamer asked me what my dream job was. She asked me to write about it. This became my first blog and, until now, it’s gone unposted. I’ve included it at the end here because it provides insight to what I’m discussing now. Alright, fine, I’m also just really proud of it.

Later, in my final semester in college, I took an art class. I’m not very crafty, so my final consisted of several poetry pieces that told a story about my life perspective. I was nervous and was reading them to my friends for practice. I had just finished reading my third one, and looked up at Chandler—a musician—who had his head down. “That bad?” I asked him.

“Milo… you’ve been holding out, dude. I wish I could write music the way you write your poems. I hope you really hear me when I say that this is your art,” he said. His compliment made me uncomfortable; I could feel the blood rising to my face as I laughed and tried to brush it off. “Whatever, I’m just trying to pass this class!”

Chan got really serious with me, and replied, “You know, it’s okay to say thanks. It’s okay to say that you’re actually trying to do a good job, that you’ve put in effort to be this good.” Can you tell that he’s a psychology major? Nevertheless, his words stuck with me, and he was one of the first people to give me the opportunity to think of myself as a writer.

Hard work and good people, that’s what cultivates pronoia. I like to think I’ve worked hard so far, and I’ve definitely surrounded myself with incredible individuals. I think the universe is on my side, as cheesy as that sounds.

I also think pronoia is something satoriteller tries to gift our audiences. If our audience can leave one of our shows feeling a connection, a feeling like they may have been there for a reason, that’s a quiet pronoia. I view that as a success for satoriteller.

The truth is, this blog—writing—has become a passion that I didn’t know I had. I believe that it’s a reflection of pronoia in my life. This is blog post #2, and I know I’m just getting started, but I’m ready to embrace what the universe is giving me. I’m ready to give some of it back, too.

Escapism

I always have an escape plan ready. It’s true: partly because I’m not a big fan of commitment, but also because I’m a sucker for a good adventure. When looking up “escape,” these are the synonyms that appear alongside: to elude, dodge, bolt, flee, avoid or evade, and a diversion or distraction. All of these terms seem negative or, at the very least, there must be something negative that we are trying to escape from. Let’s adjust that connotation. Rather than fleeing our lives, what if instead an escape provided an alternate version of life—not better or worse—just different? What if instead escape became a creative lens in which we could view the world—even if only for a moment. Call it a form of self-preservation: a time in which we allow ourselves to be reminded of the parts of life worth savoring. An escape where instead of running, we faced life head on. Can you imagine? People gathering together with child-like minds and thinking about what could be. If we all pretended to put on our work hats and delved into what it would take to change our reality—what the world could be.

 Right now, I’m an intern for this rad company—satoriteller. I know many people tend to think of people my age as naïve; we have lofty ideas and we all envision the world being better. Is that so bad, though? What I’m describing is what satoriteller is all about. It’s kind of hard to not be hopeful, isn’t it?

 A few months ago, I sat in my Communication Theory class—talk about needing an escape. It’s kind of bizarre to realize that my professor was right—I would use this information in my life. Here I am, at my first ‘big kid job’ and I am talking about theory from college. We were discussing Self Determination Theory (SDT) an idea that explores the connection between our psychological needs and our intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation, as opposed to extrinsic motivation, is having the desire within you to do something. Things we usually do because we are intrinsically motivated are activities like hobbies, travelling, dating. These are things that we do because they are fun and enjoyable. According to SDT, there are three innate psychological needs and when these needs are fulfilled, our intrinsic motivation spikes. When you have high levels of intrinsic motivation, not only are you probably enjoying yourself, but you are more likely to be be creative, and exhibit passion for what you do.

 I know you must be on the edge of your seat wondering what these three keys to unlocking our intrinsic motivation must be, so who am I to withhold such valuable information?

  • When we feel completely confident in our competence—be it a proposal, an artistic work, or what have you— our output increases exponentially. Makes sense, right? Most of us would like to do things that we are good at doing.
  • Autonomy, or the releasing of control to allow choice. It can also be thought of as self-direction. This is a value that can be illustrated across genders, cultures, and age.

Think about it in terms of hobbies for a moment. I play piano. Nobody makes me; my mom never even had me take lessons when I was younger. I don’t want to be a professional pianist, so what’s the point? I do it because I like it, it’s fun, and getting better at it is satisfying. I am developing mastery and am exemplifying autonomy. Now imagine if our careers were comparable to a hobby—hopefully one that pays well. For many of us, this is a stretch to think about. In fact, the top antonym for work is fun. With that way of thinking, it’s no wonder so many people hate their jobs.

 I’m not forgetting the last component, I promise. I’ll come back to it a little later. For now, I’d like to tell you more about satoriteller. I’m not above promoting who they are, but satoriteller is genuinely big—that’s the best way to say it. Big ideas, big hopes, big plans. They—er, we produce experiential events that allow our audiences an escape. Continuing the trend of looking up synonyms, words similar to “experience” are: awareness of, insight into, exposure to, and to feel emotion. As I said before, an escape is a lens that we can view life through. We want our audiences to step outside of day-to-day and be present in this moment of escape. Part of our namesake is the word satori: the “ahhh” moment of unique and surprising insight born of deep understanding and constraint-free creativity.

 Draw some parallels with me. Deep understanding seems to be the same thing as mastery. If there’s autonomy, that means there could be constraint-free creativity. Yes, I did have a point with my theory mumbo-jumbo. This brings me to the last component, the final key:

  • As humans, we thrive when we share a feeling of connectedness with one another. This one does not require much explaining. It’s the reason we join clubs, go to concerts, and seek religion. As humans, we spend our lives searching for immersion, for sharedness, for community.

 I suppose “big kid job” is an apt way to describe what I’m doing. Everyone has always told me that I need to stop romanticizing the future, that I need to quit yearning for things that aren’t there, that I need to just grow up. With finality, no. I will not stand by and fall in line. I want to remain inspired, see the good in the world and the better it could be. I have a hunger that satoriteller encourages. We’ve all created our own dream jobs—I mean; my actual job title is Apprentice Escapist. I’m becoming a satoriteller, what more could a millennial intern with lofty ideas want?

I guess what I’m saying is rather than fleeing, dare to be unabashedly here. Experience satori. You only have to escape first.

I know I’ve made this about me, but pronoia can be seen in many instances, in many lives, in many perspectives. This is mine, what’s your satori?

Milo.

#BeyondTheRectangle

My grandma’s favorite advice to give is “think outside of the box.” I’m sure many have heard similar mantras from their friends and family. This assumes that we’re thinking in 3D, though. And I don’t think we are. It’s easy to see life in squares—two-dimensionally, flat. From our homes to our screens to our cars, we’ve got little variation. Things are black or white, easy or hard, real or make-believe. I get it, it’s easy to think that way; there’s no brain strain. Just for fun though, let’s exercise a little bit.

On most of satoriteller’s social media, we use the hashtag #BeyondTheRectangle. It’s meaning is simple: think beyond the screen, beyond the surface, beyond what is deemed possible. We joke at the studio that the quickest way to get a satoriteller to rise to a challenge is to deem something impossible. We laugh about our nature, but it’s true. We don’t like saying no to an obstacle. Afterall, it’s these very obstacles that catalyze opportunities.

Our favorite challenges are those that bridge real and make-believe, that unite possible with impossible, that connect what is to what could be. It’s these that are the bread and butter of a true satoriteller. A few weeks ago, we did a stand-up pitch for a client. At one point during our meeting, one of their eyes lit up with an idea. He talked to us about linking one of our pieces of technology with one of his own. It was amazing to watch how excited he was about it. While he was explaining it to us, he kept saying things like, “I don’t know anything about how we’d make this possible” and “I have no idea what technology would be involved for this” and the clincher: “You guys probably wouldn’t be able to do this, it was just an idea.”

Game. On.

We don’t shoot down ideas, we give them life. We let them breathe. We get excited with our clients and their wild ideas. Side note: Thank goodness we’ve got JP, Kenichi, and Bruce—all of whom seem to be able to pluck things from our imagination and turn them into reality.

On my first day, our Chief Dreamer gave me two things: a journal and a book. The book was called “What Do You Do with an Idea?” by Kobi Yamada. I’ll admit, at first I was confused by the children’s book. I took it home and read it, though, and you should too. It’s a piece of writing that applies to all ages, one that fosters imagination and a belief in one’s self. It embodies the spirit of satoriteller. I wish I would have had it handy at the pitch a couple weeks ago because I would have handed it directly to our client.

Push beyond with me for a while longer. What would #BeyondTheRectangle look like if it was even more than just a work ethic? In an effort to think outside of what we are told is possible, let’s continue to fight for what we believe in—regardless of how insurmountable these things may seem. In this world, it’s easy to feel daunted by the endless acts of racism, sexism, violence against LGBTQIA+ communities, and misogyny. Speaking solely for myself, as a trans person, it’s easy to let the fear take over and paralyze. #BeyondTheRectangle speaks to me in this way: Keep fighting, keep going, stay standing for equality and justice. Perhaps it says different things to each of us. Living #BeyondtheRectangle means not accepting equality as impossible—and often times that looks like a lot of small acts. It starts with the little things—taking a stand against sexist decisions in event production, being vocal about the injustices against POC in our country, being an ally to your LGBTQIA+ colleagues. It’s easy to shed emotions when it comes to business, but try and retain a sense of humanity; relate to one another and empathize.

Honestly, #BeyondTheRectangle is a unique approach to what we do, but life is unique. #BeyondTheRectangle is a work ethic that you take home and cohabitate with. Let it in your personal life and nurture it. It’s daring, imaginative, and admittedly sometimes exhausting. But the end result is always worth it.

Milo.