The Many Channels of Me: How Twitter Has Helped me Grow, Learn and Support My Community

May 2015
As most of you know, I am a cycling advocate and love bicycles.  I am not fast nor do I race anymore, but I love everything about bicycles that allows us to be independent, healthy and see life a little slower.  Hearing a woodpecker as you ride through dense trees on Lucas Valley Road, or getting to soar along the road at China Camp while a bird soars right along with you... these are vivid moments of true bliss and being in tune with nature.  This past weekend, I rode in the Tour de Marin ride to support Marin County Bike Coalition. Prior to this, I volunteered at the Calpark Tunnel for Bike to Work Day. During both of these events, I photographed and shared my photos on Twitter from my accounts @sfbikegal and @cproppe .
Someone from the Bike Council asked me what it was I had... Do you have a blog?  "No", I said.  "It is just a Twitter account." Which brought me to realize that over the past year, I share more media on Twitter and Facebook than I really do by blog.  Why is this?  What is the difference?  What do we get from the immediacy of social media that we do not get from a blog, and what benefits do blogs have that we do not have from Tweeting?  To answer this, I have to explain the different channels I Tweet from and why.

These four different channels on Twitter work to make me happy and give back to my communities in different ways, but I am passionate about each of these topics.

@sfbikegal is a place where I share my love of bikes, cycling, and my art that features bikes

@cproppe is my personal Twitter account, where I share a mix of everything I see online and in life, much related to art, photography, education, my kids and my outings and Marin and Bay Area news

@greenpitcher is an account and blog called "The Green Pitcher" where I share what I read and learn about sustainability, green living, green art and sometimes cycling because it is a form of green transportation. Some of my organic posts from "Art on the Farm" also overlap into this category, as do posts about my art if if supports Marin Organic.
@artonthefarm is the account for a plein air and photography art group that I have participated with since 2005. They were started by a Marin Organic farmer in Bolinas, Alan Mart, who wanted to have a place where everyone could get out and be inspired on the land and create something while also giving back a percentage to Marin Organic. I started assisting with their blog in 2007. Currently only an active Twitter account, I post updates that support Marin Organic, organic farming and living. There is a hope that this group will start up again in the future, but we are taking a break at the moment.
 
Why do you need 4 different accounts?

Since we Tweet short bits frequently, it is much easier to only share about a single topic in a channel than to share everything, all the time.  It allows people who enjoy cycling to only follow me on the bike account and not have to hear about my entire life on another Twitter account.  It allows me to create lists of people that care about cycling and direct my messages only to that group.  I will be more likely to get responses from a group of 400 cycling advocates about a cycling question than I would on my own personal account.  The key is to follow all the cycling enthusiasts and groups on that one account and begin to engage and respond to them.  This is where you find you will learn more about cycling yourself, and find out what you need to know from other advocates.  It also allows me to share my bike related art with people who will more likely appreciate it. I learned about the group "Art Crank" and the Bike Art Poster Show they do each year.

Bike Poster History Minute from ARTCRANK on Vimeo.

You can also win contests online, just by tweeting a favorite photo on Instagram and Twitter. I won a bike from Clif Bar's contest by sharing a photo hiking with my son while we were eating Clif Mojo Bars. @ClifBar and @PublicBikes are great on Twitter and Instagram for cycling inspiration in the Bay Area and beyond.
The same is true for @greenpitcher and my other accounts.  By filtering what I share and who I follow, I can learn a lot about this topic from online media very quickly and with precision.

I can do a Twitter Search for "organic" and post things I find that day that are interesting on @artonthefarm.  I can follow organic companies and share their tweets of interest.  I can search for "bike art" and Retweet those findings to the bike channel.  The one thing I always do is research things and read them before I retweet them.  I won't retweet things I have not read myself.

What is the downside to all this online tweeting and filtering and having different channels?

Well, to be honest, there is less writing going on.  I haven't spent time on my blogs as much because I am online all the time with Twitter accounts.  However, it has been a more connected time.  I have actually gotten to meet and interact with so many more people on Twitter than I ever did from my blogs.  There is a group of us in Marin that go to "tweetups", which are really just a night out for dinner or a Birthday celebration for one of our local friends.  We have really become friends online, from Twitter.  It's extremely gratifying.  This is not something I found from my blog writing.  The blog is more of a diary and tool for writing longer pieces about life.  Truly, a wonderful writer's tool.  I am here today, writing about Twitter and why I haven't blogged as much.  Obviously, this longer explanation on a blog is here because the format of a blog allows for a longer explanation and moment of deeper thought.

Are Blogger and Twitter both needed?

Absolutely.  I find all of these tools incredibly useful.  My art and life has been archived on a blog for almost a decade now.  If I ever want to write a book or turn this into a book for my kids, it will be doable.

What am I doing now?

My goals have changed in my life over the past two years, and I will say I learned a lot online to help me get here.  My career has moved back into digital design(which I have done since 1990) and Production Art for Organic Foods. I have studied packaging design at Academy of Art University, How University, Lynda.com and am updating my skills as needed with Typography on Skillshare.  The online tools out there for an artist or designer are truly incredible.
Life is possible online, but we still need to learn how to "be" in the real world. How to work with people and communicate with others. This is important too. On the fine art side, I have been working on a children's book about Mt. Tam and Coyotes, and it is still in progress, but I hope to finish it by the end of the year.
It's not the prime focus now, but I plan to complete it for my sons. I am enjoying co-parenting my sons with their father.  We have learned how to work together by being with our sons apart. Although we still reside in the same home, we split up and don't do things together as a family. Their father will take them one weekend, I will have them the next, and so on.  It works better this way, with very little drama, and we both feel good about who we share our time with, although these are very different groups of people.

In general, living my life online opened me up to many different people and places I could go outside of my relationship that had value, even when my own relationship did not. I believe the online path to real world change is significant, and truly a miracle for many of us who perhaps saw no other path out of our difficult lives. Being online actually does open up more paths than you can imagine.  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have saved me over these passed years, as has Blogger. Each avenue has allowed me to travel, learn, grow and meet just the right people I needed to.

What a difference a couple years can make.  Who knows what we will see in 2020?  I am keeping my mind wide open for the possibilities.

Artist, Georgia Annwell, Remembered

Sunday, January 11, 2015
Georgia's Life and Sunset over Mt. Tamalpais  1/11/15 (C.Proppé photo)

Today I attended the memorial for Marin artist, Georgia Annwell.  I met Georgia when I worked at the Marin Arts Council in 2010.  At this point in her life, she was a senior artist and she took the Whistlestop bus to exhibit her art as well as gallery sit at the gallery on 4th Street.  She loved to participate in the shows and get out with people.  She was kind, positive and always smiling.  She exhibited in over 150 shows in just 6 years, from age 69-75.  She also created the three part video documentary series, "Senior Artists of Marin" at the Community Media Center of Marin.  They have just announced that they will name their art gallery after Georgia in memory of her.
View Georgia's "Senior Artists of Marin" videos here:
Video Part 1: Georgia's Portrait Exhibit and Kick off of the Series
Video Part 2: Interviews with Artists in the CMCM Marin TV Studio
Video Part 3:  Georgia Interviews Artists in their Studios

Georgia's life was full, as she was a Nurse, Teacher, Architect and Painter. (Read more here via Marin IJ )Georgia's memorial was well attended and speakers included her dear friends, Kevin Hassell, Dallas Mathers, Lynn Harris, Velda Draper, many nurses she worked with, church members and artists.  Velda read from Georgia's writing, and I want to share her thoughts here, as they truly speak to me at this point in my art career, where I am trying to move away from copying reality and add emotion and individual character to my work.  Georgia wrote:


"Great art challenges not only the viewer, but also the artists who create it.  Most artists paint what they know and do it to the best of their ability.  A few artists take on creative work that challenges their knowledge and reveals their inabilities.  However, when they do overcome this kind of challenge, they realize that the rewards are huge.  Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they are on the right track may miss the opportunity to reach past their comfort zone to experience the thrill of pleasing themselves with a painting that shares the truth of their view of the world." 

- Georgia Anwell

Georgia & Mesa dressed in circus attire for Open Studios at AWD 2012

When I get to a place where I can paint again, I endeavor to work towards this goal of challenging myself by expressing and sharing my thoughts through paint, not just what I see.  I want to thank Georgia for her kindness and the legacy she left of senior artists of Marin.  I left tonight witnessing the most colorful sunset, that only a painter could have dreamed up.  What a fitting natural expression of a creative life that reminds us all to keep learning, growing and painting.  Thank you, Georgia!
Sunset on the Night of Georgia's memorial 1/11/15 (photo: C.Proppé)

Sunset 1/11/15 (photo: C.Proppé)

Sausalito 20 Years Later

Dec 28, 2014

Observations on a walk with my sons in Sausalito, three days after Christmas

If you want to hear many languages being spoken, see families smiling, taking group photos and walking together, go to Sausalito.  If you have a beautiful, friendly dog, walk the downtown street in Sausalito and see how many children and families are happy to stop and pet your dog.  Mesa was tied by a decorative wrought iron gate while we picked out chocolates and I saw she was being photographed by tourists passing by.

Almost 20 years ago now, I visited Sausalito as a tourist with my then boyfriend, for the first time.  Back then, it was a shiny, colorful dream town, a romantic place full of winding hills and infinite possibilities.  Today, walking with my sons, we all saw industry, poverty, smelled lots of cigarettes and saw many cigarette butts, tourist filled shops and so many docked boats, seemingly not in use on a glorious, 58 degree, sunny winter day.  It was definitely not the place I launched my dreams at in 1995, as a cute, MFA student with the handsome Icelandic boy, the love of my life, who I'd convinced to come cross-country with me because Northern California was so wonderful and we must go and apply to graduate schools together.

Today, after a wonderful and messy adult life I've lived here in California, now unmarried, yet with my young twin boys- young men (almost teenagers!)... we stopped at some of the shops, bought organic chocolates, toy cars and hot cocoa. They liked The Barrel House Tavern best of all, Aidan loved their bathrooms.  The sure sign of a great restaurant in his mind is fancy plumbing. We had ventured out today to see the Gingerbread houses, a contest they do in Sausalito every year, but forgot our maps in the car back by the Bay Model.  By the time we'd reached town, there wasn't much light left in the day to track down the hand-made houses.  We decided to go back another day if we found the energy.

As we walked back, I watched a little girl with braided hair chase a seagull off the railing by the ferry.  My sons walked together quite a ways in front of me, and even when I could not see them, they still made it back to the car on their own, with out my guidance. I could occasionally see the green from Blake's jacket and the blue from Aidan's sweatshirt, disappear in the trees well ahead.  I thought, "how wonderful it is to have a twin brother".  They always have someone to walk with, and talk with, and they are always in the moment.

As we rode home, we talked about being positive each day, and trying to see the positive things about today.  It is definitely very hard for my sons to do right now.  I am not sure if it is from YouTube, or the things they hear at school (they know about school shootings, and had a lock down drill at their school recently) but there is unrest in the boys.  They worry about violence, grades, college and not having enough money already.  I definitely did not worry about these things when I was their age.  Is it boys?  Are they worried about these things more than girls at this age?  Is it the time we are in?  Is it Marin County?  The cost of living in the Bay Area and how much pressure it puts on families?  Most likely, it is the fact their mother has had only contract work for over a year now, and she is constantly moving from company to company, very frustrated with not having true employment.  I see they have adopted my worries and my stress.  This is not ok.  I think about how I will try to make them understand.  I will try not to be so stressed out about work.  They need me to be more present.

As we drove home, I thought about how we'd arrived today, listening to Anne Lamott and Jack Kornfield at 1 PM speaking on the radio via KQED City Arts and Lectures.  They are both old souls who have seen so many grow up here and change over time.  Anne mentioned how life is messy. Grace we see in others is sometimes amazing, yet sad.  I thought of how my simple act of getting my sons out for a walk today, and sharing my loving dog with many foreigners visiting with out pets was somehow healing for them.  It helped me connect with strangers too.  Talking about how my dogs lint gathers in the corners of my home and how easy it is to sweep up was somehow soothing for all of us. Jack's story of the woman who adopted the juvenile who murdered her son and raised him as her own had sent tears streaming down my face behind my sunglasses as I drove onto the 101 towards today's adventure.  Their reminders that life is messy and still miraculous helped me get through today, and I hope my sons were able to absorb even a small bit of their wisdom.  If all they remember is the cool bathrooms and that Mom said it would be a nice place to bring their girlfriends someday... Well, that's okay too.  We move forward like this, one day at a time.  Twenty years ago, I had a boy in California that I loved.  Now, I have two.  Maybe Sausalito isn't as exciting, but the adventures my sons will have in their lifetime surely will be for them.  Hopefully, their mom will get a few more chances at colorful, romantic dreams again too.

The Art of Food: Delicious at STUDIO Gallery SF & CUESA's 12th Annual Sunday Supper

Sept 26, 2014

Chartreuse à la Royale, a fancy late Victorian entremet
invented by the food writer Agnes B. Marshall found here


Today's post is about FOOD, glorious FOOD!!!


 ...and ART, of course.

Recalling Wayne Thiebaud's marvelous paintings of gumball machines, pies and popsicles, the San Francisco "STUDIO Gallery", puts on an eclectic annual exhibit "DELICIOUS" that ranges in medium from sculptures of meat to painted landscapes with cows. If it has to do with food, you can probably find it here... Candy, cakes, restaurants, serving staff, cooks, farms and even abstract art made with plastic 6-pack holders. The exhibit opens in San Francisco this Sunday, Sept 28th from 1pm to 6pm.

I love this exhibit. In past years, I have purchased a banana painting and an orange slice, pottery necklace. I have browsed with friends and other artists and gone for dinner afterwards. It's a wonderful treat. Don't miss this exhibit.

"Au Pair's Night Out"  11" x 14" oil on canvas, C. Proppé  2014

My painting of the last week was headed in the direction of the food show, and then I just had fun and turned it into an "ad" for another upcoming event, "CUESA's 12 Annual Sunday Supper" an evening party on October 5, 2014.

http://www.cuesa.org/event/cuesas-12th-annual-sunday-supper
This event is a fundraiser for CUESA in San Francisco and includes food by 40 top chefs and a four-course dinner, all in the beautiful Ferry Plaza buildings on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. To purchase tickets for this, visit here...

If you want to purchase or see more about my 3 Pears by the Bay painting, visit here...

Thanks for visiting.

-Colleen