Tag Archives: Millennials

Insert Coin To Continue

May 30, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Nick Wittmann has always enjoyed video arcades. Ever since he was a kid, he loved their bright flashing lights, their cacophony of bells, crashes, and digital explosions. Pinball machines, in particular, were his favorite.

When he moved back to Omaha during the winter of 2009, after a few years in St. Louis, he moved into a West Omaha townhouse. When it came time to decorate the basement, he wasn’t quite sure what to do. He grew up with a pool table and poker table in his parents’ house, and he thought he might like to continue that tradition. The finished part of his approximate 700-square-foot basement, however, was not big enough to fit a pool table.

He started thinking back to his favorite part of the arcade, the pinball machines. He started his basement remodel with a 1981 Gottlieb pinball machine called Black Hole. Wittmann remembers “I got it because it was the first multiple-level playfield,” which refers to an upper level and lower level of play.

“You buy one, you’re not going to end with just one,” Wittmann recalls being warned before he bought this machine. The warning became prophetic. Within a year he obtained his second pinball machine, another Gottlieb game called Dragon.

Fast forward to 2017. Wittmann’s finished basement is now home to four pinball machines, and a driving arcade game, Rush 2049 (on the basement’s north wall). A bar-top touch screen trivia machine rests on the bar. There’s also a Nintendo Vs. System, which contains several classic games, including Super Mario Brothers and ExciteBike. On the south side of the room, a 65-inch home theater, Neo Geo game system, and standing Pac Man machines add to the home-arcade atmosphere.

To complete the arcade basement, he has a fully stocked bar with coin-operated candy dispensers filled with Peanut M&Ms.

During special occasions, Wittmann will bring out his popcorn maker.

“I wanted to create something for everybody,” Wittmann says about the variety of games in his basement. “I always liked the driving games, shooter games. But my favorite has always been pinball machines.” This philosophy has guided the cultivation of his growing collection.

At a time when Gen Xers and millennials have begun to revisit their childhood hobbies, places like Benson’s Beercade (6104 Maple St.) have gained popularity.

While kids growing up in the 1980s dreamt of having their own personal arcades, contemporary youths are spoiled with gaming options so easily accessible on smartphones. Wittmann’s basement, however, is a gathering space to replace staring down at hand-held screens.

His basement arcade is not only a haven for his generational nostalgia, it is a gathering place. The collection allows Wittmann to relive part of his youth, and he only has to walk down a flight of stairs for the experience. 

This article appears in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Home.

Thanks, No Thanks

January 20, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Two dozen spectators are crammed into a dark, compact venue. Millennials are there in black, tight-fitting clothes, and so are a few hardcore kids, while a group of middle-aged fans sport denim and leather. Black streamers, fake cobwebs, and stringed lights hang from the unfinished ceiling. A Clinton-Trump collage is posted on the wall next to an anti-DAPL petition printed on cardboard. Complimentary bottles of water, a two-liter of 7Up, and a plate of homemade oatmeal cookies sit near the stage. A few audience members munch contentedly as they wait for No Thanks—“Omaha’s spookiest political punk act”—to start playing.

In a flash, Castro Turf, Kick Banán, Ruby Roux, and The Lost Boy appear on the tiny, intimate stage. The lead singer, shirtless and covered in fake blood, stands inches from the audience and begins to scream. The show is filled with heavy bass jams, fast-paced drum solos, and intermittent breaks featuring insolent jokes. Midway through, the singer brings out a pumpkin wearing a Trump mask and unceremoniously smashes it to the floor. A few of the younger spectators mosh on its guts.

nothanks2No Thanks is the brainchild of Brendan Leahy (aka “Castro Turf”), Mike Huber (“Kick Banán”), and Camille Stout (“Ruby Roux”). After moving from Georgia, Leahy found himself drawn to the Omaha punk scene, where he met guitarist Huber and bassist Stout. The two locals had already talked about forming a punk band, so Leahy “tricked” them into starting one with him. Their drummer, Gabe Cohen (“The Lost Boy”), originally a fan of the band, joined a few years later. Leahy stresses that the band means different things to different people, but for him it is a statement of rejection: “Power dynamics, oppression, the idea that you have to do anything in any sort off linear way—that’s what I’m rejecting.”

No Thanks follows in the anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, DIY traditions of post-hardcore punk bands like Fugazi. The band is not on a label and their first release—recorded with the help of local musicians—consisted of burned CDs with handmade cases. They even make their own T-shirts using local artists and printers. “We’re trying to inspire people to empower themselves or build things from the ground up,” Leahy says. “When you’re not looking for commercial success then your success is just in having a good time or in seeing the community grow.”

You can listen to No Thanks on bandcamp.com, and you can find their tapes at Almost Music, Hip Stop, or Recycled Sounds. This past fall, the band started writing their first full-length album; they also began planning a Midwest tour to correspond with the album’s release.

Commenting on the new album in the works, Leahy promises that the recent election “is going to make everything we say twice as true. We’re going to be a lot angrier because there’s a lot to be angry about.”

Visit no-thanks.bandcamp.com for more information.

The Golden Rule of Marketing

December 20, 2016 by

There is no shortage of bad marketing to lampoon, nor is just a small amount of it targeted at women. When writing this column, I worried that some readers (not you, of course) might take my attempted satire seriously—seeing it at best as a middle-aged white guy mansplaining the finer points of selling to the gender that is not his own; or, at worst, a guide worth following. Besides, if I can’t end with the literary equivalent of Slim Pickens riding off into the nuclear sunset atop an H-bomb, what’s the point?

Nonetheless, as the Brand Brief is geared—however dubiously—towards offering helpful advice for my fellow marketers, I will attempt to shed some light on advertising to women. All I ask is that you please read the entire piece before tweeting me a stink eye GIF or Willy Wonka meme. Thank you.

The foundation of any successful advertising campaign, to women or otherwise, is what I call the Golden Rule of Marketing. I call it that because it’s a wholesale appropriation of the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12 and formerly taught in kindergarten before the New Math confused society’s collective moral compass or something. In this case, the Golden Rule of Marketing is defined as “market unto others as you would have them market unto you.”

The beauty of this purloined proverb is that, when followed, one avoids committing any number of marketing sins. Do you want to be shouted at? Then don’t shout at the consumer. Do you want to watch a boring ad? Then don’t create boring ads. Do you want more spam? Then go forth and spam not.

Applied to the specific task of marketing to women, the Golden Rule of Marketing actually keeps it more generalized, forcing you, the marketer, to consider your audience not as a collective group sporting double-X chromosomes, but as individual human beings. Like, I assume, you are. Treat women like the people they are and not the bottomless pool of profits you hope them to be.

Of course, we see painful violations of this spread throughout the advertising landscape. Often, this involves a headline that sounds like it came from Oprah’s third cousin thrice removed. And unless you really are The Oprah, calling someone “girlfriend” while marketing wrinkle-free business attire just doesn’t ring true. In fact, it signals that your brand isn’t strong enough to have a real personality of its own and, instead, is content to glom onto an individual’s or subgroup’s cultural cachet in hopes that it rubs off on your company in a lucrative way. Which it won’t.

Having written for companies whose target customers were either mainly women (Walmart) or almost exclusively women (Beauty Brands), I can guarantee you that no one ever gets upset at or tunes out from messages that are smart, interesting, and focused on solving a problem or fulfilling a desire. It’s the awkward, tone-deaf sucking up that does you in.

Today, we live in an increasingly fractious and fractured society. One in which, from a marketing perspective, it is easy to assume every sub-niche of an already divvied-up demographic demands a certain level of magic “ingratiation” dust to be successful. But while we should always strive to know our customers and relate to them on their own terms, we would be wise to always think of them as people first and purchasers 143rd.

Do that, and your marketing to women or men or millennials or boomers or Oprah groupies has a much, much better chance of being golden.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Jason Fox is the founder of AdSavior.net and the chin behind @leeclowsbeard.

Stefanie Monge Introduces

December 1, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The birth and growth of the tech industry—specifically Silicon Valley and the Silicon Prairie—gave rise to a new generation of entrepreneurs. Young Americans from Generation X, Generation Y, and millennials harnessed the power of the internet and open-access technology to build apps, solve problems, and disrupt traditional ways of doing business.

In many cases, these entrepreneurs have been young men. But in recent years, the voices of female entrepreneurs have grown louder, their success stories gaining more attention.

It stands to reason, then, that in a country where women have historically earned less than their male counterparts (and secured fewer promotions and board seats), women deserve a space dedicated to finding and networking with professional peers.

Meet Stefanie Monge, an Omaha-based serial entrepreneur, speaker, writer, and consultant who has launched a local platform for such women. Monge started an Omaha chapter of FemCity, which bills itself as a community of strong entrepreneurial women supporting one another, both in business and in life.

Monge and her all-female board of directors host monthly events around the Omaha area featuring guest speakers who tackle topics ranging from self-awareness, self-empowerment, mindfulness, and even failure. Women may drop in to any FemCity Omaha event for $15 or join the organization for $125 per year.

Monge knows a thing or two about pursuing her many passions. A former Omaha World-Herald reporter, today she serves in many roles: a managing partner at Petshop Gallery; CEO and founder of Think.Start.Do, Welcor Enterprise Yoga, and Stefanie Monge Consulting; and a content strategist and event producer at San Francisco-based Serverless.

“The thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that my work is never done. I will always work more. I will always have the capacity to work more. And if I don’t set the boundaries and decide when is work time and when is non-work time, everything by default turns into work time,” Monge explains. With technology and email, it’s also about setting boundaries—being responsive to emails, text messages, and the like, but not setting the expectation that she is immediately responsive or always available after hours.

FemCity Omaha strives to empower women to work and live mindfully, making choices that improve both their business and their whole being. Monge can relate to other women who may strive at work, yet see their personal relationships suffer as a result.

“It quickly became apparent that I could not function without figuring that out,” Monge explains of finding her realistic work-life balance. “But as I became more successful, I had more freedom to implement it.”

For example, there are consistent days of the week and even set times that are off-limits to Monge’s clients and co-workers.

“And it’s beautiful, because it means that I start every day and every week basically on my own terms, and it feels much less hectic. It helps me to be more productive. It helps me to be more calm. It helps me to be more efficient. Ultimately that all goes back to mindfulness,” Monge says.

Which is why FemCity Omaha has proven to be a meaningful and impactful organization for Monge and the more than 150 women who have attended a FemCity event since it launched in April of 2016.

“The thing that really impressed me and really drew me to this group, and ultimately was a major deciding factor in launching a group in Omaha, is they really focus on women as whole human beings,” Monge says. “It is definitely about building a successful business. But it’s also about having a balanced life, and having a really strong support system of other successful, motivated women who are more than willing to share their resources and share their experience.”

Traditional networking environments, Monge says, often feel more like a non-stop sales pitch than an opportunity to develop deep connections with other individuals. Even today, she evaluates new networking opportunities based on what they will yield and what they will cost—largely, her time.

“I felt there was an opportunity [with FemCity Omaha] to take the mission of helping women form really authentic relationships, to help support each other’s professional and personal growth, and promoting a welcome environment that is authentic,” says Monge, noting that the genuine warmth, kindness, and general sense of community that she both witnesses and personally experiences at each FemCity Omaha event is unlike anything else she’s seen in Omaha.

“As women, female entrepreneurs, and female business leaders, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive nature of networking. Getting rid of that has been really appealing,” she says.

Women who attend are in their mid-20s upward to age 60. They are business owners, women who seek to own business, and some are freelancers or consultants part-time. Others still are simply seeking an outlet to meet other professional and dynamic women.

“The idea was to create a space that is only women, that is a safe, supportive space where women can feel less inhibited about speaking their truth,” she says. “The reality is, my experience as a female serial entrepreneur is very different from that of my male counterparts. The things I think about in my daily life, or the ways I balance my work and my life, are specific to being a woman. There is value in providing that place where women feel safe to voice those feelings and relate through shared experiences.”

Visit femcity.com/omaha for more information.

Stefanie Monge

Stefanie Monge

Women’s Networking Groups

Christian Women’s Business Network
Contact: Pamela Korth
402-829-5486 or info@cbwf.org
cbwf.org

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW)
Contact: Jenni Shukert
402-551-3400 or jshukert@aoomaha.com
crewomahametro.org

FemCity
Contact: Stefanie Monge
402-813-7530 or omaha@femcity.com
femcity.com/omaha

Heartland Women’s Network
Contact: Mindy Kidney
402-926-9928 or membership@heartlandwomensnetwork.com
heartlandwomensnetwork.com

Ladies Who Launch
Contact: Leslie Fischer
402-203-0451 or leslie@togetheragreatergood.com
facebook.com/ladieswholaunchomaha

Metro Omaha Women’s Business Center (MOWBC)
Contact: B.C. Clark
402-201-2334 or bc.clark@mowbcf.org
mowbcf.org

Nebraska Women in Architecture
Contact: Kristi Nohavec
kmnohavec@leoadaly.com
facebook.com/nebraska-women-in-architecture

Omaha 30+ Women
Contact: Kay M. Rowe
embracelifellc@gmail.com
meetup.com/omaha-30-plus-women

Omaha Business Women Connection
Contact: Barb Brady
402-882-1062 or barb@simplifiedaccountingfirm.com
facebook.com/groups/omahabusinesswomenconnection/

Omaha Coding Women
Contact: Sandi Barr
sandi.k.barr@gmail.com
meetup.com/omaha-coding-women

Professional Women Connect
Contact: Janyne Peek Emsick, Ph.D.
402-346-5856 or janyne@integrowinc.com
Sarah Ericson, sarah.ericson@csgi.com
pwcomaha.com

Women in Insurance and Financial Services
Contact: Tonya Mathison
402-401-2330 or mathison.tonya@principal.com
wifsnational.org

Women in Technology of the Heartland
Contact: Colleen Schinker
colleen.schinker@hdrinc.com
meetup.com/witheartland

Women to Women
Contact: Sarah Bernhagen
402-293-0999 or sbernhagen@johnagentleman.com
(No website available)

Women’s Council of Realtors Omaha
Contact: Katie Clemenger
kclemenger@celebrityhomesomaha.com
wcromaha.com

Women’s Conferences

American Association of University Women
Contact: Marilyn Bombac, 402-292-6245 or mbombac@aol.com
Denise Britigan, 402-884-0185 or britigan@cox.net
aauw-ne.aauw.net

ICAN Women’s Leadership Conference
Contact: Lisa Turner
402-392-0746 or lturner@icanglobal.net
icanomaha.org

Do the Damn Thing
Contact: Catrice M. Jackson
402-706-4244 or catriceology@gmail.com
catriceology.com

Women on a Mission for Change
Contact: 402-403-9621 or womenonamissionomaha@gmail.com
womenonamissionomaha.org

Women’s Fund
Contact: Michelle Zych
402-827-9280 or mzych@omahawomensfund.org
omahawomensfund.org

The 2016 Misery Olympics

August 26, 2016 by

I love the term “Misery Olympics” and wish I’d thought of it first. Google it and you will get “about 660,000” results, but who has time to get to the bottom of that rabbit hole? Basically, the Misery Olympics represent the braggadocio of overachievers.

Laura Vanderkam wrote an article in the May 16 edition of The New York Times that references this phenomenon with statistics from the June 2011 Monthly Labor Review. The MLR, a publication of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that people estimating 75-plus hour workweeks were off, on average, by about 25 hours—in other words, they WAY overestimated. It turns out, based on self-reported time tracking, many people work far less than they think they do.

Why do we brag/lie/misestimate/overestimate about working so many hours? Wouldn’t working fewer hours be much more brag-worthy? Are we still so chained to 20th century ideas about work and self-sacrifice that we believe the Misery Olympics are worth winning?

I coach many entrepreneurs who are especially stuck in this cycle of over-work—real and imagined—that is entirely of their own making. They find no solace in their “gold medals” anymore. The thing these entrepreneurs worked so hard to avoid has become just that: a job.

Is it possible to boycott the Misery Olympics?

Important question. The famed millennials may have the key. They don’t “get” the correlation between productivity and time spent in a cube because they produce differently: faster and simpler. They leverage technology and, most of all, put family and friends first. The lines between work and play, socializing and networking, are much more fluid. And their lives are—based on my own four millennials—much less miserable.

Ready to boycott the Misery Olympics? You can!

I’m working with a client in Philadelphia whose primary goal in 2016 is to run his contracting business entirely from his boat, a salty 43-foot trawler named “Slow Poke” that he sails in Chesapeake Bay.

A long-time client and old friend has structured his market-leading commercial cleaning company so he can spend much more time with his wife and five children (ages 3-13) and much less time in the office. He and his family are now writing a book and launching a website to help other families follow suit.

I took my own advice and experimented with my own business—I wrote this article from a beautiful medieval town in northern Italy where I have worked and played all summer.

So, how does it feel to be a big loser in the Misery Olympics? Pretty terrific. B2B

Scott Anderson is CEO of Doubledare, a coaching, consulting, and search firm.

Scott Anderson is CEO of Doubledare, a coaching, consulting, and search firm.

New Management for the New Millennium

June 7, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kids today…they’re entitled, disrespectful brats who can’t write a complete sentence and are always playing with their phones.

Harumph.

You know, those so-called Millennials born between 1980 and 2000 with the silver spoons in their mouths. The ones who lost, but still got a trophy. The ones doing all the Snapchatting, Tweeting, and Tinder-swiping.

They roll in late, take long lunches, and then leave early. Then they whine for a pat on the back.

Funny thing is, none of that is really true. It’s just a variation on what every older generation likes to say about “kids these days.”

We are surrounded by Millennials—about 55.9 million of them are in the workforce today, the largest of any cohort. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers number about 49 million in each group, according to the latest data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Millennial1WebEvery year it grows increasingly more probable that a millennial is signing paychecks. They’re making important decisions at businesses everywhere. BVH Architects, for example, is announcing a restructuring of their organization this month. This includes putting into key positions people such as 35-year-old Mark Bacon, their new creative director.

To understand the influences a Millennial might have as a manager in the workplace is to understand that Millennials are just a product of their parents and the times—times that have seen remarkable technological advances in the last 30 years, taking us from rotary phones and fax machines to the wonders of Google and the full breadth of human knowledge readily accessible from even the cheapest smartphone.

Alec Levenson, a Yale-educated economics professor at the University of Southern California, has studied generational differences for most of his career. His book, What Millennials Want from Work, carries one inescapable theme: “Millennials want what older generations have always wanted—an interesting job that pays well, where they work with people they like and trust, have access to development and the opportunity to advance, are shown appreciation on a regular basis, and don’t have to leave.”

While they may not be all that different from those who came before them, they are a complex mix of privilege and disadvantage. They came of age as the smartest and most educated—but also the most indebted—generation ever, during one of the worst U.S. economic periods since the Depression.

It’s a tough world out there for Millennials, made tougher by skeptical older generations who are unwilling to step back.

Kristin Streff Barnett, 33, is the director of Employment Services at First National Bank. She manages a couple of millennials, but most of her staff consists of people in the Gen X or Baby Boomer classifications.  As a manager, she invokes a laid back style and tries to be as flexible as possible.

“I am more relaxed than my team desires at times,” she says. “The bank is not the most important thing in your life.”

Nonetheless, she understands that as a younger manager, she needs to built trust and credibility with any team she manages.

“There’s a certain amount of proving yourself I have to do,” Barnett says. “I don’t see that as part of my age. I’ve had seven years of management experience, and I think it’s gotten easier with time.”

Although Barnett works at a bank, the dress codes and flexibility of the company have become more relaxed as the company evolves. She has been known to wear a suit, but she won’t be seen in flip flops at the office. And she knows how to answer an office telephone and leave voice mail.

Bacon is transitioning from a non-management position to managing a team of 52, but he doesn’t see himself barking orders at minions. “It’s not hierarchical, it’s much more about collaboration and integration with project teams.”

Moving millennials into management is often more important than bosses realize. Brandi Goldapp, the 45-year-old owner of  Omaha event planning firm, A View Premier Event Venues, needed help connecting with a younger generation. After decades of success in the industry, something changed.

“Our product didn’t change,” she said. “But there was a disconnect.”

She realized something. Her clients were millennials, who nationally account for roughly 81 million people—many of whom are now entering the life stages of marriage and building families.

So she put a few Millennials in charge.

Her business has now expanded to two additional locations, including the construction of an entirely new building. Most of their venues are booked solid several months in advance, and most of that traces back to the tireless energy of her management team—a pair of dynamo Millennials.

“I believe my business is as successful as it is because of them,” Goldapp said.

Staying ahead of the curve usually involves keeping a close eye on a smartphone, which can be aggravating for the older set. But those phones are for more than Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. The gadgets allow them to be constantly “on the clock,” accessing email, contacts, documents, and calendars. Anywhere, anytime.

The tradeoff? Just as they don’t mind working from home, they expect the boss to accept some of their personal life bleeding into work.

“I think it’s important to remember how important all aspects of their lives are to them,” Barnett says.

Nonetheless, they want to work. Another key piece to understanding Millennials is their need for a sense of ownership, or making a contribution to the larger whole, in a real, tangible way.

“That people are forgetting the fact that there’s still integrity at work,” says Rachel Tew, the 28-year-old tattooed marketing specialist at Mid-America Center. “My work stays at work, but my mind is always looking at opportunities. An older generation believed in work…If I have a deadline, I never miss a deadline.”

Another key piece to understanding Millennials is their need for a sense of ownership, or making a contribution to the larger whole, in a real, tangible way.

Goldapp promoted Millennials in her event planning business as she started developing plans for a new building to accommodate the company’s growth. She brought in her young protégées for input. Together they sketched plans on napkins and visited the construction site.

Goldapp described the process from her small 12-feet x 12-feet office in the new building. She shares the space with her two managers. It’s crammed with two desks and a small fridge. One wall is painted bright orange, another is painted gold, and she loves every bit of it.

“I’ve never had an office,” Goldapp said with a wide grin. It never even occurred to her to include it in the plans, but it did to her 24-year-old sales manager, Britney McRoberts, who had to make a workspace wherever she could.

McRoberts laughed as she recalled the conversation with Goldapp: “If you want us to work smarter and not harder,” McRoberts said, “then we need a desk and a place where we can shut a door. And then you need to paint the walls gold.”

McRoberts also helped rebrand the business, which continued to grow. That meant there was going to be more work for everyone, but not enough to justify hiring more help. Goldapp said they didn’t complain, or ask for raises. They saw the bigger picture.

The bigger issue for Levenson is that problems with management in the workplace are systemic.

“One of the biggest problems we have in organizations,” he said, “is that people get put into frontline management roles without any evidence that they can actually work as managers.”

Corporate policies for hiring, training, and retaining talented leaders leave a lot to be desired across the board, not just Millennials. Changing policies and practices that benefit Millennials would benefit all, he said.

Goldapp laughs at the idea of generalizing the Millennial generation in anything less than flattering terms.

“If you want your business to survive, you better make some changes,” she said.

Goldapp put down a few swaths of gold paint, had a few conversations, outlined expectations, and let the kids take care of the rest.

What Happened to My Lincoln Logs?

September 17, 2015 by

The interwebs tell me that the academic term I’ve been searching for is something called “structured block play.” You know, LEGOS, building blocks, and the like.

My 5-year-old grandson, Easton, is particularly enthralled with structured block play. Such toys in the hands of growing minds have many benefits in childhood development. Besides the obvious of honing fine motor skills—that ability to dope out how this piece fits into that one—there are higher cognitive functions at work here.

Children must be able to envision a finished product, one that begins with nothing more than a mental blueprint of their own making. They are confronted with a hodgepodge of disparate parts and must somehow envision a cohesive whole. Along the way they learn about spatial relationships, geometry, math, and problem-solving.

But that’s not Easton’s game.

He almost never sets out to build anything. Sure, he’ll occasionally erect a towering skyscraper of sorts, but his structured block play is almost always a lot less…well, structured.

He can occupy himself for what seems forever assembling intricate two-dimensional patterns on the floor, ones that seemingly serve no purpose other than to fuel his imagination. Some look like abstract art. Others evoke images reminiscent of those spindly models of molecules seen in science labs. The only common denominator appears to be the establishment and repetition of pattern for pattern’s sake.

Further distancing himself from the intended purpose of his toys, he eschews the “connectedness” functionality of the blocks. Instead of joining the pieces together, he lays them end-to-end.

Easton is usually at a loss for words in describing his convoluted creations, and I learned long ago to consider his installation art as something dwelling in the realm of the arcane, even the trippy.

I’d give anything to get inside Easton’s head to survey the workings of his brain as he puzzles through these puzzling arrays. Just what the heck is going on in that noodle of his as he conceives such fantastical explosions of variegated color?

I intended to begin this column reflecting on childhood memories of playing for hours on end with a set of Lincoln Logs. The problem is that such a statement would be a lie. It was impossible to tinker with toys like Lincoln Logs for any period of time without quickly losing interest. Maybe that’s because they represented an entirely different form of play, one decidedly lacking in possibilities compared to the limitless selection of block toys available today.

No, young children now have a more unfettered mode of play. Millennials are the first generation to have had the benefit of such free-association upbringings, and they’re the people who are defining a brave new world where imagination is the most prized of skills.

Baby Boomers like me had the endgame—the desired finished product—handed to them for all to see right there in the picture of a fort on that box of Lincoln Logs.

Easton is learning to think outside the box.

DWilliams1

Editor David Williams

Blocks1