[Reading is Sexy] Seven Scintillating Sci-Fi Series

Every so often, a novel comes around that reinvigorates our imaginations with an infused sense of adventure and wonder, diving into future worlds while delving further into our souls. And if you’re truly lucky, you discover an author with an incredible back catalog or series of work that humbles you by standing so significantly within its literary prowess.

In the introduction to Ursula K. Le Guin’s anniversary edition of ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’, she so eloquently states:

“In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it. Finally, when we’re done with it, we may find – if it’s a good novel – that we’re a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never crossed before. But it’s very hard to say what we learned, how we changed. The artist deals with what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.”

In exploring the universe, known and unknown, whether funneled by future fantasy or semi-tangible half realities, through each of these books one thing is clear – the more we understand of what surrounds us, the more we understand of ourselves; as above, so below.

While each of these authors has produced novels that stand alone, these series are not islands – they’re beautifully woven universes with complex creation, rich characters, and plots that pull you in and won’t let you go.

That said, let’s dive right in to some of my favorite Science Fiction series.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Hainish Cycle

Where most literary series must be read sequentially, Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle stands uniquely alone in the fact that while the books are interrelated, albeit at times loosely, the books can be read in almost any order.

Consisting of ‘The Dispossessed’, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’, ‘The Word for World is Forest’, ‘Rocannon’s World’, ‘Planet of Exile’, and ‘City of Illusions’ – the Hainish Cycle is set in a future where human civilization on multiple planets, such as Terra – Earth, are coming into contact for the first time. Bear witness as interpersonal relationships and togetherness are illuminated and contrasted against an overarching idea of otherness, while exploring ideas from politics and the environment, to technological revolutions and gender roles.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

Isaac Asimov – Foundation Series

While younger generations have been exposed to Asimov through movies like I, Robot or Bicentennial Man and the show Foundation on Apple TV+, Asimov has been ubiquitous within the literary realm for decades. As a professor of biochemistry, Asmiov approaches writing in a methodical manner that’s technical without being formulaic and has published work within almost every major category of the Dewey Decimal System, except for Philosophy.

Spanning seven novels, The Foundation series firmly cements itself as one of, if not the most important series within the entire genre of Science Fiction. In the downturn of the Galactic Empire, the realm of ‘Psychohistory’ is uncovered. Synthesizing statistics, sociology and history in order to predict future group behavior – the theory of Psychohistory poses a galactic threat to the foundation of the Empire, as well as it’s inventor, mathematician Hari Seldon.

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David Brin – The Uplift Saga

Not to be (easily) confused with the Uplift Trilogy which came later, the Uplift Saga‘s adventure spans three books from acclaimed author David Brin – Sundiver, Startide Rising and The Uplift War. Similar to Asimov in more than just his scientific style of storytelling – Brin is equally accomplished in the academic world with a PhD in astronomy and a Masters of Science in electrical engineering; both of which shine between the lines of the Uplift Saga.

In his Uplift novels, Brin launches us on a journey to a universe concerned with the Uplift of races within the realm of the Five Galaxies. In simple terms, for a species to become uplifted to sapient intelligence, a more intelligent species must become their patron – taking them under their wing as they develop them, through genetic advancement and engineering; often uniting with them as a tribe or in partnership. Though humans have managed to uplift both dolphins and chimpanzees, humankind has no ‘patron’ species to attribute its intelligence to; or do they? Join the crews of the Sundiver and the Streaker as they explore not only the galaxies but the complex relationships of the Uplifted in this page turning, and unforgettable adventure.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

John Varley – Gaea Trilogy

While Brin leans more towards the Science of Science Fiction, Varley’s world exploring Gaea Trilogy plants his novels in the realm of Science Fantasy for me – and I am here for it. Varley’s lyrical writing and incredible imagination have bolstered the Gaea Trilogy into a classic Sci Fi series that shouldn’t be missed.

As Captain Cirocco “Rocky” Jones and her crew of the Ringmaster descend into the orbit of Saturn, their discovery of a planetoid sweeps them into a world that’s alive in more ways than meets the eye. Landing on Titan, later referred to as Gaea, Jones and the Crew are introduced to an assortment of Titanides – think half human half horse, and then some – as they journey into the core of the planet in hopes of discovering its sentience. What they end up uncovering is even more astounding – and that’s just book one. This is a series I couldn’t put down and eagerly ate the words of last Summer – I couldn’t recommend it more! Varley eloquently engages on an out of the world adventure, while also exploring the ephemeral nature of humanity.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

Larry Niven – Ringworld Series

While a lot of the Sci Fi books I’ve read are more explorative of space, Larry Niven’s Ringworld trilogy confronts the idea of world building as it heads off into a deep-space journey that’s equal parts hard science and adventure.

Slightly similar to Brin’s idea of the coexistence of extraterrestrial species within the galaxy, in Ringworld we meet the tiger-like Kzin and the thoughtfully intelligent yet manipulative Pierson’s Puppeteers. From the jump of the novel, we’re thrust into complexities of interspecies relations as they join forces with human Louis Wu on an otherworldly expedition: to explore the Known Galaxy and uncover truths about a mysterious Ringworld that’s appeared in the outer reaches of space, including who built it and why.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

William Gibson – Sprawl Trilogy

William Gibson is often hailed as the father of modern cyberpunk, and rightfully so – if you’ve seen any Sci Fi movies in the last two decades, you’ve undoubtedly been influenced by Gibson’s work in one sense or another. And his Sprawl series is no exception. Referred to equally as the Neuromancer, Cyberspace or Matrix trilogy – it contains three incredible works (Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive) that stand alone, but are wonderfully woven together. If you’ve seen Johnny Mnemonic (also a short story of Gibson’s) or any of the Matrix movies, just brace yourself for the correlation and congruency to his literary prowess.

In the near dystopian future, Henry Case is a former “console cowboy” – or what we commonly refer to as a computer hacker – and current drug addict, who made quite a living jacking into the Matrix to retrieve data for the highest bidder. Sidelined from a gig gone bad, Case is brought out of an early retirement to work alongside razergirl Molly Millions, a mercenary that first made her appearance in Johnny Mnemonic, in order to release a form of artificial intelligence from the Matrix, thus changing its landscape. Join Case on his journey into the Matrix, alongside Rastafarians from Zion (sound familiar?!) as he uncovers more than meets the eye and a world beyond ours, contained within its technology.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

Richard K Morgan – Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy

I first stumbled onto the genius of Richard K Morgan’s series by watching the show Altered Carbon on Netflix – immediately I was hooked. Pulling influence from timeless Sci Fi authors like Phillip K Dick, John Varley, Isaac Asimov and William Gibson, the Takeishi Kovacs series imagines a world where body modification is the norm; human consciousness is stored in ‘stacks’ which can be implanted into lab grown and genetically modified bodies, or ‘sleeves’. Immortality is here – but only for those who can afford it.

Takeshi was and is an Envoy, and has been pulled back from stasis after a violent death to play detective in conspiracy laden Bay City. All is not what it seems, including the people he believes he can trust. Join him in this three tiered journey into uncovering the truth, about himself, the technology, and the people that surround him.

GoodReads | Thrift Books | Bookshop

I eagerly urge and implore you to take some time and explore each one of these incredible authors, and take the long journey through their masterclass of works. That said, I have a whole other list ready for y’all with some of my favorite stand alone Sci Fi novels – so stay tuned; happy reading!

Please note that while purchasing books on Amazon is easy, breezy – it’s just as quick to support small and local businesses. Take some time to research your local library and regional small book sellers; it’s good for your pocket, and it’s good for the world.

Do you have a favorite Sci Fi series that didn’t make the cut? Let me know in the comments below.

[The Audiofiles] We’ve Found Dancing

Photo Credit: Exron Music

Live music moves more than just the needle and your feet – strangers dance into your life and leave as friends, a melody transfixes your body while it moves you to blissful tears, and the confidence in being your true self elevates your authentic spirit to shine.

Between moving to a new state, and the way social life dissolved during COVID-19, slowly but surely I realized I’ve been missing out on something that was so integral to my evolution back in Los Angeles the impact of live music and the beauty of rediscovering yourself the dancefloor.

Photo Credit: Theo Basserman

Watching the Coachella livestream on Sunday night hit me right in all the right feels, where the crowd vibe was palpable from miles away and brought memories of the prancing in the desert years ago front and center in my mind. Having listened to and loved each artist individually, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one anxiously waiting to see the type of magic that Four Tet, Fred Again.., and Skrillex would create together on the mainstage. Coming from uniquely different musical backgrounds, styles and generations, hopes were unrealistically high and oh my damn goodness, they did not disappoint!

Hyped up as OMG TBA, the PHM – otherwise known as the Pangbourne House Mafia – the three maestros turned their DJ set into masterclass for the books, putting dance music on the map for one hell of a closing party in the desert. Delving into multiple subgenres, like dubstep, trance, drum and bass, g-house, mainstream pop and more, all three showcased their unique and expert level skills in both production and mixing, not to mention as auditory tastemakers. I might’ve been part of this year’s Couch-ella, but these dancing feet were resurrected and having a time. Not to mention, the incredible work from the media team at Coachella the live stream was 11/10 fantastic, and the camera within the DJ booth created an intimate, Boiler Room like experience that needs to turn into a staple for DJs at these event for years to come.

I will be (im)patiently waiting for their full set to pop up on Coachella’s YouTube channel, so until then I’ll leave you with just a taste of the future of dance music from their set from Times Square earlier this year.

For more on the individual artists, check out the links below:

Skrillex: YouTube | Spotify

Four Tet: YouTube | Soundcloud

Fred Again..: YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud

[5 On It] Balling on a Budget

Home prices are skyrocketing, while the properties themselves are being swallowed by big corporations and investors instead of families. Gas prices have catapulted, in some California locations to more than $6 a gallon. Restaurants are seeing their highest price increases in the last 40 years.

It’s no economic secret that we’re in a gigantic recession; if you’re a Millennial or part of Gen-Z, you could make an strong argument that for most, if not all, of our adult lives we’ve been in a recession – but let’s not scare ourselves existentially shitless. Instead, let’s flip the script from a scarcity mindset and focus on how we can all ball out – on a budget. Here are five tried and true tips, sure to increase your bank account and decrease your levels of concern.

Say Farewell to Fast Fashion and Hello to Savings

We all have that one friend who stays up on the trends – buys the latest kicks, sports the hottest new fashion. I am not that girl. I love a good thrift shop, I enjoy diving into those enormous bins at Goodwill where you can purchase fabric by the pound, and I absolutely abhor having to be ‘up’ on what’s hip. Considering I’m already late for almost any fashion trend, now I feel infinitely better about it knowing that my apprehension to fast fashion is helpful for my bank account, as well as the environment.

ThreadUp, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, Nordstrom Rack, and local boutique thrift stores will have the bang for your buck that you’re craving.

See Clearly with Inexpensive Distance Glasses

Sure, reading glasses come a dime a dozen – you can snag those anywhere at an incredibly low price tag. But what about the rest of us who suffer from nearsightedness, also known as myopia? We can now find glasses from $20 or less on Amazon and ETSY; which makes me feel infinitely better when I sit on them and break a pair. If you’re a bit skeptical about Amazon or ETSY to source them first slash third hand, use a vetted resource like Warby Parker which starts at $95 for the whole kit and caboodle.

The Early Bird Gets Better Concert Tickets

Planning goes a long way, and when it comes to concert tickets – sometimes, triply so. A general admission ticket can go up quick if you you don’t get them early, so word to the wise – keep your finger on the pulse of your city. But, if that doesn’t strike your fancy, know that most large festivals have ways that you can get involved from the ground up to make their event a success – any they all come with tickets. Whether you’re on the Green Team, or working the Lost and Found booth – there are many avenues to pursue.

Imperfect Foods is the Perfect Shopping Buddy

You want a friend that doesn’t let you put just anything off your list in your cart? Imperfect Foods has your back. Now, you’ll have to find a way to supplement strolling longingly down every aisle, but Imperfect Foods does your shopping for you, and delivers it to your door- all while helping save the environment, and the grocery supply chain. By taking the dented, bruised and otherwise unwanted foods and giving them new homes – they’ve become a sustainable haven of substance.

Don’t (Uber) Eats

I know it’s hard, but next time you’re tempted to Uber Eats – but have you really taken stock in all of their upcharges and fees? Sometimes it can be more than 20% of your original order – damn! Next time you want to order out, take a deep breath, call the restaurant, jump in your car and get it yourself. Same great food, less carbon footprint and smaller price tag.

What are some tips and tricks that you have for keeping your bank account full without sacrificing the things you love? Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] Recognize and Overcome Your Cognitive Biases

In life, we all see the world through our own distinct lens – our lens matures and evolves overtime, shaped by past experiences, but nonetheless it reinforces the framework that we use to interpret the world and others around us. A truth about our human nature is when we approach things that are unknown and new, we use our previous experiences to attempt to shape our future ones. Over time these same lenses that we’ve trusted will lead us to straight into deeply ingrained types of cognitive bias, clouding judgement and becoming a roadblock between “our truth” and “the truth“.

To illustrate the difference, I’m going to reuse a parable told by Scott Adams in his fantastic book God’s Debris – but, in a slightly different tone:

You have a stained glass window in your house, and a handful of bees get inside.  The bees rush towards the stained glass window in hopes of escape.  The first bee rushes towards the frame and finds itself in front of a blue pane of glass, and sees the outside world as blue; the second bee comes, and flies towards a yellow pane - the next comes and sits on a triangle of red, the next on a square of purple, and so on.  Then they start talking, which leads to an argument - all of the bees are correct in how they see their individual pane, but they're also wrong; if they could for a second take a step back, they would see the entire picture and not only their individual interpretation of the picture.

Where Adams uses the analogy to dissect and separate individual religion from the grander experience that religion can illicit, we can simply use it to understand levels of truth. Underneath where we each have our ‘truths’ – are our sorted cognitive biases that led us to our truth. Remove them, and we can distill down to the truth.

The term ‘Cognitive Bias‘ was first introduced by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky in the beginning of the 1970’s. By their definition, a cognitive bias is a persons “systematic but purportedly flawed patterns of responses to judgment and decision problems.” Essentially, it’s saying that our brain fucks up and doesn’t see things as it should, it sees them as we have been taught to interpret them. Cognitive biases cause and reinforce preconceived notions, psychological errors, mental mistakes and missteps – overtime, these ideas can produce prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance. All in all, psychologically speaking, there are upwards of close to 200 types of cognitive bias that get in the way of our universal understanding – though, some are more common than others.

Do any of these sound remotely familiar? If not, maybe you have a status quo bias in preferring your current mode of thought – or a confirmation bias, as you focus on what you know and not what you don’t know (e.g. types of biases) – or a belief bias, that you aren’t biased even though other people are. The true issue with cognitive bias isn’t in having them – hell, we all have them – the trouble is in refusing to acknowledge, understand or change that same behavior that’s an issue. Hopefully the more you dive in, you’ll start the slow process of unpacking implicit types of bias that already exist within your mind.

Project Implicit: Test Your Bias

So, how do we overcome our conditioning and start to uncover where our biases are? Milliseconds away at our fingertips, there’s a overwhelming wealth of information out there and we’re expected to respond to it just as fast as we uncover it. When we search for information and education, the way we choose to seek it out is within the comfort zone of our mind. Stepping outside of ourselves and finding multiple sources for our information is a good start, while discussing your findings with others can lead to a more well rounded understanding.

Acting in a more mindful sense, being present within the moment, can reduce our biases. Adding in yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are an excellent way to start. When we are mindful and present, we no longer decide to rush to judgement but instead uncover the things in our mind that have been blocking us from getting there.

For more on understanding the different types of cognitive biases, here are a few fantastic articles, videos and books to ingest:

💻:Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet [Buster Benson]

💻:50 Cognitive Biases in the Modern World [Visual Capitalist]

📚:Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias [Pragya Agarwal]

📚: The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection and Create High-Performing Teams [Pamela Fuller]

📚: Blind Spot: The Hidden Biases of Good People [Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald]

Have you acknowledged where in your life you could be displaying types of cognitive bias? What personal work have you done to move beyond it? Let me know in the comments below!

[Be The Change] Understanding the Ukraine Crisis + How To Help

Street artist MyDogSighs

Every so often, a world event hits us in such a wide eyed way that we have to dive down a rabbit hole of history and education we’ve delicately put to bed. Maybe it’s been the onslaught of chaos in the world these last few years that’s pushed you away from International affairs. It’s a lot. Or, maybe history was never really your thing. Admittedly, that’s what I thought – first in High School, then in college. It wasn’t until about 2008 that I came to terms with the depth of the reality I was living in. I realized that to prevent the past from becoming the future it’s my due diligence to understand the full story of humanity.

This is a story that’s happened before, and if we’re not careful – it very well could happen again. Our world is a reflection of the self, and our understanding of the world – doubly so. Good news is that it’s never too late to dive in; it’s never to late to educate yourself.

So, how the hell did we get here?

All things considered, the digestible timeline here is the one you have the time to stomach. If you thought “haven’t we been here before?” You’re damn right. It simply depends where you want to drop in on the wealth of Kremlin inspired misinformation and massive Russian influence.

Rewind back to the 2014’s Ukrainian Crisis – where some could argue, that the fighting simply never stopped these last 8 years. Or, you could look at 2004’s corrupt and Russian influenced Ukrainian elections which ignited the Orange Revolution and a massive shift in geopolitical rhetoric. Or, go further: back to 1991, when Ukraine – the second largest country in the former USSR and the second largest country in Eurasia – claimed it’s independence. Or, there’s the historical plight of the Jewish communities throughout the region that have gone on for centuries. So, let’s break it down:

December 1991: After the USSR was dismantled and the Soviet Union fell, the Ukrainian people voted for their independence.

1994: Ukraine agrees to make themselves a non-nuclear power, and the country transfers their nuclear arsenal of weapons to the Russian Federation in the Budapest Memorandum. Signed by the UK, Russia and the United States, The memorandum states that all parties agree to honor the sovereignty of Ukraine, and their right to the land. The total payload given away was 1,900 warheads – the third largest stockpile in the world.

2004 Election: During the 2004 election, there were two distinctly different candidates – both named Viktor: Russian sponsored Viktor Yanukovych and the western-oriented Viktor Yushchenko, who was suspiciously poisoned before the election. No surprise here that Yanukovych won – however, the Ukrainian people called bullshit and took to the streets wearing orange, the campaign color for Yushchenko and inspiring the Orange Revolution. Eventually, a re-election was forced where Yushchenko was finally proven to be the true winner.

Spring 2008: During a NATO summit, Putin opposes then eventually prevents Ukraine from joining. Remember this, as NATO itself is the military alliance between the two North American Countries and 28 countries from Europe.

Winter 2014: Well, who could have imagined, Russian sponsored Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010; now, he wants to point the nation of Ukraine to reconcile with Russia. Widely considered a controversial move, this is one of the straw’s that started the 2014 protests along with the timely arrest of Yanukovych’s political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko. Ultimately, Viktor flees to Russia and puts Ukraine in a progressive position to discuss its future with the EU.

Spring 2014: The Russian military forcibly takes the Crimea, and essentially breaks all vows made in the Budapest Memorandum concerning Ukraine’s independence, as well as their borders.

Spring 2019: Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the current man-crush of the free world, is elected president of Ukraine on the platform of ending ties with Russia, as well as eradicating corruption from state government.

December 2021: Over the course of the year, President Zelenskyy has made good on his promises to get rid of government corruption, making moves against all Ukrainian oligarchs with Pro-Russian influence. By December, Putin places Russian troops at the Ukrainian border in addition to calling on NATO to deny Ukraine future admittance

February 2022: Russia announces they recognize the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states from Ukraine, and sends in Russian military personnel. These two regions have been hotbeds of separatists since the 2014 conflict. Eventually leading to full out engagement by Russians and the invasion of Ukraine from those provinces.

Whichever way you go back, you eventually have to bring that knowledge forward which gets us to where we are today. International timelines have been expedited and the global economy has been put on notice. Ukraine has become a stage, and Putin wants to put on a one man show; for Europe, and for the world. One of the biggest threats to both Putin’s Russia, as well as his legacy, is a unified European Union; through Putin’s actions and the events of the last two weeks, that unification has become a self fulfilling prophecy. Nations around the world are freezing assets of high value players, while countries like Norway, Finland and the notoriously neutral Switzerland have picked a side.

The world has lit a candle to drive out the darkness of this terror- here is the international response level:

We all have our own sorted reasons for the things that move us, the things that drive us and the things that open our eyes. On a personal level, my Jewish family line comes from modern day Lithuania, formerly the Eastern Block of Europe. For more of my life, I’ve been regaled with harrowing family stories of pogroms – where the translation from Russian is “to demolish violently”, of escaping SS persecution in a wheelbarrow before coming to America, and escaped persecution for being Jewish; and I full well know my story isn’t unique.

Take or make some time to reflect on the privileges that you have and the freedoms that you have -and remember: an injustice somewhere is an injustice every where. Right now, more than ever, it’s important that our global society stands up – and stands together. Whether it’s a small act of service like supporting local Ukrainian businesses and artists, learning the Ukrainian language or buying Ukranian – there are ample ways that we can show our solidarity to the Ukrainian communities both domestic and abroad.

I’ve spent the last few days compiling lists…of…well…other lists. If you’re looking for resources to help you understand the latest international events, or simply show support for Ukraine during this uncertain time, here are some things to get you going.

[📚 Read] For all the education we can glean from reading the news, there are some books I’ve seen recommended time and time again to understand the brevity of the Ukrainian situation. As well as a few other blogs, websites and Reddit forums I greatly recommend browsing. They’ve helped me broaden my horizons as well as deepen my understanding of the past that’s brought us here, as well as the future implications of current events.

Why Is Russia Invading Ukraine

Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine [Anne Applebaum]

Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine [Anna Reid]

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine [Serhii Plokhy]

All The Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin [Mikhail Zygar]

r/Ukraine on Reddit

[Foreign Affairs Magazine] How to Understand the Ukraine Crisis

[📞Engage] Call your local politicians and ask what they are doing to show their solidarity and support for humanity; ask your employeer to make a public call to action. I was proud to be a Washingtonian last week when our governor Jay Inslee spoke out with his support of Ukraine, and I’m a proud Acosta employee today as they made a formal statement to their employees.

[💸Give] There are dozens of international organizations that are pledging their support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people; if you have the ability to share more than just your time and your heart, please pledge some support to one or more of the following agencies.


International Committee of the Red Cross

UN Refugee Agency

Doctors Without Borders

International Medical Corps

State Specific: Ukrainian Association of Washington

Please remember that though these acts of war and acts against humanity have come from Putin’s Russia, they are not indicative of how the Russian people think or feel. In fact, there have been loud cries from its citizens for ‘No War‘, whether it’s via social media or written on a camera during a televised tennis match. Take care of each other, take care of yourselves – and slava Ukrani.

Flag: Ukraine on Apple iOS 14.6

[Wander Washington] Dream Big at the Pacific Bonsai Museum

Driving along the 5 South of Seattle, it’s hard not to notice the sweeping ivy sitting delicately on top of an abandoned corporate office. In the realm of COVID, quarantine and 2022 – the landscape feels like a stark reminder of the last few years; but in actuality, the area around the old Weyerhauser Tacoma building has sat quietly. Meanwhile, contained within their grounds – the Pacific Bonsai Museum provides an enchanted reason to visit. Heading off the beaten path and into the grounds, I was immediately transported into a forested fern gully and wrapped in the breath of trees that stretch their limbs to meet the sky. Spring eagerly awaiting from each and every angle, as rhododendrons lining the winding walkway bear their lime green blossoms. Within moments, I had forgotten that I was anywhere remotely near Seattle.

One of only two museums in the United States devoted to the art and appreciation of the living art of bonsai, and one of only a few bonsai museums around the globe, the Pacific Bonsai Museum plays host to an international collection of incredible Penjing and Bonsai specimens, each with a distinct and fascinating history. Featuring gorgeous foliage from Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China and Canada – you’ll be in for a special treat as you’re greeted with the most geographically diverse selection of bonsai in the United States. Though there are nearly 200 individual exhibits, with only 60 on display at a time, you’ll easily find new reasons to visit throughout the year that are beyond observing the changes of the season.

Even though Bonsai has deep roots in Chinese culture, it was the Japanese who have expertly developed and defined the art as it is today. One thing I uncovered for myself after visiting is the distinct difference between the current Japanese art of Bonsai, which explores refined, natural and minimalistic stylings of single tree systems, as versus the traditional Chinese school of Penjing – which explores the artistry of the landscape, often by utilizing multiple and distinctly separate trees. Bonsai lends itself to being refined and technical, whereas Penjing is creative, emotional and expressive. As you meander around each of the delicately adjusted exhibits at the Pacific Bonsai Museum, be sure to digest and marinate on the history of each of the trees present in front of you. Some are from the last twenty years, others have a deep and rich history – all of them begging for your undivided attention, and each as uniquely beautiful as the next.

Built in 1989 by the Weyerhaeuser Company as a joint venture with the Washington State Centennial celebration, the initial collection of bonsai was known as The George Weyerhaeuser Pacific Rim Bonsai collection – and isn’t that just a damn mouthful. Ironically, the Weyerhaeuser Company made their millions off of American Timber; it’s only fitting they philanthropically give back in tune. Their contribution to the world of bonsai established Weyerhaeuser’s commitment to forest resources, their community and their customers.

Sitting on over twenty acres adjacent to the Pacific Bonsai Museum, an incredible selection of over 10,000 Rhododendrons lay in deep rooted wait for acclimate weather. Built in 1964 by the American Rhododendron Society, the grounds feature 700 of the world’s species of 1000 rhododendrons – making the RSF one of the largest and most diverse collections in the world. Though it’s not currently in bloom, I am absolutely eager to visit the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden as soon as Spring settles into the area. However, one doesn’t necessarily need to wait for Spring to be sprung to be enthralled by the landscaping as you quickly find yourself dancing with giant native conifers, while you frolic through the lush landscape of fern gully’s and woodland gardens.

Image Source: Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden

If you’re in the mood to up on your exploration, take a quick trek around the abandoned and architecturally incredible Weyerhaeuser building. A groundbreaking building when it was crafted in 1970, the Weyerhaeuser campus feels similar to feelings that only the hanging gardens of Babylon have been able to elicit in me. Between cascading levels of starkly empty rooms with terraced roofs and burgeoning trails of lush ivy set, the building stands tall against rolling hills and grassy meadows – and seems almost out of place, or even from another planet. Ten out of ten would recommend a long stroll down to the water’s edge and for even just one moment, find yourself lost among the trees; it’s simply magical.

Image Source: Architecture Daily

For more on the Pacific Bonsai Museum in Tacoma, head to their website and socials – and if you’re in the area, just swing by and visit!

Website | Facebook | Yelp | Instagram

[Seattle Sights] Adventure Through the Art of Pioneer Square

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

With a few years of Seattle living under my wings, I can say with some authority that when the rain presses pause – I have to press play, and this past weekend was no exception. Kicking 2022 with a hefty dump of snow, the weather has calmed down and taken a much softer, arid approach to January with puffy clouds layered to the horizon and mercurial skies shifting throughout the day. Of course there’s been assorted moments of drizzle (hello, it is Seattle) but for the most part we’ve been fortunate to have an opportune amount of sunlight (read: ANY) for this time of year. Add that to the mix of the perpetual COVID quarantine and it’s given me extra motivation to get outside and enjoy the heartbeat of the city when possible.

I don’t know what it is about museums, but for the most part I find myself instantly uninspired by the necessity to browse art in silence, the stuffiness (both in people, and in air circulation), and the rigid formality of it all; suffice it to say, I’m not the biggest fan. I’m far more likely to enjoy the exterior architecture and landscape of a museum than what’s inside.

Art galleries however – oh goodness, color me curious! Back in Los Angeles, one of my favorite things to do was pop on my headphones, snag a camera, and hit the streets of downtown or Melrose for an urban safari – digesting the graffiti, street art and art galleries dotted across the city. I like my art tangible, accessible, and very in one’s face. I’ve been itching to find that dose of creativity again, and this past weekend gave me the perfect chance to chase that feeling in a new city.

Once the ancestral home and Indigenous land of the Coast Salish tribe, Downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square now has become synonymous with the ever expanding art scene in Seattle. After visits to the Seattle Art Museum and Bellevue Arts Museum, both the quality and quantity of art galleries, as well as the public art in the area, were a pleasant surprise. Stepping out to explore, I was instantly enamored with the antique brick feel of the Richardsonian Romanesque buildings, inspiring an East Coast vibe right here in the Pacific North West. Yeah, sure, you could come to Pioneer Square with a plan – but as they say, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Whenever an art itinerary is concerned, I’m always of the belief that it’s very much choose-your-own-adventure; you could come back to Pioneer Square time and time again, finding something new with each and every journey – which is precisely what I intend on doing.

Waterfall Garden Park

Does your city boast a waterfall in the heart of their downtown? Didn’t think so. Which naturally made a spot for UPS’s Waterfall Garden Park on my personal bucket list. A stone’s throw from Occidental Square, and in eyeshot of the historic Smith Tower – the Waterfall Park is as tranquil as it is tiny, encompassing a fairly small corner of 2nd and South Main. Let the sounds of this 22′ waterfall soothe your spirit, and enjoy a mindful moment or two between art galleries. After chasing waterfalls (sorry, TLC), the enchanting pieces of Glasshouse Studio immediately pulled me in. Ever since visiting Chihuly Museum a few years ago I’ve been itching for more; I am so glad to have stumbled into their magic.

Founded in 1971, Glasshouse Studio is recognized as Seattle’s oldest glass blowing studio – as well as pioneers of America’s Studio Glass Movement. Just one step in their gallery and you too will be awestruck by the whimsical, colorful cacophony of art in literally every shape and form; pardon the pun – but you’ll be blown away. Pro tip: between the hours of 10 and 12, and then 1-5pm, you can catch the studio in action as they demonstrate the form and function of glass blowing. I was lucky enough to watch their team work on Saturday afternoon and it was mesmerizing.

Next stop on the art safari was to the Davidson Galleries, and their extensive collection of international artists and fine art prints. The staff were lovely and resourceful, and their catalog of work seemingly unmatched – playing host to almost twenty thousand original works. They rest their laurels on the idea that “art should be accessible to everybody” – and as you could imagine, I wholeheartedly agree. Time and time again, I found myself pausing at the Japanese inspired art – simply enthralled by the intricacy.

A quick tour through the Frederick Holmes and Company Gallery, and it was time to recharge with a quick bite and a bit of bartender roulette from Locus Wines. Even though a large number of the galleries start closing their doors at 5pm, many have window displays that are perfect for casual browsing. Not to mention, the magic dusk has a special place in my heart, as the natural light and artificial light momentarily merge into a moment of serenity.

Last, but most certainly not least for the day, was the crown jewel of Pioneer Square: the Foster/White Gallery. Featuring an international array of artists in a variety of mediums, including sculpture, photography in addition to painting, I was immediately awe-struck. The expansiveness of the venue was matched perfectly with the grandiosity of the large scale pieces adorning the building. Founded in 1968, the Foster/White Gallery has etched their mark as the premier gallery of Pioneer Square, and potentially the oldest as well. Wandering from afternoon until nightfall, I ventured through at least seven – maybe nine – galleries and didn’t even scratch the surface – which is perfect, because that means I can already look forward to my next visit.

For locals who want to get in on the fun, venture down to Pioneer Square the first Thursday of the month and take part in the longest running Art Walk in the nation. Yes, that’s damn right – nation. As one of the first cities in the United States to request a ‘Percent-for-the-Arts‘ from their businesses in the early 70’s, Seattle has been a trendsetter for the arts and has built itself into a haven for artists and the extended maker community. Back in 1981, the art community of Pioneer Square put their creative heads together, painted footprints outside of their businesses and printed maps with the footprint of the local galleries; et voila – the Pioneer Square First Thursday Art Walk was born. Not to age myself, but it’s pretty awesome seeing an Art Walk that’s older than I am!

For more on the Pioneer Square Art Walk, and the art scene in the area – head to their socials; and if you’re a local to Seattle, head on down and see it live – it’s an adventure worth taking, over and over, and over again.

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