EXPERT VOICE // Growing Your Web Garden


Meet Erin and Tim Cooper, Designer-Developer-Extraordinaires behind COOPERHOUSE. Enlighten your tech-side with their 5 MUSTS for moving your web image / presence  forward. Listen up as they discuss virb sites + squarespace and when it’s time to grow your beneficial to consider growing your garden to broader content management system.

1. Know thyself.

Whether you’re a small business or starting a blog, the first thing you need to know is what you have to offer. Everything you create for your site should be based on what you’re bringing to the table. If you’re an excellent writer, focus on copy. If you’re handy with a camera, share images. If you’re about your community, share that aspect of what you do.

2. Create original content.

You site shouldn’t be built on borrowed images and filler text. If you’re creating a site, you need to create content that is relevant to your audience. Use an editorial calendar to create regular updates to your site. This keeps your audience engaged, helps your site ranking with search engines, and reinforces your brand as being fresh and interesting.

3. Make a plan. 

Create a list of the pages you need on your site, and gather your content before launching. Each page should have a purpose. Think of it like you’re creating a treasure map for your audience to find what they need. Each page should have a “Call To Action”. If you’d like them to visit your store/art show/ blog — tell them. Be clear, concise, and directive.

4. Tend your own garden. 

Creating a website means taking care of it. It’s a little like one of those Tamagotchi digital pets of my childhood. Your site will die a slow sad death in obscurity if you don’t take care of it. Keep your content fresh and make an effort to connect with your audience.

5. Learn some code. 

Don’t let your site look sloppy or messy because you haven’t tried to understand the interface or basic code. You don’t need to know much, and you can always get help from qualified developers (ahem…CooperHouse) if you run into trouble. This goes back to taking ownership over everything you put on the web. Take care that it’s the best reflection of you and what you have to offer. Visit to see what the latest websites look like and try to  make an effort to stay current.

What kind of site is right for you?

 This question is almost always answered by 2 things. BUDGET & TIME.

For a lot of small businesses starting out, getting a custom, or even basic WordPress site up and running can be challenging. It’s tough to know how much to pay or who you can trust. It’s often easier to start with platforms like Squarespace or Virb until you get the hang of everything that comes with having your own business. The downside to these other solutions is that if you do decide to upgrade, it can be tough to find developers who can help you with custom solutions. We have a lot of clients who built huge blog audiences on Google and when they moved into a realm of business, had to get a custom solution which included exporting years of blog content and comments, which is also challenging.

We think the best choice for almost everyone is to be on self-hosted WordPress. It’s the most flexible system in the world and the options are endless. That said, it’s not always feasible and it’s okay to start with something super easy. Ultimately, as your business grows, you will likely need features or capabilities that exceed what’s available on simpler systems, and that’s when people usually call us. We’re using WordPress every day to build custom sites and creating unique features to help them grow their audiences and their businesses.



Tyson’s Lunar New Year


New Year in Wuyi – My first Chinese New Year in China

                            In the fall of 2005, I got sober. In the spring of 2006, I took a job at a boarding school in the suburbs of Shanghai, starting that New Year, that Chinese New Year in the Orient.

I lived in an apartment on campus in a river town known as Songjiang. The gates- massive castle like gates complete with guard towers – to the school supposedly dated back to the Song Dynasty. A newly opened international school was housed here where I spent half my time teaching the public school students and the other half teaching the four students, yes, four students, enrolled in the international school. Up to this point, I had been teaching college students in New York City. For the most part, with the exception of an upper division film class that I taught at John Jay College, I had prepared students from around the globe for English 101. This in itself had been a total fluke. I went to New York looking for a job thinking I would be maybe an executive secretary and found myself teaching English at two colleges. A year and a half after I had arrived in New York, I found myself on a plane headed to Shanghai to teach at a boarding school -but that is another story all together. This is the story of how I came to find myself on a bus to Wuyi, a small town with a population of a million or so, for Chinese New Year the following spring after I had arrived in Shanghai. Finding myself sober in China, I truly had a rebirth. Dive Bars no longer dictated my existence. I had embarked on a grand adventure, the kind that makes great literature. I wanted to make Shanghai my Paris, the Paris inhabited by Hemingway and Stein. This I had voiced in my cover letter to the director of the boarding school in Songjiang. Because of scheduling conflicts, I had arrived a week after spring classes had commenced. Jo, an Australian woman who had been around during ‘the Great War’ (as she put it), said the wait for me had been like waiting for Godot. With this statement, I knew I had found my home, my home in the Far East. Immediately, I noticed similarities, but I was soon struck with how different Chinese kids are. Yes, like Western kids, they cut up and laugh and get rowdy and are full spirited, but unlike Western kids, the boys have no machismo about them. In fact, everyone, including the adults, have this innocence that somewhere along the way got lost in the West, lost maybe during our youth revolutions in the 1960s, or during the Watergate slap in the face. In class, boys of 16 would often sit on each others laps or play with each others pants’ zippers or walk arm in arm to the cafeteria, the four-story cafeteria. Unaware, I would often find myself staring because I was so unaccustomed to this freedom of self. In Songjiang, I found myself to be an exotic oddity among the locals, like a colorful bird or an exquisite Faberge egg, garnering stares everywhere I went, pics snapped as I walked the slower paced downtown streets. Once when we were walking, a student teacher asked me if it was weird for me to have people gawking. I told her that I was flattered. Often, I would hear “hello” or “how are YOU?” as I passed the locals. I felt very welcome. This was not what I had expected when I had taken the post, not to this extent anyway.Thus, it was not a total shock when I got an email from a former public school student, one who I had invited to my apartment with his classmate to watch a film. He invited me to his hometown for ChineseNew Year. This student, Isaac, ‘bible name, very important name’ as he told me when I met him, lived in a town 5 hours by bus from Shanghai. Isaac had been one of my favorite students so I accepted his offer.

to tyson

hi , nice spring holiday ! i am sorry i return your latter so late.

the spring holiday will come nearly.i don’t know where you will go in holiday .if you

like you may go to my hometown —– wuyi.we are welcome you come .

in china,the spring holiday is the greastest festival.

good luck in new year

nice holiday—-issac


The note he wrote was incredibly endearing. Yes, it’s easy to make fun of the broken English but try speaking, reading or writing Chinese sometime and it will become quickly apparent how difficult it is towrite or speak a language so different from one’s mother tongue. I always admired my students for bravely trying to speak English. In China, students test into public schools. School is not a right but aprivilege. Thus if a student tests into a school five hours away from his mother and father he is very lucky because this means he has a better chance to get into college. Songjiang #2 not only housed a highschool but a middle school and a primary school as well. Meaning, that children as young as 6 years old may be five or six hours away from their parents. Some of these students only see their parents once or twice a year. When the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year arrived, I boarded a bus and headed to Wuyi. Naturally, there are those strange nagging fears. Will I be picked up at the bus station? Has there been a miscommunication? Is this some sort of slave trade come-on? – Though I don’t think I would really be worth much as a white slave. Nevertheless, I was worrying over the possibility of being stuck in a city five hours away from Shanghai where no one spoke English. Arriving and getting off the bus, I was still worried because I did not see Isaac and his family. I walked around the small parking lot filled with scooters, bikes, Cushman taxis, and a few cars. I did not see him. In what seemed like 45 minutes but was probably only five, I explored my Wuyi options. To tell the truth, I realized I hadno options. I was stuck, stuck good. But then, there they were. Isaac was leading the group, his mother and father lagging behind. I could see the excitement and relief on his face. We shook hands and I grabbed his shoulder. Bashfully, he looked down at the ground when this happened, neither of us knowing exactly what the protocol was. He led me to their vehicle, a newer model Chinese made car. Later, I found out, when I biked everywhere around Wuyi with him and his family on old battered bicycles, the car actually belonged to an uncle who owned a snack meat business, meat candies and the like. Isaac’s parents had borrowed the car to pick me up. That is the car culture in China. One car may be used by several family members – aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandfathers, whomever. Really, this had been the first time that I had been away from Shanghai on my own. The first time is when I had taught an English camp in a village a few hours away from Shanghai. There I was an oddity at the local grocer. Buying shampoo, I looked around and noticed that all the workers and the shoppers had stopped what they were doing and looking from around the corner of an end display of dried fungus (mushrooms) at what I was buying. Later when I went back to the grocery, that item, which had seemed plentiful when I bought it, was sold out. Here again, I was an oddity. With his parents in the front seat and Isaac and me in the back, his parents talked to him in Chinese asking him questions to ask me since neither of them spoke English. Isaac tried to interpret for awhile, but then he gave up and we all rode in silence along narrow country roads in the dark, passing bicyclists and scooters. Dilapidated huts and rock fences lined the road. There were rice fields too. Isaac asked if I was hungry. I told him I was. With that we made our way to a restaurant where we had noodles made with local herbs and vegetables. His parents insisted on paying. We then headed to his home, a three-story townhouse, which was on the outskirts of town. There was a walled open-air garden entry with a tile floor where the bikes, including his grandmother’s three- wheeled bike with a cart attached, were parked. The front door opened to a grand entrance with 15-foot ceilings, which was used for storing the boxes and boxes of fireworks for Chinese New Year. The last man lighting explosives has the best oncoming year is the Chinese custom. Thus everyone buys boxes and boxes of fireworks for this karma raffle. Off of the entrance, there was a step up to the living room outfitted in bulky wood and leather furniture that was still wrapped in plastic. On through the grand entrance into the house was a small table for Mother, Father, Grandmother and Isaac for dining; beyond that was a very small kitchen. A kitchen built for one person to cook. During my visit, I learned that most of the cooking and food prep was done in the back garden – including the beheading of the New Year’s Chicken. Beyond the grand entrance was the stairway that led to the other floors, the 2nd floor opened to a study and housed Isaac’s room, a guest room, and a bathroom. The first time I took a shower in his house was with only a hint of hot water and no heat in the bathroom since most Chinese, that I encountered, did not heat their houses. They wear coats indoors. When the time came of a shower, Isaac handed me two tea towels. When I asked him if he had bath towels, he informed me –“This country! No big city.” I looked at the two towels and plotted my shower. Over time, as this occasion occurred visiting other students and friends, I became adept at drying with tea towels. Now, at times I do this and it is not that big of deal. How bad do we really need these grand Turkish bath towels anyway? The third floor housed his parent’s bedroom and his grandmother’s bedroom. On the roof there was a place to hang clothes, pots to grow vegetables and a small concrete room just big enough for a ping-pong table. Since it was late, we went to bed. The next day was a big day. The next morning we had rice with a fried egg placed on top. This would be the standard breakfast fare. Isaac’s father a math teacher at the local primary school invited the primary school English teacher over to meet me. She showed up with a young woman that may or may not have been a blind date. The young woman was at least 20 or 25 years my junior. Over time, I would come to find out that my Chinese brethren assumed I was a lot younger. The English teacher was thrilled to talk to me. I was the first foreigner that she had met. I was in fact the first foreigner any of the folks had met. She left with the promise to return. Isaac and I got on the aforementioned dilapidated bicycles, mine, which belonged to his father, had lopsided handlebars that made me feel as if I was constantly riding into oncoming traffic. We rode around town. A classmate of his joined us and we rode to a mountain and then climbed it.

on a mountain...i called to him and he said 'no photo' after i shot it!

I took a lot of picturesque photos of the view, many of them with Isaac modeling though this embarrassed him when I snapped his photo and he would say –“No photo! No photo!” “But you are so handsome,” I would reply. This would make him smile and I would then take another photo of him. When we got back, I gave him a gift that I had found at the humongous Lotus Supermarket by the boarding school in Songjiang. It was a Frisbee. He looked at it and smiled and said – Thank you – though I don’t think he was very excited about it. He was more excited to play basketball or at least throw the ball at the basket at the local park. By this time, a couple of his younger cousins had shown up so the 5 of us, including the classmate who joined uson the biking outing, attempted to shoot hoops, though we chased the ball more than anything. No one could even slightly dribble. I looked like a star in comparison. However, later I would teach at school indowntown Shanghai where the students were intensely serious about basketball. I played with them once and then realized I looked like a fool so I watched from then on. Back in Wuyi, the family and I rode

. mall in small town wuyi with probably well over 200,000 people

our bikes to the six-story open-air mall for dinner. His dad borrowed a bike since I had been using his. When we got back home, we watched television for a bit in the living room. It was rural China butreminded me of my own home life in the 1970s in rural America. I then took a shower and went to bed. After breakfast, we rode our bikes with his cousin to play pool at the neighborhood


pool hall. Incidentally, this pool hall had one pool table and nothing else. At lunch, we rode to a three-walled restaurant with an opening in the front like a garage, Isaac’s favorite local place. We had noodles.We went to on old temple during the afternoon. Although it was small and weather beaten, there were loads of intricately done life-size wooden statues. I had my fortune read with sticks by a monk while we were there. Isaac interpreted. The interpretation told me nothing.“Oh this good. This no good. Oh this bad, oh very bad, oh.” “What’s good?” “Bad? What’s bad?! What?!!” I would ask. Isaac would not be able to find the proper English words to tell me. That is how his interpretation went. Could he foretell something that was about to happen?

at the temple

That night we had small salty fish and rice at home with his parents. After we ate, his mother put a fly cover on the leftover fish and left it on the table. After dinner, Isaac played on the computer. I watched.Later I asked him if he wanted a snack. I had some snacks leftover from my bus journey. He told me he could not have a snack because his parents did not like for him to eat after supper. This immediately made me feel like a bad influence. I eventually went to my room and went to bed. For breakfast, we had the remainder of the leftover fish that had been left on the table over night, with rice and a slightly cold fried egg on top. A few hours later, this came back to haunt me. I told Isaac I think I had a bad egg. “Egg no bad. Egg good. Egg good for you,” he replied. “Egg no bad!” “Yeah,” feeling more nauseous and haunted by fried egg by the minute, I replied, “that egg was bad.” Of course, eating fish that had been left out all night didn’t help, nor did eating at his favorite local joint that seemed to be serving ptomaine with a smile. At this point, I went up and tried to lie down but that didn’t help so I looked out the window onto the back garden. I saw the neighbor playing with a chicken, which was endearing. Then I saw that the chicken was headless which was not endearing, nor did this help my gastronomical situation. Once more I headed to my room to lie down. I think I dozed off. I heard a knock on the door. Isaac tentatively opened the door. His mother had made me soup because she felt so bad for me. There was a tiny head peeking out of the top of the soup. He told me that this would make me feel much better – duck soup, the whole duck, head and all. Somehow I managed to keep my composure though I really wanted to set my innards free at this point. I lay in bed for a bit longer. I then went back to the garden window. This time, Isaac’s mom had a chicken. A minute or so later, I see the cleaver come down. This was the second chicken that I had seen beheaded in one day. I decided that I had to get to KFC. That would settle my stomach. I had noticed one by the mall. I told Isaac I was going to get some air. I hopped on the bike and headed to KFC. The gravy saved me. Never would I have imagined the potatoes and gravy at KFC to be the savior of a seastorm stomach but it was. Suddenly I felt better. When I got back to the house, the English teacher was back to talk to me some more. She then became pushy. She wanted me to come to her house. I told her I was Isaac’s guest and that if he wanted to go there I would go with him but I really did not want to just traipse off and leave him. “You can watch me kill a chicken,” she added to tempt me “Uh, I have already seen two chickens beheaded today,” I told her. “That is enough for one day.” Isaac and I went back up to the study and I watched him play on the computer. He told me today is his birthday but his parents had forgotten because of all of the excitement getting ready for Chinese New Year. He turned 17. According to him via his dad, he was now a man. He thanked me again for the Frisbee because it was the only present he had received, though I had no clue it was his birthday. To cheer him up, I told him we should throw the Frisbee. I asked if he had ever thrown one. He told me no. We went out into the field by his house. I had the Frisbee in my hand and he came up next to me. I told him I was about to throw it. He said okay and didn’t move. Something was not connecting.After a few minutes, I directed him where to go. I threw the Frisbee. A light bulb clicked in his head. He loved it. He did not know that Frisbees were to catch. He thought they were to chase. The first one to get to it wins. He fell in love with Frisbee. “On sports field, we will have many Frisbee,” he exclaimed, talking about the sports field at Songjiang. To see him so excited was heartwarming. He was excited by the coming night. The plan was to stay up all night and watch the fireworks. They would start at midnight to usher in the New Year. We would have a big feast before. This was the holiday for all Chinese. Everyone was thrilled. Later in the evening however, Isaac, too, got ill. He vomited. I told him it was what we had eaten. He told me it was because he does not ever eat past 7 pm and that he ate too late. Although he had thrown up, he was excited for the New Year’s celebration. To start the New Year’s off, everyone including his grandmother dragged boxes of fireworks out into the street in front of the townhouses. Madness, like I have never seen, ensued. This stuff was way beyond that of the innocuous Roman candle. This was the stuff of 1970s rock concert legend, the stuff that had blown off fingers of unsuspecting guitarists and such. Suddenly I felt as if I had gone back and time and was tripping at a Uriah Heep concert! Grandma was as adept as anyone at throwing that which resembled dynamite more than a run of the mill firecracker. Actually, they did not throw them away but up and when they came back down they exploded often within a few feet. At one point, there were so many going off that I was like a scared animal not knowing which way to run until I ran right smack into one of those exploding mini-bombs of myth. Everything went white and there was a solid hum in my ears for no less than 20 minutes. Later we crawled on the roof and watched the fireworks that continued into the night. We did not stay up all night. Isaac finally tired. We stayed up until 2 and went to bed to the Bam Pop of the explosions around Wuyi and then woke up to the Bam Pop of the continued explosions.

this more or less says it all!

Happy New Year from Wuyi!


FASHION INSIDER // Stylist Stacy Suvino at NYFW

nyfw2013 008

We all hear about New York Fashion Week, but few of us get a chance to experience it. We have compiled a little Insider series to get a glimpse behind the NY minutes of local Style gals hanging NYFW-side.  With Stacy’s background in editorials and set design, she definitely has the Insider Scoop for set sourcing and cool designers. Enjoy!

nyfw9Name: Stacy Suvino

            Occupation: Set Decorator /Stylist / Blogger

First time at Fashion Week NYC:
My first time at NYFW was in 2007 when I was a volunteer while a student at FIT.

I attended several shows when I worked for Bergdorf Goodman.

This season, I attended Rebecca Taylor.

 Favorite moment + Shows/Studios attended:
There are too many great moments! I was able to meet Lola the designer of Lola Hats who I’ve been such a fan of her work for a long time! I also loved spending time with designer Yoana Barashi and seeing her in her creative element! The Newel Gallery was heaven on earth for me…it was amazing to peruse all six floors and see pieces ranging from Art Deco to 17th Century Italian, to Rustic to Regency.  I of course loved every moment being back in the city I love,  seeing all my friends and making new ones, shopping at my favorite stores and eating at my favorite restaurants!  There is such a surge of energy and creativity that flows constantly in NYC…you can’t help but feel inspired
Biggest Challenge of the week you faced:
My biggest challenge was trying to accomplish seeing a lot of friends, meetings, shows and visiting my favorite places in such a short period of time!

What you brought with you back home:
I brought home wonderful memories, some amazing vintage statement necklaces from the NYC Garage Flea Market, a dainty ring from Catbird and a pair of lovely Topshop shoes.

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Excited for the Rebecca Taylor show.


Meet Lola the Designer of Lola Hats in her studio and creative element.


The Newel Gallery below houses some of the most expensive and rare antiques in the world.  They have 6 floors with pieces to rent (clients include Bergdorf Goodman Windows, Ralph Lauren windows and many film and television set designers).  The first floor has pieces available for purchase.

nyfw2013 011nyfw2013 009

nyfw2013 024

  Meet Designer Yoana Baraschi.

nyfw2013 021

The Spring 2014 collection from Yoana Baraschi in the showroom.

To follow Stacy Suvino and her freelance work, visit her below.

Featured Image by Photographer Kat Harris

Rebel Tastemaker | Hot In Here…



Well, this summer has been the best EVER in regards to restoring friendly temps, and for awhile there San Francisco was getting warmer waves than our landlocked home. In honor of it just recently getting hot in here, Issue2 Closet Raid Contributor and Rebel Tastemaker Steph Smith provided some favorite summer style picks to reflect her retro and playful airy style. Check them out and let us know what your favorites are or if you have some favorite finds you would like to share! Most water wear featured here is ON SALE, so with our coming back to school looks, you can grab your suit for a late summer dip or for year round. Steph, known for her love of nature and animals included a few lifestyle pieces on her wish list as well!

1. Cover up

2. Gucci shades

3. Swedish Hasbeens sandal

4. Walter Lamb chaise lounger

5. Marc by Marc Jacobs (Leather two piece suit)

6. Missoni Beach towel

7. Rocking Shopbop one pieces

8. Etro lounge pant

9. Mod Bird Feeder

10. Patagonia wave shorts

11. Gathered Dress

12. Instant Polaroid camera

13. Egg stone lanterns

14. Stella McCartney girl suit

15. Felt stone home decor



Tea Time | A conversation with Tulsa Photographer Jeremy Charles.


If you don’t know who Jeremy Charles is, consider this an introduction. A sought out Tulsa based Photographer, Jeremy has built a solid brand around world class musicians, the music scene, advertising, architecture and a unique glorification of “Real People”. Jeremy, with his buddy, Photographer, Travis Hall, are the eyes and perspectives behind the uber cool Black Mesa project we will be highlighting soon.

A few months back, Jeremy and I met up to shoot a piece for the upcoming Issue2, and I turned on my recorder to catch our candid sit down tea time for the sake of my own personal history.  We had tea in colorful maison style cups, hopped around topics like crazy convo chasers, but in the end, there is something deeply special in sharing personal philosophies over tea…I admire this guy and his go against the grain, Henry Rollins bold strength in voice, yet sensitive approach in exchange with other humans, both artistically and conversationally.


Jeremy has no “secrets”, he shares openly with new photographers and excluded from this audio cut, he reiterates how the “poisoning of the ego” can be found in every artistic medium, and how always wanting more of his work keeps him in a state of humility.

In this conversation, he adds how he just joined his Journey as a Full Time Photographer in the last couple of years and opens authentically about not knowing what the future holds.


 Listen close as Jeremy is soft spoken but poignant in delivery, we walk all the way to the tea kettle and back to keep it on the real dial.

Thanks for taking the time to listen and be introduced to one of Tulsa’s epic visual artists.

And while you’re at it, pop over to his his site to get a little more personal on his world here.

Tea Time | a conversation with Photographer Jeremy Charles. from OKIEMAMA on Vimeo.

Aimee Tietze Adams is a Photographer, Writer, and Editor of OKIEMAMA Magazine.

Backyard Inspirations: Creating Ranchero


A few months back I was made aware of my friend Chase Spivey and fellow Normanite Ben Lindesmith’s comedic webseries “Welcome to the Ranchero” via their premier Episode 1: Pool Church (embedded below). Upon the time of discovery, I immediately quenched my curiosity and indulged in their subsequent episodes via the Funny Or Die platform. I love how the series has a spontaneously creative approach as the two creators blend local hot spots with characters in backyard mix of unconventional fun. It gives credence and possibility to the statement from the Wizard of Oz, “it’s that if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard…” Enjoy our brief intro to the vision behind the scene and series, and spread the love to keep these awesome folk doing what they clearly do best.


What inspired you and your friends to make a webcom series?

 It all started one day when Heather Kelly found a bunch of old photos of her parents hanging out in the 70s, we decided to make aphoto series of us with our friends so we could pass them on to our kids one day. We kept trying to come up with funnier photo shoot ideas until eventually the ideas demanded a longer format.

Why Ranchero?

After we all moved in together, we decided to spruce up the back yard area into more of a hangout pad for the summer. We bought a cheap pool and a few cactuses and next thing we knew the “Ranchero” was born. It’s our nickname for the back yard.


You do a lot of writing, shooting, editing and acting in the series….how much work goes into making an episode?

The majority of writing happens during shooting, during summer we would all get together on Sunday evenings for “Pool Church”, Ben would have some ideas for a general plot structure and we’d brainstorm and fill it in from there. It’s a stream-of-consciousness project mostly.

If you could produce Ranchero or other web comedy series full time, would YOU? Or is there something special about it being a passion right now?

We make the episodes for fun and we would love to be sponsored to keep having fun for a living.


It seems you have found your calling, any new ideas you are excited about?

Ben and I would like to develop a children’s program soon that would follow in the path of Jim Henson and Square One. I’m working on a solo visual art show that I’ll be unveiling later this year. In addition, many of us work on the photo/video crew for Norman Music Festival and that’s just around the corner, so there’s lots to be excited about.

Tyson Meade talks about the wheat being his audience when he would practice songs….how do you think the livelihood in Oklahoma shapes you and offers something unique to your project/production?

Oklahoma is absolutely inspirational to the series.

We are basically making a caricature of midwestern hipster culture, with a healthy dose of evangelist backlash for good measure.


One thing we ALL want to know…Are you guys REALLY partying during production?

Some people that work on the series don’t really party at all. I am not one of those people. If a group of us come back from the bar at 1am and have an idea that we want to shoot, we are going to shoot it. For planned shoots, we try to wait until the lights, cameras and mics are safely put away before getting too crazy.


Whats the best thing you have heard from your audience?

The best thing I’ve heard about the Ranchero is that it inspired another local artist to make their own web series. Spread the love.

 Welcome to the Ranchero is created, directed and produced by Chase Spivey, Ben Lindesmith, and Thom Proctor in the Ranchero backyard of Norman.

Aimee Tietze Adams is a Photographer, Writer, People Lover, and Editor of OKIEMAMA Magazine.


Whether you are new to the conversation on Animal Rights or believe yourself to be a blossoming Advocate, one thing is for certain, OKIE or not, you must see the film Project Nim. In our upcoming Issue2, we have a live interview with Ingersoll which takes you to the time 2 time Oscar winner, Simon Chinn, became inspired to tell the story of Normanite Chimp, Nim Chimpsky. With worldwide attention and praise for the film, local hero, Robert Ingersoll has been catapulted into the journey of his heart’s purpose, raising awareness for Animal Rights worldwide. The film was released in 2011 on the same day as Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Once you see the film, you will understand it’s a historic biographical profile that cannot be ignored, the story is beautifully told, has audiences erupting with laughter as they watch Nim grow up on screen via the documentary footage available via the controversial experiment.  I have seen it 3 times and have been inherently touched to tears and pulled to the cause every time. Bob receives emails from around the world daily from people who have just watched the film and are now ready to assist in the mission of releasing all captive chimps and primate friends into a new free chapter. Here with us, Bob shares a bit on how his first day at Psychology 101 at OU led him to meeting his buddy Nim and how the movie Project X, in the 80’s with Matthew Broderick was directly influenced by the story of our own, Nim.


What called you to work with the animals at IPS?

I heard about Washoe and Roger Fouts the year before I arrived at OU, and was intrigued by the idea that a chimpanzee was using sign language. The first class I attended at OU was PSY 101 and coincidentally, Roger was the Professor.  I realized just that in that first session. I approached him after the class and told him I wanted to work with him or at least see these chimps, so he put me in touch with one of his grad students and a few days later I was hanging out with Ali, Nim’s brother.  IMG_5296-copy

 Did you always have a connection to animals?

No, I had not had any real connection to animals before the chimps, other than a household pet dog.

You and NIM had an immediate connection upon his arrival at IPS, talk about that……

Well, I had two years of experience with chimps before Nim came back to the IPS, so I had some idea of how to act around a chimp.  And we simply liked each other right from the start, like I say in Project Nim.  Like two humans that are drawn together as friends are drawn together, it’s like that, I think.  We just liked each other.

With 2011-12 being the Year of the Animal Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim….Project X coming out in the 80s, were all these films influenced by NIM’s story?

The original Planet of the Apes was based on a French novel from 1963.  The most recent one, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, had some amazing similarities.. It turns out the writers were directly influenced by the stories of Nim and other sign-language chimps, here’s where they mention it.   Certainly Project X relied on elements of our work with sign language and chimps tied into its story. Sadly, the chimps from Project X had to be rescued by my pals at Primarily Primates in San Antonio, Texas, after that film was made. Bob Barker and his foundation actually provided funding to help those chimps find their way to Primarily Primates.  Years later, through the secret network, Nim’s brother Onan was relocated to Primarily Primates from LEMSIP, in 1996/7 or so.

When you were trying to educate people on the work you were doing with Nim, what were some frustrations you recall witnessing?

Mostly that once Nim and Ally were out of LEMSIP (a scientific research facility which held primates captive for research), and the rest of the IPS chimps were forgotten, it seemed to me.  I worked very hard to make sure that ALL the IPS/OU chimps
were remembered, not just the ones that had learned sign language.  That’s why Dr. Jim Mahoney says in the film about me,  “He was the only one who cared.”  No one cared about the non-famous ones.  Nim was safe, but the rest of his siblings and friends from the IPS remained at LEMSIP until the mid 1990’s.  Many died there.  And no one at OU, no one in Norman, no one anywhere really seemed to care much about that. Certainly, no one with any control over the situation cared.  There was concern from a few people, of course, who had had contact with the chimps from back in the day.  In particular, Kathi Hurst, who had worked with Thelma, a chimp from Norman, was with us….  But very few folks wanted to hear us bring up the topic of “captive chimps”.  Now, of course, things have changed a lot for chimps.  But still, 800-plus of Nim’s friends still remain in NIH hands and still need our help.  With the Great Ape Protection Act and Cost-Saving Measure, they may get it!
As NIM’s favorite sign was “PLAY”….how have you integrated this into your life? What did NIM teach YOU?

I try to have fun.  A key to life is to have some fun while you do serious work.  And we try to do that as much as we can, while still remaining focused on the goal.  And that is to help as many animals as we can.  I happen to be able to help chimps and monkeys based on my history with them, but I am equally concerned about ALL the animals.  We work with other Animal Rights groups as much as we can.  I try to live my life without imposing on other species, thus I’m vegan and stay away from using animal products of all kinds.

If you could speak back to the Oklahoma audience in a candid voice, what advice do you offer from your experience as an Okie?
There are still IPS and OU chimps alive and in need of your help, and they are Oklahomans themselves, and deserve as much help as you can deliver to them.  Save the Chimps have IPS chimps, and so does Primarily Primates and Chimp Haven. Wildlife Waystation in Los Angeles took in many LEMSIP chimps. I hope that some Oklahomans would reach deep into their hearts and their pockets and help these chimps, help get GAPA passed and funded, and soon. That’s what I would ask for.

 A quote you try to live by:
If you think you can, you can!!

Here below is a link to a short of Bobs with his time with Nim. Buy the movie HERE and email Bob HERE to get behind his efforts as a Recognized and Worldwide Advocate for Animal Rights.

Check out Oscar winning James Marsh talking about choosing to tell Nim’s story as a biopic.

Aimee Tietze Adams is a Photographer, Writer and Editor In Chief of OKIEMAMA Magazine.

Runners High with DeAnna Cooper

This weeks Art of Convo offers an interview with Marathoner DeAnna Cooper, a Tulsa Native. DeAnna has ran numerous marathons and assisted motivating and running with many first time marathoners as they attempted their first. We asked DeAnna about what inspired her to begin running, and how she stays energized through those long runs.

What led you to being a runner and joining into the marathon way of life….
I first started walking/running while I was an elementary teacher in Broken Arrow. After school, a group of teachers would either walk around the playground or if it was cold outside we would walk the hallways. We started signing up for 5k’s and just walking them. This was a great way to get to know each other and a great way to get some exercise. We even walked the entire Tulsa Run! Then I believe it was the St Patrick’s Day 5K about 10 years ago that I saw my friend Dawn Knight-Rice and she was going to run. it I am a little competitive so I thought if she can run it so can I! I started running 5k’s and then had a friend who was leading a marathon training group with Fleet Feet. She suggested that I train for a marathon and so I signed up and ran the Oklahoma City Marathon. I have had several people ask if I attempted a half marathon before doing the marathon distance. I did not, but I do know that some people prefer to try a half first. My personality, however, is to just jump in and try any adventure and therefore I didn’t even think about doing the half distance first! It really helped having a good coach, Katherine White aka Captain InsaneO, who taught me all about listening to my body and at the same time to challenge and push myself.

How many marathons have you participated in?
I have ran 11 marathon, New York will be my 12th. I always said that I would only do 10 marathons, but then a few friends encouraged me to do Chicago with them last year and then when you get the opportunity to New York you pretty much just have to do it.
I also have completed several half marathons and a handful of duathlons. [Read more…]

Perspectives: An Candid Interview with Robert Mills

We sat down with OKC Ballet, Artistic Director, Robert Mills to talk ballet in Middle America, growing up in the 70s, and the three pieces chosen for Director’s Choice, which opens this coming weekend, the 20th and 21st. Enjoy a reflective interview that highlights the brilliance behind the Director, and offers insights into A Day in the Life of a professional Dancer.

Last we spoke you talked about growing up in the 70s and the inspirations that pulled you into the world of ballet/dance…

Can you go back to that place and time?

Well, clearly the 70’s were a very different time.  It was slower, less hectic, more simple.  When I look back at that time, the people I admired as dancers seemed so untouchable.  Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland, Fernando Bujones, Cynthia Gregory, Suzanne Farrell, Peter Martins.  They were all people I looked up to and enjoyed watching onstage.  That time seemed so special.  The times you were lucky enough to see these artists onstage or on television were fleeting.  So it made the experiences extremely special.  Today, with the constant barrage of media we deal with in our everyday lives, it has its blessings and its shortcomings.  With these new media sources (internet primarily) we can easily breakdown stereotypes about ballet and dancers.  We can make ballet seem more tangible and accessible, which is one of the things our art form needs to survive long into the 21st century.  But one might ask (myself included) if that doesn’t take away any of the magic.  I know that the answer to that is no.  I am privileged to have this opportunity to run the ballet in Oklahoma City, and one of the things I enjoy most is to see the eyes of a child light up when they watch our production of “The Wizard of Oz” or when I see the star struck look on a young girls face when she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy after one of our performances of “The Nutcracker’.

When that happens (and it happens often), then I know the magic is still there.

Talk about the film White Nights from your perspective.

Again, white nights came out in a time before internet, cell phones and direct TV.  I remember being so floored watching it.  Baryshnikov was in his prime, and I have always had an appreciation of other dance forms so I could really see the talent of Gregory Hines as well.

As an Artistic Director for the Ballet, what are some of the major milestones that have shaped and prepared you for this role?

For starters, I have been teaching ballet since 1994, so I have been training and coaching ballet dancers for nearly 20 years.  Of course that brings a lot of experience to the table.  I think it has been significant that I have danced with 6 different ballet companies around the United States and I have worked with a broad spectrum of people in the industry.  My experience does not just come primarily from one company or point of view.  So I have been able to see many great ideas and I have been able to see many bad ones.  Every person I have ever worked with has shaped me in one way or another.  Prior to coming to OKC Ballet, I directed Ballet Nouveau in Colorado.  That experience helped develop me as a director and a leader.  As a choreographer, I was fortunate to have many opportunities to choreograph while I was still dancing.  I also studied dance composition living in Chicago while I was enrolled at Columbia College Chicago.

In choosing the pieces for the Directors Choice which debuts October 20-21, can you offer some insight into what you want the audience to take away with them in taking in these shorts?

I selected three pieces that are all extremely different and that are all new to Oklahoma.  I am hoping that people will see the huge spectrum of what is possible choreographically with a classically trained dancer.  Also, all of the pieces have an underlying emotional context driving the choreography.  In Lilac Garden it is clear and you are meant to understand the story of Caroline and her dilemma.

The other two ballets are more subtle, they do not tell a story but they are brilliant in evoking strong emotion.

A Day in the Life of a Professional Dancer is….

Long, tiring, intellectually stimulating, painful, joyful, and different depending on who you ask and what they are rehearsing at the time.

Ballet can be intimidating to many. Perhaps its a perspective of class distinction or a higher level of intuition to comprehend the body’s role as a muse for a specific expression. Is this something that is taken into account when creating performances and how do you work with this?

It is all perception.  If you know ballet, you know there are many different styles choreographically that span hundreds of years.  People seem to associate ballet with only classical music with tutu’s and tiaras.  Hey, it is that, and I love that.  It is thought to be that because it is an art form that came into prominence when the popular music of the time was compositions for orchestra or smaller ensembles be it from the Baroque, Classical or the Romantic periods.  So it made sense for choreographers to use the music that was popular for their creations.  But, now we live in a day and age filled with enormous variety musically and there are numerous choreographers who use popular music for their new works.  In fact, the use of popular or rock music has been going on for decades.  You also see a melding of choreographic ideas in contemporary ballet bringing in concepts from other “more modern” dance forms.  Many aesthetics of ballet have evolved over the years to reflect the times.

How many years were you yourself a dancer?  Do you still dance regularly?

Well, that is a dual question.  One has to train for years to become proficient enough to become professional AND THEN you have your professional career.  I danced for 15 years professionally and trained for over a decade before that.  I do not dance anymore, my knees just can’t do it any longer.

It is very much LIKE a sport in the toll that it takes on your body.

Your personal favorite of the Directors choice and why?

You expect me to answer this when two of the choreographers are still alive and I have working relationships with them?!?  In all honesty, to develop a favorite you must first be selecting from comparable items.  I just can’t stress enough how different these three ballet’s are.  You are talking about choreography that spans from 1936 (when Anthony Tudor created Lilac Garden) to 1986 when Margo Sappington created Cobras in the Moonlight, up until 2003 when Nicolo Fonte choreographed Left Unsaid.

I can’t select a favorite.  I love them all.

What would you like to see happen with Dance amongst the arts in Oklahoma?

I’m already seeing it happen and that is growth and awareness.  Oklahoma City Ballet has been blessed to have incredible support and wonderful attendance over the past four years.  I am also thrilled to see other dance companies develop and succeed like Hartel Dance Group, Perpetual Motion Modern Dance and Race Dance Company.  The dance community in Oklahoma City is maturing right alongside the city.  It is exciting to watch and to be a part of.

We hope you will join the local community in celebrating the arts in motion with the Directors Choice showcase. Order tickets here!

OK->LA Tate Wittenberg

OKLA Episode2 TateWittenberg 1280 from OKIEMAMA on Vimeo.

Join us for Episode 2 of our Pilot Webseries OK-LA with Raisin Cains Director, Tate Wittenberg.

Tate talks about his favorite place on earth in Tulsa and introduces his spirited companion Roxy to our audience.

Enjoy and remember to share any names of awesome Okies in the California area for our upcoming OK->LA Production Mixer.