Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Epiphanies and Mental Lightbulbs - Ding!

We are in the midst of some insights, changes, strategic planning and all around commotion so we are taking a rest from our excursions to develop our new plan of action and related resources.  Let me tell you about my own recent epiphanies.

Upon finishing graduate school and deciding to join the Holigent Team, I dove into the work without taking a moment to consider that while my Dad has spent much of his life pondering and developing the Hoiligent concept, I have had a comparatively tiny amount of time in which to learn about it.  Little by little I realized that while I focused on promoting the concept's vehicle - Holigent Urban Villages - I did not fully grasp the whole philosophy itself.  This realization caused more than a little anxiety on my part and so I requested a meeting with my dear Dad with the hopes of straightening things out in my mind and gaining the direction I needed to successfully and joyfully do my job as Holigent's Managing Director.

In early August, on the warm Sunday morning after my family's annual summer reunion in Los Angeles, my Dad and I went to brunch at M Cafe in Culver City.  I had not known they were a vegetarian and nondairy restaurant but my tofu breakfast burrito was quite good as was my Dad's oatmeal.  His coffee was another story as things like stevia sweetener and soy milk in my Dad's sacred cappuccino are things so alien I think he found it quite disturbing.  Our meeting on the other hand made up for the gnarly coffee and then some.  After I explained my concerns, my Dad recounted the touching and poignant story of his life long search for answers to the harsh questions that life had time after time forced him to ask. Not only did he clear up the details of the Holigent concept, he thoroughly inspired and motivated me and I think we both gained new insight and energy.  

I imagine we left that meeting with little cartoon lightbulbs over our heads and in the week following solidified a new understanding and approach to the Holigent mission.  I returned to reading my Dad's second book titled "SocioEconomic Synergism," which he published in 1996 and pieced together key lines like a puzzle until in two pages I succinctly summarized the core of the underlying philosophy and could see the whole picture clearly.  We both realized that first and foremost, we must teach this new holistic philosophy of sustainability to every individual we can reach because one cannot hope to change society without a change in the mindset of the individuals of which it is comprised.  We stubborn humans have held onto our reductionistic, fragmented world views for far too long and they will eventually lead to our demise if we do not free ourselves of them and adopt a significantly better one.

Therefore, I redefine myself as an educator and consultant of a new philosophy of sustainability for our single society-economy-environment global system.

Subsequently, our roadtrip is now not only about petitioning and promoting Holigent Urban Villages, but giving presentations, talks and discussions, much in the spirit of Al Gore, to teach the fundamental Holigent philosophy.  Stay tuned for our new resources and to find out where we will be presenting when we set out on the road once again!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Weekend in Santa Barbara: Books, Beets, and Bustle!

Goodbye grey LA, hello green SB!  On Friday, July 23 my parents and I packed up and headed up to the lovely little city I am currently lucky enough to call home, Santa Barbara.  After a quick bite at Cantwell's Market and Deli and several circles around the block to find parking (yes SB is also better without a car!), we set up our displays on State Street right in front of Borders bookstore. It was a bit slow as most passersby were tourists busily snapping photos or zeroing in on their next shopping target. But a few people did pick up fliers and I must say I really enjoyed just sitting in the sun watching the world happen around me.

In your busy day to day life, how often do you just sit and basically allow yourself the luxury of doing nothing? It can be hard to make that time for yourself, but I have realized how crucial it is to one's sense of calm and wellbeing.  Even if it's just a few minutes to breathe deeply and relax before entering your house after work, make some "me time" for yourself!

Laughter is another essential element and luckily is quite abundant any time I get together with my parents.  At night we had dinner at Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant and sat for another hour in the restaurant talking and laughing before going to see "Despicable Me" in a theater in Goleta.  "So fluffy!"

Saturday began with the unforgiving beeping of my alarm clock at way-too-early o'clock in the morning, but when three people are sharing my one bathroom to get ready and be set up at the farmers' market by 8:30am, one must heed the beeping fiend.  It was surprisingly cold most of the day so I clutched my mug of tea and took breaks to walk in the sun and enjoy the beautiful displays of fresh local fruits, vegetables and flowers.  Despite the chill, the folks at the market were friendly and warm and I really enjoyed the atmosphere as well as the talented musicians sharing their art for tips tossed into upturned hats.

These folks were also much more attentive of our display and interested in the Holigent concept. 

We had some good conversations with locals and visitors alike and collected petition signatures.

When the market closed at 1pm we headed to Goleta for a tasty light lunch at Cafe Fresco. (Note to self: Go back to try their amazing looking fruit pies!). My parents went for a walk down to Stearn's Wharf while I went for a much needed run. It can be hard to make daily exercise a part of one's life, but now that I have, it is as essential to my day and my happiness as food and sleep.  At night, we curled up on my couch and laughed our way through "The Princess Bride."  The problem was, since I have seen the movie before, I started to laugh in advance of each joke!  Despite my premature giggling fits, everyone really enjoyed the movie.

Sunday was a leisurely day that started with breakfast at one of my local favorites, CrushCafe.  I was impressed that nearly every table has an electrical outlet so you can charge your laptop while recharging your own battery with coffee or one of their made from scratch meals.  The atmosphere is cozy and the food is always delicious and fresh with many healthy and unique options. Yes I know this is not a food blog, but I've become somewhat of a foodie lately plus I make a point to support local businesses. I should tell you that one of my main passions along with sustainable cities is sustainable food systems.  Consider it this way: Shouldn't we ensure that food and water, the two things we literally cannot live without, be absolutely secure and sustainable?!  But that's a whole other bag o' beans!  For now let's wrap up our lovely SB weekend.

The main entrance to Paseo Nuevo shopping center was pleasantly busy with shoppers, promoters and other tablers so we drew a decent crowd, collected several signatures and made a couple interesting contacts. I feel fortunate that I live in a town, and a state for that matter, with more open minded people than other parts of the country.  We need grand thinkers, risk takers and serious movers and shakers to make a dent in the various challenges us quarrelsome, complex humans have created for ourselves.

After several hours we packed up and went to lunch - yes more food - at "Your Place," my favorite Thai restaurant in the entire city. The name has more than once caused some confusion such as when I asked where my friend was having her goodbye party and she cooly responded "Your place."  "What? I don't have anything prepared!"  "No silly, the Thai restaurant."  "Oh, right... Great, I love that place!"

So amid the lingering scent of curry, my folks set off again for LaLa Land with happy memories of books, beets and the gentle bustle of Santa Barbara.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dida the Poodle, Holigent Mascot for a Day

On Saturday, July 17, I took the Surfliner train along the familiar but always beautiful coastal route south to Los Angeles for my brother's birthday, which was highlighted by the hilarious show "Bugs Bunny at the Symphony" at the Hollywood Bowl with a fireworks finale and culminated with my Mom's mouth watering ice cream chocolate fudge cake. On Sunday, my friend and her little poodle, Dida, volunteered to table with Holigent on Santa Monica's 3rd St. Promenade.  We set up our display between a group of Mexican dancers in beautiful dresses and an eclectic gipsy dancer with unintentionally frightening makeup, so we had ample entertainment between chats with curious shoppers and tourists.

Dida was our mascot for the day and did a great job of luring people over with her seemingly innocent, almost unbearable cuteness. Here she guards one of the display boards during the drive to Santa Monica. See those fangs? Please do not touch the displays...

Here I am chatting it up with folks on the Promenade.  I just realized that in photos those sandals make me look barefoot, but no, I do not generally prance about Los Angeles without shoes.  Case in point, my unfortunate mother later stepped in gooey blue chewing gum.  She was not barefoot either, but that was still little consolation.

On Tuesday we hitched up the Holigent trailer banner once again and headed off, through rush hour traffic, once again.  Having spent the great majority of my years in LA without even a drivers license, by choice, and after over 2 years in walkable Santa Barbara, I now find this smoggy stop and go experience quite nearly maddening and apologize to my parents for any sour notes on my part.  HOW do people do this every day to and from work?!  Does one get numb to it after a while?  I imagine a fleet of zombie drivers... the trance broken only by occasional bursts of road rage.

Passing by the Americana shopping center in Glendale. At least it's mixed use!

Driving through Old Town Pasadena where the streets and sidewalks were bustling and I got left behind after snapping some photos until the car could circle back and find me!

As the sun set, we parked in front of the surprisingly beautiful Pasadena City Hall to walk into town. The traffic and temporary abandonment were made up for by dinner at Mi Piace where I had Pollo Rustico with Peruvian purple potatoes, easily one of the most delicious meals of my life.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

And We're Off!

June marked the official start of the Holigent Solution Roadtrip.  It's not a linear trip - since we are a grassroots organization after all, we are springing up like grass seeds here and there following the summer sun and the happy shiny people it brings out onto the streets, beaches, and boardwalks.

Our handy CEO designed and built two rolling display boards that we can stroll with into places that the trailer banner can't go. Here's a peek at the behind-the-scenes process before we took to the road.

Day One

We unveiled the trailer banner, hitched it up to the car and started off through the heart of West Los AngelesNot surprisingly, we found ourselves in a sea of rush-hour traffic.  Luckily we were in no rush ourselves and turned quite a few curious, commute-weary heads who likely looked us up on their Blackberries and iPhones since our website hits shot up.

On our first official tour with the trailer banner, we made appearances in Santa Monica, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Culver City, California.

Day Two

What better place to take a test stroll with our rolling display boards than busy and eclectic Venice Beach Oceanfront Walk.  We had a smooth stroll under cloudy but warm skies and handed out fliers to interested people.  On future occasions, we will be tabling and have displays set up on one of the permitted sites along the Venice Walk so check back on our location list above to find us out among the fun, funny, interesting, and unusual folks of Venice Beach!

Elisa and Nick with a rolling display board on Venice Boardwalk.

Wait, is it mounted on a stroller frame?  Yes, as you can see we find that funny too.  But it steers quite nicely!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Banner Building Begins

In this age of computers where so much exists only on a screen, I get a strange thrill when I see something that was designed on a screen suddenly created in the real three dimensional world.  What started as a concept for our Holigent Roadtrip mobile banner was then designed on a screen, a mere digital image I saw and commented on several versions of.  The final file was sent to a flag and banner printer, and those little digital rectangles are now huge, real, tangible Holigent banners!  It is obviously magic. I will attempt to contain my giddiness long enough to share photos with you documenting my father's super skills as he builds our complete banner trailer.  Another thing that always amazes me: If he can dream it up he can build it (and often does) and if it's broken, chances are he can fix it!  When I was little, my Dad was like Superman to me... not much has changed :D   (Happy Father's Day!)

As we start out on our trips, we will post our routes, next location, and events as much in advance as possible to give you the chance to come out and join us!  Come learn more or volunteer; we are recruiting volunteers for both in person and online opportunities.  Email me (elisa[at]holigent[dot]org) if you would like to help collect petition signatures, talk to people about our project, or can help with getting the word out to the public, media, and officials.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Meet Nick, the Founder of (and my awesome Dad!) as we prep for the trip

Ok let's get one thing straight, my Dad is pretty amazing. He's an innovator, philosopher, and all around nice guy. Check out his bio here: Meet Nick

To share our project and gain momentum for this movement we are hitting the road with banners, displays, our petition, and big smiles =D  We will start the first leg of our road trip along the west coast of the US including stops in Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. More detailed location info will be forthcoming.  If you are in these areas keep an eye out for our mobile banner, come chat with us and sign the petition.  (You can also sign the petition online: Go to the Petition)

Our adventure begins with creating the mobile banner.
This is our new buddy, the little trailer.  We are having a banner designed
for it so check back to find out what the finished product looks like!

Our goal for this road trip is to get people acquainted with, our project, and our goals so that inspired, creative and motivated people like you can make it your project and your goals!  Focusing on our similarities, common human experience, and the solutions most central to our society's and our planet's wellbeing will allow us to harness our huge collective power and potential to actually make the big "CHANGE" that everyone is always talking about these days.  How about we stop talking and start doing!

We can start by reminding our government that their job is to represent us, the people; after all, it's all of us workers and students and parents and unique human beings that make up this country so shouldn't we together have a voice loud enough to make our needs heard?  To document our united voice demanding safe, affordable, economically secure, peaceful, socially and environmentally sustainable communities, is starting a petition that will allow all those we meet along the road to add their voice.  To allow people everywhere and anywhere to do the same, our petition is also online and you can sign it here:  Go to the Petition.  Ours is a peaceful but strong movement of activity, action and interaction!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What's Going On!?

A lot of exciting activity is buzzing and this busy bee writing to you now is the Managing Director of, an independent think tank and 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. (Check out our updated website at for details on our inspiring project.)

I am starting this blog as a fun and interactive way to keep you updated on the progress of our publicity, outreach, and petitioning tour and will be sharing my experiences, photos and videos from the road as well as ways you can get involved or support our efforts.

Want to help right now? Here are 3 things you can do:
1. Sign the petition and invite others to sign.
2. Invite friends to follow this blog.
3. Join our Cause on Facebook and recruit others

On occasion I will also post articles written by Founder (and my amazing Dad) Nicholas Frank, that will relate our work and concepts to the most central current events and issues on everyone's mind today from healthcare and the economic crisis to global environmental change and more. Please feel free to comment, discuss, or ask questions as the Holigent Solution is a constantly evolving popular movement and we need your input to make it work.

By sharing the Holigent Solution we are starting a movement.  It's all about you, about people, how we can work together, how we can redesign the way we live and work in urban environments, and rethink the dynamics of how we interact and relate to each other as members of a global community.

Sounds kinda cool, right? I know! Very cool. So follow our Roadtrip blog, get active and join the Solution!