our creative ecosystem

Riding the tide to wholeness

This story begins in chaos. The chaos of the ocean is like the chaos of creation. Both are very powerful and a little frightening. All sorts of things are swimming in the chaos of the ocean: competition, crabs, jealousy, jewels, jelly fish, envy, enthusiasm, sharks, passion, love, trash, inspiration, plastic bags, and behind it all, unfathomable power. The ocean gives birth non-stop. In this realm, it’s so easy to lose control. This first phase is a place where things happen to you and around you. When our crazy, chaotic ideas leave the ocean and pour into the mangrove we recognize that we can be in control.

We were baptized in the mangrove

Baptism: performing absolution, a sacramental act of cleansing and purification.

We were baptized in the mangrove. Two people in Puerto Rico, falling out of different boats in the same river on the same night We weren’t terrified, but we were changed — being immersed in the waters of the mangrove freed the mind from the limitations of the standard business paradigm. Now africanamericanbookandmedia.com lives and creates on spiritual, psychological, and business planes.

Our mangrove home

Our entire business has the soul of the mangrove; our long walkway and front office particularly symbolize the quiet, filtering space of the mangrove. When you and your creations come here, the creative process begins. When our ideas leave the womb of the ocean and enter the mangrove, we become creators of ourselves, our creations, and our thoughts. The mangrove strips you of the problems, limited thinking, and the negative thoughts of life outside of the mangrove. In the mangrove you can become your true self.

The mangrove process

The reason a mangrove looks like a mass of unruly red, black, and white hair is because of its root system. Above-ground roots, roots that grow down from lateral branches, and ordinary roots make up the root architecture that provide the plant with a secure supply of nutrients and water as well as anchorage and support. The roots make the mangrove look confusing. Here we ask questions like: Is there one tree or thousands of them? Will my ideas decay or grow? Who am I? Even for creative types this is a difficult transition. The roar of the ocean is behind us and now there are a lot of decisions to be made. Luckily, the mangrove is quiet and full of good things. There’s energy, but it’s focused. The massive root system acts on the power of the ocean like a colander. The tide becomes a thousand rivulets and eventually turns into gentle lagoon waves.

Filtering

The water in the mangrove has five times the amount of salt as the ocean. Salt inhibits the growth of spoilage, killing microorganisms by drawing water out of microbial cells through osmosis. Mangroves protect the coast from erosion, surge storms, and tsunamis.

When you enter the mangrove, you are moving from fear to love, from noise to quiet, from envy to goodwill. What is left—free from detritus, limitations, and extra metaphors—now has unlimited potential. You have moved from things happening to you to making things happen.

Life giving

Mangroves are an important part of estuarine food webs, producing large amounts of leaf litter. This provides a food source for marine life, including economically important shrimp, crabs, and fish. An estimated 75% of game fish and 90% of commercial species are dependent upon the mangrove system during at least part of their lifecycles. The floor is full of roots and debris from the cleansing, and that in itself, like our staff, is good compost. To be alive emotionally and creatively, one must have the food for thought and good companions to with whom to dine.

It is our goal to change our world from within our office ecosystem. We do this because we understand that the world without is a reflection of the world within. What appears without is what has been found within. The world within has infinite wisdom, diversity, resources, and power. If we recognize these potentialities in the world within they will take form in the world without.

Teamwork and family

Africanamericanbookandmedia.com is a team of unique individuals linked together by a common purpose. Like the mangrove, we are a specialized, diverse, cohesive community. The plants of the mangrove community belong to many different genera and families, many of which are not closely related to one another. However, they do share a variety of morphological, physiological, and reproductive adaptations that enable them to grow in this environment.

Become like a child


At this stage our focus is on imagining things that have never been available before, on thinking the unthinkable, and on creating ingenious products that will capture people's imaginations and become indispensable to millions. This process helps to make the leap from the visualization of an idea to the concrete words and pictures that will actually form the basis of a product. During the brainstorming process, we do not limit what can or cannot be said. The only thing we do not allow is criticism of any idea. There is no hierarchy in the discussion. Ideas from someone with one year's worth of experience are just as valid as those from someone with 20 years of experience. This is the kind of spontaneity that keeps individuals and companies young and creative. People cannot move forward and grow unless they are allowed, like a child, to experiment without pre-editing or self-censorship. The hatchery process reminds us to stay open and accepting of new ideas. We are all always children who are growing and learning.

Buoyant thoughts take seed

Here in the mangrove we begin to understand that through our thoughts, we are the creators of our own environment. Unlike most plants whose seeds germinate in soil, many mangrove plants are viviparous, i.e., their seeds germinate while still attached to the parent tree. This seed can produce its own food via photosynthesis. The seeds also send down strong roots while attached to the parent plant. When they mature, the seeds drop into the water where it can then be transported great distances. They can survive desiccation and remain dormant for weeks, months, or even over a year until they arrive in a suitable environment. A seed like this is the perfect metaphor for how thoughts create reality. Each thought is a very durable seed of what will happen immediately or in the future. The only way we can change ourselves and reality is by first changing our thoughts.

Lagoon: open work area

It’s easy to get lost in the mangrove. All that activity can make you feel like you’re dancing in circles. And in a sense you are: from water to plant, plant to air to water to plant to water. The movement into the lagoon is from complex to simple, noisy to quiet. In the lagoon there is more space, less focus and group structure than in the mangrove. Everyone in the open work area has something to do, a specific individual mission to accomplish. While they swim around in this smaller sea, they keep an eye on the larger, group mission. After all that activity it’s good just to let things be, to go on about your business and see what happens when no one interferes. It’s the perfect place for an idea to quietly marinate.

Here in the lagoon, casually running your hand through the water just because it feels good reveals a greenish glow that whirls off your finger like radiant stardust. Each tiny dot of the mosaic of underwater light resembles a firefly. This bioluminescence is produced by microscopic plankton that create light through a chemical reaction when disturbed. The tiny organisms, known as dinoflagellates, feed on blue-green algae that flourishes in the salt water lagoon. This is the pure energy of ideas that seems to come out of nowhere. We all have these sparks within us; the trick is to allow them to ignite in their own good time.

Hatchery: conference room

Fish hatcheries are used to cultivate and breed a large number of fish in an enclosed environment. They raise the fish until they are ready to be eaten or sold to aquarium stores. Other hatcheries release the juvenile fish into a river, lake, or ocean to support commercial, tribal, or recreational fishing or to supplement the natural numbers of threatened or endangered species, a practice known as fish stocking. Our conference room is like giant tank hopping with ideas in all different stages of development. Here the energy is ramping up; we’re going from quiet to active again. One of the most important things we do in the hatchery is develop solutions to problems. For example, this is where we would fix or develop a product to help children learn to practice good behaviors. The first step is to identify what positive behaviors we want to inculcate. Next comes the “hopping“ or brainstorming part.

At this stage our focus is on imagining things that have never been available before, on thinking the unthinkable, and on creating ingenious products that will capture people’s imaginations and become indispensable to millions. This process helps to make the leap from the visualization of an idea to the concrete words and pictures that will actually form the basis of a product.

Innovation Nursery: lunchroom and library

In the library and lunchroom, we find the information (and energy) we need to expand concepts in every stage of development, from neophyte through adolescent. We all need information to grow as people, and our library is analogous to the search for teachers and mentors who trod the path to wholeness before us.



Coral Reef: owners and management offices

Like our owners, managers, and mangrove, the coral reef is protective and nourishing. Especially to newcomers, the coral reef, and the life of an owner, can seem like an impossibly beautiful, ideal environment. Everyone has an ideal place within. That place includes the knowledge of a higher power and a vision of the way things ought to be. Having this internal place is important because it gives us guidance and a vision for which to strive.



Forest: looking out our back door

"You have seen trees in the winter, all the twigs bare, with no sign of the brilliant foliage soon to spring from them. Yet the leaves are already there, perfectly formed, waiting only for the warm sunshine to bring them out. In the same way, the things you want are already around you, no matter how bare everything may look. They need only the sunshine of your faith to bring them forth. Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything." Evolving from simpler to more complex, whether that means an increase in size, number, value, or strength, means starting in chaos and moving with the tide through all the seasons and phases of our lives.