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Minimum is Maximum: My Walk with a Minimalist



I’ve always had this habit of binge watching Ted talks.  The people who have graced the Ted stage have always been influential for our peers and our communities.  One of my favorite talks on the subject of minimalism comes from my friend Colin Wright.  You wouldn’t think of meeting a new friend through TedX, but this was the first place that I’d see his name.  After seeing his first talk called ‘Extreme Lifestyle Experiments’, I found that he and I shared similar philosophies in life.  

Colin gave up his American career to become a minimalist.  He gave away the vast majority of his belongings, and decided that every three months the readers of his blog ‘Exile Lifestyle’ would vote on which place, anywhere in the world, he would live next. Everything he owned had to fit into one bag.  

After some research and light Facebook stalking, I decided to reach out to him personally. At this time I was living in New Orleans and was delighted to discover that he would be returning to the states for a road trip around the country.  One of his stops along the way would be New Orleans.  In a message I assumed would never be answered, I offered him my couch to surf.  To my surprise, he accepted.  

Colin stayed for about five days.  Together we explored the city.  Here’s a taste of what I learned from this seasoned minimalist after our many exploratory walks:


What would you consider your formal job title to be?

This is something that changes with some frequency, and any concise answer I give tends to leave out quite a lot. At the moment I’ve been telling people I’m either an author or a podcast host, as those are my two main focuses at the moment.

But there’s really no formality to this kind of lifestyle, and as a result, no formal title.

What was your lifestyle like before you became a minimalist?  Do you miss it?

I was running a branding studio in Los Angeles and living the lifestyle of a driven young person who never had money before and who suddenly was making money. Which is to say I was buying silly things and pursuing goals that weren’t my own. I was also working ridiculous hours and not really paying attention to what that behavior was doing to me, health- and happiness-wise.

I enjoyed many aspects of the work, but as soon as I took a second to slow down and look at the big picture, I realized that I’d need to change something, and quick. I miss elements of that lifestyle, but the things I’ve replaced them with are much better fits for what makes me happy and helps me feel fulfilled.

Tell us about your purging process.  What were the hardest things to let go of?

It took me four months to get rid of all the stuff I had at my townhouse in LA. It got easier as the weeks went by, but especially at first, it was tricky getting rid of the things I had convinced myself I would need.

I had a closet full of nice clothes, for instance, and many of those jackets and jeans and shirts were never worn, and likely never would be. I had build up a series of scenarios in my head for when I would need these things, and how wonderful I’d feel having them on hand when those moments finally arrived. And what that meant, in practice, was that I had a bunch of clothing, and gadgets, and computers, and books, and all kinds of other possessions that were just sitting there, collecting dust, when someone else who might actually put them to use could be getting value from them.

Recognizing that, it all became a lot easier. But until that point, each thing I got rid of made me feel a little less prepared. There wasn’t much sentimentality for the things I got rid of, just a well-entrenched feeling that I was going to be less secure — but that proved not to be the case. The opposite, in fact, since not stockpiling left me with so many more resources to spend on things I actually needed and wanted, when I needed and wanted them.

Is it difficult to remain minimal?  What would your advice be to the average person hoping to become minimal?

Not really. Not once you figure out why you’re doing it, at least.

Like with anything, if you’re forcing yourself to do something painful and there’s no obvious victory at the end of the road, it’s going to be harder to make those changes stick. If you take the time to figure out why you want to focus on certain things more, and reduce the excess and inessential, then it becomes a lot more manageable; you’re no longer sacrificing, you’re moving in a direction you want to go, and if anything you can feel like you’re not getting there fast enough.

My best advice would be to take the time, before you start chucking stuff in the trash can or donation bin, to figure out what actually makes you happy. What’s valuable to you? What possessions really make your life better? Allow you to do the work you care about? What do you wish you had more of in your life?

Asking these questions first will help you figure out what possessions are additive toward your goals, and which are standing in the way. Which are very much worth keeping, and maybe worth investing in further, and which you can easily give up, so that you have more time, energy, and resources (including money) to spend on the good stuff (whether that means possessions or experiences or something else).

How do you define value?

Something that’s valuable is a net-gain for you and your life.

So if a possessions adds value to your life, it’s enhancing something that’s important to you. If it’s a liability, it’s keeping you from something important, or maybe sucking up money or energy that you could be spending on something that’s an asset.

The specifics will be different for everyone. I prioritize experiences and pursuing new knowledge and meeting new people; travel, then, is more valuable to me than it might be for some people, because it makes me happier than almost anything else. For other people it might be anything else in the world — for some people, travel will be a waste of money and time.

That’s why I think it’s vital to understand yourself, first, so that any minimizing efforts are time well-spent, rather than just an empty exercise.


Downsizing a person’s life isn’t always an easy feat.  It’s not for everyone. For myself, I found this process paramount in truly knowing the difference between what I ‘want’ and ‘need’.  People often find themselves on autopilot when it comes to defining value within their lives.   Practicing a minimal lifestyle goes beyond just the stuff a person can accumulate.  In a way it’s a method of studying the inventory of worth within your life.  Minimalism can be expressed not only in what you choose not to have, but also in how you make your decisions as a consumer.  It can show you whether or not you can see a difference between having ‘experiences’ or having  ‘possessions’.  

How do you define value?  Maybe going minimal can help you find out.  

What's up!? I'm Katrina. I'm wandering, collecting, witnessing and learning. I'm drawn to all things found at the intersection of art and technology. If I could go back in time, I think I'd be best friends with Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and Cleopatra. When I'm not obsessing about the human endeavor or the nature of time, I'm probably cooking or dancing.


Why Amazon’s Second HQ Should Choose Nashville



Amazon's Second HQ

Nashville is amongst 20 cities being considered for Amazon’s second headquarters site. The “Country Music Capital of the World” hopes to boost their state’s job market with the new Amazon Headquarters. Amazon’s second HQ expects to invest more than $5 billion to build the 8-million-square-foot facility and promises to create as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs over the next 15 years. Before any decisions are made, the company created specific requirements to be met for each city. Some of the requirements include a metropolitan area with over a million people, a time distance of 45 minutes from an international airport, direct access to public transportation, and to be able to expand 8 million square feet in the next decade.

The Unemployment rate is on the rise in Nashville. City officials have their sights set on the on the jobs that Amazon’s Second HQ will provide for 50,000 residents. “It is going to increase the size of the economy,” University of Tennessee Economist Bill Fox stated, “It is going to bring in a really highly skilled labor force that is not already there, a lot of community leaders. To have somebody with the worldwide vision of Amazon look at Nashville and say, ‘This is the place we want to be’ is really good for the brand.”

The aspect of new jobs may not be enough for some to welcome the online retailer with open arms. Residents of Nashville fear the new site would affect the housing market for low income families  in the process. “If you look at the size of Nashville, a headquarters like this bringing tens of thousands of jobs, it’s going to radically affect what the housing landscape looks like,” said Javier Vivas,’s director of economic research. Amazon’s decision creates an atmosphere for the conservation of gentrification not only for Nashville, but the other 19 cities in the running. “We have a housing crisis now and all this would do is throw gasoline on the fire,” said John Summers, a former Metro Council member who now leads the Coalition for Nashville Neighborhoods. “We cannot build affordable housing to replace what’s being lost by the rapid gentrification in all of our inner-city neighborhoods.”

The community of Nashville are now able to broadcast their opinions on Amazon. While state officials deal with the financial benefits, agencies and businesses within Nashville are now able to give insight on their city as well. This is why Amazon’s second HQ should choose Nashville.

If you are an agency from Nashville, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia



Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why The Second Amazon Headquarters Should Choose Toronto



Second Amazon Headquarters

Amazon is considering their first international city for their second Amazon headquarters. The bids for HQ2 have reached Mexican regions too but the tech company have their eyes on Toronto. Prior to this announcement, Toronto has been established as a major technology center. Their advancement will only grow from here, perhaps even more when Amazon arrives.

The city reported that they are not offering Amazon much financial incentives, but is offering a 100-acre land as a potential site for their second Amazon headquarters that is approximately close to downtown Toronto. Although this site is outside of the United States border, Toronto is the best option for the innovative company.

The mayor of Toronto, John Troy expressed how proud he was of the city when Toronto attracted Amazon without offering significant tax breaks. Toronto does not have to resort to selling themselves for the second Amazon headquarters, unlike other competitors on the top 20 shortlist. Toronto is already home to a significant Google engineering operation, a major artificial research center and quantum computing institute. Due to the massive influence in technology, there are plans to direct Toronto’s waterfront into a massive tech-city for the near future. This environment will foster Amazon and future companies moving to Toronto.

 Second Amazon Headquarters

The second Amazon headquarters require proximity to a metropolitan area with a large population for employment, mass transit, an area that is 45 minutes from an international airport, and an 8-million-square-foot facility that will eventually expand to 740,000 square metres over the next decade. Toronto would be an ideal location to attract talent from overseas. This move will put Amazon’s name outside of the United States and begin their serious international affairs. North America acknowledged the massive tech company’s capability when Jeff Bezos was announced as the richest man alive in 2017. After Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos dethrones Bill Gates, the entrepreneur should look to invest in talent from overseas. This plan can start with a move to Toronto for the second Amazon headquarters.

Toronto holds a strong quality of life. Canada is notorious for their free healthcare, something that the United States is lacking. The affordable area is attractive to employees. “We’re excited to have this opportunity and to be able to tell Toronto’s unique story,” told John Troy. “There is no other place in North America that can boast the same talent, the same quality of life, the same vibrancy, the same economic strength.”

Small businesses and agencies within Toronto are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Toronto.

If you are an agency from Toronto, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here:

*Sponsored by Penji

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