Selfies for developing identity: the influence of social media self-presentation and mindfulness

Social media has become a big part of our lives. Not a day goes by for most of us where we haven’t checked Facebook, Instagram, … Read more


Return of the comet: 96P spotted by ESA, NASA satellites

Sun-gazing missions SOHO and STEREO watched the return of comet 96P/Machholz when it entered their fields of view between Oct. 25-30. It is extremely rare for comets to be seen simultaneously from two different locations in space, and these are the most comprehensive parallel observations ever taken of this comet.

To Impact Globally, Think Locally

As I leave CityLab Paris, I take with me a week full of new ideas. The conference, hosted by The Atlantic, The Aspen Institute, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, brought together mayors, urban experts and business leaders from around the world. My time there revealed the importance of our partnerships, and our ability to collaboratively drive solutions to combat cities’ biggest challenges.

I saw a few unifying themes that can add to The Nature Conservancy’s ongoing work in the cities space:

Mayors agree that they can and will make a difference when it comes to climate action. They argue that most of the decisions around transportation and energy are either made or implemented at the local level.

Cities work at the right scale: the human scale. I heard, more than once, an emphasis on the idea that cities are ideally suited to communicate practically to folks about complicated issues like climate. Mayors this week were quick to point out that if we are asking citizens for support for these initiatives they need to make sense. TNC has experience in this arena with our ballot initiatives; framing the solutions so people can get behind them with a vote or other form of support is essential. And it was easy to see how people can see themselves in these calls to action:

  • Chicago commits to public buildings using 100 percent renewable energy.
  • Paris is working towards a post-car city; diesel cars will be banned from city streets by 2025.
  • LA will have zero emission buses by 2030.
  • Vancouver wants to be the greenest city by 2020.
  • Barcelona signed onto a Healthy Streets Declaration that emphasizes walking, cycling and public life in streets.
  • Tokyo has a program to become a zero-emission city.

Empower Everyone. These Mayors see that solving climate change is equivalent to making cities more affordable, more livable and more inclusive. As there should be, there was a lot of discussion about the disproportionate effects that climate change has on underserved and minority populations, and mayors were interested in hearing how TNC is working in this space. Our Whole Measures for Urban Conservation framework, developed in partnership with the Center for Whole Communities, is an example of how we can think about achieving conservation and equity in our solutions.

I think, at the end of this energizing, inspiring week in Paris, I left knowing that this is how we will succeed on a global scale: framing solutions collaboratively in a way that inspires people to take action city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, family by family, person by person we’ll get there.

Laura Huffman is the state director for Texas and founding director for the North American Cities Program for The Nature Conservancy.

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining Success

Preparing for NaNoWriMo: Your Guide to Outlining SuccessForget turkeys and football. NaNoWriMo-or National Novel Writing Month-has turned November into da Writing Month. But as so many authors have learned over the years, the best way to be successful in November is to start preparing for NaNoWriMo in October (aka Preptober).

If you’re going to have a decent shot at writing 50kgood words in 30 days, you’ll want to have some solid preparation-aka outlining-under your belt before you start.

In past years, I’ve written extensively about how to do this, so I won’t risk repeating myself this year, but rather just direct you to my series on outlining for NaNo, as well as my published resources, such as my books and my brand-new Outlining Your Novel Workbook software, which is perfect for getting all your thoughts lined out before the big novel-writing rush begins.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel Workbook

Structuring Your Novel IPPY Award 165

Structuring Your Novel Workbook

Creating Character Arcs

Creating Character Arcs Workbook 165

How to Outline for NaNoWriMo (Complete Series)

Part 1: Should You Outline Your Novel?

Should you outline your novel before the first draft? And, if you do, how much is the right amount for you? Get ready to write your best novel with this new series!

Part 2: Start Your Outline With These 4 Questions

Where do you start your outline? Right here! Use these these four questions to discover the big-picture skeleton of your story’s plot.

Part 3:3 Steps to Find the Heart of Your Story

Can you outline your story’s theme? If you start by asking yourself these three questions, you will be able to find the heart of your story every time.

Part 4:How to Find and Fill All Your Plot Holes

When you approach plot holes purposefully during your outline, filling them in can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire writing process.

Part 5: How to Write Backstory That Matters

Backstory influences plot events, character motives, and thematic subtext. Here are the only 4 questions you need to find your best backstory.

Part 6: 3 Tips for Weaving Together Your Story’s Pieces

It’s impossible to figure out how to outline any one aspect of your story in isolation. Instead, learn 3 ways to bob and weave from one to the next.

Part 7: How to Structure Your Story’s Outline

Once you’ve discovered a general idea of your plot, you can use these three steps to figure out how to structure your story’s outline.

Part 8: Making the Most of Character Interviews

Character interviews increase both the ease of writing a new character and his success in driving your plot. Grab my master list of interview questions!

Part 9: How to Write a Scene Outline You Can Use

Here are 6 tricks to making the most of the final outlining step. You’ve been waiting for it a long time, and here it is: how to write a scene outline!

Part 10:How to Outline a Series of Bestselling Books

Figuring out how to outline a series may explode your preconceptions about the process and teach you so much more about outlining and storycraft in general.

Bonus:6 Tasks You’ll Love Yourself for Checking Off Your NaNo Pre-Writing List

Don’t head into November without a plan. Arm yourself with this NaNo Pre-Writing List and you’ll already be more than halfway to NaNoWriMo victory!

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Will you be preparing for NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not? Tell me in the comments!

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