It’s no secret that I love maps. (Something I inherited from my dad.) I have an every going collection of illustrated paper fold out maps that I display on a postcard rack on my desk that I stare at as I work—and type this post. I even taught an entire class on Skillshare that encouraged people to make their own maps.
We so often turn to our phones to tell us where to go, but maps have always been the best way to help us find where we are, and show us where we’re trying to get. Mapology Guides take maps a step further thinking about maps in terms about concepts and ideas rather than physical places, not confined by location, landmarks, or sites to see. They’re illustrated self-help maps for life’s journey.
I first met Mapology Guide creator Tina Bernstein at Betahaus in Berlin where we were for The Hive Berlin, a conference for bloggers. That year was my first conference talk I spoke about the less glamorous side of blogging: blogging etiquette and how to deal with negative comments. (I’ve always liked to keep things real.) One of the people who came up to me after my talk was Tina. We stayed in touch, and connect whenever I’m in London. She even took my Skillshare map making class when it first launched. (Little did I know that conference would unlock SO many friendships.)
Since we first met, Tina has gone on to launch her own line of Mapology Guides which are the intersection of her love of maps and mental health. Until recently mental health has often been a taboo subject in the mainstream. Tina, a huge proponent of “doing the work” on yourself, set out to change that through her illustrated guides to life. Our conversations always inspire me to keep exploring myself, and I love how she integrates creativity and play into everything she does.
For each Mapology Guide she brings her own experience with a subject, and teams up with a writer or expert, as well as a different illustrator to bring her vision to life. It’s very much a collaborative effort that starts with brainstorming (I always love when she shares behind the scenes on @mapologyguides on Instagram).
I also love that each map includes a bio of each collaborator, but it’s not some copy and pasted bio. Each is woven into the theme of the map, so you get a personal look into the lens in which they see life. In many ways the bio have tips for life tucked between the lines. In her latest map, “Who Are You?” Tina shares her gratitude for getting to play a small part in expanding the world’s collective wisdom, kindness, and compassion, recognizing she—like all of us—is a work in progress. Tina is the perfect guide for this collection of guides.
Each map seeks out to address different themes from different perspectives:
- Who Are You? : Playful ways to discover your true self
- What’s with this Gratitude Thing? How to make the ordinary extraordinary
- Make it Happen: The incredible power of taking small steps
- How to Make Better Decisions: 9 tools to deal with every dilemma
- Are You Looking for Answers? : Enrich your life by asking the right questions
- How to Grow Your NO: This tiny word will change your life
- The Anger Apothecary: Dispensing advice for managing this strong emotion
- What’s Bugging You? A Powerful 7 step coaching session
- Overthinking: Free your mind from troubling thoughts
- The Sea of Uncertainty: How to stay afloat in challenging times
- Where do Ideas Come From? A simple guide to having great ideas
- Hey, Let’s Work Things Out! Proven tips for a flourishing relationship
- Check out them ALL!
Clockwise L to R: The Anger Apothecary – images by Jenni Sparks and text by Lottie Storie. How to Grow Your NO – images by Nic Farrell and text by Lottie Storie. How to Make Better Decisions – images by Sarah Edmonds and text by Robert Twigger. What’s Bugging You? – images by Jenni Sparks and text by John-Paul Flintoff.
Each Mapology Guide has a “map” side that may be imagined as the section of a building, a flow chart, a list of questions, a board game, or an imagined place, while the flip side expands on the ideas explored in the map. Every time I open a guide, I notice new details, and there are new concepts and ideas that resonate with me depending on what’s going on in life. You can pick by theme, or your favorite illustrator.
The flip side is like a giant legend. There tends to be more text and lots of questions to get you thinking. The maps are more like games for life to get you thinking (outside of the box) and playing.
And like any map, it’s always fun to revisit them, taking time for reflection and to ponder. It’s amazing how big a world can fit on a single piece of paper. (They’re all printed in the UK.) Also, they come in a really fun package when you order from the shop—Tina wraps them all with love.
P.S. Next Write Your Own Rules is Dec 12th from 6-8pm CET! It’s the last time I’m running it in 2020, and a great way to set yourself up for the new year.
P.S.S. I’m planning on running some version of my 3-month program ‘Mapping Your Path into 2021’ starting in late January or February. Sign up to be notified for the next MYP workshop launch.
On a 1 hour walk during the first day of reconfiment. Digital permission slip on phone.
In Paris and across France we officially hit our deuxième vague (second wave) of COVID-19. I’d been watching our numbers steadily going up for weeks, hitting 52k new cases a day at points. I felt like I was watching the uptick in slow motion, because took the government awhile to speak up, but then when they did life came at us fast. We had less than 36 hours to get our lives together to lock.
On Wednesday Oct 28th President Macron addressed the nation. The details were announced the following day by Prime Minister Castex (if you recall, this is a change from PM Edouard Philippe who managed the 1st wave, quite well I say). When the clock struck midnight on Thursday night we were back to our days of permission slips (attestations) limited to our 1km radius for 1 hour with the exception of certain cases (doctors visits, certain jobs, etc.). The risk again is hospital overload.
Leading up until the 30th we’d already been operating on a 9pm curfew in Paris (and other major cities hit with a high case load in France). For anyone who knows French culture, eating at 7pm is not the norm at all. I’d never seen such efficiency in getting the bill—at outdoor terraces, bien sûr—to get home in time. That now feels like a distant memory with all restaurants closed, with the exception of delivery and click and collect.
The biggest difference this round is that schools are open (with universities being remote)—so far. The idea (I suppose) is to help lighten the load of working parents in order to keep the economy going. (How you want to protect the economy, while giving such little notice is something I struggle with, but more notice would have lead to more super spreader gatherings aka last hurrahs.)
If you can télétravail (work remotely) you need to according to the government. However, based on my network I’ve heard of too many companies are taking liberty on that front and writing special attestations for their employees. (Note: masks have been required in offices for awhile now if people do go to work.) I’d argue in France there’s still an old school sense of management that if you are not seen, you’re not doing your job. There is definitely a sense of entitlement and exemption for many in charge. They see themselves first rather than working to get us out of this collective mess.
Shops are closed, but some have a table at their door for click and collect orders. It’s been interesting to see chocolate shops and florists have dubbed themselves as essential. Last Friday during my first one hour outing, I was happy to bring some flowers home. I just may have to make it a regular thing in my new routine.
As for me, my life hasn’t changed much. I’m fortunate to be busy with many of my own projects and endeavors that came to life during first lockdown. (I’m grateful for my incredible community in Mapping Your Path.) I’ve worked hard to develop good habits and stick to them. I’ve added dance parties to my daily regime because an hour walk isn’t enough movement for me (and dancing is good for the soul).
Most exciting is my new hobby: cooking in the InstantPot (which no doubt will get its own post soon). Feeding myself three times a day was my least favorite part of our first lockdown. I’m not much of a cook, but I’ve decided to change that with the help of this magic machine that’s part slow cooker and part pressure cooker. (My friend Jenni is a professional chef who got me hooked.) So far I’ve made soup in 5 minutes, rice in 3 minutes, and shredded lime chicken in 20 minutes. It’s pretty much a dump and go thing and everything is fast once it pressurizes). I’ve also learned the joys of YouTube rabbit holes thanks to this new hobby.
I’ve learned with COVID there’s no point in trying to predict the future. We’re locked through at least December 1st, but I suspect it will continue longer…
Helpful resources for staying up to dat:
- Santé Publique France announces new cases in France at 8pm CET nightly
- Veteran correspondant @John_Lichfield on Twitter regularly synthesizes data (in English)
- Journalist @kimwillsher1 regularly simultaneously translates announcements in English
- France24 – International news from a French perspective
What would life look like if you started to visualize it in maps? Not as straight forward and linear as one would expect is my guess. I love maps because they give us the mindset of an explorer. We can see both where we are going, and where we have been. It’s time to zoom out and get the big picture of life, reflect and put things in perspective.
That’s also why I created Mapping Your Path into 2021, my new 3-month online workshop to help you explore intentionally while setting yourself up for success—whatever that means to you—in the New Year.
In the hustle and bustle of daily life we rarely make time for ourselves. We keep moving forward as if it’s the path we’re supposed to be on without ever questioning what where doing, why we’re doing it, or when we’re doing it. We may be exactly where we’re meant to be, but we also may need to reset our course.
This 3-month workshop is about exploration and creativity, with full permission to slow down and detour as needed. It’s about intentionally slowing down to take stock of where you’re at, and where you want to be. It’s about preparing yourself for the New Year now rather than coming up with a half-baked resolution when the clock strikes midnight and we ring in Jan 1.
During our time together you’ll be building your own tool kit to help guide you into 2021, and beyond. We’ll be doing it step by step while learning from and being inspired by each other. This workshop is not about creating more for you to do, but giving you a creative outlet to minimize overwhelm, all while being intentional. After all, change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s about building muscles, and resources, over time.
This will all happen through live workshops (which will be recorded if you can’t join live, or if you want to re-watch them) and office hours/co-working calls (bring any questions or plan to come together to work on your own explorations). We’ll have mini group calls with 5 community members to chat about whatever you’re working on, and you’re welcome to share or ask for feedback and support. On top of it, we’ll have our own online community (on Slack) to connect with each other, share progress, and celebrate small wins.
We’ll meet bi-weekly until we wrap on January 14th, giving you plenty of time to digest each workshop and continue to dig deeper. We’ll also take a pause around the holidays.
For more information + sign up today visit the full offer! Doors close on October 16th when Mapping Your Path into 2021 sets sail. Come be part of the adventure!!!
P.S. Interested in Write Your Own Rules? Sign up for the workshop waitlist to be notified when the next date is announced.
I was recently talking to a friend about travel and the fact that we can say, “I love to travel” but travel can mean so many different things to different people. For some people travel may mean going for long hikes at along a new landscape, for others it’s sitting in coffee shops for hours or casually strolling local neighborhoods, for some it’s seeing every major site in a guidebook, and for others travel is about 5-stars.
There’s no one way to travel just like there’s no one way to approach life.
Sometimes there’s a bit of trial and error, and we learn from each experience. We also don’t have to fit into a box. We have agency to pull from a variety of possibilities in order to determine our own formula for what makes a great trip.
Just as we have to determine our favorite ways to travel, we also have the power to determine how we want to move through life. It can be easy to get caught up in the rules of society. And while many rules are there for a reason, there are just as many that are there because they’ve always been there. Its these rules of the later variety that I’m encouraging us to question. We can feel out of place when we don’t fit in the guidelines of society. We can even feel like we’re doing it wrong, when in fact we’ve just never seen anyone do it any other way.
In my 2-hour Write Your Own Rules (online) Workshop I walk participants through a series of fun, quick-thinking exercises that culminate in writing your own guiding principles to carry you forward in life and in work. You’ll write your own rules that serve YOU, not what society tells us they should be. You leave at the end of the workshop with your very own rulebook [zine] that is distinctly yours and designed to be a reminder of how you want to live your life.
So who is this for? Do any of the following sound like you?
- You’re frustrated with the status quo.
- Are considering a life change.
- Want to push yourself further at your current job.
- You’re looking for a fresh perspective.
- You want something more enriching than scrolling your phone for 2 hours.
- You’re craving some time to focus on YOU.
Past participants have called Write Your Own Rules mindblowingly awesome, a breath of fresh air, thought provoking, a springboard, and more (testimonials here!). I promise it’s a ton of FUN!
The next Write Your Own Rules is on October 3rd from 6-8pm CET [Paris]. (That’s 12pm EST and 9am PST.) Hope to see you there! Tell a friend and SIGN UP NOW to grab your seat and get ready to show up for yourself!
Slightly mixed messages. Left sign: Reopening at the end of August [no date specified] Have a good summer + see you later. Right sign: Open Tuesday—Saturday 2pm-7pm.
Come to Paris any time of year and it’s a game of opening days and opening hours. Anything but a 24/7 culture. Museums tend to be closed Mondays or Tuesdays, restaurants may be closed Mondays or Tuesdays (or in other cases weekends), and shops will play by their own set of rules. Of course holidays will affect openings as well. A month like May when there are 3-4 holidays definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. But nothing beats the month of August when Parisians are famous for skipping town and taking advantage of a large portion of their 5-9 weeks of vacation a year.
It’s one thing to be on the side where you leave town. It’s a whole other ballgame to be in Paris and trying to figure out where you can go and what you can do during this month where anything goes. My own love/hate relationship with the month awakened my inner educator, and I couldn’t help but turn this post into a lesson in UX (user experience) design and look at the experience through the lens of the customer.
UX tends to be the side of the experience that isn’t always overtly visible, so I thought I’d bring it to the forefront. There’s a huge opportunity for businesses, even if they do leave on holiday. Who knows, this whole idea of breaking down lived experiences from a design perspective may become a whole series. If it does I’m tentatively calling it #missedopportunities.
The business perspective
When a restaurant or shop in Paris closes for a few weeks for summer holidays, their mindset is something like, “I’m so ready for vacation, I can’t wait to get out of here!” They’ve had the dates on the calendar for half a year and they are beyond ready for a break. They know everything they need to take care of before they go to close everything up and be able to completely unplug and disconnect. Lowest—or at least last—on the list is the most public facing component: communicating closures to others.
The typical final step owners take is to lock up and post a sign on the door or closed grate noting when they’ll be back. It’s probably a quickly written or typed sign on A4 paper and posted with clear tape. They may or may not have had the foresight to update their social media, website, and opening hours on Google.
The mentality around communicating August closures is not so much that they don’t care about their business so much as “out of sight, out of mind.” Running a business is hard work, burnout is real, and they’re ready for a well earned break too. They won’t be around to deal with customers and the business will be closed anyway, so anything customer facing is an afterthought and a minor detail in the grand scheme of what needs to do to leave on holiday. There are a significant amount of odds and ends that need to take place in order to take a well deserved break.
Now let’s flip the script and think of this scenario from the customer perspective.
A rare sight of too much communication. All very helpful and something for everyone! Including where to find them online. Perhaps the July hours could have been erased as they’re no longer relevant.
The customer perspective.
I’m in Paris. I love when Paris is quiet. That doesn’t mean I want to stay in my apartment all day everyday. I completely understand the need to take a break and go on holiday. There’s no judgement there. I still can want to support local businesses and have interactions with other humans.
I also know in August I can’t just do/go whatever/wherever my heart desires in Paris. It takes a bit more planning, thought, and research. I’m not a big planner, but if I know you’re going to be open in August I get super excited and I’ll be there all the time. I’ll become a new regular.
If I have a visitor in town it’s extremely helpful to know what will be open, particularly when it comes to restaurants. With visitors, I usually have advanced notice of when they’ll be in town, and it’s something to look forward to. Vacations and closures actually start the last couple weeks in July, but there’s still no forethought into communicating to customers about openings or closures. I find myself figuring out where we can go as it happens.
I love being a regular, but August shakes up my routine. For some of my favorite places I frequent I’ll take to asking them about their summer plans. The reality is that it’s exhausting to ask everywhere you want to go whether and when they’ll be open, and you really need a spreadsheet to keep track of everything because every business plays by their own rules in summer. It also can change from one summer to the next. They keep you on your toes!
The thing that kills me is that signs go up at the last second. They’ve essentially closed their doors and then think to communicate it. If it were up to me, I’d have a sign up a couple weeks before I was set to close to let people know what to expect.
I was so bummed when my favorite chicken place closed extra early this summer for renovations. Had I known they were closing I would have had one last run to get my fix. Instead, this year they closed for nearly a month and a half. A similar thing happened with a favorite coffee shop. While they typically close in August, I had no reason to believe they’d close even earlier—and longer—starting in July this year. I would have gone out of my way to get that last cup of satisfaction to tide me over for the summer. As a customer I WANT to give you my money, but sometimes businesses in France make it hard.
Then there’s a whole other type of businesses who just don’t communicate ANYTHING. I love supporting small, independent, and local businesses, but sometimes they make an already frustrating time even more aggravating. Take a couple weeks ago, I was really excited to go to a restaurant in my neighborhood that works with local producers. I tended to walk by during off hours so I never saw it open. There was no sign on the door, so I had no reason to believe they were closed. I know in Paris that’s not enough to go off of, so before heading there for dinner I checked their website and social media. Still nothing. I knew their sister restaurant another neighborhood over was still open, so it didn’t make sense the one near me would be closed, but you never know. So I decided to call. It was when they should be open but the phone rang and rang and rang. Were they busy or closed? I didn’t know. It was close enough I decided it was best just to walk by and see what the scene was. Of course it was closed. What made this so frustrating was all the different points where something could have been communicated. Instead it makes me as a client feel stupid and annoyed. That’s not great for business.
Another thing that happens in summer is businesses may change their opening days, times, as well as their offers. Perhaps summer hours are different, or you’re opening your terrace in the evening. Yes, it’s great for the person strolling by who discovers it just when they needed something to eat or drink. But what about the rest of us who don’t even know that we should come back because nothing is communicated that you have this offering later in the day? #missedopportunity
I often joke that the French don’t like to volunteer information. That’s a lot of pressure on me as the customer to think to inquire, and also figure out which question(s) I should ask to uncover this gem of information I really would have liked to know. If you’re a business owner and sales are down, trust me there are some super simple tweaks you can make to get the word out and communicate your offers. Depsite what society may make us believe, social media isn’t always the answer either. Word of mouth still is the one of the best ways to get word out, but the “spreaders” need to know what’s going on in order to pass along a good word.
Lately I’ve also noticed that restaurants will have menus listed in a few different places—perhaps written on the window, posted on the wall, and there’s more still in the display case. I grew up looking at one menu, so my mental model doesn’t tell me to look in multiple places to find information. On more than one occasion I’ve placed my order only to realize there was something I wanted more, I didn’t know it existed.
Just like with the opening hours, I’m having to work way too hard as someone who is a customer who literally wants to give you my money. I’d probably spend even more money if I knew some of these other products and offers existed. (And if certain items are only offered during certain windows of time, please don’t hide that information.)
Sure, signs outside your business are great to communicate summer closures, but businesses have to remember that all of their customers don’t necessarily live in the neighborhood. It’s incredibly frustrating to travel across town to find out a place is closed. Even before social media was as big as it is today, businesses weren’t great at updating their websites with opening hours. You were more likely to find updates on Facebook pages than official websites. (The challenge of finding the simplest information like opening hours on websites in France any time of the year is a whole other challenge for another post.) My goal as the customer is to find the information at a glance. Not have to go digging for it.
Google is quite smart, but still can’t read minds when it comes to holidays. Some businesses do update their summer hours on Google (that feeds into the maps feature), but some don’t. Will you be on the lucky side or not?? One business may respond, “but we updated Google,” but the baggage of the five others who didn’t is real in the customer journey.
I try not to use social media to complain about businesses, but I sometimes do when it comes to communicating openings. They may respond, “but we did share it…on Stories!” Stories are the Instagram feature that disappear after 24 hours. Other times they may share it in an Instagram post, but I have no control over what the algorithm tells me. And it takes some time and effort to have to look for said post. Why not just share it on your profile?(It’d be great if you shared your address with Paris zipcode while I’m at it!).
The goal should be for the potential customer to find the information fast, and it should be where they expect it. People should not have to go digging or hunt for it. Remember, UX is from the USER perspective. It’s necessary to get inside the brains of users and customers. While we can’t mind read, but we can gain empathy for their perspective. (Hence, I wrote this post ;) ).
UX is often something no one thinks about because when design is done right it’s seamless and easy. We’re more likely to notice—and complain—if air conditioning isn’t working, it’s too hot, or too cold. We totally ignore how it’s working until it goes awry. It’s the when things don’t go as planned that the true opportunities too. Let’s dig into some opportunities when it comes to summer closures in Paris.
My favorite sign I’ve seen this summer which an Instagram follower shared with me. (Sorry, it didn’t save your name, I’m happy to update with credit!)
Frustrations = opportunities
When it comes to UX, designers look to frustrations and pain points to find the biggest opportunities. By empathizing with the user or customer, we can learn a lot about a context or situation. Sometimes it’s the smallest changes and shifts in mindset that can have a big impact.
Every summer I encounter the same frustrations, but these are the easy fixes I’d suggest.
Post an awesome sign. If you do I’ll probably share it. So consider that free publicity. It also may grab the attention of some locals who may never have otherwise have noticed your shop or restaurant. It’s practical for the short term, but also can build buzz for long term business. Stand out and make people look. (Several years ago I put together posts here and here with a collection of my favorite signs—here and here—they still leave a lot to be desired.)
To be clear awesome doesn’t have to cost a lot of money or be time consuming. Have a little personality. Everyone loves having a smile on their face. You can even take a photo of your awesome sign and share it on your social media. Simple and effective content.
Pay attention to where you hang the sign. When you do post the sign, make it easy to find. As a customer my habits make me want to head to the door to look for information. The tiny sign on the side window around the corner is not the obvious place where I’d think to look. (Yes, I recently encountered this. It was at least a rare fun sign.)
Communicate closures—or openings—in advance. A few weeks before holidays you can post a sign of when you will be closed (or celebrate the fact that you’ll be open, because we customers need to know that too! August 15th is a public holiday, so that day brings everything into question again). This can be a small sign near check out.
Communicating in advance is also important as often social media algorithms have a day or two delay to have information appear in the feed. Businesses can also communicate the information more than once, because customers need to hear it for it to sink in. It’s about a respect for time.
Communicate in multiple locations. Make it easy to find.
Update your website, social media profiles, and create a post. Also, be explicit (day, month, date—say it in all the ways. We’re going for clarity and clear, direct messaging here). “See you next week” in an Instagram caption isn’t very useful when the interface doesn’t clearly state the date. UX is about not making the user have to think to get what they need. Volunteer information before the customer has to ask or makes false assumptions.
Don’t make assumptions. I fear it’s assumed that locals “will know” opening hours so there’s no need to communicate. You can tell me something but that doesn’t mean it sinks in. Trust me when I say that it’s very different knowing your own travel dates than keeping track of all your friends as well as businesses. It’s a giant swirling mess. Then it’s quite a bit of effort to see if a place is open. Keep in mind that even the most regular or regulars can’t keep track of it all!
Check in regularly to make sure the hours and information on your profiles is still relevant. We all get so in the groove we forget to make sure the basic information is still correct. Schedule these regular check ins.
Of course all of this is wishful thinking. I was looking forward to supporting a local coffee joint I love on their first day back. Of course they extended their closure until September 3rd. It wouldn’t be the authentic Paris experience without these twist and turns! Ha! (And it’s not even owned by Frenchies. It’s just in the air here.)
These are my thoughts. Can you relate? I spend so much time pondering why no businesses have ever thought about this from “my” perspective. Am I crazy to see all this all as a missed opportunity?? Does it drive anyone else insane? How else would you redesign the experience of summer closures? Share in the comments.
In general I love August in Paris. You can listen to me chat about August on Earful Tower last summer. As for UX, you can learn more about the field through my OpenClassrooms courses + in this Biz Blog post with my favorite UX books and resources.
Eating a croissant will never be the same again. It only took 11 years of living in Paris for me to learn what goes into making a proper croissant: patience, time, and BUTTER (one of my favorite foods!). It’s incredible how “simple” they are to make, yet it’s a true art, and it’s all about how the dough and butter is combined into layers. Here’s a glimpse inside the super fun 3-hour Croissant and Breakfast Pastries class at La Cuisine Paris.
Croissants all start with simple ingredients—flour, salt, sugar, yeast, water, and melted butter—to make the dough, known as détrempe. The process is like making pasta in terms of how it’s combined. The process is quite quick, but the dough needs several hours of refrigeration before the next steps.
When it comes to croissants, it’s all about the butter. Roll out the butter block in parchment paper that then gets folded into the détrempe. The goal is to keep the rectangular shape of the dough to ensure even layers. (Our chef Segoline made this look SO easy! It definitely takes some practice.)
The croissant dough (pâté levée feuilletée) gets rolled thin. Croissants are cut into triangles and rolled into their very identifiable shape. Pain au chocolate are made from rectangles, with a couple variations for rolling to enrobe the bars of chocolate. The secret to croissant making is to keep all the scraps! Every bit can be used, even if they’re minis.
The same dough is used to make pain au raisin and drops. This involves a layer of crème pâtissière cream filling that adds a layer of moisture to the pastry. You can add any other flavors along the way to give it your own twist.
You can also have some fun with different shapes, forms, and filling. It’s kind of magic how it all comes together.
It’s the preparation that takes time. Before baking the pastries need time to rise. The pastries actually cook quite quickly (15-20 minutes). Some pastries got a sugar syrup glaze.
We had a blast during our 3 hour class with lots of simple “Ohhhh, that’s how it’s done!!!” mind-blowing moments! For over 10 years La Cuisine Paris has been teaching travelers and locals the art of French cooking at their cooking school in the center of Paris along the Seine.
While travel may not be in the cards right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel vicariously and learn a new skill, or make croissants for your loved ones or neighbors (you never make a small batch when you’re making croissants). La Cuisine Paris has launched an online version of the school where you can everything from croissants, to macaroons, choux pastry, French sauces, souflées, basic breads, and more. They’re also offering LIVE cooking classes (space is limited, which means everyone gets access to the chef).
Of course the best part of the class is when you get to taste your creations—fresh out of the oven! Thanks to croissant-lover Graham for inspiring me to learn something new. I’ll never look at croissants the same again. (After class the hunt for the best croissants in Paris continued.)
Paris croissant resources:
- Best croissants in Paris according to Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini
- Best croissants in Paris according to Paris by Mouth
- Best pastry shops in Paris according to David Lebovitz
- A brief history of croissants from La Cuisine Paris
- La Cuisine Paris Croissant Fundamentals online class & classes in Paris
Mille mercis La Cuisine Paris + chef Segoline for such a fun experience!!
It’s strange to have lived in a place for so long and still realize there’s so much about it you still don’t know. There are many days where I feel like I know Paris like the back of my hand. There are other days where I’m reminded that I’ve only brushed the surface. After reading The New Parisienne: the women & ideas shaping Paris by Lindsey Tramuta I fell into the category of the latter. It wasn’t that felt overwhelmed by all that I don’t know, but curious to learn more.
I’ve thought a lot about my own desires to tell “alternative narratives” or the stories that are less told. In recent years I’ve come to see how the perpetuation and celebration of certain narratives in the media, and in our own minds are stories we’ve accepted, but without question. We don’t always know there’s another way of doing things because that other way of doing things isn’t always visible or represented in front of us. These stories that seem like exceptions, may likely be more the norm than we realize.
The New Parisienne was the first book I’ve been able to get into and read cover to cover since lockdown began. My mind had been distracted, but this book gave me focus, and pulled me in. Lindsey does an incredible job of distilling her long interviews into a few cohesive pages that capture the spirit of each woman featured in the book. I was so intrigued and eager to learn more about these different approaches and ways of doing business. I could relate!
While the book is focused on women who call Paris home, the stories in this book really could be from anywhere in the world. There’s something about the release of the book now that feels more relevant than ever. It’s incredibly timely to learn about different experiences beyond what movies and media perpetuate, but at the same time these stories feel very timeless. I couldn’t help but wonder where I’d be now had I discovered many of these women earlier in life. I learned a lot about the world in the process of reading their stories and discovering their work too.
Once I finished the book, I wanted to know more about the process. Here’s a special interview with author Lindsey Tramuta (aka Lost in Cheeseland).
Anne Ditmeyer: Your book was initially supposed to launch in April but was delayed until July due to Covid-19. While I’m sure that was frustrating, I can’t help but feel like the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement makes the release of this book more important and relevant than ever. As the author, do you have any thoughts on the timing of your book as it relates to this current time in history?
AD: You point out “parisiennes” are often conflated with French women. One of the main goals of this book is to highlight the fact that there is a much richer view of Parisian women than the ones celebrated by the media. Why do you think people have clung to those narratives so closely?
The book features prize wining authors, musicians, an Olympic boxer, shop owners, and more.
AD: Was it a conscious choice to make sure some women you picked weren’t born in France and may identify more as nationalities other than French? Do you think the fact that you’re an American in Paris (who now has French citizenship) played a role in those choices?
LT: If you’re in the US, please consider ordering the book from Bookshop.org or an independent bookseller! They need our support! You can find some other options on my website: www.thenewparisienne.com.
AD: THANK YOU, LINDSEY!! MERCI BEAUCOUP for all your incredible work and telling these stories.
Portrait of the author by Joann Pai.
It’s also worth checking out Lindsey’s podcast, The New Paris where she continues to tell different stories inside Paris. Yours truly recorded an episode shortly before lockdown (episode 51 – On deeper travel experiences).
You can read more about The New Parisienne:
- A New Book Pushes Back Against the Stereotypical French Woman (Vogue)
- How Mayor Anne Hidalgo Plans to Reinvent Paris (sample chapter—Condé Nast Traveler)
- Poonam Chawla on Tourism, Cooking, and Raising Her Boys in Paris (sample chapter–LitHub)
- More press here!
In Paris it’s easy to get lost in the picture perfect images of clichés, but there’s so much depth to this city “beyond the bubble” and images we typically are fed. In the times of Black Lives Matter, I thought it only fitting to celebrate Black tourism, history, businesses, and voices in Paris.
Even if you don’t plan to visit Paris soon, I hope this post can help inspire you to explore another layer of the city and travel vicariously. These are people, businesses, creatives, and experts whose work I’ve discovered along the way that I find inspiring from their approaches, business models, and stories they tell. In no particular order…
Kévi Donat of Le Paris Noir offers Black history walks in both French and English specializing in stories which are typically invisible. His current street tour offerings explore La Rive Gauche and the Pioneers (Pantheon to Saint Germain de Près), Pigalle and La Goutte d’Or (Pigalle to Chateau Rouge), and Le Paris Noir (Pantheon to Chateau-Rouge), and he also offers a tour looking at the Pantheon and abolition, and another explores the (de)colonized Louvre.
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Yaqui (short for Jacqueline) is the French author of the city guide Little Africa: Afrique à Paris (available in French and English). She also offers experiences including Made in Goutte d’Or (a neighborhood to the east of Sacre Coeur she describes as a crossroads of African fashion, design and spices), Gentlemen Fashion Tour, and a Taste of African food tour. You can listen to her talk about the future of tourism after a pandemic on The New Paris podcast.
Yannick is an American has called Paris home since 2007 and runs My Parisian Life: your guide to life in Paris. She offers custom itineraries, tours, hand delivered Paris foodie bags for picnics, monthly meet ups, and event planning and experiences. She also has her own YouTube channel capturing her adventures around Paris.
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Maya is a Californian turned Parisienne entrepreneur who runs La Vie Locale, her company which helps provides a range of services from event and trip planning, to administrative and mentor support, to content creation for individuals and brands to make their trips and moves to Paris more seamless. Her YouTube channel Almost Parisienne highlights adventures around Paris along with food lover and style addict friend Hanna.
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Jennifer Padjemi is a French independent journalist who writes everything from Paris to pop culture and lifestyle stories in both French and English. She’s a contributor to the Washington Post’s digital travel section By The Way, where she wrote A Local’s Guide to Paris.
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Tanisha Townsend is the wine and spirits educator behind Girl Meets Glass and host of the podcast Wine School Dropout. Girl Meets Glass aims to empower individuals with the knowledge of wine (& spirits too) so they will feel knowledgeable about their specific tastes and confident in their purchasing choices. She also teaches wine at universities.
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Youssef Fontana and his brother Mamadou founded Maison Chateau Rouge, one of my favorite Parisian fashion brands a few years ago in the Chateau Rouge neighborhood of Paris. It’s founded on community values and social responsibility. The brand has gone on to have major collaborations with Monoprix (like a French version of Target) and even made a special shoe with Nike. While it’s easy to get lost in the the brand as something hip and trendy, the brand was founded with a secondary mission, Les Oiseaux Migrateurs is the non-profit wing that supports small businesses in Africa.
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WAX in the City is a documentary exploring fashion through African wax fabric, while taking the viewer on a trip around Europe and Africa. I caught it at the Nigerian Film Festival in Paris, and now it’s available on Vimeo On Demand. (I’m not sure if it’s still valid but there was a free code on their FB page).
(There are also countless retoucheries—tailor shops—in the Chateau Rouge neighborhood if you’re ever looking to have your own clothes made. And that’s where you find all the fabric shops full of amazing and colorful African wax fabric patterns can be found.)
Nothing But the Wax is a French media site founded by Chayet Chienin that celebrates and gives a voice to the untold stories of afrodescendent youth and Black millennials. The blog turned media site is in French and English, but not all of the same posts appear in both languages. (Chayet also offers African Fashion in the City through Airbnb Experiences.)
Jessi aka Etta Vee is an American who found her voice as an artist in Paris (and recently moved to Strasbourg) and has grown her company into an international brand. Her work is colorful, fun, and full of joy and appears on walls (as paintings and murals), products in shops, clothes, and more.
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Carole Fredericks was an African American singer who made it big in the French music scene and became a member of the Fredericks Goldman Jones trio (listen on Spotify) before branching out to a solo career, which ended abruptly after she died of a heart attack after a concert in Senegal. I only became aware of her work after a chance encounter with her sister and brother in law in the Paris post office. My helping them with the stamp machines became an introduction to Carole’s work, and a friendship. Carole’s sister Connie runs a foundation in her sister’s name which uses her sister’s music and story to teach French. (The foundation website is currently down for a revamp, but linking it in hopes its up again soon.)
Les Déterminés is an entrepreneurship program founded by Moussa Camara which seeks to provide opportunities for all, particularly to those in less favorable suburbs of Paris and rural areas (and now has expanded to other cities around France). I first discovered Moussa’s work on cultural analyst and marketing expert Gregory Pouy’s podcast Vlan (episode in French).
- Kasia put together a blog post of other Black owned businesses in Paris.
- Messy Nessy Chic explored the “other” lost generation of Black American artists in Paris.
- While not Paris specific, Travel Noire is a digital media company serving millennials of the African Diaspora that uses inspired content to help discerning travelers, discover, plan and experience new destinations.
- We Are Black and Abroad is a travel and lifestyle company highlighting the Black experience drive to explore, embrace, and empower.
- Be Girl World is a Philly-based organization that empowers teenage girls through global education and travel. bGw challenges girls to think beyond their neighborhood, dream bigger than their city limits, and create possibilities outside their country borders. Each cohort spends two years in the program, culminating in an international trip.
This list only brushes the surface. Please help me build it out. I invite you to share names, businesses, links, and a sentence or two about Black businesses in travel, and in Paris in the comments below.
Even if we can’t travel in traditional ways at the moment, I encourage you to do some digging and see how you can support the tourism industry, be it supporting a business through buying products, discovering online experiences, or something we haven’t considered yet. (Even if you don’t see an offer, sometimes the best ideas come from [potential] clients inquiring about a service. Who knows they may be able to create custom offers…)
Also, keep in mind we can all support our local economies and learn more about the places we live—be it Paris, or anywhere in the world. I for one have a lot I could learn about the Black experience and history in Paris.
African American poet Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
While I can’t pretend to fully understand the weight that Black people are feeling right now, if you pause to listen and read, I see that they’re hurting, they’re not OK, they’re tired, and even feel numb. What, at the surface, was sparked by the murder of George Floyd is only one blip on a larger, deeper, exhausting history. Right now they’re also aware of who is speaking up, and who is silent.
I’ve never considered myself an activist, but if it’s a matter of language, what I do see myself as is an advocate, ally, and amplifier. It’s why I felt the need—and drive—to write this post. This post is not about making me feel good—in fact, it was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever written. In that respect, it was a reminder that there is no progress without effort.
This post is my attempt to explain a time in history—one that needs rewriting, from truthfully acknowledging a past and present rife with systematic oppression and bias, to how we move forward, together. I share my own journey where I know I have already had mis-steps, but I have a voice and a platform, so this is my plea for a more compassionate world. To do that we need to become allies.
Here’s my basic breakdown to becoming an ally:
- Acknowledge. (Privilege. The situation. That you may not understand everything.)
- Educate yourself. (Listen. Do the work. Learn what you can.)
- Advocate and amplify. (Do what you can to raise the voices of others.)
Are you not following the news? Don’t feel the need to follow? Just want to “go back to normal”? Staying quiet? Flippantly don’t think it’s a big deal and want to go on with your life? Do you feel exhausted by what you’re seeing and feel the urge to stop looking at the news and take a mental health break? These are all indicators that you have privilege. Not everyone has the luxury to put on blinders or brush it aside.
What was the moment when you realized you had a certain privilege [because of your skin color]? Can you pinpoint it to a moment, or was it a gradual build? For me, it was the latter. It was Twitter and shifting conversations in the design world that started to open my eyes. I’d eavesdrop on conversations that would open my eyes to other perspectives I hadn’t considered. I expanded the comments and read the reactions. This was rarely anything I would have learned in school, but life lessons of the lived.
I started to learn that what we see represented isn’t the only story, but also what is absent and ignored. In text books. In what we’re taught. In the media. Serious subjects are layered and nuanced, so even topics of biases were rarely touched on in my official studies.
Context is key. It may mean catching a comment you don’t understand up close, and then zooming out to understand the big picture. That’s what we’re in right now. None of this makes sense without context.
If you feel yourself being attacked recognize if you feel defensive. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel like this?” Pause. Don’t jump to conclusions. (Full disclosure, I had a moment of defensiveness when working on this post. I was stubborn and didn’t fully listen to a friend with a different perspective. It took sleeping on it to realize there was more merit to what she was saying than I gave her credit for. This process will be uncomfortable.)
Acknowledge what it feels like when you feel judged. Now flip the script and focus on where and when you may feel judgement towards others. Is it justified? Was it learned? Were you even aware you do it? Be aware that not all racism is blatant.
Acknowledge what it feels like when someone makes an assumption about you. Now check which assumptions you’re making about others. Have you ever been followed in a store based on your skin color? Or had people move away from you on the side walk [because of the color of your skin]? A friend of mine shared this—something I only learned about now.
Acknowledge your own hardships and what it felt like. Acknowledge that others have their own hardships that aren’t always visible. What if you had hardships at EVERY step of your career because of the color of your skin? And what if you feared for the life and safety of your father, brother, and nephew as they went through daily life? Keep your own entitlement in check. It’s not a competition of who had it harder. Even if there are factors in your life that make it hard, your skin color isn’t one of them.
Ultimately this isn’t about you, it’s about gaining empathy for others. I’d like to think in reminding ourselves that we have feelings, we can start to appreciate that others have feelings too. Through asking questions—rather focusing on answers—we can begin to see and understand the world through someone else’s lens.
In order to do this we must LISTEN. Not pretend to listen, and not nod like we’re listening while we really are planning what to say next, but REALLY LISTEN. Even if it’s uncomfortable. It may take some time to sit with ideas. Keep asking questions, and asking yourself questions.
It can be hard to discover we’re imperfect humans, but acknowledging it is a start.
1-screen from Courtney Ahn’s guide to white privilege.
There’s this strange unspoken assumption that we learn everything we need to learn in school, and then we’re set. There’s nothing further from the truth. School is only the beginning of our education.
As adults it can feel embarrassing to not know something so it’s easier to cover it up than admit that we don’t know. School doesn’t teach us that it’s OK to admit when we don’t know an answer, that asking questions is a valuable step, and ultimately, that as individuals we can learn anything we don’t know.
We grow up with mental models that are informed by our environment and the context in which we are raised. I have fond memories of police officers coming to my elementary school in Kansas. They were nice and friendly, and never forceful. I have an idea of reality that is very different from the majority of disturbing coverage I see on the news. Our ideas don’t always match reality. (And yes, I believe there are lots of good officers out there too—and their stories are being shared online too; but they are not the ones getting away with murder—literally.) Pay attention to when our assumptions and expectations don’t play out in reality.
We are never done learning, and honestly it’s embarrassing that I’m only now learning some of these lessons. It’s also important to acknowledge that sometimes you may need to unlearn what you always thought was true.
It’s easy to get defensive to protect our view points. But this is not about us. The statement “I’m not racist,” becomes about you and not the other person. First, acknowledge racism happens on a spectrum and that it seeps into every aspect of our lives in various, often subtle, ways. Realize you may be offending someone unintentionally. Flip the script to ask, “How might what I say be unintentionally interpreted as racist?” And invite others to correct you if something is out of line. It’s scary being wrong, but it’s even scarier losing your life to police brutality because of the color of your skin.
And yes, ALL lives do matter, but currently not ALL people are treated like they do so that’s why the conversation has to change, and focus on how Black Lives Matter. Jane Elliot asked the question, “If you, as a white person, would be happy to receive the same treatment that our Black citizens do in this society, please stand.” She asked this question as a way to point out the fact that you know what’s happening, you know you don’t want it for yourself, yet why are you willing to accept or allow it for others?
This is not the time to put the onus on someone else—particularly a POC—to educate you about what’s going on. It’s time to do the work yourself. You can ask for help. Here are resources for you if you don’t know where to start:
- Trevor Noah on George Floyd, the Minneapolis Protests, Ahmaud Arbery & Amy Cooper (The Daily Show social media)
- A guide to white privilege by Courtney Ahn
- The Conscious Kid examines parenting and education through a critical race lens (see “Are your kids too young to talk about race?“)
- Anti-racism resources for white people (Google Doc)
- Support the Black Lives Matter Movement by Teen Vogue (judging the source? Revisit the step above.)
- 20 Actions White people & non-Black POCs in Corporate (and otherwise) can take to show up for Black People right now
- Listen to The Daily podcast (episode: A weekend of pain and protests and The systems that protect police; surely with more to come)
- Five Racist Anti-Racism Responses “Good” White Women Give to Viral Posts & The Only Kind of Response That’s Acceptable
- Buy a book about anti-racism + more books + more books (and support a local/independent bookstore when you do)
- About Race podcast by Reni Eddo-Lodge, author Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race
- Watch Trigger Warning with Killer Mike documentary series on Netflix
- Watch 13th on Netflix or in full on YouTube
- What to do —including where to donate (Google Doc)
- Where do I donate? Why is the uprising violent? Should I go protest? (Courtney Martin on Medium)
- Slavery and the Origins of the American Police State (Ben Fountain on Medium)
- Need someone who can help you understand the issues? Alexa is happy to talk.
ADVOCATE AND AMPLIFY
Have you ever read a book and noticed how many “experts” are white, affluent, males? It’s a lot. When you start to pay attention it’s actually mind boggling. This doesn’t make them inherently better, yet their placement and prominence allows them to ride the wave. I invite you to start paying attention to representation and inclusion (this includes, POC [people of color], gender, age, and less abled). Who is present, but also who is absent?
Did you know the #MeToo movement was started by a Black woman long before it started to get mainstream media attention? Tarana Burke was behind it all, yet most of the media I see tends to celebrate a white female celebrity. And while her role was crucial in the spread, how often was she crediting Burke in her own rise to visibility? Now is a key moment to remember to not take the spotlight from others, but use our voices and channels to amplify other voices.
The following examples are people who exemplify being an ally long before the past week.
- Grace Bonney’s Good Company Podcast had two episodes that deeply influenced my awareness of race issues. Justina Blakeney discusses radical honesty and diversity in design, and The importance of inclusion and advocacy with People of Craft cofounders Amélie Lamont and Tim Goodman.
- People of Craft is a platform showcasing creatives of color and their craft. (Note: when considering hiring an artist or illustrator in these times, reach out to a POC who is representative of the population you’re covering. You can also search by race/ethnicity on Women Who Draw.)
- Tim Goodman is a white man who grew up in a predominantly Black neighborhood. He speaks out through his art, and encourages donations to organizations. I highly recommend watching his BLM Stories, particularly for the story about when he shared a jail cell with a Black man and what he learned (and offered to pay his bail).
- Gabby Blair AKA Design Mom was early to share 7 tips for anti-racism learning on her blog and Instagram.
- Leslie Jordan invited Deesha Dyer to take over his Instagram with 4.6 million followers to give her a bigger platform and help amplify her voice.
- Ben & Jerry’s response: We must dismantle white supremacy. Silence is not an option. This is not a media ploy. They have a 2016 post declaring why Black lives matter and use their platform to to dig into education: from slavery to mass incarceration.
- Brené Brown with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi talking about “How to Be Anti-Racist” on Unlocking Us [podcast]
I invite you too to think about who you surround yourself with—in real life and online? Does everyone have the same color skin as you? Do you follow different voices online? What kind of books do you read? (What gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation do the authors have? The characters have?) Now is the time to reach beyond our bubble of comfort.
It’s important to listen. To stay informed. To donate. But one of the most important roles we can play is advocating for and amplifying Black voices. This is only the beginning and we’re on a long journey. Consider the role you can play. Can you speak up to your employer? Speak up in an organization you’re part of? Suggest a book or article by a POC in your book club? Have a hard conversation?
I regularly see the statement “I have work to do” shared by white friends. It’s a reminder that this is not a flick of a switch. It will take time, and effort. And we may get things wrong along the way. But it’s not going to magically disappear. No one said work is easy, but when we do work at something, it is far more rewarding. And we have to commit to the work, not just make it an empty statement to comfort ourselves. This is not designed to make us feel good, but hopefully we can make somebody who is exhausted from a lifetime of this fight feel better in this time—like people are on their side.
In my own journey of learning, please share what resources have been most helpful for you. I’m still learning to speak on this topic, so please correct me if you find anything offensive (specifically asking POC). If you’re still struggling to understand what’s going on, ask questions, and I’ll do my best to find an answer for you.
I’ve been invited to read the CreativeMornings manifesto at their NYC chapter event on Friday. Things like this don’t happen everyday, so I made a banana map to commemorate the occasion, and the journey!
This graphic may just be the most extra thing I’ve ever done. (No, no one asked me to do this.) I took a cue from Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka @swissmiss, and the founder of the free, global breakfast series CreativeMornings) who keeps a drawer full of confetti for work. It was Tina who slipped into my DMs early in quarantine inquiring if I would be interested in offering a virtual version of their FieldTrips they’d been testing out. I said yes, even though I didn’t totally know what I would do. (It would go on to include mapping your Covid commute on a banana, inspired by a student in my Skillshare class 7 years ago).
Little did I know Tina and the entire CreativeMornings team would show up at my Make A Map! FieldTrip. Not only did they show up, but they had a blast. In Tina’s words, “My team LOVED your FieldTrip! LOVED! Anne is so genuine, warm, and good at this. She is all heart. Consider me impressed!”
Also surprising was that having a few hundred people draw maps on bananas (or oranges, or lemons, or sweet potatoes, or toilet paper tubes), would also in turn provide me a confidence boost in my own work. (Check out #MakeAMapFieldTrip on Twitter + Instagram to see some of the creative magic that came out of my FieldTrips).
It all became a good reminder to HAVE FUN and it’s possible to find—and bring—joy even in hard times. Without leaving my apartment, my journey connected me to so many inspiring humans around the world, and tomorrow I’ll “travel” to NYC to read the CM manifesto during their chapter event.
It’s such an honor to have been invited, and by someone who has inspired so much of how I approach work (again, make it FUN). It will only be a minute of my life, yet will be the largest stage/audience I’ll be in front of. I definitely didn’t take a traditional path to get here, so it felt like the perfect occasion to celebrate that.
Tomorrow’s headliner is Jocelyn Glei, who is one of my favorite voices on the internet, namely through her podcast “HurrySlowly” which is an ongoing reminder that it’s OK to slow down. There will also be live music, and I have no doubt the CM team has cooked up other fun surprises.
All CreativeMornings events around the world are free. You can sign up on the CreativeMornings website to join live tomorrow. The main room is long sold out, but join the waitlist to get access to the YouTube livestream. You can always catch a replay later too.