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An Unannounced Visit Into The OVERCROWDED Minds of Hoarders

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How have Hoarders and Antique Roadshow not joined forces yet?less than a minute ago via WhoSay Favorite Retweet Reply

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The Psychology of Hoarders

Posted by Adam Tod Brown for The Smoking Jacket

Just about everyone has seen the various reality shows documenting people’s problems with hoarding. Or maybe you just know someone who has a ton of junk laying around the house and you’re worried that they’re heading for an appearance on one of those shows. Either way, you’ve probably wondered exactly what the hell is going through the head of a person who hoards.

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This fascinating infographic has the answers.
Psychology of Hoarding Infographic
Source: Psychology Degree

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Hoarders: Andrew

1 min – Dec 13, 2010
Andrew and Matt are clearing up his yard when Andrew comes across a set of plates that have been outside for some time. Andrew
aetv.com

Hoarders: Hanna

Apr 7, 2011
Hanna sits with Dr. Zasio and Matt to sort boxes of canned food. Some of the food is over 30 years old and the cans are heavily
link.aetv.com

Hoarders: Mary Lynn

2 min – Oct 25, 2010
Geralin discusses Mary Lynn s shopping and spending habits. Mary Lynn has justified her excessive purchasing by considering it to
aetv.com

Hoarders: Claudie

44 min – Jun 6, 2011 – Season 2 – Episode 13 – Claudie
This family of 14 was the Brady Bunch of the block–until mother Claudie’s hoarding tore the family apart and turned them all into the pariahs
hulu.com

6 Celebrity Hoarders

By Ami Angelowicz for The Frisky

6 Celebrity HoardersSplash News

Michaele and Tareq Salahi, better known as the White House party crashers cum “The Real Housewives of DC” cast members, may be hiding a very dirty secret. According to a former employee, they may have a hoarding issue. “[Their home] was almost like a hoarder’s house, with paper stacked up everywhere. There was also dog hair and dead bugs that seemed to be all over the floor—and old food would be sitting on the stove for weeks!” revealed the former personal assistant to the couple. As a person who has watched every episode of “Hoarders,” I would say that if these accusations are true, the Salahis are most definitely in the club. It doesn’t really surprise me either—something just ain’t right there. [Celebitchy]

On the laundry list of Lindsay Lohan’s problems is her compulsive hoarding issue. Luckily, Niecy Nash intervened.

6 Celebrity HoardersSplash News
I think owning 17 dogs qualifies Paris Hilton as a pet hoarder. [Examiner]
6 Celebrity HoardersSplash News
Maybe a hoarding problem was partially to blame for the end of Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt’s marriage. Some pics of the inside of their house scared us more than Heidi’s new face. [Pop on the Pop]
6 Celebrity HoardersSplash News
“Friends” star Lisa Kudrow has publicly acknowledged her hoarding problem. She’s into keeping old documents, faxes, and day planners … like from the ‘80s. Yikes. [Perez Hilton]
6 Celebrity HoardersSplash News
Mariah Carey has been rumored to collect (read as: hoard) lingerie, perfume bottles, and all things feminine. [E Music]

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  1. We admitted we were powerless over clutter — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps are reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Permission to reprint and adapt this material does not mean that AA is affiliated with this program. AA is a program of recovery from alcoholism only — use of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in connection with these programs and activities which are patterned after AA, but which address other problems, does not imply otherwise.

Copyright © 1989 – 2010 by Clutterers Anonymous World Service Organization.
All Rights Reserved.

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Children of Hoarders on Leaving the Cluttered Nest

Stacy Sodolak for The New York Times

Holly Sabiston said that her home in Austin, Tex., fluctuates between neat and “über neat.”

By | N.Y.T.
JESSIE SHOLL’S West Village apartment is a rent-stabilized fifth-floor walk-up, three small rooms and a sleeping loft where she and her husband, both writers, have lived for seven years. Perfect-storm conditions for clutter. But Ms. Sholl, a petite, pale-skinned woman of 42, keeps things tidy with routine “purges.” Even of objects she likes.

“I should get rid of this,” she said on a recent afternoon, pointing to a chicken sitting on top of a bookshelf, handmade by an artist out of recycled shower curtains. “It serves no purpose.”

Two minutes earlier she had been admiring its colorful plumes.

She laughed. “It’s a little pathological, I admit.”

If Ms. Sholl is overly zealous in her approach to housekeeping, one can understand why after reading her recently published memoir, “Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother’s Compulsive Hoarding.” The parent Ms. Sholl describes is a woman whose cluttered living room inexplicably contains five sewing machines and at least eight pairs of moldy cowboy boots. She is someone who buys too much and doesn’t throw anything away, even as the stuff piles up and impedes normal life — the textbook definition of a hoarder.

In dealing with her mother’s home in Minneapolis, Ms. Sholl has spent much of her life alternating between feeling shame about its squalid condition and attempting to rid it of the books, scraps of paper, empty food cartons and thrift-store tchotchkes littering every available surface.

When she learned that her mother had cancer, in 2006, Ms. Sholl flew out for one last-ditch cleanup attempt, an effort that inspired “Dirty Secret.” “The stove was piled feet-high with dirty pans,” Ms. Sholl said. “It gnawed at me that she was living that way.”

Many children of hoarders know the feeling. Even as scientists study the cognitive activity that accompanies the disorder and television shows like TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” and A&E’s “Hoarders” have made it a mainstream issue, scant attention has been paid to how hoarding affects families of the afflicted, especially their children. Most are left to their own devices to make sense of growing up in homes where friends and relatives are unable to visit, with parents who seem to value inanimate objects more than the animate ones navigating the goat paths through the clutter.

Randy O. Frost, a psychology professor at Smith College, has been studying hoarders for two decades and is an author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.” Children of hoarders, he noted, often display a tortured ambivalence toward their parents, perhaps because unlike spouses or friends of hoarders, they had little choice but to live amid the junk.

“They grew up in this difficult environment and naturally came to resent it,” Dr. Frost said. “But at the same time, these are your parents and you have to not only respect and love but take care of them. What happens when they get old?”

NOT surprisingly, there are a number of online support groups and blogs devoted to children of hoarders, including Hoarder’s Son and Behind the Door. The most popular, Children of Hoarders, maintains an online forum where members trade strategies for helping parents, discuss issues like “doorbell dread” (more on that later) and share stories. One account, posted by a woman named Tracy Schroeder, details in emotionally raw terms her mother’s death and the subsequent cleanup of the family home in Clovis, N.M., which was filled with magazines, craft supplies and dog feces.

“The COH Web site was my saving grace,” Ms. Schroeder, 42, said. “Nobody understands the weirdness of growing up this way unless they go through it.”

In high school, Ms. Schroeder said, she was a cheerleader and president of her class, but she lived in constant fear that “someone would see our house.” After her parents divorced, she strategically arranged visits with friends when she was spending weekends with her father. The college she attended was 20 minutes from her mother’s house, but she rarely visited, she said, because “I wouldn’t want to stay there, and that would cause fights.”

(Page 2 of 3)

Her reluctance to visit became a moot point when her mother eventually stopped letting her in. By the time she died, in 2006, Ms. Schroeder said, “I hadn’t been in the house for eight or nine years.”

Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Adult children of hoarders like Jessie Sholl, with her husband, David Farley, often compensate by purging clutter from their homes. Their dog, Abraham Lincoln, shares their New York apartment.

She added, mournfully: “She wouldn’t let you help — that’s what’s so frustrating. She would cut you out if you brought it up.”

Ms. Sholl’s mother, Sheila Sholl, said she had the same attitude: for years she was in denial about her hoarding. “I told myself I was collecting kitschy things, and I was sure the value would go up,” she said. “I was dealing with anxiety disorders that I had as a child through this stuff. I’d walk into a room and see my stuff and feel comforted.”

As the house filled up, though, she shut down. “I never really could put effort into my environment because I felt overwhelmed by everything.”

Her daughter’s book, she said, helped her understand how hoarding affected their relationship, especially after she and her husband were divorced, and why her daughter decided to live with her father. “She had no place to be comfortable here,” Sheila Sholl said. “There was no place to sit.”

The Children of Hoarders message board often reads like a transcript of a group therapy session, but exchanges also reflect practical concerns. Some children of hoarders ask questions like, “How often do you wash bedsheets?” that reveal a lack of basic household skills.

Like others, Ms. Schroeder went through an adjustment period when she was on her own for the first time. The dorm room she lived in during her freshman year in college, she said, was a mess: “My roommate from that time still brings it up. I’ve never done that again.”

Holly Sabiston grew up outside Kansas City, Mo., with a parent who had a “junk room” that took over the house. (Her mother, Gwen Fisher, doesn’t dispute that, but prefers to see herself as someone with a cluttered house rather than a hoarder. “I don’t like the term,” she said. “I do have a lot of guilt that we didn’t have a better place,” she added, but explained that she accumulated items she thought she would use, and that money concerns kept her from tossing anything.)

Consequently, Ms. Sabiston, 42, never learned how to maintain a home, she said, so after high school she went to work for a housekeeping service, in an effort “to work it out by getting a job as a cleaning lady.”

It stands to reason that someone raised in a home marked by excessive accumulation would have a complex relationship with stuff. Some children of hoarders keep too much; others throw out everything. (Ms. Sholl can’t find her graduate school diploma; she thinks she may have tossed it during a purge.) Both responses may suggest an inability to determine the proper value of objects.

As Dr. Frost put it: “Without a role model, how can one learn what is valuable and what is not? How do you decide whether you need an empty soda bottle or a piece of junk mail?”

Ms. Sabiston now lives with her husband in a small house in Austin, Tex., that fluctuates between neat and “über neat,” she said. For years, she didn’t want much and found shopping “paralyzing,” but recently she discovered her nesting side, when she took a job as an image archivist for an architecture firm. She is currently reupholstering an Eero Saarinen chair that once sat in her paternal grandparents’ midcentury modern home, a project she describes in almost therapeutic terms.

One suspects that her lingering discomfort with shopping may be rooted in the fear of becoming a hoarder.

“I don’t think I’m in danger of getting anywhere close to my mother,” Ms. Sabiston said. “But I do still worry about it.”

It’s a reasonable concern. Preliminary evidence from research being done at Johns Hopkins University suggests that hoarding runs in families, said Jack Samuels, an associate professor in the psychiatry department. “We think there may be a genetic component,” Dr. Samuels said.

(Page 3 of 3)

Dorothy Breininger, a professional organizer and a producer of the A&E show “Hoarders,” said she had noticed that when someone was raised by a hoarder from a very early age, “there’s a likeliness they’ll want to collect.”

Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Jason Brunet said that his Seattle apartment is “somewhere in the middle” on the tidiness scale.

That may be why Jason Brunet was “reassured greatly” when he was able to downsize from a large two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom in Seattle not long ago. Mr. Brunet, 30, appeared in an especially harrowing episode of the show. His mother’s hoarding was so far gone that authorities deemed her home near New Orleans unfit for her pet dogs after Child Protective Services removed him when he was 13. He spent the remainder of his childhood living nearby with his older sister.

The episode shows him returning to his mother’s house for the first time in four years, surveying the squalor with the curiosity of an anthropologist. Standing in front of a bed heaped with junk, he informs the camera with apparent detachment: “This is like an alluvial flood plain, with layers and layers of deposits.”

His own apartment, Mr. Brunet said recently, is “somewhere in the middle” on the tidiness scale. When he moved, he added, “it was extremely easy to get rid of stuff that I didn’t need — I was relieved to learn that about myself.”

Not everyone leaves the cluttered nest behind so easily. Perhaps by living with his older sister, Mr. Brunet managed to avoid many of the hang-ups children of hoarders deal with — including the nearly universal “doorbell dread,” a term mentioned frequently on the Children of Hoarders board. It’s a response to living in an isolated home, where the hoarder is too embarrassed to entertain guests. As a result, children of hoarders tend to be uneasy hosts.

Ms. Sholl said she can’t recall anyone visiting her childhood home, something her mother confirmed. (“Somebody has to know me for 10 years before I let them in,” Sheila Sholl said.) And as an adult, “I can only think of two parties I hosted in my 20s,” Jessie Sholl said. “I didn’t like my space being viewed.” Now that she’s married, she added, her more-social husband has helped her feel comfortable inviting people over.

Marriage, however, creates its own challenges — merging one’s life and domestic habits with those of another person is an adjustment for anyone, especially someone who is the child of a hoarder. And it tends to complicate relationships when you tell a potential partner, “You can never visit my parents’ house.”

Ms. Schroeder has been married twice; neither husband ever set foot in her mother’s home. Certainly not her current spouse, who is very tidy, she said, and would have been “traumatized forever.”

Is it a coincidence that Ms. Schroeder married a neat freak?

“I wonder if I did it to have him ground me?” she mused.

Ms. Sholl’s husband, David Farley, a travel writer, has ventured inside his mother-in-law’s house. After her cancer diagnosis, he went along with Ms. Sholl to help clean. They both got scabies.

“I’ll probably never go back,” Mr. Farley said, though not bitterly. He seemed understanding of his wife’s history and said their domestic styles were for the most part compatible. The knickknacks he buys on his travels abroad, though, sometimes make her uncomfortable. As do his old baseball cards in the hall closet.

“I keep saying, ‘Sell them — let’s go to Europe’ ” with the money, Ms. Sholl said.

WHATEVER balance children of hoarders manage to find in their own homes, there is still the ancestral homestead to contend with — and the knowledge that it is filling up with more junk by the day — so long as the parent with the hoarding problem is alive. After years of pleading and arguing, children of hoarders often abandon all hope that the parent will reform.

Most therapists agree that the disorder is complex and difficult to treat. Dr. Frost noted that there had been some success with cognitive behavior therapy that “includes a combination of things: focusing on controlling the urge to acquire and learning how to break the attachment people have to things.”

Just trying to de-clutter the home doesn’t work, because “you’re dealing with the product of the behavior, not the behavior itself,” he said. “That’s what’s so frustrating to family members — they’re trying to de-clutter and it ends up being a giant argument.”

But by simply admitting her problem, Sheila Sholl has given her daughter a small measure of satisfaction that many children of hoarders desperately want but never receive.

“She has a mental illness that is really frustrating,” Jessie Sholl said. “But she doesn’t want to be a hoarder. Nobody wants to do that.”

Sheila Sholl, who is now cancer-free, said she was making an effort to buy less and keep her house tidier. Still, she said, “I’ve got all kinds of things on my table, dishes to be washed, cookbooks lying around.”

Her daughter, meanwhile, prefers not to discuss the house with her mother or to visit her there — until the day she must. “I’m not trying to sound flippant,” she said, “but when I go into that house I will definitely be wearing a hazmat suit.”

A version of this article appeared in print on May 12, 2011, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Leaving The Cluttered Nest.
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Related

Brian Stauffe

‘Dirty Secret’

By JESSIE SHOLL | N.Y.T.
Published: May 11, 2011

I take an early flight and arrive in Minneapolis in the late morning. That afternoon, my stepmom, Sandy, and I are meeting my mother at the lawyer’s office so I can sign the papers about the house. My dad and Sandy normally have limited contact with my mother, but before I left New York, Sandy called me and offered to help in any way she could; she even agreed to let my mother sign power of attorney over to her, since I live so far away. I wish I could call my brother so he could help, but that’s not an option.

When my mom arrives, Sandy and I are waiting for her in the parking lot in front of the lawyer’s office. My mom gets out of her giant rusty car and I try to ignore the fact that the back seat is piled to the ceiling with garbage bags, clothes, shoes, and God only knows what else. It’s April, and warm for a Minneapolis spring. My mother’s in one of her signature knee-length sweater-coats, the baggy black leggings she’s taken to wearing in the last few years, and a roomy pale blue T-shirt, or as she says in her lingering Boston accent, “a jersey.” Her keys hang on an orange plastic coil around her neck. Her curly hair is completely gray now—sometimes she dyes it brown or auburn—and cut in a chin-length bob, with bangs. It looks pretty decent for cutting it herself, which she always does.

“You look good, Mom,” I say, leaning down to hug her—she’s the only adult I know that I have to lean down to hug. “How are you feeling?”

“Not too bad,” my mom says and takes a sip of what I’m sure is coffee from her ever-present travel mug. Right after she called me with the news about her cancer I went online and found out that the statistics for colon cancer are good. Really good. And now, seeing how plump and healthy she looks, I’m even less worried. Then again, both of her parents died of cancer. So I’m worried, but not panicked.

“Thanks for coming, Sandy,” my mother says, sounding shy.

“Of course,” Sandy says, and squeezes my mom’s shoulder.

Inside the small office, the lawyer: blonde, pretty, and hugely pregnant, is waiting for us at the reception desk.

“Right this way,” she says, her Minnesotan vowels elongated as she adds, “How’re you guys doing?”

“Good, okay, fine,” we say, and take our seats around a conference table in a windowless room. A small stack of papers sits in front of each of us.

“Does anyone want coffee?” the lawyer asks, and my mother accepts, topping off the contents of her travel mug. My mom drinks two or three pots of coffee a day and nothing else. She hates water, which I’ve been trying to get her to drink for years. She won’t touch it. Just like the vitamins I’ve bought her, just like the leafy green vegetables I nag her about. And she’s the one who’s a nurse. She picks up her travel mug by wrapping both her tiny hands around it and takes a big sip.

I wonder what the lawyer thinks of us. She seems like the most normal of creatures; it’s hard to imagine that she’s encountered such a strange repackaging of a family. A daughter owning her mother’s house? The ex-husband’s wife holding power of attorney? Then again, maybe it doesn’t seem so strange. At thirty-seven, I have friends my age who are beginning to make choices for their aging parents. Because my mother’s and my roles were reversed early on, I probably shouldn’t be fazed by this new, official responsibility. But when I glance down at the stack of papers in front of me, it takes all my self-control to keep from jumping up and pacing.

My mother, on the other hand, appears as relaxed as I’ve ever seen her—she’s smacking her gum and sipping her coffee as happily as if she’s just found a treasure trove of misshapen wool sweaters or a bundle of dog-eared 25-cent detective novels at her favorite thrift store, Savers. I know she likes the idea of not having to be responsible for herself anymore. Like the time she called me at my dad’s when I was nine, demanding that I come up with the money to pay her outrageous water bill—since I must’ve left the hose on the last time I was there. I laughed, thinking she was joking, and she hung up on me. It turned out the bill was so high because my mother hadn’t paid it in months. But what stayed with me afterward was the relief in her voice at having come up with a “solution” before she bothered to call the water company and work out the problem herself. It was the same relief I heard in her voice the following year, when I told her I didn’t want to live with her every other week anymore, and that from then on I’d be living with my dad and Sandy full time.

The lawyer tells Sandy which papers she should sign, and explains that she should keep them in a safe if she has one.

And then it’s my turn. In one sense, it might be good for me to have the house in my name—that way I could force my mom to finally sell it and move into a condo. But the idea of that house in my name is too repellant. My hands won’t move toward the papers.

“I can’t do it,” I say, and at that moment I recognize a way out. “David and I have low-income insurance. With a house in my name we wouldn’t qualify anymore.”

I have no idea if we’d actually be disqualified—I just know I don’t want that house. I really, really, really do not want that house.

“You have to,” my mother whisper-orders, her hazel eyes opened wide.

“No I don’t. I can’t.”

The lawyer looks unfazed. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones. “How about this,” she says, and suggests we sign the papers and leave them in her office without filing them. We can file them later, she says, if it’s necessary.

“Okay,” I say, and sign them.

And just like that, my mother goes back to smacking her gum and sipping her coffee, a pleased half-smile across her face.

After the lawyer’s office, we go to a coffee shop to discuss my mother’s post-surgery plans. For about the hundredth time in the last few years, I suggest that my mother sell her house and buy a condo. Partly it’s for selfish reasons: The smaller the space, the easier it’ll be for me to clean during visits. Plus, in a condo the yard work and repairs would be taken care of.

“Helen, I think that’s a great idea,” Sandy says. “I can help you find something.”

Sandy and my dad are realtors, with their own company and a few agents who work for them; they occasionally buy a house, fix it up, and try to sell it for a profit, with my dad doing all the carpenter-type duties.

“No,” my mom says. “I’m happy in the house. I’m staying.”

“That house is way too big for you,” I say. It’s got four bedrooms and a large backyard that as far as I know hasn’t encountered a lawn mower in years. Besides, the only bathroom is on the second floor and it’s not clear if my mother will be able to climb stairs after the surgery.

“How much could I get for it?” my mother asks Sandy. As soon as she hears the answer she starts shaking her head. “I know it’s worth more! A house two blocks away sold for twice that last week!”

“I know that house, Helen—it was sold by one of my agents. No offense, but your house just isn’t in that kind of condition.”

“Should we go to Savers next?” my mom asks. “It’s ninety-nine cent day. Everything with a yellow tag.”

“Mom, are you listening? What are we going to do about your house?”

“Maybe I’ll go look at the cakes,” my mom says. “I’m in the mood for something sweet.”

She scrambles to get out of the chair, her movements clumsy and deliberate. She has the gait of someone just released from an Iron Lung, someone with equilibrium problems. At 63, she moves with the grace, agility, and speed of a 93-year-old. Or, to be fair to 93-year-olds, maybe a 103-year-old. Sandy and I watch her hobble up to the counter. She’s wearing sneakers, as always, and her already giant feet (I’ve got them too) have spread even wider after years of back-to-back nursing shifts. I try to take some deep breaths, but the frustration over my mom’s reluctance to even consider selling her house roils inside me. Not to mention the dread I feel about having to clean it. Again. I have to admit, though, there’s another part of me that’s excited—maybe this time, it’ll work. Maybe this time, it’ll stay clean.

“Are you okay?” Sandy asks me. “You must be worried about her.”

“I am.” I look down at my hands; I’m tearing my napkin into strips. “And I wish I could get her to be serious for a second.”

Right then my mom returns to the table, empty handed.

“Oh, Jessie,” she says, “I know what I’ll do. I’ll buy a van, one of those step vans!”

“What’s a step van?” I ask.

“One of those vans that you step into! I’ll buy one and I’ll drive it to Florida.”

“And then?” I ask. My mother is a terrifyingly slow driver. I’ve walked a mile in a Minnesota winter rather than drive somewhere with her. And even in a normal car she requires two phone books to see over the dash. There’s no way she can drive across the country in a van by herself.

“And then I’ll live in the van,” she says.

“Mom, come on. I need to make sure you’re going to be okay. You do have some kind of retirement fund, right?”

I’ve never been able to get a straight answer out of my mother regarding her money situation. For years my dad and I have speculated about her savings. Her expenses are so minimal—the house is paid off, she drives a used car, never takes vacations—that she must have something saved from all the years of overtime at the nursing home. She must, we say, have hundreds of thousands of dollars stashed away in a mattress; it was what her father did, after all.

Just before her cancer diagnosis she was fired from the nursing home for being too slow. It wasn’t fair, she said, the people she worked with were so much younger, mostly in their twenties and thirties; they could just fly down the hallways while she struggled, and often didn’t succeed, to finish her duties before she had to punch out. So she began punching out and then continuing to work, hoping no one would notice. But they did notice. She was warned, more than once, that she had to finish her work during her shift. But she couldn’t keep up.

It was only because she was unemployed that she had time for the check-up that led to the colonoscopy, which revealed the colon cancer. And since I’m the one who insisted she get health insurance a few years back, she says I’ve saved her life. Assuming she survives the surgery, and I’m definitely assuming she’s going to survive the surgery. So I need to know how she’s planning to live. She won’t qualify for Social Security for two more years.

“The house is my retirement,” she says now, taking a sip of her coffee. “Jessie, this is cold. Will you ask them to heat this up?”

“Just answer me. Do you have a 401k?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, don’t worry.” She waves away my ridiculous concern. “I’ve got a plan.”

“Good. What’s the plan, Helen?” Sandy says.

My mother leans forward, her eyes glistening with excitement. “Cat beds!”

I drop my head into my hands, groaning, as my mother continues.

“These beds are like wicker baskets with pillows in them … and then the cats lie down and sleep in them!”

“Mom, be serious! This is about your future.”

“These cat beds are my future. They’re going to be so gorgeous, you just wouldn’t believe!”

“Do you realize that beds for cats already exist?” I ask.

She shakes her head. “I’ve never seen them anywhere.”

“Where did you get this idea, then?”

She leans back in her chair and is silent for a few seconds. “Okay. I do have another plan. I’m suing those motherf**kers who fired me! That was ageism and they can’t get away with it.”

“But you’ve been getting complaints at work for years,” I say. “The work was too much.”

“I don’t care. What they did was illegal and those motherf**kers are going to pay. Just wait!”

* * *

Early the next morning, my dad drives me to my mom’s house on his way to check out one of Sandy’s listings. Today is supposed to be the one day my mother and I will both be in the house while I’m cleaning, which will give me a chance to ask her before I throw out anything I’m uncertain about. Tomorrow my mom is going into the hospital for one last quick test and then the surgery—we’ll learn her prognosis a day or two after that. I intend to finish as much of the cleaning as I can while my mom is in the hospital recovering; then I’ll stay in Minneapolis for a few days after she’s out, so I can help when she first goes home.

We pull up to the curb. The exterior of the house is the worst I’ve seen it—the paint peeling, the enclosed front porch piled in some spots to the ceiling with furniture, boxes, and giant empty picture frames. And that’s just what I can see from here. But I’m going to do this, no matter what. This is my chance. I say goodbye to my dad and climb out of the car. The lawn is a foot high and the unruly bush plopped right in the middle of it at least six feet across. I quicken my pace as I walk up the narrow sidewalk and then the front steps. I open the creaky glass door and duck inside the porch, hoping no one has seen me. I don’t want to be associated with the junk house.

A neglected heap of mail, who knows how many days’ worth, lies scattered under the slot. The red carpeting, in the few places I can actually see it, appears to have been splattered Pollack-style with motor oil. Two beat-up, three-speed bicycles lean precariously against one of the windows. In the corner stands a vintage washing tub, the kind where clothes are squeezed through a ringer. And in another corner there’s something black and twisted, no coiled—ohmygod, ohmyf**kinggod—

—it’s a snake.

I’m out the door, down the steps, and to the sidewalk in a millisecond. At the curb, I lean over at the waist, taking shallow hiccuppy breaths. I don’t even care who drives past—if it’s a choice between being associated with the junk house or facing one of those hellish creatures, I’d happily tattoo across my forehead that I belong to the junk house. On the other hand, I don’t want to give my mother the satisfaction of seeing me like this. I pull my cell phone from my jeans’ pocket and dial my husband. He’ll know what I should do. He’ll understand.

But he doesn’t answer.

And I really can’t put this off. I only have five cleaning days here and if the house is anywhere near as bad as last time, that may not be enough.

I force myself up the steps. Getting my eyes to look at the snake is another challenge. But somehow I manage. And maybe I’m at a better angle, but now I can see that what I thought was a snake is actually a pile of oil-black rags. A twisted pile of rags. Thank God. I feel the dizziness leave my head, as if clearing out a room’s stale air by opening windows; my lungs expand, drawing deeper breaths.

I open the door and once again step inside the porch. Two crumbling armoires take up half of one wall. Boxes and paper bags are stacked all around and on top of them. This mess looks somehow familiar. And then I recognize it: Like stumbling upon the remains of a village buried by lava, the evidence of my last cleanup attempt lives on underneath. She was supposed to arrange for the Salvation Army to get the armoires. Ditto for the bags of old sweaters and the sets of inflatable furniture.

The glass part of the house’s heavy front door is covered with a bamboo shade, so I can’t see inside. I press the doorbell. My mother opens the door and steps forward onto the porch, pulling the door closed behind her so I won’t come in.

“Oh, Jessie, let’s go to Perkins before you start cleaning. I want some of their pancakes.”

“Let me see the house,” I say.

She freezes. I push the door open a few inches and steal a look behind her: The hallway is packed with stacks of even more ignored mail—her phone gets shut off on a semi-regular basis because she can’t find the bills—two ironing boards, a mound of ratty looking sweaters, winter boots and coats and snow pants heaped directly underneath an empty metal coat rack, at least one box of marshmallow Peeps, milk-colored storage bins that I know without checking are empty, an oversized plastic pail containing ironic jugs of Lysol and Pine-Sol, and dozens of unopened white plastic Savers bags with the receipts still stapled to the top.

I push past her, to the narrow path in the center of the hallway. It reminds me of the winters here, when people are too lazy to shovel their whole sidewalk.

“Christ, where do I start?” I ask no one, already overwhelmed. Three years ago when I cleaned, my husband was here helping me.

During a visit to Minneapolis, my mom had asked us to help her move a dresser. I hadn’t seen the inside of her house in a few years, not since before Roger, her boyfriend of ten years, died. When David and I went in, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing—while her house had always been messy and crowded with things I considered useless, the clutter had entered the realm of the pathological: plates full of hard-as-a-rock spaghetti, smashed up take-out bags from Taco Bell and Burger King, coffee mugs with an inch of solidified something on the bottom, containers of motor oil, calculators and flashlights and key chains still in their packaging, knitting needles, magazines, bunches of brown bananas, and fast-food soda cups bleeding brown stickiness down the sides took up every inch of the kitchen table and the counter. The sink was piled high with dishes and an open garbage bag in the corner overflowed with paper plates. If she’d switched to paper plates, I thought, how long had those dishes been in the sink?

“What’s going on?” I asked her. “Why does your house look this bad?”

“I’m busy. I don’t have time to clean.”

I knew that was true; she was working as many doubles as the nursing home would let her. But still. “You can’t be so busy that you have to throw Popsicle sticks on the floor,” I said, pointing at a cluster on the other side of the doorway, in the living room. “Why can’t you put them in the trash? This place is an absolute disaster.”

“Oh, it’s fine,” she said.

“Tell me the truth. You really don’t see anything wrong here?”

She shook her head. “It’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad.”

All four burners on the stove were stacked with dirty pans, and the stove itself was crusted with grease that was cracked in places like a topographical map of the continents before they split apart.

“When was the last time you cooked?” I asked. My husband hadn’t said anything; he probably had no idea what to say.

“I don’t know,” my mother answered. “I only liked to cook for Roger.”

Family members of hoarders can often point to a particular trauma that occurred right before the hoarding began (though most hoarders show signs of it from an earlier age, often in their teens). My mother had always been a compulsive thrift store shopper, and untidy and disorganized, but when I saw her house that day for the first time since Roger died, I knew this was different. And it wasn’t just the trash everywhere. Her kitchen seemed utterly unusable, for one thing, and it was hard to walk from one room to the next. I’d heard the word “hoarder” in association with the famous Collyer brothers, and I suppose it stayed in my mind because I subconsciously suspected my mother was on the road to being one too—after all, as soon as she and my dad split up when I was seven, I began doing the cleaning, and as a kid I’d spend my summers weeding her front garden and planting flowers so my fellow students at the school across the street wouldn’t guess at the mess inside.

But what I saw that day was a whole new level of clutter. Clearly, Roger’s death had triggered my mother’s true hoarding. And what disturbed me most was that she couldn’t even tell.

Over the next few months, I kept picturing her in that house, alone. So my husband and I came up with a plan. We usually visited Minneapolis once in the winter and once for a long weekend each summer; we decided that the next summer we’d extend our long weekend by a few days and clean her house.

David and I arrived, full of purpose, determined. But my mother was uncooperative—I had to explain each and every item I wanted to get rid of and she fought me on almost everything. Still, we ended up driving seven loads of stuff to the Salvation Army in her car and leaving a mound of full trash bags out by her garbage bins in the alley. When we left, the house was better, but it wasn’t done. Somehow I managed though, to push her house to the bottom of my priority list. Until the cancer. Until now.

“Honey, come on, I’ll make some coffee. We’ll sit and visit,” my mother says, excited again. “Just for a few minutes. Please.”

I follow her into the kitchen. But none of her three coffeemakers work.

“I know you don’t go a day without coffee,” I say, “so how have you been making it?”

“That one just broke,” she says, pointing to an industrial-sized machine that looks like it was once white. “Oh, Jessie, now we have to go to Perkins!”

“The problem is, I need to start—there’s a lot to organize, and Joe’s showing up at 1:00.” Joe does construction and lawn work for my dad and I’ve arranged for him to help me haul the heavier items outside. At the end of the day another guy is coming with a truck to take the stuff away.

“Do you think Joe would help cut down this tree in the backyard?” my mom asks.

“Tree? What tree?”

“Wait a minute, Jessie, I’ve got something to tell you. You know how they say there are no atheists in foxholes?” she asks, a laugh already starting to crack her voice, “I’m proof that that’s not true! I’m still an atheist!”

“Good for you, Mom. Now what about that tree? What tree are you talking about?” Good Lord, I’m a humorless bitch. But someone has to take care of business and it certainly isn’t going to be her.

“It’s just this branch that’s been growing against the house. It’s not a problem.” She waves it off. How does a “branch” grow against a house? I walk past her, toward the back door, which is blocked by empty paper grocery bags, more plastic bins, dirty dish rags, rolls of paper towels, the skeletons of metal shelving units she never got around to properly installing, giant metal pots still in boxes, and full bags of garbage I don’t even want to guess the ages of. She stands behind me, watching as I try to get through it all.

“Oh, Jessie, the lock on the back door is broken. Do you think your dad and Sandy know a good locksmith?”

“I’ll ask them tonight. Although I can’t see why anyone would want to break in,” I add, like the bitch that I am. I can’t help it. Most people, I imagine anyway, whose mothers are about to undergo surgery for cancer have visits where they get to know each other better or discuss fond memories, or whatever it is that normal families do. I, on the eve of my mother’s surgery, get to begin cleaning out her junk-filled house because she can’t. The one bright side to this is that I’m too busy to worry about the cancer.

She’s not offended by my rudeness, anyway. “I know: You can think of all this stuff as a burglar deterrent! It’s my own free version of home security!”

As she laughs hysterically, I finally make it through the pantry and open the back door. She follows me out.

It is indeed a tree and it’s growing right against the house. To my untrained eye it looks big enough to crack the foundation if left untended. The whole yard looks like something out of Wild Kingdom: There should be lions and tigers prowling the lawn, hunting prey. It was once a beautiful backyard, with neatly cut emerald-green grass, two lilac trees that every spring and summer filled the air with their purple scent, and a long garden running the length of it. Someone has put planks of wood down where the garden once was, which is odd because it’s right up against the metal fence that divides her lawn from the neighbor’s. What is the purpose of the wood? It’s like a shabby catwalk to nowhere. And the two lilac trees look like something you’d see in a movie involving a haunted forest with evil foliage that comes to life and strangles passersby. At the back of it all, the rickety, paint-flaking garage looks about to tip over.

“And there’re those, too,” my mom says, pointing at the rain gutters running up the side of the house to the roof. “Could he do those?”

They’re totally rusted through in places, hanging off the house like a trapeze artist flailing in the wind. Then I notice the trim around the windows: The wood is coming apart from the house—it’s as if nothing wants to be part of this decaying landscape. And I don’t blame any of it. I don’t want to be here either.

“Jesus Christ,” I say.

“Oh, Jessie—” my mom says. “I just remembered something. The dryer guy is coming tomorrow.”

“What dryer guy? What’s wrong with your dryer?”

“It hasn’t worked in over a year.”

“How have you been drying your clothes?”

“I’ve been going to the Laundromat,” she says, shrugging. “But I don’t think I’ll be able to get there with my clothes while I’m recovering from the surgery ….”

“But what’s your basement like right now?” I doubt a stranger should go down there.

“It’s fine,” she says, a nervous smile on her face.

She’s lying. She brought it up for a reason. I need to make sure it’s in decent shape. But there’s a problem: I haven’t been able to go down to her basement in well over a decade. Even imagining entering that musty jungle makes my skin crawl. I’m not sure I can do it.

But then again, there’s no one else. What my mother refuses to believe is that her house is borderline condemnable. If she needs private nurses to come in and care for her after the surgery, they could report her to social services. She could be taken from her house; her house could be taken from her. I’ve told her this many times, but she just laughs and tells me I’m being ridiculous. The cleaning charts, the suggestions about Clutterers Anonymous meetings, my nagging these last few years about getting a retirement fund: all ridiculous.

It’s a miracle that she finally listened to me about getting health insurance.

“Let’s get started so we can be ready for Joe when he gets here,” I say, intending to put off the basement for as long as possible. We go back inside, my mother huffing up the back steps ahead of me.

Inside, she says she needs coffee and threatens to go to Perkins without me.

“That’s fine—you go, and I’ll stay here and get started,” I say, and she waddles out the front door. It’ll be easier for me to work without her here, anyway.

I decide to start in the living room. I pick up one of the white plastic Savers bags and tear the stapled receipt off the top so I can open it. Inside is a pair, no, two pairs, of those sneakers that have no back on them—the clog meets the sneaker. The white fabric is vaguely gray. I pick up another bag and the contents are identical, except this time it’s three pairs. Then another bag, again with two pairs. I don’t even know where to put anything; I just shove the sneaker-clogs into a garbage bag and hope that she won’t find them. The room is crowded with paperback and hardcover books, five sewing machines with hundreds of sewing patterns heaped on top, two foot massagers still in their boxes, a water-jet-infused bath mat, three electric heating pads which look second-hand, old magazine clippings of restaurant and book reviews, two banged-up motorcycle helmets, at least eight pairs of moldy cowboy boots my mother’s convinced she can sell for a fortune, two three-foot tall antique radios—the wood scratched and warped—hulking in one corner like bullies. Half-consumed boxes of Entenmann’s donuts and empty soda bottles and flattened lean cuisine boxes and crinkled candy wrappers.

Toward the top of the wall, almost to the ceiling, the plate rail supports half a dozen of those round tin containers that butter cookies come in. There’s a tin embossed with the image of two Scottie dogs facing each other; a red one with white stars circling the edge; a rusty one that was originally pink; one with a fat snowman and snowwoman surrounded by snowchildren; and two identical tins with a Rosie the Riveter–type character flexing her muscles. Scattered between the round tins are miniature perfume bottles, many of which I gave my mother when I was a kid, back when she was still a “collector.” They’re relics of a road veered wildly off.

Tears spring to my eyes and I wipe them away with the back of my hand. I’m suddenly so exhausted that if there were anywhere for me to sit down in this room, in this whole house, I’d collapse right there. But I can’t. Because every surface, every potential spot to sit down, is covered with junk. There’s just so much junk, so much worthless, heartbreaking junk.

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CRAZY VIDEO: Guess What This Woman Has Been HOARDING For 30 Years?

Posted by Patti the Precocious Guru | Mommy’s Dirty Little Secret

Most women will admit to owning more shoes, clothes or hand bags than they need. But for one woman, her passion for has spiralled out of control into a 30-year obsession. Click below to see the photos and video, of your not so typical hoarder.

Patricia Dean

Jennifer Bourgoyne, 45, from San Jose, California, has so many products that surfaces of her dressing table are piled high with lipsticks, eyeshadows and face powders, while drawer beneath are so full, not one will close. Speaking on Good Morning America today, she told how she spends hundreds of dollars on new products each month – whether they suit her or not.

Make-up hoarded for 30 years

Mrs Bourgoyne explained that her love of make-up began in her early teens, when she began suffering from poor skin. She also admitted to feeling like an ‘ugly duckling’ when compared with her ‘goddess’ mother.

Make-up hoarded for 30 years

Professional organiser Cori Roffler, brought on by GMA to help, quickly got to work, and within an hour had discarded all out-of-date products. Mrs Bourgoyne was thrilled with the results, exclaiming: ‘It looks like a department store.’ Ms Roffler even gave her client licence to buy even more make-up – albeit with one important rule: ‘For every new purchase, something must be chucked.’

Extreme Makeup Hoarders

abcnews.go.com4 min – Jul 21, 2011
Some women might tell you they can never have enough makeup.

Source: DailyMail

Tags: #hoarders, #a&e, #thesmokingjacket, #Whoreders, #celebrityhoarders,# NiecyNash, #LindseyLohan, #12step, #ClutterersAnonymous, #DirtyLittleSecret, #ChildrrenofHoarders, #CrowdedNest, #clutterednest, #NYT, #C.J. Omololu,#JessieSholl, #DirtySecret, #shoehoarders, #makeuphoarders, #Jennifer Bourgoyne,

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How a Fateful Change of Heart Led Rohan Marley To Become an International Fair Trade Coffee Mogul via [Marley Coffee and Jamaica Observer]]

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Did you know we have a coffee farm??

posted by Rohan Marley via Hot In The Marley Coffee Blog

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“I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world” George Washington

All Marley Coffees are certified organic and shade-grown on bio-diverse land without pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other additives. While some coffee producers slash and burn their fields, so the sun can fully penetrate their crop, and they can increase their coffee yield, Marley Coffee’s shade-grown farming method preserves the habitats of dozens of species.

In addition to being a model for sustainable agricultural practices, Marley Coffee takes exceptionally good care of its workers. Marley farm workers are paid twice the average wage. And, a percentage of Marley Coffee sales goes to the Kicks for Cause Foundation, which aims to provide the children of farm workers with playable soccer fields and camps.

The names of the gourmet coffee blends play off the names of Bob Marley songs:
•    One Love
•    Jammin Java
•    Lively Up!
•    Mystic Morning
•    Simmer Down (decaffeinated)

Our 52-acre Blue Mountain Coffee farm is located near Chepstowe, Portland in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Rohan Marley, chairman and founder of Marley Coffee, purchased the farm over ten years ago. Rohan was casually introduced to this magnificent piece of land by a good friend, and immediately fell in love, purchasing it on the spot.

Rohan cooling off in the river

It was the calm, clear river that initially drew Rohan to the property, as he would travel there nearly every day for an exhilarating dive off the 30 ft. cliff and a refreshing swim, but he soon became curious about what else the property had to offer.  It didn’t take long to realize that amidst all of the delicious fruits, grew the esteemed Blue Mountain Coffee.

From that day forward, Rohan has been focused on organically cultivating this land to produce the best possible organic Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee the world has to offer. Below are a few pictures from our beloved farm. Enjoy!!

Yep, that’s all coffee!!

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STAY TUNED!!

ONE LOVE!

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Marley Coffee set to stir it up

BY AL EDWARDS via Jamaiican Observer

THE venture into coffee production by Rohan Marley, son of reggae icon Bob Marley, appears to be paying dividends as his company seeks to give the Marley Coffee brand a global presence.

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Speaking with Caribbean Business Report from the Bob Marley Museum where he has an operational base, Rohan Marley recounted the early years and how he broke into the coffee business.

Back in 1998 a Rastafarian friend of Marley’s called him in New Jersey where he was living at the time, and offered to show him a 52-acre property in Portland, Jamaica, that would prove a worthy investment. His interest piqued and valuing his friend’s judgement he jumped on a flight to Jamaica to check it out.

The breathtaking Blue Mountains

“Although my father started out as a farmer and talked about getting back into it, I had no inclination to follow in his footsteps. To be honest, I didn’t think I had any aptitude for it and it didn’t interest me but I must say my initial impression of the property was favourable,” said Marley.

“I remember hearing this rumbling sound and was told that it was a river that ran through it. That made it for me, but I was apprehensive. I thought this must be some bandooloo business because there is no way anyone would give up this beautiful piece of land. Anyway, I got my chequebook out and sealed the deal right there and then,” said Marley.

Beginnings

Most of Bob Marley’s progeny have gone into the entertainment business and have had some success there. Rohan chose instead to go into business ventures. He studied sociology at the University of Miami and was a linebacker for the university’s football team, Hurricanes.

He would later go on to play professionally for the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders. Today, he still has an athletic physique and can still strut his stuff on the gridiron.

Marley realised that with his newly acquired title came a once-working coffee farm. After taking over the property he was told that the workers were not to be trusted and that praedial larceny was the order of the day. Marley quickly assessed that it would do him no good if he was viewed in the same way as the previous owner and set about discovering what “a gwaan.”


Delicious pineapple and coconuts on the farm

“They told me that they picked the fuit and vegetables and used them to feed the community and that was regarded as theft. I said if we are going to have a good relationship, things would have to change. I instructed them that from now on, what was on the trees was to be used to feed the community and that a new sheriff was in town. I would not have a problem with them eating what came from the farm. I had to motivate them and encourage them to become self-sufficient,” he said.

Rohan enjoying some fresh “jelly” (coconut water)

“With a farm came a community of workers but it was not profitable. I decided to try and turn it around. The first decision I took, and still stand by today, was to be go organic, — no pesticides. In 2000, we established a company and set up offices here on Hope Road at the Marley Museum,” he explained.

He contacted the Coffee Board in order to find out just how an organic coffee farm could become a viable business and what would be needed to satisfy regulations. It proved extremely difficult to get the required licence and he spent years just reaping coffee berries and being unable to process them. He solicited the assistance of his good friend, Balram Vaswani, who would prove instrumental in shaping and leading the company and setting it on a path for growth.

Marley had a fortuitous meeting with a coffee processor who told him to bring what he had reaped and that he could get him ready for the market. The young Marley was not prepared to send his coffee to the Coffee Board for a measly $2,405 a box. Why? Because the coffee is sold in the United States for US$50 per pound. The way Marley saw it, the powers that be are making money off the coffee farmers, hand over fist.

“Man, I’m not that smart but I’m not that dumb. The Coffee Board was not offering a worthwhile deal so I thought best to process it myself.

I bought the necessary machinery, humidifiers, the works. The guy who offered to process my coffee didn’t work out, and I was left with containers consisting of 132 pounds per bag of coffee sitting in my house waiting for somebody to take me to the next level. Hardly the right start for a fledgling business.”

He went back to the United States and then on to Ethiopia to find himself, spiritually. His hiatus there saw him encountering coffee on the African continent and that period would serve to deepen his knowledge of the crop. In 2009, he looked to Vaswani to turn the company around and come on board full-time as CEO. Vaswani saw the potential and dutifully obliged, setting his sights on acquiring that elusive licence and ramping up the company’s marketing arm, while at the same time identifying potential markets. Eleven years after Marley secured the farm in Portland and set out to be a coffee farmer, Vaswani successfully managed to land not only the Coffee Board licence but also a dealer’s licence, as well. Marley Coffee Limited was on its way.

Taking off

“What that meant was that we could register our trademark as a genuine Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee,” Vaswani explained. “The dealer’s licence means that we can buy coffee from other suppliers to meet demand. Today, we can meet any contract and can supply coffee at will. I looked at all the coffee brands and organisations, including Mavis Bank’s Jablum. What we wanted to establish was a distinct brand with the Marley vibe that would command respect. I think people would have to agree that today, respect is due.”

Vaswani was particularly impressed with the Sharp family’s coffee operation, moreso its marketing savvy. He saw an alliance there that could take Marley Coffee to the next level.

Rohan checking out the coffee during harvest season

“Balram came up with a fantastic business plan and took the time to acquaint himself with a number of coffee traders he introduced me to,” explained Marley. “From there our fortunes changed and we were on the crest of a wave. His business acumen has really made the difference. The Sharps came on board and both Jason and Richard (Sharp) brought so much to the table. They both were behind the idea of producing an exportable Blue Mountain coffee. The idea is to get Blue Mountain coffee into places it has never been before. To us, it is not just about exporting to Japan. The European and United States markets are still largely untapped and we see great potential there. Already, Marley Coffee can be found in 23 locations in Whole Foods stores throughout California and we have formed a great relationship with them. They have been very gracious in giving us fantastic exposure.”

Rohan making his way around the farm

The co-branding of the Marley name with Jamaica’s most notable premium agricultural product is a formidable mix, and selling it to export markets has gone down well, so far. Rohan and Vaswani have already come up with a number of different brands and price points that include “Buffalo Soldier”, “Mystic Morning”, “Lively Up!”, “Simmer Down”, “One Love”, and “Lion’s Blend Jammin Java”, which is a line they have created for bulk-buying by restaurants, hotels, educational institutions and corporations with a notable catering arm.

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There is even an Ethiopian coffee line. A 340 g/12-ounce bag of Jamaica Blue Mountain Marley Coffee will set you back about US$20.00, which is competitively priced compared to other offerings out there on the market.

The Marley brand

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Bob Marley, who died almost 30 years ago is challenging both Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson for the title of richest deceased celebrity. Toronto-based private equity firm Hilco Consumer Capital has struck a management deal with the Marley Estate, which is expected to generate worldwide annual sales in excess of US$1 billion by 2012. This is all the more remarkable considering Jamaica’s total GDP is US$12 billion.

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According to Fortune Magazine, the Marley name has already generated US$650 million in pirated merchandise. Mickey Goodman, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, says: “Bob Marley is a strong global brand. He enjoys a high level of awareness and people feel positive about his music.”

Bob Marley’s children are intent on seeing that his legacy remains intact and that future generations will remain financially comfortable. Aware of the potency of the brand, The House of Marley has been formed for the purpose of operating all products and services bearing Jamaica’s most famous son’s name and image. Only last November, action sports label Billabong signed a deal with Marley & Co to collaborate on the Billabong X Bob Marley Collection. The line consists of boardshorts, T-shirts, tank tops and selected accessories. The Billabong X Bob Marley collection is made using premium recycled and organic materials, supporting environmentally safe products.

“Working with the Marley family to interpret their vision of their father onto our garments has been inspiring,” notes Billabong Design Director Rob McCaty. “Cedella and Ziggy (Marley) have provided great insight to make this collaboration a success.”

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The Marley Collection is prominently

featured in all Billabong

shop windows throughout the world.

Bob Marley may well be looking down with pride at the entrepreneurial savvy displayed by his children who have taken what he has created and managed to “Catch a Fire” in different arenas. They certainly haven’t sat on their laurels and relied solely on record royalties flowing in.

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Bringing in the Champ, Lennox Lewis

The Caribbean market has not escaped Marley Coffee’s attention and here they have elicited the help of Brew Brothers, which is run by the Dadlani family.

“The Dadlani family represent the Cartier brand in Jamaica,” said Vaswani. “They know how to represent and position a brand. We want our coffee to be presented in the same way as a luxury item is. To that end, we are not driven by price but rather by quality. We are now in the Caves, Tryall, Round Hill and Good Hope. We want to create a number of different price points while at the same time not sacrificing quality. We have plans for our bags to be stitched and made in Trench Town so people in that community can earn an income.

“Right now, 80 per cent of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee is exported to Japan. We want to go the opposite direction and then look at the Japanese market, when it is ready for us. We want to enter that market properly and do so with experience in place of other substantial markets,” explained Vaswani.

Former boxing heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, who has a residence in Jamaica, has come on board as a shareholder in Marley Coffee and is excited about its potential and the progress made thus far. He will serve as an ambassador of the brand.

“Lennox Lewis is one of the best heavyweight champions the world has ever seen,” said Vaswani. “He moved back to Jamaica and wanted to put his name and presence behind a Jamaican company. He chose Marley Coffee and he is wholeheartedly behind it and is an important shareholder. Marley Coffee is comprised of Rohan Marley and the Marley family, Lennox Lewis, myself, the Sharp family (Jason and Richard), and Shane Whittle.”

Listing on the OTC Stock Exchange

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Last year, Rohan Marley listed Jammin Java on the US OTC Stock Exchange, coming in at an initial share price of 15 cents. Today, the share price stands at US$1.54 and Jammin Java coffee boasts a market cap of US$104 million. There are now plans to open two coffee shops — one at the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road in Kingston, the other in Austria. The shops should be open to the public sometime next year. The idea is to have one location per country rather than attempting to emulate the Starbucks model.

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“We want to create the entire coffee-making experience for our customers. We are working with the Scharf family (who have over 1,000 coffee shops across Europe) where they have created a simulator which will enable people to come into our shops and see the coffee being picked and the farm at work. We also want to introduce streaming and video conferencing. Bob Marley’s Facebook page has 23 million friends and so the power of social networking cannot be ignored.

“The next stage for Marley Coffee is to launch our distribution network in Jamaica. We will hit the streets with all our SKUs and look to build relationships. We have recently completed a distribution deal to take Marley Coffee into the UK and Ireland. Who knows, we may even list on the Jamaica Stock Exchange some time soon,” said Marley.

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Facebook vs. Google: Homepage Choice via [pcmagazine, osm and mambomedia]

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Facebook vs. Google: The Contact Wars

By: Lance Ulanoff

  • Lance Ulanoff
If Facebook unveils its rumored e-mail platform, it may need to rethink how it handles and delivers user data—contact and otherwise.

Right now, Google and Facebook are in a war over contacts. If Facebook wants to import Google Gmail contacts through Google’s API, it has to let other services import Facebook contacts. No one was really talking about this lack of contact parity before Google made an issue of it, but now everyone wants to know which side will blink first. The truth is neither one of them is going to budge. Instead, Facebook may change the rules of the game.

Next week Facebook will unveil something e-mail and contact related. No announcements have been made, but this is the prevailing rumor and even the invite indicates some sort of message-based announcement.

If Facebook unveils full-blown e-mail with a Facebook.com e-mail address for all users, Google’s little hissy fit will suddenly look rather ridiculous. A Facebook e-mail system is actually a great idea. A half a billion members already use the social networking service as their primary means of inter-friend-relative-and acquaintance communication. This will simply give them a richer platform.

I hate the stories calling this development a “potential Gmail killer.” Why does each new advancement in an existing space have to displace something else? Could the Samsung Galaxy Tab “kill” the Apple iPad? Of course not. There really aren’t a lot of murderous products out there. Maybe the iPod (which didn’t kill all other MP3 players, but certainly turned them into zombies). In any case, whatever Facebook delivers would be exciting and useful for Facebook fans, but they won’t dump all their old e-mail accounts from ISPs, GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc, just so they can live exclusively on Facebook.

A couple of years after I began using Gmail, I did, in fact, import all of my contacts from Outlook. I had to export them as a CSV file and then import them into Gmail. I didn’t do this so I could leave Outlook. My intention, instead, was to protect (read backup) my vast contact library, in case something happened to my system or I lost my job. (Yes, that Outlook account is on a work system).Google’s angry with Facebook because it sucks in those Gmail contacts (if you let it) to help quickly build up your friends list. There is no way for Gmail to suck contact info from Facebook. I have never imported Gmail contacts into Facebook because I like to keep my work and personal lives somewhat separate. I don’t know if there are people clamoring to import Facebook contacts into Gmail, but I suspect not—they can already communicate with them through Facebook’s simple messaging and chat systems.

A richer Facebook e-mail, with real e-mail management, folders, attachments, CC and BCC functionality could change that, but it won’t for me. If Google develops a new social platform (forget Buzz) to compete with Facebook, then perhaps people will want to migrate their Facebook contacts to Google GBook. However, Google recently said it wasn’t all that interested in building a Facebook style social network. Which brings us back to the core argument between Google and Facebook. Google lets you put in and take out contact info, and Facebook does not.

That’s actually not entirely true.

Facebook now lets you take almost everything out of the service and, to my mind undercuts (at least a tiny bit) Google’s core argument.

Much to my surprise, Facebook has finally turned on the eagerly-awaited “Download your Data” feature. It works pretty much as promised (see the slideshow to learn exactly how it works), you can download virtually everything you’ve posted onto the site in one neat-little zip file. Mine came down as a 4MB zip file. Compiling it took Facebook almost two hours. In it I found my wall postings back three years, photos, notes, events and every single message going all the way back to May 8, 2007. The Zip file unpacks into a mini, navigable web site, so it’s easy to click through to all your data goods. Yes, Facebook even includes a list of all your friends. See? Take that Google!

Wait. Hold on. It’s not quite that good.

Truth is, this is also where Facebook stumbles—quite badly. The list of alphabetized (by first name!) “Friends” is flat—meaning it’s not linked to anything. So you can’t click on a name to learn more about who they are, or even, at least, go back to the associated Facebook profile. In messages, Facebook highlights all the names in blue, but it’s just a trick—those names aren’t linked either. It ends up feeling a little bit like I moved out of my Facebook home with all my belongings and then Facebook moved away. I know it’s still there, but why isn’t anything linked?

I guess this approach make sense if you’re leaving Facebook for good, since you wouldn’t be able to access any of contacts anyway. Still, it sort of fails as a true data backup and definitely doesn’t encourage porting those Facebook relationships to another platform.

If and when Facebook introduces its mail system, this Download option could change. It could also be engineered right out of existence if, in fact Facebook really doesn’t want to share e-mail contact info. This attitude would make Facebook a pain, but I still don’t think Google is taking the right approach. I’ve always loved how Google strove to be the better online citizen. Google, stop complaining, keep your contact API open and let Facebook make the stupid contact mistakes.

Facebook vs. Google: Homepage Choice

Facebook vs. Google: Homepage Choice

by Tim Ollason

Facebook vs. Google, the saga continues… previously we have brought you news surrounding their user data battle which continues along with Facebook actually failing privacy risk reports. Now we bring you the news that Facebook are going to be asking users to change their homepage to THEIR site.

This comes as no surprise to me as if you have a homepage set to the likes of Google, Facebook or anywhere else, it means guaranteed traffic for that site. Every time you open up a web page you will be giving someone traffic. Crazy when you think of the importance to all of these giants. Do you feel that Facebook have to offer more than just social media to be your homepage? i know that i can access anything i want with Google set as mine straight away.

Facebook will be doing this in the not to distant future so if you don’t want to set it be sure to click on the right choice! Will you be changing your homepage to Facebook ahead of the likes of Google? Let us know in the comments below.

Voter Smackdown: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads

Laurel Hamilton
| Laurel Hamilton at Mambo Media

We get a kick out of politics at Mambo Media, so we were thrilled to be asked to design online ad campaigns for an initiative on the November 2010 ballot in Washington State.

The client asked us to spend an equal amount of money on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads. And that was the beginning of the smackdown. Which platform is better for online advertising spend?

To answer this question, I focused on three priorities:

1.  Impressions: Facebook Triumphs

The chief goal of this campaign was to increase targeted voter familiarity of the initiative. Even if a voter only sees the ad briefly on the Facebook page sidebar, it’s an opportunity for him or her to learn the name of the initiative and associate it with the ad tagline and image.

At the end of the campaign, the Facebook ads had been viewed over 7.5 million times and the Google Ads had been viewed about 34,000 times. Yes, while spending an equal amount on each platform!

2.   Clicks: Google is the Victor

While not a top priority, clicks were also important to this ad campaign. In some of the ads, we directed voters to the initiative’s Facebook page (and gathered many new Likers and commenters in the process), and other ads sent voters to the initiative website to learn more.

In the end, the Google Ads provided 2,080 clicks, with an impressive 6.06% clickthrough rate, and Facebook Ads resulted in 1,599 clicks (clickthrough rate: .02%).

3.  Targeting: Facebook Prevails

Facebook Ads was the clear winner in precise demographic targeting.  If we had wanted, we could have shown the ads to ONLY 36 year old men in Washington who were connected to the opposition’s Facebook Page!

So, Who Wins the Smackdown?

As is the case with all social media marketing, the best channel to use depends on the campaign goals. In this campaign, impressions (views) were the priority, which means that we can officially (and obviously) declare Facebook Ads the winner!

However, it’s worth mentioning that a campaign more focused on detailed education from clicks would consider the Google AdWords results to be superior – especially since their clickthrough rates were much higher.

In conclusion, if a client or your brand can’t afford both for testing, look to Facebook for impressions and to Google for clickthroughs. But keep in mind, if you have a niche product, cause or audience, the hyper-targeted nature of Facebook Ads will tip the scales.

What are your experiences with Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads?



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Luxury Trends for 2011: The Latest From The Luxury Institute via [luxist]

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by Susan Kime
The Luxury Institute conducts independent research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. Their white papers on luxury trends and consumer attitude change emerge consistently throughout the year. The most recent was published on October 10, 2011, on emerging luxury trends for 2011..

The Institute states, ” As the luxury industry enters the last quarter of 2010 and prepares for 2011, executives are grateful for what could have been a worse year considering the state of the world’s economy. The truly global top-tier luxury brands are surging in China, while holding their own in the US, Japan, and Europe. Leading public companies have done much better than privately-owned brands by using their heritage, innovation, and resources to gain market share. Many family-owned European brands, rich with history but lacking innovation, have suffered and are desperately looking for capital. Overall, the industry has seen tepid growth; this trend is likely to continue for the next three years unless some unforeseen, and highly unlikely, positive event occurs and saves the global economy.”According to the Luxury Institute, here are some trends that have emerged in 2010 and should continue in 2011:

1. A Deepening Focus on Brand Values and Service Values
In his recent book on luxury strategy, Jean-Noel Kapferer stated that unlike mass consumer brands, luxury firms don’t need a brand positioning (e.g. Hertz: #1 in Rent-a- Car , Avis: We try Harder), but they do need an identity. The Luxury Institute states, “Brands must create their identities not only by the name, personality and style of the founder, but also through values by which they should be known and publicly judged. They can be one comprehensive set of brand values that establish the company personality while also acting as service values which define the customer experience.” Brands can also choose to develop two distinct but related sets of brand values and service values. In a recent Luxury Institute LCRMA (Luxury CRM Association) survey, 90% of luxury executives agreed that luxury culture and values are directly linked to positive financial results. .

2. Luxury Brands Purge its Out-of-Touch, Arrogant Staffs
“As top-tier luxury CEOs and their Boards discover the importance of a benevolent culture and values,” the Luxury Alliance states, ” they are also beginning to realize that the people who manage and deliver customer experiences must fit the new customer culture In the sales and customer-facing ranks, people will soon be selected on their abilities to be brand and product experts, earn trust and build lasting customer relationships. Lone Ranger, toxic sales professionals who are currently tolerated will soon be out of fashion. Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Lexus and Nordstrom have been doing this for years, but even they will have to move to a higher level of cultural relevance and practice, as companies like Zappos prove that there is far higher ground to reach in terms of selecting customer-centric people, living the values and transparency.”

3. Websites!
One senior luxury executive recently told the Luxury Institute that “It’s a dark day for luxury when Zappos delivers a far better luxury experience than any luxury brand”. As luxury retailers learn to leverage the Internet for e-commerce, they are also learning that one thing affluent consumers expect from their online experience, if the need arises, is the availability and opportunity for quick, easy and immediate direct communication. In a recent Luxury Institute WealthSurvey, 62% of affluent consumers stated that when shopping online they feel more comfortable if they can call someone directly for assistance, and 60% said they are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find quick answers to their questions on the website. In addition, 45% expect an obvious phone number to speak with a live sales or customer service representative. While luxury struggles with the answer, Zappos has beat them to it and gained the high ground. The secret that Zappos has learned is that only a small percentage of people need this call service very often. Look for most luxury brands to understand the connection between the call center and online channels and create a far better experience for customers in 2011.

4. Clienteling Goes from a Hobby to a Discipline
In a recent Luxury CRM Association Clienteling survey, only 25% of affluent consumers reported that they have a relationship with a sales associate at a luxury brand. That was actually a high water mark, as other surveys that Luxury Institute partners have conducted indicate that only 8-15% of customers report having a relationship with a sales associate at top luxury retailers. Why is this important? Because this small group of luxury consumers give a retailer almost twice as much in wallet share. They also are likely to continue buying more over time if they have a relationship with a dedicated sales professional.

5. Luxury Mobile Applications Come of Age
Top luxury brands now well into a few years of e-commerce, and having finally ventured into social media, are determined not to miss the soon-to-explode mobile device shopping party. Luxury Institute research on the wealthy consumer use of mobile devices shows that 76% compare prices via mobile devices, while a rapidly growing 27% have purchased via a mobile device. In addition, 21% report that they use mobile devices to look up respective product information while shopping in stores. We are near a tipping point where mobile devices will replace the laptop for many activities and transactions and luxury brands are racing to be a step ahead for a change. Tiffany‘s recently-launched mobile application for finding your perfect engagement ring is a good example of a simple and practical innovation that seeks to serve its customers.

6.Luxury Equips Sales Professionals with In-Store Mobile Devices
Luxury is about to begin testing equipping its sales professionals with mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones in its stores. They can also be used to take customers through rich sales presentations that include video and audio enhancers. They can be used to search out-of-stock inventory anywhere in the retail system, conduct an online transaction, and arrange for delivery in real time. As customers opt in to having their own mobile devices announce their arrival at the store, sales professionals can be alerted to greet customers by name with custom offers ready, or at minimum be aware of what offers have already been sent to them. These applications are only the beginning of the use of mobile in stores as a customer experience enhancer for the sales professional as well as the customer. Mobile devices combine personalization efficiency and effectiveness with an unprecedented touch of caring and nurturing that are the Holy Grail of a true luxury experience.

A Recap: 6 Trends That Defined Luxury in 2010

By Michael Martin

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (TheStreet) — Despite being on the tail end of the worst recession in modern history, 2010 proved a winner for a few select hotels, restaurants and nightclubs whose business models and practices allowed them to rise to the occasion.

Microchain boutique hotels
After beginning as a hipster-granola hotel concept in the Pacific Northwest, Ace Hotels has spread across the United States with a celebrity-studded outpost in New York and destination resort in the California desert.

The bathrooms on Emirates’ 15 Airbus A380s go beyond luxurious in first class. The airline has become the first and only to offer in-flight showers.

The realization that artists on a budget need stylish and comfortable rooms too has evolved into bohemian enclaves that in New York include a Michelin one-star eatery by the creators of the Spotted Pig. Their gastropub eatery is just as popular with city folk as it is with hotel visitors.

In Palm Springs, Ace has brought a Dash Snow sensibility to the destination pool party, with celebrity jam sessions and indie DJs recruited from LA to spin lazy Sunday afternoons by a pool stewing with tattooed rock stars and models on winter break from the Milan-Paris-Tokyo-Ibiza circuit.

Membership clubs
They’ve been a staple of London social life since the advent of the Groucho Club and Soho House, the latter migrating through Berlin and New York before sweeping across the United States this year. The membership club concept thrives most notably in Los Angeles, where Nick Jones’ Soho House has essentially a monopoly on celebrity dining and nightlife from its penthouse West Hollywood location along the Sunset Strip.

Potential members scour their circle of friends for sponsors only to line up for a multimonth waiting list from which only a connected few at a time are selected to join.

November saw the opening of Soho Beach House in Miami, which includes a hotel that was the party site du jour at Art Basel 2010. Meanwhile, Miami’s perennial Casa Tua was set to expand to Aspen, where the Caribou Club has long had a stranglehold on the billionaire and ski bunny set.

Are you a friend of Andre Saraiva?
He seems to be everywhere these days. In Paris his Le Baron nightclub is the fashion stalwart of local nightlife, while the Hotel Amour he co-owns has become the most fashionable address for one-name artists and celebrity designers. Ditto for Japan, where Le Baron is the hottest club in Tokyo.

In United States, Saraiva has the Boom Boom Room and Le Bain atop the Standard New York and plans for a nightclub in Chinatown. Pop-up installments of Saraiva’s nightclubs are the “it” events at the Cannes Film Festival and Art Basel, where he was essentially handed the keys to Delano’s famous Florida Room for the past two year.

In St. Tropez he’s transformed the once derelict Hotel Ermitage into a bastion of cool on the scale of LA’s Chateau Marmont, but with a French accent.

Saraiva, only 38 and already the new Ian Schrager, is the man of the moment, the coolest guy in town — any town.

Let’s make a deal
It wasn’t long ago that the name Gilt Groupe was barely pronounceable to the average Internet consumers, let alone recognized as a discount retailer specializing in deals for high-fashion goods for subscribers. This year Gilt launched its JetSetter travel deals, offering cut rates at selected hotels that range from quirky boutiques to the best luxury addresses in Paris.

The formula has brought competition from such players as Tablet Hotels, Design Hotels and Leading Hotels of the World that now allows even the high end of the travel market to scout out a deal without embarrassment. Drawbacks include a not always stellar selection with prenegotiated availability and, often, required prepayments. The endless emails for affiliated and launching products also detract from the experience of a once exclusive membership now open to pretty much anyone.

Shower before landing
The advent of the French Airbus A380 has allowed a creative interpretation of the traditional first class flying experience, and Emirates, with its impressive 15 of the craft, offers the most luxurious and over-the-top configuration: It has become the first and only airline in operation to offer in-flight showers.

Emirates’ Private Suites, touted by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City 2, are equipped with sliding doors and minibars of almost full-size premium goodies. There’s also two shower spas at the front of the first-class area — complete with Bulgari bath products and fluffy Italian linens — offering a burlwood boudoir that’s become the hottest amenity in the aviation industry.

Celebrity chefs
Celebrity chefs, the latest must-have amenity for new hotels, are a sure-fire way to keep guest dollars in house as well as a burgeoning business for hoteliers looking to divest real estate during tough times. This year has seen the debut of Daniel Boloud’s DB Bistro Modern at the new JW Marriott Marquis Miami, J&G Steakhouse by Jean-George Vongerichten at St. Regis Deer Valley, the highly touted WP24 by Wolfgang Puck at the Ritz Carlton at LA Live and Michelle Bernstein at the Omphoy in Palm Beach.

Pierre Gagnaire seems to be in front of the trend, conquering the globe with a new Reflets eatery in Dubai, a two-star Michelin-rated restaurant at Les Airelles in Courchevel and an outpost at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. With no shortage of celebrity chefs, Vegas is also welcoming Scott Contant’s Scarpetta and Jose Andres’ Jaleo, which just opened at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

Look for even bigger chef names to debut next year. The world’s most heralded chef, Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck, given three stars by Michelin, will debut a concept eatery at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in London that already has its own Bar Boulud in the basement.


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3d art, fashion

Banknote Jewellery

06.16.10 | 2 Comments

A graduate of London’s Royal College of Art Tine De Ruysser, Ph.D spends her days investigating production methods and folding patterns with a metal and fabric, a new material she invented while she was a student.

Banknote Jewellery” is a conceptual and even political piece articulating the relationship between paper money and gold. A timely piece during our world’s financial crisis, Tine explores the symbolism and relationship between the value of paper money and gold.

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Flower of Life

06.15.10 | No Comments

A symbol of sacred geometry, the Flower of Life is composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles, that are arranged so that they form a flower-like pattern with a sixfold symmetry like a hexagon. The center of each circle is on the circumference of six surrounding circles of the same diameter. Because numbers carried symbolic significance in the Old World, geometric shapes became a visual representation of these symbolic numbers and was involved in the planning and construction of many religious structures, including churches and temples. (Read an article written last year regarding Islamic Architecture.) Natural examples of the Flower of Life include: honeycombs, sunflowers and rocks. And lastly, a contemporary example of the Flower of Life can be seen in origami tessellations. Below is a piece by Andrea Russo, titled “Stars in a Sky of Hexagons” – a perfect example of what the Flower of Life is.

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Geomorphology by Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

06.09.10 | No Comments

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana’s Professor Claudia Fernandez and Mauricio Velasquez Posada explores the use volume, space, and environment to recreate the meaning of origami and the human body. Learn more over here and here. It really makes me pause and say, “hey! whoever created this amazing piece has a truly unique mind!”

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2d graphics, 3d art, technology

Origami Maze Puzzle Font

06.08.10 | No Comments

Erik D. Demaine, Martin L. Demaine, and Jason Ku over at MIT created an origami maze puzzle font, which is a template that shows you how to fold 3D letters of the entire alphabet.

(c) Crease Pattern of the Alphabet: Dark lines are mountain folds; light lines are valley folds; bold lines delineate letter boundaries and are not folds.

(c: Crease Pattern) folds into (b: 3D extrusion), which is an extrusion of (a: 2D maze)

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Paper Planes

06.07.10 | No Comments

Paper planes are so simple, yet it inspire admirers for different reasons. The act of folding paper planes and testing its aerodynamics is so satisfying and fun! Jamming to the paper planes song by MIA is pretty hip too.  May I suggest, the stylish flying paper plane wall decals by Mel Lim from Blik? And lets not forget Dawn Ng’s art installation “I fly like paper get high like planes.”

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Modular Origami

06.04.10 | No Comments

Modular Origami created with paper (by H.W. guth) and one in a form of a necklace (by Claire & Arnaud)

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Brooke Woosley’s Oru

06.01.10 | No Comments

Los Angeles based Environmental Designer Brooke Woosley is another amazing designer who challenged herself by creating a dynamic piece of furniture with a flat sheet of metal. In this process, she experimented with paper, basswood, light, and chipboard and finally concocted this awesome piece called Oru. It is waterjet cut, bent aluminum, painted in an auto finish: gloss white top with a matte blue underside. An excellent piece of furniture for a modern loft or studio.

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Memorial Day @ New York Times

05.31.10 | No Comments

It’s Monday, May 31st, Memorial Day and in today’s New York Times article “The Great Unknowns” by Robert M. Poole, he addresses the unknown fatalities of war and how lovely there are origami flowers to compliment this opinion piece.

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2d graphics

Bored? Make Love

05.28.10 | No Comments

After all the love making, sleeping and staring off into space, might this poster inspire some more love making activity? Lovely origami hearts that is.

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origami typefaces 2

05.27.10 | No Comments

graphics

Origami Typefaces

07.28.08 | 1 Comment

Fun origami typefaces from designers in USA, Germany, and Japan. My favorite ones are the the ones from Japan – it reminds me of my modern alphabet jewelry collection.

Click to continue reading “Origami Typefaces”

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Surface Magazine Origami Covers

07.25.08 | 1 Comment

Known for featuring top and innovative designers, New York-based design magazine Surface was inspired to use origami to grace their magazine covers!

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fashion

With a Shoe, Marloes ten Bhömer Influences What Beauty Can Be

07.24.08 | 4 Comments

London-based Dutch product designer Marloes ten Bhömer who studied at the London College of Fashion and the Royal College of Art produces the most eye-catching and swoon worthy shoes. What makes Ms. Bhömer’s shoes so different is that she researches and works with materials, forms and construction methods that are rarely seen in shoe design. What’s more is that she works with our favorite friend origami in creating some of her couture shoes. You can also visit her at the Virtual Shoe Museum.

The first special edition MARLOESTENBHOMER® shoe will be available to order very soon. If you would like to be amongst the first to know about the launch, please email her!

[left: Foldedshoe / Materials: Wood and tarpaulin / A single sheet of fabric folded once to create an abstracted shoe shape]

[right: Carbonfibreshoe #2 / Materials: Carbon fibre and leather / Shoes constructed from carbon fibre, cladded in leather ]

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Fold Loud by JooYoun Paek

07.23.08 | 1 Comment

New York-based artist and interaction designer JooYoun Paek created a musical play interface called Fold Loud which combines technology, origami, and sound to create an interactive experience of relaxation, recovery and balance.

While you fold classic origami bases from this unique sheet of paper, it simultaneously creates soothing harmonic vocal sounds. Each fold is assigned a different sound so that a combination of these folds create harmony. Click here to watch the video.

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All That Glitters is Hanna Nyman

07.21.08 | No Comments

All That Glitters is Hanna Nyman

Swedish product and print designer Hanna Nyman lets her talent shine through in creating this beautiful lighting system. Plus it is also very origami and we like that.

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fashion

Leather Aligator Fold Clutch by Chloe

07.16.08 | 2 Comments

Chloe Leather Aligator Fold Clutch

Thanks to the awesome fold factor in origami, Chloe offers a new, fun and fashionable way to hold your most intimate belongings!

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home & garden

Nenen by Igor Marq for Corian

07.14.08 | No Comments


Architect Igor Marq designed an origami-inspired piece called Nenen for Corian. This innovative centerpiece is exemplary of form follows function; useful as a supportive base as well as a centerpiece for fruits and veggies!

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fashion

Elijah sports tank

07.10.08 | No Comments

elijah origami top

If I had a fabulous party to attend this summer, I would wear this origami sports top to go running so that I can fit into the beautiful Dior Dresses. The sports tank is on sale too!

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no. 973, origami chair by James Dieter

07.08.08 | No Comments

( I know it was 5 years ago, but still very cool to feature )

no.973, origami chair by James Dieter

In 2003, designboom and 100% design organized an international design competition: 100% folding chairs. There were more than 1300 participants, from 84 countries, 470 prototype-entries received, and only one winner. On our blog, our winner would have been entry no. 973, titled Origami Chair from Brooklyn-based design studio founded by James Dieter.

no.973, origami chair by James Dieter

Constructed with polycarbonate and polyester mesh, the chair folds together from a single sheet into a three dimensional structure, strong enough to withstand the weight of an adult.

Check out dform –  you’ll find more James Dieter manipulating of flat sheet materials such as wood veneer or plastic and transform them into dynamic three dimensional forms.

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Origami by Reflex-Angelo

07.07.08 | No Comments

Reflex Anglo Origami Wall

Matteo of Arredo blog was kind enough to comment on the cool origami wall entry, which led to the awesome discovery of Reflex-Angelo. These origami-inspired cabinets also double as shelving units, you will see the various shelf combinations you can create to fit your lifestyle.

(ps. They’ll also offer you a wonderful web experience when you click to their site!)

10 Offices Cooler Than Yours (probably) via [mentalfloss]

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Stacy Conradt
by Stacy Conradt 

q10

I’m not complaining about where I work – I spend my days in a pretty cool building. But it’s no Google. Then again, not much is. These 10 awesome company headquarters will make you shake your fist at your cubicle in rage… unless you work at one of them, of course.

1. Google. I know, everyone knows about Google, but it seems like a glaring omission to do a list about cool company headquarters and not list them. Among the amenities at the Googleplex? Sand volleyball games at lunch, a ball pit, foosball and ping pong tables, video games, and bicycles to get from meeting to meeting (it’s a huge complex). Not impressed? Let’s talk about the décor – pink plastic flamingoes, doors that go nowhere, a giant PlayMobil pirate, a dinosaur skeleton and lava lamps. Still yawning? There’s more. So much more.

2. Pixar. Tom Hanks recently Tweeted a picture of the bathroom doors at Pixar if that gives you any indication of how seriously they take themselves there. It makes sense that they have a 600-seat movie theater, but the organic vegetable garden and cottage-like cubicles (pictured) are just plain cool.

3. The Cartoon Network. Sure, they might work in cubicle-land just like the rest of us, but at least they have Rosie the Robot smack in the middle of it all. They’re also allowed to decorate their cubes in any manner they see fit. Given the creative types that work there, that makes for a pretty interesting work environment.

4. Red Bull. A fancy color scheme does not a cool company make (though their shiny red, blue and silver scheme is pretty neat) – it’s the slide that leads from the second floor to the first floor that won this headquarters a spot on the list. All I can think is, “But what about the liability issues?!” There’s also a huge skateboard ramp and meeting room tables that double as ping pong-playing surfaces.

5. Nike. The video speaks for itself, but one highlight is an employee store with killer selection and a (allegedly) generous discount.

6. Volkswagen. I bet you didn’t know an assembly line could look so modern, sleek and tidy. I didn’t! The inside of this factory in Dresden, Germany, is so elegant and gorgeous that when Dresden’s opera house was flooded in 2002, they put on Carmen in factory instead. There’s also a restaurant and a simulator that gives test drives, among many other cool features.

7. McLaren. I suppose it just comes with the territory of being a company that produces Formula One race cars, but how many offices do you know that come complete with a 475-foot wind tunnel used to test cars?

8. Selgas Cano Architecture. Want an office with a view? Look no further than Selgas Cano, just outside of Madrid, which lets employees sit in the middle of nature while they work.

9. Bloomberg. Get a complete tour here – at least, as complete as you can get with security stalking you constantly.

10. Zappos. If working for a shoe company isn’t your dream job (If it means a steep discount on shoes, I’m in), consider this: they have Dance Dance Revolution set up as a stress-reliever, themed meeting rooms, nap pods and lots more. Check it out:

Do you have another nominee for the list? Let us know – especially if you work in one!


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The New Trophy Wives of the Top Media Moguls via [Marie Claire]

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The New Trophy Wives: Asian Women

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce Wasserstein. Why are the West’s most powerful men coupling up with younger Asian women?

Rupert Murdoch has one. So do financiers Vivi Nevo and Bruce  Wasserstein. Why are the West's most powerful men coupling up with  younger Asian women?

Call it the Woody Allen Effect. When the venerable director scandalously left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, South Korean-born Soon-Yi Previn — 35 years his junior — he may as well have sent out a press release: Asian-girl fantasy trumps that of Hollywood royalty!

Not two years after they tied the knot, media baron Rupert Murdoch walked down the aisle with fresh-faced Wendi Deng — 17 days after finalizing his divorce from his second wife. Then, CBS head Leslie Moonves wed TV news anchor Julie Chen; Oscar winner Nicolas Cage married half-his-age third wife Alice Kim; billionaire George Soros coupled up with violinist Jennifer Chun; and producer Brian Grazer courted concert pianist Chau-Giang Thi Nguyen. Add the nuptials of investment magnate Bruce Wasserstein to fourth wife Angela Chao and the pending vows between venture capitalist Vivi Nevo and Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang, and we’ve got a curious cultural ripple.

Were these tycoons consciously courting Asian babes? Do any of them qualify for the unnerving “yellow fever” or “rice king” moniker? It’s unsavory to think so. But after two or three failed attempts at domestic bliss with women of like background and age, these heavy hitters sought out something different. Something they had likely fetishized.

Enter the doll-faced Asian sylph on the arm of a silver-haired Western suit. (Hello, mail-order bride!) The excruciating colonial stereotypes — Asian women as submissive, domestic, hypersexual — are obviously nothing new. But decades after The World of Suzie Wong hit drive-ins and more than 20 years since David Bowie‘s “China Girl” topped the music charts, why are we still indulging them?

Because they’re omnipresent — and often entertaining. Even now, how many cinematic greats, literary best sellers, or even cell-phone ads (see Motorola’s latest) characterize Asian women as something other than geishas, ninjas, or dragon ladies? As the object of opening-line zingers like “Me love you long time” (the infamous line from Stanley Kubrick‘s Full Metal Jacket), I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the cheeky blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, which ranks Asian girls at number 11 because “Asian women avoid key white women characteristics, such as having a midlife crisis, divorce, and hobbies that don’t involve taking care of the children.” Sure, I’m petite and was in fact born in Shanghai, but — to the shock of more than one guy I’ve gone out with — I’d rather down an icy beer and burger than nurse bubble tea and eat dumplings while massaging his back with my toes.

“This is a common experience among Asian-American women,” says Bich Minh Nguyen, who broaches the stereotypes in her latest novel, Short Girls. “They’re dating a white guy, and they may not know if it’s a fetish thing.”

“It’s like a curse that Asian-American women can’t avoid,” says C.N. Le, director of Asian and Asian-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “From an academic point of view, the perception still serves as a motivation for white men.”

In researching his new book, The East, the West, and Sex, author Richard Bernstein found that the Orientalist illusion continues to influence. “Historically, Asia provided certain sexual opportunities that would be much more difficult for Western men to have at home. But it remains a happy hunting ground for them today,” he says, citing one phenomenon in the northeastern region of Thailand called Issan, where 15 percent of marriages are between young Thai women and Western men well into their 60s.

But I suspect there’s something else about the East that’s seducing business bigwigs at this very moment: globalization. Consider that, stateside, Mandarin classes have spiked 200 percent over the past five years (apparently, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was an early adopter; he taught Mandarin classes in his Dartmouth days), and China has claimed status as the world’s top export nation. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell theorizes that Asian kids’ intrinsic work ethic makes them outsmart American kids in math. (In the latest Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development international education survey, Taiwanese students were tops in math, while the U.S. placed 35th.) It’s as though these Western men are hungry for a piece of that mystical Eastern formula. As such, Asians (in addition to African orphans) are hot commodities right about now — status symbols as prized as a private Gulfstream jet or a museum wing bearing your name (neither of which goes so well with a frumpy, aging first wife).

Tellingly, most current trophies of choice are far more than exotic arm candy. They are accomplished musicians and journalists, they have Ivy League MBAs and hail from prestigious political families (Mrs. Wasserstein’s older sis is former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao). Why, then, are these women falling for rich white patriarchs? Why be a target for headline comparisons to concubines? When Wendi Deng was described as “The Yellow Peril” in a recent magazine profile, it only marginalized her achievement: As chief strategist for MySpace China, she has become central to News Corp.’s expansion into the elusive Chinese market — something Murdoch himself had attempted, and failed to do, before she came into the picture.

While I’m sure that real love and affection is sometimes the bond in these culture-crossing May-December romances, could it be that power divorcés of a certain ilk make the perfect renegade suitors for these overachieving Asian good girls — an ultimate (yet lame) attempt at rebellion? Maybe these outsized, world-class moguls are stand-ins for emotionally repressed Asian dads (one cliché that is predominantly true). Or…are these women just glorified opportunists? What’s so perverse is that while Asians have always revered their elders, sleeping with a guy old enough to be your grandfather is just creepy — in any culture.

Skepticism aside, the new trophy trend does have its benefits. We’re already seeing a positive impact on global politics, economics, and the arts: The Chinese became privy to online social networking in 2007 with the launch of MySpace China under the News Corp. umbrella; contemporary Chinese painters — including Xiaogang Zhang and Minjun Yue — have rung up nearly $400 million in sales on international art circuits since 2006, thanks to well-connected supporters like Ziyi Zhang; and almost 43 percent of international adoptions, which have more than tripled since 1990, now come out of Asian countries (more playdates for Pax and Maddox). What’s more, perhaps a proliferation of gorgeous, mixed-race, multilingual offspring (assuming a classical Mandarin tutor is on the Chen-Moonves registry) is just good for our landscape. However you look at it, one thing’s for sure: We’re going to have to get used to this new international power family — aging mogul and foxy Asian wife flaunting a double-wide with newborn and adopted Malawian tot. What’s next — the token trophy pet? I hear endangered Burmese rabbits are exceptionally cuddly.



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