Author: B McGraw

Immigrant Yarn Project at Fort Point

The Immigrant Yarn Project at Fort Point

When Cindy Weil envisioned a colossal yarn bombing of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park during the early days of 45’s administration—when the combover-in-chief scribbled an executive order that became the so-called Muslim Ban—she did not simply think and speak about her idea. Cindy had the grit and wherewithal to create it. I admire her ability to generate a clever, impactful idea and then implement it.

The Immigrant Yarn Project is both public art and participatory story-telling. The website’s worth a visit for both background information and inspiring stories. Visit Fort Point and see this exhibition. Do not delay!

Marin MOCA 10th Annual Altered Book Exhibition

Life is good when you live in Northern California and keep your attention on beauty

Yesterday, my friend and collaborator, Paulette Traverso, won second place out of nearly 200 entries. The two judges of the 10th Annual Marin MOCA Altered Book Exhibition praised her clever idea, exemplary execution, and the fine line her work walks between the chasm of EEEEK and the humor that keeps us out of the snake pit that is life in 2019.

Consider this a visual blog post. I have more to say but I’m rushing to the next event in my blessedly art-filled life: Miss Brandes (my wife) and her work husband, the talented Nik Nakley are singing Bach Cantatas at Mary Magdelene Church in Berkeley.

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ — that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Paralysis Passes

The five classic stages of grief do not name ‘paralysis’ but that’s the how I describe my initial response the the United States presidential election in November; denial, anger, and depression rolled into one debilitating state before acceptance.
Eventually I joined millions of my fellow citizens in peaceful protest the day after the inauguration of the current POTUS (aka SCROTUS).  This tradition of nonviolent resistance can and must keep our shared values alive and thriving. While I do not appreciate the new executive branch of government, I am grateful for the positive impact of the election: civic awareness and a call to duty has been awakened in a new generation of Americans.

The last time I marched in Washington, DC was for the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights1987. At that time I was a budding artist (photographer) in Minneapolis and I was horrified by the utter denial of the AIDS crisis by the Reagan administration. A close friend was dying and writing a book called Circle of Hope: Our Stories of AIDS, Addiction, and Recovery. I would see Perry at the YWCA writing and editing his in a notebook as he rode a stationary bicycle. We did not have laptops or smartphones yet. My pals and I went to the march and stayed on a goat farm in Maryland with an HIV+ friend who was working there in hopes of building his immune system with antibodies that occur in raw milk.  I became obsessed with the feet of the living and photographed those standing near panels of their friends and loved ones on the AIDS Memorial Quilt and created a photo essay for a small art gallery in St. Paul. Coming from five generations of funeral directors, I was inclined towards thinking about death and how people memorialize one another.

smkissMinniePhotoBack to the present. My beloved and I decided to go to the Women’s March a couple days after the election. Then we realized that we should get married before the end of Obama’s administration. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed to officiate for us and we were married on 1/19/2017 at the Supreme Court.  We honeymooned with hundreds of thousands of women and men in the Women’s March.
Yesterday we spent the afternoon in San Francisco with thousands of people for the #NoBanNoWall gathering. It occurs to me that we could be gathering our stories and voices in addition to signatures. Although I still believe that the Enchanted Book can add value to people’s personal lives, perhaps it is time to stitch together their voices to create a fabric that will become a virtual Names Quilt honoring the living, particularly those standing up for liberty, justice, and truth.

 Tomorrow I am enhancing the capacity of the Enchanted Book with VidRack. You will be able to voice your opinions—at a link such as—and I will endeavor to make (y)our voices heard. You can test the MVP now.

Why #WearWhiteToVote?

marchwithusMemory can be a fickle beast. I have even heard of Holocaust denialists. I do not believe that we are in danger of forgetting that women and others—including but not limited to people of color, undocumented immigrants, and non-property-owning individuals—were not privy to that honorable democratic privilege called the right to vote. newspaperThe danger is that people could forget that the honor is more than emblematic, it is a action verb that our foremothers did not have the right to perform.

Although there is evidence of injustice among suffragettes such as racially segregated rallies, the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was a stone chipping at the proverbial glass ceiling of democracy. Geraldine Ferraro, on the 1984 Democratic ticket as Vice President, mirrored the 1984 Apple Macintosh Commercial that aired in January of that year by flinging a sledge hammer into the American political ceiling.

Now, of course, Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is about to shatter it altogether. Memory keeps our guts in the game. Don your white blouse, pants suit, jacket, or slacks to vote in this emotionally charged election to remind yourself and others that American women were not deemed worthy to cast a vote until 1920. Honor your mother, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, and aunts who fought for this privilege. SumOfAllColorsIf that does not appeal to you, wear white because, in Physics, white is not defined as a color because it is the sum of all possible colors.

And if is not good enough reason, do it because Elmer Fudd says we all have the white to vote.  WhiteToVote

#TruthIsBeauty ≠ #Controversy

TTruth is Beautyhe intersection of women’s bodies and politics has entered the news again. This time, a recent addition to the San Francisco Bay Area’s holdings of public sculpture: Truth is Beauty. She was officially celebrated at an inaugural lighting ceremony in San Leandro, CA on October 18th, 2016.

Emotions ran high that evening. Some journalists reported controversy. That’s not my point. For me, a poignant moment came to light when a few young people from SLED (San Leandro Education Development) showed me their kiosk that houses a We Imagine a World, a website “devoted to speaking up about women’s safety and being the storytellers/voices for women who have experienced sexual violence.”

Not only do they fully comprehend the promise of recorded voices, but they also understood the Enchanted Book’s mission to capture the essence of an event with people’s voices.

Sled Youth Kiosk



Super Fans & Emotional Agility

It looks like the crowdfunding at Kickstarter has leveled off and I may not reach the $24,000 goal this time. Not to worry! The world wide web is here to help.

AmyJoKim-superfansThanks to telepresence, I was able to receive direct and practical advice from two distinguished women, Amy Jo Kim and Susan David, this morning. Amy Jo was the guest on a brilliant webinar about developing and nurturing “super fans” for testing the validity of a business idea.

Directly and with generosity, she told me that I need to listen to and learn from people (instead of pitching and selling my product). At this point, it is not about me and the Enchanted Book. My mission is to come up with a hypothesis about my project and its value proposition; then I can ask potential super fans about how they are currently keeping their cherished memories together.

Immediately after the webinar, Product Hunt—a curated website that lists mobile apps, websites, and technology products—hosted a live chat with the author of Emotional Agility, Susan David. Again, I was grateful to have connected with and received personal advice from an accomplished woman. Time for grit… and gratitude. Thank you both.

SusanDavid-gritQuit@mcgrawbridget – You have followed something that you believe in. There is so much dignity in that!

“What a great idea!”

That’s a direct quote from an early backer, Sunny Bates. If only the Enchanted Book had a monetary backer for every time I have heard a similar phrase since starting the project.

Next time I will listen more closely to Sunny’s wisdom and apply it before launching  a crowdfunding campaign. “Reaching out is the only way to grow your network and nurture network thinking” tweeted Sunny. This woman knows what she’s talking about!

“As an author, serial entrepreneur, mentor and advisor, her client roster has included some of the world’s most prominent companies organizations, from GE, TED and Credit Suisse to MTV, the National Academy of Sciences, Techstars and Kickstarter, of which she is a founding board member.”

Share this project with your network!

Founding board member of Kickstarter, Sunny Bates, author, serial entrepreneur, mentor and advisor, backed the Enchanted Book.
Founding board member of Kickstarter, Sunny Bates, author, serial entrepreneur, mentor and advisor, backed the Enchanted Book.

Enchanted Books in Minecraft

Little did I know that I would be competing with Minecraft, the online game that is sometimes called virtual LEGO. The “Enchanted Book” was introduced to the game in 2012, which happens to be the current version when I started a Minecraft Meetup with my son.

When I search Google for Enchanted Book the first link is the Minecraft wiki, which recounts the entire history of  Enchanted Books. They were released in v.1.4.6 (12w49a), which included the following fixes:

Enchanted books added. Their enchantments can be applied to any item.

MC-2504 – Enchant cannot enchant with ID 0 (Protection)
MC-3332 – You don’t hear the xp sound you get every 5 levels
MC-3490 – Minecarts and falling entities flickering / jittering (updated 1.4.5)
MC-3501 – Passsive mob spawn eggs don’t consume
MC-3565 – Endermen don’t open their mouth when attacked by other mobs
MC-4069 – Pressing F3+B displays hitboxes.. rendering invisibility potions useless
MC-4117 – wither can sometimes destroy its own star due to the posthumous detonation of wither skulls.

Gotta love geek-speak.

iPad to IoT

Around the time I was reading David Rose’s book, Enchanted Objects, the Apple Watch was released and the Internet of Things (IoT) was on the lips of technophiles. Nicolas Negroponte of MIT pointed out that Rose expresses a unique balance of “romantic humanism and scientific destiny.” From Nest Thermostats to baby clothing that monitors a baby’s vital signs, people were putting processors, sensors, and transmitters into everyday objects that tap into basic human drives.

I first imagined a visitor’s book with the powers of telepresence. Rose argues that “we find these objects enticing due to our innate psychological needs, it seemed most logical way to organize them by universal human drives.” His Periodic Table of Enchanted Objects captures the state of consumer IoT circa 2014-15. The Enchanted Book fits neatly into zone 2. Although the current functioning “alpha” prototype uses an iPad or Android tablet, the end goal is to embed the electronic components and a screen directly into the binding of a book.

My mission to make stand-alone object led me down the rabbit hole of hardware tinkering for many months before I settled on creating an alpha prototype the leverages existing tablet technology to demonstrate the idea. IoT components are inexpensive but the development process is not. The road to the beta prototype is cleared but not yet paved with the LightBlueBean and the book structure. Next stop, IoT zone 2.

Enchanted Objects Poster, David Rose

The Printing Press Is Not Dead

Last night I saw Berkeley Rep’s truly brilliant adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here. It was eerily pertinent to the current American presidential election. Most people will hear echoes of Trump in the the Huey Long-inspired character, “Buzz” Windrip. Eeek! That was the scary part. Salon picked up on that back in September, 2015—the 80th anniversary of the “anti-fascist tome.”

My heart-strings and mind-strings were stirred and plucked. As a budding bookmaker, I must admit that the visual thrill of seeing a printing press in action heightened the drama.

See this play!
Don’t go because you want to be disturbed; go because you want to be reminded that integrity matters and that democracy is messy.