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Photo by Pavlina Perry

Welcome to Pursuit of Spark!  Join us for conversations about creative approaches to the challenges, possibilities, and pleasures of everyday life and work.

Thanks to Dick Nodell and Stephanie Lyness, we have much to share with you over the next few months in Work Mysteries and American Gumbo.  If you have a question for Dick or Steph, send it to us at info (at)  We would love to have you join the conversation!

If you're in New York City, please join me at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for Spark Conversations.   You can find out more about this new series here.

We look forward to hearing from you!




Four Lessons in Creativity
Get the Book

Spark: How Creativity Works has stories from artists, musicians, writers, and directors about where they find their spark.  It's also available as an audio book.

hidden stuff

Spark with Julie Burstein

I am inspired by people who pursue their creative spark, whether they're artists or parents or scientists or entrepreneurs. So please join me for conversations about creative approaches to work and life.



Joel Meyerowitz and Maggie Barrett

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz and writer Maggie Barrett talk about their life together, and their collaboration on their new book Provence: A Lasting Impression.  Their honesty, about the pleasures and challenges of their creative partnership in life and in art, is an inspiration.
Joel has also just published Taking My Time, a retrospective of his 50 years taking photographs, including his early street photography, his beautiful landscapes of Cape Cod and Tuscany, and his powerful photographs of the aftermath of 9/11 at the site of the World Trade Center.  In Studio 360 in 2002, Joel spoke about the experience of documenting the destruction as well as the extraordinary efforts of the people who cleared the site and payed homage to those who were lost.  Here's that interview:

To read more about Joel and Maggie, and to see more photographs, visit their blog, Flying the Coop or Joel's Facebook page.


 The photo of Provence is by Joel Meyerowitz.  The music in the podcast is by Delgarma, via WFMU's Free Music Archive.



Give thanks for all that you've been given

It was delightful to meet the young singer/fiddler/songwriter Sara Watkins and to hear her play with her brother Sean and bassist Tyler Chester.  They performed live in WNYC's studios on 8/3, capping off my second day as guest host on the Leonard Lopate show.  I think Sara's interpretation (with Fiona Apple) of the Everly Brother's You're the One I Love on Sara's new album Sun Midnight Sun is my new favorite song.

I also love the song and the sentiment in Sara Watkins' song Take Up Your Spade, which finished her short set.  In it she gently tells us all to get to work, and to "Give thanks for all that you've been given/Give thanks for who you can become."



On being a pattern interrupt

Ed Zimmerman with winemaker Freddy MugnierEd Zimmerman is a lawyer who specializes in tech deals. He's happiest in gatherings where he's the host, so for many years he's organized conferences and workshops for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists so they can get to know each other, and he can get to know them. Ed came up to me at TED right after I'd given my talk, and invited me to one of these meetings, where I got to see up close the informal and engaging way he gets people to talk about what they do. I was interested in how he chose this kind of work, and in talking with him found that the answer is complicated and fascinating, and that part of it comes directly from his father. Here's the entire interview, which is full of Ed's humor and generosity.


On being a pattern interrupt by Sparkwork


 Samuel and Edward Zimmerman at Edward's bar mitzvah

You can also hear some of the music Ed talks about in this 5:00 story I produced for Studio 360.  This weekend is Father's Day, and kids all over the country are buying ties and barbecue aprons and music for their dads.  When he was growing up, Ed always knew what kind of music to get for his father Sam, who had unrealized dreams of being a singer and a writer.  Ed is a lawyer who crafts deals for tech entrepreneurs and VCs, and he has been surprised and pleased to find that his father's passions have had a major influence on his own work, who had unrealized dreams of being a writer and a singer, and whose passion for words and music had a profound impact on his son Ed spends a lot of time talking about songs by Springsteen, Aretha, Dar Williams and The Clash with his wife and two kids, and always keeps one of his father's opera tapes in his glove compartment.   You can read Ed's blog post about music and his father here.


Sam Zimmerman at Stratford on Avon



"Creating something together that we couldn't have on our own"

My conversation with Liz Forkin Bohannon continues as Liz talks about having her husband Ben join her as co-dreamer for Sseko Sandals. Liz is honest about the joys, adventures and challenges of creating a new company and a new marriage at the same time.  And she has a great story about unique ways to use wedding presents! 

The lovely spring weather is a perfect time for sandals -- you can see Sseko's offerings at  


Liz Forkin Bohannon and Sseko Sandals

I met Liz Forkin Bohannon in 2010 at Seth Godin's fantastic workshop for women entrepreneurs. Her ebullience and humor are what I noticed first, and then I began to understand the determination and imagination that have allowed her to develop a successful company from scratch. With the money she'd saved from babysitting jobs and a sewing machine her parents gave her for her birthday, Liz began Sseko Sandals, which employs young women in Uganda so they can earn the money they need to go to university.

I'm thrilled that Liz is my first Pursuit of Spark interview! This week Liz talks about how she got Sseko off the ground.
Spark: Liz Forkin Bohannon and Sseko Sandals by Sparkwork

Right after college, Liz went to Uganda to work for the Cornerstone Leadership Academy. She fell in love with the students, who came from poor families, and asked the school's founder what she could do for them once she returned to the US. He asked her to figure out a way to help young women earn the money to go on to college.

Liz's first idea was a chicken farm -- and we're lucky she quickly abandoned that concept and moved on to create sandals that could be made in Uganda and worn by women all over the U.S.

Next week, Liz talks about the challenges and pleasures of working with her husband, Ben. They just left their new hometown of Portland, Oregon to travel to Uganda to meet their new employees. You can read more about Liz, Ben and Sseko in Oregon Live.

listen to the interview with Liz

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