Posts by DXO

Executive Director of Smart Chicago Collaborative. Some dude on the Internet. Ethics:

Lincoln Marsh 2016 [3/24]: Sunday, February 6, 43°F, partly sunny, pre-dusk

Yesterday, Super Bowl Sunday, I popped over to Lincoln Marsh and took some new pics. The weather was very El Niño— warm and sunny and bright. I got there slightly later than I wanted to, so the sun was lower than I wanted, but I think we saw some good things.

I got there just in time for some sun to blaze behind the trees:

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

That moment in woods when eye level is dark and the light is up above and almost gone:

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

Nothing can stop the geese from flying:

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

I feel for the laggards catching up:

And the movement in pooled water shows temp:

Even though ice is stubborn with rigid memory:

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

And the log remains on the surface, for now:

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

We all know the blue turns inky and beats orange.

Lincoln Marsh February 2016

AA Meeting at ORD Camp

Proposed Format for Open Meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous at an Unconference

Over the weekend I participated in ORDCamp, a two-day gathering in Chicago. The format in unconference, so the majority of the agenda is determined by the attendees. Sessions are held in individual rooms and organized by the placement of big post-it notes on a grid holding rooms & times.

This year I decided to try a session that would run as a fully-functioning open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It worked well and I thought I would document it here, so that anyone who wanted to hold a similar session at a similar gathering could easily do so.

Only the Lonely Room at ORDCamp 2016

The format for the meeting is here: Suggested Format for AA ORD Camp 2016 Meeting. It contains links to the external documents one would need, organized in this folder.

With these documents in hand (or on your computer), you need the following people in order to make the meeting work well:

  • A chair. This is the person who runs through the format, asks people to read things, introduce the speaker, pass the basket, and run the comments. This should be an existing member of AA
  • A speaker. This person will share “what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now”. This takes up 20-25 minutes of the 1-hour meeting. This should be an existing member of AA
  • Someone to read How It Works” from Chapter 5 of the Big Book
  • Someone to read The 12 Traditions
  • Any number of people, beyond these four, to listen to the speaker and comment if they so choose

Some thoughts:

  • The fact that this is an “open” meeting is key— it means that anyone can attend; one doesn’t have to have a desire to stop drinking
  • The one-hour format is exactly right— it’s the general timeframe for most unconference sessions
  • The slightly regimented format (speaker, then orderly comments one-by-one) can be a slight bummer, since most unconference sessions are more free-form. Go with the flow
  • When collecting money according to the 7th tradition, the chair should make sure it gets to the central office of wherever the unconference is being held

The most important thing to me was to conduct a bonafide meeting, almost as an act of performance art for the benefit of first-time attendees who are curious about what the hell happens in AA meetings. Rather than have a meta-discussion of what AA is or isn’t or could be, just be.



I Take Pictures: 2015 Output Review

Flickr is an essential place for my documentary life. Here’s a look at what I’ve posted there in the last year.


I track my trips in pictures. I went on 19 trips this year, which added to my overall total of 130 trips documented in this collection. My trips are broadly broken down into travel to conferences (TreeFort/ HackFort in Boise was a huge highlight), my work on the boards of the Sunlight Foundation (yay for NYC and Aspen) and Voqal (Albuquerque and Denver ftw), as well as a mega-fambly trip to London and Paris and some smaller family stuff as well. Also: annual Austin pilgrimage.

I posted 3,450 images from these trips. Literally only God knows how many I shot in order to get it down to that number— maybe 15,000?

Street Battle of the Bands, Boise


Documentation isn’t just for making the conduct of my life more considered and effective— I also do it as my art. I took photos at Lincoln Marsh six times this year. I took the exact same photos as I have 42 times over the last six years, in an attempt to document how an Illinois natural areas changes through the seasons.

I did a number of other projects. I captured a photo of every flower entered in the Wyandot County Fair contest this year, I did a photo essay on the August 2015 City of Chicago Budget Hearing at Malcolm X College, documented a meticulously painted Fun House, captured the unveiling of an honorary street sign, as well as the politicians of the 2015 Bud Billiken Parade and the Frank Lloyd Wright Meyer May House in Grand Rapids, MI. I took dozens of portraits of youth and opening day of the 606. I documented the work of a hula hoop artist in Las Vegas, the Chihuly exhibit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, FL.

I caught a few minutes of a protest in front of City Hall and the financial district. I answered the question, “what did the Geneva Spur Near Reed Keppler Park look like in December 2015?“, even though maybe nobody asked me.

Lincoln Marsh at Dusk, Early Spring, March 2015


Family-wise, I was happy to document baseball seasons. To me, these aren’t just pics of my kids (though that is definitely a big part of it). I do this to try to capture what it was like to be 15 in 2015 and playing baseball in the summer in North America. What does it look like, feel like. What kind of light poles and bulbs did they have? What were the uniforms made of? What kind of typography do they use for lettering? Did it rain? What was the impact of that? What was the name of the preschool next to the field?

And yes, the personal. How tall was my son on his confirmation day? It’s important to get every configuration, and a pic with his mother, so she can have that, forever. So we can remember the Director of Religious Education, because she is wonderful and helped my babies grow.

Caleb, Mrs. Brennan, and CXO


At work, I’m proud of my part in the PACER postcard campaign with my fellow documentarian, Carl Malamud. I hosted the Madonna Scholars for a Saturday of learning, Youth-Led Tech style. I did a lot of CUTGroup pics, but by the end of the year we hired a new professional to do that for us— bringing the next one up. I caught meetups, conferences, and events.

Madonna Scholars

I love to capture what happened, archive it for all to see, and share it. More to come!

jan 17 2016 feature

Lincoln Marsh 2016: January #2— 6 degrees.

This is one in a series of 24 blog posts in 2016 that document the seasonal changes at Lincoln Marsh in Wheaton, IL. One set of photos and observation sometime in the first 15 days of the month and one set between the 16th and the end of the month. See them all here.

Six degrees is not a lot of degrees. I love the drama of going somewhere when it’s cold, and not just cold but profoundly so. Negative wind chill; a triumph to be outside.

Weather January 17, 2016

I like to build and see evidence of my existence.


By now the water is ice.


There’s a superficial film of snow that proves it.

snow on ice

One can take either path. No one cares when it’s cold.

paths of cold

Here’s the whole set.