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The Future of Film in San Francisco

Kerner Studios, the studio that produced the special effects for George Lucas's Star Wars trilogy, hosted this year's party and panel discussion on the state of Northern California's film industry.

As newcomers to the area, I was ignorant to the fact that film makers, technicians, and artists are struggling to work on film projects in Northern California. The bulk of the panel discussion emphasized that the local industry is in trouble. With generous government subsidies, much of the animation and special effects work that was traditionally the Bay Area's strength is moving to Vancouver, New Zealand and Michigan. While Hollywood is still a major player, many Bay Area filmmakers are forced to commute to Los Angeles for work.

The Bay Area has a strong history of technical filmmaking. From Muybridge's horse to George Lucas and Pixar, artists in this area have often led the field. The takeaway from the evening was that we can lead again by leveraging the technological expertise of Silicon Valley. We can and should pressure our local governments to offer the competitive subsidies and tax breaks that are driving work away from Northern California.

 
 
 
 
alex

T3 Dinner

A great time was had by all at our sold-out inaugural T3 Dinner featuring Doug Menuez, George Kembel, Joon Yoon, and Dan Ariely! The T3 Dinner furnished an opportunity for erudite and insightful speakers to engage with an intellectually curious audience in Palo Alto.

The first of the group of speakers, Doug Menuez, offered a lively, illustrated account of life in the early days of Silicon Valley, and also shared his insights into the life of a professional photographer. Doug showed us strikingly candid images of Bill Gates and other technology luminaries while the sparkling three course meal began with a mixed green salad with toasted nuts and a zesty dressing. Next, George Kembel of the Stanford Institute of Design challenged conference attendees to build the tallest freestanding structure possible using only dried spaghetti, string, tape and two marshmallows. In so doing, he provided an entertaining demonstration as to how to deploy design thinking in our everyday lives. As we enjoyed halibut over couscous, Joon Yun provided an interdisciplinary prescription for improving one’s health by looking at what’s right in front of us. After a dessert buffet with mini crème brulees and chocolate strawberries, Dan Ariely wowed us with both his humor and a comprehensive overview of the social science of morality. Cameron Hughes supplied delicious red and white wines that were liberally drunk throughout the evening.

Our guests were as distinguished as our speakers, and we thank them for coming and making the event memorable. Videos of these talks will be available on our site soon. In the meantime, if you have any comments or thoughts on the T3 Dinner, please share them with us via email at info@paloaltoinstitute.org.

Anita

Slow down! At the palo alto farmer's market

Before the economy tanked, the Wednesday Palo Alto Farmers' Market was run by the City of Palo Alto in City Hall. Due to budget cuts, the City stopped its financial support of the market. In response, the Palo Alto Institute (PAI) rescued the market, which is now located at Lytton Plaza in downtown Palo Alto. PAI is trying to grow the market because it believes that our relationship with fresh food shouldn't be confined to leisurely weekend mornings, but should be a relationship that we cultivate throughout the week.We think of Palo Alto as a health-conscious community that is aware of the importance of eating fresh organic produce. And, indeed, the fact that the Palo Alto farmers markets on Saturday and Sunday are always bustling supports our assumption. The Saturday market offers a wider array of produce, whereas the Sunday market offers more music and prepared foods in addition to produce. However, attendance at the Wednesday market has been low and it's hard to understand why this market hasn't flourished in our community. One possible explanation is that some of us in the heart of Silicon Valley find our weekdays too stressful and hectic to take time out to stop and smell the produce.

Wednesdays are traditionally "hump days"- a day that many of us in the West feel we have to climb over to reach the weekend. However, according to the Thai calendar, green, the color of nature, is the color associated with Wednesdays. One of the great things about a Wednesday market in the midst of the workaday bustle, is that it acts as a green oasis. Time slows down there. We can shed our troubles for a few hours. As the founders of the Slow Food movement say, reversing the fast food movement entails seeing ourselves not as consumers, but as part of the production process. Better food gets grown by virtue of our involvement in farmers' markets. Plus, stopping by the Wednesday markets develops our enjoyment of community, nature, outdoor light, and music.
Eating produce from the market for our everyday meals, rather than just at a dinner party on the weekends, is an easy way to decrease the stress brought on by overripe supermarket foods and the unhealthy speed of a modern workday spent in artificial light, temperature-controlled environments, eating processed foods in front of a computer, multi-tasking between the demands of our jobs, checking email and surfing the Internet—not to mention chauffeuring kids around to their afterschool activities or running errands. Rather than seeing Wednesdays as an obstacle on our way to the weekend, we could see Wednesdays as another great opportunity to bring the serenity of our weekends to our weekdays.

Anita