JAN 01

Re:Considerations for 2018

selfArchive Blog 01/18  
Re:Considerations for 2018

We live in relationship with all living and non-living things. The global conversation about being human includes: ethics, science, health, philosophy, spirituality, the celebration of human potential, and a growing sense of personal accountability for our economic, environmental and social impacts. It is from these diverse influences that many of us struggle to build an integral foundation for waking up. We’re unconscious when we ignore the vanishing forests and the weekly extinction of species, or when we deny the correlation between our daily lifestyle choices, dead whales, and the bare mountainsides that were glaciers only a generation ago.

My leather sectional,
once my pride, has become
an embarrassment.
I sit less comfortably on it
now that I know better.

If you’re interested in animal-free biofabricated leather substitutes, you might be interested in this New Jersey startup called Modern Meadow. Here’s what they say about themselves on their company website: We believe in a future where animal products are animal-free. There are those who wish the world was different, and those who work to change it every day. At Modern Meadow we are working tirelessly to see this new future materialize; one where humans make the material and the animals roam free.

We each have an opportunity in 2018 to re-consider our impacts.

selfArchive 718 | Awareness | Illustration | Words

© 2018 Arlene Cotter | selfArchive Re:Considerations

Tiny Trees

selfArchive Blog 51/17
Tiny Trees

I searched patiently for stray needles and sprigs beneath the long rows of cut evergreens waiting to become Christmas trees. Then I stopped to twist and break my tiny finds. Some had no scent. Others released fragrant bursts, reawakening my senses and a lifetime of forest memories—fresh air, pine, spruce, fir, cedar and snowy silence.

When you walk among trees, consider Tree Canada. It’s the leading national tree planting charity in Canada.

selfArchive 717 | Awareness

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2017 Arlene Cotter photograph

War and Peace

selfArchive Blog 44/17
War and Peace

November is an opportunity to reflect upon the impact of war and peace in our lives.

A project about War.
Moving A Wall

A reminder about Peace.
Living Peace

Information about Remembrance Day Ceremonies
City of Vancouver
UBC Remembrance Day Ceremony

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2017 Arlene Cotter Transformative Spaces
Ceremony photograph by Don Erhardt | UBC © 2017

© 2017 Poppy illustration by Ping Ki Chan

Cancer Support

selfArchive Blog 39/17  
Supporting People With Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a valuable reminder for us to honour healing in all its forms. Please take some time this month to encourage someone you know who has been, or is now on the cancer journey—with whatever type of cancer. We can all be a part of the healing journey.



© 2017 Icon illustrations of Arlene by Ping Ki Chan

What It’s Like to Be Diagnosed

Whether we’re a family member, friend, colleague or caregiver, we all know someone who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Our first impulse might be to reach out and help but the truth is, most of us don’t know what to do. This book can help. From This Moment On: A Guide for Those Recently Diagnosed With Cancer helps us understand what it feels like to face a cancer diagnosis. Once we learn more, we’re better prepared to offer our support from the shadows or step forward in a major way. Take your first step on a journey that will transform you and every person it touches. Cancer is life-changing experience for everyone and this is a reminder to help create the finest opportunity for healing—from this moment on.

One Canadian Cancer Statistic

Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians (49% of men and 45% of women) is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime.*

*Based on 2017 statistics

Links to Learn More About Cancer 

The Canadian Cancer Society
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
BC Cancer Agency

selfArchive 745 | Awareness | Healing

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2017 Arlene Cotter Transformative Spaces

Read more: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance/?region=on#ixzz4ssmAYvRQ
Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. (2017). Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society.
Read more: http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance/?region=on#ixzz4ssmJ2ijQ
Statistics Canada. (2012, July 25). Table 102-0561 – Leading Causes of Death, Total Population, by Age Group and Sex, Canada, Annual. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. CANSIM database.

Campus Colour Consultation


selfArchive Blog 34/17
Campus Colour Consultation 

Consultation 2016/2017  
Update UBC Okanagan Campus Design Guidelines for Colour

University of British Columbia
Campus + Community Planning (Vancouver Campus)
Campus Planning and Development (Okanagan Campus)

Communication Challenge
The scheduled update to the existing UBC Okanagan Campus Design Guidelines by the Vancouver and Kelowna planning units provided an opportunity to review the colour guidelines and address strategies that would increase visual integration on Campus for ongoing development projects. 

The objective was to work with the UBC team and an advisory panel to develop colour guidelines that would contribute to the positive transformation of the UBC Okanagan Campus by furthering the university’s aspirational goals.

The following Campus Plan Vision Statement, developed in consultation with the UBC Okanagan community, guides the physical evolution of the University’s Okanagan Campus over the next 20 years. The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus aspires to be a centre for learning and innovation that produces global citizens through transformative personal growth and collaboration. Its people, places, and activities are linked by a shared commitment to fostering community, and supporting social and ecological well-being. Deeply connected to the landscape, the campus is an accessible, intimate, and welcoming environment—a catalyst for positive change.

—Excerpted from the 2015 UBC Okanagan Campus Plan


Developed with the UBC team through a series of development phases, the UBC Okanagan Colour Guidelines provide an overarching strategy to deliver visual cohesion across a unified yet contextual UBC Okanagan Campus experience. The foundation of the guidelines is an integrated UBCO Colour System that informs colour recommendations for the selection of building materials, landscape, and surface infrastructure related to all development projects on the Campus.

UBCO Colour System
Developed over a series of four development phases during 2016/17 (including a colour workshop and several presentations), the colour system provides a conceptual and practical framework for future applications.

Written Guidelines for Colour
The Colour section of the Guidelines was expanded to activate areas within the Architecture and Public Realm sections.

The Colour System Quick Reference provides a tight, comprehensive, stand-alone core reference resource for UBC staff and design professionals. It facilitates presentation briefings with design contractors (architects, landscape architects and allied professionals; including interior designers, environmental designers and communication designers), and provides a simple, accessible framework/tool for discussions about colour.

Research and Development
Colour Workshop
Written Guidelines

Quick Reference Guide

selfArchive 745 | Recent Project | Guidelines

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2017 Arlene Cotter Transformative Spaces

Transformative Spaces


selfArchive Blog 12/17  
Transformative Spaces

Transformative spaces are places free of bias, censorship and distortion. This concept visualizes a form of open space that promotes dialogue. In order to identify these open spaces, we need delineation—either they are open spaces or they are closed spaces. If the objective is an open space for dialogue without bias, then boundaries represent a form of censorship that is unacceptable. One solution is to recontextualize the perimeters as transformers. Using this framework, people and ideas transmute into receptors as they cross the membrane into the neutralized transformational space. When the exchange is finished, people are free to resume their shape as they exit.

This concept envisions a safe opportunity for the exchange of ideas. In order to create lasting change, a conscious willingness to suspend judgement is required. This is how genuine exchange and conscious transformation happens.

selfArchive 745 | Awareness | Diagram

© 2018 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2018 Arlene Cotter Transformative Spaces

Creative Fear


selfArchive Blog 11/17
Creative Fear 

To live is to create. Human Beings cannot stop creating. As dynamic organisms we are constantly changing in response to the infinite potentials that surround us. In moments when we glimpse the interconnectivity of all things, our expanded perception can just as easily inspire us as overwhelm us because if we accept the responsibility that we are all co-creators, we will be asked to face both our capacities and our fears. When we’re attentive—and brave—we can live more of ourselves by meeting these moments with conscious intentionCreative Fear locates a moment of potential. Confronted by fear, a diver stands frozen even as the waters rise around her. Either she will make a conscious intention to swim, or fall unconscious. 

selfArchive 705 | Illustration

© 2018 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2013 – 2018 Arlene Cotter Creative Fear Series

Living Peace


selfArchive Blog 10/17
Living Peace

Consider 10 words from Mahatma (Mohandas) Gandhi,* the international figure of peace.

There is no path to peace.
Peace is the path. **

The words express a profound approach to many of the world’s social and political problems, yet this simple, direct message of peace is easily lost to us. Here are five reasons why we might overlook it:

Perhaps we can’t hear the message; 

Perhaps we don’t understand the message; 

Perhaps we distort the message, or

Perhaps we simply don’t care. 

A fifth response is more interesting:

Perhaps we can hear and understand the message perfectly well but choose to ignore it because—whether consciously or unconsciously—we realize that peace requires too much effort on our part. 

When we read Gandhi’s words, even those of us with the best of intentions might find ourselves jumping straight to an impersonal concept of peace activism (likely something far too ambitious to sustain) instead of being thoughtful about what Gandhi actually meant and required of us. His words challenge us to reflect upon the idea that “peace begins with me” for long enough to create personal change. In other words, for long enough to model peace in our own lives. If we’re willing, we’ll understand that peace is not something to seek, but something to live. Right here, right now, peace demands our commitment. We might say we want peace in the world but peace demands something of us that we may not be willing to offer. 

[ C O D A ]
Peace speaks directly to the core challenge of self-awareness. Becoming self-aware doesn’t ask us to behave in any particular way except in one regard: Self-awareness requires that we notice what we’re doing and what we’re not doing. We’re either making peaceful choices in our own lives, or we’re not. When we stay present and resist hiding behind the complexity of our stories, truth emerges. Facing the truth of our daily lives is a daunting challenge for us would-be peace ambassadors. Most of us know this firsthand because between the consequences of our behaviour, the demands of our relationships and the near-constant bombardment of media, we struggle to live peace-filled lives every single day. 

Truth is elegant and simple,
so unlike
the complications we create
to keep us from facing it.

selfArchive 757 | Awareness | Illustration

* Mohandas Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was a leader of India’s independence movement and an international figure of peace who inspired global movements for civil rights and freedoms based on a form of non-violent civil disobedience.
** Quote from Mohandas Gandhi.
© 2018 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2018 Arlene Cotter, Peace

Human Boundaries


selfArchive Blog 09/17
Human Boundaries

Our thoughts create boundaries. We create real and imagined boundaries that define how we situate ourselves in relation to the world. Boundaries are whatever we create—physical and non-physical, concrete and abstract, real and imagined. Some boundaries protect us and others restrict us. When we explore the boundaries we create, we learn where our edges are soft or hard, rigid or flexible. We discover what we allow to touch us and what we block.

selfArchive 740 | Awareness | Diagram

© 2018 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2018 Arlene Cotter, Human Boundaries

Redux of First Book


selfArchive Post 06/17
Redux of First Book

Redux celebrates a long overdue thank you to my readers, contributors, publisher and agent. It is a formal acknowledgement of my first book. 

For years, I tried to keep my professional and private lives separate. When I wrote From This Moment On: A Guide for Those Recently Diagnosed With Cancer, the schism further widened. While I will comfortably present to 500 people on the topic of design, I had reservations about publicly sharing my private struggles with cancer. I’m an introvert by nature but that wasn’t the reason; I felt uncomfortable about sensationalizing what is for cancer patients and their loved ones an intimate and life-altering journey. My intention was to guide people on their own journey, not to distract them with mine.*

With time I’ve realized how the book, its contributors and readers helped me come to terms with my own cancer experience. The resulting integration of my professional and personal lives now allows me to share what I’ve learned without feeling guilty about surviving cancer—at least most of the time. My experience has also privileged to me to witness many stories of healing, each precious and unique.

* It hadn’t occurred to me that people might be interested in my story. My goal was to develop a tool to help others shape their own cancer journey. I was wrong. People were curious.

Explore the Book

© 2017 Arlene Cotter selfArchive

Polar Bear Swim


selfArchive Post 1/17
Polar Bear Swim

Polar Bear Swim was an exercise in creative process that took place over four weeks. The objective was to circumvent my professional (and deeply ingrained) challenge-solution design methodology. Without any conceptual agenda, I committed time each day to sit in silence and allow something visual to unfold… or not. Day by day the image evolved from bathing cap… to swimmer… to polar bear girl…. Each week the form became simpler and more stylized. In week four, something unexpected happened—a polar bear head emerged from within the swimmer. The final image transforms from human swimmer to polar bear and polar bear to human swimmer. 

selfArchive 701 | Creativity | Illustration

© 2018 Arlene Cotter selfArchive
© 2018 Arlene Cotter, Polar Bear Swim Series