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The Adjacent Possible: The Art Of The Possible


Hey, everyone, this is going to be short and sweet today, but we wanted to share with you, before we go off to Scotland tomorrow, our backyard, our inspiration, and really kind of the art of the possible, which is really what we’re about- the adjacent possible.

So I’m here with Dr. Bruce Sawhill in our backyard.


Artists, Sunflowers & Inspiration From Nature


And one of the things I love about this backyard is all the plants and fruit trees and flowers and vegetables, and these fantastic sunflowers that are just enormous and really varied. It makes me think of Van Gogh and it makes me think about inspiration and how artists as artists were inspired continually, and especially by nature.

And if you think about the sunflowers, they are varied in color, in size and shape and orientation in the rhythms between them and how they smell and all of that.

And all of this can be used in one’s art even, and probably especially in abstract art.

So this is one of my inspirations and Bruce is a big gardener and because of Bruce that we have, this

That’s true.

It took some persuading to get Nancy to plant these. I prepared the ground and everything, but insisted that she plant them and we got five or six packets of seeds and just intersperse them. We thought it’d be a temporary thing until we plant something permanent here, but we like it so much- we might just do this forever.

Exactly. Grab something for a minute. I’m going to come in and zoom in on you for a minute and let’s move into these flowers.

I wanted to tell a story. I wanted to tell a story of The Adjacent Possible, how that book got its title and how it got its title is a lesson on the adjacent possible itself.

So two years ago, Nancy gave a live workshop at a conference center near here called 1440 Multiversity. And I was originally roped in just to move paints and easels around and things like that.

But my background is math, physics and music. And so eventually I got asked to provide a soundtrack for all the painting that was going on that would evoke certain moods.

And also to describe some of the science that I do, complexity science, and one of the concepts that came up from evolutionary biology is called the adjacent possible.

And for some reason it got a stupendous resonance with the 20 or so artists there and they decided spontaneously without any input from us to call themselves The Adjacents.

And we thought, well, if that has such a powerful, motivating influence, and they wanted t-shirts for this and everything, which we may yet do. So I think that was the genesis of the book.


We started thinking about how you can stumble into things. And if you’re aware, you can really make use of them.


Winston Churchill said:


Most people when they stumble over the truth, pick themselves up and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Winston Churchill



The adjacent possible is about paying attention and purposely stumbling over things.


I love that. And that was so exciting when the group called themselves The Adjacents.

So here we are, the book is now out in print.

So super excited about that.

And so we want to show you these flowers up close, and then we want to show you the something that’s close to our heart, which is the Community Fridges, which we’ve been a part of for over a year. Now it started with our daughter, Kimy Pedersen, who began this project, and we’re going to continue it as she leaves for St. Andrews.

And we’ll show you that in a moment- our fridge in the front and all the amazing food we have in there for the community. So we’ll talk about that in a minute, but let me grab the camera and hold on Just a minute. Just stay right there, Bruce. Yeah, we got it. So let’s take a look at these flowers. Oh my goodness. Show us this.


Nature, Flux & The Life-Death-Life Cycle


Look at this Bruce, these gigantic sunflowers. Some of them facing down, some of them facing up some of them emerging. Look, there’s a butterfly on one. Some of them dying off like flux, as we talk about flux. So heavy they’re collapsing under their own weight. Let’s look at this. Yes.

This is continual evolution in nature here. We’ve got a different color.

This is the life death-life-cycle.

Look at this gigantic one hanging down, and this one is going away up here. It’s dying away and it’s all part of life. Look at this, these amazing gigantic flowers. And if you look at the rhythms of sit down here, look at the rhythms, the dance of movement of the flowers, the spaces between the notes.

So to speak the intervals, we look at all of these kinds of things in abstract painting. So nature has so much to teach us. So we kind of exhort you to look into what it is. You’re excited about what you’re inspired by in nature and bring that into your art. Look at these.

These are dying away and it might be color. It might be shapes. It might be dance. It might be the breathing spaces between the notes, whatever it is- it might be many things. You can bring this into your art, whatever it is that you love.

So now let’s go ahead and move. Let’s start walking. Let me just show you for a second though.

Bruce is over here by the tomatoes, we’ve got tomato plants. We’ve got an apple tree. That’s a persimmon tree right here, rhubarb there over there is an orange tree hiding behind the persimmon tree.

What kind of limes are those?  Rangpur limes, kind of an Indonesian lime that looks like a Mandarin, but is sour. Yeah. Do we have tangerines as well?

So these are the Rangpur limes here, and they look kind of similar to the tangerines. Now we took a lot of tangerines off the tree and you’ll see that in a moment. Okay.

So let’s go ahead and take a walk to the community fridge and tell us what we have here. We’ve got some fruit trees here. What is this? Hey, this is a Gravenstein apple.

This is a pear. This is a pear tree- Warren Pear. This is an Arctic Nectarine tree. Where’s that right here. Okay. Hold on on the road ducking under right here, Moving along, along The side of our house here. Are we growing, honey crisp apples. Are we growing gardenias as well? Yes. There’s a bunch of blueberries. These are blueberries here.

Okay. And a gardenia at the very front right here. And I’m going to move around to the fridge, the community fridge. So let’s step back and look at it.


Our Community Fridge


So this is our Community Fridge. We’re so proud of it.

And Kimy painted the front of the fridge, the yellow color, and the words on it, Free food, take what you need, leave what you can. And our neighbor built this enclosure and it’s so gorgeous. And it made all the difference in the world because once we had the enclosure more people brought food,

Yes, it became legitimate. Let’s look at what we’ve got here.

We’ve got tinned fish, oysters, yellow fin, tuna, wild, Pacific sardines, smoked herring. We’ve got our tangerines, or these are mandarins from our tree that you saw a moment ago. These are more of the tangerines and here are apples from our tree and there was one orange left on our tree.

And then we move over. We’ve got some granola bars and then we have some macaroni and some spaghetti that people have left for us.

And we move on down to tabouli and some Indian fare lentils and eggplant.

And what is this Bruce?  Spaghetti squash. Yeah, the neighbors left that. Amazing.

And we’ve got corn chowder and we’ve got right now, two cans- we’ve got some Turkey chili with beans and some organic, great North beans. Sometimes we have just tons of canned foods here. Here’s some more of our mandarins.

Let’s look in the freezer. Okay. We’ve got right now, some bread in there because that really keeps the bread.

And then what do we have in the refrigerator? Okay. What do we have here, Bruce? Can you tell us, It’s got some wages of cheese. We’ve got plums, not from us, but from a neighbor.

Look at these gorgeous plums. I mean talk about the fecundity of Santa Cruz, California.

These were from a neighbor. Yeah. Is the proverbial Mediterranean climate that 2% of the earth has. And we definitely are aware of how lucky we are to be in that 2%.

We’ve got so much 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 of those containers. Then we’ve got the cheeses right now. These are tomatoes from our tomato plant. Is that a pear, it looks like two pears.

Someone brought by more tangerines and more tomatoes. And it’s constantly in flux. People are visiting a lot. I’ve seen sometimes a dozen people in a day. And also people come by and drop things off- sometimes just neighbors, other times, grocery stores and restaurants.

So you never know what you’re going to find. It’s been very interesting.

Yeah. So basically this is what we’ve got and we’re just so happy to share this with you. Hope you enjoyed it. Yeah.


The Mission


We’re taking off for Scotland tomorrow. But we’ll be engaged with you and checking in. And I hope that you get the book, The Adjacent Possible, because 100% of proceeds for the first 30 days go to Feeding America and Community Fridges.

So be a part of that mission- one book, one action at a time. We can make a difference. Artists, creatives and people can make a difference. So thank you so much.

With gratitude from my studio to yours,




P.S. If this talk sounds compelling to you, I think you’ll love my new bestselling book: The Adjacent Possible: Evolve Your Art. From Blank Canvas to Prolific Artist.

If you want to experience a sample of the book, I gave a Book Reading of Chapter One. You can listen to it HERE. 


The Adjacent Possible book has a free companion video series you can access with the purchase of your book. The print book is now available on Amazon. 


The Adjacent Possible is a Best Seller!


#1 Best Seller: Creativity Self-Help- The Adjacent Possible

#1 Best Seller: Creativity Self-Help- The Adjacent Possible




Best Seller- The Adjacent Possible- Nancy Hillis MD & Bruce Sawhill (Editor)

#1 Best Seller Cognitive Psychology- The Adjacent Possible



The Adjacent Possible Best Seller Art Study & Teaching

#1 Best Seller Art Study & Teaching- The Adjacent Possible 


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#1 Best Seller- Self Esteem Self Help: The Adjacent Possible


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#1 Best Seller- Arts & Photography Study & Teaching: The Adjacent Possible




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#1 Best Seller- Behavioral Sciences: The Adjacent Possible




The Adjacent Possible- #1 Best Seller in Painting

#1 Best Seller in Painting: The Adjacent Possible


The Adjacent Possible Best Sellers Rank

Best Sellers Rank: The Adjacent Possible


Get the Series! Go deeper with in your art with bestselling, award winning books in The Art Of The Possible book series

Get the series HERE.

The Art of the Possible Book Series

The Art of the Possible Book Series



QR Code- The Art Of The Possible Series

QR Code- The Art Of The Possible Series





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