About Colleen

Bio

I am a recipient of a TED fellowship for 2009, and SR TED Fellowship 2010. That is such an amazing gift, I will lead with that. I have degrees in Design and Metals, and have been making art most of my life. All materials, especially tactile, hands-on practices, inspire me. My work has exhibited internationally. I have taught art, jewelry, sculpture, collaborative and individual projects to all ages. As a metalsmith, I fell into armature making for stop-motion animation. Recently worked on "Coraline," the 3D feature directed by Henry Selick and adapted from Neil Gaiman's novel. I live in Portland, OR and work in community gardens and food co-ops to be involved in local food production. Collaborative public, performance and environmental conceptual art is how I envision raising awareness and increasing the global think-tank to solve some of our world problems. My right brain approach to creating keeps me discovering as I go. Perhaps I am more a philosopher who makes things and thrives on improvisation. My alter ego, Miss Snail Pail is in a short film, "On the Trail with Miss Snail Pail," by Golden Bear Casting. Miss Snail Pail shines light on the simplest ways to live in a world dependent on chemicals and convenience. She likes to talk with people about food, resources, and environment. She is an idealist, optimist and activist. I am also fascinated by human behavior and psychology. Seeking new depths and layers in a pluralist fashion. I studied classical piano for 11 years, so my love of music and sensitivity to rhythm permeates this life.

TED Conferences

TEDActive 2013, TEDGlobal 2012, TED2012, TED2011, TEDGlobal 2010, TED2010, TED2009

Areas of Expertise

sculpture, snail cuisine, Metal forming, relating to others, Coral restoration

An idea worth spreading

For food store shoppers, spend a full year without using any plastic bags from the store for produce or bulk food. Use bags from home, or no bags at all. I used to think I was pretty good about reuse and recycling until I started working PT at a small food co-op. Amazing, almost all of the shoppers bring in their own jars, bags, boxes to fill with goods. They don't just bring their own cloth bags for check out, they bring everything.

Do you know everyone in your neighborhood? I don't. I am getting to know so many people on-line lately, and have many friends from childhood and beyond (especially from schools and work, travels, tango) but I do not know everyone in my neighborhood because "I move a lot lately." I think I should go out and knock on everyone's door and introduce myself facebook reality style. I can say "would you like a lily plant?...would you like to join my Center for Earth Leadership Group?...how about come to my art show down the street?..."

I'm passionate about

the interconnectivity of everything. authentic genius and sincere caring. chasing curiosity to its furthest. being possessed by inspiration and uncontrollable wonder. making art, brainstorming

Talk to me about

art, science, health, food, culture, alt.energy, spirituality, relationships, plants, animals, nature, dance, tango, music, coral, change, innovation, dogs, people, travel, dreams, comedy

People don't know I'm good at

I wish this said, "People don't know that I..." studied classical piano for 11 years. I remember some Chopin, but cannot say "am good at" since I rarely play now.

My TED story

I recently found out that my hometown, Monterey, was the home of TED. How had I not known for all those years? In 2003 when I returned to my little Monterey town, Pacific Grove, I attended Ecowave, an architectural conference in Oakland, CA. The presentation about "Biorock TM," a mineral accretion technology developed by Wolf Hibertz and Tom Goreau to restore reefs, breakwaters, and fish habitats all over the world, charged me. I connected so strongly to the presentation, I needed to help the corals and learn this electrolytic technology. I got SCUBA certified and headed to Bali to weld structures that would become new reefs. Once I returned to CA and resumed gardening, the enormity of the snail infestation in our gardens hit me. What to do about pests and poisons, food and resources. Thus began Miss Snail Pail. No time like now to eat our garden mollusks and eliminate pesticides whenever possible. As above, so below. Pollutants protect no one, not on land or in sea.

Favorite talks

Comments & conversations

17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
What is the power behind a shared experience?
Hi Maria, I love that science is studying this impact that you site about the EKG, because I LOVE to tango dance; have not been going enough lately for my well-being. Tango specifically correlates with the power of shared experience because no matter what mood or energy I'm feeling when I arrive, the shared experience of dancing in an embrace leads to a natural, soothing, energizing high that rivals most other states for me. I guess the oxytocin is a big part of it, but the fact that we are moving to music, concentrating on being in careful relaxed synchronized response to each other's every move, heart beat and subtle reaction, it means we almost become one in a trusting, safe state. You pay attention to posture, breath, body and mind to create a beautiful shared experience. Every day humans perceive so many things and people as threats unconsciously, but at a milonga (tango party) the intention to have great connections leads to a room filled with positive connection (mostly:)...not sure how to link the tango directly to working together as a species in a more practical achievement sense, although bonding through human physicality, need for touch and sensuality in ways complementary to handshakes, sex, and greeting hugs, is vital to creating joy and positive outcomes. Tango lifts me up and then i can ripple out much better energy to everyone I meet. And when i feel off center, like my nervous vibration is too high, if i dance with a really grounded steady person, we balance each other out. as I keep moving to other partners, I aim to align myself and others within and without. Plus it is fun! It is important work to take time to focus on being in our bodies in cooperation to help each other's hearts. Thank you for your work!! Maybe someone can hook up some people's hearts to monitors while they are tangoing? I'd be up for that:)
17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?
Beth, thanks for these suggestions. I think I need to put together some kind of packages to "sell" to dive shops, resorts, and other conservation and/or university programs. Rather than waiting for them to approach us, we need to give them some clear program to consider and lay it out. And if we reach enough people, the ones most invested and committed will emerge so we can avoid half-committed partnerships. I would love help with this part! If anyone has the business interest to join me in this area, please contact me: misssnailpail@gmail.com I was about to start a new Living Sea Sculpture website, and that needs some direction as well. I want it to invite dialogue and share what we offer to the corals and for the trend to value ocean ecosystems.
17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?
i like idea of bigger sponsors so we can actually get some traction, but again, grassroots is often the way to set up the foundation: like here in Portland, Friends of Trees has planted thousands of trees, and it was started on a tiny branch. If we rely on one big donor, we are at risk if we lose them, so need all levels of support. With a large sponsor, the plaque idea is one option. What do you think about a monitor/camera/surveillance of some kind that streams on the web so anyone can watch the progress? Maybe the donor could have a channel that live-streams from the project.
17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?
i think it was Reef Check that I emailed awhile back about collaborating. at the time they said were not able to get into Haiti because of some block shortly after the earthquake..(could search the emails). I believe there are so many places that need this work, but the question that is really emerging is "how can your community maintain the sea sculptures?" I could contact everyone, and yet, how is the internal infrastructure being developed to start this process so it is more bottom up..?
17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?
Haiti is one place that I've wanted to connect with about putting some of these structures closer to shore so that it could attract fish and other marine organisms for food while keeping the deeper outer waters Marine Protected Areas so that other fish could grow to full size and recover their populations undisturbed. With such a huge hunger problem in Haiti, and fish being such a necessary food supply, it might help. There is a group in France that is working to populate the Biorock structures with juvenile fish so that they can quickly become open water sustainable "fisheries." I wish you the best with this project. please let me know if you meet people who are interested in creating shore structures...
17291
Colleen Flanigan
Posted over 3 years ago
Reviving corals -- how can your community maintain the living sea sculptures?
thanks, Asha! that's what seems to have happened with some of the GCRA's projects in the past with resorts that were more about the moment, less about the longterm and maybe no specific local group committed. I also think it's my and my team's responsibility to create a way to make monitoring and upkeep easy... part of the educational and/or scientific community so that it inspires more involvement. When we were talking about Sri Lanka, sounded like money comes, project happens, money gone, no follow through. Someone in the Bahamas was talking with me about a project that would use the arts to try to help with conflict resolution between "outsiders" who use the harbor and the locals. so they would be working together to help the area and find common focus towards peace rather than their argument.