Justine Jablonska Writing Sample a Catalyst Ranch Newsletter Fall by mattarmstrong


                                                  Justine Jablonska | Writing Sample

Catalyst Ranch Newsletter—Fall 2005          their own supplies can add an element of
                                             creative problem-solving to the exercise.
Group Brain Games                            Figuring out how to come up with a
                                             blindfold out of whatever happens to be
The following games work wonderfully         in your particular environment is a
as icebreakers or as a more elaborate        small example of creative problem
version of a “now let’s all stand up and     solving on the job. Say I’ve got a new
stretch for a few minutes” break.            client popping by for a surprise visit in a
                                             quarter of an hour. How do I come up
“Don’t Be A Square!”                         with a presentation on the fly that will
                                             dazzle her with things I have readily in
Directions for Game Leader:                  the office? Encouraging this sort of out-
1. Divide participants into groups of 4.     of-the-box thinking can began with small
If your group has less than 12 folks,        exercises such as this one, or the
divide them into groups of 3 or even 2.      following, “Valley of the Logs.”

2. Give each group a piece of string at      “Valley of the Logs”
least a couple of feet long. You can use
yarn, twine, string, even a couple of ties   Directions for Game Leader:
knotted together.
                                             1. Create an imaginary “log” on the floor.
3. Instruct each participant to blindfold    You may use string from the above
themselves. Blindfolds can be anything       exercise, or any sort of material or
from ties to scarves to sweaters to hats     furniture. Form 2 parallel lines on the
to gloves (O.K., maybe not the gloves.       floor, with 6-8 inches of spaces between
But you get the picture!).                   them, enough for someone to stand in,
                                             like so:
4. Once everyone is blindfolded, give
them the assignment: Each group is to        |      |
create a perfect square with their piece     |      |
of string. And the proverbial catch is       |      |
that they cannot speak a single word or      |      |
make any sort of sound.

5. Give the groups a time limit of 5         2. Instruct participants to form a single-
minutes.                                     file line facing you within the lines.

6. Once the time limit is up, instruct       3. Explain that the group has just been
everyone to remove their blindfolds. Go      transported deep into a forest and are
from group to group and check out their      standing on a bridge made of logs which
square. Have each group share their          hangs over a cavernous valley. The only
experience of being a team, working          way they will escape alive is if they
towards a goal, and having to                arrange themselves alphabetically, by
communicate non-verbally.                    first name.

Notes: You may either prepare string         4. The magical valley has taken away
and/or blindfolds for this exercise          their voices, and thus they cannot make
beforehand, or have the participants         a sound.
come up with how to blindfold
themselves on their own. Figuring out
5. To top it all off, one of their group-    visual detail... help people think and
mates will be blindfolded. Blindfold one     express themselves in novel ways.”
participant.                                 Additionally, “certain spaces can
                                             facilitate problem solving and innovative
6. Instruct the group that they cannot       thinking.” Riggs believes that “an
step off the log bridge, as that will mean   atmosphere that is open and playful
hurtling to an untimely end in the valley    facilitates innovative thinking.”
far below.
                                             The airy Ranch room are creatively
7. Once everyone is clear on the             comprised of vibrant, vintage furniture
directions, start the game. Once you’ve      amidst colorful walls, artwork from over
given the Go, the participants cannot        30 countries, plants, wall hangings, and
make a sound. If they do, or if someone      toys from simple bouncy rubber balls
steps off the log, they must return to       and classic board games to funky masks
their original starting lineup.              and playful hats. Shelves of books and
                                             racks of magazines line the walls,
This game is especially effective if the     encouraging a light browse through or a
participants do not know each other well     deeper reading in one of our various
and aren’t sure of their names.              nooks and crannies.

If the group knows each other very well,     Our physical environment, i.e. the space
a great variation is to have them line up    where we spend our time, has an
alphabetically according to their middle     enormous impact on our mental,
names. An interesting twist may occur if     physical, and spiritual selves. Picture
there will be folks like me, who have not    yourself on a white sand beach with blue
been bestowed with a middle name. You        sky overhead and waves gently lapping
can use this problem as a creative           against the shore. Now picture yourself
problem solving exercise. See how folks      in a stark gray room with track lighting
react to the instructions if they don’t      overhead and a beige cubicle
have a middle name; will they place          surrounding you. The difference in the
themselves at the beginning of the line,     environments is palpable. Who wouldn’t
before the A’s? Or will they place           rather be sipping a frosty drink in a
themselves as X’s, as X’s are commonly       round-bellied Buddha cup complete with
given to folks w/o middle names by IT        paper umbrella than staring at a
departments. Either way is correct—or        flickering computer screen?
maybe your folks will come up with yet
another way to solve this dilemma. The       But what if instead of those dreary
point is that there are multiple solutions   cubicles and expressionless walls, your
to a problem, and these brain teasers        office was a work environment that folks
will encourage them to think outside of      couldn’t wait to get into, rather than
the box.                                     dread or at best put up with?

Ranch Design                                 That’s where the Catalyst Ranch Design
                                             Team comes in!
What is that certain something about the
Ranch that makes it so special?              Our expert team can transform your
                                             existing environment into a dynamic
According to Laura Riggs’, Ph.D. article     workspace that inspires, motivates, and
entitled “Trying to Spark Innovation?        stimulates. For examples of our work, go
Look Around...”, rooms “with more            to www.catalystranch.xxxx
Have the Catalyst Ranch Design bring        winter landscape. A fall such as this
that certain Ranch-ness to your office.     year’s is a rare treat; what better way to
For more details contact xxxxx at           revel in its glory than to take advantage
xxx@catalystranch.com or call xxx at        of the miles and miles of walking and
312.207.xxxx.                               biking paths the city has to offer? The
                                            Chicago Park Districts offer dozens of
Catalyst Ranch Third Anniversary            paths for outdoor enjoyment; some of
Party                                       the easiest and prettiest to find are right
                                            alongside the miles of lakeshore.
On Monday, October 24th, Catalyst
Ranch celebrated its third anniversary.     These paths stretch from the far south—
The evening included a swinging Latin       the Museum of Science and Industry is a
band, various Ranch caterers serving up     great place to start and offers a beautiful
their delectable, a food drive, and of      view of downtown—all the way up
course, fabulous guests that ate, drank,    through Evanston and the North Shore
and made merry.                             suburbs.

The third anniversary also marked the       A wonderful bike path also begins at the
official opening of our new 4E Ranch        intersection of Milwaukee and Devon on
space, created according to our             the northwest side; this 30+ mile path
signature Ranch style. The Mambo and        leads through hills and dales all the way
Jitterbug rooms stand ready for your        up to (for the heartiest) the Botanical
disposal, and we’ve also thrown in a Red    Gardens in Deerfield.
Herring powder room to keep you on
your toes!                                  Get your bicycle out, strap your
                                            rollerblades on, or simply slip on a pair
A heartfelt thank you to all who have       of comfy shoes and get outside while this
made these past three years so magical.     weather lasts! Breathe in the crisp fall
Here’s to many more years of that           air, take in the glorious colors. Nature is
special Ranch magic to come!                truly at its most colorful best this time of
                                            year; make sure to enjoy it before the
Pictures from the event may be viewed       deep sleep of winter begins.
at www.xxx.com
                                            And a little tip for all you fashionistas
Around Town                                 out there:
                                            As the weather turns chillier, coats and
Here at Catalyst Ranch, we are              sweaters have been reintroduced to our
absolutely passionate about the             wardrobes, as well as my favorite
innovative environment we’ve created        essential fall accessory—the scarf. What
for our clients and guests. But as fall     better way to look like a hipster than a
surrounds us outside, with gorgeously       funky scarf nonchalantly tied round
vibrant leaves spiraling through the air    your neck? A scarf will not only keep
and crunching beneath our feet, we like     your throat warm and cozy and protect
to venture outside the Ranch to take        you from chilling breezes, but will
advantage of these balmy autumn days        instantly add that certain je ne crois pas
before the deep freeze of winter sets in.   Euro-ness to any outfit.

Us Chicagoans know that our city is one
of extremes; we wilt in the summer heat
and humidity and shiver in the frozen
DeeDee’s Dish                               entire mixture bands together. Lay
                                            dough out onto a lightly floured baking
One of my absolute favorite literary        sheet.
passages is the Tarts and Vicars Party in
Bridget Jones’ Diary. Bridget’s parents     In a small bowl, combine cinnamon,
think it will be quite a hoot to have a     sugar, and salt. Sprinkle a third of this
party where their middle-class, v. proper   mixture over the pie dough. Arrange
neighbors will have to come dressed         apple slices around the dough. Start on
either as a tart or vicar.                  the outside and work inward. Sprinkle
                                            apple slices with remaining cinnamon
On the afternoon of the party, our          sugar mixture. Bake tart for 25 to 30
heroine duly throws together a bunny        minutes.
outfit complete with fuzzy tail, and
happily trots into the yard where the       While tart is baking, combine honey,
party is being held... poor Bridget. No     butter, vanilla extract, and jam. Heat
one told her that the Tart and Vicar        mixture in a small saucepan for 15 to 20
theme had been chucked in favor of          seconds, until butter is melted. Set aside.
more traditional flowered dresses, linen
suits, and the like...                      When tart is done, remove from oven
                                            and brush with honey-butter mixture.
In honor of both Bridget and the chilly
fall nights perfect for curling up with a   Makes 8 servings.
good book (Bridget, anyone?) with a nice
cuppa and an even nicer slice of            You can, if need be, use a sheet of store-
something delicious, I present the          bought refrigerated pie dough. This
following Apple Tart recipe.                above dough recipe is, however, easy,
Cinnamon Apple Tart                         quick, and quite dee-licious!

Ingredients                                 Enjoy! With—or without—a bunny tail. =)
2 cups flour
1 cup butter, slightly squishy, i.e. not
straight out of the fridge cold
dash of water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled,
cored, sliced thin & cut in half
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon jam

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix flour with butter and knead
together. Add dash of water so that

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