Roxanne Darling

Roxanne Darling, photo by Tracy Wright Corvo

Roxanne Darling loves to travel, speak in public, be on and in the ocean, and is giving up working really long hours. She walks the line between technology and communication with a ballerina’s balance (she used to dance at the Palo Alto Dance Theatre and is a certified yoga instructor) and has a way of inspiring even luddites to try new things with technology. Please let it be known though, perhaps as a graduate of UC Berkeley, she is not a bystander or interested in the status quo! Click here is you want to book Roxanne as a speaker.

Roxanne's Work and Education History

Roxanne Darling is an early adopter. She was in the first graduating class at University of California Berkeley that wrote their own custom degree programs. Hers was Bachelor of Science from the School of Natural Resources, in Marine Ecology, and provided her with opportunities to study with extraordinary teachers – starting a trend for a lifetime. These days, she would say that is merely because she is a voracious student – and how could she not attract these brilliant guides? She traveled for over four months on sabbatical with Mary Lou Preston (now Coulston), one of three female instructors in the Biology Dept at UCB – which had over 100 male instructors. She received her UCB-approved for research SCUBA certification in 1973 – one of the first women to complete this grueling 10-week course that was modeled after Navy Seal training. (Required to be covered un the university’s insurance policy for conducting underwater research.)

She worked with Ron & Valerie Taylor to produce the Oceans book in one of the Time-Life Nature series; they went SCUBA diving for sharks at night to get footage for the Taylor’s TV show back in Australia, laying the early desire Roxanne would develop for internet video! She studied with Dr. Robert Risebrough, who discovered that DDT causes eggshell thinning in pelicans – his research directly impacted their survival. She was hired immediately after college by Dr. Ken Norris, who was responsible for discovering that whales and dolphins use sonar for navigation. She was part of the research team that conducted the first ever marine bird and mammal surveys off the Southern California bight. One of the high points was a glassy day on the water in their 60′ research vessel, while a 100′ blue whale swam just beneath them!

She gave up a budding career as a marine biologist to follow a deep, though fully untested desire to dance ballet. The well-known teacher, Richard Gibson, accepted her into his school at age 23, where she studied full time with 14 year olds. She joined the company and performed with the Palo Alto Dance Theatre before opening her own dance and exercise studio in Santa Cruz, California. She took her first aerobics class from Jane Fonda herself, and the famous studio in Beverly Hills.

Roxanne then became one of the original aerobics pioneers. A presenter at the first ever aerobics convention in San Diego in 1984, on the committee to write the first international certification exams, the first to teach low impact and mind-body aerobics both in the US an in Japan and Europe. She wrote the first fitness certification training manual, “No Train, No Gain!” Originally typed on a typewriter and xeroxed for her workshops, in 1986 she got her first Apple macintosh computer and taught herself desktop publishing and Filemaker database software. She created a unique community fitness leader training program that she taught in over 35 states, focusing primarily on indigenous communities from Alaska to Maine, working with Navajo, Hopi, Seminole, Cherokee, and many more tribal nations.

In the early 90s, she took a little time off to have a mild nervous meltdown, dealing with some deep-seated issues of depression. It worked and this time of her life continues to remind her that one never knows what others may be going through – act with kindness and respect.

She introduced “body esteem” to the early self-esteem awareness communities, led in part by people like Jack Canfield, publishing “30 Days to Body Esteem” and being featured on CNN, and in Vogue, Shape, and numerous publications. She built her first website in 1997; she gave the first talks on blogging, podcasting, and social media to the Hawaii business community starting in 2005. She and Shane produced one of the first video podcasts (aka internet tv shows), Beach Walks with Rox, which earned numerous awards and was the first of its kind to produce a daily show – going for 402 days straight! She produced Hawaii’s first Podcamp and Wordcamp events, attracting over 400 people and live-streaming both days to the world. She produced the first social media campaign on Maui, for the Maui Visitors Bureau in 2010. She won Best Social Media Campaign in Hawaii, in 2011 for her innovative work with the Lanai Visitors Bureau.

Please read some of her public speaking testimonials here.

View the Bare Feet Studios company testimonials here.

Photo Credit: Tracy Wright Corvo Portrait Photography
Tracy is a friend and a client and we adore her and her work!

Shane Robinson

Shane Robinson, photo by Tracy Wright Corvo

Shane Robinson is the original founder of our company and very committed to bare feet in his life. He can program computers, design and build furniture, make art, cook (clean – if he “has” to), train dogs, and fix almost anything. He’s really amazing at how he learns new things and can trouble-shoot anything mechanical or digital. The Maui artist in him is fighting its way to the foreground, with an occasional drone quad-copter spin.

Shane's Education and Work History

Shane grew up on a commercial working farm in Iowa owned by his grandfather. He worked seven days a week, feeding and caring for pigs. He opened his first business, a dance club for teens, when he was in high school and did much of the build out himself. He also started programming his first computer, a Commodore. Meanwhile his friends called him “copy machine” because he could draw whatever he saw. He managed to escape the hard life of manual labor and earned his Bachelor in Fine Art degree from the University of Iowa. He ran an art gallery in Madrid, New Mexico and apprenticed with a fine furniture maker, continuing to merge his creative and commercial interests.

One of the legends of Shane is that he heard of a job opening at Kinko’s in the computer design department back in 1995, so he rented several hours of computer time overnight and taught himself Pagemaker, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Quark Xpress. (Yes, they were the 1.x versions back them…) He sailed through the interview, and before long, he was itching to open his own company after meeting up with a database programmer he met via the Kinko’s rental computers.

Shane went on to become an accomplished programmer, system administrator, database developer, and information architect. These days, he is well known as Secret Cameraman on Beach Walks with Rox and is a great dog trainer whose bark is worse than his bite. Shane is a brilliant trouble-shooter and information architect, and with his art degree, he adds finesse to all of our projects.

He manages all programming, server administration, and application development for our web work. If you don’t know what any of those words mean, just think of Shane as the wizard behind the curtain who makes things on the internet work so well for our clients, our nonprofits, and yes our family and friends call on us too.

Shane’s re-emerging career as an artist started picking up in 2010 when his good friends the Bui Brothers (Lan and Vu) urged him to get a DSLR camera. By accident, his abstract ICM work was among his first shots as he was methodically teaching himself the technical tool, and they literally took his breath away! You can see them here. His first iPhone art pieces won awards and were featured in COLOR Magazine in 2010. One of his first large abstract paintings was accepted into the Hui Noʻeau Juried Exhibition in 2012 and was purchased by the state of Hawaii for the permanent art collection.

He recently completed a large commission for the Andaz Maui at Wailea – Maui’s newest luxury hotel. Roxanne coined this term for much of his work: Pixels are the paint of the 21st century. He moves seamlessly back and forth between acrylic and iPad, between building his own panels and “app-i-fying” his creativity.

Photo Credit: Tracy Wright Corvo Portrait Photography
Tracy is a friend and a client and we adore her and her work!

Lexi Dogg

Lexi under the rainbow on her 13th birthday

Lexi Dogg is our studio dog, acquired back when we were in Santa Fe. She made the long trek over the ocean with us to Hawaii, and managed to survive 30 days in the then-required quarantine on Oahu. She is the star of our internet tv show, Beach Walks with Rox, and literally has fans all around the world who love her as much as we do!

Of course, the internet has really made visible humanity’s love of cats and dogs, and we now know they are so good for our health too. We think of Lexi as our company fitness trainer – she “requires” two walks a day which gets our butts out of the seats and out for a walk in the beautiful island that is Maui. She also serves as our unconditional love coach.

Yes, it was a trendy thing to bring your dog to work in the 90s when the internet started creating work places that were more people-friendly and less formal. But now we have large bodies of research confirming that animals – especially dogs – are literally sentient beings very close to humans. They are “not just animals.” But if you are reading this, you already know that most likely.

Enjoy a few more pics of our super special black labrador! Many people report feeling happier after looking at Lexi Dogg. By all means let us know if she has that effect on you too!

Lexi Dogg gazing at the fieldLexi Dogg cliff walking

UPDATE: Lexi Dogg departed May 19, 2014. We miss her so much yet trust that she is loving doggie heaven.

It’s Just a Fad

Hey, want to join me in retiring these words, “It’s just a fad?” First of all, so what if it is? Fads generate some of the most awesome fun and out-of-the-box energy we have in our lives. Second, many things that are described this way, actually represent newfound changes in our world, and survive to become a permanent part of life on earth! Calling it a fad is supposed to somehow be demeaning. I think in fact, it merely reflects on the speaker.

Madonna Grimes, in Switzerland

It’s just a fad: Of course that was said in the 90’s about the Internet. It was said in the “00’s” about blogging and social media. It has been said for decades about self-help. It was certainly said about aerobics and fitness back in the 80’s.

Yet these “fads” are now fully functional factors in our day-to-day lives.

Recently I re-friended many old colleagues who I knew in the 80’s. We were the first group of fitness pioneers – the ones who started the aerobics craze (as it was called), the ones who wrote the initial certification exams, the ones who developed aerobics as a competitive performance sport, the ones who expanded jumping jacks and sit-ups into mind-body fitness and some forms of modern yoga. Meeting up with them again, I was thrilled yet not surprised to see them all glowing! Still incredibly optimistic, healthy and fit, radiating a large degree of what we would call spirituality and personal growth – continuing to inspire others to extract every last bit of laughter and grace out of this lifetime. I feel so uplifted!

The other thing I noticed (that I had never really paid attention to) was the incredible diversity of our group of pioneers! We were gay, straight, black, white, US, Brazilian, German – you could not have scripted a more diverse group of people. If you happened upon us at any gathering outside of the class studio, you would have experienced constant laughter, hugging, and more dancing! So it turns out we were pioneers in more ways than one.

Check out this episode of Tosh.0 – the first aerobics championship (for which yours truly wrote the competitors rule book and served as the head judge). [Some of that site is NSFW.]

A small flashback to the 80’s

I have so few pics from these days!

Then, today I trip across this Peruvian Prison Aerobics Class video.

It is of a convicted kidnapper in Peru, leading an outdoor aerobics class at a prison to over 1000 inmates! This is what we have been talking about people! If only my classes had been as color-coordinated and organized! #Dream!

I am honored to call myself a former aerobics instructor. It has taken 20 years to really feel that as I took on too much of the criticism of aerobics as a fad, as vanity, as frivolous. Some part of me knew it was not – just ask any of the thousands of American Indians who attended my week-long community fitness workshops and went on to transform their communities. But that kid inside me, that monkey mind, kept holding out that it was not a profession but a gathering of cheerleader wannabes wearing too much makeup and not enough clothing. I extend my apologies – to my colleagues as well as myself.

I am incredibly happy to have contributed in my small way to this phenomenal event that took place in Peru and in millions of gyms and church halls around the world. One of my favorite times was actually in the Marshall Islands, doing aerobics in the dark, using a battery-operated boom box, with women who did not want anyone in the community to watch them. They had diabetes and had been exposed to nuclear fallout from the U.S. bomb testing in the 50’s; I was there as a volunteer on a mission with the Department of Energy.

So please do me a few favors: watch this Peruvian prison aerobics video for some awesome inspiration.

Then go forth and indulge in one of your favorite fads! That’s the only way to make sure it keeps on giving you joy. That goes for your business too!

Peruvian Prison Aerobics from Storyhunter on Vimeo.


P.S. I changed my name in December 1999. I was known as Mary Anne Benton or Annie Benton in the great 80’s.

Working with Volunteers: The Nuts & Bolts of Facebook and Twitter

I am presenting a 90-minute talk on Friday, having been hired by the County of Maui to “help agencies boost their volunteer programs with FB and possibly Twitter. It should be fun, motivating and engaging. People want to know the nuts, bolts of FB and how to recruit volunteers, announce programs and events and link with their audience. You may cover Twitter to if you want.” If you hurry you can still register here.

Turns out this was incredibly hard to prepare! Why? Because the territory of social media is now so wide and so deep. It is not just about FB and TW, though I did my best to confine my comments there. But even with just FB, I find so many organizations are not yet ready to engage with volunteers. Will my audience survive the first 20-30 minutes, as I talk about getting your own house in order? Note to Self: Remember to Smile. A Lot. It helps when delivering that oh-so-curative medicine.

Scroll past the presentation slides to see a few of the tweets from today’s session!

In any case, here is my presentation. Links will be added after the fact, as I collect them during my talks so I have a complete list. I am actually very happy about this presentation. There are lots of takeaways that can be implemented immediately, along with some rather deep strategic tools that can last a lifetime. I saved the entertaining videos for the end.

UPDATE: Edited my file; it is complete except for the videos. Contact me if you want more!

You are invited to join us in the Twitter and Instagram conversation at #SocialVol, you know, for social volunteering. Mahalo to those who have done this already. Here are links:
#SocialVol on Twitter
#SocialVol on Instagram

Two good examples of active Facebook pages with volunteers galore:
‘Āhihi- Kīna‘u Natural Area Reserve
Special Olympics Hawaii

DOWNLOAD the handout here. (Updated!)

DOWNLOAD the presentation slides as a PDF here.

Let’s plan for next November! #GivingTuesday

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