Now is no time for silence

What to say? What to do? How can I speak more than half-hearted platitudes into the noise and the pain? What can I offer to help my black brothers and sisters — fellow humans, loved by God, who I have failed to seek and support? Should I be silent? What should I tell my children?

Many of us have asked ourselves questions such as these in recent weeks. The depths of injustice and racial prejudice have, perhaps for the first time in American history, been laid utterly bare. And at that bottom, in new light, we perceive old things for…


What worlds will we see with undying eyes?

Hobbiton, The Shire, Middle Earth. Photo by David Broad

J.R.R. Tolkien begins The Silmarillion, his mythic history of Middle Earth and Valinor, with a creation story. He describes a choir of heavenly beings who sang the world into existence. In the eternity before time and within the Void they created Ëa, All that Is. Deep within the vastness of Ëa, they made Arda, the Elvish name for Earth, to be a home for Elves, Men, and other living things.

There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were…


To create lasting impact, look beyond profit.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” — Mark Twain

Drowning in Muchness

To live in society today is to be covered up in brands. Finding unbranded space is increasingly akin to the difficulties of building a new home in the heart of London: there’s almost no room. In the US alone, most people encounter between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages every day. With roughly half of the world’s population — more than five billion people — walking around with handheld computers in our pockets, those numbers are not…


Holy the groanings

Collage by Matt Steel · Original art from Wellcome Library, London

“It ever was, and is, and shall be,
ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled
and in measures going out.”
– Heraclitus

All my life I’ve been an outsider. I’ve never quite fit in the places I’ve found myself. A bramble in the wheel, a scratch on the record, an alien squinting at an indecipherable script, a square punk in a round world: I peer in from a slight but sharp remove.

Moving out of state five times throughout my life, and living in four culturally distinct regions of the US, has led me to long questioning of the meaning of…


Why are we obsessed with time?

“Now we are less interested in the exploration of the glorious mind, more engrossed in the drama of staying ahead of whatever it is we think is pursuing us. … The spirit of the times is one of joyless urgency, many of us preparing ourselves and our children to be means to inscrutable ends that are utterly not our own.”
– Marilynne Robinson, Humanism

1. Oblivion

The fear of death haunts and hunts us, and to cope with it we hunt time and haunt each other. We track time, dissect it, box it in and bind it with frivolous tags, arbitrary demands…


Sharing a little Longbottom Leaf with Pops

A birthday letter to my dad

For many years my family have given each other words on our birthdays. Delivered verbally and in person, the word or phrase encapsulates an attribute or character trait the birthday boy or girl has embodied over the past year. This year, for my dad’s 69th birthday I gave him his word in the form of a letter.

I publish this letter (with Dad’s permission) for three reasons. First, letter writing is a dead art that I believe is worth resurrecting for its beauty as a thoughtful form of correspondence and in defiance of text messages and social media. Second, my…


Collage by Matt Steel · Original art from Wellcome Library, London

Holy the groanings

“It ever was, and is, and shall be,
ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled
and in measures going out.”
– Heraclitus

All my life I’ve been an outsider. I’ve never quite fit in the places I’ve found myself. A bramble in the wheel, a scratch on the record, an alien squinting at an indecipherable script, a square punk in a round world: I peer in from a slight but sharp remove.

My family gathered last year for Thanksgiving and dispersed more widely than ever, each of us returning to some kind of separation. I watched my wife and children drive…


Collage by Matt Steel · Original art from Wellcome Library, London

Holy the groanings

It ever was, and is, and shall be,
ever-living Fire, in measures being kindled
and in measures going out.
– Heraclitus

All my life I’ve been an outsider. I’ve never quite fit in the places I’ve found myself. A bramble in the wheel, a scratch on the record, an alien squinting at an indecipherable script, a square punk in a round world: I peer in from a slight but sharp remove.

My family gathered this year for Thanksgiving and dispersed more widely than ever, each of us returning to some kind of separation. I watched my wife and children drive…


Daniel Burka

Finding grace through grief

“When a man weeps he knows that one day he will stop.” — Elie Wiesel, Dawn

I have a confession to make: I don’t want to do this anymore.

By “this,” I mean being the sole proprietor of a design business. I mean being the one and only person creating revenue in a setting that was never meant to be more than an emergency option. It’s an enterprise for which I have no vision.

This place is dark. Running an unwanted business is an inauthentic half-life, flicker-lit and heavy. It feels like I’m living a lie. I need a change…


Daniel Burka

Finding grace through grief

“When a man weeps he knows that one day he will stop.” — Elie Wiesel, Dawn

I have a confession to make: I don’t want to do this anymore.

By “this,” I mean being the sole proprietor of a design business. I mean being the one and only person creating revenue in a setting that was never meant to be more than an emergency option. It’s an enterprise for which I have no vision.

This place is dark. Running an unwanted business is an inauthentic half-life, flicker-lit and heavy. It feels like I’m living a lie. I need a change…

Matt Steel

I’m a designer who writes, father of four, and husband of one. Partner & Creative Director at Steel Brothers.

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