Nora Purmort is a great writer, whip smart, unusually tall and exceptionally funny. Plus, she’s managing to make the whole world braver while shaping a new life after more than her fair share of tragedy. I first knew Nora through her awesome blog. She made me laugh, and her writing drew me in from the start. The blog started as a way for Nora to avoid endless email chains updating friends and loved ones while her boyfriend, and eventually husband, Aaron was being treated for brain cancer. Then Aaron died, Nora kept writing, and I kept reading. And I watched her do something amazing with her grief; she launched Still Kickin.
The organization is named after the slogan on Aaron’s favorite t-shirt, and it was his motto as he fought cancer. Still Kickin’s mission is to help people they call heroes get through awful, painful things: things like cancer but also the other catastrophes life might have in store. Every month, Still Kickin finds someone who is in an especially difficult spot and helps them build a community by telling their story with strength and without pity. They also raise money to lift at least part of the financial burden that often accompanies everyday tragedies.
When Nora wrote about starting Still Kickin, I realized there were connections, not just between Nora and me, but between my work at Adobe and Nora’s project. First, Aaron was a beloved member of the design community and, I later discovered, friends with some of my fellow Adobe employees. Second, a big part of Still Kickin is storytelling. I began to think about how design also tells a story. The designers I’ve come to know through Adobe aren’t defined by the amount of time they spend in Photoshop, but by those ways in which they use design to express themselves and connect with people through their work. I reached out to Nora and asked if Adobe could help tell Still Kickin’s stories.
Nora was enthusiastic, and this summer she came to San Francisco to meet the global Adobe Design team at an all-hands meeting. She gave a talk about her group’s mission—people were alternately laughing and pretending they had something in their eyes. At the end everyone was on board when we revealed our plan to collaborate. The idea comes from memories of Aaron—he was exuberant, endlessly positive and very funny; plus, he loved to create poster art. So for six months starting in September, Adobe designers around the world will create posters interpreting the legacy of Aaron’s life and what it means to be “Still Kickin.” Still Kickin will sell the posters and pass the proceeds on to their heroes.
We can’t wait to share the posters here with you each month, starting next week in September. In the meantime, I suggest that you follow Still Kickin, which you can do wherever you like to spend time on the Internet (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all the bases are covered). It’s Nora’s way of building a legacy out of her happiest memories and hardest times, but it’s also a declaration and a quiet reminder. Time is short and we need one another.