The Box Sessions

The BOX Sessions™

A Creative Gathering in Collaboration with & Hosted by Laura Holson

Laura Holson | Samin Nosrat | The Moth
Lynda Barry | Jon M. Chu | Jonathan Franzen
Jonny Sun | Amy Gravitt | Fred Dust
Alec Berg | Nina Jacobson | Darla Anderson
Lisa Forkish & Vocal Rush | Andrew Evans
Mark Thompson | Jimmie Fails | Domee Shi

February 28 - March 1, 2020 Weekend (2 day)

All-inclusive program package to include:

  • Tuition
  • Three Meals in Kitchen Table (daily)
  • Shared or Private Accommodations
  • Signature classes and wellness offerings

Please Note: All packages are priced per person. Should you elect a shared accommodation and community hall bath, 1440 will randomly pair you with a gender-specific roommate. Only private rooms have the option of a private bath. 1440 Multiversity is a smoke-free campus.

Program Description

Join award-winning New York Times writer Laura Holson hosting a weekend with wildly popular The Moth radio show and podcast, cooking sensation Samin Nosrat, director Jon M. Chu, MacArthur “genius grant” winner Lynda Barry, novelist Jonathan Franzen, and an original group of Oscar winners and world-class artists.

In workshops and breakout sessions, you will explore your sense of wonder and curiosity. You will experience the power of community. And even if you don't think you have a creative job, you will learn that you are a creative person (perhaps in dimensions you never realized). You'll learn how to establish a creative practice and foster a supportive environment back home in your daily life.

The Moth will teach a storytelling workshop and, on Saturday night, hold a StorySLAM. You will attend a voice workshop in a 100-year-old redwood forest, followed by a performance by an award-winning a capella group. Silicon Valley showrunner, Alec Berg, and Nina Jacobson, who produced The Hunger Games franchise, will discuss why we are the stories we tell ourselves. Creative researcher Fred Dust will hold a workshop in creativity and fear. Plus a magician will teach a trick or two!

Soak up the magic of this unique gathering and exchange ideas. This weekend, supercharged with bright minds and inspired leaders, is for anyone who wants to spark or reinvigorate their creative life. We are inundated with daily distractions that drain energy and time and we could use some inspiration. This creative gathering is the remedy.

The world needs original thinkers now more than ever. Join us for a weekend sure to disrupt, ignite, and inspire you. Creativity has the power to transform lives. It's time to not just think, but to live, outside the box.

Once registered, you'll be able to pick one of the breakout sessions below. These workshop sessions have limited space. For the full schedule, please see the "Things to Know/Schedule" sessions near the bottom of the page.

View the The Box Sessions schedule & directory.

Laura Holson

Award-winning journalist and The BOX Sessions™ founder

Laura Holson is a National Magazine Award-winning journalist whose work examines creativity, celebrity, and power. She has written narrative features and personality profiles for the New York Times, Vanity FairTown & Country, and Bloomberg Businessweek, among other publications.

Samin Nosrat

Chef and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Samin Nosrat is a writer, cook, and speaker, and one of five food columnists for the New York Times Magazine. She is author of the New York Times best seller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, which was adapted into a popular documentary series on Netflix.

Lynda Barry

Award-winning cartoonist, author, and artist

Lynda Barry is a renowned painter, cartoonist, illustrator, writer, editor, commentator, and teacher. With her unconventional style and subject matter, she is widely credited with expanding the landscape of American comics. She is author of 21 books, leads workshops and public talks, and has received a plethora of awards and honors.

The Moth

Get a behind the scene look at how the Peabody Award winning organization, The Moth, crafts stories for the stage in a workshop with Kate Tellers, a celebrated storyteller and director of MothWorks at The Moth.Learn key principles of Moth storytelling and apply them to your own MAGIC themed stories. All participants are invited to throw their names into the hat at the open-mic StorySLAM on Saturday night for a chance to showcase their new storytelling chops.

Jon M. Chu

Groundbreaking director and producer

Jon M. Chu makes up stories for a living—and if the success of his film Crazy Rich Asians is any indication, those stories can rewrite the rules. Chu is known for his visually stunning blockbuster films, as well as his kinetic work across various genres, from groundbreaking series to commercials and films.

Jonathan Franzen bio and photo

Jonathan Franzen

National Book Award-winning author

Jonathan Franzen is the world-renowned author of five novels, including Freedom and The Corrections, and five works of nonfiction and translation, including The Kraus Project and Farther Away.

Since the publication of his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, in 1988, Jonathan has shaped the personality of American literature. His most recent book, The End of the End of the World, is a poignant essay collection examining beauty and resilience in a time of tribalism and environmental catastrophe.

He won the National Book Award for his 2001 novel, The Corrections, which was adapted into a television series. His 2010 novel, Freedom, was a number-one national best seller, winner of the John Gardner Fiction Award, a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.

The subject of a deeply honest New York Times Magazine profile in 2018, Jonathan is known for his searing wit, unapologetic take on modern American culture, and love of bird-watching. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the German Akademie der Künste, and the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

He lives in Santa Cruz, California and frequently launches his books at local independent bookstore Bookshop Santa Cruz.

Jonathan Franzen bio and picture

Jonny Sun

Author and illustrator, creative researcher

Jonny Sun is the author and illustrator of everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too: A Book and illustrator of the New York Times best-selling Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is a writer for the Netflix original series BoJack Horseman and is writing a movie for 20th Century Fox called Paper Lanterns.

Amy Gravitt

Executive vice president of HBO Programming

Amy Gravitt is executive vice president of HBO Programming and is responsible for developing and overseeing the production of original comedy series. She currently oversees the shows BarryInsecureThe Righteous GemstonesSilicon ValleyA Black Lady Sketch ShowLos EspookysBallers, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. She also oversaw the hit series VEEPVice PrincipalsEntourageFlight of the Conchords, and more.

Prior to HBO, she spent several years in the United States Navy, serving on board the aircraft carrier USS Constellation and rising to the rank of lieutenant. She deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1997, in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Amy began her career in entertainment at Section Eight, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's production company.

Her upcoming projects include Avenue 5 with Armando Iannucci and Hugh Laurie, RUN with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Vicky Jones, Jan 22nd with Michaela Coel, Betty with Crystal Moselle, Mrs. Fletcher with Tom Perrotta and Kathryn Hahn, and QualityLand with Mike Judge, as well as How Toand The Rehearsal with Nathan Fielder.

Amy Gravitt bio and photo

Fred Dust

Design thought leader

Fred Dust works at the intersection of business, society, and creativity to unlock the creative potential of leaders and organizations. As a designer, author, educator, consultant, trustee, and advisor to social and business leaders, he has been called one of the world's most original thinkers. He applies human-centered design to today's global challenges.

A sought-after speaker, Fred currently serves on the board of trustees for the Sundance Institute, the board of directors for NPR, and the board of directors at The New School.

His books include Extra Spatial, on the design of spaces, and Eyes Open: New York and Eyes Open: London, city guides that view exceptional experiences through an urban lens. He writes frequently for publications such as Fast Company, Metropolis, and Rotman Magazine.

Fred is currently exploring new ways to ignite constructive dialogue in a climate of polarization, cynicism, and disruption. He is working on a book on creativity, design, and dialogue, and was awarded a Rockefeller Bellagio Fellowship to advance his research.

Fred was a former senior partner and global managing director for acclaimed international design firm IDEO. He was also a founder and trustee for, IDEO's non-profit that designs solutions to global poverty.

Fred Dust bio and photo

Alec Berg

Writer, producer, and director for film and television

Alec Berg is a writer, producer, and director for television and film. His television work includes Seinfeld, where he was writer and executive producer, Curb Your Enthusiasm (writer, director, executive producer), and two current HBO series-Silicon Valley (writer, director, executive producer) and Barry (creator, writer, executive producer).

Alec has also worked extensively in feature films, doing a great deal of rewrite work and co-writing screenplays for the films The Cat in the HatEuroTrip, and The Dictator.

He won a Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for Barry (Best New Series), and has been nominated for 21 Emmy Awards, nine WGA awards, a Directors Guild of America award, two Golden Globes, and a Razzie.

A graduate of Harvard University, Berg resides in Los Angeles with his wife, his daughter, three dogs, two rats, a stick bug, fish, and a chameleon.

Alec Berg photo and bio

Nina Jacobson

Hit Hollywood producer

Nina Jacobson achieved enormous success as a senior film executive at three major motion picture studios before founding independent production company Color Force.

Jacobson's most recent notable projects include The Hunger Games franchise, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Goldfinch, in addition to Emmy and Golden Globe winner The People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story, Emmy winner The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and the critically acclaimed series POSE.

Prior to forming Color Force, Jacobson was president of the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group, where she oversaw script development and film production for Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures.

Before joining the Walt Disney Motion Picture Group, Jacobson was a senior film executive at DreamWorks SKG, and also held positions at Universal, Parkes/MacDonald Productions, and Silver Pictures.

Jacobson is a graduate of Brown University and currently lives in Santa Monica with her wife Jennifer, their three children, two dogs, and a cat.

Nina Jacobson photo and bio

Darla Anderson

Oscar-winning Pixar producer

Darla Anderson is a film producer known as one of the most influential and respected names in animation. She formerly worked at Pixar Animation Studios, producing widely popular films like Toy Story 3A Bug's LifeMonsters, Inc., and Cars. Darla most recently produced the global hit Coco, which won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Picture.

At Pixar, her work earned her numerous awards, including Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, a Golden Satellite Award, and a BAFTA award.

Darla studied environmental design at San Diego State University and worked as an executive producer at Angel Studios before joining Pixar in 1993. She sits on the national board of directors for the Producers Guild of America.

Inclusion and diversity have long been priorities in Darla's work, evident in the casting of Coco-which was the first-ever Hollywood feature film with a fully Latino and Mexican cast for both the English- and Spanish-language versions.

Darla Anderson bio and photo

Lisa Forkish and Vocal Rush

Award-winning singer, songwriter, educator

Lisa Forkish is an award-winning singer-songwriter, arranger, educator, and self-described "Love Warrior," infusing all she creates with fierce authenticity and heart. Lisa uses her songwriting, performing, and teaching as vehicles for social change, and believes in the power of music to transform, uplift, empower, and build connection.

Based in Oakland, California, Lisa has released four solo albums of original music and is currently putting out new music on Patreon every month.

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Lisa has taken the stage at world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and SFJAZZ Center. Her arranging and musical directing work has been showcased with Alice Russell, Ben Harper, Pentatonix, and Michael Franti.

Since 2011, Lisa has been on the vocal music faculty at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA), where she is also the founder and director of five-time national champion a cappella group Vocal Rush. She is also the director of WeSing Choir, an inclusive community choir that sings for social change.

Before joining the renowned School of Vocal Music faculty at OSA, Lisa was music director for the University of Oregon's award-winning a cappella group Divisi, featured in Mickey Rapkin's book Pitch Perfect, later made into the box office hit movie.

Lisa's latest solo release, Love Warrior EP, is a one-woman, all-vocal originals album that combines her lush, dissonant a cappella arrangements with honest and soulful songwriting.

Headshot of Lisa Forkish

Andrew Evans

Professional Illusionist and magic designer

Andrew Evans is a professional illusionist and magic designer who brings a modern, innovative twist to magic.

He founded The Magic Patio-a magic speakeasy tucked in a hidden corner of San Francisco-and his background in engineering and design helps him create unique illusions that have been featured at The Magic Castle in Hollywood and on national television for Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Beyond magic, Andrew specializes in creative applications of human-centered design. He spent five years as a design lead at the international design and innovation firm IDEO and is a lecturer in design leadership at Stanford University's

Currently, Andrew is the Magic & Illusions Lead for the San Francisco production of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, where he spends his days teaching wizards how to do magic.

Photo and bio for Andrew Evans

Mark Thomspon

President and CEO of The New York Times Company

Mark Thompson became president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company in November 2012. He has directed the company’s strategy and presided over an expansion of its digital and global operations.

Under his leadership, digital subscriptions have grown from 500,000 to nearly four million and the company set a goal to reach 10 million total subscriptions by 2025.

The Times Company has successfully expanded into other digital products like Cooking and Crosswords, has launched one of the world’s most successful podcasts, and recently premiered The Weekly, a new TV news program for FX and Hulu.

Before joining the Times Company, Mr. Thompson served as director-general of the BBC from 2004, where he reshaped the organization to meet the challenge of the digital age, ensuring that it remained a leading innovator with the launch of services such as the BBC iPlayer. He also oversaw a transformation of the BBC itself, driving productivity and efficiency through the introduction of new technologies and bold organizational redesign.

His book, Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics?, is based on lectures he gave as a visiting professor at University of Oxford. Mark Thompson was educated at Stonyhurst College and Merton College, Oxford.

Actor and writer

Jimmie Fails is an actor and writer best known for his work in The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

Jimmie constructed the story and cowrote The Last Black Man in San Francisco with his best friend and longtime collaborator, Joe Talbot, who directed the film. Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, the movie won the award for best directing and a Special Jury Prize for creative collaboration. A nationwide release followed to wide critical acclaim and overwhelmingly positive reviews. Jimmie won The Los Angeles Film Critics Association's (LAFCA) New Generation Award for his performance and was nominated for The Gotham Independent Film Award for best screenplay.

The fable-like story is based on Jimmie’s real life, tracing his experience of his childhood home, his neighborhood, and the effects of the gentrification of San Francisco, while exploring themes of community, home, family, belonging, race, and class. The cast also includes Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Mike Epps, and Finn Wittrock. Jimmie and Joe Talbot's first collaboration, the short film American Paradise, also premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (2017) and was a creative precursor to the feature-length film.

Fails' upcoming films include roles in both Pieces of a Woman and Un-Corked.

Jimmie Fails headshot, actor

Domee Shi

Director at Pixar Animation Studios

Domee Shi is the writer and director of the Academy Award-winning Pixar short animation film Bao. The first female director at Pixar Animation Studios, she has also worked as a storyboard artist on the Academy Award-winning Inside OutThe Good DinosaurIncredibles 2, and Toy Story 4.

Born in Chongqing, China, Domee moved to Toronto, Canada, at the age of two. The whimsical Bao, whose story line is loosely based on her experiences growing up and set in the Chinese community in Toronto, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 91st Academy Awards, as well as nominations at the 43rd Annie Awards, the International Online Cinema Awards, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Beginning as a story intern for Pixar in 2011, Domee was quickly hired as a storyboard artist and then director. Her love of storytelling and animation have been influenced from a young age by the works of Studio Ghibli, ‘90s anime, Disney, Pixar, as well as the works of Yasujirō Ozu, Ang Lee, and Bong Joon-ho.

Her first feature film for Pixar Studios is currently in the works.

Headshot for Domee Shi

Why Attend

  • Acquire new skills from proven masters in their fields of expertise.
  • Understand how creativity can be used as a vehicle for personal growth.
  • Discover your artistic passion and learn new techniques to sustain back home.

Things to Know/Schedule

Prerequisites: None required.
Experience Level: None required.

*FRIDAY – Feb. 28, 2020

7:30-9:00 pm
Everyone needs a creative community: A conversation with chef and best-selling author, Samin Nosrat.

*SATURDAY – Feb. 29, 2020

9:00-9:45 am
Wonder and awe are essential elements of a creative life. Learn how to retain a sense of wonder and share it with others.

10:00-10:45 am
Lynda Barry is an award-winning author, artist and educator who will discuss curiosity and why we need to give ourselves permission to be imaginative beings.

11:00-12:30 pm
Workshops: Please see the Workshop Schedule above

2:00-2:45 pm
Join us for a workshop in singing and sound. Use your voice!

2:45-3:15 pm
Enjoy the music of Vocal Rush, an a cappella group from Oakland School for the Arts.

3:45-4:30 pm
We are the stories we tell ourselves. Hear from top filmmakers about how the stories we share not only reflect our personal lives, but the society we live in.

4:45-5:30 pm
Powerful storytelling requires knowing yourself and having a vision. Learn from experts how they create stories that have impact.

7:30-9:00 pm
Have you ever wanted to tell your story onstage? The Moth, a non-profit group devoted to the art and craft of storytelling, will hold an evening StorySlam. The theme? Magic!

*SUNDAY – Mar. 1, 2020

8:30-9:45 am
Choosing to live a creative life is fundamentally a brave act. Join this workshop where we explore how you can use creativity to embrace change.

10:15-11:00 am
You are a creative person even if you don’t think you are. Hear from top Hollywood talent how to nurture your imaginative streak.

11:15-12:00 pm
Join us for a conversation about building your own creative community.