[Today's review comes from Frankie in Baltimore. She is the coordinator of the Community Art Corps (AmeriCorps) program at Maryland Institute College of Art. This and two other lovely books were sent to the Pencil Revolution HQ for review this fall from the good folks at EcoSystem. As always, opinions are those of the reviewer.]
I’ve kept a journal off and on since elementary school. Now that I’m nearing (gulp) thirty, I’ve graduated from the lock-and-key kind to a more minimalist style: a plain notebook, no spirals, easy to stack and store upon completion. About three years ago, my journal of choice became the squared Moleskine. Writing within those gridlines allowed me to fit a good-sized weekly journal entry in the space of two pages – which meant a single journal could cover an impressive timespan, usually more than a year. I love to go back through the same journal and see what I was thinking (or obsessing) about that time a year ago. It reminds me that things can, and do, and must change, and that always gives me hope.
Cover Material: Acrylic-coated paper.
Paper: 100% post-consumer recycled.
Size: Assorted; 5.25 ” x 8.25” as tested.
Page Count: 192.
Unique Characteristics: Register-able identification number that coordinates with several features on the Ecosystem website.
Availability: Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc.
I dove into EcoSystem‘s Architect notebook, the graph paper variety produced by Ecosystem, looking forward to a similar experience. I should say that I don’t think the Architect is designed to serve as a journal for narrative writing. The company produces four kinds of notebooks: the Advisor, a planner; the Artist, with blank pages; the Author, with lined pages; and the Architect, which Ecosystem describes as meant for “an environmentally aware person who creates strength and order with lines.” Each is available in one of six hip colors: onyx, watermelon, kiwi, lagoon, grape, and the one I chose, clementine. The gridlines are much narrower and darker than those in the squared Moleskine, and so using the Architect as a journal is daunting at first.
But I got an opportunity to battle-test the Architect one night when my eight month-old daughter had her first fever. The late-night answering service at our doctor’s office called back with advice, and I grabbed my Architect to write down their instructions. My pencil of choice, an orange Palomino, looks even more luscious than usual on the Architect’s smooth pages. The Palomino Blackwing is also a good choice. I would definitely recommend a darker pencil to show up against the Architect’s gridlines. But their tight assembly encouraged me to abandon the compulsiveness with which I am accustomed to writing in squared notebooks. Rather than scrunching my writing to fit between the horizontal gridlines, my pencil ventured beyond its usual boundaries. One sentence took up two gridlines, then three. The flights of freedom were good for the soul. In addition to its surprising potential as a journal, I can foresee using the Architect to sketch knitting patterns and transcribe the free ones I find on the internet. The grid translates nicely to knitting gauges.
Ecosystem stands out among manufacturers for its green practices. “Every component that makes up an ecosystem book has been researched to ensure the most environmentally friendly materials or production methods are being used,” the website explains. Each notebook has a unique identification code that can be entered on the company’s website. What follows is a detailed list of the origin of the materials used for each part of the journal, from the paper (Park Falls, Wisconsin) to the organic cotton ribbon bookmark (from Philadelphia). You can also register your notebook on the site and post to the Lost and Found page for the notebook that goes wandering.
At 192 pages, the Architect feels a bit heavier than other comparably-sized notebooks. But you’ll get your money’s worth. This is a welcome and colorful new addition to my library of journals.
(Text, F.G. Photos, J.G. Used with permission.)