May 2, 2018

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Type Designer Dyana Weissman Craves and Explores The Great Outdoors

What are you working on—on the side?

I co-lead hikes in a nearby state park, The Middlesex Fells Reservation. Every week, we guide new parents who carry their babies on a different trail. This gives them an opportunity to meet others going through the same experience, get some exercise, avoid isolation, and enjoy the benefits of being immersed in nature. In the summers, we also do short treks for young children, making a scavenger hunt out of learning about wildlife. The hikes are all free and open to the public. I take pictures, too, so families can stay in the moment, and still have those memories captured.

I am also on staff at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. I help manage volunteers for a couple shifts during the main festival, and usher at other events during the year. It’s nice having connections in all sorts of communities.

How do you manage to work on your side project(s)?

I’m fortunate that my bosses are very supportive of having balance in life. I make my own hours, so I schedule projects around the hikes, as if they were meetings. Which they are, in a way. During the week of the film festival, I take a vacation.

Why have a side project?

I need to do something that has a deeper meaning to me. I care intensely about the environment and climate change. Getting people into parks is a great way to get them to care, too. It’s the same with the film festival—it helps people get out, share an experience, and learn about the world.

And it’s not just about others, I'm doing something for myself, too. It’s so nice to be out in the fresh air and sunshine, not hunched over a computer. I feel less stressed and more in shape. There’s a feeling of accomplishment after a good hike, and a sense of honor in helping people out.

Walking in the woods also helps me to be a better designer. I avoid burnout, as I always feel refreshed after a hike. Being away from distractions helps me to problem-solve and come up with new ideas. I usually take my camera, so I get to flex different creative muscles, too. The world is so fascinating; there is so much to experience. It’s important to stay curious and to always be learning.

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Diptych courtesy of Dyana Weissman.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.

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