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Monday, August 27, 2007

A Key to Creativity

I've cross posted this with Thinking in Picture because, here I'm certain that someone will read it.

The Golden Opportunity
Click to enlarge

The Short of it:

The desire to effect change on any medium, plus the belief in the opportunity for positive reception of your ideas unlocks the gate for for a powerful torrent of new, and creative ideas.

The Long of it:
This is the story of B. and Me. B's initial has been changed so he can no way be connected to the story I'm going to tell. B. was, when I met him, a ward of the State under the care of the Missouri State Mental Heath Department, and was living in foster care with 3 other boys. B had been signed up to participate in VivaVox - Imagine Arts Mentoring Program, a non-profit I was working for last year.

The main goal of VivaVox is to give arts training to kids in order to allow them to develop their creative voice, and to channel their destructive behaviors into creative ones. There are drawing workshops, music, dance and poetry classes of which B, participated before finally going into personal mentoring with the poetry/rap instructor. B. happened to actually be the best visual artist of the group, with a desire to draw, but I digress.

Due to political infighting, B and 10 other kids were unceremoniously yanked from the program by their caretakers in early May; 6 weeks before the end of the program cycle and the big artistic showcase/graduation ceremony. That was it for B. and Viva Vox.

This past weekend I ran into B. and his brother down in "The Loop", St. Louis' hip street of shops and restaurants. I asked B. how he was doing, "Fine." He asked me if I had talked to Larry (Viva Vox President) recently, I said no, and he went on to tell me that he he had contacted Larry with a bunch of ideas for Viva Vox. I asked him what sorts of ideas he'd been having, and he told me few which blew me away. Very deep thinking for a 16 year old kid who has spent many years shuffled from home to home, institution to institution. There was a palpable energy and enthusiasm to his words, an urgency to be heard.

Of the hundreds of kids I met through Viva Vox over the years, B. is one of maybe 5 kids to actually use this program to find his creative voice. It so happened that B. was moved from his house to an "orphanage" where Viva Vox was running some programming, and he actively sought out Larry to present his ideas.

When B. was telling me his ideas, I was struck by the parallel to my own recent story: After a creative turnover at the agency I was working for, I was out of a job. I went to work for Viva Vox with whom I've had a long relationship. After six months of hard work some job leads were dangled before me which tempted me to quit Viva Vox and follow up on them. They turned out to be vaporous, and I ended up going into Creative Temp Services.

While searching leads I found a company in a sector which really appealed to me. It's what led me to this whole "Thinking in Pictures", Visual Communication. Learning to Draw thing in which has ensnared my imagination, and caused a dynamic creative outpouring I haven't had in years.

Why are B. and myself so currently creative?

I believe what it comes down to is that in a world where it's easy to become lost as an individual; if you believe someone is going to listen to your ideas, to take your thoughts (pictures, art) seriously, then this creates a key to unlock the floodgates of your imagination, which will in turn feedback on itself and create even more ideas.

Of course where the ideas go from there are completely up to the you. Chances are a lot of those clever ideas are going to fall by the wayside, some will be listened to, some will be adapted etc. I think what is important is not the ideas themselves, those can be generated almost Willy Nilly (don't forget to capture them), but the belief in the Opportunity. That if you want want to keep generating ideas, then you have to believe that someone is receive them and present feedback, otherwise you stagnate. From there it's less a matter of finding the Opportunity like myself, than creating and seizing the Opportunity like B.

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