Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Toyota and "Brain Age" Inventor Team To Make Cars More Senior-Citizen-Friendly

[23 December 2007 - Edmunds Inside Line - TOKYO] As drivers age, they may find it increasingly difficult to stay alert and react quickly while driving. Now a video game expert is heading a research effort with Toyota that aims to make cars that are better adapted to the needs of senior-citizen drivers. The inventor of the popular Nintendo "Brain Age" series, Professor Ryuta Kawashima of Japan's Tohoku University is hoping to get the results of the R&D into cars by 2020 or sooner. More

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

PBS Special Shows How to Sharpen Brain With Workouts

[5 December 2007 - Bloomberg] Did you sleep well last night -- or can't you remember? A pair of PBS shows offers hope for those suffering from restless nights and/or dimming brains. Contrary to popular belief, dull thinking is not a preordained part of old age, according to "The Brain Fitness Program,'" which airs Dec. 7 at 10 p.m. New York time. However, you do have to work hard to keep your gray matter from taking on the consistency of that oatmeal you've been eating for a healthy heart. Host Peter Coyote says the brain has a wonderful ability to stay sharp and even "rewire'' itself after suffering catastrophic damage, including strokes. A panel of experts, including Dr. Michael Merzenich from the University of California, San Francisco, promises that unlike the proverbial old dog, the brain can learn new tricks right up until the very end. More

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ken Robinson introduces creativity and innovation in Oklahoma state-wide project

[28 November 2007 - NewsOK.com - Oklahoma] Sir Ken Robinson borrowed a line from an old Apple Computer advertising campaign Tuesday for a Downtown Rotary Club audience. "Think different.” OK, Robinson cleaned up the grammar and used the more proper "think differently” when he launched into a 30-minute monologue on the importance that creativity plays in our lives. Or should play in a world of changes wrought by the digital revolution. "If we are to embrace (the changes) and prosper in these times, we have to think differently about our talents and abilities,” Robinson said. "And that really begins in education. We have to think very differently about the way we educate our children. `

Applied Creativity: Creativity buoys outlook for hydrogen economy

[29 November 2007 - Christian Science Monitor] Hydrogen from bacteria, from coal – and how about a hydrogen generator small enough to power your lawn mower? ... Engineers who want to produce hydrogen for fuel have to think outside the box. Standard processes are too costly and inefficient. A sample of research reported this year illustrates the unexpected possibilities such creative thinking opens up. How about a portable hydrogen generator so compact it could power a lawn mower? Or how about coaxing bacteria to produce hydrogen from plant material with unprecedented efficiency? It also pays to look at traditional processes in new ways. L.S. Fan at Ohio State University met that challenge with the process that makes hydrogen by using carbon monoxide released by gasified coal. The gas reacts with water to make carbon dioxide and hydrogen. The trick to making this work as a viable fuel source is to find a cheap way to get rid of the CO2. "We needed a new way of thinking," Dr. Fan says. More

Need ideas?

Check out the "Idea Generator" online tool - from The Directors Bureau - which will give you a random set of three words to spark new connections.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cities stepping up where feds fail, Indiana mayor says - National conference is meeting in N.O.

[16 November 2007 - Times-Picayune] To find the most exciting public policy innovations of the moment, look beyond the partisan gridlock of Washington to the cities and towns that are experimenting with ways to promote clean energy, preserve the water supply and curb violent crime, the president of the National League of Cities said Thursday. President Bart Peterson, the mayor of Indianapolis, opened the National League of Cities conference in New Orleans by saying local governments emerged as the nation's pre-eminent policy incubators starting in the 1990s: the era when a standoff between President Clinton and a Republican Congress resulted in a government shutdown. "The epicenter of creativity and leadership has shifted out of Washington," Peterson said. More than 3,500 mayors, city managers and council members from around the country arrived in New Orleans this week to swap ideas about common interests, from highway congestion to aging public infrastructure to the recent slump in the housing market. More

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Seen and Heard: Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people

[14 November 2007 - DEMOS - UK] Until now, action to improve the lives of children and young people has tended to focus on the institutional spheres of home and school. Yet quality of life also depends on the access to and quality of shared resources such as streets, parks, town centres and playgrounds. And here, in the everyday spaces of our towns and cities, we increasingly exclude and marginalise the young. In the pursuit of sustainable communities and urban renaissance, children and young people are too often left out of the script. Children and young people have limited independence – both financially and spatially –and depend on shared spaces more than others. With trends in Britain pointing towards less outdoor play, increased parental anxiety and less tolerance for children and young people, the impact of an unwelcoming public realm on their health and well-being is becoming increasingly clear. Seen and Heard: Reclaiming the public realm with children and young people draws on six case studies to explore the everyday experiences of children in public. It argues that we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about the built environment- one which addresses the deepening segregation between generations. The needs of the young are not opposed to those of other users of public spaces, but closely aligned. With a range of recommendations designed to empower frontline professionals and young people, this pamphlet offers practical steps to create communities that are welcoming for all. More Watch Short Video

The Tech Museum of Innovation Announces Winning Teams for 20th Annual Tech Challenge

[14 November 2007 - The Tech Museum of Innovation - San Jose, California - Press Release] 21st Annual Tech Challenge Addresses Real Worldwide Need for Safe, Clean Drinking Water ... The Tech Museum of Innovation, one of the nation's premier science and technology museums, today announced the 21st annual Tech Challenge for Northern California youth. The program challenges young people in grades 5-12 to create a solution to a real-world problem, and this year's Challenge addresses the worldwide need for safe, clean drinking water, and better access to this necessary resource. Participants must design a simple device to move water from a stream up to a village on a hill without the benefit of electricity. "Our goal at The Tech is to both inspire the innovator in everyone and at the same time raise awareness and find solutions for some of the greatest challenges facing communities around the world," said Peter Friess, president of The Tech. "For as long as mankind has existed, moving water from a lower level to a higher level has been one of our most critical challenges. This is validated each year by our Tech Museum Awards program, which is all about the use of technology to benefit humanity; year after year, moving water or providing clean water is the focus of multiple projects. We want to help sensitize our youth to these global issues and give them the confidence at an early age that they have the ability to shape the future." More

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

'Pumps & Pipes' lets heart doctors brainstorm with petroleum experts

[13 November 2007 - Houston Chronicle] Conference shows blood and oil can mix -- in Houston ... It's not surprising that heart doctors and petroleum engineers have professional conferences. But it is rather unusual to find them sitting through PowerPoint presentations in the same meeting room. Yet that's just what happened Monday when leading heart surgeons and cardiologists from the Texas Medical Center convened with oil and gas researchers from some of Houston's top energy firms. Such a pairing might seem odd, but it turns out that two of Houston's biggest industries have a lot in common. Both heart docs and oil execs want to push liquids — be it blood or oil — through long, narrow tubes, without blockages or corrosion, for extended periods of time. Both also want to closely monitor these tubes, and want to be able to fix problems when they arise. Would it be possible, then, for doctors and engineers to learn from one another? That's what Dr. Alan Lumsden, a professor of surgery at the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, pondered 18 months ago when he dreamed up the idea of the "Pumps & Pipes" conference. ... "We put a high premium on thinking outside of the box," said Bill Kline, research manager for Exxon's Upstream Research Company. "The highest value thing we can have here is a new idea. What we really hope with this conference is to spark dialogue and creativity and fresh approaches to our problems." So on Monday, Houston Mayor Bill White found himself addressing a conference room at the University of Houston filled with 130 heart doctors, oil and gas engineers and UH research scientists. More

New Harris Poll Links Music Education to Advanced Studies and Higher Incomes

[12 November 2007 - National Association for Music Education - Press Release] National Association for Music Education and Artist Steven Van Zandt Endorse Findings ... At an event with actor and musician "Little" Steven Van Zandt and MENC: The National Association for Music Education, Harris Interactive today released an independent poll which shows a positive association of music with lifelong educational attainment and higher income. Nearly nine in ten people (88 percent) with post graduate degrees participated in music education. Further, 83 percent of those with incomes higher than $150,000 or more participated in music. More

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Study: Aging artists remain resilient

[12 November 2007 - News & Observer/The Associated Press] Aging artists in New York City stay engaged and productive well past retirement age and would choose their profession again if they were starting over, according to a new study. "Above Ground: Information on Artists III: Special Focus New York City Aging Artists" found that contrary to the stereotype that people become more isolated as they age, aging artists remain passionate and display high self-esteem and life satisfaction. More

Speech by Minister Ahern at the 3rd International Conference on Services and Innovation, Ireland

[8 November 2007 - Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ireland] ... With this in mind, I will shortly be publishing a policy statement on innovation which identifies key policy areas which underpin my approach to innovation in support of the knowledge economy and enterprise. My intention is to chart the various components of our national innovation system, to create a greater awareness of and demand for innovation throughout the economy and in society, to look at obstacles to innovation and to promote the ideal framework conditions for raising the level of innovation and creativity overall. More

Monday, November 12, 2007

All They Are Saying Is Give Happiness a Chance

[12 November 2007 - New York Times - Opinion] ... The era of laissez-faire happiness might be coming to an end. Some prominent economists and psychologists are looking into ways to measure happiness to draw it into the public policy realm. Thirty years from now, reducing unhappiness could become another target of policy, like cutting poverty. ... Despite happiness’ apparently Sisyphean nature, there may be ways to increase satisfaction over the long term. While the extra happiness derived from a raise or a winning lottery ticket might be fleeting, studies have found that the happiness people derive from free time or social interaction is less susceptible to comparisons with other people around them. Nonmonetary rewards -- like more vacations, or more time with friends or family -- are likely to produce more lasting changes in satisfaction. This swings the door wide open for government intervention. On a small scale, congestion taxes to encourage people to carpool would reduce the distress of the solo morning commute, which apparently drives people nuts. More broadly, if the object of public policy is to maximize society’s well-being, more attention should be placed on fostering social interactions and less on accumulating wealth. If growing incomes are not increasing happiness, perhaps we should tax incomes more to force us to devote less time and energy to the endeavor and focus instead on the more satisfying pursuit of leisure. One thing seems certain, lining up every policy incentive to strive for higher and higher incomes is just going to make us all miserable. Happiness is one of the things that money just can’t buy. More

Sunday, November 11, 2007

'Silent thinking' boosts creativity

[10 November 2007 - United Press International - TILBURG, Netherlands] Taking a few minutes for silent thinking during a meeting strengthens the innovative ability of a group, a Dutch researcher suggests. Arne de Vet of Tilburg University says in his Ph.D. dissertation that a group with at least one person who is relatively introverted can double the amount of new ideas if they take some time for silent thinking. More

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Death and Life of American Imagination

[November 2007 - The Rake - By Jeannine Ouellette - Minneapolis, Minnesota] How a generation is squandering its most critical resource. ... Imagination is an intangible, unlimited, and free resource. It is not, at least for the purposes of this discussion, the same as fantasy, where universal laws cease to apply, where elephants might speak Latin or humans travel back in time. Nor is imagination reserved for artistic pursuits, though imagination is the core of creativity. Applying imagination to problem-solving requires the ability to come up with an idea, and to break that idea down into the steps that will bring it to fruition. It also requires an alchemical mix of will, vision, discipline, and action, not to mention stubborn perseverance in the face of frustration or opposition. More

Tony Buzan - Teaching HOW TO Learn

[November 2007 - eSnips] Video of Tony Buzan speaking in Singapore about the CAUSE OF THE DEATH OF CREATIVITY. A lecture from a brain specialist on the need to 'nurture nature" and the need to foster and promote creativity in education. We aren't doing enough. (hat tip to Alan Black) Watch Video

TED - Larry Lessig on How Creativity is Being Strangled by the Law

[November 2007 - TED - Talks] About this Talk: Larry Lessig gets TEDsters to their feet, whooping and whistling, following this elegant presentation of "three stories and an argument." The Net's most adored lawyer brings together John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights, and the "ASCAP cartel" to build a case for creative freedom. He pins down the key shortcomings of our dusty, pre-digital intellectual property laws, and reveals how bad laws beget bad code. Then, in an homage to cutting-edge artistry, he throws in some of the most hilarious remixes you've ever seen.
About Larry Lessig: Stanford professor Larry Lessig is one of our foremost authorities on copyright issues. In a time when “content” is not confined to a film canister, Lessig has a vision for reconciling creative freedom with marketplace competition. Watch Video

Judge Rules on What Makes a Poem; Using Creativity Definitions

[9 November 2007 - AP - New York, New York] A federal judge has ruled that compiling Dorothy Parker's poems was a far less original act than writing them. The editor of a book of uncollected work by the late author did not show enough "creativity" to claim copyright infringement from a near-identical set contained in a book released by Penguin Group (USA), U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan said Tuesday, contradicting a decision he made four years ago. Stuart Y. Silverstein's "Not Much Fun: The Lost Poems of Dorothy Parker" was published in 1996 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. The Penguin book, "Dorothy Parker, Complete Poems," came out in 1999 and includes all the 122 pieces assembled by Silverstein, who was not credited. The poems themselves are in the public domain. "The Court finds that Silverstein simply selected for inclusion in `Not Much Fun' all of the uncollected Parker poems that he could find and that this selection process involved no creativity," wrote Keenan, who in a summary judgment in 2003 had ruled in Silverstein's favor and enjoined Penguin from selling or continuing to distribute its book. More

Education, quality thereof - A Profile of Berenice Bleedorn and E. Paul Torrance

This week's convention of the National Association of Gifted Children, taking place in Minneapolis, is recognizing creativity great E. Paul Torrance for his leadership in developing and promoting creativity in education. Today, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune profiles another creativity great -- Torrance's student and my mentor and colleague, Berenice Bleedorn. Columnist Syl Jones celebrates Berenice's nearly 50 years of tireless work to integrate creativity into education, both in Minnesota and throughout the world. Perhaps the tipping point is finally coming ...

- Steve Dahlberg
[9 November 2007 - Star Tribune - Minneapolis, Minnesota] ... This week, the annual convention of the National Association for Gifted Children has taken place in Minneapolis. One of the attendees is a 95-year-old woman -- Berenice (Bee) Bleedorn -- whose powerfully active mind is still searching for ways to reshape society's views on education. As the hausfrau-cum-Ph. D. has rightly pointed out, if we would only start with E. Paul Torrance, our education system -- and our students -- would be the better for it. More

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Human Decision-making Takes Multiple Brain Regions Performing Individual Functions

[1 November 2007 - ScienceDaily] The brain, the human supercomputer, might work more like an assembly line when recognizing objects, with a hierarchy of brain regions separately absorbing and processing information before a person realizes what they are seeing, according to new research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh and published in the Oct. 31 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience. Led by Mark Wheeler, a psychology professor in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, and conducted at Pitt's Learning Research and Development Center, the research is a step toward mapping the human decision-making process. This study used an innovative technique and analysis to show that human decision-making is a collaboration of brain regions performing individual functions. Future work based on these findings could lead to a better understanding of how decisions--good and bad--are made and the considerations people put into them. More

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why Design Matters ... in the Classroom

[28 October 2007 - Thinking 2.0] Dean Shareski has created a Design Matters Keynote for the 2007 Flat Classroom Project. This is a remix of his presentation for the K-12 Online Conference in which Shareski challenges the fact that “creativity and design are often seen as frivolous or at best icing on the cake of learning” and presents reasons why design is an integral part of effective communication. He gives specific techniques on how to improve design when it comes to using multimedia and technology so that projects are of excellent quality. More

17 Rules For Designers

[29 October 2007 - How Blog] Designer Stefan Mumaw (co-author of the wonderful creativity book Caffeine for the Creative Mind) just sent a list of 17 rules for designers compiled from suggestions he received in response to one of the creative challenges he emails to friends and colleagues every morning. More

Towers Perrin Study Finds Significant "Engagement Gap" Among Global Workforce

[22 October 2007] Study Draws Definitive Connection Between How Engaged Employees Are on the Job and Financial Performance: Report Also Highlights How Companies Can Begin to Bridge the Divide and Create More Engaged, High-Performing Employees ... Employees do not believe their organizations or their senior management are doing enough to help them become fully engaged and contribute to their companies' success, according to a new global workforce study conducted by Towers Perrin, a global professional services firm. Just 21% of the employees surveyed around the world are engaged in their work, meaning they're willing to go the extra mile to help their companies succeed. Fully 38% are partly to fully disengaged. The result is a gap -- which Towers Perrin has dubbed the "engagement gap" -- between the discretionary effort companies need and people actually want to invest and companies' effectiveness in channeling this effort to enhance performance. The study found that companies with the highest levels of employee engagement achieve better financial results and are more successful in retaining their most valued employees than companies with lower levels of engagement. More

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Positive Outlook Is Overrated

[22 October 2007 - NPR - This I Believe] Psychologist Barbara Held believes that there are many ways to cope with the pain of life. She says that -- no matter what the self-help books say -- people should feel free to be themselves, even if that means being negative. More

Friday, October 26, 2007

Creative Teaching

My mentor and colleague Berenice Bleedorn had a letter published in Edutopia magazine ...
[October 2007 - Edutopia, The Magazine of the George Lucas Education Foundation] LETTER: The story on the Alaskan school district ("Northern Lights," September 2007) was especially satisfying. At the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I introduced and taught creative studies in both education and business master's programs for seventeen years. The academic focus of my teaching was based on the work of E. Paul Torrance, a leading international authority on creative studies. In the article, it was clear that enlightened educators were bringing about curriculum and instruction Torrance tried to promote to the powers that be and to establish officially the system of creative teaching and learning that was finding favor with teachers all over the world. Much of the reform in educational practices that is surfacing independent of the bureaucratic establishment reflects the Torrance basics for education described in his publication The Incubation Model of Teaching.
Berenice Bleedorn
Minneapolis, Minnesota
More

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

From Innovation to Advantage

[16 October 2007 - Harvard Business Online - Excerpted from "The Future of Management," by Gary Hamel with Bill Breen] Management innovation tends to yield a competitive advantage when one or more of three conditions are met: the innovation is based on a novel management principle that challenges some long-standing orthodoxy; the innovation is systemic, encompassing a range of processes and methods; and/or the innovation is part of an ongoing program of rapid-fire invention where progress compounds over time. More

Friday, October 19, 2007

Steven Dahlberg Among Case Foundation's Top 100 Finalists

[19 October 2007] The International Centre for Creativity and Imagination is pleased to announce that Steven Dahlberg's proposal -- on behalf of his Willimantic, Connecticut, community -- has been selected from nearly 5,000 grant applications as a Top 100 Finalist in the Case Foundation's "Make It Your Own" Awards program.The proposed project is for:
"Weaving a New Willimantic" ... A former thread-mill town weaves a new creative fabric -- where people's ideas matter, where we engage our creativity together and where we co-create our community's common good. We will use inclusive dialogue processes to coordinate current citizen-centered projects and to include more voices.
[18 October 2007 - Case Foundation] The Make It Your Own Awards is about people connecting with others in their community, forming solutions, and taking action. After receiving nearly 5,000 grant applications, our diverse team of reviewers has narrowed the pool down to 100 semifinalists. So, who made the cut? Check them out here. And coming soon, some exciting new tools that will allow you to offer input and spread the word about these great projects. More

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A place to call home: New residences planned for retirees who can't get enough of MIT

Often the "civic engagement" conversation focuses on how to involve more baby boomers in volunteering in their communities. However, the more important question is how to engage people of all ages in meaningful activity -- including volunteering, learning, politics, entrepreneurship, etc -- in their communities. Efforts such as these at MIT to maintain and engage the creative strengths and talents of its retirees is a great example of civic engagement, creative engagement, and creative community development. ...
[16 October 2007 - MIT News Office] Members of the Institute community who plan to stay involved in life at MIT after they retire have a new housing option, the University Residential Communities at MIT, located just blocks from the main campus. Tunney Lee, senior lecturer and professor of city planning, emeritus, and Jack Dennis (S.B. 1953, S.M. 1954, Sc.D. 1958), professor of computer science and engineering, emeritus, are among 36 people who have already reserved units in the Kendall Square residence, known as URC. Lee came to MIT in 1971 and retired in 1992. A specialist in urban planning for high-density settings, he taught in Hong Kong, then returned in 1999 to MIT, where he continues to teach two courses a year. Lee says he wants to remain close to what he calls an intellectually stimulating and challenging environment, one that has yielded many strong bonds of friendship. More

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Center for Creativity and Aging Inaugurated at Ithaca College

[8 October 2007 -  Ithaca College - Ithaca, New York] Giving new meaning to “retirement,” Martha Graham danced until she was 75, Picasso painted into his 80s, and Antonio Stradivari was making his world-famous violins at 92. In order to better understand and explore the relationship between creativity and aging, especially as it applies to the arts, Ithaca College will open the Linden Center for Creativity and Aging on Thursday, Oct. 11. Lasting from 5 to 6:30 p.m., the ceremonies will include remarks by President Peggy R. Williams and others, as well as a performance by an intergenerational jazz duo. Housed in the Ithaca College Gerontology Institute, the new center was established with an endowment from alumni couple Jay ’72 and Judith ’73 Linden.
 
“As life expectancies increase, Americans are increasingly expected to live active, stimulating lives into their golden years,” Jay Linden said. “Judi and I wanted to establish this center in the hope of encouraging interesting research on the relationship between the creative arts and an enhanced quality of life among older adults. We also think it’s important for students to understand the opportunities that the aging of the population creates for them in fields such as communications, business and health sciences.
 
“We wanted to establish the center at our alma mater because Ithaca College is uniquely suited for this enterprise,” Judith Linden added. “With its strong programs in music, theater, media and the arts, along with the distinctive strength of the Gerontology Institute, the college is well positioned to serve as a national resource for scholars, students and community partners to explore research and activities around creativity and aging.”
 
In addition to studying the impact of remaining vibrant while growing older, the Linden Center will develop community-linked programs involving elders exploring creative arts for the first time as well as engage students with elders through mentoring programs and other activities.
 
“Many people are now living into their 80s and 90s with reasonably good health,” said John Krout, professor of gerontology and director of the Gerontology Institute. “Because of this new demographic, we have a cultural imperative to explore and better understand how older people can continue to flourish creatively and remain engaged in and contribute to their communities. The Linden Center is unique because very few academic centers are engaged in studying creativity and aging with a focus on the humanities.”
 
The Gerontology Institute already has ways to engage elders and students together, Krout noted. Art shows featuring older artists, a comprehensive programmatic partnership with Longview that includes an Intergenerational Choir, and courses such as Creative Arts Methods for Older Adults are a few examples of the foundation the Linden Center will build on. Another exciting program is the Enduring Masters series, conducted jointly with the School of Music, which brings older musicians to campus to perform and give talks and master classes. The center will foster collaborations with local arts agencies to assist leaders, educators and performers in increasing the opportunities for would-be senior artists.
 
“There is a growing recognition among those who study aging that involvement in creative activities such as the arts can contribute significantly to well-being across a person’s life span,” said Krout. “The fact is, an older person doesn’t have to be Picasso to embark on new creative pursuits or continue lifelong creative endeavors. With the U.S. Census Bureau foretelling an enormous growth in the elder population by 2030, the Linden Center will be on the forefront of looking at the potential positive impacts of this historic national trend.”
 
Longtime advocates for Ithaca College, the Lindens have generously supported their alma mater since their graduation with several special gifts, including the Jay Linden Sales & Marketing Scholarship , and the Judi and Jay Linden Scholarship in Gerontology. Both are involved in creative fields themselves. Judith is the executive director of Midori & Friends, a nonprofit music education organization founded by the internationally renowned violinist Midori. Jay is executive vice president of NBC Universal’s Strategic Partnership Group, which works with advertisers to develop integrated media programs that address their key business objectives. More

Big Box Evaluator Website and Tool

[10 October 2007 - The Orton Family Foundation - Middlebury, Vermont] Announcing the release of a tool that helps you learn about the impacts of big box retail stores. ... The Orton Family Foundation enthusiastically announced its release of the Big Box Evaluator tool, designed to help communities and individuals learn about the impacts of big box retail stores.  The unbiased tool is designed not to take a stand on big box development, but to help citizens make informed decisions based on each community's specific characteristics and values. Available free to the public at www.bigboxevaluator.org, the web-based interface allows users to learn about commercial and retail development in general, but also to input specific information from their communities and receive customized reports on economics, values, planning and municpal services, and ways to improve the development process. Citizens in communities facing proposals for big box development can select the type of town that most closely resembles their own, and the type of development proposed (neighborhood store to large "supercenter").  Users can then enter specific information and personal values in four categories (Economy, Environment, Society, and Visual), ranging from expected tax revenues to amount of signalized intersection work required, runoff mitigation requirements to the importance of community character. The Big Box Evaluator creates a customized report for each user based on the specific inputs, with information like projected municipal costs and revenues, change in average wages, and annual price savings for family.  Users are also given a list of action items based on the input values, which store developers can consider in order to help meet the community's concerns. The Orton Family Foundation is a Colorado- and Vermont-based operating foundation supported by profits from the Vermont Country Store. More

Monday, October 08, 2007

Richard Florida's Spiky Creative Cities Linked to Creative Strengths

[8 October 2007 - Applied Imagination blog - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor] At the 2006 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit, economist Richard Florida talked about his "world is spiky" theory and the clustering of creative people in particular cities and regions (thus the "spikes" when viewed on a 3D map).

University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson had an a-ha moment during that speech and began to wonder whether character strengths matter to where you live. Peterson is a professor of psychology and has created a classification system for human strengths and virtues. He spearheaded the development of "Values in Action" (VIA), a key assessment tool from the positive psychology field for measuring character strengths.

Following Peterson's insight from the 2006 Summit, he and colleague Nansook Park examined the collected VIA responses (along with respondents' zip codes) and Richard Florida's creativity scores (based on talent, tolerance and technology of cities) to look at whether people who live in different cities (with more than 300,000 people) have different strengths of character. They reported their initial findings last week at the 2007 Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit:
  • There is a direct relationship between character strengths - such as appreciation of beauty, creativity, curiosity and a love of learning - and a city's creativity rating. These particular character strengths are individual-focused, head strengths.
  • There is an inverse relationship between character strengths and a city's creativity rating. That is, creative cities are low in the character strengths that connect people.
So, for instance, New York is high in creativity with creative people doing creative things. However, this creativity happens more individualistically and with a lower presence of the strengths that help people connect to each other. (How many times have we heard that the great metropolis of New York City is a lonely place, where it is difficult to meet people?) Peterson also said the more creative the city, the lower the presence of meaning and the greater the search for meaning.

Watch for the full paper about this coming from Peterson and Park.

Positive Psychology is Dead ...

[8 October 2007 - Applied Imagination blog - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor] Okay, positive psychology is dead as we've known it ... maybe. Martin Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, announced on October 5 that it's "no longer about positive psychology," but about "positive social science. ... this is the tent I'm after now."

Speaking at the Gallup International Positive Psychology Summit, Seligman described this as an epistemological and methodological shift that incorporates not only the psychology field's study of strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive, but also the study and practice of positive approaches in fields such as anthropology, economics, history, sociology, political science, among others.

He suggested that positive social science is made up of these five pillars, which focus on the good life, a life worth living, flourishing, and well-being:
  • Positive emotions, including engagement and happiness.
  • Positive traits, including strengths and virtues and pursuing excellence.
  • Positive relationships.
  • Meaning and purpose.
  • Accomplishment.
As Summit participants and others begin to consider this shift, some have suggested that positive psychology isn't so much a discipline unto itself, but an extension of other-related fields such developmental psychology, personality psychology, social psychology, behavioral psychology and creativity. Others have argued against the use of "positive" at all, favoring something that includes both negative and positive aspects of people's lives and behaviors - something more integrated or holistic.

All of which raises the question: Is positive psychology not a new, stand-alone discipline, but rather a label - an umbrella - that has allowed academics and practitioners doing "positive" work across many disciplines to come together under some common language?

This debate seems destined to grow, given the comments made during a 10-minute Q&A following Seligman's announcement at the Summit. And ironically, just before this announcement, Seligman's colleague, Ed Deiner, launched the new International Positive Psychology Association.

Meanwhile, The Gallup Organization's CEO Jim Clifton announced that Gallup's positive social science emphasis will be on "the new science of behavioral economics," which includes measuring global well-being in the Gallup World Poll.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Leading Scientists Gather to Discuss the State of Global Well-Being

For the next three days, I'll be reporting from Gallup's Positive Psychology Summit in Washington, DC. -- Steve Dahlberg, Editor, Applied Imagination blog
[4 October 2007 - GALLUP NEWS SERVICE - Washington, D.C.] Gallup's multinational research reveals subjective perspectives of all aspects of life ... Leading scientists from around the world, including Nobel Prize laureate Daniel Kahneman; Alan Krueger; Angus Deaton; Ed Diener; and John Helliwell are gathering this week at Gallup's Washington, D.C., headquarters to discuss groundbreaking findings on the state of global well-being. Gallup's measures of global well-being reach beyond traditional indicators such as GDP, poverty rates, healthcare expenditures, literacy levels, and life expectancy rates to incorporate subjective self-reported assessments from people in more than 130 countries on virtually all aspects of life. Gallup researchers find clear correlations between overall well-being and subjective assessments of law and order, food and shelter, work, economics, and health, as well as socioeconomic indicators that go beyond GDP -- including measures of military spending, brain drain, and governance. Together, these findings suggest that measures of subjective well-being might help to predict the future of economies and societies as a whole. This behavioral approach to economic forecasting appears to be gaining traction. In September 2007, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said in an interview, "If I could figure out a way to determine whether or not people are more fearful or changing to more euphoric . . . I don't need any of this other stuff. I could forecast the economy better than any way I know." Gallup systematically gathers these behavioral measures by asking respondents to assess qualitative aspects of their life, both overall and during a specific time period. The resulting global Well-Being Index reveals many findings worthy of further investigation and analysis. Income, for example, appears to play a limited role in defining the emotional state of a country. Gallup found that high-income countries such as Slovenia, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Hong Kong each demonstrate levels of Net Affect that are below average. On the other hand, low-income countries such as Zambia, Vietnam, Nepal, India, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Laos each display Net Affect that are above the average. Gallup monitors measures of subjective well-being by continuously polling around the globe across samples representing more than 95% of the world's population. By collecting and analyzing these measures, Gallup provides world leaders with better tools to examine and predict the future of economies, the performance of governments, and the momentum of the world's population overall. Gallup plans to release further findings on a contract basis and on Gallup.com. More

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Continental Creative President: European Leader Calls for Culture, Diversity and Openness to Solve Global Problems

[25 September 2007 - Applied Imagination - By Steven Dahlberg, Editor, Reporting from the Global Creative Leadership Summit, New York] The Global Creative Leadership Summit, hosted by the Louise T. Blouin Foundation, wrapped up today in New York. Among the Nobel Prize winners, global CEOs, neuroscientists and artists who participated in dialogues about global issues were several enlightened political leaders -- including the president of Iceland, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana and the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.

In the United States, advocates of creative community and economic development are hard pressed to find leadership at the federal level of government -- starting with the omission of creativity and arts in most of education. Yet at the state level, leaders such as Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu are spearheading projects like Louisiana's Cultural Economy Initiative to help put the state's culture and arts sector at the center of development -- including rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

I was particularly pleased that President Barroso's closing keynote of the three-day summit made a strong case for the role of creativity, innovation and diversity for addressing global problems such as climate change and fighting poverty. "Those are the two main tasks of leadership in the 21st century," he said. The other global issue linked with solving climate change and poverty is culture. "Culture is a solution."

Though President Barroso's call for creativity was somewhat aimed at the role that Europe can play in addressing global problems, it also is relevant to the rest of the world for engaging people, organizations and communities in creative problem solving.

I will let President Barroso's final words speak for themselves:
Because it is with a paradigm of openness, of acceptance of the difference ... almost the love of difference, to like the difference ... and to see the difference not as a problem, but as something that increases the variety. It is with this attitude that we can face those challenges we have today.

We are now in the position of moving from a parochial system to a real open paradigm where we accept the difference -- not tolerate, but to accept the difference (I don't like the word "tolerance") -- as something that increases the variety and the richness of our world.

We have some common rules, of course, and those common rules have to be based in the old principles of freedom and democracy ... but that sees differences, including multi-culturalism, as something that is positive, not as a challenge. So the increased plurism in our society, as a multi-cultural society, is being something good, the cross-fertilization being something good for mankind, for the economy, for the culture, in general.

And this is the change, the evolution, of the paradigm that we need today, where no regional diversity should be pushed out, no culture should be destroyed, that individual identities are strengthened in order to play on the new global stage.

Some days ago I was in Kassel at Documenta, the most important contemporary art event in the world. It was amazing there! It was the best school of globalization I've seen recently because African culture, Latin American culture, Asian culture were not treated as folkloric as (they were) before, but at the same level of respect with European or American culture.

So what's going on in the field of culture, of art, is really amazing. And we should find there the inspiration also for many of the political problems we are now facing.

What we should now do and work (toward as) political leaders, as creative people, from the sciences, is precisely:
  • Proposing, not imposing, solutions.
  • Not imposing results, but proposing solutions.
  • Asking questions where we try to establish the links and the connectivities between creativity and innovation.
We need at the same time, all the benefits of the innovation that is now brought by technological discoveries; but (also) the creativity making, very often, the links with the old humanities.

This is where we bring the idea of connection -- using knowledge effectively from science AND culture (when I say "culture" I include the poetry, I include the arts) -- bringing together those aspects, not just technological innovation, but creativity of spirit.

And this is the kind of leadership we need -- leadership that brings humanism back into (the) question. In the European Union, we can give a contribution to this because we are trying to promote an open, outward-looking, engaged society. That is why I believe we have to do that with others (around) the world. Not with the old idea of sovereign states that try to rule the world, but precisely working with the member states, with the idea of a "community of interest" with an ethic of a global responsibility. In Europe we are well-placed to do that and we want to do that with our good friends around the world.
In the United States, we need to start advocating for a similar approach and taking deliberate steps to make policies that both support and apply creativity in our cities, states and nation. Perhaps we will begin to hear more specifics about "creative communities" from the U.S. presidential candidates (are we moving that direction?). Indeed, such a position might even help that candidate differentiate himself or herself from the other candidates -- and make an important contribution to 21st century challenges at home and abroad.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Huckabee: God designed kids to be creative

[25 September 2007 - Baptist Press] Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stressed the importance of music and art in education as he delivered a lecture at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., Sept. 24, noting that students made by a creative God should be encouraged in their own creativity. "I tend to think that one of the greatest mistakes in education over the past generation has been that many school districts have cut their budgets in music and art programs," said Huckabee, a 1976 graduate of Ouachita. "And in doing so, they've done one of the dumbest things that could ever be done that really is harmful to students in this country." ... Some would think CEOs are looking for technical talents, but actually they're looking for creativity, he said. "It's not simply people who know something but people who have imagination in knowing what to do with what they know," Huckabee said. A former Ouachita trustee, Huckabee recommended that students read a book by Richard Florida, "The Rise of the Creative Class," in which the author predicts that the future economy will be driven not by those who are strong in technology, agriculture or manufacturing but those who are creative. "The accommodation of the creative class really is the foundation for the future of our nation's economic strength," Huckabee said. More

Exhibition Review: Jane Jacobs, Foe of Plans and Friend of City Life

[25 September 2007 - New York Times] Nearly a half century ago, at the dawn of an era renowned for its utopian dreams and dystopian diagnoses, a journalist who loved the American city wrote an attack on all the professional planners and idealists who believed they could design the perfect urban habitat, the city beautiful, a metropolitan Eden. Forget it, was the message Jane Jacobs elegantly hammered home in that 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” There is no utopia to be found. And every fantasy of such a paradise — the Modernist towers of Le Corbusier, the Garden Cities of Ebenezer Howard, the cleared slums and ribboned roadways of Robert Moses — has led to urban desolation and ruin. At the time she wrote her book, cities were beginning to totter like drunken derelicts seeking lampposts for support. As an exhibition opening today at the Municipal Art Society reminds us, Jane Jacobs did not believe that planners could ever restore life to American cities. Instead she put her faith in the chaos of urban life, in diversity, in people — the grocery store owner, the young mother, the child playing in the street, the watchful busybodies leaning out of windows. Cities were at their best, she wrote, when the “ballet of the sidewalks” was evident, a dance that was intrinsically “spontaneous and untidy.” Her prescription was simply not to get in its way. ... As a demonstration of some of Jacobs’s most important ideas, such displays are excellent; they focus on “four key qualities of healthy, vibrant cities”: 1) Streets should have mixed use, with retail and residences mingled. 2) Streets should be frequent, without too many long blocks, thus encouraging interaction and exploration. 3) Buildings should be varied in purpose and design and, ideally, date from different eras. And 4) urban concentration is important and encourages diversity. More

“Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York” continues through Jan. 5 at the Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Avenue, at 51st Street; (212) 935-3960.

Robert Whitcomb: Aging with the arts

[14 September 2007 - Providence Journal] With the aging of the U.S. population, the specter of Alzheimer’s looms ever larger. After all, the fastest-growing cohort of the population is 85 and older. But we should not consider Alzheimer’s a problem only for people in their 60s and older. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 250,000 to 600,000 people in America have early onset of the disease. There are devastating cases affecting people in their 50s, 40s and even late 30s. This needs more attention from medical researchers. As often happens in medicine, treatment can come from strange places. For instance, a current study in the journal Neurology suggests that statin drugs, taken to ward off heart attacks in people with high cholesterol, can help to at least slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Consuming coffee, believe it or not, may also be helpful. New medications to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s are being investigated at Boston University ( www.bualzresearch.org; [617] 414-1078) and elsewhere. While we await medical breakthroughs, there are lifestyle actions that we can take to fend off dementia as long as we can and to help make patients’ lives comfortable. ... Another strategy is using the arts to retain, or reawaken, our core identities. In her book, I Remember Better When I Paint, Berna Huebner movingly describes, through the case of one patient, how some demented elderly people can be reconnected to themselves and their pasts with the help of art students who work with them in creating art. More

Creative Economy Conference Report Now Available

[26 September 2007 - Vermont Council on Rural Development] The Vermont Council on Rural Development's summer conference, Advancing Vermont's Creative Economy, drew over 250 participants from across the state. They were eager to share their stories, strategies and questions about growing a vibrant economy rooted in creativity, entrepreneurship and Vermont values. The State House event celebrated successes to date. It also provided a framework that allowed attendees to focus on current challenges and recommend specific policies to advance this work in Vermont. Eight working groups looked at different aspects of this emerging sector, covering topics such as agricultural innovation, incubating creative new businesses, using the web as a creative tool, and developing downtown activity. The conference report, including priority recommendations, notes from each working group, a summary of the panel discussion and texts of key speakers is now available. Full Report (PDF)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vision Problems

[March/April 2006 - Your Church - Christianity Today] ... As futile as it is to depend on past successes, adopting the current methods of others can be equally impotent. Mimicking the successful strategies of others is enticing to some leaders because it eliminates the need to think. Martin Luther King Jr. lamented the shortage of leaders willing to pay the price of prolonged, creative, problem-solving thinking. He concluded: "There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think." ... A painfully common motivation behind many leaders is vanity. People cast a vision for their organization based on what will bring them the most personal success or praise. The growth of the organization merely feeds the leader's pride. Countless businesses have crumbled under leaders with self-serving motives. Churches have been saddled with crippling debts as they sought to repay bills incurred by former pastors looking to make a name for themselves. More

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Brain study shows a sharp political divide

[10 September 2007 - Baltimore Sub] Research finds conservatives are firm in their ideas, liberals more open to ambiguity ... Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work. Scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles showed through a simple experiment to be reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience that political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information. Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments, whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions. More

Smarts require teamwork in the brain

[11 September 2007 - MSNBC] Like memory, human intelligence is probably not confined to a single area in the brain, but is instead the result of multiple brain areas working in concert, a new review of research suggests. The review by Richard Haier of the University of California, Irvine, and Rex Jung of the University of New Mexico proposes a new theory that identifies areas in the brain that work together to determine a person's intelligence. More

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

User Innovation in the Catholic Church: Dioceses of Cologne launches idea competition platform

[10 September 2007 - Mass Customization & Open Innovation News] This is the last sign that there is something behind user & open innovation: The Catholic Church has started an online open innovation idea competition (well, one could say that the entire church IS a lead user invention anyway). KJG, the Catholic youth organization of Cologne, one of Germany’s largest dioceses, just launched a web site where young people are encouraged to submit ideas what they want to change at the Catholic Church. The website aenderwas.de (German for „Make a change“) broadly asks for ideas and suggestions. You can either submit a short idea or comment, or upload a long suggestion (perhaps for a real innovative interior design of a Church that you would like to see; or the tunes of a song you would like to sing …). Interestingly, they also ask one of the easiest but often neglected questions: If you don’t go to church, why? More

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

U.S. Faces 'Reverse Brain Drain' from Immigration Woes, Study Warns

[22 August 2007 - WRAL] Foreign entrepreneurs, scientists, skilled workers and students are growingly increasingly frustrated with U.S. immigration laws, and many are returning home, a new study shows. The result: The United States is facing what the researchers call a “reverse brain drain.” That’s the bottom line in a new report written in part by Triangle entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa and other researchers at the Kauffman Foundation and other universities. “For the first time in its history, the United States faces the prospect of a reverse brain-drain,” Wadhwa said in a letter that addressed highlights of the study. “So far, the U.S. has the benefit of attracting the worlds best and brightest. They have typically come here for the freedom and economic opportunities that America offers. More
See also: Harvard: 'Reverse Brain Drain' To Hurt Silicon Valley ... Researchers: Massive Increase In Permanent Visas Needed More

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Play, Spirit + Character

[23 August 2007 - Speaking of Faith - American Public Media] Stuart Brown, a physician and director of the National Institute for Play, says that pleasurable, purposeless activity prevents violence and promotes trust, empathy, and adaptability to life's complication. He promotes cutting-edge science on human play, and draws on a rich universe of study of intelligent social animals. More

A longer day, but less time for play: New kindergarten is more rigorous

[26 August 2007 - Baltimore Sun] ... All-day kindergarten has also come under fire from some researchers who warn that when a regimented kindergarten curriculum squeezes out imaginative play, learning and knowledge retention are stunted. "Kindergarten has become the new first grade. We're so afraid that if we don't shove facts in, the children will fall forever behind, [and] schools have whipped themselves into an academic frenzy to push students to learn faster and earlier," said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a Temple University psychology professor and author of Einstein Never Used Flashcards. Her work highlights a philosophical split between those who say the best learning occurs when a child explores concepts through play, and policymakers who push for a structured approach with more testing to see who is and isn't learning. More

Two Infusions of Vision to Bolster New Orleans

[28 August 2007 - New York Times] In the two years since Hurricane Katrina, what has the rebuilding effort produced? No grand designs. No inspired vision for the future of New Orleans. There have been only a handful of earnest, grass-roots proposals to preserve what’s left of the historic fabric. Amid this atmosphere of malaise, two recently announced projects for downtown New Orleans stand out as the first truly creative attempts to foster the city’s resurrection. The first, an extravagant proposal for a new New Orleans National Jazz Center and park by Morphosis, is the most significant work of architecture proposed in the city since the Superdome. The second, a six-mile-long park and mixed-use development along the Mississippi, designed by TEN Arquitectos, Hargreaves Associates and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, would undo decades of misguided building on the riverfront. More

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bloomberg Announces Plan to Shore Up Arts in Schools

[24 July 2007 - New York Times] Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced yesterday that the city’s Department of Education will require all schools to maintain arts programs, and that principals will be rated in their annual reviews on how well they run those programs. The announcement came just months after the department infuriated arts groups by eliminating a multimillion-dollar program to finance arts education. Under a new set of city standards, the arts curriculums will be judged for comprehensiveness, and potential pay bonuses for principals could be affected. More

Friday, July 13, 2007

Richard Florida to Head Centre in Toronto: Reverse brain drain brings urban expert to U of T

[11 July 2007 - Toronto Star] Writing about America's "looming creativity crisis," renowned urban thinker Richard Florida nearly three years ago warned that religious intolerance and tightening security might chase away its best and brightest. "Terrorism is less a threat to the United States than the possibility that creative and talented people will stop wanting to live within its borders," Florida wrote in the Harvard Business Review in October 2004. "The nation must act in concrete ways to reassure both people – both Americans and global citizens – that it values openness, diversity and tolerance." Now, the best-selling author is proving his own prediction. Florida, 49, a public policy professor at George Mason University in Virginia, is coming to the University of Toronto as a professor of business economics in the Rotman School of Management. Florida will head the school's new $120 million Centre for Jurisdictional Advantage and Prosperity. It will study how cities, regions and provinces can attract individuals to study, live and work, and companies to start up, locate and grow. More

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Innovation a key theme at NECC 2007

[3 July 2007 - eSchool News Online] Futurist Andrew Zolli challenges educators to help students find their ‘creative center.’ ...  From new standards that describe what students should be able to demonstrate with technology, to a keynote speech by futurist and author Andrew Zolli, creativity and innovation were central ideas at this year's National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta. ... The need to produce a generation of students who are creative thinkers and innovators was a key theme at this year’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in Atlanta. More

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Arts Mean Business

[26 June 2007 - Arts & Business Council of Rhode Island] Having a rich tradition in the arts isn't old fashioned, it's cutting edge. American cities are finally realizing the economic impact that the arts have on the economy and quality of life and Providence has proven itself to be the leader of the pack. Mayor Ciccillini recently hosted a breakfast to announce the findings of a study conducted by Americans for the Arts. More (PDF)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

National Religious Gathering Explores Faith, Science, Creativity and Society

[24 June 2007 - By Steven Dahlberg - From the United Church of Christ General Synod, Hartford, Connecticut] Yesterday, I attended the "Synod in the City" as part of the United Church of Christ's General Synod. The Synod is taking place in Hartford, Connecticut, for several days and has drawn more than 10,000 people from around the country. The UCC is celebrating is fiftieth anniversary during this General Synod.

The "Synod in the City" was designed to engage the broader community with the UCC members and delegates in learning, playing and worshiping together throughout downtown Hartford. Several keynote presenters spoke throughout the day and I offer some brief summaries below (with more to come). The themes from these presentations not only touched on faith, religion and theology, but on creativity, purposeful life, science, culture, society and politics. The day opened with a presentation by journalist Bill Moyers (video), followed in the afternoon with a keynote from Senator Barack Obama (video) -- both UCC members.

Many of the presentations will eventually be available online. Monday will feature a keynote (2:30 p.m. EDT) by Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund.

FROM SATURDAY, JUNE 23, 2007:


Walter Brueggemann: An Old Testament scholar and writer who has authored more than 58 books, hundreds of articles, and several commentaries on books of the Bible. His most recent book is Theology of the Old Testament.
  • Biblical stories help us explore "what is valued and who is valued."
  • It is the poets who help us imagine "that the world can be organized differently."
  • "The poets notice" -- not the ideologues, the moralists.
  • Talking about 9/11 -- "the poets go to the depth of crisis and reach into God's conflicted heart."
  • Jeremiah offers two triads for the church and society: one is the trajectory of death (wealth, might and wisdom) and the other is a trajectory of life (love, justice and righteousness). The latter adheres with the divine purpose for life -- and it's something "all of the church needs to be talking about."
  • Talking about differences in the church, he said, we need to "learn to care with dignity and respect" for those who do not sign on to this particular agenda.
  • "Anxiety is the main pathology in our society to which pastors must respond." This anxiety is generated by our focus on wealth, might and wisdom, as well as our focus on never being good enough. He said there is a "deliberate program of inadequate productivity that leaves everyone" ineffective and unproductive.
Ray Kurzweil: This author, inventor and futurist explores the relationship between humans and the machines we've created.
He began his remarks by sharing his faith background as a Unitarian, in which he developed a life-long desire to keep learning about truth, a thirst for knowledge, and a way of living informed by the Golden Rule.
  • He said fashioned himself an inventor at five years old, though he doesn't know exactly why. However, "the key to invention is timing." He said many inventors get their products to work, but the timing to bring them to market or to have an impact in society is sometimes off.
  • For many years, he has worked on predictions about technology and its impact. He said specifics are not predictable, but the overall impact of technology is. Yet people often don't pay attention to such predictions: "Exponential growth is seductive and surprising."
  • He demonstrated one of his inventions: a hand-held device that blind people can use on the move to read signs, books and other printed material. The device has camera imaging technology, software and a voice reader.
  • For Kurzweil, the connection between technology and faith has to do with our "quest for deeper meaning and to understand more of the world."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

NCPR News Forum explores aging and creativity

[20 June 2007 - North Country Public Radio] Mercy Care of the Adirondacks and Paul Smiths College will host a forum on Tuesday, June 26th, on creativity and creating elder-friendly communities. The guest speaker will be Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University. Mercy Care of the Adirondacks Executive Director Donna Beal says many communities in the region are seeing changes in health and long-term care, and people are living longer. She spoke with Todd Moe. More (includes audio)

Saudi Students Showcase Innovation at National Final of Software Design Tournament

[19 June 2007 - Al Bawaba - Saudi Arabia] The best and brightest young minds of the Kingdom were on show today as Microsoft Saudi Arabia proudly announced the winning team to represent the country at their international Imagine Cup finals due to take place in Seoul, South Korea in August. The Imagine Cup is one way in which Microsoft is encouraging young people to apply their imagination, passion, and creativity to develop technological innovations that can make a difference in the world today. Now in its fifth year, the Imagine Cup has grown to be a truly global competition, with close to 100,000 registered entrants from all around the world, striving for the unique opportunity to present their ideas to an international audience of millions. More

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What Else Is New?

[14 May 2007 - The New Yorker - by Steven Shapin] How uses, not innovations, drive human technology. ... The way we think about technology tends to elide the older things, even though the texture of our lives would be unrecognizable without them. And when we do consider technology in historical terms we customarily see it as a driving force of progress: every so often, it seems, an innovation—the steam engine, electricity, computers—brings a new age into being. In “The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900” (Oxford; $26), David Edgerton, a well-known British historian of modern military and industrial technology, offers a vigorous assault on this narrative. He thinks that traditional ways of understanding technology, technological change, and the role of technology in our lives, have been severely distorted by what he calls “the innovation-centric account” of technology. The book is a provocative, concise, and elegant exercise in intellectual Protestantism, enthusiastically nailing its iconoclastic theses on the door of the Church of Technological Hype: no one is very good at predicting technological futures; new and old technologies coexist; and technological significance and technological novelty are rarely the same—indeed, a given technology’s grip on our awareness is often in inverse relationship to its significance in our lives. Above all, Edgerton says that we are wrong to associate technology solely with invention, and that we should think of it, rather, as evolving through use. A “history of technology-in-use,” he writes, yields “a radically different picture of technology, and indeed of invention and innovation.” More

Monday, June 18, 2007

Report: NCLB has changed teaching, not always for better

[15 June 2007 - Education Week] Educators are adjusting their teaching practices in response to No Child Left Behind, but not always in ways policymakers might want, according to a three-year RAND study. Sizable percentages of teachers in California, Georgia and Pennsylvania say they spend more time on test-taking strategies, focus more narrowly on tested topics and tailor teaching to students just below the proficiency cutoffs. More

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Value of Openness in Scientific Problem Solving

[11 June 2007 Harvard Business School Working Knowledge - by Karim R. Lakhani, Lars Bo Jeppesen, Peter A. Lohse, and Jill A. Panetta] Scientists are generally rewarded for discoveries they make as individuals or in small teams. While the sharing of information in science is an ideal, it is seldom practiced. In this research, Lakhani et al. used an approach common to open source software communities -- which rely intensely on collaboration -- and opened up a set of 166 scientific problems from the research laboratories of twenty-six firms to over 80,000 independent scientists. The outside scientists were able to solve one-third of the problems that the research laboratories were unable to solve internally. More

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Biology of the Imagination

[Summer/Fall 2007 - Entelechy - By Simon Baron-Cohen] In what sense might something as intrinsically human as the imagination be biological? How could the products of the imagination -- a novel, a painting, a sonata, a theory -- be thought of as the result of biological matter? After all, such artifacts are what culture is made of. So why invoke biology? In this essay, I will argue that the content of the imagination is of course determined more by culture than biology. But the capacity to imagine owes more to biology than culture. More

Monday, June 04, 2007

Local view: Now could be creative turning point for Duluth

[2 June 2007 - Duluth News Tribune - Opinion by Steven Dahlberg] There is a common perception that creativity is simply about art and artists. Yet it was an artist, Joseph Beuys, who said: “Everyone is an artist.”

As the Duluth-Superior area proceeds into the Knight Creative Communities Initiative, it’s important to consider how to engage everyone’s creativity — not just that of artists or the creative class — in community and economic development.

Creativity matters in business, education, nonprofits, government, arts and neighborhoods. It matters for children in school, for professionals in the workplace and for retirees in the community.

For more than 15 years, I’ve been working internationally in the field of creativity, advocating for the importance of creative thinking and helping people unleash and harness more of their inherent creative abilities.

Yet my creative endeavors began in Duluth as a teenage entrepreneur, a freelance writer and photographer and a political junkie. I am delighted to know that the Duluth-Superior area was among just three cities chosen by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to work with economist Richard Florida.

In my work, I’ve repeatedly seen people discover through creativity what gives them purpose and meaning and then begin to translate those desires into concrete realities. As a result of this insight, I’ve been exploring how we might be more intentional about helping people become better creative thinkers and do more of what gives them a sense of purpose.

This is engagement — doing what we love, what we are good at, what gives us meaning, what makes us happy and what uses our strengths. Tapping into this is what the KCCI is all about.

The Duluth-Superior area, like many regions, faces the challenge of engaging as many people as possible in creating a positive community. The risk of not doing this is creating a community with stagnant job growth, environmental losses, schools that resemble factories and people who flee the decay or stay because they don’t care.

Creativity is key to engaging people and can be pursued in many areas.

We can deliberately teach for creativity — helping students learn how to think in new ways, develop their strengths, imagine alternatives and generate ideas.

We can develop cultures of creativity in organizations, where everyone’s creativity is encouraged and valued and leads to transformational innovations in products and services.

We can link entrepreneurship, research and creativity so that people know how to translate great ideas into real businesses, producing more jobs and a flourishing community.

We can help pre-retirees and seniors use creativity to identify their purpose and ways in which to express this in their community. Many are living longer and healthier than ever before. “Checking out” of the community after full-time work isn’t an option.

We can get citizens involved in the democratic process by applying their creative thinking and problem-solving. Creativity provides a process for dialogue, better understanding and integrating diverse viewpoints.

We can shape economic development opportunities that are based on explicit creativity goals, along with traditional objectives. We need to learn to consciously talk about development in a creativity context.

We can use public art to beautify public space, and to involve community members in conceptualizing and creating the art itself.

We can engage nonprofits and faith communities not only in serving their communities, but actively imagining and creating them as well.

Any community in America can pursue these opportunities. Whether it’s cities like Duluth, the inner city of North Minneapolis or the former New England mill town where I live now, the challenge remains the same: How might we deliberately apply our creativity, engage in personally meaningful activities and improve the quality of life in our city or neighborhood?

My experience growing up in Duluth in the 1980s incorporated three of the “Ts” that Richard Florida describes: talent, tolerance and territory.

My talents of today were seeded in Duluth — in schools, at the public library, in small businesses, in political involvement and in volunteering. Plus, I benefited from mentors, teachers and parents who recognized and encouraged my strengths and talents.

In Duluth, I first learned to appreciate the value of immigrants and the importance of social justice. I became open to diverse ideas, arts, creativity and politics.

Duluth instills an authentic sense of place, blending its unmatched natural assets with built amenities — from hiking, skiing, picnics and the lake to more recently added amenities such as the Lakewalk, coffee shops and cool entrepreneurial businesses.

Hopefully, May 2007 will be a turning point for the Duluth Superior Area — where the creative capacity of each individual is recognized, the future is imagined together and the common good is enhanced through collective creative expression. The time is now to transform the raw materials of the past 20 years into the vibrant creative community waiting to be born.

Steven Dahlberg is a native of Duluth, a writer and principal of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, a creativity consulting firm based in Willimantic, Conn.

Make Your Company a Talent Factory

[June 2007 - Harvard Business Review - by Douglas A. Ready and Jay A. Conger] Stop losing out on lucrative business opportunities because you don’t have the talent to develop them. ... Despite the great sums of money companies dedicate to talent management systems, many still struggle to fill key positions--limiting their potential for growth in the process. Virtually all the human resource executives in the authors' 2005 survey of 40 companies around the world said that their pipeline of high-potential employees was insufficient to fill strategic management roles. The survey revealed two primary reasons for this. First, the formal procedures for identifying and developing next-generation leaders have fallen out of sync with what companies need to grow or expand into new markets. To save money, for example, some firms have eliminated positions that would expose high-potential employees to a broad range of problems, thus sacrificing future development opportunities that would far outweigh any initial savings from the job cuts. Second, HR executives often have trouble keeping top leaders' attention on talent issues, despite those leaders' vigorous assertions that obtaining and keeping the best people is a major priority. If passion for that objective doesn't start at the top and infuse the culture, say the authors, talent management can easily deteriorate into the management of bureaucratic routines. Yet there are companies that can face the future with confidence. These firms don't just manage talent, they build talent factories. The authors describe the experiences of two such corporations--consumer products icon Procter & Gamble and financial services giant HSBC Group--that figured out how to develop and retain key employees and fill positions quickly to meet evolving business needs. Though each company approached talent management from a different direction, they both maintained a twin focus on functionality (rigorous talent processes that support strategic and cultural objectives) and vitality (management's emotional commitment, which is reflected in daily actions). More

At 3M, A Struggle Between Efficiency And Creativity: How CEO George Buckley is managing the yin and yang of discipline and imagination

[11 June 2007 - Business Week] Not too many years ago, the temple of management was General Electric (GE ). Former CEO Jack Welch was the high priest, and his disciples spread the word to executive suites throughout the land. One of his most highly regarded followers, James McNerney, was quickly snatched up by 3M after falling short in the closely watched race to succeed Welch. 3M's board considered McNerney a huge prize, and the company's stock jumped nearly 20% in the days after Dec. 5, 2000, when his selection as CEO was announced. The mere mention of his name made everyone richer. McNerney was the first outsider to lead the insular St. Paul (Minn.) company in its 100-year history. He had barely stepped off the plane before he announced he would change the DNA of the place. His playbook was vintage GE. McNerney axed 8,000 workers (about 11% of the workforce), intensified the performance-review process, and tightened the purse strings at a company that had become a profligate spender. He also imported GE's vaunted Six Sigma program—a series of management techniques designed to decrease production defects and increase efficiency. Thousands of staffers became trained as Six Sigma "black belts." The plan appeared to work: McNerney jolted 3M's moribund stock back to life and won accolades for bringing discipline to an organization that had become unwieldy, erratic, and sluggish. Then, four and a half years after arriving, McNerney abruptly left for a bigger opportunity, the top job at Boeing (BA ). Now his successors face a challenging question: whether the relentless emphasis on efficiency had made 3M a less creative company. That's a vitally important issue for a company whose very identity is built on innovation. More

3M's Battle Between Efficiency and Creativity: Inside Innovation Issue #5

[May 31, 2007- Business Week's NussbaumOnDesign - Bruce Nussbaum] You see it again and again: Six Sigma versus Innovation. The latest issue of IN tackles that issue with an indepth look by Brian Hindo at how 3M lost much of its creativity in search of process efficiency and how it got it back. Some companies--Bank of America, Starwood and others--appear to have found that balance between efficiency and creativity but it's rare and difficult to achieve. Sometimes they have to double-track the two processes and then link them up somewhere in the organization. More

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Two New 'Harvard Business Review' Articles About Creativity ...

[May 2007 - Harvard Business Review]

Picking Winners: A Conversation with MacArthur Fellows Program Director Daniel J. Socolow
What can business leaders learn from the organization that confers the storied "genius grants"? For one thing, that exceptional creativity is very hard to find. If you're looking for a way to pack your staff with outstanding talent, you're probably on the wrong track. ... In the business world, "creativity" has become the latest buzzword. How to attract, nurture, and direct the extraordinarily talented people who will come up with the next Lipitor, Sony Walkman, or iPod is an enduring topic among businesspeople. As the director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, Daniel J. Socolow has considerable experience with the process of rooting out creativity. In this conversation with HBR senior editor Diane Coutu, he describes how recipients of the "genius grant"--half a million dollars with no strings attached--are chosen. As significant as the money is, the recognition that comes with a fellowship may be more so. MacArthur grants provide powerful validation of the fellows' work, Socolow says, and that validation opens doors for people, whatever the field. Although the program keeps a lookout for entrepreneurs who are on the brink of major new advances, he believes that the market does a good job of rewarding the best ideas in the business. Replicating the MacArthur model in a company would entail giving some employees unlimited time and lots of money to follow their own inclinations--not very feasible in most contexts. Nevertheless, the program has learned a lesson that may be valuable for business: The kind of creativity that leads to important breakthroughs is extremely hard to find. And, says Socolow, exceptionally creative people aren't always the obvious suspects, who may simply be good at promoting themselves: "Listen to others and look in the least likely places ... Extend your networks and try to get information from as many people as possible, just as we do." More

Inner Work Life: Understanding the Subtext of Business Performance
New research shows how business performance is driven by workers' state of mind--and how managers, if they're not careful, can drive both down. Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer's new stream of research, based on more than 12,000 diary entries logged by knowledge workers over three years, reveals the dramatic impact of employees' inner work lives—their perceptions, emotions, and motivation levels—on several dimensions of performance. ... Anyone in management knows that employees have their good days and their bad days--and that, for the most part, the reasons for their ups and downs are unknown. Most managers simply shrug their shoulders at this fact of work life. But does it matter, in terms of performance, if people have more good days than bad days? Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer's new stream of research, based on more than 12,000 diary entries logged by knowledge workers over three years, reveals the dramatic impact of employees' inner work lives--their perceptions, emotions, and motivation levels--on several dimensions of performance. People perform better when their workday experiences include more positive emotions, stronger intrinsic motivation (passion for the work), and more favorable perceptions of their work, their team, their leaders, and their organization. What the authors also found was that managers' behavior dramatically affects the tenor of employees' inner work lives. So what makes a difference to inner work life? When the authors compared the study participants' best days to their worst days, they found that the single most important differentiator was their sense of being able to make progress in their work. The authors also observed interpersonal events working in tandem with progress events. Praise without real work progress, or at least solid efforts toward progress, had little positive impact on people's inner work lives and could even arouse cynicism. On the other hand, good work progress without any recognition--or, worse, with criticism about trivial issues--could engender anger and sadness. Far and away, the best boosts to inner work life were episodes in which people knew they had done good work and their managers appropriately recognized that work. More

New Book from Harvard Business School: Smart World: Breakthrough Creativity and the New Science of Ideas

[8 May 2007 - Harvard Business Online] Since ancient times, people have believed that breakthrough ideas come from the brains of geniuses with awesome rational powers. In recent years, however, the paradigm has begun to shift toward the notion that the source of creativity lies "out there," in the network of connections between people and ideas. In this provocative book, Richard Ogle crystallizes the nature of this shift, and boldly outlines "a new science of ideas." The key resides in what he calls "idea-spaces," a set of nodes in a network of people (and their ideas) that cohere and take on a distinctive set of characteristics leading to the generation of breakthrough ideas. These spaces are governed by nine laws--illuminated in individual chapters with fascinating stories of dramatic breakthroughs in science, business, and art. "Smart World" will change forever the way we think about creativity and innovation. More

Monday, May 07, 2007

Q&A: Rediscovering Schumpeter: The Power of Capitalism

[7 May 2007 - Harvard Business School Working Knowledge] Economist Joseph Schumpeter was perhaps the most powerful thinker ever on innovation, entrepreneurship, and capitalism. He was also one of the most unusual personalities of the 20th century, as Harvard Business School professor emeritus Thomas K. McCraw shows in a new biography. Read our interview and book excerpt. More

Monday, April 30, 2007

Are Entrepreneurs Down in the Dumps?

[27 April 2007 - BusinessWeek] Three recent surveys showed that small-business owners are more pessimistic about the economy and the future than they have been in years. ... A first-of-its-kind generational study conducted by American Express (AEXP) showed that a majority of Generation Y and Baby Boomer entrepreneurs are optimistic about the state of the U.S. economy. And large majorities—76% and 90%, respectively—of Gen Yers and Boomers described opening their own companies as "a good idea." More

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oops, I Did It Again: New brain research may help explain why some people don't seem to learn from their mistakes.

[24 April 2007 - Newsweek] Benjamin Franklin was no brain scientist. He was a keen observer of human behavior, and of the natural world, but he was a couple centuries too early to explore the intricate neuronal interplay of physics and biochemistry that makes us the people we are: healthy, wise, quirky, self-destructive. So, when he famously defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results," this 18th-century polymath was really being more intuitive than rigorously scientific. Yet it looks like he got it right. New neuropsychological research is now suggesting that the inability to learn from one's mistakes may indeed be at the root of a broad range of human problems, ranging from childhood bullying and truancy to aggressive acts like road rage to all manner of substance abuse. And this cognitive aberration, deep-wired into the neurons and genes, may even underlie the vagaries of normal human behavior and personality. (It's important in the wake of the tragic events at Virginia Tech to emphasize that this column is not about such deeply disturbed psychology.) More

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Leadership Forum: What is to be done?

[April 2007 - CIO Asia - By Teng Fang Yih & Christopher Koch] Now’s the time for CIOs to seize opportunities to reinvent the innovation process at their organisations. ... At the IBM-sponsored CIO Leadership Summit immediately preceding the annual CIO Awards & Conference 2007 at Raffles Hotel on 23 March 2007, more than 50 of the nation’s and region’s senior information executives packed a room to hear some bad news, and some good news. They were welcomed by newly anointed managing director of IBM Singapore, Teresa Lim. The editor of this magazine then set the tone for the rest of the session, aligning it with the theme and purpose of the entire CIO Awards & Conference 2007 programme: technology deployment and its role, as well as that of its leaders, in driving innovation in today’s global economy.  More specifically, it was about why the CIO and his IS division is often not involved in innovation, and how that must be changed, considering their special place within every large organisation today: at its core as the enablers and collectively the lifeblood of every single process. The top executives on the day were reminded of the fact that their mission was driving innovation.  Innovation. Not merely supporting and enabling the business, but about enhancing, then generating, creating and transforming their businesses, industries and economies. This is an important imperative for delegates at the forum to move after. As companies all over the world seek more and better ideas, their top executives in IT should seize the opportunity now to reinvent the innovation process by enabling their business people to collaborate, and by making IT an engine for business growth. More

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bringing Einstein back down to earth: Walter Isaacson delves into the private life of a genius

[13 April 13 2007- Houston Chronicle - Book Review by Steve Weinberg of "EINSTEIN: His Life and Universe," by Walter Isaacson] Words like "relativity" and "quantum theory" are part of the everyday lexicon, but for nonscientists they can be baffling as well as familiar. That means a biography of Albert Einstein may seem daunting to many readers. Walter Isaacson gives you one that isn't. Isaacson is a journalist, not a scientist. He undertook the challenge of explaining Einstein's physics for a nonspecialist readership because it is challenging. Tautology intended. ... As Isaacson recounts the growth and maturity of a genius, he fills the biography with psychological insights that grow organically from his intense study of the man. He tells us, for example, that "as a young student [Einstein] never did well with rote learning. And later, as a theorist, his success came not from the brute strength of his mental processing power but from his imagination and creativity. He could construct complex equations, but, more important, he knew that math was the language nature uses to describe her wonders." More

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Engaging Creativity in the Classroom ... and the Community

[29 March 2007 - The Chronicle, Willimantic, Connecticut - Opinion by Steven Dahlberg, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination] Last Wednesday, I was awed to be sitting among the Windham High School Young Poets Group at The Bushnell in Hartford. Erin Gruwell – the real-life teacher upon whom the "Freedom Writers" movie is based – recognized these young artists in her very first comments on stage.

Windham teacher Lynn Frazier wrote to Gruwell, telling her about the impassioned work of her young poets. She told Gruwell about what a difference writing makes for these students, about the impact Gruwell's story had on them, and about how these students had fundraisers and a
pancake breakfast to go hear Gruwell tell her story.

Before going on stage, Gruwell read that letter and was moved to tears. She then entered a nearly packed auditorium and singled out the 30 Windham High School students – telling them to stand up, thanking them for their work and for being there, and acknowledging them several more times during her speech.

As a Willimantic resident, I am proud to know that these students are in my neighborhood everyday, learning through writing and creative expression how to discover their potential and uniqueness.

I am also aware that the opportunities for such learning do not happen frequently enough, especially for high school students. Some argue that it's too late to provide "extra" activities, such as arts and creative thinking, that it won't make a difference in these teenagers' lives.

Yet, as the "Freedom Writers" movie and the Windham Young Poets demonstrate, sometimes expressing oneself with pen and paper is the ONLY thing keeping some students engaged in school.

Our challenge as a community is how to provide more learning opportunities like this, which focus on students' strengths and talents, on what's working and connecting, and on the hope and possibilities of these individuals.

Our community grows and thrives when people's creative capital is expressed in positive ways. These young people provide one example of how each of us might contribute in unique ways to developing our community. What next …?

Creativity is ...

[12 March 2007 – Steve Dahlberg, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination] Participants at the "Creative Wisdom Workshop: Composing a Creative Life" at the Hartford Public Library (Hartford, Connecticut) generated the following definitions of creativity last month.

CREATIVITY IS …

* Looking at the ordinary and seeing what others don't see
* Passion – being own voice
* Responding to conflict
* Coming out from under
* Inspiration
* Energy
* Perseverance
* Universal
* Sharing
* Spontaneous
* Intuitive
* Your own way of interpreting of things around you
* Coming with your own ideas
* Drawing, dancing, walking, singing
* Unique, genuine, given easily, capable, reliable
* Freedom to think of new ideas and ways of doing things
* Sense of bringing to well-being
* New interest, focus, happiness, fulfillment
* Thinking out of the box
* Ideas practically formulated into reality
* Imagination acting on life
* Spiritual – from God
* Co-creator with the divine
* Being able to visualize
* Bring unrelated resources together to make something new
* Making something from nothing
* Tapping into the great unconscious