Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Museums alienate public from arts, says think-tank Demos

[9 December 2008 - Telegraph - London, UK] Most people feel "alienated" from the arts because many of the people who run them are "cultural snobs" who believe pursuits like opera and theatre need to be "defended from the mob," according to the think-tank Demos. More

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tony Buzan: Brain play - the never-ending story

[15 December 2008 -] It's hard not to feel exhausted after talking to Tony Buzan, the brain-power guru best known for his Mind Mapping techniques, for Buzan is a man who never tires, who endlessly achieves and whose commendable positive attitude never fails - he is a veritable example of how to enjoy life to the full. Annie Hayes reports. ... Plus, "Seven Steps to Making a Mind Map." More

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Creative Thinking ... and Being

"Touch me with madness, that I might dance out this frenzy of reason." — James DePreist

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obama on Arts, Education, Science and Discovery in the White House

7 December 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg

A few hours ago, at the end of his interview with Tom Brokaw, President-Elect Barack Obama talked about the importance of culture, arts, education and science.
[7 December 2008 - NBC Meet the Press] MR. BROKAW: Let me ask you as we conclude this program this morning about whether you and Michelle have had any discussions about the impact that you're going to have on this country in other ways besides international and domestic policies. You're going to have a huge impact, culturally, in terms of the tone of the country.


MR. BROKAW: Who are the kinds of artists that you would like to bring to the White House?

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Oh, well, you know, we have thought about this because part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and, and remind people this is, this is the people's house. There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education. Yes, we're going to have an education policy. Yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But, ultimately, we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House. When it comes to science, elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about. Thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. I--you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we're going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead. I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House. More: Full Text of Interview (plus video)
Using the White House as a bully pulpit to promote ideas, creativity and learning would be a marked switch from the past eight years. What topics, people and ideas do you want to see showcased within these domains?

With Obama raising such possibilities, it's a good reminder to sign the petition online to support Quincy Jones' idea for Obama to create a Secretary of the Arts cabinet position, too.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

On Creativity

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a
dancing star." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

Friday, December 05, 2008

Encourage Obama to Create 'Secretary of the Arts' Cabinet Position


    To:  President-Elect Barack Obama

    Congratulations and thank you for all you do.

    Your good friend Quincy Jones said: " conversation I have with President Obama is to beg for a Secretary of Arts."
    [November 14th 2008 WNYC interview by John Schaefer on "Soundcheck."]

    We the undersigned support Quincy Jones' plea.

Sign the petition here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kresge Foundation President Urges Foundations to Help Revitalize American Cities

[12 November 2008 - Kresge Foundation Press Release (via Philanthropy News Digest)] Private philanthropy must work at the heart, rather than at the margins, of the complex economic, social, political, and environmental problems plaguing American cities in order to contribute meaningfully to their revitalization and success, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson said at last week's CEOs for Cities national meeting. Speaking to an audience of mayors, corporate executives, and other urban leaders, Rapson applauded the work done by philanthropy in helping nonprofits improve the daily lives of millions of individuals in communities around the nation, but added that ways must be found to address the underlying problems that perpetuate those needs. Citing success stories in four urban areas, he urged large, privately endowed foundations to behave strategically with respect to cities by helping establish a vision for concerted action, working to align civic actors, aggregating risk capital, and connecting low-income people to the mainstream economy. Rapson emphasized the importance of strengthening cities by identifying bridges between low-income communities and regional economic opportunities and noted the work being carried out in Detroit through the New Economy Initiative, a $100 million fund established by the Kresge Foundation and nine other national, regional, and local foundations. Unless we identify and influence long-term leverage points capable of moving intricately interrelated public, private, and civic systems, we will make no contribution to breaking calcified patterns of disinvestment, inequality, and injustice," Rapson said. "We will not, in a word, make any enduring improvement in our citizens' day-to-day quality of life and their long-term trajectories of opportunity." Read the complete version of Rapson's remarks here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A call for guts

[November 2008 - Ode Magazine - By Frances Moore Lappe] Like a lot of us, I keep asking myself, How did we get into this mess? Since humans have innate needs and capacities for cooperation, empathy and fairness, which science now confirms, why does so much suffering and destruction continue? For many, the answer seems obvious: Humans just aren't good enough; we need to become better people; we need to overcome selfishness and evolve into more caring and cooperative creatures. I disagree. More

Potential of Facebook to transform the future ...

Facebook and other social networking media is connecting people everywhere, everyday, all the time. Barack Obama's election is one example of the power of such technology in politics -- with the pending experiment and challenge of whether the same might apply in governing. Journalist Mona Eltahawy explores (below) how Facebook might help transform the Middle East.

Another potential area to consider ... How might social networking media help link the creativity of citizens in small towns and rural communities to positively shape and transform their communities? Creative community development is not just an urban issue. What ideas do you have for how this might happen?
[Fall 2008 - World Policy Journal] Check out "The Middle East's Generation Facebook" article by Mona Eltahawy, who writes in this piece:
"In 2005, activists breached not just laws against public demonstrations, but taboos of protesting against Mubarak himself, with street protests that focused on Egypt and its internal discontents. But that movement was perhaps too early to rally the masses and was criticized for being out of touch with the needs of ordinary Egyptians. The recent Internet-inspired activism has flipped the script -- the needs of the masses have sparked a wave of unprecedented activism among young Egyptians. Bloggers have been instrumental in the conviction of police officers for torture and in getting neglected stories into the headlines. The Internet has given young people like Shahi a space that does not exist in the 'real world.' They're using it to create grassroots groups and communities that will eventually translate into a real presence in society, and this bodes well for their ability to influence the futures of their respective countries. Generation Facebook might not be able to change their regimes today, but in building communities and support groups online, they are creating the much-needed middle ground that countries like Egypt desperately require. And, sadly, it is surely in recognition of that nascent power that regimes as aging, paranoid, and powerful as Egypt's Mubarak now arrest, imprison, and harangue bloggers and online activists. ... As Generation Facebook grows older and more assured in its ability to organize and unite, it will be confronting a potentially inexperienced leader in the form of Gamal Mubarak with potentially tragic and unforeseen consequences. ... I am confident that Generation Facebook is planting the seeds of an opposition movement that gives Egyptians, and by extension the whole region, an alternative to the state and the mosque. In 2033, I will be 66 years old. Nothing would make me happier than to see Shahi, Ibrahim, and Maha make my dream come true." More (PDF)

Thursday, November 06, 2008


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." -- R. Buckminster Fuller

Saturday, October 25, 2008

De Smet and Dahlberg to Share Willimantic’s Creativity at World Cultural Economic Forum in New Orleans

[24 October 2008 - International Centre for Creativity and Imagination - Willimantic, Connecticut, USA] Town of Windham First Selectman Jean de Smet and Willimantic resident Steven Dahlberg will participate in multiple sessions at the World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF) in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 30 and 31. The WCEF will bring together cultural ambassadors and leaders from around the world to explore ways of building cultural economic development opportunities. It is hosted by Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

"Leaders from more than 50 countries are coming to Louisiana to take part in the WCEF," said Lt. Governor Landrieu. "Some of the world's brightest minds will be in New Orleans, dialoguing about best practices for growing cultural industries as a part of our global economy. Together, we will build economic opportunities by supporting creative and cultural industries such as food, film, music and art."

De Smet will represent Willimantic's stories of creativity and success in a panel on "Strategies for Developing Creative Industries," along with panelists from The Netherlands, Sweden, Romania, Ghana, South Africa, France and Ireland. This group will address programs and policies that support a productive cultural economy. They will share how countries and communities can address cultural economic development in all areas of the cultural economy – design, entertainment (film, music, live entertainment, and performing arts), literary arts and humanities, visual arts, culinary arts, and historic preservation.

Dahlberg, who heads the Willimantic-based International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, will chair a panel on "Engaging Creative Communities." This session will explore what creativity is, what it looks like in communities, how communities can engage citizens' creativity in shaping the community, and the poetry of cities. De Smet also will participate with panelists from Maine, New Orleans and England.

The WCEF includes three components: a two-day forum for world cultural economy leaders to explore best practices for growing cultural industries, a World Bazaar and Marketplace featuring artisans and vendors from around the world and across Louisiana, and more than 100 cultural Passport Events held across the state throughout October to showcase Louisiana's unique culture and heritage.

"We are delighted to sponsor the World Cultural Economic Forum in New Orleans this year," said Secretary Stephen Moret of Louisiana Economic Development. "The World Cultural Economic Forum provides Louisiana an opportunity to showcase its many assets to cultural economy leaders from around the world. The relationships we build with these leaders can yield investments in our economy for years to come."

World leaders from Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, Greece, France, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, The Netherlands, Pakistan, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom will be among those represented at the WCEF.

George Pataki, former governor of the state of New York, and Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, culture ambassador for the European Union, are among those leading sessions during the two-day Forum.

More about the WCEF

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eureka! How Distractions Facilitate Creative Problem-solving

[30 September 2008 - ScienceDaily] How many times have you spent hours slaving over an impossible problem, only to take a break and then easily solve the problem, sometimes within minutes of looking at it again? Although this is actually a common phenomenon, up until now the way that this occurs has been unclear. But new research in the September issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, demonstrates the answer is more complex than simply having an "Aha!" moment. The new research, led in part by Kellogg School of Management Professor Adam Galinsky, suggests that unconscious thought results in creative problem-solving via a two-step process. More

The Life Cycle of Great Business Ideas

[1 October 2008 - strategy+business - By Bridget Finn] With the right support and judgment, the corporate "heretics" of today could become tomorrow’s most effective leaders. Thomas Huxley wrote that new ideas begin as heresies and end as superstition. He was referring to Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species. The same might be said of management concepts today. In August, at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management in Anaheim, Calif., Art Kleiner brought together a group of distinguished management thinkers and practitioners to explore the evolution of management ideas. Kleiner is the editor-in-chief of strategy+business and author of The Age of Heretics: A History of the Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, which traces some of the leading management practices of our time to people who challenged the conventional wisdom of their companies in years past. This edited version of the panel discussion shows how, in a variety of ways, the quality of management thinking has made a difference -- and how the most compelling business practices often have countercultural roots. The panelists are known for their leadership in the domain of management ideas. More

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Predicting Future Happiness

[September 2008 - "Realism and Illusion in Americans' Temporal Views of Their Life Satisfaction" - PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE] Some people are naturally optimistic or pessimistic, but how accurately they predict the level of satisfaction they may attain in the future depends on a variety of factors, according to research published in PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE. In a study led by Brandeis University psychologist Margie Lachman, subjects were surveyed over a nine-year period. In the first survey, in 1995-1996, participants between the ages of 24 and 74 rated their satisfaction with life now, with life 10 years earlier, and with how life may be in another 10 years. They were asked the same questions again in 2004. Lachman and colleagues discovered that there are age-related differences in how individuals view both the past and the future; those age 65 and older rated the past and present equally satisfying but predicted that the future would be less satisfying. Those under age 65 were more optimistic about the future and believed they would be more satisfied a decade hence. "These more negative expectations from older adults may be their way of bracing for an uncertain future, a perspective that can serve a protective function in the face of losses and that can have positive consequences if life circumstances turn out to be better than expected," says Lachman. More

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gardner Promotes "Five Minds" for the Global Future

[29 September 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg - Report from the Global Creative Leadership Summit] "What kinds of minds do we want to cultivate?" asked Howard Gardner last week at the Global Creative Leadership Summit. "What kinds are most important?"

Gardner, who is a professor of education at Harvard University, described five minds that are important -- disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful and ethical -- and require different kinds of intelligence.

"You can't have it all," he said. "There are tensions between these kinds of mind." He suggested that education policies need to address these conflicting tensions. He further described each of these "minds":
  • DISCIPLINED: knowing something well and working on it.
  • SYNTHESIZING: the ability to deal with inundation of information; understanding what to pay attention to, what to ignore; and how to put this information together.
  • CREATING: thinking outside the box; having new ideas. "You can't think outside the box unless you have a box," said Gardner. "You need the disciplined mind, too."
  • ETHICAL: asking what one's responsibilities are as a worker or citizen; not "what are my rights?"
  • RESPECTFUL: more than tolerance of differences; cultivating respect and emotional and interpersonal intelligence.
Gardner added that sometimes respect and ethics can clash.

"You can't develop all these minds in every single person," he said. "The society in which one lives decides what we should be emphasizing." For example, Gardner pointed out that some East Asian countries overemphasized discipline at the expense of creativity.

"Each person needs to figure out the right blend of these minds," concluded Gardner.

Gardner shared these ideas during the Global Creative Leadership Summit opening session on "What If? Scenarios: The Futures of Globalization." It was held September 21, 2008, in New York.

ABOUT THE SUMMIT AND SPONSOR: The Global Creative Leadership Summit, sponsored by the Louise Blouin Foundation, is a three-day forum that brings together great international minds -- including heads of state, CEOs, Nobel Prize-winners and acclaimed artists -- to address pressing global issues, including geo-economics, foreign policy, education, health, poverty and climate change. The Summit also has a goal to work with developed and developing nations alike in order to best address global issues. The Louise Blouin Foundation is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a globalization platform to address challenges in such diverse areas as international trade, foreign policy, education and the environment through the lens of culture and neuroscience.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Are We Failing Our Geniuses?

[16 August 2007 - Time magazine] Any sensible culture would know what to do with Annalisee Brasil. The 14-year-old not only has the looks of a South American model but is also one of the brightest kids of her generation. When Annalisee was 3, her mother Angi Brasil noticed that she was stringing together word cards composed not simply into short phrases but into complete, grammatically correct sentences. After the girl turned 6, her mother took her for an IQ test. Annalisee found the exercises so easy that she played jokes on the testers--in one case she not only put blocks in the correct order but did it backward too. Angi doesn't want her daughter's IQ published, but it is comfortably above 145, placing the girl in the top 0.1% of the population. Annalisee is also a gifted singer: last year, although just 13, she won a regional high school competition conducted by the National Association of Teachers of Singing. Annalisee should be the star pupil at a school in her hometown of Longview, Texas. While it would be too much to ask for a smart kid to be popular too, Annalisee is witty and pretty, and it's easy to imagine she would get along well at school. But until last year, Annalisee's parents--Angi, a 53-year-old university assistant, and Marcelo, 63, who recently retired from his job at a Caterpillar dealership--couldn't find a school willing to take their daughter unless she enrolled with her age-mates. None of the schools in Longview--and even as far away as the Dallas area--were willing to let Annalisee skip more than two grades. She needed to skip at least three--she was doing sixth-grade work at age 7. Many school systems are wary of grade skipping even though research shows that it usually works well both academically and socially for gifted students--and that holding them back can lead to isolation and underachievement. So Angi home schooled Annalisee. But Angi felt something was missing in her daughter's life. Annalisee, whose three siblings are grown, didn't have a rich social network of other kids. By 13, she had moved beyond her mother's ability to meaningfully teach her. The family talked about sending her to college, but everyone was hesitant. Annalisee needed to mature socially. By the time I met her in February, she had been having trouble getting along with others. "People are, I must admit it, a lot of times intimidated by me," she told me; modesty isn't among her many talents. She described herself as "perfectionistic" and said other students sometimes had "jealousy issues" regarding her. The system failed Annalisee, but could any system be designed to accommodate her rare gifts? Actually, it would have been fairly simple (and virtually cost-free) to let her skip grades, but the lack of awareness about the benefits of grade skipping is emblematic of a larger problem: our education system has little idea how to cultivate its most promising students. Since well before the Bush Administration began using the impossibly sunny term "no child left behind," those who write education policy in the U.S. have worried most about kids at the bottom, stragglers of impoverished means or IQs. But surprisingly, gifted students drop out at the same rates as nongifted kids--about 5% of both populations leave school early. Later in life, according to the scholarly Handbook of Gifted Education, up to one-fifth of dropouts test in the gifted range. Earlier this year, Patrick Gonzales of the U.S. Department of Education presented a paper showing that the highest-achieving students in six other countries, including Japan, Hungary and Singapore, scored significantly higher in math than their bright U.S. counterparts, who scored about the same as the Estonians. Which all suggests we may be squandering a national resource: our best young minds. More

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Creativity, Education and the Brain

[22 September 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg - Reporting from the Global Creative Leadership Summit] In his introduction to the panel on "Education, Creativity and the Mind," neuroscientist and moderator Antonio Damasio raised several questions about the intersection of these three topics:
  • How might education promote cultural understanding? Not just skills and knowledge; but becoming citizens who understand the working of societies, or respect the well-being of the other.
  • How might culture be used to promote the well-being of others?
  • How might the arts and humanities fields be used in schools to promote cultural understanding?
Damasio is a professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute. He said classrooms and textbooks are no longer the necessary basis for what's going on in learning and education. When they are used, they need to be put to the right service to be effective.

He said one way that neuroscience can be used in support of education is to better understand how neurobiology illuminates the social process -- what brains are doing when they are engaged in social interaction..

Highlights and comments from the rest of this session:
  • "Play is a child's work," said Hasbro Chairman Alan Hassenfeld. He is also working to set up one global human rights standard for toy safety.
  • Seattle-based artist Susan Robb said she frequently asks students WHO they want to be rather than WHAT they want to be. She also suggested used Visual Thinking Strategies as a tool for helping young people understand art.
  • Architect Richard Meier said that new thinking and new ways of rebuilding our cities -- such as post-Katrina New Orleans -- are being ignored.
  • Australian neuroscientist Richard Silberstein said there's been an explosive pathologizing of ADHD with three- to nine-percent of the population supposedly afflicted by it. This caused him to wonder if some people being medicated for a pathological condition labeled "ADHD" might actually have something else going on. That is, might there be a spectrum of thinking styles, which ranges from more convergent and orderly thinking (the kind often found in classrooms) to more divergent and dynamic thinking. In a study that is just beginning to produce some results, he is finding connections between ADHD, high IQ and high levels of creativity. Using the Torrance Tests for Creative Thinking and neuroscience measurements, he is looking at connections between creative thinking and the way that regions of the brain communicate with each other. He said that the brain states required for focused work are not the same as those necessary for high creativity. Finally, he talked about the connection between motivation and hope and the importance of a neurobiology of hope. He said hopelessness lowers the neurotransmitters that make learning possible.
  • Allan Goodman, president and CEO of Institute of International Education, said brains need safety. He talked about the issues of mobility and safety for scholars, especially in countries with high levels of threats and violence.
  • Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Majid Fotuhi said that "learning requires a healthy brain." He pointed out the connection between obesity and dementia, and said that childhood obesity is affecting the brains of children both now and in the long term. Brains of overweight children do not get enough oxygen, which in turn affects the overall health and functioning of the brain.
  • Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talked about the importance of informal learning communities and how technology and informal processes can enhance and encourage creative exploration and the playing with ideas.
  • Oxford neuroscientist Colin Blakemore raised the interplay between common sense, education, science and the brain. For instance, he asked why many schools have not changed their language-teaching curriculums to teach languages to children younger than 10, rather than in middle and high school were many students still begin learning languages. Brain research shows the brain's great capacity to learn languages in the first 10 years of its development, yet schools often teach language after the brain as foreclosed on its peak language-learning capacity. He advocated for a new biologically based science of education, which better integrates neurosciences insights about learning into how society does education. Finally, he talked about the importance of learning in real situations versus structured, metaphorical ways; and the importance of teachers conveying their own passion and enthusiasm. "Great teachers convey the great enthusiasm that drives them."
  • MIT neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher asked: How can education enhance our capacity to express empathetic understanding? How might we use the Web to create cheaper versions of cultural and educational exchanges for young people, given the great impact of such face-to-face exchanges?
  • Oxford physiologist John Stein emphasized again the importance of active learning as a much better way for teaching children. He said many communities and schools have an obsession with safety that has outweighed the opportunities for play and for being in nature. Talking about visually dyslexic people, he said many of them are incredibly creative, though they have problems reading. He's interested in the ways and the why that dyslexics are creative. He also shared his research about the impact of poor nutrition on learning and the brain. He has found impaired brain cells in dyslexics and his research has shown positive improvements in some people when they increase their intake of vitamins, minerals and Omega-3 fatty acids. He said a deficiency in nutrition can lead to an inability to pick up social cues. In one of his prison studies, he found that by addressing nutrition deficiencies in prisoners, there was a one-third reduction in further offending.
  • The Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende summarized what he heard from these contributors: the importance of informal learning and its relationship to the formal classroom; responsible citizenship is core to a good society; the role of culture and art and whether one's country or community has a stimulating climate of culture; and the importance of education for positive social interaction.
  • Gerard Mortier, director general of the Paris National Opera, said art is not an appendage of society, but at its center.
  • Finally, Teachers Without Borders founder Fred Mednick asked how might we scale goodness?
ABOUT THE SUMMIT AND SPONSOR: The Global Creative Leadership Summit, sponsored by the Louise Blouin Foundation, is a three-day forum that brings together great international minds -- including heads of state, CEOs, Nobel Prize-winners and acclaimed artists -- to address pressing global issues, including geo-economics, foreign policy, education, health, poverty and climate change. The Summit also has a goal to work with developed and developing nations alike in order to best address global issues. The Louise Blouin Foundation is an international nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a globalization platform to address challenges in such diverse areas as international trade, foreign policy, education and the environment through the lens of culture and neuroscience.

Jane Goodall Seeks Creative, Engaged Kids Who Want to Make a Difference

[22 September 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg - Reporting from the Global Creative Leadership Summit] Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, made a gentle-yet-impassioned plea for society to support and encourage children's natural creaivity.

Drawing from her decades of work studying chimpanzees, she described how chimpanzee childhood is marked by sheer joy and the freedom to explore. She said that by exploring the social and physical world around them, chimpanzees learn not only their own strengths and weaknesses, but those of others around them, too. Chimps are curious, inventive and adaptive. They are able to pass on learning to others around them.

This natural creativity in early childhood is not unlike that of human childhood.

Yet, "we are depriving children of their childhood," Dr. Goodall said, because of the over-structuring of their lives and free time.

Dr. Goodall described the Roots & Shoots program that she founded to emphasize experiential learning with a focus on the outdoors and nature -- with its goal of "no child left inside." She said Roots & Shoots helps children develop their own passion, empowers them to come up with their own ideas, and provides opportunities for hands-on action in their communities.

Roots & Shoots participants choose projects that will positively impact people, animals and the environment. Through these hands-on experiences, Dr. Goodall hopes young people gain a better understanding of what it means to "live in harmony."

"Every single one of us makes a difference," she said, adding that she frequently speaks with young people whom have never been told this. "We all have a choice what kind of impact we'll make."

Dutch Prime Minister Espouses Creative Education

[22 September 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg - Reporting from the Global Creative Leadership Summit] Opening the session this morning on "Education, Creativity and the Mind," The Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende stated it simply: "Creativity and education are so important."

He shared a story from Holland about a business-based, project-based curriculum where 13 year olds translate an idea into the reality of an entrepreneurial business -- managing all aspects of the process. He said the goal of this program is not to make every student a business person, but to recognize different ways of learning and of being creative.

He insisted that society should recognize the importance of children's natural openness and curiosity, and encourage them to follow their passions for things that matter. He said education should focus on developing children's talents.

"Every child carries a seed of creativity inside," the prime minister said. "It's up to us adults to help that seed flower."

Prime Minister Balkenende also described the Design Academy Eindhoven, which Time magazine has described as the "school of cool." This school, built in an old factory, is integrating the role of human and social needs with sustainable goals in design challenges. For instance, he asked how these students might design a transportation system that makes people want to use it instead of driving.

"Everyone has the right to an education that makes the seed of creativity grow and flourish," he said.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Salman Rushdie on Creativity

[22 September 2008 - By Steven Dahlberg - Reporting from the Global Creative Leadership Summit - New York, New York] Toward the end of a lunch conversation that just wrapped up between author Sir Salman Rushdie and Harvard's Homi Bhabha, a Russian audience member asked Sir Rushdie what his "theory of creativity" is. His response:
"I wish I had a theory of it. It's very hard to do. I don't know where it comes from. My experience of it is very chaotic; not ordered and disciplined."
Sir Rushdie went on to say that he just sits down and writes. The next day, he looks at what he wrote and much of it is garbage. Through the process of exploration of garbage, he said, you find yourself paying attention to things that are sticking around -- and eventually you have a book.

As a writer, Sir Rushdie said you "look at the world in which you live and respond to it." Of his approach to writing: "I go to the edges of the possible and push outwards."

He said the problem of being in the business of writing books for so long is that you "have to keep coming up with stuff to write about." When asked whether he feels like he's done enough short stories, he said, "no," adding that he may do more of them.

Finally, commenting about the topic of "human security" and his own experience of living a threatened life, he said: "There is no such thing as security -- only levels of insecurity." If one accepts that, he said, you can learn to function again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2008 Global Creative Leadership Summit Kicks Off Sunday

I'll be blogging from this event again starting on Sunday ...

[17 September 2008 - Louise Blouin Foundation] A Hundred of the World's Greatest Minds -- Including Heads Of State, Nobel Prize Winners and Global CEOs -- to Attend Third Annual Global Creative Leadership Summit in New York City ... On September 21-23 at the Metropolitan Club in New York City, the Louise Blouin Foundation will bring together over 100 of the world's greatest minds and leaders from a wide range of disciplines for the 2008 Global Creative Leadership Summit. Following the success of the first two annual Summits, this year's gathering provides a unique platform to address the challenges and opportunities of globalization across fields ranging from geoeconomics and foreign policy and rule of law to education, health, poverty and the environment. Selected participant speeches from last year's event may be viewed on YouTube:
Participating members confirmed for this year's event include: Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; President Bingu Wa Mutharika of the Republic of Malawi; President Manuel Zelaya of the Republic of Honduras; President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of the Republic of Iceland; Nobel Laureates Henry Kissinger and Sir Paul Nurse; Director General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura; technologist Craig R. Barrett, Chairman of Intel Corp; Internet Entrepreneur Craig Newmark of Craigslist; creative visionaries Sir Salman Rushdie and Richard Meier; Chairman and Founder of One Laptop per Child Nicholas Negroponte; attorney David Boies; psychologist Howard Gardner; biotech entrepreneur William Haseltine; blogger and editor Arianna Huffington; journalist Nicholas Kristof; and many others.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

On Problems

"The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting
otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." -- Theodore Rubin

Monday, September 01, 2008

Those with disabilities should likewise create

[30 August 2008 - The Jakarta Post] At the closing session of a recent international conference on "Creative Communities and the Making of Place: Sharing Creative Experiences" at the Institute of Technology Bandung, one of the keynote speakers concluded that in the end, the focus should be on people rather than on cities. This conclusion was certainly indisputable, because a city without people is dead. It is the people in their diversity who make a place lively. As shown by the present range of enterprises in Bandung, people are continually creating new things, either as a hobby, as an expression of art, for research purposes, or as a source of income. Gradually these creative products become an industry, called the creative industry. Not only do people do this creative work for their own benefit, but the urban economy flourishes because of these thriving businesses. ... The most underestimated are the disabled. They constantly face barriers to access physical infrastructure or opportunities for self development. They have the potential to make a significant economic contribution to the city, if only the environment could be more physically and socially friendly for them. People are creative by nature and so are disabled people. By excluding them from development opportunities, the society neglects a rich resource of talented and creative people. People who meet the standard of normalcy in performing creative work, predominate the creative industries. They are the ones who are healthy, agile, not disabled and have the financial resources to start an enterprise. Nowadays, young people are very much involved in creative industries. Thinking creatively, they produce goods with an economic value. Their free spirit means allowing people to be different, which is sometimes difficult in our conformist culture. By tolerating different ideas, their creativity emerges. More

Your Health: Einstein was an image streamer

[23 August 2008 - The New Straights Times - Malaysia] THERE are basically two types of meditation and they are diametrically opposed to each other. One is passive and the other dynamic. One attempts to still the mind while the other follows the vagaries of the mind and the thoughts that go with it. Most people are familiar with passive meditation. However, the concept of dynamic meditation -- called "image streaming" by researcher and educator, Win Wenger, is less well known. As discussed last week, this is a type of medication that Einstein may have used. Except that he described it as "vague play" with "signs," "images," and other elements, both "visual" and "muscular." "This combinatory play," he wrote, "seems to be the essential feature in productive thought." Win Wenger's project of the last 25 years has been to develop techniques and mental exercises, based in part on Einstein's methods. These work in the short term and seem to develop the mind's permanent powers. The Image Streaming technique that Win Wenger developed opens the mind to a flow of symbolic imagery as potent as that of any dream. However, unlike dreaming, you can practise image streaming while wide awake. Best of all, you can do it virtually any time, anywhere. More

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Community: The Structure of Belonging - Peter Block

[26 August 2008 - Heartland Circle] Peter Block's -- author, consultant and partner of Designed Learning -- book "Community: The Structure of Belonging" articulates a potent design for creating living communities whenever and wherever people gather, through the realization that everyday acts of citizenship are acts of leadership. The radical notion that belonging to a community as a citizen leader can transform the human relationship to the planet, is both genius and imperative. More: About Peter's Work | Article: Leadership as Convening | Article: Community Handout

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Creativity and Social Change - U of Connecticut Offers New Creativity Community Building Course

I am excited to announce that I will be co-teaching a new course on "Creativity and Social Change" at the University of Connecticut this fall. This is the first course being offered in the new Creative Community Building Program, which has been developed with an interdisciplinary team of university and community partners. This program will offer an emphasis in Creative Community Building as part of the Center for Continuing Studies' Bachelor of General Studies degree, as well as non-credit workshops and seminars for professional development. -- Steve Dahlberg, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination

a new 3-credit course ... 7 weeks ... fall 2008

inspiration reinvent art intuition society creativity social sculpture engage change community ideas possibilities

Do you want to ...
  • Unleash and harness your creativity?
  • Use your creativity to transform communities?
  • Understand how our thinking and imagination shapes, forms and reinvents society?
  • Improve your creative community building skills?
  • Learn creative thinking strategies to apply individually, in organizations and in society?
  • Explore society as a complex system of social relationships and perceptions?
IMAGINE, CONNECT AND ENGAGE: Come and explore, integrate and expand your understanding of “Creativity and Social Change”!

Complete this full-semester, three-credit undergraduate course in just seven weeks! This course (GS 3088; section 90) is offered through the
Center for Continuing Studies at the University of Connecticut. Non-degree students also may register for this course on a space-available basis for personal/professional development.
Where: Bishop Center, University of Connecticut, Storrs
When: September 9 to October 23, 2008
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Who: Taught by Steven Dahlberg and Phoebe Godfrey
Info: Joanne Augustyn, 860-486-0460

Sunday, August 03, 2008

On Creativity

[3 August 2008 - Higher Awareness]
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
     -- Albert Einstein

"Just as our eyes need light in order to see, our minds need ideas in order to conceive."
     -- Napoleon Hill

"Anyone can look for fashion in a boutique or history in a museum. The creative explorer looks for history in a hardware store and fashion in an airport."
     -- Robert Wieder

Friday, August 01, 2008

Edutainment: the benefits of arts and crafts in adult and community learning

[March 2008 - Voluntary Arts England] A collection of inspiring and informative case studies from a range of adult learners and tutors highlighting the many benefits associated with participating in the arts and crafts through adult and community learning. With a foreword from Professor John Benyon (Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester), the publication also contains results from our national survey of adult learners along with information on where to find an art or craft course in your area. Hard copies are also available. More (PDF)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Social Entrepreneurship to Be Highlighted at the National Urban League Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida

[30 July 2008 - National Urban League] On Thursday, July 31, 2008, the Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI) will host the finals of the Social Venture Plan Competition at the 2008 National Urban League Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. The competition, sponsored by The Prudential Foundation and FedEx Corporation, identifies and showcases
successful and replicable social ventures operated by Urban League affiliates, and serves as a model for innovative and sustainable public/private collaboration.

Teams from Cincinnati, Hartford, Jacksonville, Lorain County, New York, Philadelphia and Tucson will compete in the finals for over $100,000 in start up cash and consulting services to launch their social entrepreneurial and non-profit initiatives. The winners will be announced at the Whitney M. Young Gala on August 2, 2008.

The competition is sponsored by Prudential Foundation and FedEx and all of the finalists will receive feedback on their social venture plans from accomplished judges, Alfred Edmond (Editor-in-Chief, Black, Julius Walls Jr. (CEO, Greyston Bakery), and Linda
Roach (Partner, Oakcrest Capital Partners).

In the face of declining support for endowments and the highly competitive nature of grant funding, nonprofits are increasingly integrating entrepreneurial strategies as a way to tackle social problems. They seek to earn capital in order to sustain their missions and, for many, build their capacity to consistently deliver services to the underserved. President and C.E.O. of the National Urban League, Marc H. Morial explains, "I envision an entrepreneurial Urban League movement that enjoys economic sustainability while empowering communities and changing lives. Social entrepreneurship is the new community service grant. FedEx and the Prudential Foundation are supporting the creativity and drive of our affiliates to provide the services that our communities demand."

The EOI Social Venture Plan Competition is simultaneously a practicum in competing for investment funds and also a vehicle to provide funding and in-kind services to those that demonstrate the greatest potential for success. This last round of the competition is open to the public and is a great opportunity for residents of the Orlando area to learn about opportunities in social entrepreneurship, and network with social entrepreneurs/Nonprofit leaders.

Established in 2003, the National Urban League's Economic Opportunity Institute (EOI) empowers communities and changes lives by promoting social entrepreneurship as a strategy to achieve sustainable social change.

National Communiversity Conference Draws 14 Communities From Connecticut to California

[29 July 2008 - Applied Imagination - By Steven Dahlberg - Windham, Connecticut, USA] Four Windham-area residents participated this past weekend in the first "COMV08: Communiversity Conference" in New Gloucester, Maine. Miriam and Mike Kurland, Abigail Ricklin and Steven Dahlberg joined 35 other people from 14 communities -- from California to Maine -- to explore how communiversities can invent a new community context in which people anticipate and transform challenges into opportunities for creative action.

The Windham delegation told the participants about Willimantic's efforts to build creative community. Their examples ranged from the Third Thursday Street Fest, the Boom Box Parade and Willimantic's historic Main Street to the Victorian Home Tour, the new Imagine Willimantic Communiversity group, and the new Creative Community Building Program being launched this fall at the University of Connecticut with community-based partners in Willimantic.

"This was an extraordinary gathering of people who spent three days focusing on positive aspects of what's working best in their communities," said Dahlberg, who heads the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination in Willimantic. "There was no whining or negativity -- just a group of people who want to share their communities' stories, figure out how to engage people in their communities, and help their communities learn and grow together."

The Imagine Willimantic Communiversity grew out of a visit to Willimantic in April from the Communiversity Conference organizer August Jaccaci. While in town, Jaccaci met with First Selectwoman Jean de Smet, people from community organizations, and citizens. He also led a public Creativity Networking event at the WindhamARTS Collaborative, at which he shared with the audience his concept of "Communiversity" and invited Willimantic to join a network of other cities and towns who are working to build a movement of communiversities.

Communiversities, according to Jaccaci, are about discovering new and world-changing ways to meet real needs in real places in real time -- with hope. Communiversities weave together ideas about community learning, creative communities and change.

"Communiversities are the sequel to the modern university," said Jaccaci. "We need to profoundly reinvent all aspects of society or we are history. This includes reinventing human learning so that it's continuous and includes all members of the family of life."

To deal with the accelerating nature of community change and transformation, Jaccaci told participants, "you have to go ahead of history, create it, and pull it toward you," rather than merely reacting to what happens.

Lawyer-turned-poet Anthony Burnini, who opened the second day with poetry, invited the participants to work in their communities to "unbury the talents that have been put in the ground" so that people might discover that they have something to contribute to their communities.

Participants spent the first day and a half sharing their communities' stories, which offer several possibilities for Willimantic:

  • Gainesville, Ga. -- Gus Whalen shared how the Featherbone Communiversity emerged out of a reinvention of the Warren Featherbone Company. They transformed the company's old manufacturing space into a community learning center that includes a school of nursing, a children's museum, a business incubator, and a creativity center.
  • Deer Isle, Maine -- Dom Parisi shared a vision for helping people take back control of energy costs. He has a 12-step plan for involving whole communities in making better energy choices everyday. He has particularly focused on what his community’s schools are doing about energy use and conservation, and wants to use communiversities to make that project replicable in other communities.
  • Hope, Maine -- As towns consider how to brand and position themselves to the outside world, members of Hope have adopted "Hope is Hip" as theirs. As part of their Communiversity, they invited citizens to a meeting to talk about business or community issues. Forty-five people showed up. "This showed that people want to be connected and talk to each other," said Larrain Slaymaker. This group continues to meet each month at a different business where that organization can showcase itself and its products to the community.
  • New London, Conn. -- Art Costa talked about how the Re-New London Council is seeking to focus on strengths and assets to build communities from the inside out and to improve their quality of life. They are exploring how to use land-value tax (versus land-use tax) as a tool for building sustainable economies in new ways in cities. Through their Farm-to-City initiative, they are seeking to feed their community with more local food. They also have a buy-local-first campaign for supporting locally owned and operated businesses.
  • Portland, Maine -- Christina Bechstein, an artist and professor at the Maine College of Art, shared examples of how she uses the college's service learning program and arts-based projects to engage students and faculty with a community partner in a community project. She described this as "co-learning with the outside community" and talked about ways to make community challenges, such as hunger, visual and visible.
  • Berkeley, Calif. -- Rand Christiansen is focusing both his doctoral studies and his Communiversity work on the concept of a "cosmology of love" in which he explores how love can help us address those things that keep us separate and how to create opportunities for people to excel in their potential. "Love is the wisdom of well-being," he said.

In the closing session, Jaccaci suggested that communiversities can help create the planet's next renaissance and wondered aloud: "What are the design specifications for this?" He recalled Margaret Mead’s encouragement to him of working to answer the question: How do you create models that are organic and natural as opposed to arbitrary and manmade?

The answer, Jaccaci said, is in intention -- whether one organizes around resonance and reverence or manipulation and control of others. Nature, he said, offers the best models to help people organize and design communities that function as creatively and efficiently as nature does.

Christiansen said that focusing on nature emphasizes a model of something that lives and breathes life, which is what people desire of their community. He suggested the sequoia tree as a model, with its broad reach and its roots that spread out and intertwine and support the grove.

“Nature is fundamentally symbiotic, full of mutually benefiting relationships,” Jaccaci said. “How might communiversities be this?”

The Imagine Willimantic Communiversity will meet to share more about the COMV08 experience on Tuesday, August 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Wrench in the Works, 861 Main Street, Willimantic. Anyone interested in finding out more or getting involved with this project is welcome to attend. In addition, Imagine Willimantic Communiversity Member Phoebe Godfrey will talk about this project at the Windham Board of Selectman meeting at 7:00 p.m. on August 5.

Creating Communiversities:
Partners in Whole Community Learning
By August Jaccaci

A Communiversity
Is a learning conversation
Within a whole family of life
In a place they hold in common
Dear to them all.
This conversation
Is a sharing of mutual needs
In a place of mutual dwelling
In a process of mutual learning
In a vessel of mutual hope.
This continuous conversation
Is the voice of the soul of life
Expressing the sanctity of all life
For the future of all life
In the home of all life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shaw on Imagination

"Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire,
you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will." --
George Bernard Shaw

Monday, July 07, 2008

From he that hath not: If you are at the bottom of the heap, mental processes may keep you there

[22 May 2008 - The Economist] New drugs may help to enhance people's mental powers. But a study carried out by Pamela Smith, of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and her colleagues suggests a less pharmacological approach can be taken, too. Their work, just published in Psychological Science, argues that simply putting someone into a weak social position impairs his cognitive function. Conversely, "empowering" him, in the dread jargon of sociology, sharpens up his mind. Dr Smith focused on those cognitive processes that help people maintain and pursue their goals in difficult and distracting situations. She suspected that a lack of social power may reduce someone's ability to keep track of information and make plans to achieve his goals. More

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Arts Education Debate Needs to Rise to Creative Education Debate

[30 April 2008 - Applied Imagination - By Steven Dahlberg] Ann Hulbert (in the New York Times Magazine, "Drawing Lessons," 27 April 2008) raised some pertinent issues about the role of arts in improving education. It's valid for researchers, policy makers, administrators and teachers to ask about HOW the arts might boost creativity and other academic skills.
[27 April 2008 - New York Times Magazine] ... As Obama’s appeal to the achievement-boosting effects of the arts only goes to show, it’s hard to buck the narrow No Child Left Behind ethos he laments. If the arts can be celebrated as catalysts for improved performance in other subjects -- the subjects that are tested and therefore respected -- the hope is they won’t get treated as expendable frills. So advocates celebrate the arts’ score-enhancing influence across the school spectrum. Huckabee often invoked higher SATs as a reason to teach the arts. Obama cites sober social-science research on the poor city neighborhoods he knows best. “Studies in Chicago have demonstrated,” his arts statement reads, “that test scores improved faster for students enrolled in low-income schools that link arts across the curriculum than scores for students in schools lacking such programs.” There’s just one problem with this ostensibly hardheaded defense of arts education. The studies invoked as proof that involvement in band — or dance or sculpture — spurs higher academic performance actually show nothing of the sort. To the consternation of arts proponents wedded to this way of arguing, the instrumental logic has been challenged by a team of investigators affiliated with Harvard’s Project Zero, an education research group with a focus on the arts. An emphasis on the arts’ utility in the quest to reach math and reading benchmarks may seem politically smart, but the science it rests on turns out to be shaky. In a scrupulous review of 50 years of research into the academic impact of studying the arts, Ellen Winner, a Boston College professor of psychology, and Lois Hetland, who teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, searched mostly in vain for evidence of a causal influence on school success. More
However, this article missed two important aspects of the creative education debate: how teachers can deliberately teach for more creative thinking in any and all disciplines – not just in the arts – and how teachers can more creatively teach any topic. These two educational goals are not limited to arts classrooms. Yet most research and programs in arts education – as well as in arts and aging, and arts and business – seem to assume that we can merely offer arts programming and then sit back to observe whether or not creativity or problem solving or academic skills have improved. We are missing great opportunities to use not only the teaching of arts, but all subjects, to intentionally improve students' creative thinking capacities.

The article suggested that teachers of visual arts were eliciting certain cognitive "dispositions" in their students: persistence in tackling problems, observational acuity, expressive clarity, reflective capacity to question and judge, ability to envision alternative possibilities and openness to exploration. Exploring these dispositions is not a new field of inquiry. Indeed, researchers have been studying these creative attitudes and behaviors for more than 60 years, and developing specific processes, tools and methodologies for deliberating enhancing such creative "dispositions" in both children and adults.

In 1950, the American Psychological Association President J. P. Guilford pointed out the appalling lack of research in psychology and education about how people develop and use their creative thinking abilities. This launched an explosion of research about what the creative thinking process is and how it works; what mindsets and behaviors creative persons demonstrate and whether people can develop these capacities; what kinds of environments enhance and hinder creativity; and what makes something creative or not.

Educational psychologists such as the late E. Paul Torrance (University of Georgia) began answering these important questions during the past 60 years. Robert Sternberg (Tufts University), Teresa Amabile (Harvard University) and Min Basadur (McMaster University) are among many researchers across diverse fields throughout the world who continue exploring how people can purposefully tap into and apply more of their inherent creativity.

Creativity is a habit of mind that allows us to see and think in new ways; to make new connections between seemingly unrelated things. The applied creative thinking process can help people identify challenges and problems, come up with new ideas and solutions, and produce creative ways of implementing those solutions. These are among the most important skills for competing in the global “new economy” and for solving social challenges. Yet, nearly everyone in education, business and government agrees in poll after poll that there are not enough people learning these skills in school and possessing these skills in the workplace.

The imagination is not merely the domain of arts classrooms and artists. It is a fundamental human urge that taps into our capacity to create and our desire to express ourselves. It's time to move the dialogue about arts education to one about creative education and look for new ways of using ALL students' imagination and creative thinking to engage them in what's most meaningful to them in ALL classrooms.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

For a Sharp Brain, Stimulation

[13 May 2008 - New York Times] AMERICANS may worry about heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but they downright dread Alzheimer’s disease, a recent survey found. For good reason. One in eight adults over 65 is affected by the disease. Those who are spared know they may end up with the burden of caring for a parent or a spouse who is affected. Even though the number of older adults with dementias is rising rapidly, only a few drugs that have been approved to treat symptoms are on the market, and they slow down the disease but do not cure it. Researchers, however, are more optimistic than ever about the potential of the aging brain, because recent evidence has challenged long-held beliefs by demonstrating that the brain can grow new nerve cells. "For a long time, we held the assumption that we’re born with all the nerve cells we’re ever going to have, and that the brain is not capable of generating new ones — that once these cells die we’re unable to replace them," said Molly V. Wagster, chief of the Neuropsychology of Aging branch of the National Institute on Aging. "Those assumptions have been challenged and put by the wayside." ... "Another thing that’s important as people get older is to maintain flexible attitudes and be willing to try new things," said K. Warner Schaie, who in 1956 started the Seattle Longitudinal Study, which follows the psychological development of participants through adulthood. "You have to expect things will shift over time and won’t be the same as when you were young. Those who manage to roll with the punches, and enjoy change rather than fighting it, tend to do well." More

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Folding your arms can help your brain

[6 May 2008 -] The mere act of folding your arms increases perseverance and activates an unconscious desire to succeed, new research shows. University students randomly assigned to sit with their arms crossed spent more time on an impossible-to-solve anagram, or word scramble, in one experiment, and came up with more correct solutions to solvable anagrams in another than those told to sit with their hands on their thighs. The study is the first to show that arm crossing affects people's thinking without them being consciously aware of it. Normally, it's thought that it's a psychological state that leads to a body movement. The study suggests it goes both ways, that a body movement also can trigger a psychological state. More

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Innovation in Global Industries: U.S. Firms Competing in a New World

[6 May 2008 - The National Academies Press] The debate over offshoring of production, transfer of technological capabilities, and potential loss of U.S. competitiveness is a long-running one. Prevailing thinking is that the world is flat that is, innovative capacity is spreading uniformly; as new centers of manufacturing emerge, research and development and new product development follow. Innovation in Global Industries challenges this thinking. The book, a collection of individually authored studies, examines in detail structural changes in the innovation process in 10 service as well as manufacturing industries: personal computers; semiconductors; flat-panel displays; software; lighting; biotechnology; pharmaceuticals; financial services; logistics; and venture capital. There is no doubt that overall there has been an acceleration in global sourcing of innovation and an emergence of new locations of research capacity and advanced technical skills, but the patterns are highly variable. Many industries and some firms in nearly all industries retain leading-edge capacity in the United States. However, the book concludes that is no reason for complacency about the future outlook. Innovation deserves more emphasis in firm performance measures and more sustained support in public policy. Innovation in Global Industries will be of special interest to business people and government policy makers as well as professors, students, and other researchers of economics, management, international affairs, and political science. More

Friday, May 02, 2008

Hip Hop Artist and Activist to Speak at Windham High School on May 8; Willimantic Screening of Documentary Film About His Life on May 21

Willimantic, Conn., May 2, 2008 -- The Young Poets at Windham High School are hosting New York hip-hop artist Chris "Kazi" Rolle for two performances and motivational talks on Thursday, May 8, for the high school students. His theme: "If the whole world was listening, what would you have to say?"

This event is part of a month-long celebration of the Windham community's youth, called "Think and Be Heard: Celebrating Our Strengths and Creativity." This project is in collaboration with the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination and is designed to engage students in the community by engaging their creativity. A full schedule of community celebration events in May is available at

Kazi is also the subject of "The Hip Hop Project" documentary film, which will be shown as part of the Willimantic Cinema Project at the Capitol Theater on Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. The public is invited to this screening, which is presented by The Young Poets, the WindhamARTS
Collaborative, and the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination.

From executive producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, "The Hip Hop Project" is the compelling story of Kazi, a formerly homeless teenager who inspired a group of New York City teens to transform their life stories into powerful works of art, using hip hop as a vehicle for self
development and personal discovery.

In the film, Kazi challenges these young people to write music about real issues affecting their lives as they strive to overcome daunting obstacles to produce a collaborative album. In the film, Russell Simmons, hip hop mogul and long-time supporter of the project, partners with Bruce Willis to donate a recording studio to the Hip Hop Project. After four years of collaboration, the group produces a powerful and thought-provoking CD imbued with moving personal narratives and sharp social commentary. In contrast to all of the negative attention focused on hip hop and rap music, this is a story of hope, healing and the realization of dreams.

Inspired by Kazi's work, the filmmakers are donating 100 percent of the net profits from this film to Art Start and other nonprofit organizations working with young people.

The New York Times has said of "The Hip Hop Project": "[This] vibrant and soulful documentary, 'The Hip Hop Project,' sets its universal message to an inner-city beat. Named for the New York City youth program founded in 1999 by Chris Rolle, known as Kazi, a Bahamian orphan forced to grow up on the streets of Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the movie follows his efforts to encourage at-risk teenagers to express themselves in verse rather than violence."

To view the movie trailer and for additional information about the film, visit

For more information, contact Steve Dahlberg, International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, at

# # #

Three years ago a group of Windham High School and Windham Academy students came together to share their voices and experiences through poetry. They have become a well-known group in the Willimantic area. The Young Poets began performing for the Curbstone Press-sponsored Poetry in the Park at the Julia de Burgos Park in Willimantic. Soon their open-mic poetry readings were a monthly event at Wrench in the Works. They opened the Freedom Writers Diary at the Movie Plex theater in Mansfield, and were guests on the Wayne Norman morning show at WILI. In March of 2006, they raised enough money to see Freedom Writers Founder Erin Gruwell and Maria Reyes at the Bushnell Theater in Hartford. Erin invited them to the VIP room where the Poets performed for Erin and guests. The Poets continue to perform in our community. The Young Poets take you on an up-close and personal journey through the darkness and the light of real life. These amazing, talented students will reel you in and you will never be able to look at the world -- and our community -- in quite the same way. They are always a work in progress, and you will see them change and grow over the course of the year. You can view individual poets' pages online, as well as check out their published book of poetry, "The Streets Hold No Secrets," online at

Steven Dahlberg heads the Willimantic-based International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, which is dedicated to applying creativity to improve the well-being of individuals, organizations and communities. The centre collaborates with artists, scientists, business people, educators and others to help people develop their creativity. Dahlberg authored the foreword to the book, "Education is Everybody's Business: A Wake-Up Call to Advocates of Educational Change."

Chris "Kazi" Rolle was abandoned as a baby, has endured abusive foster homes and institutions, and survived alone on the streets with no home or family to support him. Falling victim to the intense pressures of his surroundings, Kazi dropped out high school and began hustling and
selling drugs in the streets to survive. After a few short visits to numerous New York City penal institutions, Chris became determined to focus his energy in other areas.

In 1991, Chris discovered the Tomorrow's Future Theatre Company and began directing, writing and acting for and in urban theatrical productions that fused hip hop and drama to tell tales of everyday life in the inner city. His play, "A Brooklyn Story," earned him the 1994 New York Governor's Citation and Martin Luther King Jr. Award. In 1995, Chris received the CBS Fulfilling the Dream Award for both his play and for his work in schools and homeless shelters advocating education and drug abuse prevention.

Chris graduated from the New York City Public Repertory Company (an alternative arts high school) in 1996 having won the Playwrights Competition. Chris had been a student of the Media Works Project since 1994, and in 1997 he taught the project's curriculum to teenagers coming out of Rikers Island prison. In 1998 Chris led Art Start's anti-racism public service announcement project, which was featured in the Bravo documentary, "Fire, Risk and Rhythm."

In 1999, Chris created Art Start's Hip-Hop Project, an award winning after-school program that connects New York City teens to music industry professionals to write, produce and market their own compilation album on youth issues. The program has attracted the likes of music industry mogul Russell Simmons and mega movie star Bruce Willis, who donated heavily to the success of the program. In 2000, Chris was featured in "People Who Are Using Their Lives" on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Chris' inspiring life story and ground-breaking program is also the focus of a feature-length documentary film, "The Hip Hop Project."

Chris founded Momentum, a hip-hop music label that prides it self in development, education and empowerment of its artists. Chris is co-founder of A.P.EX., a non-profit organization that hosts monthly college preparation workshops that assist inner-city high school students prepare for all aspects of college life, including financial aid and scholarships, admissions and personal development, and culminates in a week-long tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Chris also travels nationally to serve as an expert panelist on foster care, male holistic development, relationship issues, entrepreneurship and hip hop community activism and education. Chris is currently a New York City resident.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Art vs. Craft

[1 May 2008 - CEO for Cities] If everyone is creative, does creativity have any value? And who would you want on a desert island: an artist or a craftsman?
Rupert Christiansen, writing in the Telegraph, says that creativity has become the Holy Grail of life today. "Businesses hold creative-thinking seminars, universities teach creative writing, ministers makes speeches puffing our "creative industries". Even the splodges and squiggles that children daub in primary school are deemed creative. "One could even say that the idea of creativity has become thoroughly debased; very few of us are creators in the pure sense of using our imaginations to make something significantly new, let alone useful." And then he comes down hard on those who value creativity over craftsmanship. "As a society, we have arrived at a false valuation of the creative artist...We should be investing more respect and money in the acquisition of ordinary skills and practical crafts that would allow us to take more control of our own lives. 'The hand is the window to the mind,"'said the philosopher Kant, and the same relationship should be acknowledged as the hub of creativity, too." More

Creativity and Madness ... Quieting the Demons and Giving Art a Voice

On the topic of creativity, madness and mental illness, Tuesday's New York Times reviews two new books on this topic, including one by Marya Hornbacher, the author of the well-received book Wasted:
[29 April 2008 - New York Times] For scientists trying to parse the mystery of brain and mind, [Marya Hornbacher] is one more case of the possible link between mental illness and artistic creativity. With all our scans and neurotransmitters, we are not much closer to figuring out that relationship than was Lord Byron, who announced that poets are “all crazy” and left it at that. But effective drugs make the question more urgent now: would Virginia Woolf, medicated, have survived to write her final masterpiece, or would she have spent her extra years happily shopping? ... As for the central question of whether treating the illness impairs the creativity, Ms. Hornbacher weighs in firmly on the side of her meds, imperfect though they may be. “For me, the first sign of oncoming madness is that I’m unable to write.” Depression silences her; mania may flood her mind with glittering words, but they scatter before she can get them down. Only the prosaic morning meds (21 pills, at last count) will let her trap the words on the page. More

Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower

[29 April 2008 - New York Times] A new study has found that it may be possible to train people to be more intelligent, increasing the brainpower they had at birth. Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience -- what psychologists call fluid intelligence -- is innate and cannot be taught (though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing). But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works. ... The results, published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were striking. Although the control groups also made gains, presumably because they had practice with the fluid intelligence tests, improvement in the trained groups was substantially greater. Moreover, the longer they trained, the higher their scores were. All performers, from the weakest to the strongest, showed significant improvement. More

No National Innovation Strategy, No National Energy Strategy

[30 April 2008 - New York Times - "Dumb as We Wanna Be" - Thomas Friedman] We have no energy strategy. If you are going to use tax policy to shape energy strategy then you want to raise taxes on the things you want to discourage -- gasoline consumption and gas-guzzling cars -- and you want to lower taxes on the things you want to encourage -- new, renewable energy technologies. We are doing just the opposite. Are you sitting down? Few Americans know it, but for almost a year now, Congress has been bickering over whether and how to renew the investment tax credit to stimulate investment in solar energy and the production tax credit to encourage investment in wind energy. The bickering has been so poisonous that when Congress passed the 2007 energy bill last December, it failed to extend any stimulus for wind and solar energy production. Oil and gas kept all their credits, but those for wind and solar have been left to expire this December. I am not making this up. At a time when we should be throwing everything into clean power innovation, we are squabbling over pennies. More

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Creative Power of Aging Film Premiere in Minnesota

Elder Care Expo 2008 congratulates the Minnesota Creative Arts and Aging Network, a Supporting Partner of Elder Care Expo 2008, on the coming premiere of their new film about creativity, arts and aging, based on artists and program models from Minnesota ...
[24 April 2008 - Minnesota Creative Arts and Aging Network (MnCAAN)] Check out the April 23 MinnPost article about aging and the arts, "We want more than bingo': Artists cater to seniors" by Kay Harvey. It highlights the work of MnCAAN, the National Center for Creative Aging, and two Twin Cities community arts programs for older adults.

Second, you are invited to the premiere of "The Creative Power of Aging" to view this 30-minute film featuring Minnesota artists and model arts programs for older adults:
Thursday, May 15, 2008 - 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. - Bloomington Center for the Arts - 1800 West Old Shakopee Road

Following the film, stay for lunch and the kickoff of a statewide campaign by MnCAAN: CREATIVITY MATTERS FOR OLDER MINNESOTANS. Discover the benefits of lifelong creative engagement. Learn about training, print and Web-based resources for organizations and groups that want to engage older adults in creative arts programs. Register by May 12 at or call 763-560-5199. $10 includes box lunch. Pre-registration required.

The film was a collaborative production with MnCAAN, Twin Cities Public Television, HealthEast, Ebenezer Foundation, and the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. This event is co-sponsored and hosted by City of Bloomington Human Services. More

Find about more about MnCAAN and the film at Elder Care Expo 2008, Booth 322.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Ways to Predict Mindless Mistakes

[21 April 2008 - CBS News] Study Shows Brain Activity May Be a Sign of a Mistake on the Way ... People performing monotonous tasks display abnormal brain activity before making a mistake, new research shows: Wouldn't it be nice to have a crystal ball that tells you when you're about to make a mindless mistake? New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that may be possible in certain cases, a finding that could one day help improve workplace and employee safety. More

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird

[16 April 2008 - The McKinsey Quarterly] Pixar’s Brad Bird makes his living fostering creativity. In an interview, this director of two Academy Award–winning animated films (The Incredibles and Ratatouille) describes how he pushes teams of animators beyond their comfort zones, encourages dissent, and builds morale. Bird’s experiences and anecdotes hold powerful lessons for executives in any organization seeking to nurture innovation. More

Monday, April 14, 2008

In a New Generation of College Students, Many Opt for the Life Examined

[6 April 2008 - New York Times] ... Once scoffed at as a luxury major, philosophy is being embraced at Rutgers and other universities by a new generation of college students who are drawing modern-day lessons from the age-old discipline as they try to make sense of their world, from the morality of the war in Iraq to the latest political scandal. The economic downturn has done little, if anything, to dampen this enthusiasm among students, who say that what they learn in class can translate into practical skills and careers. On many campuses, debate over modern issues like war and technology is emphasized over the study of classic ancient texts. ... David E. Schrader, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, a professional organization with 11,000 members, said that in an era in which people change careers frequently, philosophy makes sense. “It’s a major that helps them become quick learners and gives them strong skills in writing, analysis and critical thinking,” he said. ... Other students said that studying philosophy, with its emphasis on the big questions and alternative points of view, provided good training for looking at larger societal questions, like globalization and technology. More

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dan Pink Takes a Hit in His National Arts Address

[2 April 2008 - Washington Post] Daniel Pink and the Economic Model of Creativity ... One hopes that Americans for the Arts, the national lobbying group that fanned out across the Capitol yesterday to talk up government support for its cause, didn't pay best-selling author Daniel Pink a nickel for the talk he gave Monday evening. Pink, an author who has whipped up a very good career massaging talking points into books and books into speaking engagements, gave the annual Nancy Hanks Lecture at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Previous speakers have included Robert Redford, William Safire and Ken Burns. The speech is usually a celebratory affair for local arts leaders as they descend on Washington to make their case for such causes as funding the National Endowment for the Arts and arts education in public schools. More

How To Unlock Your Company's Creativity

[2 April 2008 - Forbes] Innovation is one of those sexy-squishy words that big companies throw around in splashy ad campaigns and white papers. Innovation implies new stuff; new stuff implies growth; and growth implies higher stock prices and beach houses in the Hamptons. ... But innovation isn't just the province of the big. Just because small companies don't command multimillion-dollar research and development budgets doesn't mean they don't have to innovate. On the contrary, they have to be even more creative, in every aspect of their business, to compete. It's not easy. More

European Commission proposes 2009 to become European Year of Creativity and Innovation

[2 April 2008 - European Commission] Europe needs to boost its capacity for creativity and innovation for both social and economic reasons. That is why the Commission has today adopted a proposal to declare 2009 the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The decision will be taken later this year by the Council and the European Parliament. More

Changing Skyline: Presidential candidates ignoring urban issues

[3 April 2008 - Philadelphia Inquirer] There are three times as many urbanites in America as country folk, yet you wouldn't know it listening to the three main presidential candidates, or perusing their Web sites. Instead, you might come away thinking the United States is a collection of Norman Rockwell small towns surrounded by picture-book farms. ... If there were ever a moment to roll out a bold vision for making cities healthier and more competitive, this is it. In the next few years, we're likely to hear a lot more about weaning ourselves off imported energy, dealing with greenhouse gases, and retaining economic parity with fast-rising Asian nations. Coming to grips with that triple threat means buffing up our energy-efficient creativity incubators, otherwise known as cities. So, though the candidates' proposals for ridding America of incandescent bulbs and gas-guzzling vehicles are nice little ideas, the fast lane to energy independence requires significant federal infusions for mass transit, basic infrastructure, and making cities more livable for families. Consider the money an investment in national security. More

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Louisiana Gets Creative Economies

[25 March 2008 - From New York - Applied Imagination - By Steven Dahlberg] Louisiana Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu came to New York this week to share Louisiana's efforts to put culture and creativity at the heart of economic and community development. He was joined at Jazz at Lincoln Center by his colleagues from the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and the Cultural Economy Foundation, along with New Orleans native and Emmy Award-winning actress Patricia Clarkson and New Orleans native and pianist Jonathan Batiste.

Landrieu described the Louisiana Cultural Economy Initiative and announced one of its key components -- the World Cultural Economic Forum (WCEF) to be held in New Orleans from October 29 to 31, 2008. This event will bring together policy-makers, artists, practitioners, cultural workers, educators, economic development leaders, business people and others from around the world. The International Centre for Creativity and Imagination is pleased to be assisting the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development with this event.

One of the challenges of linking culture and economy, Landrieu said, is how people can do what they love and make a living at it -- in the community in which they live. That is, how do you keep the creative talent in your community -- and the economic impact they produce -- rather than exporting it to other communities.

Landrieu raised some important questions that Louisiana is exploring on an on-going basis and that will be explored at the WCEF:
  • How do we grow culture from the ground up to capture the inherent authenticity and richness of a community?
  • How do we engage the creative endeavors of both the 'front-of-house" artists and the "back-of-house" staff?
  • How do we add value to intellectual capital?
  • How do we capture the creative things that are native to a community and share them with the world?
  • What is the relationship between poverty and culture?
  • How can culture re-create neighborhoods and make them safe? ("This is the ultimate goal of sharing New Orleans' and Louisiana's cultural economic success," he said.)
  • Is democracy more important than culture? Can you have both? Is the best way to spread democracy by spreading culture?
Landrieu is asking pretty big and important questions. Let's hope these questions rise to a national discussion in the coming election cycle.

It's important to teach creativity and arts if you are going to grow a community's economy through culture, Landrieu said. This is one reason that Louisiana has mandated arts education for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade. "Art and culture have a residual effect on all," he said.

Louisiana wants to be the focal point for a global discussion about culture, which is why New Orleans is hosting the WCEF. The intersecting issues of culture, race and poverty are not unique to New Orleans, but issues facing communities all over the world. The WCEF seeks to provide a space where people can talk and design and then go back to their own communities and tap into the authenticity and richness of culture there.

In introducing actress Patricia Clarkson, Landrieu commented on the network of his Louisiana creative peers -- which include Clarkson, Wynton Marsalis (artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center) and Harry Connick, Jr. -- "when you work with creative people who believe that anything is possible, you find out that it is."

"We are the products of Louisiana," Clarkson responded. "My state made me the actress I am today -- what I was surrounded by. Sometimes I return home to get a charge, a jolt."

Watch for more information about the World Cultural Economic Forum coming soon.

[Pictured above are musician Jonathan Batiste, actress Patricia Clarkson and Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu]

Advice for Young Educators

[26 March 2008 - Edutopia News] Jonathon Kozol talks about building relationships, fostering creativity, and standing up for students. More

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Education Experts Critique Candidates' Policies

[8 March 2008 - Kansas City infoZine] Beyond the ABC song, presidential candidates are offering suggestions to modify classrooms and tackle issues plaguing schools. "While the president can't solve education problems, the president has the ability to influence public debate," said Marc Lampkin, executive director of Strong American Schools ED in '08, which encourages education debate among presidential candidates. ... Clinton and Huckabee also advocate strengthening the arts in schools. Clinton said schools have eliminated art, music and drama programs because of No Child Left Behind's focus on math and reading. "Our children are getting good at filling in those little bubbles. But how much creativity is being left behind? How much passion for learning is being left behind?" Clinton said on Yahoo! News. Wilkins said art and music education was shrinking before No Child Left Behind. Huckabee has dubbed art and music as "weapons of mass instruction." He said these skills will teach children to develop creative ideas fundamental to enriching the U.S. economy. "It leads to a more fulfilled life, and it also reaches kids in other ways," said George Wood, director of the Forum for Education and Democracy. More

Your Brain on Creativity

[29 February 2008 - WebMD ] To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing, Your Inner Critic Must Hush -- For creativity to have a chance, the brain needs to get out of its own way and go with the flow. That's the bottom line from a new study on creativity. The study included six full-time professional jazz musicians. They got their brains scanned while playing a scale or a memorized jazz piece exactly as written and again when they were free to improvise, riffing off the assigned music. When they improvised, the brain's dorsolateral prefrontal and lateral orbital regions were far less active -- and another brain area, the medial prefrontal cortex, was more active. The brain regions that were quiet during improvisation are involved in consciously monitoring, evaluating, and correcting behaviors, write the researchers. In contrast, the medial prefrontal cortex allows self-expression, in this case in the form of jazz improvisation, according to the study. But creativity isn't just about self-expression. The brain's sensory regions were more active during improvisation. More

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Creativity and Aging White Paper Released by Americans for the Arts; Authored by Steven Dahlberg

[6 March 2008 - Americans for the Arts] Americans for the Arts has just released a white paper on creativity and aging, "Think and Be Heard: Creativity, Aging and Community Engagement" (PDF). Steven Dahlberg, head of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination, wrote this report as a follow up to the 2007 National Arts Forum Series, which is supported by the MetLife Foundation. "Arts and aging is neither just about art, nor just about aging. Rather, it is about creativity and positive engagement -- that is, creativity as both a goal and a process for shaping the self and society. ... It is through such creative thinking and self-expression that people connect with others and shape the world. Such a work of art is a lifelong process," writes Dahlberg who is also a partner in Elder Care Expos, LLC. Please distribute and share this white paper -- and share your comments following this post.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Celebrating the Mind of Invention - Alexander Graham Bell

Sometimes it's the simple reminders for why we need to be more deliberate about teaching for creative thinking in schools and developing creativity and innovation skills in the workplace and communities ...
[3 March 2008 - The Writer's Almanac - American Public Media] It's the birthday of the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, born in Edinburgh, Scotland (1847). The telephone's invention was actually an accident that came about when Bell was trying to perfect the telegraph. Alexander Graham Bell said, "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." More

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Creative Play Makes for Kids in Control

[28 February 2008 - National Public Radio] Researchers say unstructured play helps children learn to control their own emotions and behavior -- abilities that are a better predictor of a child's academic success than IQ. The regulated play many modern children experience doesn't foster such skills because the control has shifted to adults, which is something several researchers suspect may be behind the rising number of ADHD diagnoses. "I think a lot of kids get diagnosed with ADHD now, not all but many just because they never learned how to exercise ... the executive functions early," neuroscientist Adele Diamond says. More (hat tip: ASCD SmartBrief)