Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Author: Educated girls are key to peace

[14 March 2009 - Inservice, ASCD Blog] Author and activist Greg Mortenson says he places high value in educating girls around the world, pointing to statistics showing that in countries where girls are educated, infant mortality is lower, population growth is more sustainable and the overall quality of life is improved. Mortenson says education is a conduit to peace because ignorance fosters only hate. More

A practical guide to managing innovation

[24 March 2009 - INSEAD Knowledge] What does innovation mean? It used to relate mainly to products and that's still important. But over the last decade or so, businesses have been putting more and more emphasis on innovating new services and business models as well. In light of this, it's time companies take another look at how they manage innovation. More

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Key to Job Creation: New Ideas

[12 March 2009 - CNBC via FastTrac Highlights] Carl Schramm appeared on CNBC's Street Signs with Erin Burnett yesterday. The segment featured the message that entrepreneurs are the key to the economic recovery and told the story of Daniel Kivatinos, a laid off information technology worker who took a FastTrac program offered by ITAC in New York with a college buddy: Michael Nusimow. They are now both working full-time on their company: Dr. Chrono, which provides online appointment and billing services to doctors' offices. More

Friday, March 20, 2009

Book Review: Chasing the Dance of Life

[17 March 2009 - Book Review by Connie Tyler (via Facebook)] Chasing the Dance of Life, by Cynthia Winton-Henry -- A review by Connie Tyler

Want to laugh and cry, and say, "Oh, my?"

And then, "Oh, yes, oh, yes?"

Read Cynthia Winton-Henry's new book, Chasing the Dance of Life – a faith journey.

Cynthia, co-founder of InterPlay, speaks with candor and honesty about her struggle to find a place in the world for her dancing spirituality. She says of herself, "What do you do if you hear voices or see things? ... You should shut up. However, if there are voices that prod you to quench the thirst for big human needs like Love, Justice, and Freedom, you might become a blabbermouth performance artist like me." (p. 9) Like a ballerina doing tour jette's in a china shop, Cynthia plunges into confrontation with church officials and august parishioners, while we stand with our mouths open in admiration and fear.

She starts with her struggles as a child, teenager, and college student to pull her love of dance and her spiritual inclinations together. Her joy at finding Carla DeSola, Doug Adams, Pacific School of Religion, Judith Rock, and the Sacred Dance Guild is tempered by the struggle as an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to carry dance into the church. When, eventually, she finds she needs to renounce her ordination she doesn't just slip away from the church, she demands the right to have a ceremony of de-ordination to counter the ordination ceremony.

She wrote this memoir specifically to show why she eventually renounced her ordination, but her struggles go beyond just the struggle with this particular denomination or even with "the church" in its larger sense. She is struggling with the way of life she grew up with, finding new ways to approach people who are different, new ways to live in a material world, new ways to see our world, our life.

When subtle acts of humming birds and eagles speak to her, she dares to see them as prophecy. She analyzes marriage and comes up with new metaphors that better fit reality than the older ones that don't seem to work. She jumps dancing feet first into life and discovers, "For young or old, the universe loves a dancer." (p. 216)

And the message? She says:
Stubborn standers, beware.
Planted on twin pillars
Of righteousness
And self-righteousness
Your footing stiffens
In that precarious pose.
Resist -- you stand against.
Consist -- you stand with.
Persist -- you stand through.
Insist -- you stand in.
All stands degrade.
Want peace?
Release your footing.
Dance life's stubborn dance

(Winton-Henry, Cynthia, Chasing the Dance of Life – a faith journey, Berkeley, CA, the apocryphile press, 2009, 255 pp)

On Hope

"Hope doesn't come from calculating whether the good news is winning over the bad. It's simply a choice to take action." -- Anne Lappé

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why Bad Times Nurture New Inventions

[13 March 2009 - New York Times - Opinion] With consumer confidence plunging, the jobless rate rising and the gross domestic product falling at a rate second only to the decline seen in the 1982 recession, there's little hope of good economic news anytime soon. But some economists and historians point out that such fallow ground can make a fertile bed for seeds of innovation and invention. What kinds of businesses thrive in recessionary times? How do entrepreneurs get a running start in a recession? More

Friday, March 13, 2009

Help Support Strong Arts in Connecticut -- a Budget Issue

Please read the following letter written by artist Mark Patnode to Connceticut Gov. Rell. And then consider sending your own letters to the governor and your Connecticut legislators.

Steve Dahlberg
International Centre for Creativity and Imagination
Willimantic, Connecticut


Governor M. Jodi Rell March 8, 2009
Executive Office of the Governor
State Capitol
210 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106

Dear Governor Rell,

As the focus of much of government turns to the financial sector and the word "crisis" is foremost in the media's dialogue, it is important to remember the fundamental contribution The Arts make in our culture and to our cultural stability. Yet, in Connecticut the artistic endeavor is
being undermined.

For example, the proposed incorporation of the Commission on Culture and Tourism (CCT) into the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is not a hallmark of efficiency; but rather it is a damaging consolidation. Keep in mind, of the 50 state arts agencies; CCT is the only state arts agency to not define itself as arts-centric. No other state is making arts as inaccessible, or proposing such consolidations. Should Connecticut have the dubious distinction of taking a lead role in arts exposure reduction?

Often the arts are considered frivolous and non-essential to education. I would contend that society is measured by its art, architecture and literature. Furthermore, science and art are not mutually exclusive. You may be aware that the Mars space rover unfolded from its transport ship because the NASA engineers were familiar with origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. This is a wonderful example of the confluence of art and science. Children learn in different ways and the language of art makes that learning more accessible.

As The Constitution State, Connecticut has a distinction of leadership. As Governor, your exemplary contributions can help ensure Connecticut arts programs continue to lead. Respectfully, I suggest the following:

1. Assure the arts division will maintain staffing and funding to carry out their work.
2. Ensure the right staff are in place and available to meet the challenges.
3. Creation of a Volunteer Arts Advocacy organization, similar to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, to maintain Connecticut Arts posture and integration.
4. Convene a forum to assess the status and needs of CCT arts programs.

Through CCT, I have been featured on the cover of the CCT Teaching Artist Directory (left), my work is displayed in Senator Lieberman's Washington, DC office as part of CCT's Art in Public Spaces program, and Senator Lieberman selected me as Connecticut's 2008 White House
Christmas Ornament Artist. I mention this, not out of self-interest or self-promotion, but to establish credibility.


Mark Patnode

Making the Sale: How to Pitch Your Ideas

[ March 2009 - Leading Effectively - Center for Creative Leadership] In the best of times, it can be a fight to get your ideas implemented at work. In today's organizations -- where resources are under siege and uncertainty abounds -- advocating for your approach, idea or product is tougher than ever. The time is right to take a more disciplined approach to pitching your ideas, says CCL's Harold Scharlatt, author of Selling Your Ideas to Your Organization. "If you don't have a strategy for selling your idea, you put yourself, your group and potentially your organization at risk," says Scharlatt. "If you have a project that you believe will improve the organization, you've got to find the best approach for getting it implemented. You can't afford a false start," says Scharlatt. To be successful in getting other people to consider and adopt your ideas, you need to consider two important things: the environment and your tactics. More

Can Fearful Memories Be Erased?

[13 March 2009 - Talk of the Nation - NPR] Scientists studying how the brain forms memories have found that by targeting brain cells expressing a certain gene in mice, they can erase a fearful memory association days after the event. Steven Kushner and colleagues describe the research in the journal Science. More

Isolating creativity in the brain - On improv, music, the brain and creativity

[5 March 2009 - The Harvard University Gazette] How -- exactly -- does improvisation happen? What's involved when a musician sits down at the piano and plays flurries of notes in a free fall, without a score, without knowing much about what will happen moment to moment? Is it possible to find the sources of a creative process? Aaron Berkowitz, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Harvard, and Daniel Ansari, a professor in the psychology department of the University of Western Ontario, recently collaborated on an experiment designed to study brain activity during musical improvisation in order to get closer to answering these questions. The Harvard Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative awarded the collaborators a grant to look at musical improvisation in trained musicians, utilizing brain scans done with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology. Their paper, Generation of Novel Motor Sequences: The Neural Correlates of Musical Improvisation," was published in the journal NeuroImage, and received the journal's 2008 Editor's Choice Award in Systems Neuroscience. More

Thursday, March 12, 2009

'Mind-reading' experiment highlights how brain records memories

[12 March 2009 - EurekAlert! / Wellcome Trust] It may be possible to "read" a person's memories just by looking at brain activity, according to research carried out by Wellcome Trust scientists. In a study published today in the journal Current Biology, they show that our memories are recorded in regular patterns, a finding which challenges current scientific thinking. Demis Hassabis and Professor Eleanor Maguire at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL (University College London) have previously studied the role of a small area of the brain known as the hippocampus which is crucial for navigation, memory recall and imagining future events. Now, the researchers have shown how the hippocampus records memory. When we move around, nerve cells (neurons) known as "place cells", which are located in the hippocampus, activate to tell us where we are. Hassabis, Maguire and colleagues used an fMRI scanner, which measures changes in blood flow within the brain, to examine the activity of these places cells as a volunteer navigated around a virtual reality environment. The data were then analysed by a computer algorithm developed by Demis Hassabis. "We asked whether we could see any interesting patterns in the neural activity that could tell us what the participants were thinking, or in this case where they were," explains Professor Maguire, a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow. "Surprisingly, just by looking at the brain data we could predict exactly where they were in the virtual reality environment. In other words, we could 'read' their spatial memories." More

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An Undaunted Soul

They think of me as a scholar, an intellectual, a pen-pusher.
And I am none of them.
When I write, my fingers
get covered not in ink, but in blood.
I think I am nothing more than this:
an undaunted soul.

-- Words Nikos Kazantzakis used to describe himself in 1950

Sunday, March 08, 2009

On the Creative Life

"Creativity is a central source of meaning in our lives ... most of the things that are interesting, important, and human are the results of creativity ... when we are involved in it, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life." -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (h/t: aestheticflow)

Friday, March 06, 2009

On the Creativity of Young People

"Our future depends on the creativity of young people. And how to do you stimulate young people? By getting them to ask questions of themselves. This work is a battery of ideas, as Joseph Beuys would say, which can recharge and fire the batteries of young people." -- Anthony d'Offay (More)

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Special People Deal with the Unknown and Unknowable and Make Things Up

[5 March 2009 - The Guardian (UK)] Facts are tedious. People who put great store by them even more so. Who wants to be stuck with the club bore or local know-it-all? Yet last week the country went weak at the knees before members of Oxford University's Corpus Christi quiz team, winners (and now, losers) of a TV panel show. Why? Just because they were able to chime back some speedy answers to some fairly arcane questions. Now they are being told they are special. They are not. Special people don't deal with facts; they deal with the unknown and the unknowable. Special people like to make things up. More

[Plus, read more in this same article about German artist Joseph Beuys -- "My life in art: How Joseph Beuys convinced me of the power of conceptual art" ... Beuys's strange work changes the status quo into a world where facts and fiction are indistinguishable]

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Developing entrepreneurship among the world’s poorest

[McKinsey Quarterly - March 2009 Newsletter] In this video interview with Jacqueline Novogratz, posted alongside an excerpt from her new book, The Blue Sweater, she shares her experiences, from encouraging entrepreneurs in Africa to founding and running a "venture" philanthropy. More