Friday, June 24, 2011

Creating a Creativity Revolution in RVA

What happens when you put 250+ creative, innovative folks in one space for eight hours and give them the task to change the way something has been done for centuries?

Things change, that's what!  People leave fired up, turned out, ready to rock and roll.

Consider some of the people presenting their own passions yesterday at i.e.:

Ed Trask, a world-famous artist and former punk rocker, spoke about his art and about seeing the world in a different way, through a creative lens.

Matt and Mike from the Martin Agency, a world-renowned advertising agency, talked about their corporate culture and how they manage to do things so darn well.

Samantha Marquez, a 15-year-old rising sophomore at Maggie Walker Governor's School, blew us all away with her stories about the research she's been involved with for the last 2-3 years and the patents she's already gotten. Unbelievable!

Jeff and Joey Anderson are 21 and 23-years-old and have already started a company, BioTaxi. They get used grease from restaurants and turn it into fuel for their taxis. Not only are they working to help the environment, they are also helping people get from A to Z with incredible customer service.

Valley Haggard and I spoke about our collaboration for Artists and Writers at Randolph Macon College last February and how we're finding joy in vulnerability, authenticity, and nakedness as we pursue our separate passions.

And that was just the tip of the very deep iceberg which is Richmond Creative. 

In break out sessions during the day, we were tasked with deciding what we as a community, a group, and as individuals can do to shift the cultural paradigm in Richmond, VA.  Richmond has historically been seen as the seat of the Confederacy, the place where slave trading took place, a city where the Confederacy is still honored.  In other words, there's a lot to be ashamed of.  The organizers of i.e. asked us to consider a different possibility - that Richmond has a lot more to offer than that, that, in fact, it is a hotbed of creativity, passion, innovation, and inspiration, and could be the Center of Creativity of the US if we just become more aware of all we have to offer.

In looking for a paradigm-shifter, I was inspired by one of the organizers of the event, Stephanie Kirksey.  Everytime I spoke with her about an idea I had for the event, or asked if she could do something for me, she said, "Yes."  Without a moment's hesitation.  She made it happen.  Her attitude emboldened me to be more creative, to take more risks, to assume something could and would happen.  What would happen if we all lived with "YES" as the voice in the background instead of "Well, maybe, if such-and-such doesn't happen..."? 

Another opportunity would be to stop speaking about Richmond's past (yes, we need to honor it and make sure it won't happen again - I don't mean to lessen the suffering of the people who were enslaved), and to instead converse about the dynamic present and the exciting future.  Point to the innovations going on here and now.

The city is bursting at the seams with great ideas.  For example, Andy Thornton,co-owner of LaDiff, the furniture store cum i.e. event site, wants to make the area around his store a Design Region with a Design Museum that would highlight all the cool stuff being created and designed in and around Richmond.  THAT would draw people to downtown!  What a great idea!

I can't wait to see what comes out of this meeting and out of i.e.'s three year initiative.  I sense great change is afoot.

If you're interested in seeing a (fairly poor) recording of the entire event, here is the link. If you're interested in Valley's and my presentation, it's at minute 41 or so and lasts 13 minutes on the 5 hour video.

What part do you play in Richmond's Creativity Revolution?  I'd love to learn how you engage in creativity in your life.

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