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Harnessing The Creative

What is
creativity and how can it be cultivated and enhanced? This was the provocative
set of questions at the heart of the Advancing
Creative Thinking: Imagination To Innovation
conference held in Ridgefield,
CT this past weekend. The 2-day event, co-presented by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Ridgfield Library and the Ridgefield Arts Council, brought
together a truly eclectic set of speakers to explore the prism of creativity
and its pragmatic use from the perspective of business, education, poetry,
music and the visual arts. In my experience, it is highly unusual to have such
an event be peppered with a mix of business consultants, visual artists, poets,
journalists and media mavens of all stripes. However, this 360 degree approach
gave an illuminating and inspiring perspective on the subject at hand.

The event
kicked off with an opening musical prelude on Friday evening April 27 in the
beautiful sanctuary of Ridgefield’s historic Jesse Lee Memorial United Methodist Church. The SymphoNYChorus, a faith-based choir,
sang inspirational hymns and gospel songs to make concrete the connection
between the divine and the earthly. The performance was quickly followed by a
diverting and quite funny address by David Pogue, the key tech reviewer
for the New York Times, who offered
a glimpse of how technological changes in the past decade will only speed up in
the years ahead, and how our brains and our souls are adapting. Citing various
innovative mobile technologies and showcasing the changes that are afoot in our
rapidly changing environment, Pogue mixed an air of wild-eyed
optimism at the goodies coming our way with a wariness of how we as a species
will adapt to this tsunami of technological change.

Pogue, who concluded the program with a
self-composed ditty on technological frustration sung to the tune of The Sounds Of Silence, was followed by
the overdrive personality of problem solver Bruce King-Shey, whose
company Jump Associates is one of
the key drivers of the art of hybrid thinking (one must be a tech wiz, social
observer and capitalist all at once). He challenged the audience to think
outside the envelope and beyond the box to access the tools needed to apply
expansive thinking to matters of economics, social problems and personal
development. These last qualities were echoed, in quite a different context and
in a totally different delivery style, by artist and social activist Lily
, who described a successful project she had inaugurated in the
slums of Philadelphia to realize a poor community’s potential to make their
lives better, more beautiful and more hopeful. Ms. Yeh’s current project, a
memorial to the victims of the Rwandan genocide, is the latest initiative of
her Barefoot Artists organization,
which attempts to use public art as an organizing tool for communities under

sessions were held at the Aldrich
Contemporary Art Museum
, a local resource and one of the most respected
regional art museums in the country. Parallel seminars were held in various
public spaces in the museum that illuminated everything from organizational
innovation to storytelling and the art of the imagination to poetry workshops
and an open air movement class led by local choreographer James Robey. Depending on
one’s orientation and expectation, the sessions offered were either pragmatic
how-to sessions designed to demonstrate the various ways that creative thinking
and methodology can be addressed to a wide variety of issues and goals, or were
of a more personal and inspirational bent, inviting the participant to tap into
their own creative impulse and jointly create a moment, a feeling, an
observation or a philosophy that allows one to access the innate creativity at
our core.


From IBM
poobahs to a new generation of motivational consultants, from enlightened
educators to inspired artists, from self-help gurus to therapeutic
storytellers, the full gamut of the pragmatic and poetic uses of creativity
were explored. The closing keynote address summed it all up, with an address by
, a retired emeritus of IBM,
offering a crystal ball view into the innovations we can expect in the 21
century and how technology is more than a means to an end. The creative sparks
were definitely flying by the conference’s end, with a strong sense among
attendees that they had been privileged to participate in a visionary exercise
that demonstrated how there are no closed roads and many pathways to
individual, organizational and societal fulfillment. In short, seeds were
mostly definitely planted and the flowers that will emerge in the months ahead
will be beautiful ones indeed.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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About FilmNewYork

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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