Creativity for change is about recognising the power of our imagination to create better ways of living now and creating a better future for our next generations. It is about harnessing our creativity for positive change in our world.
I love the words to ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon. I cry each time I listen to it. It brings all my love and gratitude for the beauty of what it is to be human up to the surface and I feel right through to the very core of my being that we hold the most immense potential for beauty, creativity and heart-based lives. Even in the face of all the madness that we seem to be living through, I know whole-heartedly that to be human is a divine gift, that we are immensely creative, that there is enough for all of us, and that, somehow it is all going to be OK: this feeling is my life raft.
Many years ago I was teaching a course on the fundamentals of drawing and design to first year students in the Boston Architectural Centre. A few weeks into the course a student was struggling with an assignment: he said he was stuck; that he couldn’t draw. I could really see his frustration, and we chatted in class: I asked him what he liked to do and when did he feel most alive? He said that at night he loved to light candles and write poetry. So I advised him to take the pressure off himself for his work to look any particular way, to start instead with what he loved and to see what happened. He seemed more hopeful as he left.
He came back the next week like a different student. He told me how he had started to write and then to drip the candle wax across the paper and showed me a piece of sculpture that he had created: a relief made of wax. It was a stunning and beautiful change in his work: he had begun to see his creativity in a whole new light! Over the following weeks his confidence grew; it was a joy to see his creativity blossom as he found his means of expression. I knew he was finding his way and I knew that I had found my work: to support people’s creativity so that they can access their imagination and the joy of creating!
When we change how we engage our creativity we change our lives
“What do we serve? What vision of beauty beckons us? … In asking it, we summon a collective vision that nucleates a common story, a common agreement. I do not think the story will be the old future of flying cars, robot servants, and bubble cities overlooking a befouled and barren landscape. It will be a future where the beaches are profuse with seashells again, where we see whales by the thousands, where flocks of birds stretch horizon to horizon, where the rivers run clean, and where life has returned to the ruined places of today.” Eisenstein (2020)
The challenges of our world have always landed with such heaviness in me: the cold war and acid rain when I was a child, ever expanding cities, thousands upon thousands of people sitting in front of screens in pigeon holed cubicles all day, increasing traffic, increasing pollution, the destruction of nature and climate change.
Throughout my life and work a fundamental question has stayed with me: what are we doing any of this for if its not to be happy and healthy? I have asked myself what I can do to create a healthier happier and more beautiful future. So I have explored and learned about who, how and what we could do to create change and I have leaned in to those who share this dream of harnessing our imagination for change.
Rob Hopkins in his book ‘From what is to what if — unleashing the power of the imagination to create the future we want’ beckons us to ask new questions. The new questions are not based on abstract ideas of profit and growth but instead capture our imaginations about how we can create healthier and happier societies, beautiful and inspiring places for living, working, learning, enjoying, exercising and healing.
What if our work filled us with joy and could be of benefit for the world in even small ways?
- Imagine a world where teams gather in conference rooms not talking about maximising profits but instead talking about creating products and services that support real health and happiness. Imagine what that would mean?
- Imagine a world where:hospitals are set in forests and orchards where patients were surrounded by abundant life?
- Imagine a world where we re-defined intelligence beyond logical-mathematical and linguistic, to include other types of intelligence including: musical, existential, interpersonal, bodily kinaesthetic, naturalist, intra-personal and spatial intelligence. Vital (2014)
- Imagine a world where education was all about listening to the soul and heart calling of children and was fun, nurturing and inspiring? Imagine they learned how to grow and mend, build, tend and care for the earth?
- Imagine a world where history was all about learning from the past so that we do not repeat the same mistakes?
- Imagine a world where we had an economic system that was based on regenerative principles and that there was no way to profit from war?
- Imagine if we re-defined success as being about happiness, not just profit?
- Imagine a world where economics was all about what the word really means: Oikos nomos — taking care of the home. What if it was all about taking care of the fundamentals of life: ensuring that everyone on the planet had a home, clean water and enough food as the most basic fundamental tenet of our world.
- Imagine a world where architects, town planners, engineers and quantity surveyors talked about happiness and joy as they planned the future of our villages, towns and cities, with us, in participatory design processes?
- Imagine a world where nature was truly respected and we honoured our own creative nature? Where vulnerability and imagination were as valued as power and money?
- “Imagine all the people living life in peace” Lennon
When we change how we engage our creativity we create new futures
I believe that we can create and co-create all of this and more. There are people, groups and organisations holding these visions and putting their creativity to work to create a beautiful world. I believe in the value of participatory design, in eco-villages and intentional communities, in community gardens and gorilla gardeners, I believe in the power of ARTivism and cultural activism to affect change. I believe that a more beautiful world is possible and that the process of creating it can be filled with joy, the excitement of exploration and with the possibility of learning so much more about our collective creative potential than at any other time in history. I believe that alone we can’t have all the answers but I believe so strongly in the power of WE and the power of together and the power of community. I feel that I was born to be a cheering squad for anyone who dreams of a better world and who just needs a supporting hand at their back.
A creative changemaker:
- Holds a clear whole-hearted vision of a more beautiful world.
- Strives to work with integrity on all aspect of her work: engaging her creativity with courage and commitment.
- Celebrates craft and the joy of creating, making, tending, mending and the gift of our heads, hands and hearts to create.
- Does not strive for power over but engages in power with.
- Learns to listen: most especially to the call of her heart.
- Speaks about love, joy, health and happiness in boardrooms and conference spaces.
- Holds in her awareness that all of life is in flux — in the process of change and that we are on a creative journey together.
- Works to be a good ancestor for our future generations.
- Recognises that even if she does not fit the current template of success that she and her work is still of value in the world.
- Lives with gratitude for the gifts of this life, for nature and this earth and remembers her part in the greater interconnection of all things; holding life in all of its forms with reverence.
We can’t keep following all that came before if we want things to change. Our world needs dreamers. I believe we need to let our imaginations and our hearts seek out brighter futures. We need to allow for new dreams and new possibilities. We need to have the courage to change what is not working, and to seek out new ways of moving forward.
“You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” Lennon
Why do you do what you do? And what would you do differently if anything was possible? Let this question sit lightly with you in meditation, doodling, a walk, daydreaming, writing or drawing. Invite it into clear dreams, give it space and don’t force and answer. Let any answers show themselves to you in their own time. Wishing you a beautiful day.
- Eisenstein C (2013) The more beautiful World our hearts know is possible. North Atlantic Books
- Eisenstein C (2020) Extinction and the revolution of love [Online] https://charleseisenstein.org/essays/extinction-and-the-revolution-of-love/ [Accessed 30th August 2021]
- Eisenstein C (2021) What I’m doing here [Online] https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/what-im-doing-here [Accessed 30th August 2021]
- Harvard Business Review (2014) Understanding new power [Online] https://hbr.org/2014/12/understanding-new-power [Accessed 30th August 2021]
- Hopkins R (2019) From what is to what if. Chelsea Green publishing
- Raworth K (2017) Doughnut Economics. Penguin Random House UK
- Verson J (2007) Chapter 11- Why we need cultural activism: In The Trapese Collective. Do it yourself — A handbook for changing the world PP.171–186
- Vital M (2014) 9 types of Intelligence [Online] https://blog.adioma.com/9-types-of-intelligence-infographic/ [Accessed 30th August 2021]