Six Faces of Beautiful Creativity

Creativity is often, wrongfully, judged purely on its aesthetic quality. Something is said to be creative because it is beautiful. And beauty is constrained to what pleases us. The saying “beauty is only skin deep” is a reflection of our limited understanding of beauty.

A far richer way of looking at what is creative is to see it as an elegant design that melds together what Victor Papanek calls the six parts of function. These are

  1. Method – how are tools, materials, processes used to achieve function?
  2. Use – what purpose does it serve?
  3. Association – how does it fit in or shift what we value?
  4. Telesis – how does it reflect the order and spirit of the times?
  5. Aesthetics – how does the form please or delight us?
  6. Need – how does it fulfill a survival need?

When I look at the iPhone, one can easily be amazed at the elegance of the solution. It brings together multi-touch displays, GPS chips, and cell phone technology (method) and wraps it in a pleasing design with a delightful sensory interface (aesthetics). In a culture that has learned to text on cellphones or watch videos on iPods, the iPhone finds a ready consumer audience (association and telesis).

On the other hand, it fails the “need” aspect of the creative function. 130 million cellphones are disposed of every year according (Inform Inc) which amounts to about 350 000 per day! Today, it is probably more like half a million per day. A truly beautiful iPhone (in my humble opinion) would also have a cradle-to-cradle program where retired iPhones are dismantled and reused for new phones.

350 000 Cellphones Disposed Per Day
350 000 Cellphones Disposed Per Day

Even truly creative art serves a function. The painting of the Last Supper is not only a “work of art”, but it communicated a message for the Holy Church at a time when most were illiterate. In addition, the painting served a purpose as wall covering (Design for the Real World).

I think the more we appreciate beauty through all its facets, the more that we can encourage its creation.

Buying the War – Bill Moyers

Buying the War - Bill Moyers

Today I could not get my schedule right. I went to two meetings that did not exist. Apparently my sense of the week is shot… but as a result I got to watch an illuminating PBS show with Bill Moyers on media complicity in the Iraq War.

You can get the entire transcript from

Buying the War
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/btw/watch.html

But if you’re short on time, I’ll highlight a few parts that caught my attention:

CNN Reporter
In an interview with a CNN reporter: everybody on staff knew not to do anything too critical of the administration. When the media focused on civilian deaths, there was pressure from corporations, white house officials, and hundreds of threatening emails stating that they were being anti-american.

CYH: The usage of patriotic fervor was a powerful way to silent any dissent. Who would want to be part of the outgroup? Bio-social drivers get activated easily.

How did the administration beat the drums of war?
* Putting up an Iraqi dissenter (Chaliby??) to criticize about Sadaam even though Chaliby was a con man who is part of a group that wants a regime change. He was also paid hundreds of thousands for his cause.
* Defectors were interviewed many of whom were Kurds
* The number of articles written by William Safir, Perle repeated the same facts WMDs, link to terrorism
* Cheney used the information revealed in the story on the talk show. Classic case of government planting story and then confirming it on TV.
* Invoking powerful movies: “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”
* Make sure that voices of the conservatives were much louder… example from Donohue about guidelines for bringing guests on:

PHIL DONOHUE: You didn’t have him alone. He had to be there with someone else who supported the war. In other words, you couldn’t have Scott Ritter alone. You could have Richard Perle alone. You could have the supporters of the President alone. And they would say why this war is important. You couldn’t have a dissenter alone. Our producers were instructed to feature two conservatives for every liberal.

CYH: Connects well with what Lakoff has to say. Conservatives are just better at strategically getting their message out!

Knight Ridder

Red flags that they noticed:
1) Kurd (enemy of Saddam) had been allowed into Top Secret facility? How could his testimony be considered accurate?
2) Why would Sadaam put chemical facility under residence?
3) The same people who told these stories would retell more fantastically
4) Different stories had different points of information… all information provided by defectors were proved false a year later after invasion.

Journalists from Knight Ridder were outside of the bubble and they did a much better job at finding the truth. In fact, they proved that the truth could be found. Problem was that media got all their information from the top-level officials.

CYH: Why was the UN inspector reports totally dismissed in mainstream media? There were many eyes (spy satellites, inspections, etc.) on Iraq and none indicated that there were nuclear weapons being developed.

CYH: By the way, Knight Ridder was bought out by the McClatchy Company (http://www.mcclatchy.com/100/story/179.html).

Journalism on the Cheap

DAN RATHER: This is journalism on the cheap if it’s journalism at all. Just pick up the phone, call an expert, bring an expert into the studio. Easy. Not time consuming. Doesn’t take resources. And– if you– if you’re lucky and good with your list of people, you get an articulate person who will kind of spark up the broadcast.

WALTER ISAACSON: One of the great pressures we’re facing in journalism now is it’s a lot cheaper to hire thumb suckers and pundits and have talk shows on the air than actually have bureaus and reporters. And in the age of the internet when everybody’s a pundit, we’re still gonna need somebody there to go talk to the colonels, to be on the ground in Baghdad and stuff and that’s very expensive.

CYH: It’s easier to not think. It’s also cheaper.

What does this mean to us?
CYH: Well this definitely convinces me that the conservatives were really smart at how they sold the war. Actually it seems that the administration learned from all the previous administration in how to sell the war. I remember reading an article in UTNE at reading the signs when a country is gearing up for war (Elizabeth suggested this article: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/04/24/708/). Do we have the ability to read the signs and stop and think before going past the point of no return?

Human Rights

Positive Adaptive Positioning Case Study

Brief Introduction to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.
Quote from December 10, 1948:

“THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
Purpose
The purpose of this exercise is to conduct very brief research linked to some aspect of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and then find links to the concepts of Adaptive Positioning (# 11, 12, 13), Orienting Stories (# 21, 22, 23, 28), and Pathways to Wisdom (# 27). Supporting concepts might include Orienting Story Strands (#28), Personal Essential Story (# 112-115) and Life Progress Path (#12).

We offer three areas linked to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as starting points:

a) Eleanor Roosevelt (the prime advocate and Grand Dame of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

b) John Peters Humphrey (the Canadian who drafted the original Declaration of Human Rights)

a) Craig and Marc Kielburger (Canadian child rights activists and their youth-based organizations – Free the Children, Me to We, and Leaders Today)

We invite you to explore one of these people (or another person or organization/issue of your choosing), however remember that you only have 40 minutes. A list of resources is available to you, as well as electronic and hard copy materials. We will come together and use the following questions as a guide for a fifteen minute discussion.

Positive Adaptive Positioning Case Studies

Reflection/Discussion Questions
1. To the extent that progress was made in this case, what adaptive positioning capacities were present in these progressive leaders/institutions?
2. How were these adaptive capacities developed?

– What was the role of these key individuals and what disciplines, orienting stories and creative realization capacities (action/learning commitments) were they developing and drawing on?

– What resistance/obstacles/barriers had to be overcome?
3. What signs do you see that lessons [about developing and applying the adaptive capacities illustrated in these cases] have been, or are being learned and embedded in our institutions, communities and culture? Or are they?
Resources
Craig and Marc Kielburger
Me to we site: www.metowe.org – –

http://www.metowe.org/the-book/video-podcasts.html

Leaders Today site: www.leaderstoday.com

Free the Children site: www.freethechildren.com

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Kielburger

www.metoweawards.com

John Peters Humphrey
John Peters Humphrey CBC radio clip http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-71-659-3737/conflict_war/diplomacy/clip1

Eleanor Roosevelt
Leading Minds excerpt

http://www.udhr.org/index.htm

http://library.truman.edu/microforms/fbi_file_eleanor_roosevelt.htm

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/eleanor/sfeature/myday.html

PBS Video clip
General Human Rights
http://www.udhr.org/index.htm

http://www.hri.ca/index.aspx

http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html

Questions to Ponder about Spirituality

I challenge you to answer some questions about your own spirituality in the spirit of a great conversation that digs deep into the meaning of our own lives. Baring our essence and identity to the potential judgment of others is not easy, but it is also too important to leave hidden in our individual selves. Without sharing, how could we understand?

So in preparation for the spirtuality workshop, I have a few questions for you that you may answer on these pages or you may answer for yourself. You may want to answer the question you want to ask or you may want to answer just one of the questions.

  • What roles or functions does spirituality play in your life?
  • How does spirituality connect you to the human venture?
  • If you were to develop a Consumers’ Guide to spirituality, what criteria would you use? (What makes some beliefs are more adaptive than others?)
  • What does spiritual discipline mean to you?