October 24, 2014

The Rainbow Connection at The First CreativeMornings Summit of 2014

Source: CreativeMornings/New York (@NewYork_CM)

In 2008, Swissmiss, aka Tina Roth Eisenberg, established CreativeMornings, a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. What started with one chapter in Brooklyn, New York, now includes 99 CreativeMornings chapters around the world. On October 2nd and 3rd, CreativeMornings held its First Summit where chapter organizers and their volunteer teams—175 folks with creative hearts and minds—traveled to where CreativeMornings originated and met in person, for the first time: sharing, learning, motivating.

“Color” was CreativeMornings’ global theme for September 2014. It was the perfect lens through which to reflect on the debut gathering of chapter hosts and their teams, who represent a spectrum of creative disciplines and places.

Source: CreativeMornings/Bogota (@Bogota_CM)

Color of anticipation

Social media was tickled, before the Summit officially began, in anticipation of it. Altaira Northe, a member of the CreativeMornings/Toronto chapter team, tweeted, “Countdown to one of the best two days of my life.” Her statement was the keystone in an arch of collective sentiment as the Summit drew closer.

Color of reception

Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, its first floor, served as the charming venue for an evening social. Before embarking on the activities of the next two days, organizers, with members of their teams, delightfully basked in one another’s presence, previously felt faraway—through their respective hosting initiatives—now turned into an opportunity to get acquainted face-to-face, amidst an enchanting spectacle of details throughout the space:

There was a nod to futurist Buckminster Fuller in the form of a mini-geodesic dome, whose exterior was accented with CreativeMornings-chapter pennants, and its interior set aglow, like a planetarium, and accented with a constellation of printed fun facts about different organizers.

Source: Ben Hallman (@nowandben). View also a glimpse of its construction, documented by Sally Rumble, CreativeMornings’ Chief Happiness Officer.

There was a levitating cursive version of the CreativeMornings name, rope-crafted by Brooklyn-based display artist Michelle Bablo.

Source: CreativeMornings/Grand Rapids (@Grandrapids_CM)

Furthermore, a screenprinting set-up conducted by RealThread, from Orlando, Florida. They administered free shirts and printing for the Summit.

Source: Ross Drakes (@rossdrakes)

This reception set the mood for the next two days, which were scheduled to the brim with creative immersion, focused on lessons, observations, ideas, and expectations in managing and enhancing a CreativeMornings chapter. As Taylor Medlin, host of the CreativeMornings chapter in Raleigh, North Carolina, eagerly put it: “In NYC about to start a day of inspiration with CM Chapters from over 30 different countries at the CreativeMornings Summit. Can’t wait!!!”

Source: Rita Elise (@ritaelise)

Color of appreciation

At the onset of the first full day of the Summit, in her welcoming address to CreativeMornings chapter organizers and their volunteers, Tina addressed the crucial act of trust. Her affirmations: “Trust breeds magic”; “By letting go and trusting, we’ve really created a global labor of love.”

Human relationships, which endure, are rooted in trust. It is both seed and springboard. The naturalist Henry David Thoreau proclaimed having “faith in a seed.” The founder of the Collaborative Fund, Craig Shapiro, took notice of Tina’s invention of CreativeMornings during its initial period. He called her to a pivotal (and proverbial) lunch meeting. His intention: to ask(1) her for the opportunity to help advance CreativeMornings’ team and series of chapters. Tina acknowledged this moment in 2011. Craig’s ask was an acknowledgement of Tina’s work in fostering a creative community and galvanizing its perennial goodness. Faith in a seed, acknowledgment in action.

Like its other gatherings worldwide, the first CreativeMornings Summit was realized by people satisfying a lot of different roles: organizing, sponsoring, volunteering, pitching in, reaching out. All involved are acknowledging the present and future tense of a community vibrating with inventiveness, in their chosen craft, in their chosen city.

Source: Trish Ang (@feesh)

Color of cities

As part of the wave of anticipation for the Summit, Sally Rumble, CreativeMornings’ Chief Happiness Officer, tweeted a photograph of postcards, produced by MOO, that declare themselves like flags, signifying each city’s chapter that compose the international presence of CreativeMornings. A tapestry of creative cities. Urbanist Jane Jacobs believed, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Making is a city’s capability. It’s innate in everyone. It produces aesthetic and pragmatic things, contributing to a location’s landscape and its sense of place, physically, emotionally, intellectually. These human-made things visibly unfold in dimension and mass, shaping civic pride. The Summit celebrated the human achievement of the city—the creative city.

Color of encounters

The playwright Tennessee Williams defined time as “the longest distance between two places.” The same can be asserted about creativity, naturally open to gain mileage. The Summit celebrated the communal proximity between chapters and the people running them. Miles were bridged when colleagues at a distance mutually feel like kindred spirits in the flesh. Ben Thoma, host of the CreativeMornings chapter in Austin, Texas, advised, “Look around. You’re surrounded by beautiful CreativeMornings organizers.” I’d like to infer that the “beautiful” is the beauty of honesty, diligence, and participating in something wonderful.

Kait Ebinger, CreativeMornings Photographer. Source: Ross Drakes (@rossdrakes)

Color of effort

Venue, food, speakers—these choices define the cultural template that attendees desire to see populated and animated at their local CreativeMornings chapter. The underlying effort to keep this template consistently top-notch is invisible. It demands raw human power.(2) CreativeMornings—its global family of teams—is realized on this fuel, high in commitment and calories. Every chapter gathering is recognition of human effort—not just the triumphs, the suffering too. During the first day’s exercise of organizers sharing their impressions, informed by running events for their respective chapter, vulnerability was highlighted by Brandon Webber, host of the CreativeMornings chapter in Edmonton, Canada: “CreativeMornings is a platform to share our successes and struggles in our cities.”

Effort, stretched and honed over time, is a privilege to witness, in CreativeMornings’ case, month to month. The Summit celebrated the continuum of attempts made in the letter and symbol of creativity, situated in the present, poised to build the future.

Source: @MarkBusse

Color of the future

On the second full day, IDEO designer and partner Fred Dust led collaborative brainstorming exercises, with organizers and their team members, to visualize the around-the-corner generation of CreativeMornings. Small groups of participants were prompted to draw and describe ideas oriented toward evolving the CreativeMornings frontier with, as Marcel Proust once said, “new eyes.”(3)

The collaborative brainstorming channeled the shared wonder, held by chapter organizers and their teams, before the Summit commenced. It’s a colorful wonder for the friendly potential of people and the urban environment within which they engage. A colorful wonder for people sharing their trek of ideas and expressions of them. A colorful wonder for creativity and the perspective it can bring.

To put a CreativeMornings spin on the end-of-a-rainbow scenario, one would find a group of people—strangers in fact—welcoming small talk leading to spirited conversations. Believing in doing good work. Their ambition is to learn from each other, since they share the same direction of striving to put a positive “ding in the universe.”(4) Their hard-earned experience would be amplified for everyone to glean nuggets of self-examination, awareness, and observation, even signals to explore, collaborate, and make. It would be a group of people, getting together, and genuinely giving reciprocal bursts of courage(5), camaraderie, and imagination, without arrogance and gatekeeping.

At the Summit: new professional connections were made, new personal reflections were provoked, new possibilities were staged. Josh Goldblum, host of the Philadelphia chapter of CreativeMornings, proactively said, “Incredibly excited to attend the CreativeMornings Summit! Looking to bring some big ideas back to CreativeMornings/Philadelphia.” This selfless act of not confining informed principles and practices, instead, turning these ingredients into a care package of perspective for everyone’s advantage, demonstrates the profound benefits-in-progress driven by a quality that Tina distilled as the meaning of CreativeMornings: Generosity.

Source: Carly Ayres

Color of now

The Summit’s second full day ended with a dinner-dance party, coupled with a talent show at the Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation. Another generous opportunity to fortify rapport with other participants of the CreativeMornings community and ride the narrative energy of the past two days, which were dedicated to improving and sustaining a chapter’s vitality, and, at the same time, that of its host-city and the CreativeMornings community-at-large.

Source: CreativeMornings/Boston (@Boston_CM)

Another special event in the after-party festivities was marking the sixth birthday of CreativeMornings. Its first Summit concluded with sparkling reverie of how evolved Tina’s creation has become, of the many who regularly need it to stir and elevate the quality of their creative pursuits, and of what memories are waiting to be fulfilled.

CreativeMornings ship illustrated by Adam J. Kurtz. Source: Ben Hallman (@nowandben)

The following day quickly arrived amid the enriched excitement that preceded it. Apparent in the social-media-ripples were spikes of withdrawal, expected after an event that gathered people who, in the manner of naval captains and their crew, have been steering the CreativeMornings ship and devoted to strengthening its course.

Attendees steered their ways to their next destination. I assume mostly returned home, or landed in another city, or extended their wandering in Brooklyn. Whatever the next scene, hearts were electrified. Aspirations pumped. Brains massaged. Thrusters on full. One coinciding destination was the immediate future. To recall another to-do encouraged by Tina: “Never stop having fun.”

Fun is the destination for creativity to thrive.

Here’s to anticipation of going to the next local CreativeMornings gathering: to feel inspired, to acquire a sense of community, to be better, and to experience wholehearted fun in the process.

(1) “Ask for opportunities.”—One of the pieces of advice given by Debbie Millman, of radio show “Design Matters,” in her presentation at the First CreativeMornings Summit.

(2) Echoing the phrase “raw human power” from this CreativeMornings-related post of mine.

(3) As Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

(4) As Steve Jobs said, “I want to put a ding in the universe.”

(5) “Confidence is overrated. Courage is more important than confidence.”—Another piece of advice given by Debbie Millman, Chair/Co-founder of the Masters Program in Branding at School of Visual Arts, in her presentation at the First CreativeMornings Summit.

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The First CreativeMornings Summit was held on October 2–3, 2014, in Brooklyn, New York. Read this pre-Summit article and Summit Recap by Carly Ayres, Chief Content Officer at CreativeMornings. View interviews with ten volunteer hosts, from around the globe, of CreativeMornings chapters in this video by Bas Berkhout, Filmmaker and Co-Founder of Like Knows Like.

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See my write-ups and photos of CreativeMornings/Chicago gatherings since their debut in 2011, plus my posts at the CreativeMornings Blog.

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For conferences/summits/camps/meet-ups related to art, business, design, technology, writing, and more, see my list.

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