Full Audio Podcast of the April 19th Imagination Conversation Now Available!

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Last Monday, Steven Dahlberg, director of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination in New Milford, CT, hosted the Connecticut Imagination Conversation, as part of its 50 Imagination Conversations project. The agenda for the event focused on education, community, and leadership, with an eye toward developing an innovative, state-wide agenda.

Recorded for broadcast on the Connecticut Public Radio program, “Where We Live,” and now the audio recording is available online—check it out!

For a brief, but very vibrant, summary by radio commentator John Dankosky, you can also visit http://whereweblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/715/#comments. “I am, by nature, both highly skeptical and wildly enthusiastic about [such] conversations,” begins Dankosky, who seems to have ended up being mostly wildly enthusiastic. The page welcomes comments.

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The Noble Workforce

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In a March article for The Huffington Post, consultant Karen Noble makes an urgent appeal to managers to focus on workforce morale. Her specific suggestions call to mind some of the practices that Eric Liu and I outline in Imagination First. Noble frames her argument by referencing two surveys: the Conference Board shows 45% of American workers dissatisfied with their jobs, and Opinion Research Corporation shows 25% ready to leave their positions once the economy stabilizes. Based on her years of experience as a consultant, Noble claims that low worker morale is a serious obstacle to innovation—and we need the latter to remain economically competitive. So what steps can managers take to satisfy employees and, in doing so, set the U.S. on the right economic track?

Image by Jacob Bøtter*

Noble points to “flexibility,” “innovation zones,” and “service” as three means of boosting workforce morale. The second of these connects most closely to what Eric and I deal with in our book. Noble recommends the official establishment of regular times and/or places in which free-form brainstorming can take place. Eric and I propose something similar in describing our first imaginative practice, “Make Mist.” Noble also writes that the motto “‘Failure Welcomed Here’ should be explicit, because encouraging failure often unleashes people’s capacity to succeed.” Eric and I make a related argument near the end of Imagination First, urging readers to “Fail Well”—that is, to realize that our errors may be as useful to us, if not more so, than our successes. Not fearing failure means taking chances, and taking chances can result in big, bold ideas.

The strong sense one gets from Noble’s piece is that more open, imaginative workplaces are necessary if we are to combat the “rising tide of disquiet among the still-employed, a tide that could potentially capsize our long-term economic wellbeing.” Her extensive background in the business world adds weight to her pleas, which coincide with one of the messages of Imagination First: “unless we feed our collective capacity for imagination, we can be sure that…innovations will be fewer and farther between” (27). Innovation, just about everyone agrees, is a key to global economic leadership. The equation, then, seems clear: truly imaginative environments produce innovative (and happy) workers, and such workers enhance America’s position in the global marketplace.

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LCI addresses UNESCO

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Image by Jane Hoffer

There is great excitement at Lincoln Center Institute these days, in anticipation of two major events in May. For the first time in the Institute’s history, it will present a professional development seminar in Seoul, Korea, May 21–25, hosted in alliance with Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture (SFAC). While there, we will have the honor of yet another first for us: the Seoul Educators Workshop 2010 is the pre-event of the second UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education, hosted by Korea, and our Executive Director (and Imagination Now featured blogger), Scott Noppe-Brandon, has been invited to speak before an assembly of world’s cultural leaders. The UNESCO conference will look at the role of the arts both in and outside of the environment, and will hear diverse ideas about the future of arts education.

In his speech, Scott will address the international significance of LCI’s collaboration with SFAC, the invaluable relationship of LCI’s teaching artists with classroom teachers, and, of course, the importance of imagination—no longer the province of the arts alone, but the basis of the imagination-creativity-innovation paradigm that today fuels the progress of our society. And that means a changed education, fulfilling careers, and new visions of the world ahead.

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Comments from Korea

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Image by Michael Coté*

As I eagerly prepare to speak at the 2nd World Conference on Arts Education in Seoul, Korea in May, a news item from that capital city makes me even more excited about my upcoming visit. At the Global Metropolitan Forum of Seoul 2010 (GMF), a March event aimed at increasing the city’s economic competitiveness, Mayor Oh Se-hoon offered welcoming remarks linking imagination, creativity, and innovation to urban development. His words serve as a potent reminder of the fact that imagination is central not only to education, business, art, and science, but also to the functioning of successful communities. An article in The Korea Herald by Song Sang-ho reports on the March forum, an event that has now set the stage for the exhilarating conversations that are sure to fill the conference hall in May. Continue reading

Talking Creativity and Social Change in CT

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Image by Daneil Huggard*

Steven Dahlberg, director of the International Centre for Creativity and Imagination in New Milford, CT, will host the Connecticut Imagination Conversation, presented in conjunction with Lincoln Center Institute as part of its 50 Imagination Conversations project. The event will take place on the evening of Monday, April 19th and will be recorded for broadcast on the Connecticut Public Radio program, “Where We Live.”

The Connecticut Conversation will focus on education, community, and leadership, with an eye toward developing an innovative, state-wide agenda. As Dahlberg writes, “Creativity and imagination matter in every aspect of society. Imagination matters for engaging students and teachers in meaningful education. It matters for bringing new ideas into reality to improve the economy. And it matters for helping people express their creative capacities in their work and their communities. We hope to help connect people who want to tap into more of their imagination and apply it for creating positive change across this state.”

This event coincides with work that Dahlberg has been focusing on through a course he teaches at the University of Connecticut-Greater Hartford called “Creativity + Social Change.” Check out the Creativity + Social Change blog to learn what his students have been up to.

Click here to learn more about this upcoming event.

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Notes from an Imagination Advocate, Part Three

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Image by muellermartin*

Coming of age in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I occasionally got the impression that certain members of the anti-establishment community thought that they were the first people ever to protest a government, and that their methods were utterly unique and had no historical precedent. In retrospect, I think some of the radical movements of the time might have met with greater success had they been more conscious of the continua of which they were a part. When you’re deeply involved with a set of ideas, it’s important to know not only where you stand, but also who came before you and who else is doing what you’re doing. I’m speaking to myself and my colleagues at Lincoln Center Institute now, and to all educators who support our work. What can we do better? Continue reading

Sparking the Imagination

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“LCI’s mandate to empower classroom teachers calls to mind the safety instructions you often hear on an airplane: Put on your own oxygen mask before you help the child sitting next to you. In other words, a teacher has to first engage her own imagination before she can help her students tap into theirs.”



Dance journalist Michelle Vellucci has written a nuanced Dance Teacher Magazine article describing Lincoln Center Institute’s approach to imaginative teaching and learning, by way of describing educators’ experiences during a 2009 summer professional development workshop focused on the digital work of art Ghostcatching (a collaboration by choreographer Bill T. Jones and digital artists Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser). In addition to providing a window on the learning process of course participants, Vellucci provides an introduction to the Institute’s philosophical grounding and interviews a classroom teacher about his and his fifth-grade students’ explorations of Ghostcatching during a successful unit the previous school year.

Read Vellucci’s full article.

Learn more about LCI’s summer professional development workshops.

Ghostcatching image: choreographed and performed by Bill T. Jones digital artistry by Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser

Classroom image: Nancy Bareis

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Poe’s “Chemistry of the Intellect”

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I’m a master’s student in the department of English at New York University, currently enrolled in a course called American Romance and Realism, in which we read fiction from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A few weeks ago, we looked at the work of Edgar Allan Poe, plunging ourselves into his dark, sensuous, neurotic literary universe. But Poe was a critic and commentator as well as our country’s foremost documenter of psychic torment, and while doing my assigned reading for the week, I stumbled across a bit of his “Marginalia” that my Penguin anthology calls “On Imagination.” (It was originally published in the Southern Literary Messenger in May 1849.) What does Poe have to say about Lincoln Center Institute’s core concept? Continue reading

More Kudos for Eric Liu!

A quick note of congratulations for Eric Liu, co-author of Imagination First: on March 11th Eric was honored with the Bill Grace Leadership Legacy Award, given annually by the Center for Ethical Leadership in Seattle, and he is featured on the cover and in the pages of the April 2010 edition of Parent Map magazine as part of a special focus on “Superheroes for Washington Families.” Well-deserved honors for a tireless advocate!

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