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Viewing entries tagged with 'potential'

Thinking on the hop

Posted by Philip Patston on 22 March 2008, 10:08 am in , , , , , ,

So much for regular blogging - my three days of working and hanging out with the folk at arcadea was so intense that writing about it was really out of the question. Even now it's hard to know how to do the experience justice without giving myself an overuse injury. I'll start with a really brief synopsis and then add the contents of an email I've just sent to Vici, arcadea's director.

On Tuesday I spent the morning with Vici in what we tried to make a structured mentoring meeting. It ended up as the beginning of a three day tangented, organic and, at times (testament to an instant and strong mutual rapport) hilarious, discussion on cultural equality, the state of disability arts in the UK and our shared passion to inject renewed vitality into individuals and a movement experiencing changes in arts funding policies, apathy, identity confusion and what I might term loosely social fracture (difficulty in meeting together, organising, agreeing on focus etc). These discussions threaded through into a meeting with arcadea's board (only three of whom were able to attend) on Tuesday evening, a full day seminar with artists on Wednesday, and a seminar with council and arts facilities staff on Thursday morning followed by a concluding dynamic brainstorm about the future on Thursday morning. The energy created by about a dozen people who came to all or most events was palpable, of which I was honoured to be a part. I left inspired by the generation of ideas and vision that sprung from my visit.

If I were to summarise my input by way of justifying my presence, it was:

  • Presenting my story as inspiiration and testament to creating internal and external change in unison.
  • Introducing the idea of functional diversity as a reframing tool for the experience of disability. This generated intense discussion about language and identity, including the nature of the word 'function', which I agreed has limits due to clinical connotation, as well as a pragmatic and width of meaning. This debate has already inspired an evolution in my thinking described below.
  • Reframing 'disability arts' as part of the realm of creative and social entrepreneurship, attributing barriers and resistant attitudes to the innovative aspect of the work and landscape, rather than the content of the issue. I was also able offer social entrepreneurship theory - standing still, resiliency cycles and the call to engage repetitively in complex rather than simple pursuits - to make sense of the challenges the group was facing as individuals and as a movement.
  • Observing the connection between individual, internal reality and collective, external reality and using deliberate creation of the former to influence change in the latter.
  • Consciously combating fatigue and weariness by observing and changing negative and patterned beliefs into useful, constructive ones.
  • Capitalising on relationship building, persuasion and constructive thinking to build future direction, balancing without devaluing activism, cynicism and victim-based approaches.
Thursday's final brainstorm was testimony to the success of the three day Inspiring Internationalists event. I witnessed individual changes Vici and her three executive colleagues that bouy me in my outlook for the future for arcadea and the movement in the North East region.

The rest is taken from the email sent to Vici this morning, focusing on my thinking on functional diversity and the future:

I had a very relaxing day yesterday, barely got out of bed, and woke this morning at 5:30 with "the answer" to the functional diversity dilemma - a better term I think is EXPERIENTIAL DIVERSITY, where the enquiry is into the VALUE of UNIQUE EXPERIENCE (physical, social, emotional etc) vs COMMON EXPERIENCE - but also the EXPRESSION of Unique Experience vs Common Experience. This allows for disablement and therefore the "disabled" identity to be simply one facet of Unique Experience and Expression. I think the idea of experience also lends itself well to the idea of internal and external experience - the difference between how I experience myself and how others experience me - and using expression as the bridge.

All this makes the WISE SPECIES™ model (which just didn't have time to emerge in the 3 days) more coherent. I'm really quite excited about this conceptual development because it speaks so perfectly to my wider interest in social change. It allows a language and enquiry into the Experiential/Expressive Diversity of all social groups, creating an equal space to explore a constructive/ creative perspective on experience and craft it into useful expression, without overlooking marginalisation and discrimination, powerlessness and oppression. By definition it must also include privilege, power and even criminal deviation and anti-social roles.

So, going back to the disability arts aspect and our discussion about the future on Thursday night, it seems to me this could form the basis of some more focused professional development work I could offer to artists with unique experience (informed by impairment and disability). It would be great to work with a group of artists wanting to explore their unique experience in the context of their creative/expressive work, over a longer period, perhaps a week or more, and maybe have it culminate in a public showing.

This article came through on an IFACCA newsletter. Maybe there is a chance to strike while the iron is hot and offer dialogue for new ACE CEO in terms of his "mission to see “excellent” arts and culture made accessible to all" - I note he also mentions Newcastle/Gateshead as doing things differently - so he'll be expecting a different take from you!?!?
New arts chief on a mission to change people’s lives for better - nebusiness.co.uk

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Person Centred Creativity

Posted by Philip Patston on 1 March 2008, 8:51 pm in , ,


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Slowing down to speed up

Posted by Philip Patston on 1 February 2008, 7:48 pm in , ,

In an address at the launch of ArtVenture 2008, I spoke about my experience of business acceleration from the perspective of a social and creative entrepreneur. I shared briefly my learning that acceleration is not just about speeding up – it’s about first ensuring that the vehicle, conditions and destination are suitable for a faster ride forward. This post expands on these ideas:

On a recent journey from Auckland to Wellington in my new "sensible" Mazda MPV people mover (upgraded from my "boy-racer" Mitsubishi Legnum), we encountered road resurfacing. The purpose of the roadworks was to make the road smoother, safer and, as a result, faster. However, to create that result, the road had to be stripped back to the metal, requiring us to comply with a 30 km/hour speed limit rather than the usual 100 km/hour. At times we had to stop completely to allow cars from the other direction to pass. The boy-racer in me would have been frustrated, given the lost potential for speed, however temporary. But now, in my new, sensible Mazda, I conceded that the situation demanded short-term patience and the foresight to recognise that, long-term, the road would be better, safer, faster.

"My new car is bigger, more powerful, newer and mechanically more sound," I reasoned. "When I return to this stretch of road, I'll be able to take more people along for the ride. And it'll be even faster than the Legnum!" I thought, constructively keeping traffic cops out of the metaphor.

"Standing still" is a well known term in the field of social innovation. It describes the need to reflect and listen, observe and understand the social landscape, in order to prepare for decisive action. The tension and contradiction between reflection and action needs to be "held", in order to understand the subtlety and complexity of social change. In itself this is an art - that of becoming comfortable with the discomfort of dichotomy.

For creative entrepreneurs, social change is a strong driver in the creative process. The focus is not, for example, simply on choreography, but on discovering a new relationship between movement and the soul. It is not just about creating a land sculpture, but replenishing life force to enrich the environment. And it is not just a matter of running a writers' festival, but creating a new relationship between people and literature.

As such, the race for business acceleration in the creative sector needs careful pacing. The time to stop, reflect, tune in and evaluate the complex balance between creative integrity, social responsibility and business acuity is, in my opinion, absolutely crucial. After all, going too fast on a stripped back metal road has the potential for disaster and destruction for oneself and others.

In my own business experience I have needed nearly a year of complete confusion and intense speculation about my products and services, in order to begin to identify a new, unique and (hopefully) profitable direction that integrates the social and creative aspects of my work.

To truly reach our potential, we creative innovators need to slow our boy/girl-racer urges, choosing instead to purposefully accelerate in our sensible but powerful people-movers, filled to the brim with those whom we wish to take with us on our pioneering journeys.

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Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Posted by Philip Patston on 13 January 2008, 2:29 am in , , , ,

This is my favourite from TED.com:


Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize -- much less cultivate -- the talents of many brilliant people. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. The universality of his message is evidenced by its rampant popularity online. A typical review: "If you have not yet seen Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk, please stop whatever you're doing and watch it now."

More about Sir Ken Robinson »

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Plan your year

Posted by Philip Patston on 9 January 2008, 8:23 pm in

For the first time last year I set annual goals and objectives. At the beginning of this year I was able to review them, seeing clearly what I'd achieved and, where I hadn't done what I'd planned, benefiting from the learning I'd gained. This year I'm able to continue last year's success by setting even more focussed objectives to continue long term goals, and change or set new goals that leverage my learning. It's been a great affirmation of potential. I've also been reminded of the power of intention and how physically writing one's intentions make them so much more potent.

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