2015 ART OF HEALING SPEECHES
When we started the Lulu & Leo Fund, we set out to do something authentic. For the past 3 years, we have been digging deeper into the meaning of the word creativity. I would not have been able to fully understand how powerful this word is without the tragic loss of Lulu and Leo.
As I wrote and re-wrote many times what it means to be a SuperArtist…someone who has the creative confidence to choose creativity in all aspects of life…what I was really struggling with was the word -- CREATIVITY. We threw this powerful word around all the time when speaking with kids and adults but we found that still so many people associate creativity with being artistic. Each time somebody would tell me that they weren't creative, I would get frustrated. How do you clarify this misunderstood word for people? How do you help them discover their inner SuperArtist? How do you teach them that choosing creativity is for everybody and for everything you do in life?
I want to share how I think you can all relate to this word.
Looking back, I can pinpoint the key traits that helped me through this difficult journey. These traits are what we call the SuperArtist principles. Here are the 10: authentic, curious, unconventional, patient, expressive, resourceful, intuitive, inventive, present and inspired. They are the foundation of what it means to be a SuperArtist. Each principle contributes to a person’s ability to choose creativity.
To bring these principles to life for kids, we have created a 10-week SuperArtist curriculum, which we plan on distributing through schools, libraries and community centers. Kids will develop a practical understanding of the principles and learn simple mantras by completing creative challenges and earning badges. We hope that kids will learn that these SuperArtist principles can give them a powerful inner foundation that they can always rely on!
These principles have guided me through my life pre and post Lulu and Leo. I chose creativity each day Lulu and Leo were by my side and later without them -- this is my "choose creativity" story. My special blend of these SuperArtist principles helped me to choose creativity to heal.
Many people, whether they be doctors, lawyers or construction workers, have their own inspiring "choose creativity" stories. This is when we realized that the Fund was organically evolving into a new and exciting chapter that Kevin will tell you more about.
Before I go, I want to thank our SuperArtist Ambassadors. These passionate supporters have embraced the SuperArtist program and have organized creative gatherings in their backyards, workplaces and even their local farmers market, helping us reach kids and adults beyond New York City. SuperArtist is gaining momentum and I want to thank you all for your support in making it happen!!!
Thank you all for supporting the Lulu & Leo Fund and its mission.
It’s with your support that the Fund has accomplished so much this past year:
We gave 5 grants to existing grantees and a very exciting new one – Materials for the Arts
We gave out the first-ever Master SuperArtist Grant to Melissa McGill and helped her build a new Constellation of stars over the Hudson
We launched SuperArtist Saturdays with our grantee partner Project Art at libraries around the 5 boroughs
We added three new board members – Janet Abrams-Piechota, Sonali Thiesen, Brian Fox, who represent a diverse background of perspectives and skills and a deep passion for the Fund’s mission
And…the Fund more than doubled our impact, which was the goal we set out last year.
Thank you all. It literally would not have happened without you!!!
I must also say a huge thanks to our small but mighty staff – Jenny and Steph – who worked hard to make this happen.
I’d like to share a story that is an apt analogy for the Fund’s mission and our continuing growth and evolution.
In May, we celebrated Lulu’s birthday in the Muir Woods in Marin County. Surprisingly we’d never been there. We were awe struck by the redwoods. Their beauty. Their size. Their endurance. In particular, we were fascinated that many of them had terrible scars from fires that had ripped through the forest over the centuries, some are even famously hollowed out, yet incredibly they continue to thrive. They are some of the most resilient trees in the world.
We were struck by the analogy to the solidity and resilience that creativity gave us when we were burned through. The Lulu & Leo Fund is about helping people develop the creative confidence to face both adversity and fortune with the determination and equanimity to choose a constructive path.
To accomplish that, we have come to the realization that we need to be relevant and accessible to everyone. And their creative confidence needs to be as well established as the redwoods’ powerful roots and tough bark. They need to have a supportive ecosystem, one that values creativity, that appreciates its importance. Thus we know that we have to reach professionals and community leaders, educators and policy makers, in addition of course to families and our inherently SuperArtist children.
Clearly, we’re not the only ones realizing this. Researchers have known the power of creativity for quite awhile. Scientists too. Here’s a remarkable passage from a 1959 essay on creativity by the famous writer and accomplished scientist Isaac Asimov:
The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren’t paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side effects [of their creativity].
Fifty-six years later, it’s more urgent than ever. You know something’s changing when it’s becoming a major priority for companies too: Vishal Sikka recently started as the new CEO of Infosys, one of the largest outsourcing companies in the world, and realized that his biggest challenge was a lack of creativity in his company’s workforce. He understands that machines will soon do most of these outsourced tasks and even trickier tasks like problem solving, leaving people primarily in the creative roles of what he calls “problem finding” and “possibility imagining.” That will be success in the future.
So tonight we are sharing with you a new initiative we call Choose Creativity, it’s a big, inclusive tent, maybe even a movement – if you can help us make it one. Take a look at the ChooseCreativity.org site; share it with your family and friends. That small site is just a sneak peek of a beginning, with much more to come.
Choose Creativity is optimism. It’s a call to action. It’s a commitment to see the possibility in every moment.
We envision this as something that will reach our key audiences – educators, parents, professionals, community leaders and policymakers – with programming, inspiration and advocacy. Imagine reaching people across the country and the world with the SuperArtist curriculum and its workplace equivalent. Imagine giving any school, library or community organization the curriculum and the necessary supplies at no cost to them. Imagine an online community for educators, parents, and researchers to share their experiences and best ideas. Imagine inspiring stories and videos showcasing how creativity helps people across a wide diversity of situations. Imagine a society that values creative education as an equal among peers.
We can do all of these things with your support and help.
One last thought on why we should care. This is a favorite John Muir quote, from his time among the redwoods:
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
We certainly are hitched together. Our communities, our whole planet are all interconnected. Let’s share the power of creativity with everyone. Thank you!
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THE SUPERARTIST CURRICULUM
We've created the SuperArtist Curriculum based on the 10 Principles of Creativity for kids aged 5-9. Help us get the program into the communities that need it most!