Teaching Creativity to Social Innovation Pioneers

Getting to Maybe is a “social innovation residency” named after the book of the same title by Frances Westley, Brenda Zimmerman, and Michael Patton.  The programs occur in summer at the beautiful Banff Centre, in and among pristine lakes and snowy mountains.

Westley invited us to teach participants about creativity, and given the setting, we decided to design and lead a course in making environmental art or “earthworks:” art works built in nature of found natural objects, photographed, then dismantled.

We led this course for two years, during which the participants made some truly amazing artwork.  The works ranged from graceful compositions of stones to monumental arrangements of entire tree trunks.  Powerful themes emerged — birth, death, transformation, loss, love, fear, peace — all in unexpected, provocative ways.  At the close of the programs, we took the artworks apart, leaving the scene as we had found it.

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