The Key Question From Paris: Who Is Going To Pay To Save The Planet -Fast Company
Finance is a cornerstone issue of the climate talks as countries wrangle over the money needed to cut pollution while also protecting the vulnerable. Some of the world’s countries (the U.S., Europe, and so forth) have been developing using pollution-generating energy for centuries, while others are suffering the consequences without reaping the benefits of that development. Under the current developed countries are responsible for repaying their climate debt by providing financial resources to reduce emissions, develop technology, and help countries to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change.
Rather than ante up, it would appear that the developed world is engaging in financial shenanigans. At the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, developed nations promised $30 billionfor the following three years, but only 10% has actually been given to the countries as "new money" to implement on the ground sustainable changes. The rest of the money was found through creative accounting practices, counting existing grants and loans instead of providing the new funds that were promised.
In Paris, developing countries have pledged $100 billion in the next four years to pay for clean energy research and climate mitigation, but again, it's not so straightforward:Developed countries are including climate finance loans in that number, loans the developing nations must repay to the rich countries and international institutions like the World Bank.
The negotiations over the financial issue ended earlier then expected when developed countries refused to engage in negotiations. "The U.S. negotiators aren’t taking Obama’s directive for leadership," says Meena Raman, of Friends of the Earth Malaysia. "President Obama said that the developed world and the United States will assume its responsibility and will do something to combat climate change. But if you look at the way the negotiations are going, the United States negotiators and their positions in the talks are far away from assuming any responsibility. In fact, what they’re doing is shifting the responsibility to the developing world."
From Fast Company
On The Streets And In The Negotiations In Paris, The Attempts To Silence The People's Voices
As the decision makers continue negotiating to determine the fate of the planet, the residual effects of Paris attacks still hang over the city. Police armed with automatic guns fill the subways and streets, enforcing the state of emergency. France’s president, Francois Hollande, on the eve of the elections has gained a 50% popularity rating based on his reaction to the attacks. While it may be increasing security, it has limited the public’s capacity to have their concerns heard about a planetary crisis that itself causes insecurity. The state of emergency means that no more than two people can gather, which has shut down most of the public demonstrations planned, most notably the climate march that was scheduled for the opening of the conference. While a few events have been granted permission, their permits came through very late, making the technical components of organizing challenging.
While the police manage the voices on the streets, the voices of the civil society—the non-governmental organizations with opinions and expertise on climate change—have been quieted inside of the conference as well. Many youth and environmental organizations came to make the voice of their constituency known to global leaders, and yet any staged actions or holding of signs require a sanctioned permit or the person will lose their badge and forfeit their ability to attend the conference.
Demand Climate Justice Now is calling for the U.S. and other wealthy governments to address their history of pollution rates by reducing emissions, as well as contributing to the green climate fund to ensure renewable technology in developing countries. .
The climate talks in Copenhagen will always be remembered for the dramatic moment when thousands of members of civil society organizations (CSOs) were refused entry to the venue and shut out of all aspects of the negotiations. It is unlikely the French will risk such a scandal, and so rather than kick them out of the venue altogether, the civil society organizations are simply excluded from key negotiating rooms, leaving no one to bare witness and report on the process. Without witnesses, no one knows what sort of bullying, bargaining, or other shenanigans might ultimately affect the final deals.
But as more and more CSOs are banned from the talks, they have more and more time to organize actions, which cause a scurry of media as they rush in for the photo opp. But the events feel sanitized and stifled. The strict rules enforced by the UNFCCC activists prescribe that specific countries can’t be named, no country’s flag may be shown, and chanting isn't allowed.
It begs the question: how can civil society influence these negotiations and perform the theatrics necessary to have an impact? "Civil society organizations play a crucial role in these talks in holding governments accountable and ensuring transparency," says Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and co-coordinator of the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. "The global climate justice movement—which gained huge momentum in the last eight year—serves as the moral and ethical compass of these negotiations."
Hundreds from around the world unite in a giant message of freedom, standing with the people of Paris and calling for 100% renewable energy, during the United Nations COP21 Climate Summit. Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectral Q
Two days into the conference, CSOs were excluded from the majority of negotiating rooms and spin-off sessions. Instead, activists have been targeting negotiators via Twitter to make their points of view known, but is that enough? "It is imperative that we are inside the room," says, Chee Yoke Ling, director of the Third World Network. "Our exclusion by a handful of countries has transformed this from a transparent and inclusive process into 'bad faith' negotiations. Civil society provides critical support to the negotiators of many developing countries by providing technical assistance, background information, and on the ground information about how their work impacts the people. The rich and powerful try to bully, to divide and rule—they railroad fairness and justice in the process."
Does it make a difference? Can these organizations possibly have an effect on national negotiating positions? "The act of activism challenges the notion that this is a place for elites to talk to each other and conduct policy through a removed process," says Asad Rehman, head of International Climate at Friends of the Earth (England, Whales, Northern Ireland). "We are here on behalf of all of those people who can’t be here, and we bring the voices from the outside to the inside and show we have demands ... and we have solutions."
A Simple Guide To The Paris Climate Talks -Fast Company
Published in Fast Company
The world is standing on a cliff; at the precipice of deciding if we are going to fly, or if we are going to fall. We are very close to reaching the point where nothing we can do will halt the carbon emissions that are going to cause global temperatures to increase more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the level of increase at which it starts becoming hard for humans to exist on Earth. In the coming weeks, delegations from all the worlds governments, as well as lobbyists from industry and environmental groups, are meeting in Paris to consider coming together on a plan to stop us from jumping off that cliff. We've been here before, numerous times—in Copenhagen, in Kyoto—and never have all the world's governments come to an agreement about how to stop climate change while continuing to let developing countries develop and developed countries keep growing. As the realities of climate chaos are setting in, this could be our last chance to reverse the momentum of pollution and emissions. Things are already bad: significant climate impacts are already occurring at the current level of global warming (and we are two-thirds of the way to increasing just 1°C) and higher levels of warming will only increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts through ocean acidification, extreme storms, drought, and flooding.
So you'll be hearing more and more references to these climate talks (known officially as the Conference of the Parties 21, or COP21) in the next month. If you’re wondering what all of the hullabaloo is about, we’ll be breaking down the key issues and explaining why the governments of the world along with thousands of people from around the globe, are gathering. Who they are, what they want, how the outcome of these meetings will affect you, your livelihood—and especially—the lives of your children.
Why does the world need to make a plan together?
Our climate system is made up of sky, land, trees and, oceans and does not abide by human-created borders. So while a country might regulate its industry internally, that doesn’t mean its pollution and the ecological systems its changes doesn't impact its neighbors. For anything to work, everyone needs to be on board.
In truth, we’ve been gathering as a planet to protect ourselves from ourselves for quite some time. Remember when everyone freaked out about aerosols and how using hair spray was creating a giant hole in the ozone? The Montreal Protocol, which took place in 1989, addressed the use of CFCs, the chemical in aerosol cans and air conditioners that was causing the problem. This global treaty is considered one of the most successful and it is worth understanding why. First, we had the technology to solve the problem, we just needed to replace the CFCs with something else. Second, mitigation happened. Mitigation is a hot topic and is one of the key issues in the Paris talks. It boils down to an interesting dynamic where some countries polluted a lot while they developed (like us). Countries who have not been developing (and polluting) at those same rates want to continue to develop. Since our basic model is still that development and pollution go hand-in-hand, these countries need some incentive not to develop, or help developing more sustainably. The Montreal Protocol provided India and China with the financial assistance needed to phase out the CFC’s via a multilateral fund. We all won.
So in Paris we will try to create a universal binding agreement, with the aim of keeping global temperature increases below 1.5°C, which will ensure that this planet will continue to be a habitable place where we can all lead safe and dignified lives. More than 50,000 participants are attending. Along with the heads of state, ministers, negotiators, lobbyists, and interest groups, there will be a lot of passionate young people invested in seeing that we just do it: make a plan that regulates industry, reduces and monitors pollution, instigates the development of renewable energy, and figures out a way to share the responsibility of all of these changes in a fair and equitable way, all in the name of making sure we don’t increase the global temperature by 1.5 degrees.
So what's the big deal about the Paris talks?
The opportunity of the moment is astonishing. The climate chaos we are experiencing is creating an opportunity to address global systems that tackle energy, poverty, global inequality, world hunger, and ecological systems. But the myriad sticking points are also daunting: The negotiators there are going to try to figure out who is responsible for creating the mess, who is going to clean up the mess, and how are we going to make sure we don't create such a big mess that none of us will be alive to deal with it in the future. And as with many things, it boils down to two things: which countries cut their pollution, and who pays for the process of changing the technologies to reduce emissions.
The participants have to address the reality that some countries have been developing for years, and other countries are just getting started. Then there is the issue of who is responsible for our current pollution rates, how they are going to be held accountable, and how to create a binding plan to change our current state of pollution rates so that we can continue to exist. That last line was just translated from 10 pages of documents that include impressively academic terms such as climate debt, fair and equitable trade, loss and damages, mitigation, adaptation, global carbon budgets and more acronyms than you shake a stick at. In other words— if you aren’t an eco/climate geek—this can be downright hard to follow, and frankly, downright boring. But just go back and read some news stories about the latest hurricanes, flooding and drought, and then remember what's at stake.
How did we get here?
Remember back in 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen testified to the U.S. Senate that man-made global warming had begun? That very same year, a group of scientists that represent 195 countries came together to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These scientists inform the planet’s leaders about how to manage the risk of extreme weather events and disasters.
Remember the term, global warming? This term arrived on the scene when the IPCC was created and declared that humans are causing the concentration of greenhouse gases. In 1992, the world’s leaders met at the first global gathering on climate change, called the Rio Earth Summit. The Rio Conference was a hero moment for the planet, and brought together a few wonkily named international groups—United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), and the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD)—all focused on preventing the environmental destruction of the planet. They drafted and signed an agreement that is known as Agenda 21, an aspirational declaration that provided the checklist for what needed to be done to stop climate change, but didn’t spell out how to do it (conspiracy theorists often cite Agenda 21 as a key part of a plan in which the UN takes over the world). In essence, the summit’s message conveyed that we needed a global transformation of attitudes and behavior, and to address new of patterns of production, sources of energy, transportation systems, and concern about the scarcity of water.
The main objective was to stabilize the environmental systems on the planet: The goal, as the official language stated was: "stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system."
But as visionary as Agenda 21 was, it was non-binding. What makes the Paris talks such a big deal is that the goal—and profound need—is to create a binding agreement, signed by every country in the world.
Okay, but what about between 1988 and now?
Negotiating a long-term cooperative action is no small task. Negotiators have yet to come up with an agreement that every country in the world is willing to sign. You probably remember the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997. The Protocol created a series of escalating targets of reduction in pollution and emissions for all the countries of the world. Because the UNFCCC recognized that developed countries carry the weight of responsibility for the current high levels of pollution and emissions and that our current climate issues are a result of more than 150 years of industrialization, the Kyoto Protocol placed a heavier burden on developed nations under the concept that when you’ve been drinking from the bar longer than everyone else, you are going to have a larger bill. Because of that burden, the United States (along with Afghanistan and Sudan) didn’t sign. If the world's largest economy isn't part of a climate agreement, that agreement isn't going to do much.
If you don’t play in the extreme sports of climate geekyness, Copenhagen in 2009 was probably the last time you heard news of the climate talks. There, negotiators were supposed to create an agreement about a global reduction of emissions that, unlike Kyoto, every country would actually sign. But alas… the talks collapsed when the developed countries stopped negotiating and instead offered an agreement that many countries had pre-prepared in an effort to circumvent the negotiating process.
The now-famous "Danish Text" was leaked to the press in the first week of the conference. This document was written by the U.S. and England, though submitted by Denmark. The text proposed that developed nations—the U.S., Europe, Japan, and others—be allowed to pollute twice the amount of developing countries—China, India, Russia, Brazil, etc—for the next 50 years. Lumumba Stanislas Di-Aping, the Sudanese negotiator said, "It is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries," and that it would result in Africa’s death.
The world governments left Copenhagen with another non-binding agreement, the Copenhagen Accord, which recognized that temperature changes need to stay below 2 degrees Celsius (a number that's probably too large to begin with—1.5 degrees is safer, but developed nations pushed for the higher number). But, like Kyoto, it offered no path to get there, with no specific targets for countries to hit in terms of emissions reductions.
Who's going to be there?
Along with all of the negotiators who develop the preliminary text, there are the ministers, and then the heads of state who will eventually decide on what their countries are willing to sign and commit to. There is also a massive group of people, who are called the civil society. Many of these people work for organizations who aren’t affiliated with the government (aka NGO’s), that are dedicated to addressing and solving the issues surrounding climate change. During the talks, a select few work closely with our political leaders and are given the opportunity for "interventions" at the talks where they can address the negotiators. Basically, they bring the news of what is going on inside the talks to the outside world. So along with watching the politics of the negotiations, its good to round out your climate talks coverage with input from the civil society. And while we focus our attention on what happens inside the walls of the negotiations, on the outside is a massive gathering of culture change makers, artists, activists, financial investors, community organizers who have also gathered from around the world—and they too are commingling and scheming their own plans for global change.
So what can us regular civilians do?
We’re at a nexus of having the information, consciousness, and technology to solve these enormous planetary problems. As these political leaders walk into the room to play at the game of reducing suffering in the world, they need our attention and political will.
Some will say that the talks are pointless and a massive carbon-polluting waste of time (it takes a lot of energy to fly everyone to Paris). They will say that the core of these arguments are too old, that the corporate influence on the American congress to powerful, that China's need to keep polluting to sustain its development is too great (and that our hunger for consumerism will continue to push them to create more pollution), and that the will of the people on this planet too small.
And others will say that you have to have the long view: It is in understanding history that one makes sense of the power of how one step leads to the next. We went from learning that there is such a thing as climate change to creating and implementing sustainable design to integrating a conversation about climate justice to connecting the dots between industrial capitalism and the war on saving the planet. So every year we take another step. While it is easy to be hopeless in the face of great challenges, it is more courageous to spend every last second between now and the end of the conference advocating for a world we can believe in.
HOW TO DEAL WITH POST-CREATION DEPRESSION Fast Company
I recently finished writing a book. For the first time in years, my weekends, nights, and early mornings weren’t being spent obsessing over finishing a book. So I cleaned the kitchen, did the laundry, tended to the stack of ignored paperwork, and got seriously depressed.
I thought the completion of a major project would result in a feeling of elation, but by placing that one last period on the page, I created a vast empty space in my life. I didn’t know what to do with myself, especially the unexpected sensation of feeling lost and depressed. It turns out I’m not the only one who has experienced the post-project-completion blues.
Writer and film director Jeffery Lando expressed exactly what I felt when I spoke with him. He express the feeling when he completes a movie, saying, "All of a sudden I have nothing to do, and there is a wave of exhaustion that claims me and I become very moody and a complete asshole."
Tips From The Professionals On Surviving The Creative Comedown
Always have multiple projects going
The emotions are going to be there; don’t take them too seriously
Give yourself a week off between projects
This is how he explains his creative process while making movies, and the emotions that accompany it.
There is a journey you go through as a creator; after making movie after movie after movie, it has become very familiar. There are highs and lows, and now I can predict exactly when they will happen. You have to get through the despair of seeing that what you created isn't what you hoped, and everything’s fucked.
And that is where a lot of people crash and burn, because they can’t survive that.
But if you can get through that stage of fixing and polishing your cut, then this new joy appears, and you want to show it to people, and then once you start getting feedback it can be devastating again. It’s a roller coaster. But none of it has anything to do with reality, it's just your head.
Then there is a moment when you are working on a project and it feels endless, it feels like it could go on forever, and like it's never going to end. And then there is an end, and then you start the next project— and you are in whole new universe.
In the evolution of the project, there are all of these states, and they are all nonsenses, and while I still go through it, it doesn’t mean as much any more. Some people think I am my feelings, that’s just wrong. You have your focus of your personality in the wrong place. The emotions are just an aspect to the experience, so you can say, ‘Oh look, there’s that feeling again.’ Now when I feel the euphoria after looking at the dailies now, rather than get carried away by the sensation, I just think, that’s bullshit.
To further understand how to master emotional turmoil that comes with writing a first book, I spoke to coach and author Jack Kanfield. He has published more than 250 books, including the New York Times bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Kanfield says he doesn’t experience the post-creation depression—for him, the experience is akin to having the kid finally go off to college. Once the book is done, he feels proud and enjoys seeing it out in the world.
But he has confronted his fair share of rejection when his first book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series was turned down by 144 publishers before it was accepted. Here's what he had to say about the the process of creating:
You are always likely to come up against challenges that are inherent with working on long projects. But as Richard Bach, the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, said, ‘ You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true.’ We all write for different purposes. I enjoy writing, the process of it is having fun, so I experience success in the experience of writing the book as much as in publishing it.
The poet and author of Rough Honey, Melissa Stein, has accompanied many writers through the process of finishing a book as their editor. She articulated that with every peak that is climbed, there is only one way to go, and that is through the valley. "What many emerging writers don't realize is that after publication and, hopefully, success, there are just as many—if not more—reasons for insecurity and doubt and self-sabotage if we are inclined that way," she says.
Raising that bar brings along a whole host of other issues, she explains.
Once you're actually being read, there are questions like: What now? How does my current work measure up to what I've done before? Are my reasons for writing changing? Would my new literary journal editor friends still turn down work of mine they don't think is up to par, and should I just avoid that potential awkwardness entirely? Life really does change with publication—just not necessarily in all the ways we expect.
Published in Fast Company
INSIDE THE CREATIVE OFFICE CULTURES AT FACEBOOK, IDEO, AND VIRGIN AMERICA -Fast Company
What do the leaders in the industries of tech, design, and travel have in common? Facebook, Virgin America, and IDEO all pride themselves in their approach to creativity and innovation. And their company cultures reflect their ethos.
We took a behind-the-scenes tour of these three companies to see what goes into building inspiration into the everyday workplace experience.
The moment you walk into these three organizations, it becomes obvious they aren’t doing business as usual. Facebook’s walls are covered with massive art installations, and murals on the walls compete with three-foot-tall balloons stationed above desks that mark the employees' Facebook anniversaries.
Virgin Airlines welcomes you to the party before you even enter the registration gate with rock music and the scent of freshly cut flowers. And stepping into IDEO’s San Francisco office feels like wandering into a Pee Wee’s Playhouse for creatives, with jars of colorful paper clips, pens, and other tools for creative expression lined up at the entrance.
But building a creative culture goes beyond colorful office design. Here are some of these companies' core beliefs about how to successfully build creative work environments:
HIRE WELL AND TRUST YOUR EMPLOYEES
Instead of looking for robots who can take on the persona of a corporate brand, let the brand reflect the personalities in your company. At Virgin America, the characteristics they hire for include flexibility, passion, creativity, the desire to be part of something different, and comfort in sharing their personalities, says Luanne Calvert, chief marketing officer. "It was surprising that one of the criteria for my position was no previous airline experience," says Calvert. "They really wanted people that had a fresh perspective."
SUPPORT IDEAS WITH ACTION
IDEO is dedicated to building and fostering creative culture to the extent that they wrote The Little Book of IDEO, which features their key values. But culture isn't derived from a manual. "I had a crisis when I was wanting to create a creative environment, but saw that it was failing," Clark Scheffy, managing director and associate partner at IDEO, explained. "You need to lead by being a part of the process." Scheffy recently published a post on Medium called "Be The Leader You Wish You Had", where he discusses his triumphs and challenges that came with maintaining a culture of creativity.
Meanwhile, Virgin sets the tone for teamwork via a scavenger hunt during their orientation. At Facebook, new employees are shown a mural that says, "This is your company now," and are invited to "Leave your mark, make an impact."
MAKE ART PART OF THE WORK SPACE
Virgin Airlines invites passengers to the party the moment they walk into their gate with music selected by employees working the counter that day.
Facebook has an artist-in-residency program. Drew Bennett, director of the program, says having physical art in the office is important at a company where ideas are expressed primarily through code. "The mass majority of creativity at Facebook is communicated through the computer, so there isn’t a physical residue that demonstrates all of the creativity that is abundant within this place," he says. "By building a program like this, it’s allowing the community that is already engaged in so much creativity to have a reference, a backdrop of their reality, in a more tactile way."
IDEO's office is filled with personal projects, from a mural of Instagram photos to a mystery project in the making comprised of discarded items donated from staff. An on-site piano invites the musically inclined to sit and play for awhile.
CREATING ALL OF THOSE MOMENTS THAT SEEM LIKE THEY ARE DISTRACTIONS, ARE ACTUALLY GETTING ME READY TO ROLL.
If you want your team to be innovative, then create a physical environment that reflects that. "As designers you can't expect to come to work and just roll up and create a hundred ideas," says Ina Xi, senior interaction designer at IDEO. "So creating all of those moments that seem like they are distractions, are actually getting me ready to roll."
Virgin America encourages staff to make the flight experience fun, which might mean putting a message on the screen at the boarding gates to encourage a sense of humor about inevitable annoyances like flight delays.
IDEO, meanwhile, has a process known as creative disruption. In other words, the things that would get you sent to the principal's office in school, IDEO celebrates, and even expects. "I believe in intentionally creating moments—spaces, walls to draw on, the piano, culture-building events—to [help employees] bring their whole selves to the workplace," Scheffy explained. IDEO's "hero events" include personal storytelling events by the staff; learning new skills outside your job description is also encouraged.
"Bring your authentic self to work," is one of Facebook’s mottos. When Facebook designer Caitlin Winner, noticed that the company's icon showed a man in front and women behind, she redesigned the icon with a woman in front. Her creation was adopted and spread throughout the company. The rainbow filter for profile pictures that appeared after the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality was created by two interns in their first few weeks, and was adopted by 35 million people.
CREATE AS A COMMUNITY
All three companies expect leadership to come from all directions. Scheffy explained IDEO's collaborative culture: "When you look at projects, you see there are three people assigned to it, but when you look at who billed for it at least 30 people influenced it in one way or another. So it's silly for one person to sign their name to it. One of our partners called IDEO a 'post-ego' culture."
NO ONE OWNS THE CULTURE. ITS AUTONOMOUS AND DECENTRALIZED; WE ALL OWN IT TOGETHER.
Facebook has a legendary sign that has become a daily mantra, "Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem." The sign was hung anonymously and the idea has spread throughout the campus. "No one owns the culture," says Lori Goler, VP of People. "It's autonomous and decentralized; we all own it together."
PLAY HARD. WORK HARD. EAT TOGETHER
IDEO puts an emphasis rituals that involve food. Oatmeal is available for breakfast every Thursday morning, there's soup for lunch every Friday, and tea time with cookies is once a week. Just like at home, the kitchen is a gathering place. Scheffy explains that sharing meals plays a critical role in community building and spontaneous cross collaboration.
Virgin Airlines organizes outings such as going to sporting events, and Facebook provides a wide assortment of extracurricular classes from print making, stamping, and woodworking.
IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO THINK DIFFERENT, MAKE THINGS LOOK DIFFERENT
IDEO decided to make its million-dollar view of the bay the main meeting space for collaboration for employees rather than close it off for their executives. When Virgin America decided it wanted passengers to feel an element of hospitality, it designed gates to feel more like a hotel, right down to the registration desk lowered from the standard chest height to hip level to make it feel like a hotel concierge.
The actual structure of the Facebook building is bare bones: it appears they value investing in services for their employees and art on the walls over fancy furniture.
CELEBRATE THE ART OF IMPERMANENCE
"If you can come to work and have everything a little different every day, it keeps people on their toes and inspires them to ask, ‘What kind of problems can I solve today?’" Sheffey says. That might mean you find a new mural on the wall, or change up your work station from a seated desk to a standing desk or couch, depending on your mood and the needs of the project that day.
Facebook changes the names of their meeting spaces sporadically and hosts "Hackamonth" for employees where they can work on a different team for a month. "It brings fresh ideas and new perspective to the process. Sometimes it gives the employee a renewed appreciation for the team, and if they choose to join the other team, we consider that a win if they are happier there."
REMOVE "FAILURE" FROM YOUR VOCABULARY
The folks at IDEO don't see failure as a defining experience, but rather a given that is inherent in risk taking. Design is fundamentally about problem solving. If something doesn't work, it's just redesigned.
Facebook’s tolerance for experimentation and failure is so high that they joke that every summer an enterprising intern gets into the code base and, in an effort to do something new, takes the site down. "If you go nuts every time an intern takes the site down, then you are not fostering an environment of innovation and experimentation," says Goler.
GET COMFORTABLE WITH PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES
"When I see designers pushing their personal edges, I get extremely excited," Sheffy said. "Of course, it's terrifying as well, and I prefer for it to happen at the beginning of a project when working with a client so we can recover and redirect if we need. But I constantly seek that magic space where we are challenged and pushing our limits. That's where the best work happens."
Calvert, of Virgin America, says the company understands that when you take chances, there will be mistakes. "That’s easy to say, but it's really hard to do. But it is my personal obsession to foster an environment that creates this kind of creativity."
Published in Fast Company
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE AN ARTIST AS YOUR NEXT BUSINESS CONSULTANT
It's easy to put artists in the box of "whimsical creatures that live outside societal norms," so why would business leaders turn to them for guidance and insight about how to make their organizations more profitable and run more efficiently?
Turns out, the leaders in companies such as Capital One, GAP, GE, Mozilla, MTV, and Coca-Cola have done just that, turning to the artist-consultants of Another Limited Rebellion and K-Hole to help solve their innovation and branding problems.
OUR MERE PRESENCE WAKES PEOPLE UP IN THE ROOM. THEY AREN’T FALLING ASLEEP LOOKING AT ANOTHER POWERPOINT.
MTV turned to K-Hole when they needed a fresh perspective on marketing and branding. The NYC trend forecasting group, founded by Greg Fong, Sean Monahan, Chris Sherron, Emily Segal, and Dena Yago, produces reports that are designed to provide insight and guidance about the future of marketing and branding. You won’t find stat-driven research in their reports about doubt, freedom, and patience. Their unassuming PDFs provide humor and an authentic tone that includes hope and resolve, while making bold statements based purely on their opinions.
BRAND-IDENTITY EXISTENTIAL CRISIS
Sean Monahan explained why organizations are turning to artists when in a brand-identity existential crisis: "Culture is changing faster than ever. If you want to understand what that means, you need more than someone who specializes in branding. You need consultants who can lead you through the cultural shifts in real time and who are actually engaged in the production of culture."
Fong broke down the challenge of using standard marketing research: "Everyone who is using the same market-driven data are coming to the same conclusions, and they realize there isn’t a competitive advantage to using the same information as everyone else, so they turn to outsiders who are thinking outside of the profit margin to show them their blind spots."
THE SET OF SKILLS ARTISTS LEARN ALLOWS US TO BE CONSISTENTLY INNOVATIVE AND CONSISTENTLY COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS.
Another company, Another Limited Rebellion (ALR), started out as a web design company founded by Noah Scalin. In finding an answer to his own need for a creative outlet outside of the humdrum of work, Noah started Skull-A-Day, which took off as an internet phenomenon. Since then, he has authored five books on design and creativity and traveled the world bringing his message of creative potential and design activism to everyone from incarcerated teenagers to Fortune 500 executives. Noah then teamed up with his sister Mica Scalin to create the new iteration of ALR, which now teaches core creative practices and an art-based training methodology essential to sustained innovation and growth to clients including Capital One, GAP, GE, Mozilla, and Coca- Cola.
"Creativity is a skill that can be learned," Noah Scalin declares. "The set of skills artists learn allows us to be consistently innovative and consistently come up with new ideas."
ALR teaches the practical skills of how to be creative, and introduces the artist tool kit in their workshops, where they teach how to:
Work with the unexpected and experiment
Deal with critique
Develop a practice of creativity
Shape a mindset of tolerance for imperfection
Develop a space to create in (physical, mental, time)
Noah shared how just the presence of an artist can shake things up: "It is so unusual to bring an artist into the room that our mere presence wakes people up in the room. They aren’t falling asleep looking at another power point."
But introducing an entirely new approach to examining old problems isn’t always easy. Noah explains, "The reality is when I show up at an event and I say I am going to tell a story about skulls, people can be skeptical. But I’ve watched as the audience gets excited when they make connections they have never made before because they are looking at their issues in a different way."
He says, "At the beginning of every presentation, I ask, ‘How many people think creativity is a part of your job today?’ Almost everyone raises their hand. Then I ask, ‘How many people feel confident about your creativity?’ And only one or two hands go up. By the end of the session, they have all experienced their own capacity to be creative. It’s an amazing transformation."
Published in Fast Company
Praying for Water through Aerial Art Spirtuality & Health Magazine
We usually associate activism with marches, petitions, taking a stand, and more and more…liking things on facebook. But last Sunday, 350 attendees of the Bhakti Festival in Joshua Tree gathered together to use their bodies to form the shape of a water goddess in an aerial art ritual designed to raise awareness about the drought in California and make a statement about fracking.
We caught up with Sridhar Silberfein, the founder of Bhakti Festival about why he felt it was important to integrate activism into this year’s festival. “I want to have meaningful presentations about serious issues that we are facing in our everyday lives [present at the festival…People think, ‘I get spiritual so I don’t have to involved with the world…I can just sit and meditate and om.’ No. Spirituality provides you the discipline, strength, and confidence to go out into the world.”
John Quigley began making large scale aerial art 20 years ago during an ocean clean up in LA. It started out as an impulsive idea to get the attention of the masses by getting people to use their bodies to form a message, and he engaged the Coast Guard to use their helicopter to take the photo. Quigley spoke about the unique power these large scale art projects have, “It’s a way for communities who don't have the resources to buy advertising to get into main stream media with messages about things they care about…We live in a visual society; it's quite powerful for the people who see the images, but also for the participants.”
Quigley joined forces with Magalie Bonneau-Marcil, founder of Dancing Without Borders, to integrate the ritual of dance and make the process of creating the images a more dynamic and meaningful experience for the participants. Together, they are working on the global goddess tour to create images of goddess’ around the world with the intention to ritualize the transformation between the relationship with the masculine and the feminine. They have created aerial art that addresses themes such as ecosystems, freedom, humanity, climate change and energy, indigenous rights, whales sanctuary preservation, and healing between the genders.
Bonneau-Marcil believes that activism can be transformed from being confrontational to being a more creative, life-affirming, embodied experience. “These kinds of creative actions are transforming the perception of reality of the participant and the online viewer, reconnecting us with a sense of purpose, power and the beauty of Mother Earth.”
I’ll be frank, it’s hard to imagine this making of this image is going to make a dent on fracking. But what I experienced, walking through the desert with a group a people in as much curiosity about what we were doing as intention behind what we were doing, was the power of what happens when people gather together, in person, for a common cause. Something happens in that space that isn’t as measurable as the amount of signatures on a petition. As we gathered in the dry desert of Joshua Tree, and laid down forming the outline of a Goddess and the message, “We Are Water” and “Protect Water”, clouds gathered and covered the sun, a small rainbow filled the sky, and I kid you not, lightening struck in the distance. One could say that it was a fluke, or one could say it was perhaps one of the oldest forms of activism, the forming of a relations between people and the land in ritual and prayer.
Published in Spirtuality & Health Magazine