Thursday, August 15, 2013

Let’s Fete: Celebrating the Culture Cultivators

I suppose it was an ordinary day in Greenville, South Carolina, about 1,095 days ago.  I suppose there was some electricity in the air as two friends and who-knows-who-else had a casual “what if” session, perhaps downed a local craft beer or two, did a little brainstorming and, boom, a digital magazine was born.  Jack DelGado and Jay Spivey had birthed an electronic culture cultivating machine and they named it Fete to celebrate all things Greenville. 

Fete (from French) is defined in various dictionaries as a party, a celebration and even as a festival.  In French, it refers to a holiday or party.  So, kudos to Jack and Jay for finding the appropriate name, but we can only imagine the assortment of mispronunciations, the questioning looks and rolling of eyes that may have occurred when this new e-mag arrived in people’s in-boxes.

“Fete?  What is that?” 

“How do you say that?”

 “Who named this thing?” 

“FAY-ette? “

That was many issues ago; many colorful stories, entertaining videos and video “editorials” have been delivered to our in-boxes since then.  We’ve learned to pronounce fete and we now know what it means. 
Fete Greenville is celebrating 3 years of feting Greenville area activities, events, arts, story-telling and music.  For 3 years, the Fete staff have been celebrating us.  Now it’s time to celebrate them, so let’s join hands and fete the Feters!  Let’s celebrate Greenville’s culture cultivators.

Here’s what our favorite Feters have been celebrating for the past 3 years:
  • Amazing artists and a growing arts community:  Thanks for promoting visual arts with 36 different artist works on all of your 36 magazine covers! 
  • Theatre, creative performers, poetry and comedy:  Thanks for helping us to discover the performing arts!
  • Non-profits:  Thanks for donating close to $300,000 in advertising to support our area’s non-profit organizations and events!
  • Fun interactive videos:  Thanks for making advertising and news entertaining!
  • Live music:  Thanks for promoting local music venues and for introducing us to cool new music!
Bravo, ladies and gentlemen of Fete!  You done good!  (That’s Southern, not French.)

This is a very short and super-cool video of Fete's 3-year anniversary steel and copper logo made by Ryan Calloway of Creative Iron Works in Greenville, South Carolina.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let's K.I.S.S.: A Little Systems Thinking Saves Time

No, not this KISS.

How about something else?  I'm talking about the acronym, K.I.S.S., which stands for Keep It Simple Stupid!

Life is complicated, work is complicated, projects are complicated...or are they?  Yes, I believe that our lives and work and even projects CAN be complicated.  I also believe that we either allow them to be so or we make them unnecessarily so.

We are told throughout our lives to stop and smell the roses.  How about if, before we embark on a new phase of our lives or a new job or project, we stop and look at the big picture?  Don't understand?  Well, here's the biz buzzz.
Everything in our professional and personal lives is part of a system.  We are part of a system.  We are one piece in a family system, one part of a system that drives a corporation or small business and one part of a project or a relationship.  Every action that we take or do not take influences these systems.  Are you with me?

This systems thinking seems complicated, but it's easier than you might be thinking right now.  One way to KISS all this complexity is through systems-thinking.  Consider this.  Next time you imagine a project, stop and draw.  Draw a map or a picture with words...really.

  1. Begin by naming the project with a clear and easily understood name.  Make sure it's easy for others to understand what it's all about.
  2. Next, list all of the pieces, parts or components of this project.  Let's look at putting a new coffee pot in the office.  List: location, electrical outlet, trash can, people who drink coffee, supplies for making coffee, supplies for cleaning up and disposal of grounds, cups, sugar, cream.
  3. Now, go through this list and, beside each part or word, list all of the connections.  For example: Location--in reception area, in kitchen, in bathroom, in closet, by the copier, on Jane's desk, and so on.
  4. What I like to do at this point is ask questions.  If it goes on Jane's desk, will Jane still have room enough for her papers and work?  What if someone spilled coffee on one of her papers?  Does Jane even drink coffee?  How far from this desk is the nearest water faucet?  Is it easy to clean up here?  Is it too far from other work stations?...and so on.
  5. It may turn out that Jane does not drink coffee and she becomes ill when she smells coffee brewing.  Wouldn't it be awful and create complications for Jane and her relationship with coffee-drinking co-workers if you put the coffee pot here?  When would this surface as an issue?  Perhaps Jane would say nothing and quit.  Jane might think that this had been done purposefully to drive her out of the office.  You may be laughing, but I'll wager you can think back to a situation similar to this one that seemed strange when it happened.  Perhaps much later, a few things came to light and you realized that a difficult or complicated situation could have been avoided?
Systems-Thinking is a wonderful tool.  In the early 1990s, Peter Senge helped organizations and businesses to adopt systems-thinking via his book, The Fifth Discipline (which is systems-thinking).  The other four disciplines that he recommended are:  personal vision or mastery, mental models, building a shared vision and team learning.

Once you begin exploring systems-thinking and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for this tool, you'll see how useful it is when you apply it to almost every activity or potential action in your life.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creativity--what is it?

What is creativity?  Having a difficult time understanding exactly what a creative mind does?  Try this.

Creativity is when you take this song,

and recreate it so that it comes out like this.

Any questions?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Poetry: Life After TEDxGreenville

March 22, 2013.  A great deal of work, a few upsets, but a very satisfying feeling in the end.  When the curator for the first 3 TEDxGreenville events tells you that he believes this was "the best one yet", that is a very gratifying feeling.  It's also very humbling, particularly when I think of all that could have gone wrong, but that it didn't because of the good work of so many people.
First, I think of Russell Stall (to my right in the photo), director of Greenville Forward, a kind person who thought that it was a natural fit for his organization to shepherd TEDxGreenville through a transition of leadership and a growth spurt.  A good fit, but so much more work than he bargained for, I'm sure. Then I think of the many months of work crammed in between home and work that all of the members of the Program and Interactive teams contributed to our success.  Without these people and their creativity and dedication, our content would not have been of the caliber that it was, engaging people during breaks as well as time in the theatre. Of course, I try to remember that a great event in it's fourth year is only as good as the work of so many others who started it and grew it for the 3 years before we came along. Let me not forget, also, the commitment of others on our Planning team who nudged the sponsor funding along, who managed marketing, AV and volunteer coordination.  A good event made very special by the contributions of so many.  Thanks to all!
The team that did so much, working from July until early December to research nominees, interview finalists and decide who made it on the stage this year:  Keith Smith, Jennifer Oladipo, Ana Parra, Patrick Mieritz, Jawana Sihra-Leach, Marc Bolick and two not in the photo, Eddie Smith and Rob Green.

Interactive activities, anyone? These are the fine folks who dreamed it and then made it happen, including an art director, architect, designer a web developer and a couple of those people who do too much for their own good:  Phil McCreight, Lisa Corley, Jason Pleakis, Bridget Kirkland, Joel Van Dyke, Tanya Thompson, Joel McCreight and (not pictured) John Digney & Tim March.

Now, a week later, what to do?  Now we try to dash off one poem for each day in April. Yes, April is National Poetry Month and this is my 3rd year of attempting to write one poem a day.  It's a personal challenge, which proved to be too challenging last year. This is the first year in which I actually begin on April Fool's Day!  Let's see what my observations and creativity can assist me in concocting today. Won't you join me on this journey of a fool that I'm on?  "A poem a day! Who was the fool who dreamed this up?"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Love x 14 = real connections

Custom Valentine For Granddaughters, Corley and Olivia
Occasionally we stumble upon some little idea which manages to make big things appear (or reappear) in our lives.  This month I read a tweet by Amy Taylor of Brains of Fire.  @NoMeatballs (Amy's twitter handle) had a teeny idea.  She was going to do things in a very back-to-the-future way.  Idea: Take time to focus on 14 special friends and create a custom valentine for them.  One card per person.  One meditation per person. One break at a time stolen from our hurry-up-and-hurry world.

Bravo, Amy.  As usual, the "little things", when fully realized, became THE BIG THINGS.

For each of the friends that I sent my cards to, I want you all to know that as I worked on your valentine I thought about you and who you are to me in my life.  I meditated on who I see you as, what might be important to you in your life or perhaps an experience that we've shared.  I wondered about which Sharpies I would use to craft your custom valentine and I thought of you smiling and maybe shrieking with delight when you opened your gift.

Amy's #Lovex14 project was small this year. Next year it will be BIG, I am convinced of this.  Why don't you connect with @NoMeatballs now, and get ahead of the big swarm of activity for next year's Valentines Day?