Okanagan Media Alliance Freshsheet


The Freedom To Be Creative
NUMBER 151   ll   FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 17-23, 2014

Our Arts Making Community

The innovations that allowed us to experience the cultural mainstream in a new way - sound recordings, films, radio - have in turn encouraged a passive interaction with art. The skills of eye and hand and heart that were so much a part of making art in the 19th century, the after-dinner poetry recital or musical performance, the fiddle or guitar tune played on a back porch, or even the cowboy poet reciting a poem around a campfire somewhere in the wild, those skills have fallen - or been pushed - to the side in the relentless professionalization of the arts.

Partially as a result, we don't feel as comfortable making art as casually as we do participating in sports. We feel that sports are invigorated when many people can play at many levels. While we understand that amateur hockey players are not going to be as good as a so-called "superstar," there's no sense that they shouldn't be doing what they're doing. But in the arts, around the fourth or fifth grade, we separate people who have special talent, give them special attention, which sometimes results in some outstanding artists who contribute to human society - but we tend to ignore or denigrate the amateur in the process.

The granting and policy bodies - and the post-secondary education system - participate in this class system by concentrating much of their attention on professionals, using the term "excellence" as a kind of euphemism for professional art making, As art making becomes ever more rarified and specialized - and therefore ever more irrelevant, if not alienating, to the lives of most people - the "taste-makers" continue concentrating their efforts on elevating the alpha artists and the organizations that they work with, and pretty much leaving the amateur art making piece of the scene off to the side, underserved and mostly unappreciated.

Freshsheet Okanagan Media ApplianceFreshsheet It's time for the amateurs to get busy reclaiming the arts. Maybe we should look a little more at how families are making art at home, how art is being taught in school, how seniors discover their creativity, how active participation in the arts promotes community and individual wellness. We don't talk about making art as a route to a vibrant, expressive life that's a public good; we have not paid enough attention to the whole range of creative community activities that make invaluable contributions to our sense of place, and make our place whole.

We need to place a higher value on creative approaches to problem solving and critical thinking, in terms of how they could be applied across disciplines and to public problems. Artists are very good at metaphor, at seeing less-obvious links, at right-brain thinking that can contribute critical insights by making imaginative leaps. The more people there are with art making habits and skills in the community, the more creative and vibrant that community will be.

There many places and programs in the Okanagan that contribute to the vibrant local art making scene. The arts - in all manifestations - are an important part of defining the future of our communities. They can inspire our children, strengthen our families, and elevate our seniors. They deserve more of our attention, individually and collectively. And hopefully the people we have just elected will more vigorously take up the cause of the arts in our communities.

Agroecology Is the Alternative


Known as the "science of sustainable agriculture," agroecology is also a practice and a movement. As a science, agroecology was originally developed by researchers who made careful ecological observations of traditional farming systems.

These observations revealed that:
1. traditional farming systems were not static but actually always changing and adjusting, and
2. that farmers around the world had developed highly sophisticated methods of managing and enhancing ecosystem functions in order to sustainably produce food, fiber, medicine and fuel. Some of these systems have been around for millennia.

A half-century of research and practice in the field of agroecology has yielded spectacular results for hundreds of thousands of small-scale farmers and many medium-to-large scale farmers around the world. Because it opens possibilities for grassroots food systems transformation, peasant movements for food sovereignty have embraced agroecology, as have many urban and organic farmers in the Global North. But despite its documented benefits, agroecology is still largely limited to localized experiences and a few, poorly funded university programs. The problem is systemic. The solution is social and political.

Freshsheet Agroecology is ecologically and socially antithetical to large-scale industrial agriculture and does not provide high-return opportunities for agribusiness companies.

Despite its superior performance under favorable to extreme farming conditions, its endorsement by global assessments and high-level policy analysts and its proven potential for the mitigation, adaptation and remediation of climate change, agroecology is not part of the high-profile private-public partnerships to end hunger promoted by government agricultural development agencies.

There is general dismissal of agroecology in mainstream media and a general ignorance among legislators regarding agroecology. The future of our food systems almost always boils down instead to a shopworn call for more free markets and another Green Revolution.

The silence surrounding agroecology is profoundly disturbing. Proposals such as those touting "sustainable intensification" or "climate smart" GMOs can only be peddled as answers to the problems of hunger and global warming by studiously avoiding agroecological science and practice. The acceptance of corporate monopolization of the planet's seeds and food systems is not the answer.


A Locus for Being Creative

Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.

Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when creatives feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what we read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creatives spend nearly all their time on the work of creation.

Creatives do work that is, first and foremost, intrinsically rewarding. But, when they make an impact, they expect extrinsic validation: They don't create solely for themselves, they want to make a real and lasting impact in the world around us.

Creatives demand freedom, whether they work within companies or on their own, to run experiments, participate in multiple projects at once, and move their ideas forward. They thrive on flexibility and are most productive when they feel fully engaged.

Creatives make stuff often, and therefore, they fail often. Ultimately, they strive for little failures that help them course-correct along the way, and they view every failure as a learning opportunity, part of their experiential education.

Freshsheet Proof

Creatives have little tolerance for the friction of bureaucracy, old-boy-networks, and antiquated business practices. As often as possible, they question "standard operating procedure" and assert themselves. But even when they can't, they don't surrender to the friction of the status quo. Instead, they find clever ways (and hacks) around it.

Creatives don't create solely for themselves, they want to make a real and lasting impact in the world around us. They expect to be fully utilized and constantly optimized, regardless of whether they're working in a startup or a large organization.

Creatives consider "open source" and the vast collective knowledge of the Internet to be a personal arsenal. Wikipedia and open communities for designers, developers, and thinkers were built by creatives. Whenever possible, they leverage collective knowledge to help make better decisions. They also contribute to these open resources with a "pay it forward" mentality.

Freshsheet Creatives believe that "networking" is sharing. People listen to (and follow) creatives because of their discernment and curatorial instinct. As they share their creations as well as what fascinates them, they authentically build a community of supporters that give them feedback, encouragement, and lead them to new opportunities. For this reason and more, they often (though, not always) opt for transparency over privacy.

Creatives believe in meritocracy and the power of networks and peer communities to advance their ability to do what they love, and do well by doing it. They view competition as a positive motivator rather than a threat, because they want the best idea and the best execution to triumph.

Creatives make their living doing what they love. They consider themselves as both artisans and businesses. They spend the necessary energy to invest in themselves leveraging the best tools and knowledge to operate as a multi-layered enterprise.

Creatives are the rocket fuel for the social, cultural and economic engines that are transforming the way we work, the way we live in the world and the way we think, behave and believe.

We are now fully engaged with our grand notion of Proof, a creative and learning centre that will enable good - if not great - things to happen. We have our building, and anticipate opening the doors early in the new year to great fanfare and delicious artisanal fare. We invite creatives to join us on the journey of discovery.

Memberships invitations and requests for comment are being sent out now. Not signed up? Go to
Proof. The Club for Creatives


Literature is the original Internet - every footnote, every citation, every allusion is essentially a hyperlink to another text, to another mind. The difference - the advantage, for me at least - is that in books, those "links" don't beckon as immediate demands for our attention, redirecting us elsewhere before we've finished the present thought, but serve instead as gentle invitations to extend this thought once we've finished absorbing and digesting it. There's something to be said for the value of slow, continuous, deliberate thinking, which remains the forte of books and the Achilles heel of the vast majority of the web. - Maria Popova

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Celebrating the Creative Age

The most recent issue of the Okanagan Institute journal Sage-ing with Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude is online at

A volunteer publication of the Okanagan Institute, intended as an initiative for collaboration and sharing, the journal presents the opportunity for the free exchange of wisdom gleaned from creative engagement, and is focused on honouring the transformational power of creativity.
We hope that your perspective on the arts and creative engagement might also change as you read stories of Okanagan artists, experienced and emerging, who engage in art for the joy of stimulating personal and community wisdom and well-being.
Freshsheet Sage-ing Okanagan Institute

"One of the strengths that sages possess, regardless of age, is a willingness to be educated by all things. Curiosity leads them to learn from all they encounter. They do not judge people or situations. When one relaxes into just being, everything can nourish and stimulate. For those who embrace life as a sage-ing experience, things come to them from the world and from the events in their lives. By taking time and giving attention to creatively respond to what might at first seem ordinary and not deserving of notice, life ripens with significance and meaning."

To view online go to