The First NZ Creativity Challenge created, managed and delivered by Wayne Morris and his local team of volunteers and sponsors was a smash hit!!
As a first –up international creativity conference, this is about as good as it gets.
The conference opened with a Maori language opening ceremony setting the scene for a unique New Zealand experience by acknowledging the local Maori and invoking their ancestors to welcome the visitors onto their lands
Coralie Winn of Gap Filler gave one of the best opening key note presentations I have ever seen at a creativity conference. It focused on Coralie’s work after the Christchurch earthquake disasters in which she formed a small group to activate vacant sites destroyed by the earthquakes within the central city environs of Christchurch with creative projects. The work took her into the domain of prototyping and experimenting with “temporary urban design” and the results are quite astonishing. The concept of a Dance-O-Mat was worth the price of the conference alone. Check out the Gap Filler web site
Vivian Hutchinson, New Plymouth Social Entrepreneur gave a stirring afternoon key note “How Communities Awaken” in which he argued we are colonialised by a contracting culture in which business and government conspire to maintain the status quo with cost as the main reason. In these times of further and further fiscal restraints foisted upon us by the spin of these parties intent on shoring up their own incomes, he exhorted us to surface what he called the Creativity of WE – to form social enterprises built on a model of reflection, resilience and regeneration enabling us to disengage from these colonialising constraints.
As is always the case, I was not able to attend all the workshops I would have liked, yet I only heard good reports about most.
Francois Coetzee’s workshop using Appreciative Inquiry was one I did attend and really enjoyed revisiting the technique from Francois’s South African perspective. Tim Hurson nominated Francois for the CSTC and I was able to second it on the spot so watch out for his short bio when it comes through the network. His specialization, Enterprise Architecture, will add another layer of knowledge to the CSTC.
Tim Hurson’s Saturday Night Key Note set the scene for some great poetry, music and entertainment in New Plymouth’s downtown Mayfair nightclub.
On Sunday morning I had the great fortune to attend a Circle Workshop led by Paora Joseph, a contemporary Maori filmmaker. It never ceases to amaze me when you ask people to talk about their creativity and passion what happens. This circle was one of those circles that was intending to go in one direction but instead, took off and flew half way through to an intensely deeper and more spiritual level as stories such as a Maori grandmother revealing the joy and purpose she had found recently in working with violent offenders and their families; a Maori elder’s story about the tension in Maori culture, its survival and resurgence into respectability whilst not yet being able to find the middle ground with the pakeha (people of non Maori background), a revelation about the meaning of husbandry by a gardener who had planted some 15,000 saplings in the local area in his life whilst thinking about the lack of male role models in the world and how nature dealt with those circumstances and a beautiful exchange between a recent immigrant to New Zealand, a young German man with four children still looking for his identity and purpose in life. He was asked by Paora whether he had developed a relationship with the local mountain, Mt Taranaki, on his walks in his search for his identity. Mt Taranaki, a large extinct volcano that dominates New Plymouth and the surrounding areas, holds a very important spiritual place in Maori culture. The young man said not yet but he was becoming more comfortable with it!! Paora smiled!
New Plymouth somehow feels right for a creativity conference. It didn’t have to try. It just was open and ready and the participants and the local community felt it.
For me, catching up with many CSTC friends, Elisabeth Vaneveld, Tim Hurson, Robert Alan Black (who seems to be growing younger as the years go by), David Kayrouz and of course the host and creator of the event, Wayne Morris made it all that more special.
This conference has the potential to become one of the great creativity conferences…