It's impossible to find good news on the television these days, so I'm being forced to create my own. Luckily, this is not hard. I am surrounded by people who amaze me. My friend Ruth is one of them. Not only did she co-author my latest book, Creativity Unzipped: Why Your Thoughts Matter, but she created an entire body of work called FLOW that she donated to the Institute of Noetic Sciences--the whole works--as a fundraiser for their consciousness research. A new gallery in town, known as a "conscious lounge" (they don't serve alcohol, only healthy drinks, and have yoga sessions every day) hung the show and priced it so the gorgeous art would be affordable for people to buy and support IONS. http://www.noetic.org/
IONS got its start in the 1970s. Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, founded the Institute in 1973 after experiencing what he described as a "samadhi" moment--a profound sense of universal connectedness--on his return trip from the moon. His mission for the Institute was to "broaden our knowledge of the nature and potentials of mind and consciousness and to apply that knowledge to the enhancement of human well-being and the quality of life on the planet."
That's just what Creativity Unzipped does, only in simpler terms. It takes creativity out of the "artistic and very special" category and puts it in the "everyday birthright and everyone has it" category. We are born to create. If nothing else, all day long we create stories about what just happened and why we're the hero. Our mission in the book was to broaden everyone's awareness of their creative power: how it starts with their thoughts, intensifies with their words, and ends up being the very days they are living. More than anything else, it's our lives we're creating.
Ruth and I consider ourselves grassroots activists. We're trying to co-create a culture that we can be proud of. We try in our creations to raise consciousness, to stir up awe, to provoke thought and hope and action. She considers herself an "accidental activist," but from where I sit, there's nothing accidental about it. The latest of her generosities left me breathless.
A couple years ago, when she and her husband downsized into a smaller house, Ruth and Stanley donated quite a few works of art to Jewish Family Services here in San Diego. She heard from people for weeks about the impact of that art--much of it her own--on the workplace culture. People said it felt like working in a museum. They talked about feeling more dignified there. About feeling uplifted. Dozens of folks wrote to her in gratitude and a light bulb went off in her head.
This is the part that blew me away. "I'm going to create original work for any non-profits that want my art on their walls," she said as she was getting her work ready for IONS.
"Are you kidding?" I said in disbelief, imagining an outpouring of requests once I put the word out.
"Why not? That's what artists do. We paint. And we like to see our work on public walls. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to paint and donate my work to non-profits. Maybe I can get more artists involved. It could be a new thing."
A new thing, for sure. An evolutionary advance. A quantum leap forward from the old starving artist model to a new serving artist model. After all, giving IS receiving. Who knows where this might lead?
If you're a 501c3 non profit and would like to contact Ruth about her artwork, you can reach her through her website, https://ruthwestreichtheartist.com/