In 2014 I was selected as an Ashoka Fellow for my work pioneering Hip Hop Therapy as an innovative mental health strategy for at-promise youth. The experience introduced me to the world social entrepreneurship and a global network of changemakers and organizations. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to meet about 100 of the 3,400 Ashoka Fellows that reside globally. Amazing individuals like T. Morgan Dixon (a.k.a., my sister from a different mister) who co-leads GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African American women and girls in the United States. Morgan’s work, along with so many others, exemplifies Ashoka’s vision of a world where everyone is empowered to be a changemaker. I remember chatting with Morgan a few years back in New Orleans about the term social entrepreneur and the growing field which seemed to perpetuate certain racial disparities and power structures that privileged social innovators who meet a certain archetype: white, highly educated, and well-connected.
Lately, I have been thinking about the relationship and similarities between changemaking and creativity. More specifically, how the language and structures surrounding both of these practices have reinforced a notion that only a select few can participate.
Time Magazine recently published a special issue entitled, “The Science of Creativity”, which features the thought leadership of University of Notre Dame anthropologist Agustine Fuentes, author of The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional. Fuentes explains
People pigeonhole creativity as belonging to a single individual or group of geniuses. They don’t realize that each and every human has this incredible capacity to imagine and change things. Auto mechanics can be amazingly creative — so can people trying to stretch a paycheck to the end of the month.
I love Fuentes view on creativity which mirrors my view on changemaking. The biggest disservice we can do to ourselves and the world is to subscribe to the idea that creativity and changemaking is the sole work of “professionals” or “experts”. On the contrary, creativity and changemaking are the most prevalent and powerful in everyday settings lead by everyday people. Fact is, individuals and communities are constantly generating creative solutions to everyday problems. And those dealing with additional constraints like poverty or racism tend to be even more creative in their problem-solving because necessity is the mother of all invention.
At Idea2form we believe everyone is a creative and everyone is a changemaker (especially those closest to the problem). We believe it is our role to help unleash the genius that lies within the individuals and organizations we serve. That is why we call ourselves a Co-Creative Agency. We encourage all we come in contact with to embrace their innate creativity, engage in the work of transforming system for the betterment of all, and embrace the notion that genius lies within all of us.