The next worldwide creative community
Some 160 participants from over 30 countries are gathering this week for the first ever "CreativeMornings Summit", an opportunity for community organizers from throughout the world to reflect, compare and learn from each other's experiences. From Lima to Singapore, from Cape Town to Edmonton, each continent is represented, and gives a kaleidoscopic view of the world through the lens of highly diverse creative communities.
The CreativeMornings movement, which began in 2008 in Brooklyn, now boasts 89 chapters and plans to add another 10 in the coming months, bringing it to the verge of the very symbolic mark of 100 creative cities. Contrary to the politically-charged, top-down, command and control models of large international organizations like UNESCO, the CreativeMornings model is a grassroots movement that stems from the willingness of the creatives to self-organize their own representation to the world.
The project of a brilliant mind — Tina Roth Eisenberg — CreativeMornings has indeed come a long way. With some 7,000 monthly participants. What Eisenberg describes as the "single most important personal accomplishment of her career" has earned her Fast Company's recognition among the "100 most creative people in business". And the underlying narrative is quite compelling.
Each of the 89 CreativeMornings cities is an independently run organization, or chapter. Chapters are working under a simple assignment of rights where they accept to produce a free monthly event, film it, and contribute the resulting footage to a common platform (a novelty since the production of a original proprietary creativemornings.com, in 2013).
Gathered in New York at the invitation of the organization's headquarters, chapter leaders were able to discover a variety of structures, processes and abilities that, should they come together at once, would rival the world's top creative entities. To do so, dozens were given the mic, and shared best practices and horror stories, funding and community engagement rituals.
Among them, Atlanta's Blake Howard puts on a monthly show that could eventually earn him a much sought-after (says he) career as a TV-show host. From "What's in the box?" guessing games to a "money booth" where dollars fly while participants try to grab what they can — Howard even put on a "battle of sexes" for last April's theme, sex. A born showman, Howard taught us what it means to engage, literally, with an audience.
Also among the most impressive is one of the world's youngest chapters, Vienna, lead by a young creative project manager, Lisa Langmantel (together with her co-host, Harald Heckmüller). I was introduced to its fabulous trio of young creative women who together contribute to producing an amazing monthly print magazine for Vienna, the first ever "CreativeMornings Magazine". A few minutes into the conversation, Langmantel hands you her CreativeMornings VIE business card. Looks professional. Sounds ambitious. A trip to Austria is in good order for a reconnaissance mission.
Looking into the future of CreativeMornings, one must reckon that it will be made by its craftsmen and craftswomen. In that way, it differs from the technocratic-analytic approaches to creativity that rely on hard data and/or political pressures: those that come from above to tell you where to look, what to do, how to be.
Creatives are everywhere, and if this may not be the sudden revolution some have been waiting for, Creative Mornings will slowly, and assuredly, take the place it deserves among the world's defining creative voices.