“Some of us in suits, carrying our briefcases full of important papers and looking like we’re always 15 minutes late for something going on somewhere else, some of us see the beauty too. We see it.”
That was from Mike Todd’s talk at last Friday’s ONExONE. I hope to have video of both Mike’s and Arno’s presentations up soon. Short version, an amazing night. Really. No need to be disingenuous or over effusive, it was incredible. We sat and talked for over two hours afterwards. Needless to say, the two presentations were a wonderful collision of ideas.
I’m planning to post the entire transcript of Mike’s talk because it beautifully, and without any prior planning on our part, encapsulated some things I’ve been chewing through lately. Conscious capital, social entrepreneurship and the arts—historically called “the humanities.” [update: Transcript is posed here]
Conscious capital—more specifically what actual people are actually doing in our city related to conscious capital—has spawned a constellation, an ecosystem, a giant hairball of energy that I’ve been tentatively nudging Tasai toward. Each nudge, including our conversation Friday night, produces more energy. There’s something there. Tasai’s place in this hairball is ill defined, as yet hard to talk about and amorphous, but there’s something there.
In terms of Tasai and this giant hairball, pieces are fitting into place, but not just fitting into place. They’re fitting into place with the hedonic satisfaction of an expensive car door closing. They’re fitting together in the right way, in a way that the fitting together itself if good and satisfying. It tells me we’re headed in the right direction.
You may have noticed I’ve changed Tasai’s tag line on our front page from “artists helping artists be artists” to “humans helping humans be more human” I’ve also made adjustments to our “About” page. It’s more inclusive. When we talk about what artists do, it’s really about being human. Artists are good at being human in a rounded and integrated way. While artists often lead the way and/or are outsiders because of their tenacious capacity to insist on being human, they aren’t the only ones who are good at it.
The following tugs at the thread of more inclusive language. What artists and social entrepreneurs, who are both interested in being more human, might have to do with each other and the hairball of energy that ensues.
If there exists businesses who value being human, I’m interested in the tangible ways artists can help those businesses be more human and therefore more successful.
I’m interested in helping people be more human for two reasons:
1. Helping people be more human creates more human humans and therefore an ever so slightly more humane world. Helping people be more human means the organizations they are part of might behave more humanely.
2. Helping people be more human by way of a heretofore unnamed activity that resides somewhere on a continuum between “artist-in-residence” and [shudder] “business consulting” provides artists with a valuable “product” separate from their artistic practice by which they might support themselves thereby preserving the sacred un-usefulness of their creative work. [That’s a long sentence, but it makes sense, read it again.] It’s like a writer who also teaches at a university. The university salary frees the writer from the anxiety associated with needing the outcome of her writing to be a commercial success, which allows the writer to instead focus on the outcome of her writing being excellent work. In short, the artist can remain resolutely human while teaching others to be so.
However, many artists have no interest in helping businesses and many businesses have no interest in being helped by artists.
And yet, I’m discovering there are artists and business people who are, beyond all reasonable expectations, more alike than different.
I have long opined that artists have an incredibly important—even critically necessary—voice and presence to offer organizations. I don’t mean “I just want to sing.” I mean something real and tangible. But where’s the interface? How can one possibly bring those two worlds together? Artists and business people? Pshaw.
The most hopeful connecting point for artists and business people, I’ve come to believe, is this emerging hyper object called conscious capital. I initially dismissed conscious capital as shiny new words for the same old bullshit. I’m increasingly convinced this idea holds critically important space for people who explode the stereotypes of both the humanities and business.
“The term conscious business implies that a business will seek to be conscious of its impact on the world in various spheres, and continue this inquiry over time. It is concerned with both its impact on a human’s inner and outer world as well as animal and environmental well-being. Furthermore, a conscious business considers both short-term and long-term effects of its actions or inactions. A conscious business evolves as does the methods that a business can and chooses to be of benefit to the world and to function with awareness. Therefore, though conscious businesses will be socially responsible, the term “conscious business” holds larger connotations for the businesses’ actions than does social responsibility.” ~ Thanks Wikipedia
For the most part the conscious capital space is held by social entrepreneurs. People who’s disposition and strengths often lie on the “capital” side of the equation. They’ve come from the business side to a more human centre. I’m interested in the contribution entrepreneurial creatives bring to the conversation. People who’s disposition and strengths lie on the “conscious” side of the equation. People who might come from the humanities side to a more human centre.
If conscious is about being human and capital is about being financially sustainable. I come from the conscious side of the equation. I’m an artist, artists are skilled at being human. Artists are humanity experts. I think artist’s particular expertise is a critically important contribution to the conscious capital conversation.
Stay tuned, more musings on this topic to come.