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Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—

over and over announcing your place in the family of things.

—Mary Oliver  

Every Spring, I find myself wondering about how I can be more creative—with my work, in pursuing other interests, in how I relate to others, in the way I move through my day. We all have this deep motivation to be creative in some way. Perhaps Spring brings it forth as it paints the landscape with a blur of green and the wildflowers that are gracing so much of California from all of the winter rains. It always feels like a time—coming out of the gray of winter—when “the world offers itself to your imagination”, as Mary Oliver writes in her poem Wild Geese. 

The Austrian artist and activist Friedric Hunterwasser held that “Paradises can only be made with our own hands, with our own creativity in harmony with the free creativity of nature.” Whether we’re dedicated to building community and creating a more sustainable society, or simply want to change the way in which we might work or relate to others—what role does creativity play in building these new connections? How can we use the way in which nature works as a model for our own lives? And I’m not talking about predator-prey relationships! I’m wondering about the role of balance, symbiosis, energy conservation, nutrient cycling: principles that create stable systems in nature and how we might create those in our own communities and workplaces. Take just a moment to take stock of how you might bring more creativity into your daily life, and how that might impact your work or relationships with others.

The artist Andy Goldsworthy’s most recent effort at the National Gallery in Washington, involves creating nine domes of slate built by hand, stacking one piece on top of the other. Goldsworthy’s work always highlights our connection to nature, not only because of the fact that he uses natural materials but also—and perhaps more importantly—due to the deliberate nature of his effort. While creativity can certainly arise from spontaneity, it is also about prolonged observation, careful consideration and clear action—an intimacy with the materials, places and the people who become a part of each of our creations.

March 2005