Imagination Conversation Report: Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado

Image ©Scott Dressel-Martin

The Colorado Imagination Conversation on October 20 was held in a beautiful local space that embodied the ideas explored at the event: the Denver Botanic Gardens. Host organization Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) is a division of the state’s Office of Economic Development that aims to, among other things, “increase access to … creativity skills in P-20 education and workforce development.” Upon arrival, audience members were treated to guided tours of the Gardens’ inspiring exhibit of works by 20th-century British sculptor Henry Moore. The ensuing Conversation featured panelists ranging from acclaimed novelist David Milofsky to Lara Merriken, inventor of popular energy bar LÄRABAR—yet another example of imagination’s impact across disparate professional fields.

CCI Executive Director Elaine Mariner reports that the topics covered by the participants included: imagination’s innateness in everyone; the danger that external influences such as parents, teachers, and peers may squelch imagination; and the importance of surrounding oneself with positive and encouraging people rather than naysayers and non-believers. “We had a capacity crowd,” Mariner notes, “and the audience was very engaged and pleased with the depth and diversity of the views that were expressed.” Video of the Conversation will be available soon on the Web site of official government station Denver 8 TV.

UPDATE 1/3/11: The video of the Denver Imagination Conversation is now available from the Denver 8 TV Online Video page–look for “Imagination Conversation” under the “Featured” tab.

Click here to view all of the Imagination Conversation Reports.

Imagination amid the Rockies


Image by Beverly & Pack*

Making the environment of your home or workplace more imaginative may seem easier than doing the same for your community; after all, a community is a large and diverse entity. But “What IF… A Festival of Innovation and Imagination,” which took place on Saturday, September 11, in Colorado Springs, is an inspiring illustration of what can happen when people in a given place make a concerted effort to highlight the imaginative potential in their own backyard. T.D. Mobley-Martinez reports on the event in local newspaper The Gazette. According to Deborah Thornton, executive director of Imagination Celebration, which organized What IF, the factors that led to her conception of the festival included: people’s common misguided belief that they’re not creative; and the unfortunate tendency of communities to separate disciplines (“Art in this box. Science in that box. Business in yet another box. And on and on.”). Thornton counters this conventional thought and behavior with her own assertion “that the common denominator of every human is creativity and imagination.” (We at Lincoln Center Institute concur.) The festival aimed to showcase examples of innovation in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado and, in doing so, to generate more. Among the “scheduled experiences” listed on the What IF Web site and in the article are: a robot built from recycled items; training in improvisational performance; paper made from elephant dung (!); vegetable oil used as fuel; a discussion about improvements in geriatric health care; and various artistic performances and displays. It seems clear that, in Mobley-Martinez’s words, this was truly “a festival without familiar limits.” And—better yet—one of its sponsors was Colorado Creative Industries, which will host an Imagination Conversation at Denver Botanic Gardens on October 20.

There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.