America celebrates the contributions of its famous inventors and thinkers. The great artists and scientist of the past are much revered and well-recognized for their deeds. Looking at history, one would think that creativity would be amply rewarded now. You would be wrong. We do not appreciate our creative class the ones that think outside the box, the ones with new ideas. We love the results of invention, but hate the process of inventing and by reference, any practitioner of that process. The reason is simple, creativity engenders change and change spawns uncertainty and uncertainty causes disruption. We are all afraid of that.
The truth is that we value conformity over creativity. Conformity ruffles no feathers. Conformists get along with everyone. They get along to go along. Conformists always offer the safe solution, the sound solution. Creative people are always coming out of left-field or going off the deep end. It is always easier for authority and for the collective to choose from what it knows than to try something new and different.
Where does this leave the creative class? Spurned, alienated they can become loners. It can be a sad lifestyle, sad enough to hack off one’s ear. Some fail, some miserably, but not all. Some creative people channel this rejection by redoubling their efforts. They strike out on their own. They become greater risk takers. Eventually, given some thought, enough time and a little bit of luck, they can also become successful, sometimes wildly so.
The above pictured quote is from Louis Sachar’s young-adult novel Holes. It is part of a collection of literature quotes that were inlaid in the ceiling of the newly renovated Saint Louis Public Library’s main branch. The public library is where for a dollar fifty in late charges, you can get the same education as a person who drops 150 grand in college tuition, to paraphrase the movie, Good Will Hunting. You just have to be able to think for yourself, instead of having someone else tell you how to think.
Created by Seattle-based artist Dan Corson in a collaboration between Pacific Science Center and Seattle City Light, these sun-loving, harmonic blooms use regionally manufactured, custom solar panels to generate their own power. Corson has created five flowers up to 33’ tall that will glow when the sun shines through the petals during the day and light up at night. Each flower top contains 48 solar cells that produce 4.6 Wp (watts at peak production) for a total of 1,104 Wp from all five flowers. The electricity generated will make the flowers dance with light through the evening and sing through the day, 365 days of the year. Sonic Bloom combines art and science to help educate about solar energy in the Pacific Northwest and inspire people to consider how they can incorporate renewable energy into their lives.
Saint Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau on February 15, 1764. That will make next year, Saint Louis’s 250th anniversary. The City of Saint Louis will begin celebrating this anniversary on New Year’s Eve and continue with festivities throughout 2014. This is good news, but anyone could have seen this party coming. In a bit of a surprise, city Mayor Slay announced today that IKEA will build a store in town. The store will be located near Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenues, southwest of SLU. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next summer, with the store opening in the fall of 2015. This news will act as a great salve to our hurt feeling, because we all knew here that Kansas City’s IKEA will open next year. Many other metropolitan areas have been enjoying their IKEA for years. I’m just glad that we’ll finally be getting ours, even if it will have taken 251 years to get here.
The placement of this IKEA store in our urban core is a bit of a departure from their usual business model. Normally, IKEA stores are placed in the suburbs. This difference didn’t go without complaint from some of my more white bread colleagues. Some scoffed at Mr. Slay’s assertion that this store marks a turnaround of the flight of jobs and people from the city. Their derision probably prevented them from hearing the mayor’s enumeration of other store chains that will also be setting up shop in town, Whole Foods and Lululemon to name a few. I fled their company, in order to hang out with the cool kids. They were nice to me today, even though I brought ‘tidings of great joy’. Their take on the store’s location was totally different, because they live within five miles of that spot. One of them, a Michigan grad, even offered that they had softened up Ohio State for me. I hope that this is true. Eventually, we all agreed that win or lose, Michigan State is almost certain to go to the Rose Bowl. It’s a BCS thing.