Creativity – on the line?

Great ideas come and go easily. That’s why we have the impression that we are so creative. But we are not. In fact we are only imaginative, dreamers at best. Only few people have the strength, the discipline and, yes, the education to follow their ideas and turn them into reality. Natalia Irina Roman is one of those people and on her way to strike gold. Or, if not, at least to complete her Ph.D. in an impressive manner.

A great idea presented in 90 seconds under the classic format of the elevator pitch. A wonderful presenter, great idea, amazing content, so connected to our everyday life and commuter worries. As we are most of us commuters – one way or the other. Natalia is a gifted presenter, but she is also very much aware of the need to prepare. Which makes her a hard worker.

Who is Natalia Irina Roman? She is a space-maker and a visual artist, a woman of great imagination and the strength to apply her ideas. More about her here.

And you can find her idea of a great and useful project here. Presented in 90 seconds at the Bauhaus University Weimar.

I told Natalia that her project reminded me of another one called Poems on the Underground. But while talking more with her I realised that they are so different both in scope and in the space they use. And yet, they are both challenging for the comfort of today’s people. Keeping our eyes glued to a screen makes us miss the serendipitous encounters that we can only find through our own experiences and on our own journeys.

Thank you, Natalia, for a great lesson.


24 Poems

The longest project I’ve been working on lately is a tiny book of poetry that I want to announce here. It’s called 24 Poems. I worked on it for some years, without really feeling as if I had been working. It would probably be fairer to say that I enjoyed my time with this project.

Well, the moment to end it arrived. And to present it to my readers’ reactions. I honestly didn’t expect some of those reactions to be so warm and close, empathetic and so moving. Certainly, many have been polite and indifferent. As life usually is!

You can catch a glimpse of what is between the covers here, by looking inside the PDF below.


Leading creatively

This January, Brian Kavanaugh was our guest speaker for the creative thinking and leadership courses. Brian has a Fulbright Scholarship with a focus in Art Education. He shared with my master students his research interests – arts pedagogy specific to adults with disabilities, primarily autism disorders. He talked about how he developed practices and principles to facilitate expressive and creative practices in adults with disabilities. He also talked about his collaboration with Romanian institutions and organizations.

Some of the things that I personally found relevant for our leadership course and discussions were the following:

  • In his projects Brian was constantly trying to set up a supportive environment for the people he worked with rather than goals that they might not understand and, therefore, pursue. And I’m thinking of the many instances in our organizations in which we often do not understand what is requested of us while the organizational environment is extremely competitive. How does that reflect upon our performance?
  • Screwing up is important for the overall success. You cannot make progress unless you fail, you are not punished, you learn your lessons and you are encouraged to go on. This happened in Brian’s examples of two of the people he had worked with over the years and managed to develop in them a sense of discovering their own meanings of life and their places in this world. Particularly in the case of RN.
  • A possible leadership model in contexts which are more volatile and ambiguous than the usual organizational contexts:
    • identifying goals,
    • providing a supportive context,
    • facilitating motivation,
    • measuring success.

RN won a first prize at a local exhibition

RN working on his art project

RN art work

We asked a lot of questions, discussed the different social backgrounds in the US and Romania, looked at creative practices at social and organizational levels, discussed entrepreneurship in arts and business, looked at the business model supporting such projects and at the influence of economics in general. We agreed that Romania is a place where creativity has a large space to develop at institutional and organizational levels, even though Romanians are quite creative as individuals.

During the leadership course students asked questions and discussed about the attitudes Americans have towards autism and general disabilities, compared them with Romania and Romanians, agreed that things are different in different places, even in the US which is such a large and diverse country and society. We had some intense discussions about social and individual responsibility in today’s societies, about living comfortably or living responsibly and connected to the needs of the others as well, about making sense of our lives and defining our humanity in the age of increased technological innovations – all important leadership issues in today’s world.

Thank you, Brian, for a great creative and learning experience.


Creative Stockholm

Sweden is, according to our guide, a very creative society. For instance, the safety belt was invented by a Volvo guy (Nils Bohlin): every 6 seconds a life is saved on planet Earth due to this Swedish guy. And Volvo, though holder of the patent, allowed all car manufacturers to use it in their own designs. Why? Because the company decided that the invention was so important that it had more value for life saving than for profit. Food for thought!?!

Our guide is a lively woman called Åsa which is pronounced “osa” and means goddess. Åsa has travelled a lot around the world, has a lot of multicultural experience, is very proud of her country and unhappy with the Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies which should be dealt with by Romania and Bulgaria, not Sweden. She has a Ph.D. in medieval history and loves teaching as a volunteer in high schools, lecture on cruises, guide tourists around Stockholm, take care of her handicapped child and all this, besides teaching political science at university. “Swedish women are strong. We can do anything we want! That’s because we have Pippi Longstocking as our role model since childhood.”

Åsa – our great Swedish guide in front of the City Hall.

The Nobel prizes are strongly connected to creativity and to the power of ideas to change the world.  That is another story however for another post.

Sweden has only about 10 million people compared to UK’s over 66 million. It is a small Britain – again according to our guide – and I guess she meant in terms of creativity.

Guided tour of the city hall – one of the landmarks of Stockholm.

Nobel Prize Hall

The organ in the Blue Hall. Largest in Scandinavia.

‘Please look at the 3 golden crowns on the top of the 106-meter tall tower!’ says Åsa. ‘They are the national coat of arms of Sweden, very famous. Do you know what they symbolize?’

Silence in the group.

‘Neither do I.’ Laughter. ‘Well, what I mean is that there are so many stories, often conflicting, that I prefer to say I don’t know.’

We walk in order, being told not to touch things, as the city hall has the offices and session halls of the politicians and their staff. The mayor is a woman – remember Pippi Longstocking?!

The Nobel prizes banquet is held here. After dinner in the Blue Hall, the Nobel Prize laureates, royalty and guests walk up to dance in the Golden Hall which has about 18 million gold mosaic tiles. 45 kg of gold were used to cover the room in very thin leaves. If you want to rent it – no problem. It’s only 6,500 per night to rent. ‘When I was a student I was lucky and won an opportunity to volunteer for the organization of the Nobel banquet. I was so impressed – I could peep into the banquet hall from behind those curtains!’

Golden Hall


Lunch at  the city hall restaurant. Very fancy. Good food. Loved their bread.

Ready for lunch at the City Hall?

Ceiling of the City Hall restaurant

‘We have only healthy food here. Chickens in Sweden are not hormone fed which means they grow very slowly. No GMOs.’