The Sisterhood of the Traveling Riding Jacket has invaded my head, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what exactly draws me to women who are out there creating for a better world. I am a few years behind these women on my journey with REID MILLER Apparel and everyday I marvel at what it takes to get where they are. (As a fun surprise, the woman who are participating will remain a secret until they a revealed in the Weekly Letter but, for our purposes here they are women entrepreneurs who are creating for a more sustainable, beautiful future.) This week’s theme was a revelation that is now becoming my battle cry: our institutions - financial, educational, and political - do not value creativity and yet creativity is paramount for ascending from the depths of our current societal issues.
I watched two TED Talks Monday evening, back to back: Ken Robinson’s “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” and Iain McGilchrist’s “The divided brain”. The takeaway messages from the two: As a culture we do not value creativity. Or should I say, we don’t value certain types of creativity. We grow up being told not to value spending time to learn music, art, and dance and then many of us hold on to that notion in our adult lives. All around us this message is reinforced. There is scant encouragement to nurture our creative energy.
In the business world this struggle to nurture creativity becomes more acute. The level of distortion in our marketplace caused by the modern gold rush to strike it rich with technology has squeezed out other types of creation. It is analogous to the distortion of money in politics. The voice of the tech industry is magnified like the voice of Wall Street funded politicians to such an extent that we have to be very creative to be heard. Funding for businesses, media coverage, start-up assistance is all rushing towards Big Tech money. For businesses where technology is not central to the “what”, there is scant assistance.
As women fighting to create something that is not technology – designing and building something that has value only to consumers, our communities and our natural world and not (necessarily) investors they are double marginalized as women and then as women creating something that is perceived to have little value to our “economy”. When they make it, they are making it because of grit, enormous energy, strength, and yes, creativity. They believed in what they were doing even when people thought that they were crazy. They had a vision, a mission that they fought for against all odds.
These women are my modern day heroines. They have ridden forth with their big ideas, creative beauty and power in the face of all sorts of adversity, and they have triumphed. They have built businesses that bring joy to their customers and contribute to healthier, thriving communities and the natural world. And they pay the bills.
As a similar antidote to distorted politics, our distorted economy calls for grass-roots support for these women. Where we see a woman building something amazing, something that brings light to our world, we should call it out, spread the word. Ideas, visions, and products that make it by popular demand and not distorted financial interests are our road out of the darkness into the light.