Being a Cultural Creative

17 08 2012

Ten years ago, I was at a point in my life when I felt it was time to “find myself”; to define my values, to determine what was really important, and to set some life goals.  I enjoyed my job and loved my family but there was something missing – I wanted to make a difference.

Solving the Puzzle

With the help of a life coach I rediscovered my connection to nature (my happy place) and, combining that with my business background and a passion for being a part of the community, the concept of sustainability entered my life.

Suddenly, all of the different tangents that I seemed to be on came together and started to make sense – together.  Some call it the Triple Bottom Line (economy, environment & society) or People, Place, Profit.  Whatever the terminology, the idea is the same – to be happy, healthy and sustainable at any level, all three must work together.

English: The "three pillars" of sust...

Yep, this is how I see it.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Building on the Foundation

To expand on this new understanding, I decided to go back to university.  I already had a business degree with a major in accounting so I went in search of post-graduate studies that would build on that qualification.  The Master of Environmental & Business Management program through the University of Newcastle‘s online GradSchool was perfect and, despite some personal dramas while I was studying, I loved every minute of it.

The majority of my fellow students and lecturers were from environmental science backgrounds, so my business background presented some interesting challenges for my lecturers.  We were all reading the same texts but, somehow, the messages that I gleaned from the various authors were quite different.  Encountering these different perspectives drove me to try to understand why “sustainability” is so difficult for people to understand or define.

So (get to the point woman!) what is a “Cultural Creative“?

While I was studying and working with my wonderful life coach, she recommended a book by sociologist Paul H. Ray and psychologist Sherry Ruth Anderson – The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World.  

I’m not going to try to summarise the book in this post but I must tell you that, for a Cultural Creative (which I realised I definitely was after reading the first few chapters), it is the most comforting read.  It helped me to see that I wasn’t some crack-pot with weird ideas but one of millions of others, with similar values, quietly changing the world.  Not all Cultural Creatives see the world in exactly the same way but the same can be said for any culture.  We all have different backgrounds, levels of education and religious beliefs but our core values set us apart from everyone else and bring us together (whether we know it yet or not).

Recently, a short film was created (by a guy by the name of Frigyes Fogel) to explain the Cultural Creative phenomenon.  You can view the trailer here: http://youtu.be/gctdXaglWhY

Or, if you have a little more time or curiosity, you can view the whole (1h:20m) movie here: http://vimeo.com/20055299

Enlightenment

The big message for me was that “sustainability” doesn’t need to have a single definition.  We don’t need to tie it down or put it in a cage to understand it or appreciate its beauty.  We don’t need to argue endlessly about what it means.  If we set it free – allow it to hold different meaning for each individual – we will see it for what it is, a representation of the core values of a new culture that is growing every day.

Are you a Cultural Creative too?  Put your hand up!  Wave and cheer!  Spread the word and bring your friends…I’ll meet you here.

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One response

6 09 2012
David Thompson

Wow! What an amazing and insightful piece, thank you for sharing it.

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