Monday, 17 March 2014

Cultivating a Creative Culture (2)

Artists & Craftsmen lead the Way

Since the early stages of mankind, artists of the day have used imagery in their drawings to relate and preserve stories of their era.  In countries where Cave Drawings have been discovered, they’ve served as confirmation to other historical documentation. Drawings of floods, famines, as well as animals fleeing from fires are just some of the images explorers have uncovered over the centuries.
Mankind has long recognized that images can be used to record actual events, so it's not surprising that Artists and Craftsmen have led the way in the advancement of societies. Skilled hands have been instrumental in the building of bridges, roadways, cathedrals and castles, down to everyday household furniture and utensils. Look around, everything you see has been designed by someone’s hand!
If we accept the reality that inventions are sparked by new ideas and implemented by the work of a craftsman, how then can business leaders incorporate this concept into the everyday work force? What environment factors helps determine if a business succeeds or fails?
Some environment factors that negate creativity in a workforce are:
  • Exhaustion and Stress.
    Don’t expect a worker will come up with new ideas if they are overworked and/or underpaid. A 50+ hour work week can in fact deter new ideas and solutions in a work environment even if one’s salary makes up for the over-time hours. Lengthy work-weeks do not always result in increased productivity.  Tired workers, more often than not, accomplish fewer results than if they are rested and work shorter hours.
  • Asking but refusing to act on new ideas.
    If Employers want the staff to suggest new ways to enhance productivity and generate more income, then they must be willing to go-the-extra mile to ensure those ideas are tried. This means more than having scheduled “brain-storming sessions” where ideas are thrown out but never incorporated. Sure, these sessions can result in bonding with other employees and a break from one’s regular duties, but if an Employee doesn’t feel their suggestions are taken seriously, don’t expect their cooperation in the future.
  • Stealing Employees ideas.
    Nothing like taking personal credit from another’s ideas will cause an Employee to jump ship or start their own company. If a leader implements a new idea, not of their own making, then a monetary reward or some other type of recognition is warranted. From the time a worker is hired, the Employee Recognition incentives should be known and practiced.
An Employer guilty of any of the above 3 factors will need to make major revisions before any attempt can be made to Cultivate a Creative Culture in their work environment.

(to be continued….)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Cultivating a Creative Culture

Is Story Telling a Lost Art?

Contrary to the confessions of some individuals that “I’m not the creative type,” creativity doesn’t only depend on God-given gifts that one is born with, but is often the result of one’s environment. Why else would pre-mature babies and small chicks be placed in incubators if not to flourish and survive?

If the environment one is exposed to is a determining factor in the incubation of innovative ideas what are some factors which could help education, business and community-leaders cultivate a creative culture.
More often than not, it’s looking back to the OLD and taking it into the NEW.
For thousands of years, the Elders of a people verbally passed true life stories down to their children and understood it was their duty. This was a major way for history to be recorded before the time when individuals began to record events on writing materials.
Guentenberg’s invention of the printing press in the 15th century, the explosion of technology in the 20th century, and with our current Digital Internet Age, communication is transferred more often through electronic means than from the voice of a loving grandparent. This makes one question, ‘Who’s voice are your children hearing?’ Researchers have reported that individuals learn more from events which took place seventy-plus years previously than they do from present day events. Learning from history is an effective way for our youth to obtain wisdom and an excellent way for Educators to spark creative ideas in a classroom.
As a high school student, I found History to be quite boring when required to memorize names and dates: That is, until Grade 10 when I sat under a History teacher who by story-telling, made events of the past come alive!  
Story-telling does not have to become a dying art. Contrary to the view of many sceptics, the oral transference of stories does not mean the changing of those tales.
For instance, my Uncle Holger has a reputation of being a story teller who regularly repeats the same stories, yet over the years has never changed one detail.  In many ways, he is a Master Story teller of the Petersen clan, accurately preserving our family history.  My uncle is also a true community elder in the sense that he can accurately recall the history of other individuals, passing their stories to their descendants.
Also, contrary to popular belief, children are interested in the lives of their forefathers.  I again refer to personal experiences with my family members. When my mother was in the last days of her life, we assembled her memoirs in a small book to give out as gifts for family members and close friends. When my mother’s eldest great-grandchild saw the booklet he responded with, “Good, now I can learn something about my family.”
Future Posts: Cultivating a Creative Culture Series will review how the incubation of ideas into innovation ways can help Artists, Business and Community Leaders succeed.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Grandpa lived in H. C. Andersen’s Home - Part 2

In November 2012, a century after my Grandpa Chris immigrated to Canada, I took an overnight Air Canada flight from Toronto to travel to the land of my ancestors. From the Copenhagen international airport, I hopped on a train for the 2-hour journey to the city of Odense, situated on the Danish island of Funen. 

This was not my first trip to Denmark as four decades earlier, I had also visited H.C. Andersen’s Childhood Home in Odense and reported the journey to my Grandparents. This time however, the trip was different and more personal. I was no longer the young wanna-be writer, scribing poems as I backpacked around the countryside. Now an older and hopefully wiser published author, I viewed the dwelling as not only the home where Hans Christian Andersen was raised, but also the childhood home of my grandfather, Christian Nicolaj Petersen. Could it be something existed in the walls of this house that not only inspired Andersen but also stirred the Petersen clan to become imaginative storytellers?
Now decades later, here I stood in the heart of Odense, spellbound in the moment when the past and the paper-cuttings became real in time. As if straddling between life and fiction, I knew in my heart of hearts that this was what I had been born into. The walls of this little yellow house seemed to shout out, “Here are your roots and these are your people.” It was almost inconceivable that this dwelling, where my Grandpa and his parents lived, is the same place where old Johanne prophesied to a-then-14-year-old Andersen of his future.
It took forty-eight years for Andersen to see the fulfillment of the prophecy, “ . . .  He will be great and distinguished in the world - the whole of Odense will one day be lit up in his honor ...."

He had followed his call to be a writer, and climbed out of a world of poverty to become a great and distinguished gentleman, when on December 6, 1867, all of Odense was illuminated. Bearing torches and banners, a mass of Odense citizens assembled in front of the city hall where Andersen was to be made an honorary citizen of Odense. The sheer magnitude of the moment sent Andersen spiraling into a physical and mental trance, vacillating between humility and an overwhelming sense of joy. It is wildly believed H.C. Andersen’s last tale, “What Old Johanne Told,” was dedicated to the Old Johanne who’d accurately predicted his destiny.
Hans Christian Andersen had insight into how a literary genius is produced which we can cultivate in this generation. The famous Danish writer had two powerful supports to guide his career: A trust in providence to help him in times of need and, confidence in his own strength. Perhaps we too can learn wisdom from the words of his one poem, “. . . He (my father) used to read me fairytales, So I too became a storyteller.”

Our Connection with the Great Danish Fairyteller! (Part 1)

A century ago, after his stint in the Danish Army and at the age of 21, my Grandpa Chris left his homeland. He set sail from Denmark at the same time thousands of other Europeans were being lured to the Dominion of Canada with the promise of their own cheap land. He settled in the prairie province of Saskatchewan in 1912, and a year later was joined by his future bride, my Grandma Ellen. My father, Carl, was the firstborn of their union which eventually multiplied into several dozen offspring, all content to remain and build this great nation of opportunity.

Although Grandpa Chris left his country behind with only a few material belongings in his possession, there is one story which followed his daily footsteps. Throughout his lifetime he would laugh and proudly tell anyone who would listen, “I lived in Hans Christian Andersen’s home in Denmark.”

Perhaps another fable linked to the life of the famous Danish writer of fairy tales! But not so fast, Grandpa’s story is true.

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is one of the world’s best known and most translated authors. Mostly recognized for his beautiful fairy tales, he displayed his love for drama with his delightful paper-cuts which brought on a life of their own. He entertained both children and adults alike with his creative imagination. H.C. Andersen worked in the media of his generation and if living today, his pictorial characters would challenge the worlds of Disney and Spielberg.

Born in Odense, Denmark, his birthplace is now attached to a large modern building filled with a valuable collection of his personal effects, known as the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. A few blocks away is the H. C. Andersen Childhood Home, a small yellow cobbler dwelling where the famed author lived from the age of two to fourteen, and which was the center of his universe. It is from here that Andersen’s memories of his youth are derived and is where a plaque is fastened to an exterior wall. Just months before the famed author’s elaborate funeral, Odense recognized the writer on his 70th birthday with the placement of this honourary plaque. However, it was not until 1930 that Andersen’s childhood home was restored and converted into a small museum.

This is the same house that Christian Nicolaj Petersen, my Grandfather, while in his childhood, also called home. What is not clear is the precise year nor length of time that Grandpa Chris lived in the house. His parents moved around Denmark quite often, and since his father was a Baker, the family probably only rented the Odense property for a short time. With the honourary plaque gracing the exterior, and by the details of this childhood home documented in Hans Christian Andersen’s autobiography, one can imagine that a young Chris identified with the famed author. Not only did he possess part of the author’s legal name, but given the opportunity to live in Andersen’s actual childhood home, this association held great significance to Grandpa.

It was this strong Danish connection which Grandpa Chris passed along to his descendants in order that they too, would carry this ‘claim to fame’ in their DNA. So it came as no surprise at all when Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tale books were found under our Christmas tree. No doubt our Grandparents found great delight in sharing with their offspring, the familiar Danish stories they’d grown up with, and which were now available in the English language.

In an era when few made a living by the exclusive work of a pen, Hans Christian Andersen took what was perceived as a risk, with his decision to become a full-time writer. From his readings and observations of life, he believed “People have, at first, an immense deal of adversity to go through and then they will be famous.” He admitted, years later, to have been guided by “a wholly intelligible impulse,” which nevertheless resulted in him producing leading-edge experimental works. He wrote poems, novels, plays, often sewed costumes for his marionettes, made beautiful flower bouquets and left a vast number of pencil and ink drawings.

Hans Christian Andersen felt that travel adventures would be his best schooling and from time to time would take a trip to divert his mind from surrounding negative forces and give him new ideas. During his lifetime he made several journeys throughout Europe experiencing the sights and sounds of other cultures with their unique landscapes, art galleries and historical structures. He mingled with the leading artists and colleagues of his day, gleaning from their original ideas which inspired him to create even greater works.

Gangly and taller than most Danes, Andersen’s physical appearance may be a poetic picture of his fame. His stature in the European arts community rose as his works were translated into other languages.

My Grandparents had the privilege of seeing the H.C. Andersen Childhood Home converted into a museum when they returned to Denmark as a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1963. Upon their return to Canada, Grandpa Chris had another story to tell his clan. He bragged how he was able to stump the tour guide when he related details about the house which was hidden from the general public. It was only then that the Odense museum operators believed him and recognized the truth in his story, “I too, lived in this house at one time.” be continued.

Monday, 3 March 2014

We are excited about the new Ideation Entertainment company logo and branding direction!

Thanks to Troy Leblanc at Elyon Media ( for his graphic design on the logo and helping to launch this website. To be consistent with our new branding direction, Troy has also designed new business cards and letterhead. Don’t we all agree his creative graphic work is awesome!

For those asking where the scenic photo was taken, this is a Saskatchewan shot highlighting our living skies, tree lines and abundant lakes. This picture is a reminder that Saskatchewan is a beautiful Canadian province to live in and not always blistery cold! Awe - for summer!

Also want to draw your attention to our Colleagues section and the writings of Nancy Schalm. Nancy is an American friend who I met through a Regina screenwriting class in the early 90s. Our mutual love for writing has kept us connected as we’ve shared our projects and encouraged each other in the creative process.

Nancy Schalm has lived in four countries and writes what she knows. Raised in South Florida, she married Canadian Reno Schalm in the 70s and moved to Saskatchewan. Since then their lives have been an adventure. With Reno's work in humanitarian aid, they spent 11 years in the African kingdom of Lesotho.

They returned to Canada in 1991 then left again to serve in Croatia during the Balkan Conflict. After the bombing of Zagreb in May 1995, Nancy complied with U.S. embassy evacuation orders and took her three daughters to stay with her parents in Orlando, Florida.  The Dayton Peace Accord phased out the need for Reno's position managing supplies runs into Sarajevo.  They currently live in Orlando where Nancy works as a full time writer for a Christian ministry. Her family is actively involved with a charitable organization that addresses the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Lesotho. See for more information.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Welcome to Ideation Entertainment News

Ideation Entertainment News will be regularly reporting high-lights of our media activities and global travels. Remember to drop by often and read Myrna's activities as they happen.