I need more space

11218188_10153384409850218_1303557751318412164_oI am constantly trying to cultivate a beginner’s mind. It is so easy to coast and get caught up in the monotony and easiness of doing the same thing again and again. OK, well it might be easy for some. Not me. Many of the conferences and continuous learning sessions I attend do not push my boundaries of comfort or learning. My itinerary last week was the exception. I didn’t just step out of my comfort zone, I jumped out of myself and created a new space for me to digest and reflect.

Last week, I joined a collection of over 90 museum professionals and artists at Museum Camp 2015. This is where everyone was trying to up the weirdness factor. I usually stand out like a sore thumb in a conservative room of suits. Not this time. I blended seamlessly into a group of people I felt comfortable referring to as my tribe by the conclusion of the weekend. I refrained (or hope so) from being a fan girl when I finally met Nina Simon in-person. As I have stated before, Nina’s book is one of the reasons I decided to reclaim my path as a museum professional. She did not only get me excited about the museum industry, but about my current area of expertise.

The Santa Cruz Museum of Art & Natural History and staff reflects Nina’s enthusiasm and understanding of the Santa Cruz community. The atmosphere of the museum was laid back and inviting. The staff and interns were warm and inviting – each person had a unique personality and style. I am sure I was not the only one who felt both uncomfortable and envious of the workplace.

I could not refuse the call to Museum Camp 2015 when I found out Nina would co-lead the event with Beck Tench. Beck is the antithesis of Nina. Whereas Nina cultivates the abstract thoughts and extroverts, Beck is a complex thinker who speaks to introverts and puts them instantly at ease in unfamiliar environments. Nina and Beck complimented each other well and facilitated a weekend packed full of activities focused on the importance of space making.

The weekend included individual and team activities studying the impacts of creating and maintaining spaces devoted to ourselves and the communities we serve. I am bummed I did not take part of the camping experience at the museum, but the introvert in me desperately needed my own space in the evenings to recharge and reset. Many of the activities during the day required an openness and trust that was draining. This is not a negative observation. Conversations with like minds challenged me to bring my A-game to truly listen and think before I speak. I met such talented artists and laid the groundwork for some great friendships. Nina and Beck were free with their knowledge and lessons learned. Before Museum Camp 2015, I dreamed of working with Nina and Beck in some capacity. Museum Camp 2015 only amplified that desire!

I came back to Boston with ideas about how I could apply what I had learned and practiced over the weekend to my current job / industry and my PhD studies. I was looking for and attempting to identify all spaces (or the lack of) space around me. The time in Boston was brief because I jumped on a plane to the Happiest Place on Earth – Walt Disney World. From one coast to the other in a single week, my main objective was how to amp up my creativity levels. I was lucky enough to score a seat in the new Creativity and Innovation class at the Disney Institute. The class is loosely based on the book Creativity, Inc. (I gave this book to friends and team last Christmas) and the successes and failures of Disney over the past five decades. The class explored how to cultivate and implement creative ideas and included a behind-the-scenes look at The Disney Event Group. After the class, I explored the Magic Kingdom and challenged self to look for and identify as many different spaces (as defined in Museum Camp) as I could. I discovered there aren’t many easy-to-find spaces cultivating stillness!

Returning to Boston on Friday, I could not shake the Disney fever and took my husband and daughter to explore the new Museum of Science exhibit, The Science of Pixar. In this one exhibit, it was plain to see how Pixar was building spaces for their external and internal communities. My favorite hot spots were the video testimonials of the Pixar employees. This gave the space authenticity and a source of encouragement for any budding animators. All of us are space makers. Museum Camp, D-thinking and the Pixar exhibit encouraged the urban planning principles I have been exploring in digital community-building. I am validated. Inspired. Ready to take on the world. This past week challenged my comfort level and knowledge in ways that no other recent conference or events have been able to and I am thankful.

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