Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Minnesota Rising Imagine Lab: Portrayed in pictures and prose

The Minnesota Rising Imagine Lab: New Paradigms, New Possibilities took place on Sunday, September 28, 2014 at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in the temporary pilot Hothouse co-working venue. The brainchild of MIA Entrepreneur in Residence, Sarah Lutman, the Hothouse space ensured that the Imagine Lab was set among natural light, high ceilings, and plenty of artistic inspiration!

The event kicked off with energizing participant introductions, featuring an active verb and corresponding action to share a bit about each of the creative and talented folks in the room. Attendees then settled in to hear from two compelling co-presenters: Jenny Hegland of the University of Minnesota, Rochester, and Maja Radulovic, of the Mayo Clinic, who posited that imagination is a technology of the future. Emboldened by the power of imagination to create new worlds and quite possibly save the current world, participants rotated among Imagination Stations in small groups, playing with Play-Doh, engaging in improv, and putting into word and pictures their visions of what might be. The afternoon concluded in triads sharing and listening deeply about the times at which participants have felt most creative and imaginative in their lives.


Between a beautiful setting at Hothouse, open-hearted engagement in inspiring conversations, and plenty of fun tools for making and expressing art, the afternoon left a powerful imprint on each attendee. During our closing circle, participants reflected on their takeaways, including:
  • Don't put people in boxes.
  • Tiny time constraints were helpful; I want to do it more often.
  • Because you don't have rules, you're not afraid to fail. Imagination has its own rules: It has no rules. It's empowering. Anything can happen.
  • Getting out of my comfort zone was powerful. More play-doh!
  • To feel more imaginative, you need to be in a safe space. You need to be and have a shared vulnerability. We put up walls in the real world to survive.
  • I look at it this way: Wherever I am, I bring value to them. And they bring value to me. If they don't see it, it's not my problem. 
  • There is a privilege of this space. Overcoming obstacles and power are needed to do it for social transformation.
  • As a VISTA, I'm supposed to be a fresh set of eyes, but isn't it just about being yourself?
  • The people we are around impact us. It's important to stay around people who help us to be imaginative.
  • It's so cool to know 17 others are trying to think about and do this work. If we each interact with 10 people, that's 180 people total. And it would be amazing especially given the caliber and quality of the people in this room.
  • We need to seek out stories and people. Every person that walks by is a potential friend, story, etc.
  • Creative people love to be around their kind, in order to be ever more creative.
  • It's so nice to allow ourselves the freedom to be silly and goofy!
  • It's amazing how a small event can have such a profound effect.


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