The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (Part 3): Putting magic, creativity and possibility back into people’s hands

I watched ‘The Imagineering Story’ earlier this year.

It’s the story of Walt Disney, his team of Imagineers and the founding of the theme parks.

It connected three things of importance to my thoughts at the time.

Although Walt Disney is only featured in the first episode of the series, it was apparent that this was a person who wanted to push at the boundaries of what was possible.

For Walt this was a desire to produce animation of such a high standard of art and form that it would affect people at a deeply personal and emotional level.

He wanted for the audience to become so present and involved in the characters and story that all difference between watching live action film and animation disappeared.

At the premiere of Snow White he observed the audience reactions attentively to see if their eyes welled up or flashed or creased.

He was not to be disappointed.

He’d achieved something remarkable and world changing.

A certain type of spell and a certain form of rapture.

Walt seemed a caring man and his wish to delight young children was obvious.

The Imagineers brought something wonderful to this combination.

They were highly creative and skilled individuals who between them bridged multiple schools of thought and practice. With Disney their abilities in Art, Music, Science, and Engineering became availed to a new form of craft and entertainment.

Time after time they reinvented, recycled and reapplied the artistic, technological and intellectual world around them towards the accomplishment of the impossible.

Diversity, smarts and skills working in tandem with care, emotion and compassion created an organisation which eventually touched and affected the lives of every child, adult and family on the planet.

Don’t let anyone ever tell you it can’t be done.

It is hearts and minds working together that weave the music and the dance into one.

Finally, the series covers the business and financial ups and downs which follow the course of every organisation.

Avoiding near collapse, evading hostile takeovers, clever risk taking and financially driven, soulless business decisions which nearly spelt doom for a company that was previously much more heart felt and soulful.

For me the message was that Disney had something that was about much more than money and that made every difference.

But when the wrong minds and thinking became dominant that intangible magic started to turn to dust and blew away with the wind.

It was a story of Humanity, Creativity and Organisation.

To me these three elements sit at the heart of every great thing or act that humanity has ever set out to do or has accomplished. For it is when they are brought into a balanced relationship that magic begins to happen.

If society needs any answers to the problems that we face then it is here that we will find them.

But our modern economy pushes them to the side, the story of wealth creation diminishes their role and our education system neglects them entirely.

Eventually atrophy sets in and we lose the nous, will and abilities required to put them into practice.

There is a real need in our modern times to rediscover our innate potentialities and develop these natural and vital capacities once more.

The 21st century will be a period of exponential change in society, business and the economy.

To succeed we need to recognise our innate gifts and put them into action.

We have much to do and a long way to go.

The story of Socially Enterprising is this story.

At its heart it is about rediscovering something that we are near to the point of losing.

It is our ability to put our hearts together, put our minds together, and work together for the benefit of everyone, the planet and the natural world.

It requires us to recognise that;

  • we are all capable of doing this.
  • it can be done anywhere, at any time, and in almost any setting.
  • it doesn’t look like one thing but it is a myriad of possibilities each unique to its local context and subject.

It’s quite simply about building a better world together through one action at a time. In every community, every business and every organisation.

We are able to bring this story to life by showing it happening.

It is happening already. Everywhere around the world people and organisations are coming together and collaborating to make a difference to local areas and people’s lives.

People are doing amazing things and so are businesses and organisations.

It just needs bringing together into one place.

As a platform we can bring this story together.

This story can inform and educate about what can be achieved.

It demonstrates possibility and it gives people ideas.

The story becomes something within which the platform’s social networking and collaboration tools then become entwined. This is a story which offers you a leading role.

Working in combination, the story and the social networking begin to form a learning and development environment. At its most basic it allows you to see, learn and do. The story guides and illuminates.

As this learning and development capacity is developed within the platform we are able to go further by linking to external skills, education, training, expertise, funding, and advice that can help to develop our forgotten abilities and learn how to make a difference.

The ecosystem can host or link to relevant networks, peer groups and communities of practice. In fact, anything which can help support the activity taking place and/or the people or organisations involved.

This is an ecosystem of networks, movements and actors.

It is no small story.

It is no small platform.

It is no small organisation.

An important thing to understand is that Socially Enterprising is not the organisation doing the doing. That has never been the intention.

Our role is more akin to that of a gardener.

Our interest is in the health and functioning of the ecosystem.

We can highlight great places, projects and practice.

We can help identify where there are gaps and needs so that the flow of nutrients and resources can have the greatest effect.

We can help the potential take root and grow.

Or role is nurturing, shaping and guiding.

People, businesses and organisations are capable of amazing things.

The 21st century, the challenges we face and the opportunities to change the world. These all require us to think big, work together, and bring our hearts to the matter at hand.

The story of Disney could be reduced to a formula.

Humanity + Creativity + Organisation * (Science + Technology + Engineering + Arts + Mathematics).

Socially Enterprising is pretty close to this. I feel it’s a bit hard edged and there are a few things missing but there is a basic principle at work here which we can apply to anything we do together.

As a founder I am interested in bringing to the platform the ability to develop the Creativity, Humanity and Collaborative potential which exists in every person, business and organisation.

I believe that as collaborations work to understand and meet local need or tackle larger problems or opportunities then the opportunity also arises to apply and develop these other important skills, literacies and abilities.

I’m keenly aware of the potential for technology, media, participative practices and the arts to be applied to the development of our Social, Creative and Collaborative capacities.

I would like to push the boundary of what’s possible and set the bar for a vibrant and inclusive socially, culturally and environmentally oriented immersive and participatory sector.

I also believe that people have the stories, the learning and the knowledge that society needs to understand itself and shape itself. I want to help develop and democratise the tools and technologies which allow them to release this potential and I want to connect them to the skills, expertise and practitioners that can help them to realise this.

I hope the connection to Participative Arts and Culture is clear here.

I believe it’s possible to bring all of this together into a story of a new world coming into being.

Disney showed us that imagination, skills and heart can invent new worlds.

Today with those three things we can do so much more.

We can give the world the ability to remake itself each day at a time.

It’s a story in which we are all everyday heroes and imagineers.

This is the magic, creativity and possibility that can be placed into people’s hands.