ZenStorming

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Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Designing and Curating Perceptions of Vodou (Part Deux)

Posted by Plish on November 8, 2014

At the end of my last post on the Vodou Exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum, (you might want to click the link and give it a read if you want to come up to speed,) I mentioned that I’d visit the exhibition again  and see if my thoughts changed.

I did.

They didn’t.

Friday night was an event in which Chicago’s Haitian community welcomed the new exhibit with delicious verve (See Figure 1 below).  It was a great opportunity to speak with artists and others about the exhibit, to get their opinions.

Many of theirs were similar to mine.

However, I did do something different this time. I spent more time looking up at the banners, and I spent more time on the artifacts that didn’t appear to be from secret societies.  (I didn’t just look, I studied, read, worked at really trying to understand.) In the end, this lightened the experience considerably, but did it dispel the overall dark vibe of the exhibit?

No.

What will help?

My suggestions for event would be the following.

  1. Change the banners that are used for publicity.  They contain Secret Society Lwa.  Do something lighter.
  2. Tell a story with the exhibition.  Start with the misconceptions you want to dispel, the points you want to get across. Then start dispelling and telling the story of Haiti and Vodou. Explain the day to day in Haiti and where Vodou fits.  Show how it interacts with other religions – perhaps even how families often practice Catholicism and Vodou simultaneously.
  3. Build an elevated area that is behind a red curtain (or make the curtain look like a forest covered mountainside. )  Entitle that section: “Inside Vodou’s Secret Societies”.  Maybe put a small disclaimer at the beginning saying small children might be disturbed by what’s inside.  Put those Secret Society artifacts (an example of which is in Figure 2 below), behind the curtain and out of the main stream of the exhibit.  Make sure it’s somewhere in the middle of the exhibit.  The Secret Societies are not mainstream and mixing these artifacts in with the everyday artifacts mischaracterizes what many people experience in everday Vodou.  However, Secret Societies need to be referenced in the everyday exhibits- after all, they did indeed impact Haitian life. I also believe that ‘hiding’ the Secret Society artifacts will do another thing: people will slow down.  When people are in fearful situations, they tend to move more quickly. If you want people to move slowly and observe – hide the dark stuff.
  4. Children are noticeably absent from many of the videos and explanations.  Of the Haitians I spoke with, all of them had non-intimidating memories of Vodou as a child.  They remember the brightness, the music, the activity on Holidays.  If a child can feel it, adults will too.
  5. Move explanations closer to artifacts and make them readable without having to bend neck or body.  Bring banners closer to eye level.  Create exhibits that allow the most visitors to stand straight and tall.  Haitians wanted this (and still do!) and Vodou helped them.
  6. Include more ways for people to interact and touch.  Granted, the artifacts at the exhibition are were used in Vodou and as such, are not open to touching.  But, there are other ways to help people to hear, taste, feel, smell, touch.  Drumming is key to Vodou.  Let people make virtual drums (or real ones!) Get innovative!
  7. Provide more of the beauty of Haiti! More green, more color, breezes, salt water aroma, music, you get the idea.  Vodou is about the interconnectedness of all things, life, death, sky, earth, plants, water, etc.  Set more of the context, not just socio-politically (which incidentally, this exhibition did a better job of doing.)
  8. End the exhibition showing how Haiti is growing (albeit slowly and painfully at times) and what challenges lie ahead.  Reiterate how Vodou has been a misunderstood part of the process, that Vodou comes from the heart of the Haitian culture and it’s been responsible for establishing a spirit of  (and physical!) freedom in a nation.  Show bright artwork that comes from Haitian artists, even those works from those mounted by spirits.

With the above changes, I believe the exhibit would better accomplish its goal of dispelling misconceptions of Vodou.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’d do!

Consul General of Haiti, Lesly Conde

Figure 1. Consul General of Haiti, Lesly Conde

Secret Society Lwa

Figure 2. Secret Society Lwa

Yes, I even spent more time looking at the mirrots

Figure 3  Yes, I even spent more time looking at the mirrors.  This was one of the more mellow looking mirrors

Posted in Arts, Authenticity, Conveying Information, creativity, curation, Design, Education, Experience, Information Visualization, Politics, prayer, Religion, Spirituality, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Inspiration from “The Rebbe” into Redesigning Healthcare, Starting with the Word We Use

Posted by Plish on June 14, 2014

While driving to a 24 hour Walgreens in the wee hours of the night, I was listening to the radio and heard an interview with Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History.

Rebbi Telushkin pointed out that the Rebbe believed in the power of words and he made it a point to use optimistic, positive words.   So strong was the Rebbe’s belief that it influenced the author, Rabbi Joseph, to use the words “due date” as opposed to “deadline” when talking about projects.  “Due dates” are synonymous with births, “deadlines” with, well, death.

The Rebbe carefully chose his words and therefore used the phrase beit refuah, when he spoke of a hospital.  Translated it means ‘house of healing.’  Most people used the term beit cholim, which means ‘house of the sick’.

Think about that.

When you hear the word “hospital” what do you think of?

If you’re like most people, you’ll probably say, “That’s where the sick people are.” Maybe you’ll mention something about people getting better but, odds are, the first thing that’ll  probably come to mind is sickness, not healing.

That’s interesting because the word “hospital” comes from the Latin word hospes. The word meant a foreigner/stranger or guest.  It’s actually the root word for “hospitality”, “hostel”, “hotel”, and “hospice”.

Do you consider hospitals synonymous with hospitality?  While the Ritz-Carlton has given customer services lessons to healthcare facilities, and many hospitals are upgrading their food quality and redesigning their interiors, the cultural change hasn’t occurred yet.  People still don’t identify hospitality with hospitals.  For that matter, unfortunately, I don’t believe that healing is identified with hospitals. I’ve even heard of hospitals being described as those places where people get sick!

Some places are making the change and trying to change peoples’ impression of what healthcare facilities represent.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America has taken the step of using green colors and logo that has a tree and a person playing and a dog.  They clearly want to convey their commitment to life and living.  Their facilities are even designed in V-shapes, almost like open arms.  They really don’t look ‘hospitally’. Check them out some pictures here.

The lesson here is that language is important.   From healthcare terms, to renaming strategic plans, to renaming project ‘post-mortems’, I believe it’s important that we use terms that take us in positive directions and make us think of what it really is that we want to accomplish.  Too often we just use common phrases, seldom taking the time to understand the impact of those terms in shaping our worldviews and how we approach problems.

Whether it’s healthcare or a relationship you’re trying to improve,

think about the words you use,

think about the metaphors that describe your challenges,

think about the ramifications of words,

and choose words that build up, that inspire, that give life, that cause you to look at people and situations in new and exciting ways.

The Rebbe would be happy…

 

 

Posted in Customer Focus, Design, Healthcare, innovation, Religion, Service Design, Social Innovation, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Giving Thanks, Changing the World and the Sacred Time Paradox

Posted by Plish on December 1, 2013

I wrote before on the Sacred Space Paradox.  The paradox is that as we set aside certain spaces like nature preserves and designate them ‘sacred’, by default we say that the rest of the world isn’t sacred in the same way.  As a result, instead of treating the entire world as a nature preserve, we relegate certain areas to ‘museum-esque’ status – meant to be interacted with in very controlled manners.

The corollary to the Sacred Space Paradox, is the Sacred Time Paradox.  We designate certain times as sacred and hence we behave in a certain manner in those times, but as a result, we de facto act in different ways during those ‘profane’ (not sacred) times.

Thanksgiving.

That special day in the year when we give thanks for all we have.  We give thanks for the bounty of harvest, for friends and family (and I am especially thankful for you, the reader!)  It is a time for togetherness and sharing.

So why do we make a point to be thankful but once a year? Is there anything that we do on Thanksgiving that we shouldn’t be doing every day?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good thing to have a communal holiday that highlights giving thanks (at least in the ideal.)  But it’s important to be cognizant of the Sacred Time Paradox so that we can create a better world.

This weekend while relaxing post dinner, I came across this little blurb from Dear Abby in the local paper:

WP_20131129_001 (2)

Irrespective of the religious tone, each one of the lines is a great reminder of what it means to be truly thankful for something.  It’s not just about remembering, but about service and designing and innovating for others, to make their lives better.

That’s why I’m also including my “Thankfulness Process“.  I developed this flow chart to help us better understand what we’re thankful for and help us ponder ways in which we can transform that thankfulness into action.

thankfullnessprocessmichaelplishka2009

Let’s make a point to not fall too deeply into the Sacred Time Paradox.  Let’s reflect on what we’re thankful for more often, and more importantly, let’s use that thankfulness as an impetus to be more, and do more good, in this world.

Today, and every day, try and spend a few moments being thankful.  Not only can it help you be healthier, my wish for you is that it empowers you to create a better world for those less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Philosophy, Social Innovation, The Future | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Innovation in Non-Profits and Churches

Posted by Plish on April 14, 2013

Through the folks over at CreatePossible, I found out about this great event called Co-Lab, for non-profit organizations and ministries.

As part of Co-Lab, there was a session entitled “The Theology of Innovation.”  It’s a great video of two people sharing the story of their church and their quest to embrace innovation and be true to their Faith (which contrary to what many  would think, and as the session presenters point out, a conflict between innovation and religious communities doesn’t have to exist.)  There are also multiple other sessions on the Vimeo Co-Lab site on Future Trends, and the future of Non-Profits to name a few. They’re worth checking out.

Even if you’re not into Christianity, it’s a fascinating insight into how people react and deal with design thinking and innovative processes. These folks even went to IDEO for assistance in this process. (Next time, just give me a call :) )

Looking forward to your thoughts!

(Note on the video: When the woman speaks in the presentation, her microphone level is lower so you may have to turn up the presentation at those times.)

Posted in Authenticity, Co-Creation, creativity, culture of innovation, Customer Focus, Design, design thinking, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Spirituality | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Goal: Making Innovation Disappear

Posted by Plish on December 29, 2012

Some years back I was involved in an inter-religious dialogue with a Muslim group.  During the course of many conversations, one thing became clear.  My Muslim friends didn’t think of themselves as belonging to a religion, per se.  They simply were living a way of life.

They weren’t, and aren’t, alone.

In fact, there are  cultures that don’t have a word for ‘religion’ in their vocabulary.  If a word is used it is a variation on the imported word, “religion.”

The reason for this is as mentioned earlier.  People view living in a “religious” manner as a holistic experience.  There is no place that an individual’s (and community’s!) world view is not influenced by the relationship between God and Humans.  It simply “is”, and if it simply is, it doesn’t need to be labelled.

This phenomenon is present in other places in our lives as well.  Ask someone to describe how she gets from point a to point b, how he cooks a souffle, and I would be extremely surprised to hear those descriptions contain the phrase, “and then I breathe in and out,” multiple times, if even once.

It just happens and is part of the process.

That’s how an innovation competency should be.  Eventually you shouldn’t need to talk about it. Everything you do, from working in an R&D lab to Finance, to Operations, to taking time to recharge your batteries should be geared towards optimizing your innovation output. (Remember the Innovation Audit)

Yes, some of this is about consistent procedures (‘ritual’ from a religious perspective), but moreso it’s about commitment; it’s about worldview which is tied into identity and brand.

Who are we? What’s our goal? What are we supposed to do and how do we do it?  Who am I?

These are the questions that, at first glance seem to have a ‘religious’ nature to them.  But, it’s not about religion as much as it’s about human authenticity.  It’s about letting people be who they are, contributing from their strengths to help make the whole be more than the sum of its parts. If people can’t be their deepest selves, and if the innovative organization does not contribute to the making of the whole person, then the person suffers and the innovative output of the organization will suffer.

So, next time you find yourself talking about how what you’re doing is innovative, do a little reflection and ask if innovation is a core competency or a way of life.  Ask yourself if you’re doing something because you have to do it, or because you’re committed to it and the company’s mission makes sense, and what you do makes sense, when you do it.

Does this mean that there’s no questioning?

No, in fact there should be, because, just as I learned in the inter-religious dialogue, growth and building relationships is more about sharing questions than sharing answers.

Not to mention, the organization that sells answers will eventually go out of business because humans don’t buy answers – fundamentally they buy a question:

“What will my life become with this product/service/etc.?”

Posted in Authenticity, creativity, culture of innovation, Design, innovation, Religion, Social Innovation, Society, Spirituality, The Human Person, Wellness, Workplace Creativity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Working For Peace (From a Thankful Place)

Posted by Plish on November 21, 2012

As we here in the United States get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, we can be thankful that even with the disagreements we have, we can still go to sleep and not have to worry about missiles landing on our homes.  In other parts of the world, people aren’t as fortunate.

In the Middle East, things are particularly sensitive right now.  Nevertheless, there are those that are working for peace in the midst of turmoil.  Wednesday morning (in the US), peacemakers and educators in Israel, Gaza and Palestine will gather together in a non-violent dialogue.  You can listen and be a participant by visiting the website here.

Let’s all share from our plenty.

~peace~

 

Posted in Human Rights, innovation, Politics, problem solving, Religion, Social Innovation, Social Responsibility, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Exploring Creativity and Spirituality – SoulPancake

Posted by Plish on March 10, 2009

soulpa

Came across SoulPancake

A provocative blog that is colorful, obtuse, focused, tasty and more…

Started by Actor Rainn Wilson, of the TV show, The Office, SoulPancake strives to be a place of, “debate  about life’s big questions,” a contributing voice that will, “de-lamify talk’n about God and Religion.”

But most of all, it’s about creativity and life, engaging humanity at its deepest and most profound, tasting of the waters of the font where creativity, suffering, joy, all percolate from a Divine nexus within.

Innovation, creativity, awe-inspiring design, come from an embrace and sharing of who and what we are as humans.

What do you think of the SoulPancake concept and site?

Posted in Authenticity, Design, innovation, Nature of Creativity, Religion, Spirituality, The Human Person | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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