Lessons for Young and The Young at Heart from Fast Company Innovation Festival’s “Why The Future Belongs to Creative Thinkers”
by Waverly, 9 and Mom, 49
Two years ago, when Wave and I took our annual “scare walk” around the Upper East Side to check out all the spooktacular Halloween decorations, never could I have dreamed that it would turn into our little ‘Mommy and Me’ blog that all started from a little idea she had when we came home. The second she got in, she took a pen and paper and drafted up the very first article for what she called “Kid’s News NYC” complete with pictures and descriptions of the spookiest houses in our neighborhood. That sketch, after many additional doodles, discussions, imaginings, questions, mistakes, giving up, trying again, strong doubting and even stronger believing, has transformed into what you are reading right now. Without realizing it, we were participating in the super exciting “Creative Revolution” that is happening in our world right now.
Waverly and I attended Cartoon Network and The Fast Company Innovation Festival’s “Why The Future Belongs to Creative Thinkers,” and got to hear some of the most influential and game-changing visionaries speak on their their original approaches to their businesses. Moderated by Fast Company senior editor Chuck Salter, the panel included Cartoon Network president Christina Miller, Adafruit founder and engineer Limor Fried, Minecraft creative director Saxs Persson, DIY.org CEO Zach Klein and GIPHY COO Adam Leibsohn. (I know, WOW.)
Waverly here! When my mom told me we were going to hear a lot of important grownups talk and that I had to be good and listen the whole entire time, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it too much. I thought it would be boring to sit and listen to them. I mean, when are grownups fun? But right from the start, I could tell this was not going to be what I expected, right from the napkins they gave us at breakfast!
The first guy who came out to talk, Chuck Salter, was funny right from the start. He asked if we were feeling creative and I yelled out, “Yeah!” I really was feeling creative, and the proof is right there above you because I was doodling on my napkin when he came out! He talked about how we are going through a Creative Revolution and how we were about to hear some people talk that would change how we thought about creativity. I was wishing my teacher was there..I’m not allowed to doodle in class!
Then Mitch Resnick came out and told a story about a question he was once asked: “What was the most important invention of the past thousand years?” I was thinking about my phone and my iPad…he mentioned the printing press, the steam engine, computers, but guess what he answered? You will never guess so I’ll tell you – Kindergarten! He said that around 200 years ago, there was “a rethinking of what learning and education could be” and that in Kindergarten, the most important thing kids learn is “the creative process itself.” Then, after Kindergarten, everything changes and kids (like me!) have to sit and listen more and fill out worksheets. I can tell you that school after Kindergarten is definitely different!
He said, “We need the rest of school – and life – to be more like Kindergarten” and I agree with him! He explained the “Four P” approach: Projects based on Passion with Peers in Play. I thought about my own class when he was talking about that and luckily we do dome really fun projects and that is definitely my favorite part of school so he is right! He even talked about the Scratch program and we use that at school, too! My mom and I were happy that I get to have some “4P” time at school, even though I’m not allowed to doodle….(Note from Mom: Interested in learning more about Mitch’s ideas? Check out his book, “Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers and Play.”)
Then all the people came out and talked about how they are involved in the Creative Revolution through their businesses. I couldn’t believe I was sitting right in front of them! Cartoon Network, Minecraft, DIY.org, Adafruit, and GIPHY! I love all of them and so does every kid I know. And they were talking about how important it is to let kids just play!
Christina Miller described how Cartoon Network is “creating worlds, not just shows” and how they are “designing content that has the ability to surround and interact” with their audiences. How cool is that? She understands that we really are changing and want to be a real part of the worlds of our favorite shows…we want to live it, too! She also talked about how it is important to be willing to share and how it was great to work together with all the different sites and people to create these worlds. “If you’re willing to share, the good will always outweigh the bad.”
You can be a part of these worlds, too! Click here: Cartoonnetwork.com!
I was honestly really surprised that I was actually listening to what all these grownups had to say! Saxs Persson from Minecraft (Minecraft.net) talked about how Minecraft has no end and gives you only one goal: Not to die! Adam Liebsohn told us that with his company, giphy.com, “The aim isn’t anything but to create” and just to make something fun. Limor Friedman, who has cool pink hair and is the founder of adafruit.com explained that there is no “physical product” that is created but the real product is “community.” People from all over the world, all different ages and levels, have a really good time building stuff together there and there’s even a weekly show and tell! We liked when she talked about everyone helping each other instead of saying mean stuff about what people create. Zach Klein from diy.org talked about how important it was for kids to have a place to discover their passions. He said we need to start thinking about online places as “Real Estate” and to start making real estate available for creativity. His website is such a cool place for kids to learn new skills and share their passions! I loved when he talked about how they actually listened to kids and how they treat makeup tutorials (my favorite thing to watch on Youtube!) as art instead of just thinking it is not a good thing for kids to spend their time on. (Mom again! I agree…I tried fighting the makeup thing but when I saw the “art” in it, and saw just how passionate Waverly is about it, I changed my mind and gave her my blessing. I was thrilled to see that my way of thinking is justified! I guess great minds think alike…)
Back to Wave! At the end of the talk, I got to ask a question! I asked Christina what she would say to parents who don’t let their kids watch cartoons. She said, ‘I would say, “Let them watch more cartoons!‘ As you hear up here today, creativity is very important to their future and in animation, anything is possible!” I agree with her a hundred percent! I also agree with the rest of the speakers – kids like me need time to play and do the things that make us happy. Let us watch more cartoons and watch us change the world!
A very special thanks to arpr.com, Christina Miller, Cartoonnetwork.com and Fast Company for letting our tiny spark join with such creative fire. We always say here at Kids’ News NYC – There’s news on every corner® and now we know that there’s a world inside every kid! Kids, the future is YOURS! Follow your passions and join the Creative Revolution. #FCFestival