Friday, January 29, 2016

It takes a what to raise a genius?

An article in Next City has the humorous title, "It May Take A City to Raise a Genius."  The story discusses the book The Geography of Genius by EricWeiner.  He is a travel writer who became intrigued by the idea that certain times and places produced clusters of genius.  This required several factors: diversity of population, openness to new ideas, and "third spaces" in which people could cross paths and rub shoulders, maybe share some strudel as they did in the coffee shops of Vienna.  One wonders did they have baklava back when Plato and Sophocles were hanging out in the markets of Athens.  This raises the question: couldn't we create similar conditions everywhere?  I noticed a great stirring of imagination at Ironworks, a youth arts center in Orange NJ.  It was amazing how this rippled out over space and time, evolving, engaging more young people, and pushing the conversation about art.  "Finances" reared their ugly head and the youth arts program was exchanged for architects with moolah.  What have we done to history?  Can we fix it?  Echoes of Flint ring in my head.

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