2016 #MacArthur Fellows: 23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

Let’s celebrate extraordinary and amazing and beneficial and FUN people! I first heard about these annual awards when they were only about $200,000 and they were called “Genius Grants.” The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years.

The cool thing about this award is that the group of people who nominate and select these individuals every year are ANONYMOUS and it is apparently impossible to discover their identities. This protects the process from corruption, one would hope. Their FAQs page states: “All of the participants in the selection process—–nominators, evaluators, and selectors—–serve anonymously, and we keep their communications confidential. Anonymity protects them from being inundated with unsolicited requests. In addition, our experience shows that people readily provide frank impressions if they have an assurance that their responses will not be disseminated beyond the program staff and Selection Committee.”

I’ve heard that each recipient gets a phone call “out of the blue,” since they don’t even know they’re being considered, to announce that they are selected and about to receive one of our highest honors and a huge cash award.

The idea behind these awards is that the Fellows can then “quit their day jobs” or work less for money while living on the investments/cash they get/accumulate from this award. That liberates them to pursue their genius ideas even further! YEA!

Again, from the FAQs: “The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors. We believe that highly motivated, self-directed, and talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources. By adopting a “no strings attached” policy, we provide the maximum freedom for the recipients to follow their creative vision, whether it is moving forward with their current activities, expanding the scope of their work, or embarking upon an entirely new endeavor. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, and we impose no reporting obligations.”

I also love that they make a concerted effort and usually succeed in finding obscure, diverse, interesting and helpful people to whom to give this important award each year. Check out the 2016 cohort!

Spread the word! Read about these people and their projects to youth and adults to inspire us all to be better! There is no upper age limit on recipients, either!

This year’s recipients include a Human Rights Lawyer, Artists, Musicians, Creators and Writers of several types, Linguists and other Historians, Scientists of many subdisciplines, a Jewelry-Maker and a Financial Services Innovator! And, perhaps for the first time, there are more female (13) than male (10) recipients! Most are under 50 years old, but a few are older.

About half are people of non-Caucasian/ non-Western European ethnicities. Click on this link for an interactive map showing each of the recipient’s place of birth: https://www.macfound.org/maps/1/

A few are academics or work in other large organizations, but most are independent owners/operators or work in small businesses or in the nonprofit sectors.

2016-fellows-macarthur

Want to know more? Check out these myth-busting responses: https://www.macfound.org/press/commentary/five-myths-about-macarthur-genius-grants/

2016 MacArthur Fellows: 23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

23 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All
Recognizing 23 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future, the Foundation today named the 2016 MacArthur Fellows. Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

Visit the MacArthur Foundation website for Fellows’ bios and more info about each recipient as well as videos, the lists and descriptions/bios of previous years’ recipients, and the remaining FAQs/Answers: https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/class-2016/


ALSO, as described in a previous post, the MacArthur Foundation is celebrating having had 35 years of MacArthur Fellows with events in Chicago and New York City still to come for 2016. Check out the three remaining public ceremonies and events. Fantastic opportunities!

This weekend, “Poetry Off the Shelf”: with poet, Ellen Bryant Voigt, September 27, 2016, 7 – 8:30 PM CDT, at the
Poetry Foundation , 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL, USA.

On October 1 and 2, 2016, at New York City’s Kennedy Center, Artistic Director and Jazz Fellow, Jason Moran, hosts two different Fellows, Jessie Little Doe Baird and George E. Lewis.
https://www.macfound.org/events/fellows35/

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2015 #MacArthur Fellows: 24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

Let’s celebrate extraordinary and amazing and beneficial and FUN people! I first heard about these annual awards when they were only about $200,000 and they were called “Genius Grants.”

The cool thing about this award is that the group of people who nominate and select these individuals every year are ANONYMOUS and it is apparently impossible to discover their identities. This protects the process from corruption, one would hope.

I’ve heard that the recipient gets a phone call “out of the blue,” since they don’t even know they’re being considered, to announce that they are selected and about to receive one of our highest honors and a huge cash award.

The idea behind these awards is that the Fellows can then “quit their day jobs” or work less for money while living on the investments/cash they get/accumulate from this award. That liberates them to pursue their genius ideas even further! YEAH!

I also love that they make a concerted effort and usually succeed in finding obscure, diverse, interesting and helpful people to whom to give this important award each year. Check out the 2015 cohort!

Spread the word! Read about these people and their projects to youth and adults to inspire us all to be better! There is no upper age limit on recipients, either!

2015_McArthur F fellows_feature-alt

2015 MacArthur Fellows: 24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All

Recognizing 24 exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future, the Foundation today named the 2015 MacArthur Fellows. Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.

“These 24 delightfully diverse MacArthur Fellows are shedding light and making progress on critical issues, pushing the boundaries of their fields, and improving our world in imaginative, unexpected ways,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Their work, their commitment, and their creativity inspire us all.”

https://www.macfound.org/fellows/class/2015/

My #Writing Process: Revealed!

“Where do you get your ideas?” is the most-asked question of creative people. I’ve been paying attention to my own #writing process since people started asking me that more often. I now know I have three distinct phases for my creative process, but they are not entirely linear in sequence.

Without even consciously knowing I am in it, I am often in the incubation period, phase one for all creative endeavors. This assumes ground zero is pre-phase one, the part in which I determine I’m open to creating and what I want to create, in a general way.

For me, the incubation period is highly receptive. I am like a sponge; I am seemingly almost indiscriminate in my voracious appetite for information, as in Short Circuit‘s Johnny Five’s demands for “more input.”

Short Circuit need input

Phase one includes: getting cognitive but silent input from reading fiction and nonfiction books and magazine or ‘zine articles and blog posts; visual/emotional/audio content input from watching films/TV, TED talks and videos via Facebook, youtube, Google+, blogs and other sources; musical inspiration gleaned from radio, Spotify and other online music players, playing piano, singing; conversing with friends, family, strangers and acquaintances. All of this sparks thousands of ideas.

Next comes the internal percolating, still incubation, from all input and other connections being made. Percolating occurs while: dreaming, meditating, thinking, contemplating, swimming, walking, driving. I love this part: although most of it is invisible, it is palpable. I feel buzzed: re-routed, re-programmed, inspired, electrified. I often feel as if I am in a remembering or retrieval mode, recalling and almost hearing or seeing what I’m about to write as if it’s already written.

Inevitably, I get woken up from sleep or can’t fall asleep because these first gems of ideas are starting to surface and I MUST write them down. I hear them narrated or see them in paragraphs. I make lists, gather URLs and quotes, write down remembered dreams and conversations, make mini-outlines, generate summaries and plot intentions, describe characters and do many other cultivating things with the seeds already planted.

I have to move quickly; these deliveries are clear and sharp at first, but the longer I wait or the longer it takes to put them into form, the weaker the connection or recollection gets. This phase is very exciting but also quite frustrating. I feel as if I only get to write down or collect about half of what I receive.

I am now in phase two: full writing mode. I’m generating and composing my ideas into text. Organizing, whittling, deciding, creating connections are now dominant. Characters, plots, dialog, events, circumstances, facts and conflicts all converge in seemingly random and chaotic ways until I can sift through and wrest them into some order. It feels as if I’m gathering spiderwebs, tantalizing aromas and musical notes and transforming them into particular words, coherent paragraphs, comprehensible stories.

spiderweb fog

Once I start writing them down as lists or collect ideas into documents and folders for later use, I am compelled to follow clues, leads, research trails. These lead to more input and ideas, and those lead to further incubations, more percolating, etc.

These first two phases loop many times until the ideas erupt from me, birthed into existence as writing. I hate to be interrupted when I’m on a trail.

However, I love and crave, even make my own interruptions in the next part, the testing period of writing. I reach out to people to talk things out, hear ideas or dialogue aloud for the first time, getting first bounce-back reactions and more ideas from these interactions. I call certain people many times: my son, my mom, my sisters, a niece, some friends. I post questions and comments online and get responses from strangers/acquaintances. Suggestions, critiques, future-use ideas all welcomed, here.

social-sites

Eventually, the input receiving slows down and the output starts to take precedence. I spend more time writing than researching. This is the highest output part of the process, generating most of the writing. Much of what I generate may not get used, or not used for this immediate project, but I keep it all.

I have dozens of drafts, pieces, drafts of chapters and whole volumes for The Spanners Series in folders that may be mined for future Volumes if not used for the one I’m currently writing. I leave myself gifts and find them later. When I was ready to write Volume II, I was shocked to discover that I had already written large chunks of it while writing Volume I and didn’t even remember having done so much writing for that Volume!

Phase three involves combining, rewriting, generating, refining, selecting, drafting and completing the work. I spend more time revising than creating, which means I’m in the third phase. I do get new ideas and do more research during this final phase, in many of the same ways, but the proportions reverse from the earlier phases.

Some people call these three phases Prewriting, Writing, Revising. Works for me.

writing process three parts

Steven Johnson’s TED talk from 2010: Where good ideas come from, in which he ends with “Chance favors the connected mind,” describes a lot of what I experience. I love that quote.

http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from.html

Good luck with your writing!