Creative Mornings - Seattle / by Kevin Swantek

Here in Seattle, on the second Friday of every month, Creative Mornings provides a free lecture at the EMP. Creative Mornings is an awesome lecture series that occurs in 65 cities around the world. Each month a theme is selected, and speakers are chosen to give a talk related to that theme.

I began attending the Creative Mornings lectures back in May of last year. I can’t remember how I became aware of Creative Mornings, but the first talk I attended was on the subject of designing Arabic type. It was a subject I had little understanding of, and still don’t. The speaker for this event was obviously knowledgable on the topic, but I felt like there was little there for me. It was at that point that I was unsure if I should continue to use my vacation time to attend these lectures. But even though that particular talk wasn’t my bag, I made a mental note to see who would be speaking next, so that I could judge to see if this was something worth continuing. Turns out it was, and for more than one reason.

The first thing I like about Creative Mornings is the complimentary coffee hour before hand. Each month I have met and chatted with new people. I’ve met people who are developing their own businesses; who are photographers; developers; Educational content creators; and freelance adventure writers. Though I’m generally the introverted one in these situations, so far there has always been at least one person who had asked to sit down and begin a conversation with me. For as much as I like meeting new people, I really should be more proactive about introducing myself to strangers in these kinds of situations.

I have found over the last few months that the quality of speakers, and the topics of talks have steadily increased in quality since I have started attending Creative Mornings. I have listened to talks about how outer space is used to inspire creativity for youth from Justin Allan, the Design and Store Manager at 826 Seattle (a non-profit writing and tutoring center); to Chase Jarvis talk about how artists need to create work that only they can create, and then put that work out to be seen. The nice thing about these presentation is that they are all videotaped and posted on the Creative Mornings website for anyone to watch.

This last Creative Mornings’ theme was childhood, and the speaker was Jack Forman (bass player/frontman for the children’s band Recess Monkey, host of the Sirius XM radio show "Live from the Monkey House" on Kid’s Place Live, as well as teaching for the University Child Development School). Going into the talk I wasn’t sure that there was going to be anything in this lecture for me, but I found the talk was extremely interesting. I realized that he was giving me a new ways to think about how I can to my two and half year old nephew, as he continues to get more and more talkative every time I see him. Mr. Forman’s talk focused on asking children open ended questions, and getting away from one word answers. An example he used was to say don’t ask a child what 5 + 5 is. Ask them what they can do two fives. The first question has one answer, but the second is up for interpretation, and use of creativity. Overall it was a good talk.

This month’s Creative Mornings was also a little different because it was followed by the first ever Creative Mornings happy hour later that day. A small group of folks met at the Barrel Thief in Fremont. I met a handful of new people, and had range of conversations from BBC radio comedies to the negative aspects of gentrification. There was a even a free wine tasting event, but I didn’t end up participating in that. I liked the ambience of Barrel Thief, and wouldn’t have known it existed without this Creative Mornings event. It ended up being a really great day.

Much like my earlier post about using neighborhood coffee shops to find community when being new to an area, I also think that Creative Mornings a great communal event to meet like-minded creatives in your area. If there is a Creative Mornings lecture series in your city, I would highly recommend checking it out.