Rural Creativity and Urban Creativity
Creative Climates: The Soil, Sun, Storm, and Space (4S) Climates
Creativity is the process of making something unique and useful, and the successful result of this process is innovation. During the creative process, the most essential element is not the creator or the creative product but the creative climates. Climate refers to the physical and psychological surroundings and conditions that influence individuals. The creative climates influence a creator by shaping their thinking and behavior, which affects their emotional and psychological health. The soil, sun, storm, and space (4S) climates mimic the environments that grow strong and productive plants. Like plants, creativity flourishes in diverse soil, bright sun, healthy storm, and open space. The soil climate provides creators with diverse resources and experiences, which allows them to become complex cross-pollinators by maximizing their strengths and developing narrow expertise within a wide-range of experiences. The sun climate inspires and encourages creation, which helps creators become inquisitive visionaries who persistently ask questions, seek hidden needs, and unique ideas. The storm climate is characterized by high expectations and challenges, which fosters courageous persisters who develop expertise in their subject of interest and are not afraid to face the unknown. The space climate gives creators the freedom to be alone and unique, which develops compassionate rebels who identify their own uniqueness and concoct ideas or creations beyond others’ imagination. Climates include schools, organizations, families, or cultures. Climates can also vary from large, urban, multicultural cities to small rural villages. The US Census Bureau has identified urban areas as containing 50, 000 or more people and rural areas as fewer than 2,500 people (Kim 2016; U.S. Census Bureau 2015).
Urban Creative Climates
Among the 4S climates, urban areas particularly benefit from the soil climate because they are home to diverse resources and experiences, which stimulate creators intellectually and culturally. Large urban cities have access to technology, the arts, and cultural amenities such as art centers or districts, museums, recreational parks, and multicultural events. Further, these cities are open to diversity, immigration, and outsiders, which attract a wide range of nationalities, races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Large urban cities with diverse populations thrive because they are tolerant and accept others’ differences. These cities are open to change, individuality, and diversity. When creators decide to move to an urban city, this openness of the city is more important to them than their economic or lifestyle opportunities such as entertainment, recreational, and cultural amenities. The openness of large urban cities provides favorable experiences for creators to express their expertise and flourish, which is vital not only for creativity development but also their well-being. It also provides creators with experiences and interactions with other creators from different ethnicities and backgrounds, which increases unconventional and unique ideas. In these cities, experts from diverse fields exchange and combine their expertise through cross-pollination. Cross-pollination is sharing, adapting, and building on each other’s diverse expertise across subjects and/or fields through formal and informal face-to-face interactions. These cities offer creators with assorted and numerous opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and promotion for their innovation. The population density and geographical proximity stimulate creators’ diverse communications and connect and combine varied skills, ethnicities, cultures, and sexual orientations. When cross-pollinating, creators feed off and grow from each other’s energy, ideas, inspiration, and enthusiasm and recognize, support, and celebrate each other’s innovation, which is necessary for creators to achieve innovation. Further openness and subsequent high population density of the cities enable even more resources, higher labor productivity, higher returns, greater supply of ideas, greater production of new knowledge, more high-technology industries, and higher regional incomes, which attract more future innovators to the cities (Kim 2016).
Cross-pollination is necessary for innovation. Yet, cross-pollination between creators who have different expertise and backgrounds is the most conducive to innovation. Thus, creators must develop their own expertise in a subject first before they cross-pollinate, which enables them to realize how to add or improve their ideas or creations when cross-pollinating. Magnifying their strengths rather than improving their weaknesses enhances cross-pollination. Therefore, the best approach to the creative process is to first develop expertise alone without distraction and to think in-depth in isolation before cross-pollinating and thinking as a group. Large urban cities provide creators with the soil climate, which allows them to become resourceful cross-pollinators by maximizing their strengths and developing narrow expertise within a wide range of experiences. However, these cities can overwhelm creators with numerous stimulating or diverse experiences, which can deny them the downtime to be alone and think – to digest and process what they have experienced. Creators require the space climate for their self-reflection in solitude to achieve innovation. They must be able to enjoy being alone without distraction to analyze their experiences and incubate ideas, which enables unique perspectives and ideas to form (Kim 2016).
Rural Creative Climates
Rural creativity benefits from the space climate, which emphasizes personal space in order to develop creators’ perspectives and different ways of thinking. Thus, for creativity to flourish, creators require not only the soil climate with diverse resources and experiences but also the space climate where they are connected to nature. Rural areas can provide wide spaces for activities at a low cost of living, which can provide personal space for self-reflection. Rural areas also provide creators with outdoor activities and green experiences, and the natural landscape offers the opportunities for emotional experiences for artistic, musical, and literary expressions (Akgun et al. 2011; Kim 2016; Markusen 2014; Plambech and Van Den Bosch 2015).
Rural areas, however, suffer from a lack of economic and financial resources and a high number of families living in poverty due to their geographical isolation, strong ties to the land, lack of diversified economy, limited employment opportunities, and/or placing low importance on education (Stambaugh 2015). Rural areas also lack educational resources, including access to technology, and suffer from declining school enrollment and difficulty hiring and retaining teachers. They lack culturally rich resources such as activities, museums, art districts, concert arenas, recreational areas, theatres, and other amenities. Physically barren and culturally isolated rural environments limit creators’ imagination. Most importantly, rural areas suffer from a lack of diversity because they are comprised of homogenous populations that are geographically or socioeconomically isolated from other areas of ethnically mixed people. They are often comprised of tightly-knit families and communities that value tradition and are familiar with each other, which lead to a lack of privacy or anonymity (Slama 2004; Stambaugh 2015). This decreases the freedom to be alone and unique, which is necessary for the self-reflective attitude and reflective thinking, and thus creative thinking. A lack of diversity of rural areas also increases the pressure to conform to conventional expectations, which decreases non-conforming perspectives for new ideas that is necessary for creative thinking (Florida 2004; Kim 2016; Slama 2004).
Conclusions and Future Directions
Both rural and urban areas possess the climates to foster creativity in their creators. Creators need the soil climate to provide diverse resources and experiences to be successful, which rural areas tend to lack. They also need the space climate providing the freedom to be alone and unique, which urban areas tend to lack. Thus, urban areas should aim to provide the space climate for creators, and rural areas should aim to provide the soil climate for creators. Urban areas should cultivate the space climate for creators through encouraging and supporting their independent learning and self-reflection opportunities, and their own self-expressions, fantasy, and futuristic thoughts. Rural areas should cultivate the soil climate for creators through educational programs focused on global perspectives, at the same time, on local perspectives by modifying lessons to connect to local community (Sparks 2016); through educational programs integrated with technology such as increased internet accesses, virtual field trips, and video conferences, to explore and learn a variety of information in all content areas (including different cultures and languages) and new ways of thinking, living, and creating (Marshall and Kritsonis 2016; Stambaugh 2010; VanTassel and Hubbard 2016); through providing mentorship to encourage and support creators (Sawchuk 2013) and capitalize on tight-knit community and traditions (Stambaugh 2015); and through building a network for teachers across different rural areas to share resources, success, and failures (Hargreaves et al. 2015). Both rural and urban areas should provide creators with exposures to a wide variety of books, especially those books about people or events that are related to their curiosity, preference, or interest (CPI) to inspire them (which cultivates the sun climate). Both rural and urban areas should provide creators with brutally honest yet constructive feedback to improve their work on their CPI (which cultivates the storm climate) (Kim 2016).
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