Illustration of a human head in profile with colorful, abstract elements representing creativity for the June 2016 magazine cover titled "The Creativity Issue.

May / June 2016

The Creativity Issue

In June 1981 I was living in Paris and lucky enough to meet Prince because we were hanging out with his manager, and it was his first show in Paris. He died on April 21, and I’m sad recalling the conversation I had with him when he asked, in the kindest and most imploring voice, whether I liked his show. “Did you like the show, Rob? Was I alright?” It’s hard to believe that he asked me, and in a shy, insecure tone. What’s harder to believe is how dismissive I was. Prince was only 22 at the time, and his repertoire was energetic and burlesque, but I wasn’t bowled over. I was much more interested in the girl I was chasing that night. I told him, “Don’t worry about it, Prince, you were great” and walked away to find the girl. Little did I know that Prince would explode as a creative genius, and I would be in awe for the next 35 years. Somehow I always thought I’d get a second chance to converse, but alas no.

I am confident you’re going to like this Creativity issue, beginning with our annual festival roundup. The summer looks to be hot, hot, hot! There’s a terrific pictorial honoring mural art around the world. Special kudos to local muralists John Pugh and John Wehrle.

I had a fun time catching up with Wavy Gravy, who is turning 80. What an inventive life he’s had. One of his early memories is hanging out with Albert Einstein, and Stephen Levine was his childhood friend. He became a beat poet and was part of the legendary folk scene in New York before the likes of Dylan came along. He moved to California and hooked into Ken Kesey and the Merry Prankster scene and eventually was tapped to MC and manage security at Woodstock. He’s a clown with a heart and a conscience who walks his talk. His work with underprivileged kids for Camp Winnarainbow and for the blind as part of the Seva Foundation is heartening.

I spoke too with Lori Saltzman and Kathy Altman, whom I dub conscious dance’s first couple. Conscious movement is growing rapidly now, but they’ve seen it germinate for the last 40 years. I love how they’re applying dynamic governance, a radically nonhierarchical new method, to disseminate the best practices they’ve learned over the years. Check it out.

Thanks also to Mary O’Malley for her essay “You Are a Unique and Perfect Creation of Life.” Thanks too to Leonard Koren for his wisdom about wabi-sabi and to Austin Hill Shaw for his exploration of the Bay Area’s unique creative spirit. Kimberly Brunelle George’s essay gives us pause with “The Wisdom of Shattering,” as does Taylor Kreiss’s piece about existential meditation.

Along with seeing you at the various festivals, I look forward to seeing you at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. An amazing phenomenon of creativity has emerged here by the bay and expanded rapidly around the world. Goli Mohammadi tells us the story.

As ever, if you appreciate Common Ground, show that appreciation by patronizing our advertisers. In July-August we will be back with our Summer issue and a good look at the Burning Man phenomenon that began 30 years ago.

In reverence,


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