Magazine cover titled "common ground May / June 2018" featuring a dancer in mid-performance, with various overlayed text about creativity and articles included in the issue.

May / June 2018

The Creativity Issue

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey died a few days ago after a stroke. So
much can be said about him—the minimum being, “Wow, did he start something or what?” In commemoration we decided to reprint our 2016 Common Ground interview with him. Larry’s sudden demise underlies the essential ethos of Burning Man, the ephemeral nature of all things. His creative spark will be carried on until…who knows?

John Perry Barlow, whom we also interviewed in 2016, also died earlier this year. Ironically both men were brilliant intellectuals and good friends who entered and departed this world at approximately the same time. Both were 70. To honor John Perry, a touching tribute concert was organized at the Fillmore earlier in April dubbed “Barlow’s Graduation From Meatspace.” This man of many talents had amassed good friends that included a stellar cast of musicians, including his old friend and songwriting partner Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead.

The final song of the long evening, “Cassidy,” co-written by these childhood pals, has for decades been a personal favorite. The lyrics and chords have stuck in my head since the finale and thus pushed me to the Internet to pin down the lyrics. Surprisingly I found a long masterful Barlow essay that explains the multiple contexts of the song. It’s called “Cassidy: In Memoriam” and was seemingly written in 1990 about the song’s (partial) namesake, the legendary Neal Cassady. I encourage your reading this essay as it provides a rare glimpse into the songwriter’s creative process as well a firsthand glimpse of rare Americana.

Our Creativity issue always contains the popular West Coast Festival Roundup and this summer looks exciting. Thank you, Sharon Cummings and Meia Matsuda, for compiling this. Also we’ve a fun essay by Larry Zartarian and d’Arci Bruno about Pinball Wizardry. Confession: Along with “Cassidy” The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” has also been stuck in my head.

Kathryn Haydon has supplied a terrific essay called “7 Strengths of Deep Souls: The Thinkers We Need But Rarely Understand” and something tells me this will especially resonate with Common Ground readers. Ines Durant is a 15-year-old friend who does not participate in any social media. Sadly, Ines is the modern exception, not the norm.

We hope you’ll be inspired by our pictorial about the Creative Soul with quotes from creative luminaries. The hope is that everyone gets lift-off. Our readers will relate to Scott Lennox’s “Encounter With a Flight of Birds: A Gateway to Stillness and Creativity.” The point being that every moment offers an opportunity to tap into creative freedom—our birthright.

Jeff Durham provides scholarly insight into what it means to be a modern-day museum curator, while Kevin Danaher pokes us to think about collective neuroplasticity as a way to heal the planet. In his essay “In Defense of Intoxication: How Our Natural Desire for Altered States Fuels the Creative Process,” Austin Hill Shaw uses the amusing example of his baby daughter’s attraction to the dizzy feeling she gets from being pushed on a swing. Hmm.

We look forward to seeing you at some upcoming festivals. As ever, please show your support for7 Strengths of Deep Souls: The Thinkers We Need But Rarely Understand Common Ground by patronizing our sponsors—the best. And do consider becoming an advertiser yourself.

In support of creative breakthroughs for all,


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