For this month’s theme of CHANGE, we’re pleased to have Seattle’s first-ever Civic Technology Advocate, Candace Faber, who will bring us a talk called “"If not this, then what?“ Tickets are available here.
How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is the willingness to be fully immersed in something and still allow it to unfold in ways you can’t control. I find this to be true whether I am writing a poem or designing a project at work. I often find myself approaching huge, abstract challenges, such as "How might we end homelessness?” or “How can we empower young women?” The only thing that keeps me sane is to accept whatever limitations exist and allow myself to flow freely within them. When I stop being upset about the infinite list of things that are not possible, I discover possibilities that are even better than I could have imagined.
Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Planes, trains, and ferries. The key is to be able to disconnect from expectations, deadlines, and structured thinking and simply rest inside some block of time and non-space. I have had many of my best insights and written some of my best pieces while in transit.
What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Not to judge my own work or others’ reactions to it. If you love something you’ve created but it doesn’t resonate with others, there’s nothing wrong with you. If they don’t love it, there’s nothing wrong with them – they’re not idiots who are blind to your creative genius, your work just hasn’t connected with them yet. Just keep doing what you love, and you will get better. I wish we all had the courage to just be who we are and make what we make – life would be so much more interesting, and I have no doubt the world would be a better, healthier, more socially just place.
Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Hands down: Jon White. He is a cartoonist, a poet, and an oddball in the best possible way, and best of all, he is a civics nerd like me. I have watched him evolve as an artist and human for more than a decade while never straying from his ground truth. His own unique works and his shameless fandom of other people’s efforts fill me with joy even when I know nothing about the subject.
What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?
Here’s an example: In fourth grade, I started learning to play the piano, mostly self-taught. My school had an arts competition, and I decided to enter an original composition in the music category called “A Wild Imagination.” It was basically me sitting there and playing whatever sounds delighted me while recording it on tape. I did not yet know that I could draft and revise my creations, so I entered it as it was. When my teacher played it for the classroom, it sounded disjointed even to me, and everyone called it–and me–"crazy.“ I felt very ashamed and vowed never to fail like that again. The next year, I played it safe and made a poster with pictures of obscure musical instruments. I remember hating every second of that project, even though I made it into the final round of competition.
It took me many years before I realized that it’s better to do the hard work of refining and polishing what you love than to make something empty that "wins.” If you try to make things based on what you think others will like, you will run out of energy very quickly. But if you keep honing your voice and stay connected to the world around you, eventually your work will strike a chord.
What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
How easy it is to find allies when you just start doing something. There’s a saying in Pashto: “Pe harakat kay barakat day.” It means, “In movement, there is blessing.” If you ask for permission to love what you love or try what you are dying to try, most well-meaning people will caution you not to take risks. But if you just start moving forward, you will find other people who want to do the same (or you will discover the limits of your own desires, which is just as insightful). Every time I have trusted my convictions and stepped out into uncertainty, people have swarmed around me in support, just like I do for them. It is a truly beautiful thing.
What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?
My favorite outfit from 5th grade: an oversized Esprit t-shirt with rainbow-colored letters, teal cotton leggings, and a pair of earrings that had a pencil for one ear and an eraser for the other. The closer I am to living this life in the colorful, unabashed way 11-year-old Candace wanted to, the happier I am.