In 2014 I am thinking about my past decisions, what has driven my professional choices, and I am thinking about where I am right now in my career, the choices I have made, what I have committed to. I am thinking about these things because I am looking toward the future and want to make sure I am still headed in a direction that I remain committed to. Over the year I would like to cover some of the intellectual ground that has influenced me. And if I am lucky some of my insights may inspire and encourage yours.
I started Artemis Institute because I want change the World. I didn’t start Artemis Institute simply to educate better designers, but to educate designers who think differently about the world, differently about themselves in the world. To lead more passionate and committed lives. To be empowered, to believe that they can change the world from their core beliefs to their actions. To gain mental and physical abilities to fuel the change. To provide an entry point into the world that inspires people who commit to a way of living that is beyond the self reference that is so dominate in today’s modern society. To create a world that grows from a sense of passion, love, and responsibility for others.
As I reflect, I don’t believe I was or am well equipped to drive the mission of Artemis Institute. What I mean by this, is that to start Artemis Institute was essentially to start a business, a big idea business, not a little idea business that follows a trend, or fits in an existing niche. Artemis Institute is not a spinoff of an existing company, not a special department or program in a University. Instead we are out in the world making our own waves and charting our own trajectory with no obvious path. More difficult is that Artemis Institute , as a big idea business, lies in the realm of educational altruism. Which, in our capitalist world means, non-profit. I wasn’t and never have been highly motivated by money, or making a profit. Instead I am interested in educating for the future, educating to change the world. But I have learned what having or not having money to spend means when searching for a way to create change in the world. If your goal is to change the world people need to know you exist. Needs to know your mission. Needs to know you mean “business.” In our multi-media culture, a culture that has all options at their finger tips, while at the same time being overwhelmed with the barrage of “campaigns” that exist from which shoes you should buy to which friend’s picture you should “like” finding a way for Artemis Institute to carry its message across state lines, national boundaries, the World Wide Web, different Eco-regions, oceans, and places has been a challenge. Primarily a challenge because with little funding to “campaign” not only is it difficult to help people learn about us, it is difficult to have people recognize the need to participate in the educational vision.
When I look back over the past six years I can hardly believe we are still standing. Not because the mission isn’t solid, but because my interest in education for the future runs against the overwhelming campaign of the “self.” Because in the end, Artemis Institute is me. It is an idea that grows from my beliefs, my sense of how the world should be, how we need to change to make the world a better place for all. However, we are still standing because there have been a few people who believe in me, believe in my ideas, and the founding of Artemis Institute, who have made sure that we have survived while I have been primarily focused on teaching Remote Studio, not campaigning for the non-profit These people have not been shy with their support, support I honor best by getting up every morning and continuing to believe in the need for change, and the ability to support a new vision of living and the world in the people who spend time exploring reality through the ideas of Artemis Institute.
And I imagine that these ideas may often seem cloudy to those I teach. They seem cloudy because I am more introspective than extroverted. And I believe that the best learning we do comes from teaching ourselves in an environment that supports our desire to learn. I think the outward visibility of the conventional education model simply misses the development of the individual. We may learn facts, and data, and context and history. But we learn very little about who we are, how we relate to the world and what effect we can have on others and the world. Our education system spends very little time preparing dreamers. We teach people how to look backwards. We prepare people for the “work force” we train people to be productive in the current framework of society. But dreaming is not encouraged, even when you are studying in a creative field today dreaming is being replaced with the idea of problem solving. There is a difference. Problem solving addresses the apparent issues, dreaming looks into the future to the world that is on the way. We need both: problem solving and dreaming.
But what is less valuable is educating people to simplistically fit the work force, the immediate needs. Because this educational attitude cuts short people’s ability to remain viable contributors in the future, instead only considering them as commodities. As a commodity we disregard our potential for participating in the making of the future. Without developing the ability to think like a visionary, to believe in vision and to believe in the ability to effect change we end up with a society that is defacto lazy, uninspired and without passion. Passion, I believe, is not a self-reflective condition, but passion is engaged when we look beyond ourselves and begin to recognize connections or potential connection between ourselves and the World. Instead of passion however, we have been educating toward selfishness, the non-motivated, and self-referential act of being lazy. Trading our potential for commodity.
The new world has the potential to be full of passion and vibrancy. And in order for the planet to remain viable we require these attributes. For without them we remain self-focused, self- preferential, lazy and selfish. We make poor choices for the whole. we make choices that exclude the rest, the world beyond the self. With the outward attributes of passion and vibrancy we commit to a world beyond ourselves, we dream of a world that can be more than its current present, and we believe in our ability to enact these changes. We recognize a world that is whole, interconnected and reliant on the health and value of all parts.
This is Artemis Institute. This is the belief system that supports the mission that there is a relationship between nature and culture, the world as its exists and the world that we make from our practices. A healthy, passionate and inspired culture does not evolve only in reference to itself, but evolves as we interact and live in the vibrant world around us.
I started with remote studio, which is an immersive design education program not only because these are my roots, but also because decisions about design are decisions about how we interact, impact and relate to the world around us. How we understand these decisions and how we understand ourselves in relation to the world and these decisions play a huge part in how the rest of the human population experiences themselves in the world. Where and how we live becomes how we are a part of or apart from the rest of the world.
Now it is your turn to think about how you live, the choices you make, where you invest your passion or if you are passionless. This is the time to think about how you are in the world and how you want to be in the future.