Creativity and research are inextricably linked; in order to bring forth new knowledge, explore emerging ideas, or bravely refute previously accepted information, we have to get outside the rigid confines of thoughts like “this is just how things are,” or “this is the way we have always done things.” Though the word research may initially conjure images of a white-coat-wearing scientist in a lab, researchers of all disciplines must be well-versed in stretching their minds in new directions in order to have an impact.
As we move forward with various lines of inquiry and consider the ways to live out our mission and vision, we incorporate creative practices; we have been experimenting with art-based methods for brainstorming, problem-solving, and communicating in the work setting. We use trips to museums as a means to engage in discussions about the work we do. We invite artists to create work in our communities and to explore themes of aging and ageism in their work in the world. Over the past year, it has been exciting to see the way creative projects work for training purposes; new employees have been creating collages to express their thoughts about what they gain from work with older adults. The collages are vibrant evidence of the incredible people working every day with the older adults in our communities. At the offices in Alameda, we take a monthly “Creative Break” where we join together in exploring new materials and ideas. Over the next few months, we will expand this idea to each of our communities, introducing community-specific projects for our team members; the community “Creative Break” projects will invite employees across all departments to take a few moments of their break time to express themselves, connect to each other, and explore something new.
Our creative practices are traveling outside our communities as well. Create Art At Work is the result of our internal use of intentional creative practice for stress-relief, connection, and innovation. The website has downloads and services available for individual and team creative processes; we will to add more over the coming months. As we continue to develop these practices for use with our teams and as a service to others, we are excited to see how introducing some creativity transforms workplaces and individual jobs.