It was snowing on the Miami University campus as Creativity City began on Monday, but unlike some years, the event and its participants weren’t getting wet. The "city," designed to provide students, faculty, and staff with opportunities to learn and practice inventive and expressive creativity, was dry and warm inside the Armstrong Student Center. But it wasn’t the weather that brought the event away from the Farmer School lawn where it began in 2017.
“We wanted to be more centrally-located. Our theme this year is collaboration, so we wanted to make sure that we're truly welcoming all diverse students, all majors from all across campus, in any shape, way, or form. So that's why we wanted to be in, literally, the living room of Miami's campus,” senior Marketing major Danielle Rubin said.
Coinciding with World Creativity & Innovation Week/Day, it’s the first time that the event has been held in person since the beginning of the pandemic, which provided both an obstacle and an opportunity for student organizers, Rubin, World Creativity & Innovation Week/Day chief innovation officer, said. “None of us on the team had ever seen it in person.”
The city is made up of stations, each of which is designed to engage a different creative thought process or action. Students visiting at lunchtime Monday could choose between building a glider, taking part in a collaborative painting project, working with Legos, or simply adding their name to a large board.
“Everybody has the ability to bring out their creative side. So I think that a lot of the exercises that we have here are really just trying to show people that they can be creative. It's just a point of view that you have to think about how to bring out from inside of you,” first-year Marketing and Entrepreneurship student Ben Reeder said.
Those who have visited a pre-pandemic Creativity City might note that it’s smaller and has fewer stations than before, in part because the available space in Armstrong’s atrium is much less than the Farmer front lawn. “That was definitely a little bit more of a challenge since we're in more of an enclosed space. Originally the concept was to be moving all around campus. But because it's our first year back in person after two years, we wanted to make sure that people actually know who we are before we spread out,” Rubin said.
“We do have over 30 different student organizations participating from all five academic divisions at Miami, so rather than them all being here at all times, they're coming in rotations. We have over 50 different events going on, with a couple extra on rotation constantly,” she said.
Despite changes over the years, the goal of Creativity City remains unchanged – helping people understand the importance of being creative, and that anyone can be creative. “Creativity is important because you have to use it no matter what your career is,” Reeder said. “You have come up with different out-of-the-box solutions to problems or ideas in almost any career that you go into.”
“I think most of the time people associate creativity with art or singing or something that is a skill in some aspects for people, but not for everyone. But creativity is more than that. Its problem solving and thinking and empathy and risk taking, and a lot of people don't realize that,” Rubin said. “So they classify themselves as not creative, which shuts down a lot of opportunities for them. We hope to spread creativity and the message that everyone is creative and has the potential to do great things.”