An idea is a perfect commodity. It can be shared, traded, expanded upon, developed. It can enlighten, improve,and inspire. Cartoons illustrate the happy arrival of a new idea with a lightbulb, and the arrival of an idea can certainly feel like that.
I used to get my best ideas washing dishes but when a new relationship came with a dishwasher, that was the end of that. Fortunately, that new relationship also came with a dog and so now my best ideas start with the joyous wagging of tails and solidify over an hour in the woods.
Where do you get your ideas?
Gen Gagnon is a second-year student at the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute. She had the bright idea to develop a community Bank of Ideas as her graduate thesis. To that end she’s been setting up tables where people gather, offering art supplies and collage materials, and asking people to embrace an idea by creating a 3x5-inch card inits honour. This week she was at the library’s community desk.
When Gen explained the Bank of Ideas I had a vague idea what it was about. A walk by the table in full swing gave me a much better idea, and it made me want to contribute to the Bank of Ideas myself. Amid the jumble of cool stuff to get creative with were file boxes full of the ideas collected so far.
The ideas are as varied as the ways in which they are presented — with words, pictures, and mixed media — as complex or simple as the idea-generator wished.
Some ideas are broad: “Just be yourself,” or “Love like a dog.”
Some offer advice on civic development (“Every city should have an artist on staff with public works and planning”), community development (“Talk to a homeless person”), or personal development (“Sometimes I ask myself how I want to feel. Then I do things that make me feel that way.”)
One childlike hand created a card that reads “Magical boots and mittens” — a fabulous idea if there ever was one. Who wouldn’t want magical boots and mittens? The ideas are charming, poignant, original, and honest.
I love that Bank of Ideas came to the library, a place that has been called a warehouse of ideas itself. Journalist and peace advocate Norman Cousins suggested that a library is the “delivery room for the birth of ideas,” which sounds a little messy but also apropos. Author Neil Gaiman inextricably linked libraries, librarians, and ideas when he wrote that “a culture that doesn’t value its librarians doesn’t value ideas, and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Where are we indeed, without ideas — and without good ideas like the Bank of Ideas? The beauty of this is that everyone gets to participate. Gen sees possibilities for the Bank of Ideas in therapy, work with youth, hospice work, and anywhere that would benefit from the free sharing of ideas, inspiration and love, with the opportunity to give back, right there on a 3×5 card.
The next chance to participate in Bank of Ideas is Saturday at Ellison’s Café from 11 a.m. to noon. Drop by, and bring sunglasses — it could get pretty bright with all those light bulbs going off at once. If you miss it, there’s a Facebook page to help find the next pop-up ideas shop or leave your own bright ideas online.
The library has millions of good ideas within its walls, outside of them through databases and downloadable books, and, lately, at our community desk. If you have a brilliant idea for the Nelson Public Library community desk, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne DeGrace is the adult services coordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.