What Naperville Can Learn from the Oklahoma Creativity Project

Over the past weekend, I had a chance to spend some time re-connecting with our family’s rapidly expanding friends from Oklahoma.  As you may have read, my wife just completed a seven-week project for the State of Oklahoma in managing the “Oklahoma Experience” at the 2007 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival.  Needless to say, Oklahoma has truly carved out a special place within our hearts.

On Saturday evening, I had a chance to catch up with Mark Robertson, who I’ve had the distinct pleasure of knowing since my days at the American Bar Association.  Mark is an Oklahoma-based lawyer who, in addition to his own busy law practice and wonderful family, is deeply involved in the exciting renaissance which is occuring within a state which may lack exposure but more than makes up for it in terms of energy, vision, hospitality and spirit.  In many ways, I consider Mark to be a kindred-spirit given our energy, philosophy, vission and ideas for the worlds we live in.

Among his leadership roles within Oklahoma, Mark serves on the Board of Directors of the 2008 Oklahoma Creativity Project (www.stateofcreativity.com).  This innovative project is a collaborative effort of leaders, communities and organizations throughout Oklahoma designed to promote the powerful role of creativity and innovation in the future success and prosperity of the state as a whole.   The following overview of vision, mission and goals for the Oklahoma Creativity Project best illustrates the impetus behind their efforts: 


“To flourish in its second century, Oklahoma must promote new opportunities for creativity and innovation at all levels – in education, in government, in the workplace, and in the daily lives of its people. Our vision is to enable all existing and would-be Oklahomans to add value to their lives, for their own well-being and for the economic and cultural prosperity of Oklahoma as a whole.”


To establish Oklahoma as a world-renowned center of creativity and innovation in commerce, culture, and education.


To empower all Oklahomans to develop their capacities for creativity and innovation.

To facilitate the growth of an entrepreneurial economy that will stimulate new careers, companies and industries.

To facilitate the further development of world-class cultural and educational opportunities.

 .   .   .   .   .

The State of Oklahoma is in the process of showing the world, with their statehood centennial as a backdrop, that a powerful and transformative renaissance can be trigged by a collaborative community of people devoted toward innovation and creativity regardless of size or geographic location.  I have great respect and admiration for Oklahoma’s future roadmap.  As I’ve discussed in past postings, the payoff of such an investment is rooted in social, cultural, educational and economic advancement.  

Let’s all remember, as Mark pointed out this weekend, the Italian Renaissance which kicked off the great Renaissance in Eurpoe began in Florence, Italy, which at the time had a population of only 60,000.  Compare that to Naperville’s modern-day population of roughly 140,000. 

The difference between community success or failure is rooted in how well people come together to work in partnership in battling the complacency that threatens to blind us from our creativity, vision and goals for the future.  There is much for Naperville to gain from the pride, devotion and vision Oklahoma has put forth.    

To our friends in Oklahoma… congratulations on the past 100 years and here’s to the next exciting 100 years… the World is watching.  SM        



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