Sometimes when the right circumstances evolve or are intentionally created, an environment is where creativity can run free appears. I don’t know if there’s a name for this already, but I call these special times and places “creative cauldrons.” Here are a few of them along with some very brief descriptions:
The Harvard Psychedelics Club
In the 1960’s Steward Brand, Andrew Weil, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Timothy Leary, Huston Smith defined psychedelic culture (for good and ill) for the next 50+ years. Read more about it in Don Lattin’s book The Harvard Psychedelic Club.
Vienna at the turn of the 20th Century
Painters Gustav Klimt, Oscar Kokoschka, Egan Schiele. Writer Arthur Schnitzler. Sigmund Freud. Read more in The Age of Insight by Eric Kandel.
Compton, CA. 1980’s and onward
A relatively small town with a population of about 100 thousand was the starting place for a disproportionate number of of great and influential rappers. Among them, MC Ren, N.W.A., YG, Coolio, Eazy-E, Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Tyga, Kendrick Lamar.
Paris in the Late 18th, Early 19th Century
The movie Midnight in Paris does a great job of imagining the vibe: Cole Porter, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway, Juan Belmont, and Gertrude Stein.
The University of Utah in the Late 1960’s
John Warnock, Alan Kay, Jim Clark, Ed Catmull. These computer science luminaries all came from an environment that specifically catered to fostering innovation.
University of New York at Buffalo English department in the 1960’s
As described in Evolution of Desire, a book by Cynthia Haven about René Girard, this English department, through the intentionality of Albert Cook, attracted critic Leslie Fiedler, playwright Lionel Abel (whom Sartre called the most intelligent man in NYC), novelists John Barth and Raymond Federman, posts Robert Creely and Robert Has, and of course René Girard himself.