If you are able to sit down at a restaurant with your friends and loved ones, order seasonal foods reverently prepared and sip, perhaps, a few lovely, mind-lubricating wines, if you are able to do all that, you may be unable to control yourself; you may be absolutely and completely unable to keep your creative juices from pouring forth into the world.
What does the weather have to do with innovation?
Throughout your life, in speaking to someone you don’t know very well, or perhaps during one of those odd pauses an awkward phone conversation, how may times has the default question been this:
“How’s the weather?”
Because weather happens all the time, it fades into the background as something unimportant.
But part of being a creator is being curious about the ordinary with childlike wonder. And there is nothing more ordinary that the weather. So let’s take a look…
Bay Area weather
When I first moved out to the Bay Area in 1988 from Denver, Colorado, one of the first things I noticed was the vegetation.
Whereas Colorado, especially around Denver, supported a limited number of plants that could one 1) survive the snowy winters, 2) the semi-arid summer and 3) the high altitude, the Bay Area flora seemed overwhelming to me. During my two block walk from my apartment to the bus stop beneath the Rockridge BART, I must admit, I felt overwhelmed by all the plants I saw: palm trees co-mingling with pine trees, redwoods, coastal live oaks, succulents and cacti, British Ivy and Bay Laurel, and flowers everywhere. I must admit as an 18 year-old raised near High Plains cottonwoods, it appeared to me as a seething mass of chaos; offensive, even threatening.
Now, I cannot imagine being anywhere else. I love not only the plants, but all the creativity supported by Bay Area weather.
Weather or not
Mark Twain once wrote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was my summer in San Francisco.” Such are the words of one of the greatest satirists of all time, and, in my opinion, a bit off the mark. What is evident about the Bay Area is that it has some of the mildest weather anywhere, staying around 60 to 70 degrees throughout the year.
This is not insignificant. While folks in Alabama are contemplating if it’s OK to have their first mint julep before 10 am to combat the oppressive heat and humidity and others in North Dakota have special remote control car starters installed so they need not risk freezing to death while their car warms up, Bay Area weather is predictably pleasant during most of the year.
And though the unusually cold summers may leave Bay Area residents jealous of folks in other parts of the country, I assure you, people are much more inclined to forward their creative projects when the weather is pleasant than they are when it is raging hot or howling cold.
Weather and the birth of California Cuisine
Getting back to the plants, the weather in and around the Bay allows all sorts of fruits and vegetables to be grown. The abundance and availability of such foods has made the Bay Area the epicenter for California Cuisine and the Local Foods Movement.
Spearheaded by foodies such as Alice Waters and her world famous restaurant Chez Panisse in North Berkeley’s gourmet ghetto and local authors such as Michael Pollan and his now famous book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the Bay Area has been a creative and innovative leader in what we eat and where and when we eat it.
No small thing either: damn good wine is produced in the northern regions of the Bay, mainly in Napa Valley and Sonoma County.
Wowed not weathered
If you are living in a region that allows you to mingle with others in the streets (instead of huddling around your AC unit during a heatwave) and are moved again and again by the beauty and diversity of the plant life (all of which give us non conceptual clues to the innate creativity underlying the universe), and if you are able to sit down at a restaurant with your friends and loved ones, order seasonal foods reverently prepared and sip, perhaps, a few lovely, mind-lubricating wines, if you are able to do all that, you may be unable to control yourself; you may be absolutely and completely unable to keep your creative juices from pouring forth into the world.
About the “Creativity and Bay Area Innovation” series
The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States, receiving a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States.
The Bay Area is hands down the single most creative and innovative region in the United States.
Home to such major players as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Oracle, and numerous others, the Bay Area receives a whopping 32 percent of all the venture capital invested in the United States, according to the Bay Area Regional Center. It also has the second highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies next to New York.
All the money aside, the Bay Area has either begun or fostered the growth of such influential cultural movements as The Counter Culture Movement, Free Speech, Gay Rights, California Cuisine and the Local Foods Movement, the Internet, municipal recycling programs, Beat poetry and literature, psychedelic experimentation, and music festivals, such as Burning Man.
In this series, I will explore various ways of understanding the proliferation of creativity and innovation of the Bay Area, including Feng Shui, geology, culture, urban design, and history, hoping to shed a bit of light on a place I love so very much, hoping to honor some of the ways it has shaped my own creativity throughout my adult life.