Crea Sestri, the Community Based on Creativity

  • April 27, 2018
  • Maxime
  • Articles

The Stormz team once again attended the CREA Conference in Sestri Levante last week. Since Alexandre had to facilitate workshops on the other side of the Atlantic, he was unable to make the trip to the Italian peninsula, like he does every year. Therefore, Roxane and I were lucky enough to attend and, once more, represent Stormz at this major and unmissable event. Never before have we felt such an intricate part of a community, in the true sense of the word.

We’d like to use this opportunity to explain how Crea Conference, far from being a mere conference cycle, actually manages to become an inclusive and life-changing collective experience.

Known as “Crea Sestri” for all of those who know how much this little touristic town of the Italian Cinque Terre impacts one’s experience, this event brings together the various European CREA communities, with approximately 200 facilitators from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, to name just a few. It’s a major and indispensable event for all facilitators to take the time to meet up, share their experience… and recharge their batteries.

During four days, numerous workshops are organized one after the other, discussions are rife and new bonds are forming, helping many improve their facilitation techniques but also reflect on their life choices and perspectives. You can only notice people’s development and truly form new relations if you come several times in a row. Everything is done and organized to improve the Crea Community’s growth and blossoming, thanks to dedicated time slots for meetings, discussions and introspection.

The Programs: sharing a common vison of Creativity.

Crea Sestri revolves around the examination and diffusion of a specific idea of creativity based on Creative Problem Solving. This methodology, describing the successive phases to design innovative solutions and solve complex problems, is a common thread during the whole cycle.

We should also mention other wide-spread theories, which have regularly resurfaced during workshops or debates, like the unavoidable FourSight Profile and its four innovation profiles: the Clarifiers, Ideators, Developers and Implementers.

We have also frequently used and crossed the path of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, which links the values (the why) and the actions (the what). The Polarization theory, enabling to find a balance between opposite factors, like Control and Freedom, has also had a strong influence on us. If you stumble on other ones, please feel free to share them.

Apart from the openness and goodwill Crea Sestri fosters, the simple fact of sharing a common theoretical and practical framework is critical in creating a community revolving around facilitation.

The Expos, peer-to-peer learning.

At Crea Sestri, there isn’t any guest-star who would leave the second he finished his keynote speech. The workshops are actually initiated by the community’s members, in order to ensure the sharing of knowledge, experiences and good practices. A specific way to say “here’s how I understood the community’s wisdom, I hope it will inspire you the same way it inspired me.”

This year, we suggested a collaborative walk to examine the future of everyone’s facilitation. It was the ideal opportunity to share our recent improvements and discoveries in the field of digital facilitation, experiment a 100% mobile workshop and also bring more content with a few theories inspired by the sociology of usage, including Philippe Mallein’s work.

To facilitate in front of one’s peers is a unique opportunity to get better, try new things with more freedom and, more importantly, rely on the expertise of other facilitators to receive valuable feedback.

The Sharing Circles, transcending groups

There is, on average, ten workshops going on at the same time during each session. It’s therefore impossible to attend everyone single one of them and have a complete overview of the knowledge that was passed on or the most recent developments in the community. The Sharing Circles bridge this gap and is a great moment to form new relationships and share knowledge, anecdotes and feelings.

The concept is simple: every evening, all the participants go back to the Circle they were assigned to randomly at the beginning of the week. Ensues a time where everyone talks about their day, what they’ve learned and what had the strongest impact on them. Every Circle has its own way of operating, ranging from the most official to the most relaxed atmospheres, using complex sharing methods or simply getting the help from a bartender to break the ice and get people talking.

These moments are opportunities to stop thinking about one’s workshop program and meet other people. This is when we understand that this diversity of experiences and perceptions truly constitutes the added-value and priceless treasure of this community.

The Maze: the architectural embodiment of introspection

Crea Sestri’s Maze, rebuilt each year by the Red Shirts, alludes to another form of creativity: the place itself fosters self-reflection and spirituality. The Maze, modelled on the design of the Chartres Cathedral, isn’t meant to get lost, on the contrary. Just like the Mandala, its purpose is to facilitate meditation for participants to, progressively, perform a deep and meaningful introspection.

With one unique path, this route will lead you to an introspective exercise which, albeit always bringing you closer to the answer, will take detours and digress to help you reach the most comprehensive response. This is why, before entering the maze, one should get hold of a question, because before you’ll get to the end, the answer will surely come to you.

For the Community, the Maze is a space of spiritual meditation, like a totem, where everyone crosses each other’s path, without uttering a word, thus sharing a peaceful moment amidst the gentle light of the setting sun.

The evenings: getting together in a relaxed setting

Just as Creative Problem Solving uses a breathing metaphor to describe the creative process, Crea Sestri can be compared to a big bowl of fresh air, giving everyone the opportunity to find inspiration and share their own vision and ideas.

PS: For those who’d like to know more about digital collaboration, we’re organizing a conference Tuesday, May 15th at 9 a.m. Feel free to contact us to talk about it, we’d love to share our know-how ☺️

From discussions on the Balbi Hotel’s terrace to long evenings spent at the Convento, the most animated debates and meaningful bonding usually occur while enjoying a few glasses. A strong believer in the saying “Work Hard, Party Hard”, Crea Sestri is not the best spot to get some rest, but rather a place to recharge your batteries and fully enjoy every moment.

Although the Closing Ceremony is, usually, also a time where casualness and wonderment go hand in hand, this year’s edition celebrated the inauguration of an international creativity and innovation day on April 21st. What better way to do so than by organizing a giant collaborative workshop? We were happy to put Stormz at the community’s disposal for a short session, during which the 200 participants took a stance and committed to a brighter future.

In conclusion

Although its size and ambition have nothing to do with, for instance, a Burning Man, Crea Sestri is an incredible event urging everyone to join the Creativity community and open up to others, both by sharing one’s expertise and knowledge and receiving feedback and support from one’s peers.

Just as Creative Problem Solving uses a breathing metaphor to describe the creative process, Crea Sestri can be compared to a big bowl of fresh air, giving everyone the opportunity to find inspiration and share their own vision and ideas.

PS: For those who’d like to know more about digital collaboration, you can follow our Online Facilitator Training. Feel free to contact us to talk about it, we love to share our know-how

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