Environmental Creativity: How Snowflakes Form

Diagram of how snowflakes get their shape
Diagram of Snowflakes Forming and How Environmental Creativity Inspires Human Creativity

Have you ever wondered how snowflakes are formed?

They have no designer. Instead, their unique shape is formed by moisture in the atmosphere.

All around us and everywhere we look the environment is spontaneously organizing into ever new patterns.

How does this environmental creativity relate to human creativity?

Is our creativity totally different?

Or, is it in a continuum with how the world around us spontaneously self-organizes into novelty?

More importantly, is the basis of our human creativity the ability to sense, connect to, and follow these emerging potentials in the environment all around us (and in us)?

Is human creativity in its early phases more “top-down” (driven by ideation and planning), or is it more “bottom-up” (emerging from and following spontaneous patterns)?

Are novel ideas needed early in the creative process as guides to follow? Or do novel ideas emerge later in the process via experimental engagement with the spontaneous powers of the world around us?

Self organizing snowflakes as an example of environmental creativity
Snowflakes as an example of self organizing creativity in our environment

We're exploring these questions and look to snowflakes and a series of lectures to find the answers.

First, we explore how snowflakes are formed by diagramming and charting the environmental variables snowflakes require: Moisture or humidity and temperature. From the diagram we can see how humidity and temperature influence the shapes the snowflakes self-organize into. Snowflakes do not have a preconceived design. They self-organize based on variables and constraints.

Exploring environmental creativity led us to rewatch some of our favorite talks that get into the work of the important philosopher of creativity Gilles Deleuze (1925-1991) by Manuel Delanda.

The first talk by Delanda is short and gives you a great sense of the spontaneous self-organizing powers all around us (if you only have one minute go to minute 2:30).

The second is a full lecture laying out Deleuze’s vision of a more-than-human creativity. It is quite inspiring and easy to listen to as a podcast (If you only have five minutes start at 33:10).

Take a listen! Share your thoughts and impressions with us in the comments on LinkedIn.

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