An Artist, An Author and an Inventor Go Into a Bar…

Rita McGrath
4 min readFeb 27, 2024

Peter Sims, author of the new book “Black Sheep: The Quest to be Human in an Inhuman Time” regularly convenes a group of artists, thought leaders, inventors, and authors to chat about how we might spark a human, artistic renaissance in America. Here are some ideas that came out of February’s gathering.

An unconventional television series about unconventional entrepreneurs

Filmmaker Farhoud Meybodi offered an overview of his approach to both rethinking how movies are produced and his topic — which is to spark large-scale solutions to the climate emergency by telling human stories of entrepreneurs in some of the most disadvantaged places. His thesis, which is fascinating, is that most efforts to get people to take action on climate-related topics is misguided. In provoking people to feel afraid, films such as “2012” or “The Day After Tomorrow” stimulate the release of cortisol, a fear transmitter, in people. The result? We feel uncomfortable and aroused, but that very quickly transforms into apathy. Instead, he suggests, “As storytellers, we must shift our focus toward instilling a sense of joy and empowerment in people’s choices, while also cultivating a bold vision of what a low-carbon future could look like.” Love, he argues, is the only thing that will really inspire behavioral change.

He also argues that many people who care about the environment are in an echo chamber of talking to one another. Instead, we need ways to reach out to people who are not currently engaged in a way they can relate to. After all, Meybodi notes, “The big bang and let there be light are the same thing.” I never thought about that before.

The first of 6 planned documentaries features the inspiring story of Nzambi Matee, an innovator, scientist, and entrepreneur who is creating building blocks out of plastic waste. Her company, Gjenge Makers, is several years old now and hopes to start a movement across Africa (and elsewhere). You can watch a cool video about the company here. The trailer for the “Earthbound” series is here. Have a look — it’s truly inspiring.

Other shared stories

Kenyon (KYN) Adams shared reflections on the killing of Trayvon Martin and its aftermath in which many felt that justice was betrayed. He is an artist and…

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Rita McGrath

Columbia Business School Professor. Thinkers50 top 10 & #1 in strategy. Bestselling author of The End of Competitive Advantage & Seeing Around Corners.