Think how many times you’ve been inspired in your life?
I’m not talking the impact of a minor artistic urge, or the need to add a little creative flourish around the home, or the decisions prompted by circumstances. I mean real inspiration, the smack-in-the-head-life-changing inspiration, how many times?
I can think of a couple of personal experiences which have made me make (or at least consider) life-altering decisions.
Both relate to teachers. One was meeting a teacher who instilled in me a love of language and of story, the other was someone who helped me on the road to becoming a journalist.
Without descending into a saccharine made-for-TV moment, my point is that inspiration is not of the everyday. It is unusual and not enough people experience it.
It’s not often that you meet that person, or have that experience which alters your world view, which makes you want to leap into the deep end and do something.
Inspiration is not just about the prompt to do something creative, it can help raise aspirations too.
This is why two projects, both taking place in Cambridge, should be encouraged and applauded.
The first proposal aims to create the Cambridge Science Centre something to rival the Exploratortium in San Francisco – a hands-on learning centre to promote science, technology and engineering in a way that’s both informative and fun. Second is a plan to create a fablab called Makespace. Makespace is a community project aimed at providing a workshop with modern equipment, suitable for everything from developing high-tech prototypes to helping new businesses. Its tagline is ‘the community inventing shed’.
Both projects are connected by the desire to engage and inspire people, giving them chance to do hands-on projects, to learn-by-doing, demonstrating the importance of creativity in engineering and science.
But particularly important is the emphasis on accessibility, placing both projects at the heart of a community and making it available as a community and regional resource.
Too often we try to narrow options, we try to enforce specialisation. These projects are important because they open up possibilities, they have the potential to make inspiration a common, everyday event, and for that they deserve success.