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PlexusCall: Commonplace Books and the Art of Synthesis
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When: Friday, October 10, 2014
1-2pm ET

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Friday, October 10, 2014 1-2 PM Eastern Time
Commonplace Books and the Art of Synthesis

Guests: Laura Gardner, Victoria Ward, and Sharon Benjamin

MP3 File


For hundreds of years scholars, philosophers, scientists, artists and ordinary people have assembled commonplace books to record and preserve the bits of information, quotes, ideas and small treasures they found compelling and significant. Laura Gardner has studied these fascinating collections and the evolution such syntheses from the Medieval age through the digital age. Different from diaries, which tend to record events from a personal perspective, commonplace books, did reflect the inner life, choices and values of the people who collected the things they meant to remember for a lifetime. Today we find the human urge to collect and record in websites, blogs and Twitter.

Laura Gardner has been teaching art education at Winthrop University for ten years. She is an Associate Professor of Fine Arts, directs the Master of Arts in Arts Administration, and is the faculty advisor for the Master of Arts in Art Education. She completed her doctoral work in reflective Art Education at the Union Institute and University, Cincinnati Ohio, and her Masters degree from Bank Street College of Education/Parsons School of Design in New York City. Dr. Gardner began her career teaching art to young children in the Hudson Valley of New York. She is a letterpress printer and book artist and has worked as an illustrator and specialty painter in New York and the Carolinas. Her interests include reflective practice, holistic education, book arts, and letterpress. She has received numerous grants and awards in the areas of pedagogy, service learning, and arts education. She was selected for a Winter Residency in Letterpress at Penland in 2010 and has exhibited her artist’s books regionally.

Victoria Ward founded Sparknow in 1997 out of a knowledge management programme at an investment bank and 16 years in exchanges, clearing, trading and operational risk. She has worked both in management roles and as a senior consultant, facilitator and advisor. She enjoys designing change, engagement and research programmes with others and applying narrative methods to complex cultural challenges to find sustainable solutions. From 1981, when she started work (on the day Sadat was shot - a nicely memorable Reuters newsflash on day one) to 1997 her experience is in hands-on business and risk management, research and product development and knowledge management. She was the first member of the LIFFE executive to be voted onto the Board, and did a term on the board of the FOA as well as being an early member of the FTSE Steering Committee and serving a term on the Financial Services Tribunal. She has a degree in languages and art from Selwyn College Cambridge, a certificate in working groups from the Tavistock Institute, an old open-holed oboe that I play with enthusiasm, rickety hands and nervous sight reading, in Bloomsbury Woodwind Ensemble, and Nordic walking sticks which I exercise quite regularly on the Heath.

Sharon Benjamin, PhD, is principal of Alchemy, a Washington D.C. based management consulting practice. She consults with multi-lateral, NGO and healthcare organizations. An adjunct at NYU, she teaches the leadership capstone course for MPA students. Her work supports leaders seeking to effect profound transformation -- within themselves and their organizations, pioneering innovative methods such as Positive Deviance. Her previous positions have included Vice President for Marketing for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in Washington, D.C. and Director for Major Gifts for the Union of Concerned Scientists. She earned her doctorate in organizational behavior from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati where she has co-taught three leadership seminars. She has been active in the non-profit community, serving as Treasurer of the Board Earthworks, Chair of the Board of Directors of, and a member of Oceana's Board of Governors.

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